Florence, SC Photographer: Robby and April Ott

Have you ever been completely and totally knocked in the head with news that stopped you in your tracks and made you fall flat on your face? I’m not talking surprised. I’m not talking shocked. I’m talking about the unbelievable. Something that really doesn’t even seem possible because it couldn’t be true…could it? That happened. Two weeks ago. 15 nights ago, to be exact. Two weeks ago we received the news that one of our dearest friends was diagnosed with cancer. Stage 4 colon cancer. How does that even happen? I love this guy. I love him for being a friend to my husband. For making us laugh until tears run down our cheeks with hilarious stories that he’s told us for the past ten years. I love him because he loves his wife more than anything else on this planet. And because he makes sure that she knows it in countless ways. I love him because when he was told of his diagnosis, the first thing he did was turn to her and ask “How are you?”. He thinks his kids are incredible…fearfully and wonderfully made, and he loves them to his core. He’d do anything for them and you only have to be around him for about 2 seconds before you realize that. But he doesn’t spoil them til they’re rotten or let them think that they’re God’s greatest gift to this earth…he loves them enough not to do that. And that’s easy to see because they really are some of the greatest kids on earth. They’re so enjoyable to be around and that is the result of lots of really great parenting from two wonderful people. He thinks long and hard about the young man that his oldest is becoming. He is invested in him. Emotionally and physically. He’s very proud of that boy. This boy is the kind of kid who wants to take care of others. His momma, his sister, his baby brothers. He gets that because he’s watched his Daddy. His daughter stole his heart the minute she was born and he hasn’t been the same since. Seriously, the girl can rip his heart out with one glance or one mention of “Daddy, the thing I want most for Christmas is for you to be well.” He’s there for her. ALWAYS. And she knows that. His second boy, third child, is quite possibly the happiest kid on earth. He’s a nut and he loves making people laugh. He very obviously gets that from his Daddy. They have an incredibly close bond, a result of many hours together when the family lived in Maryland, doing a church plant. That boy was his “coffee break” from work, if you will. His 15 minutes of silliness and sweetness in the middle of a work day. I love watching them laugh together. And the baby. Oh, Wow, that baby is special to his Daddy. That baby is special to the whole family. Just watch him run up to his Daddy with his blond curls bouncing and throw his chubby toddler arms around his Daddy’s knees and you will see it, too. He dances when he hears his Daddy play the guitar and sing “Hold Me”. And his Daddy can make it all better when things just aren’t right in his toddler world. But the things that say it all are his eyes. You can see BIG love in that baby’s eyes.

That’s what I wrote last night at 10:00. I started this blog post but I couldn’t finish it. I was crying and praying and decided to put it up and go to bed. Little did I know that last night Robby had some pretty major complications and was in the Emergency Room in excruciating pain. Collin and I got this text over our morning coffee: “Been in the ER with Robby since 11:00 last night. His resection is leaking, causing infection throughout his body. Going back in the OR ASAP. His white cell count is 23,000. Just wanted to let you know how to pray.” It’s been a very emotional day. I won’t go into details here because I’m scared I’ll say something that’s inaccurate. All I know is that things were VERY BAD. April said she was scared that she was going to lose him last night. I will let her explain everything that happened on the caring bridge site, but I can tell you that I’ve seen them both tonight, and once again they have amazed me. He’s intubated, but didn’t look nearly as bad as I was fearing. I’m clueless when it comes to medical stuff, but my sister-in-law (who isn’t clueless) was also so relieved by the way he looks. And April is right there by his side, loving on him with everything that she has. It was so good to hug her tonight! And, y’all, they are superstars at the hospital! SO many people love them and are taking care of them. And everyone is rooting for Robby and talking about how strong and positive he is.

All day long I kept thinking about the things that they said on Monday night when we were with them. Robby said that everything has taken on a different meaning. Music, specifically hymns, mean even more than they did. And that’s saying a lot because he’s always been a music guy. Specifically, he said that “Hallelujah” means so much more…and then he shouted it in a way that I had never heard. His faith is incredible to watch. It is beautiful to see the love he has for his Savior. April said that this time they have been given is a gift. That every little thing and every little moment is so much sweeter and she is taking none of it for granted. They are leaning so heavily on each other and on their Lord right now, and it’s a beautiful testimony to witness. April also said that she doesn’t mind seeing others cry in front of them because it makes her feel a little less crazy. I have to tell you, that was a huge relief to me. The night that I found out the diagnosis, I came home from church, set the kids up in front of the television, went to the studio and had a great big ugly cry. Collin was away at a session. I knew I needed to call April, but I was terrified of what to say and that I would break down. So I got the crying out of the way and picked up the phone and called her. I tried to stay composed, but of course I was a blubbering idiot as I left her a voicemail. I’m so glad to know it’s okay. That they want to see our real emotions. Because these past three weeks I’ve had more “real emotions” than I ever have in my life.

You know what this has taught me more than anything? GOD is Sovereign. There is NO reason that a healthy, 35 year old man should have stage 4 colon cancer. None. He works out. As long as I’ve known them I’ve heard April talk about buying organic meat and dairy products. She said on the caring bridge site that she doesn’t even use a microwave! This man, by all normal standards, should not have cancer. But he does. And GOD is still in control. I’m quite possibly the biggest worrier on earth. Seriously, it’s bad and I know it’s wrong. This whole situation, though, has knocked me upside the head with the fact that worrying accomplishes nothing. God is sovereign. God is in control. ALWAYS. And nothing I do is going to change that. And I can rest in that. Because He is a loving God who cares so deeply for His children.

Robby and April, we love y’all so much. We are hurting right along with you and we are rejoicing when there is good news to share. We are so thankful for you both. We know that we were all put on this earth to glorify God. Things are very tough right now, but you are glorifying Him with your words and your actions. Thank you. We are praying unceasingly and we will not stop. I promise!

Here’s a slideshow from Monday night. The link to Robby’s caring bridge site is at the end.

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  • Roberta VannoySeptember 20, 2012 - 10:06 pm

    Praying for this sweet family….your words tell everyone how special they are and what faith they have!!!!ReplyCancel

  • JulieSeptember 20, 2012 - 10:47 pm

    No words. Breath taking. One of the most beautiful families. Ugly crying with you Aron. Love and prayers to Robby and April and the kids.ReplyCancel

  • SabrinaSeptember 20, 2012 - 11:00 pm

    Wow. I’ve seen posts from a dear friend of mine about her great nephew and then I see your post about your friend and it turns out to be the same guy. What amazing words and what a testimony this is to all of us! He and his sweet family (and friends!) are being covered in so much prayer! Thank you for this post… They are beyond blessed to have real friends with real emotions and love towards them.ReplyCancel

  • Brenda TillerSeptember 21, 2012 - 2:56 am

    Wow! What a message of love and faith! I have not had the gift of meeting them but have been praying for Robby and April and their precious family. Your words and the photos tell how much you both love them and how special they are!ReplyCancel

  • Denny BatesSeptember 21, 2012 - 5:17 am

    You write with great word pictures. I now know how to sharpen my prayers for your precious friends.ReplyCancel

  • Ellen ReedSeptember 21, 2012 - 8:09 am

    The following was told to my daughter and I shortly after learning she had breast cancer.She had just turned 19. It was comforting to us and I have shared it with many since that day 16 yrs ago.
    There is no pain Jesus can’t feel
    No hurt that he cannot heal.
    Remember that all things are good
    according to His perfect will
    No matter what it is
    you’re going through
    Remember that God is only using You
    The battle is not yours
    It’s the LORDS!
    He, April and their families have been in my prayers since learning about Robby.ReplyCancel

  • Hal EdwardsSeptember 21, 2012 - 8:24 am

    God’s love is so amazing! Aron, this touched me deeply! We don’t know Robby and his family personally, but we are family in the eyes of God! We will continue to pray. Glory be to God and may his will be done!ReplyCancel

  • John TSeptember 21, 2012 - 9:14 am

    Thanks so much for sharing this! What an example this family is…they teach me more and more every day.ReplyCancel

  • Brenda MarshSeptember 21, 2012 - 10:35 am

    Thank you for sharing this. Such a sad thing. You have such a beautiful family. God is good. Praying for the best for you and your family. This brought tears and saddness to me. Don’t know you guys but you seem to be a strong loving family and God is a big part of your life. May God bless you.ReplyCancel

  • Christy mooreSeptember 21, 2012 - 2:10 pm

    April, thank you so much for sharing. I don’t know you personally or the Ott family. But, girl what I do know is that we are all one big family in Christ! I will be lifting everyone of you up in prayer, believeing,and claiming it!

    You are certainly a blessing to them just as you have written they are to you.

    Pray it up,
    Christy MooreReplyCancel

  • Alice C. BakerSeptember 21, 2012 - 4:51 pm

    You are in my prayers. Precious family, and I know that they are hurting.ReplyCancel

  • April CockfieldSeptember 22, 2012 - 5:10 am

    Aron thank you for sharing. I dont know this family but they are on my mind this morning and yes I am crying ugly too. We will keep this sweet family in our prayers.ReplyCancel

  • Nancyhunter BlandingSeptember 27, 2012 - 5:26 am

    Contiuning to pray for complete healing Robby and April!! Xoxo!!!ReplyCancel

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