Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Unconditional Love & Sacrifice - Organ Donation

My Step-son, Scott Ellspermann, will undergo kidney transplant surgery this coming Thursday. His sister-in-law, Leslie Goss, is a match and has selflessly agreed to donate one of her kidneys to Scott. A friend of theirs wrote the post below - I can't improve on it so I copied it here:

Unconditional Love & Sacrifice
The Ellspermann family….AMAZING! Have missed them so much since their move to Wisconsin. Scott & Sherri were plugged into many aspects of First Farragut United Methodist Church…but had been doing great things with the Student Ministry. Scott was my all-star photographer (documenting events via PHOTOGRAPHS has not been the same since his departure) and a leader, and Sherri was a leader as well. Britney, now a Sophomore (CRAZY), was a big part of the ministry as well…and still is! She has flown down to Tennessee for every winter retreat since they left for Wisconsin. Spencer and Hunter were often hanging out at the church as mom and dad were doing things with me. They bring a TON of energy to the Ellspermann family! I pray that the family that I have one day can mirror the love for Christ and for each other that the Ellspermann’s live out!
The Goss Family! Barry and Leslie are mom and dad! They are both involved in a lot of different things at First Farragut. Barry is the treasurer here at the church and also a youth leader in the student ministry. Leslie sings in the choir and is also a leader with me. They are involved with almost every event put on here at the church, including playing Santa and Mrs. Claus @ our Breakfast with Santa morning in December! Brandon is a Senior at Hardin Valley here in Knoxville and works with the audio/visual ministry Sunday mornings. He is also VERY active in the youth group. Austin is a Freshman at Grace Christian Academy and is also VERY active in the youth group. I always ask Austin, even though I know the answer, “are you coming to youth group tonight?” “DUH MARK!….when am I not here?!”, is the response I always get. He’s right! Love those guys! Barry & Leslie are brother and sister! And Barry and Leslie’s mom Frankie and her husband George are still active and involved here at First Farragut! The family love and connection to FFUMC is powerful and real!
It wasn’t until the Ellspermann’s moved to Wisconsin that I found out about Scott needing a kidney. I began praying immediately! Our high school missions team was in New Richmond, Wisconsin this past summer on our way home from a summer missions trip to Urban Plunge in the Twin Cities. They were amazing hosts as some kids stayed inside and some stayed outside in a camper city that was set up in their back yard! We absolutely TOOK OVER their house. I kept apologizing for the mess and all the work they were having to do and Sherri kept asking me to let the group stay longer! I’ll never forget hugging Sherri and Scott as we left….Sherri and Britney were crying asking us to put them in the trunks of the cars to take them back to Knoxville! They are such a special family.
Word came out not long ago that the kidney transplant was being moved up as Scott’s numbers were in decline. Then came the amazing news. Scott’s sister-in-law Leslie would be his donor. WOW! When I announced this on a Sunday morning at the 11:00 service the entire sanctuary erupted in applause and cheers! It was a powerful moment. True love and sacrifice, just like that modeled to us by our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, is being lived out in its greatest form by Leslie Goss. An opportunity presented itself and she responded just as Jesus would by putting the well-being of another in front of herself. I remember being in tears when I heard the news. These families and their kids are so special to me personally. As a man of God in full-time student ministry, now in my 8th year, I have been blessed to have some very special relationships! I hold the Goss and Ellspermann family very close to my heart. Their love for Christ, for family, and for the local church are inspirational.
A few weeks ago I woke up in the middle of the night thinking about these families. I went into my living room to pray. I had an overwhelming feeling that I was suppose to travel to Minnesota for the transplant surgery to support these families as one of their pastors. I pitched the idea to my lead Pastor and the rest is history. God made a way for me to make the trip, and early tomorrow morning I will board a flight for the Twin-Cities. Leslie is flying up today. Her husband Barry flies up tomorrow. The surgery will take place Thursday morning in Minneapolis. I am excited to serve these families, to pray with these families, and to be a part of this with them. I’m humbled that they are allowing me to be a part of this big event.
Please be praying for those of us who are still traveling up there. Pray for Leslie and Scott as they have final testing completed tomorrow in Minneapolis. Pray for the doctors to use their amazing skills on Thursday morning and to be empowered by the Holy Spirit! Pray for those who will be waiting for good news and for all those who consider Scott, Sherri, Barry, Leslie, Brandon, Austin, Britney, Hunter, and Spencer, to be family and friends. Thank God for these families and for how they have taught us all about unconditional love and sacrifice!
You can read updates here on my website @http://markaronowitz.wordpress.com/ and you can also check on the First Farragut United Methodist Church facebook page as well. I will make regular updates during the week and on surgery day! Thanks again for your prayers!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Is it too early to dream of spring?

Week after week, snowstorm after snowstorm, my daffodil bulbs buried beneath mountains of snow... I love living in a "four season" part of the country but this winter has been brutal - and we're only halfway through it!
My favorite season is spring. I love watching the teeny bright green dots appear on the barren branches of trees and the tips of snowdrop leaves poking through the still cold ground. Every year we have dozens of daffodils added to our garden (they are the only spring bulb the deer don't eat) and I love watching them sway in the cool spring breeze.

Squirrels and chipmunks scamper across the yard in search of food as robins yank worms out of the soil.

One of the things I miss the most about the flower shop, and that I love the most about spring, is that earthy flowery scent. You know the one I mean, the sweetness of flowers mixed with musky soil and a fresh spring rain. When winter starts to get to me, I just have to close my eyes and I can conjure up that sweet aroma.

Flowering shrubs are a favorite of mine - sadly, they are a favorite food of the deer that inhabit our neighborhood. This winter's heavy snow means that the deer will be eating everything in sight, even the things they normally leave alone. I long for big azaleas and rhododendrons but know that it will be a losing battle.
Wildflowers and perennials peek out of the soil, soon to burst into bloom and the moss on the rocks becomes greener each day. My sweet lily of the valley fill my day with their heady scent as the japanese iris pop open next to forget-me-nots. Ahh, the joys of spring!
All things come to those who wait... so, I wait for winter to pass so I may enjoy the gifts of spring. Until then, I bundle up and head to work, thankful that tax season is during winter for me. A few pots of hothouse hyacinths will get me through the next cold weeks... no, it's not too soon to dream of spring!