Saturday, December 25, 2010


this season of my life has been bitter-sweet...

sweet in the way that brooke has been able to spend so much time w/us. she seems to be doing really well lately. as you know she spent time w/us during Thanksgiving...and last Monday we picked her up for a trip to Memphis. We had her until tonight. It was a joy being w/her and my present alone was to sit beside her...laughing, tearing packages apart, eating, being still, sleeping, stealing kisses and hugs, and the list goes on. she has been a delight.

just tonight when i took her back to her group of her staff told me what happened last sunday after they left church. she said they took the girls to Krystals because they were doing so well and afterwards brooke cried and whimpered all day long, calling out my name, "mommy" and calling out for Josiah, "joey". she said...she cried all day long. then she said, "dani, she just wanted to be w/you".... tug, tug, heart sank!!!!

that leads me to the bitter side. my heart ached tonight as i took her to her group home. i had been at her side the whole could i walk away and leave her? it was hard. it is hard. God is aware of our circumstances and will cover, shield, protect, keep close....when our family is apart. "oh Lord....make a way".

bitter? yep.
sweet? it over powers the bitter!

Monday, December 13, 2010


i've noticed something. something i haven't seen before. it left me different than when i stepped into brooke's bedroom today.

brooke was lying in her bed when i walked in...patiently resting. she seemed tired but focused. weary but driven. i jumped on top of her and kissed her gently...then laid beside of her and watched her. i watched her eyes...very intense today. i stroked her hair. kissed her face. held her hands. her eyes though...were starring at something. i would turn her head..she'd turn it back. i'd move my hands in front of her eyes...she didn't budge. then i looked at the wall...where she was looking and i couldn't help but smile. across from her bed is a frame with several pictures in it of all of us. my mom/dad/josiah/ethan/brooke and me/brooke and bill. of course it made me wonder what she was thinking about as she gazed at the pictures. i had about 50 questions for her...none she answered. she didn't seem to mind that i was in the room...she wasn't concerned with the little things...she was just focused.

i left her little group home today w/a different perspective that she gave me. i have to stay focused on Him. No matter what draws my attention from's imperative i gaze and focus...even when i'm weary...even when i'm not.

nothing allured her away today...i pray nothing would allure me away either.

Thursday, December 09, 2010

thank you

there are some words brooke cannot say or that seems hard for her...and then, there are some words brooke says really well...and "thank you" is one of those (well, two). you can be taking her to the bathroom, helping her eat, changing her clothes, watching tv with her, hugging, kissing, tickling, playing chase, swinging on a swing, brushing her hair, holding her hand, looking at a book, or like today....

laying beside her in her bed and you'll hear "thank you!", with a happy little grin.

i've been thinking on that today...thinking on how thankful she is. she's thankful for the little things, things of what we call mundane, or simple...

i know there will be some questions of some out there that will ask, "how do you know if she's really thankful?" can look at her life and tell.
you can look at her smile and know.
you can see it in her eyes... she's thankful!

i desire to be just like be so thankful for the little things that come my way...or the simple things that i take for granted.

i love you brookie..."thank you!"

Tuesday, December 07, 2010


i have fallen in love with the word "selah". it has brought new meaning to me as of late and, too, i recently reconnected with a precious friend and she named her sweet little girl "selah". love it!!

as you know i see brooke everyday at her group home. i have recently called them my "selah moments"...where my day stops mid-stream and i'm still and quiet with brooke at my side and i just soak in every tiny moment.
these past 2 days have been a bit different from the rest (no pun intended). i usually find her on the couch when i arrive....i come in and sit next to her, her legs extended over my legs and i just watch her, sing to her, brush her hair, and, as i still. monday and then again today i found her in her room laying on top of her comforter. i was quick to jump in and lay right beside her. today and yesterday she put her head on my shoulder and fell asleep. today...she took an extra step in the process...i laid my head on her shoulder and with her opposite hand reached over and grabbed my head to pull me closer (and yes...ha, with a bit of force)...within minutes i felt her hand loosen up a bit and looking at her eyes..she had fallen asleep. to me, as her was precious. i sighed a sigh of relief and yes, both of us paused (selah) in our day.

i long to see her tomorrow to pause, to be still, to rest with her...again.

Monday, December 06, 2010


the day after Thanksgiving we had some time we drove up to Memphis, Tn to see our families. to make the trip even better than ever was Brooke. i picked her up from the group home...and she was 'ready' for a roadtrip. as i told her staff when we returned, brooke did marvelous on the trip and our families' homes. we laughed, played small games of chase, ate, ate...and ate somemore, slept longer than we normally.
one night; however, after taking brooke to the bathroom she decided to stay up...and stay up she did...talking and chattering about something none of us where aware of. although we were not aware of what she was saying...the Lord sure did. that night made me think of a few being this...
in romans 8 it speaks of how our prayers are like utters/wordless sighs/aching groans...but Jesus sits at the right hand of God and intercedes on our behalf when we cannot get out what we want to say. her uttering/chattering reminded me of this very thing...whether or not she was praying i have no clue...but she didn't care that no one else in the house didn't sleep..she just got up and chattered. i betcha though that the Lord understood every single word...and met her right where she was at.
i too...need to do the same. utter, chatter away...and allow the Lord to intercede on my behalf when words are just too difficult to say. The Lord knows our hearts....and He knows that we all needed those few days of being together to show us His wonders....His show us Himself...and for me, to teach me again, thru brooke, how i can pray when words are just too hard...

so grateful!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

spending my Thanksgiving with brooke in my lap...6 boys .. and my precious husband. later, we are headed to the beach.

Monday, November 22, 2010

come friday!

that song, "come'll be alright"...comes to mind when i think of our friday!

friday we will make our way "home" to memphis, tn. we are really excited to go home for the holidays...thinking this will be our only time to go for the remainder of the year. we are working both thanksgiving and Christmas...but thankfully..we are breaking away for a couple days to see parents, eat some great food, see precious friends, and just be together.

what makes it a bit more "alright"....brooke is coming along! yippee!!! i'm sure this will be an adventure, a challenge at times, and a time full of laughter...unspoken words...and memories to hold on to for a long time to come.

so....come friday i'll have a skip in my step and a song in my heart for our family will be ALL together (in a car)..for 6 hours or more. ha!!! sorta makes you wanta pray for us, doesn't it.? we welcome them!

i'm sure i'll have stories to share...and pictures to post...until then...
happy thanksgiving from our chester home to yours.


i wish i could muster up of why i haven't written in a while...i don't really have any excuses.
my world is crazy busy....let me see if i can express how.

i get up at, well...early... sit down w/the boys in the home for breakfast to start our day. the boys leave around 7:15...then i start my morning...reading my Bible, praying for the unknowns of my day. during the next few hours i may have meetings, laundry, prepare dinner, schedule my week, grocery shop, do things around our home, make mosaics for shabar ministries, and run errands! whew...

then the fun!!! around 2:00 everyday i go to brooke's group home and spend some quality time sitting next to her on the couch. it's a perfect "tea time"...she watches tv...and i watch her...pray for her, sing to her, laugh with her, and learn from her.

after spending around 40 minutes of time with her i run off to get the boys from school.....just around the corner. after we get's snack time, homework time, and play time. in between all those i'm finishing up dinner to eat around 5:30. eat, chores, take showers, and have a bit of r/r for the remainder of the day...8:00pm we are putting little heads to bed, praying over them and their families...and then laying down, praying, laughing, singing, sharing stories with our own 2 bouncy boys!

around 9:00 i'm done! we are grateful to be apart of the lives of others.

so i have no excuses. it's just life for me right now.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

are you okay?

i was reading over some past blogs...and i had to copy/paste this one...because it's exactly how i was feeling today.
there are times when brooke puts a couple words together or she echos she said, "are you okay?", when she asked me that....i feel like taking her to get a coke and sitting her down face to face and say, "ya know honey....i'm not okay-i think about you constantly, i wanta know what's going on in your mind, i wanta know what you do daily, i wanta know what foods you eat...i wanta know what you want me to do for you, for our future...i want to see you everyday, but sometimes i can't....i wanta spend every moment w/you in a day..but i cannot. i wanta know what makes you cry, laugh, be so scared at it makes you shake. i wanta know....., brooke i'm not okay---because baby, your not w/me."

Jesus has got you baby...

Friday, September 17, 2010

lessons from brooke

the past week when we were on our "break" time...brooke spent the night. this time it was a bit different...bill suggested she "skip" school. (sorry LT staff). it was so great to wake up and not be in a rush to get her somewhere...or us for that matter. we snuggled in bed, i made her a yummy breakfast, watched a little tv, chick-fi-la picnic...then....took a little trip to fairhope. we love fairhope! brooke loves the pier. she just enjoys walking on it...and then turning around to walk back. too fun! it is the little things in life, right?

on our walk i had a cherry pepsi (of course)! she grabbed it from my hand drank a bit....and then SPLASH...into the bay and kept walking. (sorry ocean for the rubbish). i thought it was a bit funny. if you know brooke..then you know when she is done with something or someone she is DONE. she doesn't care or for that matter, understand. i walked away learning a little something from her in that moment....

there are things in our life we just need to throw away and then keep walking. no looking back. no jumping in to get what we threw away...just keep walking.
so that is what WE did...we kept walking.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

family time

we've had some great family time recently..
just speechless i thought i'd let you see some shots. more to come later.

Friday, September 10, 2010


this girl loves to swing. she takes after her mom...because one of my favorite things to do is swing from a big swing! she always seems to have the biggest smile on her face followed by great laughter!
she's seems to be feeling much better. when i saw her yesterday at the group home her hands were shaking pretty badly...but today they seemed much better. hum...don't really know why. she seems to be filled w/mystery.
we are headed off to break....and then finally back on our regular schedule. we are hoping to get brooke on monday and tuesday. (i'm hoping she can skip school on tuesday).
i've got some great family photos of when i get back in town....i'll put them up.

Tuesday, September 07, 2010

under the weather

i got a call on saturday that brooke's cheek was swollen and she had to go to the er to get things checked out. turns out she had a UTI and maybe a staph infection. (i was out of town and couldn't go like i wanted to).

today she woke up and again her cheek was swollen she had been bumping into things and had even fallen when she was walking. today i met them at the doctor's office to find out she more than likely has a staph infection in her face. they swabbed her throat for strep and we will find about that on thursday. she is on antibiotics to get this thing out of here.....i hope it goes soon!

this picture was taken at the doctors office today...all smiles of course! :)

Wednesday, September 01, 2010

holding on.

we recently moved into a new "relief" house from the home. brooke has adjusted really well in it. just this past weekend she stayed over on a visit and i loved every moment of it. she enjoyed eating french fries...hamburgers...fruit...buscuits...sasuage...and of course some yummy ice cream.
sunday night she fell asleep in our bed so of course i jumped in w/ the middle of the night she rolled over and grabbed my arm and just hung on. it was simply beautiful! i probably was in the most uncomfortable spot (and my neck told me in the morning). however....i couldn't move...didn't want to move in fear she would roll back over and the moment would be gone.

these are the moments i love...they are precious to me as a mom.
i think about these moments w/the Lord....and how He longs for us to reach over and grab Him...just because. NOT because we need something, or we need to hang on for dear life...but just because. just because we love HIM....because HE loves us.

now that is precious...and today, i'm holding on to His arm.

Thursday, August 26, 2010


don't care that your hair is messy. that others sometime stare at you. that you really don't care what you long as you do. you don't mind letting others help you. you enjoy laughing, smiling. you see life through a different perspective than me. you are remarkable. you let others push you til you get it right (yes, sometimes fighting..ha). you don't seem to mind letting others make decisions for you when you don't know. you love life. you love it when i sing to you...even off key, but you don't mind. you are beautiful....
you make me dream bigger.
you make me push harder than i've pushed before.
you make me see life through different eyes.

you are my gift...

heart warming...

my daily visits with brooke have been to die for!
she has been so loving..
caring, full of laughter..
great looks, funny sounds..
unique humor, and timeless smiles!

i have been out of pocket recently because our break schedule has been a bit different lately...but come mid september i'll be back with fun pictures.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010


my weekly lunch with brooke was just fulfilling! this girl loves to eat...and loves her veggies. it was great to spend some time w/her yesterday at the group home and then today at the school. i appreciate those that work w/brooke and others at The Learning Tree to help children like Brooke.

brooke, you make me smile.

(this picture was taken yesterday at the group home)

Saturday, August 07, 2010


i got to visit w/brooke briefly today before i had to return back to work. this summers schedule has been difficult to see her for long periods of time because of our job. however, monday the boys return back to school and my time will ease up a bit. i hope to visit with brooke daily again in her group home/school.

the Lord is doing many things within our family. i'm watching His hand move and i will be eager to share all what He has spoken in secret at the right time.

"For My thoughts are not your thoughts, neither your ways My ways, declares the Lord. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, and My thoughts than your thoughts." Is. 55.8-9

Friday, August 06, 2010

Tuesday, August 03, 2010

lesson from a turtle

we have a new pet in our backyard. a box turtle. i've enjoyed watching him for the past few weeks after the boys captured him. the boys have asked many questions about him but one question in particular has stuck with me and i can't seem to escape the answer. the question was..."why does he have to carry around the hard shell on his back?" my answer..."protection, boys!"

on a somewhat personal side...these past few months i've allowed myself to believe in false securities/false protection. in doing so i only got further away from the "real" protection i needed. it left me vulnerable. i was in constant fear...always looking over my shoulder...trying to cover up with self-protection. thinking i was happy...i was really miserable. it wasn't until i let Jesus pull me back under His wing, shelter, refuge, and ultimately His authority that i felt His protection.
as the mother of brooke, i am always trying to protect her from getting hurt...and rightfully so. we, as parents, should watch over what we have been entrusted with. i'm grateful that Jesus has gone above and beyond to protect His own! He goes before us, behind us..."For the Lord will go before you, and the God of Israel will be your rear guard" Is. 52.12

a friend told me just a few days ago, "He's got our backs"....i'm sure our little box turtle is thinking the same thing.

Monday, August 02, 2010

how fun!

my visit w/brooke tonight was oh so fun!!!

she had just gotten out of the shower so i got to dry her hair and fix it...then we sat on the couch and she just laughed saying "tank you, tank you"! looking at me and smiling...and then laughing some more. at one point she reached her hand behind my neck and then grabbed me toward her to kiss me...and oh boy she did! it was OH so fun!!

i laid down w/her in her bed...told her i loved her and she said as clear as day..."i know"...i smiled and she repeated...broken English....but still the words were there!

she made my day. she always has a way to cut me to the core...

Friday, July 30, 2010

so we get to brooke's house and ethan and josiah run and jump in her lap. it was just beautiful. every now and then brooke would look at ethan and smile really big. she loves her brothers. her brothers are the only ones that i know of that can get that close/personal to her for a lengthy amount of time w/o getting slapped or hit. it's just precious.

i got to spend some time w/brooke yesterday at the group home. she seemed a bit reserved and to her self...however it was great to be in her space and sit close to her!
even though she is just 3 miles down the road i miss her!

Saturday, July 17, 2010


yes, i'm just now experiencing Easter in more ways than just one.
brooke came to church w/us on Easter...and it was adorable!

she crossed her legs and everything while she was in her dress...

Wednesday, July 14, 2010


brooke has been picking at her fingers so badly that 2 infections have come up on different fingers. she has been to the doctor w/both and they have drained them. she has lost each finger nail and has been on a anti-biotic to ilmenite further infection. it looks painful and must feel painful.

the boys at the cottage got to meet brooke yesterday. josiah and ethan answered the questions they was sweet. josiah and ethan were so proud to introduce her to them! i loved seeing the excitement!

Just yesterday bill and i were talking about Jesus being our Advocate. I loved thinking on Him as such and it was a huge encouragement to me knowing that He has not only paid the price for us...but daily He fights for us and presents us to His Father....
I love being an advocate for Brooke. I will continue to be her voice and fight for her when she cannot...

Monday, July 12, 2010

just beautiful

just so you know....when we are off duty at the children's home i do not have access to a computer to share information, news, pictures, etc...except on facebook. we do not own a computer right posting does not happen as often as i would like...

with that said...we have been out of pocket for 10 days. bill went to Guatemala and i took the boys to Memphis, saw family, visited some special friends, and came back home to spend some one-one-one with brooke. Bill had a very interesting trip out of the country....and me, i felt like i went out of the country as well. Needless to say it was good for all of us!

It was great to spend so much time with brooke. i took her to the dentist in Pensacola, Fl ate lunch at the relief house and then i took her back to her group home...later that Tuesday night she spent the night w/me and we had a little slumber party. we ate pizza and drank coke in the bed...watching TV of course! it was truly a girls night! she finally drifted off to sleep around 10:30. i took her to school the next day. Wednesday and Thursday i was busy packing up our relief house for us all to move to another house the children's home owns. i spent more time w/her at her group home both days...just hanging out in her world. bill came back on Thursday Friday we grabbed her for some ice-cream at marble slab. the picture (on facebook) is just amazing!!! i will have to post it on the blog soon.

Sunday was a beautiful day with brooke. i asked her staff if they could join us at church...and gladly they came. i love when she comes to church w/us. typically we sit in the back and every now and then you hear a "yep" or "hello" echo thru the sanctuary. i love the sounds she makes! Sunday, i had no idea we would get to participate in the Lord's Supper. brooke has never been in a service w/us where we have done this as a family..but Sunday was our day. i wish you could have seen and experienced what i saw. leaning on her daddy's shoulder she watched us carefully as i grabbed 3 pieces of the bread and 3 cups of the "juice"...(after she hit the tray w/her foot...i almost lost it all...but thankfully i caught it.) at "our" special time, i gave the piece to brooke in her little fingers and she put it in her mouth...and then we proceeded. it was beautiful! i cannot paint the picture w/words, not could i "paint" it at all except to say it was so peacefully beautiful! i will never forget that day. i needed that day...and God knew it!

God is the keeper of our hearts. He is doing a work in our hearts and i'm finding that i cannot be without Him not one second. I'm trusting that He is making a way for us...for all of us. As the proverbs says.."and she smiles at her future".

Brooke's future is all smiles....and i'm leaning heavily on Him for it!

Saturday, June 26, 2010

the report is in

it was a great day on the road with brooke to birmingham to the doctor. the only time she displayed behavior is when we got out of the car to go into the office. after she was offered "dora the explorer" her world was good to go!
the doctor made some suggestions especially that of her diet. brooke as recently lost some weight and because of her height she is in need for more calories/intake. over the past few months her hands/wrist have needed some attention. her fingers/wrist are swollen because she bites them in moments of stress. it was suggested to protective wrist band in the night so that if she hits it against the bed/wall she will be safe. during the day her staff attends to her behavior as needed to protect her from any further damage.
all in all the appointment was good. they noticed improvement.
I didn't get to see her yesterday...but today i hope to run over & kiss her face.
brooke...Jesus has got you! (and your mommy)

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

are you kidding me?

has it really been this long since i posted? i am so sorry for the delay...i have been in a world of my own and time has slipped away. However....i'm eager in "getting back".

My summer work schedule has not allowed me to visit/work with brooke at the i go to her group home and catch up on all the activities of the day. i enjoy seeing her at the group home and i'm learning alot of how she plays, interacts, does chores, and etc.

Brooke is so tall, beautiful, and full of energy!

Brooke has her yearly doctors appointment in Birmingham tomorrow. we will journey up with 2 of her staff and see Dr. Percy. I will post pictures tomorrow and share information about her visit.

until then...yes, we are still alive!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

I know...

lately i just haven't posted like i use to. i guess i'm just so busy. in january bill and i switched from taking care of teenage girls to elementary boys! BIG DIFFERENCE. i usually don't post anything on my work life because basically it doesn't have much to do w/brooke. but, lately, we have been getting use to the transition from the girls to the boys. i guess it will never be quite the same (boys and girls are so different)...but it is a bit nice to be the only girl in the house. :-)

these past weeks josiah and ethan have expressed more about brooke than they have in the past. could be some of the movies they have seen lately or maybe....they're just missing their big sister. ethan laid in his bed the other night and cried so hard saying, "i wish brooke wasn't autistic. i want her to live with us." okay, i know i grieve from time to time...but when your child grieves, it hurts...big time. i love seeing brooke w/her brothers. they can be all up in her space and she just looks at them and laughs. sometimes she throws punches, but then again what are sisters for...especially when your all up in a "girl's space." gotta love it!

we had brooke over this past sunday night to spend the night w/us at the relief house. it was a short visit...but it was precious. i love waking up w/her at my side. sometimes i'm awakened w/a slap to my face and other times a soft kiss on my head, cheek, elbow, shoulder...she makes the connection, and it is precious. it makes me smile when she just lays there very still, silent, and i can hear and feel her heart beat. it makes me wonder. i love brooke so much.

today i will have lunch w/her.

Tuesday, March 02, 2010

brooke and me

most of you know i am observing at TLT twice a week to help w/brooke. i am learning a ton. i appreciate her staff letting me hang in there w/them.
brooke's b/day is march 6th, saturday. she will be 13!
we've come a long way baby...happy early birthday! i give you my life!

Thursday, February 11, 2010

laundry time

can't say i'm always that happy about doing laundry! this shot was taken at her group home....just precious!

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

christmas, friends, rest

here are a few pictures from Christmas at her group home

her direct staff (tiffany, in the yellow shirt), and jennifer (regional director, in brown sweater) helped brooke open her gifts. I'm grateful for her precious staff that dedicate their lives to reach out to children like brooke.

we also had a very special treat a couple weeks ago. Laura (one of brooke's therapist back up north came for a visit. she was able to see brooke (now almost as tall as her) at her group home. i did take a picture but i haven't downloaded it yet....but i will. however the first picture you see is of laura working w/brooke years ago and then w/me when she was here. was wonderful to see you. you are a dear friend and your precious little baby is a blessing! enjoy her! i love you.

Mark 6:31 says "come away and rest awhile". personally, this is where i am. i have alot on my plate right now...a wonderful and yet raw plate.
some days i wish brooke and i could go on a trip and make up many years...however,
i had a very dear friend tell me recently something i have never thought of...she said, "dani, stop thinking so much....if i sat and thought of everything i would be missing out on then i would be missing what is in front of me and we are not guaranteed tomorrow." those may not be the exact words, but very powerful for me. i am resting....resting in what i have and loving it.

Thursday, January 21, 2010

update 2110

I apologize for the delay in blogging. work has kept me on my toes as we have know transitioned into the boys cottage. we have 5 boys which makes 7...bill making 8 and me...yes, the only girl in the house. all is going well w/the change.

Update on Brooke:

this past season (as you have noticed w/no blogs) have been difficult, unmanageable, and for me personally sad. i have been grieving for some time now. you'll notice that about me. i don't blog when i'm really down. however things are looking up. let me give you the low down on all that has happened in the past few months.

brooke finally got off her behavior meds. a week later she started her cycle for the first time, she got a new roommate and she moved to another classroom. yes, that is alot for an autistic child. none of this was planned but it sure happened. thanksgiving and Christmas as i mentioned in an earlier post was difficult. i will post some picture soon. our camera has not been working well. i also wanted to get her new years eve/day....after her arriving to house for a 2 hour visit she left 45 minutes earlier. it was probably the worst visits to the cottage.

however, just this past weekend she came to the relief house w/us and it was like another child! she was happy and loving. i was able to sleep w/brooke and it felt wonderful to wake up beside her in the morning.

we are not aware of all the behavior changes going on right now but her staff are working hard to find the function of her behaviors. i am going to the school twice a week now and i'm learning so much which helps when she does come home for a visit.

even though life is a bit tough w/her at times does not change our love and attention to her. she is a beautiful child and i'm grateful God blessed me w/her. God has also blessed me w/many wonderful people that work with her at the school and i am a different person b/c of the love and compassion they show to children w/special needs.