I will start by saying that words will never express my awe and amazement of how truly good people are. At any given time, we can jump online, or flip on the television, grab a newspaper, whatever and hear a ton of depressing stories of this fallen world. I simply avoid most of it because of that very reason. It comes as no surprise that Jesus hasn't come back to this earth yet. All of you are still winning souls for His Kingdom and there is more hope for this world than I ever thought. God bless you all for your constant love, support, thoughtfulness, prayers, tears, sharing of stories, pictures...in two words, your blessings.
Those of you that know me well know that my character is to take on everything that comes my way, without complaining, and give everything I have to handle business. It is hard for me to ask for help and not because I am prideful, but I simply react to what comes my way and never shy away from a challenge. Challenges motivate me. When Bri was going through tough times with pain before the diagnosis, I asked for people to pray. I prayed. HARD, more so than ever in my life. Praying for healing and wisdom. At times, I felt like I was placing a burden on others simply asking for prayer. I started to realize that was not the case. So many people were praying for my wife, laying hands on her, sending her words of encouragement, scriptures, and so on. Then came her diagnosis and inside I kind of fell apart, but for a short time. I didn't know what to do, other than take it as it came and pray, and pray and pray more. Our church family showed our family a level of support that was really an example of Jesus. I love you guys! Suddenly, we had to rely on others to help us through things that were beyond my capability of taking on. For example, for our 11th anniversary, the Poveda's took care of our girls for an hour and a half while we went to dinner. We were in a hurry to get our girls! We talked about them and even sent a text to ask how they were! Our girls were never away from the presence of a parent. There were times during Bri's first week in the hospital that we had no choice but to allow those close to us to help. God gives strength! As time passed, we developed a routine where our girls were able to spend time with grandma, or Nama, and great-grandma, Nanny, while I spent weekends with Bri in the hospital. During the first 4 weeks of Bri being hospitalized, the elementary school our daughters go to made meals for our family. I was amazed and humbled by the love and support from a group of teachers who hadn't known us long, but felt the desire to help. Thank you! Then came the part where I had to go back to work and Anzley had to be take care of. A wonderful family from church offered their assistance and she has kind of become part of their family. Smiths, we love you!
Brooke, who is simply put, one of the most awesome people on this earth, worked with a friend to put this blog site together. Almost immediately, many of you were donating to help with medical bills. Bri started receiving what I called, "fan mail!" No kidding when I say the packages and cards started to arrive in large quantities. I would store them up and deliver them on the weekends. You all put a huge smile on her face everytime. Some brought tears of joy. Others brought laughter, while others kept her focus on God and helped to pass the time. Pretty sure she developed my sweet-tooth, as well! Thank you all for loving on Bri and keeping her encouraged!
None of this has been easy for our family, but you all have stepped up and delivered blessings that will continue to bless us and generations to come. I am a visionary and I have made a vow to share this experience at every opportunity. Whether you prayed, donated financially, sent gifts, thought about us, told someone about our family, any which way, I promise you this: you will be a blessing to more and more people as the years pass. I have big dreams for using this experience to further the Kingdom of God.
There have been auctions, races put together, a car wash, a benefit dinner. I can't even begin to understand the power of God and how He brings all of this together through all of you and many of you whom I have never met. Some are strangers who heard about Bri through friends and relatives. Tammy added up the financial proceeds that have come from the donation link on the blogsite, including the auction. Over $10,000. That is hard for me to wrap my mind around! I want you all to know these funds have been a blessing beyond measure. Not only have they covered medical expenses. They have covered travel expenses for family members to spend time with Bri. They have covered lost wages for family members who have had to miss work to be with Bri, which, in turn, helps make ends meet for other family members. Once all the dust settles and we evaluate everything as a whole, I imagine there will be proceeds remaining. My visionary side has the desire to start a foundation in Bri's name. It may be small at the beginning, but God willing, it will grow. I have no idea how to begin or where to go to start, but that won't get in the way.
Again, nothing I can say or type can truly express the gratitude I feel for all of you. I appreciate everything all of you have done, are doing, your prayers, thoughts, well-wishes, outpouring of love, your goodness, your blessings. I have never experienced anything quite like this and I am forever grateful. On behalf of myself, our precious daughters and our Angel in Heaven, Bri, thank you all so very much! God bless you all, abundantly!
We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father, (I Thessalonians 1:2, 3 NKJV)