When Anna Bauereis’ son Alexei was tragically killed in 2016, she and her family were plunged into a world of questions, doubting God and wondering where to go next. And yet today, Anna is full of joy and seeks to use her life to impact others. Read how she found her joy again and what you should do if you need to find yours, too.
Share with us a little about you and your family.
Anna: Eric and I will be married 20 years this coming September and live and work in Austin, Texas. We have five children, three from my previous marriage. Our children range from 35 years old to what would have been 16 years old. We have five granddaughters and one grandson. My husband is a Product Manager, I’m an Educator/Parent Coach, and we own a small business.
When our youngest was born, he was overly sensitive to sounds. It was best to have our door bell disconnected and our phone turned down. We needed to know when our neighbor mowed their grass. The doctor told us he had Asperger’s. What a shock to us and what a different lifestyle! We looked it up and started living to the label.
As our youngest two children started school, we noticed they were losing their personalities, and their characters were changing. Our youngest son Alexei had eagerly wanted to start school yet by the third week, he was in tears every day. In the classroom the walls were covered with “stuff” and it turned out other kids were bullying him. We talked with the teachers multiple times and they did nothing.
I had a consulting business and was doing well. However, during my morning prayer and meditation time, the Lord was laying on my heart to homeschool the children. I felt there was no way I could do that. I brought it up with our parents. I had gone to private school and my husband had gone to public school. My husband was a national merit scholar student, and I struggled with dyslexia and didn’t know how to read above a 5th grade level until I was 25. Our parents did not support the idea, so I left it alone. God didn’t.
I asked God if He was crazy! A fellow mom told me about a book called “The Well-Trained Mind,” which I read. Terrific book but I wasn’t going to homeschool. God kept at me. As I was unpacking books from Eric’s family, I found books written in the late 1800’s and early 1900’s, books the “Well Trained Mind” encouraged you to read to your children. I told Eric, “I think God wants us to homeschool.” I prayed the next morning and I said, “God I am putting out the fleece. If you want me to homeschool, please make it very clear.”
That day, I found four more books on my daughter’s bookshelf. When she came home from school, I asked her where her reading book was, and she informed me, “Mom, I have dyslexia, I don’t have to read anymore.” The heat rose off my head. I shared this with my husband when he came home from work and let him know I was going to call the school the next morning. The next morning during my prayer time, the Lord said, “Homeschool your children.” I called the school, listened to their story. I called my husband and asked him to meet me at the school. We were going to homeschool. We did, and it was the best journey I could have ever had with our family.
When you yield to GOD’s guidance, HE makes sure that the outcome is what makes HIS child all they can be.
In the midst of the tragic death of your son, Alexei, how were you able to find joy and peace?
Anna: On June 6, 2016, my husband and I were starting a new Bible study (the Truth Project) with Austin Christian Executives. It was also book burning night to celebrate the end of the school year. I had a deal with Alexei that if he did his school work, he could burn the books from the class he most disliked at the end of the term.
Eric and I got home at 8:30PM and talked with Alexei and his friends about what books they were going to burn. Alexei wanted to burn his grammar book. He liked to write, but he just did not like the rules that went along with writing. He was happy and I was tired, so I went to bed. The boys burned books and enjoyed our food. Then Alexei walked his friend Alex home from our house.
At some point I sat straight up in bed and yelled to Eric, “Where is Alexei? He’s not home yet.” Alexei came into my room every night and gave me a hug and kiss… and he hadn’t. We started calling him and he did not answer, so we thought the boys were eating more food at Alex’s house. After a bit, Eric headed over to Alex’s house to get him. Eric got to the end of our street and came upon an accident. Alexei had been hit by a car. We drove to the hospital and when we got there, we were told he had died.
When Alexei was 9 years old, he had very few to no friends. Neighbors asked us to keep him at home because he was a strange little kid. At his funeral, there was over 700 people in attendance. After Alexei went through Brain Balance, a program to help kids with learning challenges, he no longer had Asperger’s, sensory processing issues, and ADHD. Alexei then had friends; he was a very talkative, school work-avoiding, regular kid who LOVED to dance.
We prayerfully raised our children. The day after Alexei died, the hospital’s social worker told us we would be full of regret; we did not have regret. We prayed, we went to church, we listened for God’s guidance. The Lord so lovingly provided others to walk with us, feed us, pay for the funeral, pray with and for us.
We were in shock the first year after his death. I personally now suffer from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, which showed up around the time of what would have been Alexei’s 16th birthday. During the first year, we didn’t know what we needed, and people asked daily. It was extremely hard to accept help and let others do for us, because we were always the ones who did for others.
We leaned into God, and our daily relationship grew deeper. Sometimes I would just sit and drink coffee, waiting to hear from God. I would ask questions of why, how can I, what should I do, how should I do this, should I care etc. God showed up every time and He gave me answers. It was one day at a time, sometimes half a day at a time.
Following his death, what did you learn about the impact Alexei had on others?
Anna: Alexei had so many friends and impacted many we had not even met. Alexei was a ballet dancer who loved classical ballet. Because of his dancing and travels, he knew people in China, Brazil, Uruguay, South Africa, and probably someone from every state in the US. He was filmed for a documentary just two weeks before his death about male ballet dancers being bullied. The Movie has been dedicated to him. (Watch here: “DANSEUR MOVIE”)
Alexei understood being the outsider; he was bullied, he was different, he had learning disabilities, and he looked at life through an artist’s eyes. He always saw the beauty in others. After his death we heard stories of how he had impacted others. We raised him to be a Godly man, a gentleman, and a man who made a difference in the world. With God’s help, WE DID IT!
Alexei, we have been told, saved two of his friends from taking their lives. He brought three young people to Christ, he encouraged older women (45 and up) to live their dreams in dance, and he made sure new dancers felt comfortable backstage. He was a chatterbox who was very deep and loving to everyone.
We have been told our son made a difference in many people’s’ lives. We have been told, because of our attitude, grace, example, and how we have chosen to further the legacy of our son’s life, others we don’t even know have chosen Christ over killing themselves. He was even a role model to those who taught him, who have said “because of who Alexei was and how he was, they have changed their approach to children.” He expected nothing in return and really cared about how your day was.
What a gift God gave us in being Alexei’s parents.
Two years after losing your son, what has God done in your life as a result?
Anna: God carried us and walked alongside us, just like he did with Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego (Daniel 3:24-27). I questioned God A LOT, cried lots, and had many sleepless nights. When my Post Traumatic Stress Disorder began on what would have been Alexei’s 16th birthday, I found myself not thinking straight, not able to cope, drive, eat or even work. God used others to speak into our lives. The questions we ask, the struggles we go through, show us how God provides answers, love, and guidance.
When my son died, my life changed in a flash. I am no longer a homeschool mom, I am no longer a skate or dance mom, I no longer have to prepare meals with certain protein counts, I no longer have the need for the big SUV, I no longer have to drive to Dallas two times a week, I no longer need to figure out schedules, and we had a Christmas for the first time in six years that did not involve the Nutcracker Ballet. However, through all this loss, God showed me how he prepared me for this day. I spent time in relationship with God daily for many years. I study God’s Word in Bible Study Fellowship, I go church, and I LISTEN to God.
I have spent the last 10 years learning, working, reading, and focusing on helping families that have children with issues like Alexei’s. WHAT was I going to do with all my time now? After much prayer, God has shown me how He is going to use me. I am going to travel and share my testimony with others. I am going to be an educator/parent coach. I have been approved for CEP hours by the state of Texas, and I am now conducting teacher development. This has been rewarding for me and has had an impact on the next generation.
What advice would you give to someone struggling to find joy in his or her life?
Anna: Turn to God and wait for Him to answer. Listen, look for confirmations, and meditate on His word. Confirmation may come through other people, something you hear on the radio, or a piece of paper you find with a note from the past. Also, watch your diet, watch what you see on TV, and be discerning about the people you are around. Protect your ears from what you hear, play Christian music in your car, have a worship fest on your way to work or in your house while making dinner or cleaning. Find prayer partners! Being a part of 4word has been wonderful for me and helped me grow a community of women around me who are going through the same challenges in life.
God did not create us to be alone; we were made for relationship. We are to take this ”mess of a test” we are in and create a beautiful message that is a testimony to others.
Does your life feel like a constant “mess of a test?” Are you struggling to even see the joy in life each day? We hope that Anna’s story has shown you how joy is never gone forever. You will find it, if you go to your Heavenly Father and ask Him to make it known to you. Are you ready to ask and listen?
Anna Bauereis is passionate about families. She has not always been fully aware of GOD’s call on her life, but she has known Him, and He has guided her to make creative choices to balance work and life. She has experience in Social Work, Psychology, Education, and Functional Neurology. She wants to impact women to become all they can be in the call of God in their lives. It is her desire to share what God has taught her to help others discern His call on their lives and stay the course with His help, impacting the next generation. Contact information: Anna@Bauereis.org
4word is generously sponsored by James Avery