Brent and Monica Wicke discuss their mother’s cancer journey; remembering her strength and determination, and talk about what they are doing today to honor her legacy.
Monica Wicke: My name is Monica Wicke. I have been attending First United Methodist Church of Grapevine my whole life and Amy Wicke was more than just my mom. She was confidant and my best friend.
Brent Wicke: My name is Brent Wicke. My mom was my best friend as well. I was four years old when my mom was diagnosed with brain cancer. I was very young, I just knew my mom was sick. I didn’t know how severe it was.
Monica: She told me she wasn’t afraid to die. And that’s a very scary thing to hear as a child from your mom, but it’s so beautiful because she was so at peace with everything.
Narrator: Brent and Monica Wicke are members of Grapevine United Methodist Church in Grapevine, Texas. Their mother, Amy Wicke, had a huge influence on her children, and ultimately inspired a chain of events that is bringing the hope and peace that Amy found to countless others in the community of Grapevine and beyond. Cindy Ryan, associate pastor at Grapevine UMC, recalls how it all began.
Cindy Ryan: Amy Wicke has been a member of our church since I got here and I knew her as a vibrant, happy, athletic, competitive woman in our church who had two little kids and a husband.
One Sunday, right after we opened our new sanctuary, she had a seizure in worship and it turned out that that was caused by a brain tumor. What unfolded after that was that she had surgery and then different kinds of treatment and she fought that brain tumor for 12 years.
Monica: I was eight when she was diagnosed and, being young, I didn’t really have a true grasp with what was really happening. It wasn’t until later that I began to have a clearer picture with what my mom’s diagnosis was.
I drew a lot of my strength from my mom, she was very resilient. She refused to let her diagnosis define her, that was very evident in the way that she lived.
Narrator: In Today’s Experience Jesus Calling podcast, we continue with stories from individual members of the First United Methodist Church in Grapevine, Texas, who each share their personal experiences about the impact of Jesus Calling on their lives. Brent and Monica Wicke were small children when their mother became sick, and grew up witnessing her strength and resolve to help others find the peace she had found. Cindy, Monica, and Brent, remember the woman who meant so much to them:
Brent: I think my mom just had a great attitude. I remember having a friend’s parents telling me just how great of an attitude she had about everything, she was very caring, very loving, stubborn, she was determined to do everything on her own, but great mom, she was a great mom.
Cindy: Amy was a fighter and she fought every single limitation that came her way. She hated every obstacle that came up. She hated it when she could no longer work. She hated it when she had to stop living alone, when she couldn’t drive, when she went to the assisted living. And yet, through her fighting those obstacles, she would eventually come to peace with each one.
Monica: There were so many things I can remember that we liked to do. Most notably, my mom and I specifically, we would love to drink coffee, we did that as often as we could. We loved to just sit around and talk, are some of my most fond memories of her, we would just sit and talk. We would shop together. We did just about everything together, we were really close.
Cindy: She was just the spunkiest, amazing woman and I loved just meeting her for coffee and talking to her and somewhere in the course of that time, we both knew we were reading Jesus Calling. We would talk about that and how helpful it was and about today’s entry or whatever in the book and how helpful it was.
At some point along the way, she joined the bible study here at church. I think it was around the time when she couldn’t work anymore. She was free to come during the morning time to a bible study and I knew that that group was important to her. It was made up of some women from the community, some from our church and Amy. Would regularly see her when she came for Bible Study she would pop her head in and say hello.
Angie Vaughn: My name is Angie Vaughn and I’m a long time member of First United Methodist here in Grapevine. I have been involved in many different bible study groups and it is through those very powerful groups is how I came to know Amy Wicke as a very dear friend through that process.
When I first came into the group and got to know Amy is when I first became aware of her diagnosis. That became a unique situation because we immediately became a support system for her. I look back on that and recognize what a circle of strength it truly was.
Brent: The bible study my mom was involved in was great. They went out of their way to make sure my mom was involved. Whatever she needed, they were there for her. They would bring her whatever she needed and whenever things got harder on her, they compromised with her and they were very, very loving people.
Monica: The bible study that my mom was involved in was tremendous, throughout the whole process They were there in ways we couldn’t be there for her and truly were the hands and feet of God.
Cindy: I only learned later about the fact that toward the last months of her life that she requested that they study Jesus Calling because she could digest it. She could understand it and because it meant so much to her. I knew only recently that they, in the last weeks, months of Amy’s life studied that book together.
Monica: She would text me in the morning and say, “Have you read your Jesus Calling? Have you read today’s passage? It’s perfect, I think it’s going to go great with whatever happened to be happening at the time, and I would open the book and she was right. It was just so spot on, it always was so spot on and I think that’s what she loved about it, was every day was different for her in her health and every day is different in Jesus Calling and speaks to you in the way that you need it to. That’s the comfort that she found in it and I think that she did find a lot of peace with the words of the book.
Angie: Amy had a level of peace about her circumstances, and her situation that I wish we could all have. The words from the page are what brought her peace.
Brent: The copy of Jesus Calling that I have was given to my mom, this is my mom’s copy, by the Barr Family. Janie Barr was a member of the bible study. It says, “Amy, may this bless and encourage you, may it be a vehicle to remind you that your Heavenly Father loves you deeply and created you for a special purpose. Love, the Barr Family.
The impact Jesus Calling had on my mom was very immense, I think it was bigger than anyone would have expected, honestly. I think through what she was going through it was just very comforting and it helped her through a lot. It was warming to her everyday she had a new passage to look forward to that would help her get through the day and just stay strong.
Monica: I agree, it had a tremendous impact on her. It was a place she could go and feel comfort and feel the Lord’s presence, just kind of stop for a moment and have something so pure just to revel in for a moment. I think it really clarified her thoughts on certain things. I think it helped her to take her next steps, if that makes sense. The impact was amazing.
Brent: It’s a very simple book, easy read, and there were just some brief passages that said a lot to her.
Monica: My mom’s favorite passage from Jesus Calling is on the May 31st date. It says,
“The peace that I give you transcends your intellect. When most of your mental energy goes into efforts to figure things out, you are unable to receive this glorious gift. I look into your mind and see your thoughts spinning around and round, going nowhere, accomplishing nothing. All the while, my peace hovers over you, searching for a place to land. Be still in my presence, inviting me to control your thoughts. Let my light soak into your mind and heart until you are aglow with my very being. This is the most effective way to receive my peace.”
Reading that, I can see why that is her favorite verse. Throughout a lot of her illness, there were a lot of highs and a lot of lows with the way that she handled it. Some days were great and some days were definitely not. She definitely thought at a thousand miles an hour and for her to read this and to hear the Lord speak to her, saying, “Calm down, let me help you, let me give you my peace.”
Brent: I think My mom just gave me almost an inner strength that whenever you’re facing something difficult or challenging, you just kind of sit down and think and think how my mom was just so positive and just so, “everything’s going to be all right” kind of an attitude and you just take that into perspective and it helps you handle things.
Monica: She was such a fighter and she was so strong. She knew, that she wasn’t gonna win the war. She knew she didn’t have any control about it but she wasn’t going to let it define her. She didn’t want to be known as Amy with cancer, she wanted to be known as Amy Wicke.
Angie: The last time that we were there we all were gathered in this main area where we always met and there was no Amy. It just was not a good day for her. She really, I don’t think, had the physical stamina to come be with us at all.
One of the ladies in our group said, “That doesn’t keep us from just sitting right here and truly praying for her.” We actually took one of our bibles that we had and opened it up and all put our hands on the bible and spent a long time praying over her. In the back of my mind I really did believe that was probably going to be the last time as a group that we assembled right there at that spot. It couldn’t have been more perfect. It also couldn’t have been any more than what I think she would have absolutely wanted from us.
Cindy: Amy died just a little over a year ago and around that time of the year anniversary, her ex-husband contacted me and said the kids would like to visit with me about something they want to do and honor their mom.
Monica: The first of this year, my mom’s father passed away and it was definitely hard, we lost our mom and then we lost our grandfather. We were blessed with a little bit of an inheritance from him and when you’re young and you don’t really know the right way to go about dealing with something like that.
Brent: The inheritance was supposed to go my mom and so it was split between my sister and I and it was overwhelming but it almost just clicked and made sense that once we decided that we were donating money that it was going to go right to the bible study and something with the church. It’s where everything started and it’s where it’s finished.
Monica: It’s a simple way we can give back to those who gave so much to our mom and we hope we can help touch people the way that it touched our mom.
Cindy: We got our schedules together and ironically enough, the day they came in was the one year anniversary of her death. We acknowledged that and cried a little and prayed and then they told me that they had received an inheritance from their grandfather who died a little bit after Amy and that they wanted to give some money to the church in honor and memory of their mom.
Monica: It really, honestly, happened so quickly, these amazing bible study women sat down and knew our mom’s heart and where it was with Jesus Calling and was like this is what this donation needs to go to.
Cindy: I just said, oh my goodness, let’s just like pause right there, do you know how much your mom loves you guys and how much she talked about you? How she wanted you to be okay? Just the fact that you all want to honor her life in this way. It’s so huge and she would just be so proud.
Monica: Hopefully, through that we can enrich the lives of a lot of other people with this book. I mean, this book it moves people, there’s a reason that so many people I know have this book, that people do bible studies on it because it speaks the truth. It’s a beautifully condensed version of God’s love and His grace and it speaks to everybody.
Cindy: We think that maybe we should just that money to buy as many copies as we can and give them out in Amy’s memory to specific places that were like the places that she struggled with – cancer patients, or single moms, people that were struggling with addiction.
Angie: It is a piece of Amy’s legacy that can just reach many different places.
Monica: we are going to give some to an after school program here at the church called Vast. It’s about fifty kids that come here everyday after school and we’re going to hand some out to them so they can have them for their use or for their family.
Cindy: we have a neighborhood meal that we serve once a month, a home cooked meal to anybody in our community who needs a hot meal.
The last time we had a meal, we had about 200 people here. Amy used to be a volunteer at that and she loved it because she was so personable and she would be a host at a table, which some people are scared of sitting down with strangers to eat but some people had that gift and Amy had that gift. She would always be a host at Be Our Guest. That’s the name of the program.
Angie: Ultimately, I knew the story was long from over. That there was going to be another piece to Amy’s legacy and this is it. It’s surreal, but it’s beautiful and it’s exactly how Amy would want it to be. That they can understand that there is comfort, there is peace.
Monica: That’s the legacy that she wanted to leave and that’s the impact that she leaves on me. To just know that even when things aren’t going the way you want them to, that it’s going to be okay and that there’s going to be, you know, there’s hope and there’s the light at the end of the tunnel and everything’s going to work out for a reason and she just, I mean, I don’t think there’s really an adequate way to describe the way my mom’s impacted my life. I wouldn’t be who I am if it wasn’t for her.
Narrator: The living example of hope Amy brought to those around her influenced them to share what she found in the pages of Jesus Calling; a peace that allowed her to face even the toughest of circumstances. And thanks to the generosity of her children, that hope will be spread to many others for years to come.
Next time on the Experience Jesus Calling Podcast, we hear from another young woman whose life took an abrupt turn due to the influence of her mother’s faith…
Our excerpt from Jesus Calling for this show comes from the May 31st entry:
The peace that I give you transcends your intellect. When most of your mental energy goes into efforts to figure things out, you are unable to receive this glorious gift. I look into your mind and see your thoughts spinning around and round, going nowhere, accomplishing nothing. All the while, my peace hovers over you, searching for a place to land. Be still in my presence, inviting me to control your thoughts.
Narrator: Do you have an experience with Jesus Calling that has had an impact on your life? We’d love to hear from you. Visit JesusCalling.com and share your story with us.