2017 Finale Video

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

The Hurt and the Rain

Every year about this time, for as long as I can remember, the rain returns from its summer vacation and settles back into the pacific northwest. This year has been no different, even with an Indian summer giving us two weeks of extra dry weather through half of October. The early morning daylight if finally getting a chance to sleep in as I go to work in the dark, and soon I will be coming home to my newly installed motion lights shortly after 5pm. Now with the average rainfall already more than double and the rain across the country causing chaos of another kind, the recent loss of my wife's father and my sons battle with leukemia keep us searching for a brighter day.

I just read this story from a friend who lost his son to cancer this year. The pain of losing a child is greater than a Super storm of rain, wind, flooding and snow, but when you read this, remember

"The Best Way To Heal...Is To Heal Someone Else"

Just about nine months ago I thought my life had ended. When my five year old son Cole took his last breath and the doctor said "He's gone" I thought I too would soon follow. I could not imagine where I would find the strength to carry on without my "little buddy." The pain of losing him was so terribly deep. I tried my best to put on a brave face for his twin brother Troy and big sister Tara because I knew they needed me. I was afraid to console my wife Michelle, because she was in the same dark place I was. I feared if I felt her pain on top of mine it would push me over the edge. For months I walked in a dense fog, not caring very much for a world that would let children suffer and die from cancer without doing more to prevent it. I truly believed the misery and grief that filled my heart would be fatal. I was holding on by a thin thread. The only thing that kept me going was the thought that I could not let my children and wife feel the hurt of more loss on top of the despair they were already suffering. Also keeping me alive was remembering how hard my son Cole fought during his journey through the hell that is Childhood Cancer; and his final words to us, "Smile, Be Happy"

I would go down in the basement to hide from Troy and Tara when the crying spells would hit. I would dissolve in tears and tell Cole how much I loved him, missed him, and was so very sorry that I didn't always appreciate how precious each moment of his life was before he was diagnosed with neuroblastoma cancer. I promised Cole I would try to "Smile, Be Happy" someday, but for now I needed time to weep.

In September, I was still struggling each day to just barely function. My daughter Tara approached her mother and said she wanted to do something to honor her brother for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. They sat down and came up with an idea they called, "Coins For Cole" They decided they would make up canisters and ask local businesses if they could leave them on their counters to try to raise funds for Childhood Cancer Research. This small idea soon became overwhelming, many businesses and friends began requesting the canisters. Friends and family began to offer to stand in front of stores and collect donations. My wife who had gone back to teaching was becoming stressed, she was working so hard to prepare for the school year, organizing the "Coins For Cole" effort, and most of all, mourning the loss of our beautiful young boy. I decided I needed to snap out of my darkness, man up, and help her. I began to work with her on delivering the containers, calling businesses to schedule collection times, and creating ways to get the word out on our efforts to help children with cancer. I began to feel alive again, helping others was pulling me out of the depths of sorrow.

Mid-way through September, while going over the schedule to determine where I would be dropping off the containers the next day, one of Michelles co-workers sent her a message asking if she would mind if the teachers at her school could pick a day to wear something yellow or gold to honor Cole and other children for Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. Immediately it struck me! Where was all the Gold during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month? Where were the commercials talking about the need for increased awareness? Where was the Gold on the football and baseball fields? Where were the Gold ribbons on the lapels of the politicians? Why was there so little talk about how children were dying and suffering every day from this monster? WHAT GOOD WAS CHILDHOOD CANCER AWARENESS MONTH IF NOT ENOUGH WAS BEING DONE TO RAISE AWARENESS? I started to call my friends and ask them if they would be willing to wear something Gold on September 28th to show support for our young Heroes and Angels. Many said they would but that they had nothing Gold, they asked if Yellow would be OK? From this idea I created the Facebook page, "A Day of Yellow and Gold to Fight Childhood Cancer" My original thought was that this page would just be a way to get my friends and family to help spread the word that we would like people to wear something Yellow or Gold on the 28th of September to at least see some semblance of support for Childhood Cancer Awareness. Little did I know that this would also be the beginning of my Healing!

I started to find people "Liking" my page and sharing stories familiar to my own family as they described their children's battle with cancer. I was meeting many other parents who were similarly discouraged with the lack of attention given to our Heroes and Angels during Childhood Cancer Awareness Month. People began thanking me for speaking up for the need for more awareness. People began telling me my stories of Cole's life (a life filled with love, joy, and courage) were helping them heal from their grief. I went from someone desperate for help, to helping others. I learned that the "The Best Way To Heal...Is To Heal Someone Else"

In the past it had always been difficult for me to accept help from others, I let my pride get in the way of allowing people to do something that would make them feel good. I have now learned that life is more about what you give than what you get and that you must allow people the opportunity to give. Giving is what makes us good. Too everyone who has given so generously to my family; in time and gifts, during our most difficult times, Thank You, we are eternally grateful! And to those who are hurting, I pray you will gain what I have discovered, "The Best Way To Heal...Is To Heal Someone Else"

Let's all commit to work together to Heal the children and families who have been afflicted with Childhood Cancer by doing all we can to increase Childhood Cancer Awareness!
Please Share, let's build our mission!

God Bless,
Tony Stoddard (Cole's Dad)
CLICK AND LIKE http://www.facebook.com/yellowandgoldforcole

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Celebration of Life

Yesterday we celebrated the life of Pastor Bob Swope. Here are a few pictures and videos of family and friends.
 Randy and Jenny, Bob's favorite son and daughter kicked it off to honor their father
 The stage was set with some of Bob's favorite scenes that we saw every year
 Some of Bob's puppet team members sang the Laughing Song
Pastor Chris who knew Bob since he was 11 years old and spend many years in many churches with the Swopes. 
Pastor Scott, Bob's cousin and friend growing up 
 Pastor Book, Bob's senior pastor who knew Bob his whole life
 Pastor Marshall singing and speaking in honor of his senior pastor at VLC
 Kelle and Geri, Bob's sister and mom spilling all of Bob's secrets
 The worship team with Russ and family
Charlies final act and goodbye to Bob 

Keep up on Brian's Phirst Blog. Join my group @ http://www.facebook.com/groups/132084550254587/

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

My Birthday Wish

Thank you all for so many birthday wishes today. My phone sends me a text message everytime someone posted on my facebook.
As I was working today I began to think about all of the things that have happend in the last 36 years, from my birthday parties when I dressed up as Spider man, to the last 36 months that have challenged my faith to the core. There have been so many defining moments that I have lost count, but I made it this far. God is still in control.
Today is my birthday and for the first time ever, I am going to share my birthday wish. This year I have only one wish. I'm not going to have a cake or candles to blow out, but I am going to close my eyes and make it a big one. There is nothing else that I can think of than to make a wish that will last all year long, but there is only one way I can get this wish...to give it away.
This is my wish...For You.

I hope the days come easy
and the moments pass slow
and each road leads you where you want to go
and if your face with the choice and you have to choose
I hope you choose the one that means the most to you
And if one door opens to another door closed
I hope you keep on walking till you find the window
If its cold outside, show the world the warmth of your smile
But more than anything, more than anything

My wish for you
is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold
and while your out there getting where your getting to
I hope you know somebody loves you
and wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish

I hope you never look back but you never forget
All the ones who love you in the place you live
I hope you always forgive and you never regret
and you help somebody every chance you get
Oh, you find God's grace in every mistake
and you give more than you take
But more than anything, more than anything

My wish for you
is that this life becomes all that you want it to
Your dreams stay big, your worries stay small
You never need to carry more than you can hold
and while your out there getting where your getting to
I hope you know somebody loves you
and wants the same things too
Yeah, this is my wish

Birthday Boo

My daughter Emma reminding me how to "Boo" out the candles

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Temporary Home

On Friday my wife's family were visiting together at her aunts house talking about her dad and remembering the good times we had together. It was raining outside and the afternoon coffee hit the spot as we sat on the big couch next to the fire place. It was a good place to be together after the small private funeral we had for my father in law that afternoon. The shock of his sudden passing still lingers, but the support we have from family, friends and the church keep our broken hearts together.

I find it ironic that during our vacation, in our home away from home, is where he was taken away to heaven. I have heard countless sermons from Pastor Bob in 13 years and I think his final sermon is one that I have heard before. He would say that our lives on earth are like visiting someones house for a family event. There are many people and things that make us feel comfortable during our short stay, but this is just a short visit in this temporary home. (note the snow at the end of the music video)

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18

Monday, October 15, 2012

A Thousand Memories part 3: Gone Too Soon

Everyone's talking about the weather and the weather has been changing fast, but you would never have guessed what happened while we were in California at Disneyland. On the third day of our vacation for Lincoln's Make-a-Wish trip, we were expecting rain in the forecast, but in the middle of the night in the most magical place on earth, there would be snow flakes falling over our hotel room.

Before I tell the whole story I want to share the last few pictures that I was able to take during the unexpected final day of our vacation of a Thousand Memories.

Lincoln's trip to Lego Land

Green Hulk as Lincoln calls him
Beauty and the Beast
A special breakfast with lots of food and friends
A Princess kiss

A Thousand Memories...
...that will never fade.

Lincoln's wish was granted in Disneyland and a Thousand Memories were made that will last a lifetime, but one such memory will be of his Papa Bob who suddenly and unexpectedly passed away while on the trip with us. In the middle of the night, the snow in Heaven began to fall as the angels of God welcomed Pastor Bob Swope into his eternal home above. Bob always loved the snow because it reminded him as a child that God would never leave us or forsake us. He was our Heavenly Father and would always take care of us if we were good, bad, sick or in need. Today our family has suffered a great loss and as we have always asked you to Pray for Lincoln, please keep my beautiful wife Jenny and her mom Mary in your thoughts and prayers as well. This has truly been a life altering event for us all and we will miss Bob like a child who misses Disneyland after the very first visit feels like its gone too soon.


Sunday, October 14, 2012

A Thousand Memories part 2: Lincoln's Birthday

The first day on our vacation was spent at the California Adventure where Make-a-Wish would help make a special moment in Lincoln's 4 years last a lifetime.
After a day of travel it was time for Lincoln to see what he had been waiting all this time for.
Pluto was first to welcome Lincoln and Emma on their adventure

Lincoln said he was not afraid so he wanted to go on a scary ride first
There was still a lot more to see during the day before the big surprise that afternoon

Emma and daddy
Getting ready for the Big Moment
Meeting Buzz Light Year
 High Fives
 and Hugs
So many great memories on his 4th birthday with Buzz and Papa Bob
but more memories will be made...in part 3 coming soon
Happy Birthday Lincoln!

Take a look and LIKE Lincoln's page for more about his Make a Wish trip @ http://www.facebook.com/prayingforlincoln

A Thousand Memories Part 1

Its not every day that a limo drive up to your house to drive you away to the most magical place on earth, but for one special boy a thousand memories were just beginning to take place.
Lincoln and Emma could hardly sleep the night before
But early the next morning they were ready to go on Lincoln's Make a Wish trip to Disneyland

He was so excited about the seats he wanted to sleep on the way to the airport
At the airport
Everyone at the airport knew he was on a special trip
First time looking at a real airplane
Meeting the pilot who asked if this was his first time on a plane and then replied "Mine too!"
He kept the window closed most of the time
953 miles and 2 hours later we were ready for some fun and food
Red Robin was in walking distance from the hotel

The first day was perfect for traveling and getting ready for the next two days of fun a the parks. Time to get some rest, more pictures coming in part 2