Friday, July 24, 2015

Lauren Elizabeth Turner

One day, I felt God leading me and urging me to write this story. It is a story that is extremely difficult for me to share. This is a story that I rarely share with anyone. For several weeks, I have been coming back to face this post--writing a little, not feeling like it is quite what I want it to say, deleting words, shutting my computer, coming back to again. Finally, one night as I laid in my bed, unable to sleep, in the quiet of the night, I heard God whisper to me.

I met Lauren when she was eight years old.

One night, my daddy told me that he was going to visit a little girl in the hospital. I do not usually accompany him when he makes hospital visits, especially when he visits someone I do not know, but I felt led to go with him. On the way, I told daddy that I really wanted to stop at the bookstore and buy her a bible like the one I had when I was little. I just really felt like I needed to bring this little girl a bible.

We arrived at Levine Children's Hospital and went up to the eleventh floor, the oncology floor. I followed my daddy as we walked around the floor to find her room. Lauren was laying in the bed with her parents and her older sister sitting close by. She was wearing her glasses, and she had lots and lots of beautiful dark curly hair.

We all sat around and talked for quite a while, and Lauren told us that the hospital did not have any good play-doh. So, of course, my daddy immediately ordered a giant box of play-doh to give to Lauren. Right before leaving, we all held hands and prayed over this sweet little girl.

The doctors had originally diagnosed Lauren with Acute Myeloid Leukemia when she was only five years old. Leukemia is a type of cancer that mostly affects pediatric patients. Acute myeloid is a rarer type of leukemia that is harder to fight with a lower percentage of survival. Lauren and her family fought the cancer with everything they had. Then, for a while, Lauren was in remission. The Turner's lived life with no restraints! I mean, who wouldn't? Lauren had looked death in the face and won!

At a routine check up with Lauren's oncologist a few years later, they found out the cancer had returned. At only eight years old, Lauren had suffered from leukemia--twice.

Immediately, the blood transfusions, chemotherapy, bone marrow transplants, stem cells, it all began again.

So, that is when I met Lauren.

After that, I spent a good bit of time with Lauren. Since I already was working at Levine Children's Hospital, I would always make time to stop by during my shift. Even when I was not working, I tried to go just as often as I possibly could. Lauren and I had some kind of special bond from the start. It is something I cannot explain and never will--but it was there.

Although Lauren was very sick, she had so much life. One afternoon, I walked into her room and saw her with her head hung over a bucket vomiting. Immediately, she sat up with a smile on her face, "hey Hannah!" Another afternoon, I came to visit Lauren. I walked into her room and the lights were off. Her sweet mother, Kristie, asleep on the couch. Hailey (Lauren's older sister) and Lauren were sitting by the bed playing a card game. Skip-bo was Lauren's favorite card game, and I think she mostly liked it so much because she knew she could beat anyone at it. So, of course, I sat down and Lauren taught me how to play. The three of us sat there in the dark muffling our giggles in trying to not wake Kristie. We played a couple rounds of the game. At one point, Lauren's blood pressure cuff began to inflate and it wasn't on her arm. We all began laughing and scrambling to get it back on her arm so it wouldn't alert the nurse. Although simple, it is one of my favorite memories with Lauren.

Another night, Lauren had been doing better, so she was not in the hospital. The church was having a party that night, so Lauren and the rest of her family were able to come for a little while. I remember a part of this night so vividly that sometimes it feels like it was only last night. Lauren was wearing a green mask because her immune system was still not quite strong enough. She was wearing a blue scarf to hide the absence of her dark curls. She came to find me and we just talked. She told me about everything under the sun--her horse that she loved to ride when she wasn't in the hospital, her dog who was scared of thunderstorms, the nurses at the hospital, the friends she made on her floor. I loved every minute.

In October 2013, Lauren was placed in the pediatric intensive care unit of the hospital. She had developed a problem in her lungs that made it near impossible for her to breathe.

I remember, when I found out, I thought, "Lauren has been through so much, she can make it through this, no big deal." I prayed and prayed and prayed. I prayed for a miracle. I prayed for complete healing. I prayed for every single cancer cell in her body to completely disappear for forever and ever.

I was going to a conference in California one week, so I wanted to stop by the hospital and visit Lauren in the PICU before I left. I remember walking into her room and feeling my heart completely break. I was shocked. Surely, this couldn't be Lauren. She laid in the bed with Kristie, huddled in a ball. She wore a mask so she could breathe, which also prevented her from speaking. Her skin was grey. Her eyes did not have the usual sparkle. I was speechless. I stood at the foot of the bed, and just prayed. God, please, heal this little girl.

On October 19, 2013, sweet little Lauren passed away.

Lauren passed away while I was in California. We were at Hillsong Conference. Ritchie Turner had been telling us that Lauren had not been doing well, and I was really upset that night. It was near the end of the session for the night when the band came back up to sing "Oceans." As I sang, "when oceans rise, my soul will rest in your embrace," I knew that Lauren had passed away. I sunk into my chair and wept. After leaving later that night, my momma confirmed that Kristie had texted her saying Lauren had truly passed away.

But this is not where the story ends.

Lauren was a remarkable girl. She fought harder than anyone I have ever met, all the while nearly convincing people with her giant smile and bright eyes that she was not ever actually sick at all. She took every shot at with such strength and courage. She always kept everyone laughing with her sassy personality. She always had nice things to say to everyone she met. She wanted to encourage people. She wanted to love people. She loved to have fun, make jokes, paint her nails, ride horses. Most importantly, at only eight years old, Lauren had more faith in God than most people could ever possess in their entire lifetime.

Throughout everything, Lauren trusted that God's plan was best. She never doubted Him. She loved telling others about Jesus. She wanted people to know the same joy that she had in Him! So amazing! She always prayed. And she always prayed for the other children in the hospital who were suffering. She was so selfless. Even at the end, she did not want to die yet because she did not want her family to be sad that she was gone.

She trusted God with her life. She loved Jesus Christ as her Savior. In the end, He came to bring her home.

For days, Lauren had been so weak, but on October 19, she quickly sat up in bed saying "I see Jesus, I see Jesus!" To which her daddy replied, "Run to Him, Lauren." And she did.

Lauren's life was the ultimate story of faith, courage, and surrender. God called her out upon the waters into the unknown, and she followed wholeheartedly into His will and His plan for her life. She was unafraid because of her faith in Christ. She surrendered. She surrendered her life to Christ completely, and now she is home with Him. Now Lauren is home. She is home with long dark curls never touched by medications. She is home riding horses every single day. She is home lighting floating lanterns every night. She is home with beautiful blue polished nails. She is home wearing clothes covered in glitter. She is home with her Savior.

I prayed for a miracle. I prayed for Jesus to take the cancer away. And He did; maybe not in the same way that we all hoped, but Lauren is healed. She does not have a single cancer cell in her body.

I love you and miss you so much sweet girl. I cannot wait for the day to see your precious smiling face again. Maybe you can paint my nails for me and then we can play Skip-bo with Jesus. Somedays it's really hard without you here. Sometimes I still expect to see you somewhere. But I thank God every single day that you are healed. See you soon, princess.


"God, You make me brave. You call me out beyond the shore and into the waves. You make me brave. No fear can hinder now the promises you made." 

"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope" Romans 5:3-4

"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders. Let me walk upon the waters wherever you would call me. Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger in the presence of my savior." 

"But as for me, I will look to the LORD; I will wait for the God of my salvation; my God will hear me. Rejoice not over me, O my enemy; when I fall, I shall rise; when I sit in darkness, the LORD will be a light to me." Micah 7:7-8

"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will hear you. You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart." Jeremiah 29:11-13

"Even when my strength is lost, I'll praise you. Even when I have no song, I'll praise you. Even when it's hard to find the words, louder then I'll sing your praise."

In Loving Memory of Lauren Elizabeth Turner
April 24, 2004 - October 19, 2013

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