Yesterday was Nov 21, 2018, and we had a quiet day at home. I had picked up Lizzy and Lori from the hospital the day before and it was good to have everyone back home – playing, laughing, relaxing.
You see, yesterday – Nov 21, 2018 – was a lot different than Nov 21, 2017.
On Nov 21, 2017, I woke up early in a hotel room in Denver, CO. I was in one room with all the boys and Lori was in another room with all the girls. So I texted Lori to see how Lizzy was feeling because Lizzy had gotten sick the night before. Lori’s text back to me said Lizzy didn’t sleep well and Lori was pretty sure she was running a fever. She said she thought we needed to take Lizzy to an urgent care clinic before we went to the airport to start our journey back home.
At that moment, I had no idea how the next few hours would unfold. Nor did I have even the slightest thought that within the next 4 hours, I would be told my daughter has cancer and that our lives would be forever changed.
And our lives have changed – dramatically. And I’m thankful!
On this Thanksgiving Day, Nov 22, 2018, I am Thankful for a God who loves me unconditionally and has shown His power and strength and love and compassion to me in ways I’ve never experienced before. And has drawn me closer and closer to Him and given me peace and true joy in spite of the circumstances. I never would have imagined that the greatest peace I’ve ever felt in my life would come in the midst of the greatest chaos of my life.
I am Thankful for a wife who is the strongest person I know – an absolute saint of a woman who amazes me everyday with unending devotion to our family, her rock-steady work ethic, her relentless desire to grow closer to God, and her unbelievable willingness to put up with me! If you’ve ever read Proverbs 31 and wondered what that kind of woman looks like in real life, look no further than Lori Brooks.
I am Thankful for Lizzy and the Small But Fierce Warrior that she is! I have never seen a tougher human being in my life. I’ve written about it several times, and I continue to be amazed by this little girl. She brings joy and energy and laughter everywhere she goes, including places like the radiation center, ambulance rides, surgery, hospital room, and on and on and on. She is amazing!
I am Thankful for Treas and Colson, as they often have to have their schedules reworked in order to accommodate what’s going on with Lizzy. They both love their little sister so much and they are awesome siblings. I am especially thankful for Colson, He has had to step in and play the role of dad many times in my absence and he has been fantastic! It’s his senior year of high school so he has a lot going on in his world, but never once has he complained or hesitated to help – he is the unsung hero working behind the scenes that most of you don’t know about.
I am Thankful for our other children and their spouses. Even though they all live away (some of them far, far away), their love and support has been essential to us. Lori and I are so proud of each of them and how they are forging ahead with the path that God has laid before them – it’s exciting to watch!
I am Thankful for our parents and siblings who have been so helpful in both big and small ways. Family is such a special bond and blessing and we are truly blessed.
I am Thankful for our church family who has loved on us like we were the only ones at the church. Sunday school teachers, preschool volunteers, Administrative staff, pastors, deacons, elders – the list goes on and on of people being the Church – the hands and feet of Jesus. You all mean so much to us and we are so thankful for each and everyone one of you.
I am Thankful for our Love Where U Are group and my sister/brother-in-laws small group. In very real and practical ways, you all have helped carry our burden and made us feel loved.
I am Thankful for so many people who have sent us notes and gift cards and money and food – a lot of you we know, some we didn’t know before but now we do, and some who have remained anonymous. Please know that each and everyone one of you have been used by God to bless our family.
I am Thankful to everyone who has listened to our story or read this blog. We have tried to be as transparent as possible – sharing the good and the bad, the highs and the lows, the questions, the doubts, the fears, the assurances, the blessings and the joys. You have listened or read this blog and for us, just being able to share and know that someone is listening (or reading) has been a real blessing.
I am Thankful for new friends I found in the Outback! It’s amazing how, when a group of people have a common goal of pursuing relationships with God and with others, deep bonds are formed seemingly overnight.
This past year has been a year unlike any other. And I no longer pretend that I have a clue what this next year is going to look like. What I do know is that God is still God, we trust in Him completely, and we are blessed. My prayer for each of you this Thanksgiving is that you know the same.