We (Tex, Brooke & I) tried to get our Christmas shopping done, however, we weren't successful. But I didn't really care. We were together and I enjoyed every minute of it. As we were waiting outside of the motorcycle shop for Tex, I turned around and just stared at Brooke as she munched on a Kilani Bakery brownie. Precious moments. Some times in the rush of trying to get it all done, we miss out on the simple things - people. So the cookies aren't all baked, the decorating is partly done, the rest I put away, the lights on the outside of the house never got put up and the gifts I intended to get didn't quite make it under the tree but...God has given us another Christmas together and that's all that counts!
2011 has been a year of triumphs and tears but this Christmas we are rejoicing that we can sit together, hug together and sing those carols together.
When I reflect back on 2011, I see how God was turning us down this path, blocking our way here, and shining a light down another way. HE brought friends from the mainland to visit and love on Brooke. Trish and Julie you both came at specific times when we really needed your friendship. How awesome is our God to have allowed both of you to come at different times and bless us so much. God allowed our good friend Leslie to stay a few more months (through some of our roughest months) in Hawaii before having to move back to Texas. She loved on us, prayed and cried with me. Another angel God allowed into our lives at just the right moment. We got to take Brooke to Portland in Sept and see Hanson in concert and while there we got to visit with old friends Gary & Bella, and the Agnors! Those visits were so special to us. Those coffee dates where we chatted with Gary & Bella and how we were able to be with Bella as she was at one of her doctor appointments. The Agnors opened their home to us for a fun night and Tex & Dave got to go to Cabela's and have guy time. Breanna, Brooke and I got to traverse around Portland for shopping. Special, special times.
Can't forget those hospital stays. Although we don't want a repeat performance in 2012, we met some wonderful doctors, nurses, therapists,& technicians. They added hope to our lives, and to those that were "cranky" - well God showed us how to love on them! We got to compare what different hospitals had to offer. Queen's had the better sleeping arrangements for us parents - Pali Momi needs work on that area, BUT Pali Momi had valet parking for only $4 for all day- Queen's was $15!! We liked Pali Momi best eventho we had to sleep in Brooke's wheelchair - which makes for an achey body. Pali Momi had Pearlridge Shopping Center next door which gave us different eating options. No matter how good the food in a hospital cafeteria may be, after a few meals there you long for something different. We realized as hospital personnel came in and out of our lives that the hospitals are a BIG mission field. We are thankful for all friends who came to the hospital for visits, brought food and listened as I lamented and cried. Thank you to Mike and Maria who let us stay in their downstairs bedroom so we didn't have to drive to the North Shore so much. All these angels were provided by our God who saw our needs.
Speaking of mission fields, God allowed us to take Brooke for two weeks to the Philippines. It was our fourth visit and Brooke's second. After being off the ventilator in July, we left in October for two weeks on Boracay and Panay. What an awesome trip. Brooke was a trooper. She never complained once about being uncomfortable and stretched and our team could see God's awesome power first hand. Our team was the best ever. Everyone helped in so many areas, we never had to ask for help they all just stepped up to do whatever needed to be done. They were committed and they knew that God had called each and everyone of us to Boracay. Leilani & Frank left behind their son who had just found out he had pancreatic cancer, Randall & Marlene left their fathers who they care for in the loving hands of others, Kainoa who just turned 20 put his trust in a group of people he had never really traveled with, Sharon & Diane came along as single women waiting to see how God was going to use them, Gregg had to leave behind his company in the hands of others trusting God would take care of everything, Scott had made a commitment to Brooke the year before that if she went he would go - it took a year but he came along and God used him so much, Lyn & Derek left behind their new grandson but saw how God brought so many little children for them to love on, Gwen & Manny left Gwen's mom who was very ill because they too heard God say go. And God brought Darwin & Connie from Calvary Chapel Pearl Harbor to join our team and what an asset they were! God spoke and said "take Elizabeth to care for Brooke" and we obeyed and guess what? In January Elizabeth will be a full time missionary to the church on Boracay! God had to get her there so she would hear Him speak! All that way, at every village, at every feeding, at every encounter with someone we saw God's hand guiding us, protecting us, providing for us. Brooke grew, we all grew in our faith - 2011 Mission Trip to Boracay was a trip we will never forget.
God answered our prayers to bring our son Trey home to live for a while. It is wonderful to see how Brooke lights up when he and she interact with each other. Brother and sister - together. Again, God's hand is on this. We have been able to share the gospel with each of his friends that come through our gate. God still uses us over and over again.
Tex is now home full-time - retired at last from the Fire Department. I am enjoying our time together. Brooke is ecstatic and feels so much more comfortable with his big arms around to lift her . She doesn't always appreciate his teasing, but they do share the same sense of humor!
Thank you Lord, for providing so much at each step we took. You stretched us, even though we didn't always like the stretching, reflecting back we see that Your hand was guiding us each and every way. You never let go. Reflecting back reminds us who is really in charge and who sits on the throne! Take the time to reflect back on 2011, bet you'll see God !