Guest Post: Tori Travels Project

Hello #TeamTori friends and family!

My name is Laura Gutknecht, I am a friend of Lesa’s, and I had the pleasure of traveling with her recently to Charleston, SC for a relaxing weekend.

I want to thank the Brackbill’s for hosting me on their site today and for giving you a chance to support them.

This is a NO COST way to show Lesa and Brennan just how far #TeamTori is willing to go.


The challenge is this… take Tori with you… EVERY WHERE!


What do I mean by that?  

I mean print off one of the photos below and take her to work with you, on vacation, to the beach, to your prayer group, to the mall, on the train, and take her to your home.  

Then send your picture of you and Tori to WITH your story.

Your story: Tell us who you are, who is in your picture, where you are in the world at the time of the picture (very important), what adventure you are on, and tell us about YOU and why you support this family. It doesn’t have to be uber creative – your name, location, and what you’re doing is plenty, the rest is icing on the cake!

Take a few pictures… with your crew (or a selfie) and with your crew and Tori.

A few of us have been doing this already.






Why do we want the pictures?

That is a great questionWe will be making a book for the Brackbill’s to enjoyIt is really a book that shows the faces of their supporters so they can SEE each one of us cheering them on.

Extra Credit:

You can also post the pictures on social media with the hash tag#ToriTravels and encourage others to take on the #ToriTravels challenge too.

Please note:  ONLY the pictures and stories sent to the email address will be used for the book. We have a handful of gals working on this project so keeping it in one place is key to getting the book into their hands sooner.

How long will you accept pictures?

This will be an ongoing request for photos and stories so take Tori to summer camp, to Thanksgiving, and even Memorial Day next year!  

How many times can I send pictures?

Send as many as you’d likeOur goal is for Miss Tori to see the whole world through you!

If you’re the only ones submitting photos we might have to give you a gold star and edit out a few photos. Consider a warm thank you because we already appreciate the support!

Is there any other way I can help?

If you want to join our photo gathering team let us know at

Keep encouraging Lesa and Brennan on their blog and Facebook page.

If you want to give to the Brackbill’s they can use Amazon and Grocery Gift cards – they will always need to eat

They are taking care of Tori so anything that reminds them to take care of themselves is great too – like getting new clothes for themselves (Old Navy, Gap, Kohl’s, Target, JCPenny), books, iTunes (for worship music).

And last, but certainly not least. Cover this family in prayer. Pray for Tori. Pray for Brennan and Lesa. Pray for their doctors and caregivers. Pray for those who are touched by this family and need love and support of their own

Pray for love, grace, and encouragement to fill those in this family and in this community.

Safe Travels to you all as you embark on the #ToriTravels challenge!

Can’t wait to “see” you soon!



Pictures of Tori to Print or add to your smart phone:




Forgive my unbelief…

“What do you mean, ‘If I can’?” Jesus asked. “Anything is possible if a person believes.”

The father instantly cried out, “I do believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!”

Mark 9:23-24

I wonder if the father in this passage felt the same way that I so often do – so desperately wanting his child to be made whole again, knowing that Jesus can do it, but afraid to be hopeful.


More often than not, my prayer is that of the father in this account: I believe, but help me overcome my unbelief!

I waver between knowing without a doubt that God can heal her here on earth and yet doubting that He will. 

I have discovered that I am afraid to be hopeful, despite our experiences in the past few days and with how God seems to be working.

I am still trying to pinpoint the cause of the fear, but I think it comes down to a fear of being disappointed in the outcome, a fear of being disappointed in God – whom I love and trust implicitly – if He takes her home to Heaven instead of allowing us to keep her, even though I do trust His plan and do not doubt that His plan is best for all of us.

I think fear is to blame. 

Fear is easy; hope is excruciating.

What we are going through is completely unnatural. Parents aren’t supposed to lose their children. As someone who doesn’t even know how it feels to lose a grandparent yet (yes, I am blessed to still have all four!), the thought of losing my only child is incomprehensible. 

I wonder if my fear of being hopeful is a defense mechanism.

I am afraid to hope that God will choose to heal Tori here on earth, despite the fact that every fiber of my being desperately wants that to be the outcome.

Hope is hard. Hope is vulnerable. It seems irrational in a situation like this.

Fear is comfortable, expected, the rational response.

And yet, I remind myself that we serve the same God who healed/heals the sick and who raised people from the dead! Jesus Himself was resurrected after being in the tomb for three days! 

Nothing is impossible with God. Nothing!

Jesus repeatedly told His disciples to not be afraid, and that nothing is impossible for God. That is what I force myself to remember daily – it isn’t impossible for Tori to be healed! 

The struggle continues, and I pray that I can overcome the fear of being hopeful because I know that God is love, He is good, and His plan is best. 

I don’t know if Jesus meant belief in Him or absolute belief that healing would happen; but I do know that He loves Brennan, Tori, and me. And whatever He has planned will be okay in the end.

More Family Time…

Yesterday was another day filled with family time – here are a few pictures that I haven’t blogged yet. I was so wrapped up in conversation that I didn’t take very many pictures when we were with my dad’s family!

My grandpa made his famous ribs for us and they were delicious as always!

Cuddling with Great-Grandma Pat while Great-Aunt Sandee watches…

Great-Grandpa Ken…

Here are a few other pictures of her from this weekend…


Aunt Susan (my dad’s sister) and Uncle Rob came up from Fresno…

Tori went shopping with Grandma!


These three were taken by our cousin David, who came up from Marin County to see us…


Bethel Redding


When your child is dying you will do anything to save their life.

Though I have admittedly been a skeptic of God healing through specific people in the past, I have opened my heart to the possibility in hopes that God is trying to show us His power in a new way.

So, when we planned this trip to Red Bluff, we decided to make a trip to Bethel on a Saturday morning for their Healing Room ministry. What could it hurt? 

Many people had told us about Bethel before we had even planned to come. Then, we had what appears to be a divine appointment on the flight from San Francisco to Redding.

We sat in the front row of the plane on that flight, and there was a woman across the aisle from us by herself. During the flight, the flight attendant saw us feeding Tori through the tube and asked us questions about Tori. 

The woman across from us was listening, and when we got to “baggage claim” (in quotes because Redding’s airport is tiny) she approached us. 

She said she had heard us telling Tori’s story and that she is on staff at Bethel. She asked if we had heard about their healing ministry and we said that we had and that we were planning to go.

She exchanged contact info with us and asked us to text her when we arrived so that she could bring us right in, and that she would arrange a special prayer team for us because of the life and death nature of our situation. She also prayed over Tori right there.

So, my mom, Brennan, Tori, and I went this morning at 9:15am and she kept her word. 

She then told us this morning that she was originally supposed to be further back in the plane but that she had felt God tell her to move to the front. To be by us. 

The team prayed over Tori for complete restoration and healing, for victory over Krabbe. They then prayed over Brennan and me for healing of our DNA so that we might be able to have more healthy children. We haven’t had our genetic testing yet, so I pray that is because God is going to heal us as well.

We heard from at least four friends before they knew that we were going up to Bethel, and they all had dreams in the past few days about Tori being healed. Jesus, let it be so!

While we know that God alone knows His plans for her, we feel hopeful after these experiences. We know that His will is perfect and whatever He has planned is good. Now we wait to see what He will do.

Time with Lesa’s Family

Because I live 3,000 miles away from my family, we only get to see them about twice a year. That has been especially hard on me because my family has always been really close and to have them across the country while Tori is sick has been difficult.

With the exception of my parents, the rest of my family has only met Tori one time before today. We brought her out to California for Thanksgiving but haven’t been back since.

To say that we are grateful to be here is an understatement.

Two of my mom’s sisters traveled to get here (one from Sacramento and one from Portland), and one lives in town. We have been able to see some of my cousins as well – two came up from the Bay Area today. My dad’s sister and her husband are driving up from the Fresno area tomorrow as well. Busy week!

Here are some photos of Tori with some of her great-aunts:


It was especially important to bring Tori out to see her California great-grandparents again. All four of them are living. She will see the other two Saturday night and we will post pictures then. Tonight she saw my mom’s parents.

I have been so blessed to having such a loving, close family and I don’t take them for granted.

We will be back again in June for my family’s 54th annual family reunion on the California Coast – Tori’s first time to the beach!

Helicopter Ride

Today I had lunch with a dear friend from high school with whom I have reconnected since Tori became sick. 

Her husband and his family operate a helicopter business in town and they offered to take Brennan and me for a ride over Red Bluff today! 

Here are a few pictures from my phone. It was such a blessing! Thank you Kyle and Rachel, and thank you PJ Helicopters!

Rachel and I in the back 😄


My parents house!


The Sacramento River


We flew over the rodeo! 


Red Bluff High School


California Adventures

I am from California, for those just now joining us on this journey. I spent my first 25 years there – eighteen in Northern and seven in Southern – and then moved to Pennsylvania almost seven years ago. We try to come back every six months, and we brought Tori for the first time in November. Most of my family still lives in NorCal and it will always be home.

Once we found out her diagnosis we knew that it was imperative that we bring her out as soon as possible so that my family could spend time with her.

So, yesterday we made the journey across the country from Harrisburg to Redding. Three flights. 13 hours of travel. Worth every moment.


Tori did really well until the last flight from San Francisco to Redding, when she got fussy. But that flight was short so it wasn’t terrible.

We flew over my hometown and I had never done that before! It was so fun to be able to recognize things from the air.


It is SO good to be home, with my family and friends, and I am so thankful for all of the support we have here in Red Bluff.

We have a busy week ahead both with family and friends (some coming from Oregon and Washington, and more from Central California), but also fun things in town. It is Rodeo Week here (Red Bluff has the world’s largest three-day rodeo), so there are a lot of fun things around town to do!


There’s no place like home. ❤️