Category: Marriage

Even So…

The common theme of the past six months has been hurdles. Things haven’t been going as smoothly as we would like and we’ve come up against some significant challenges.

  • Buying this house came with one obstacle after another and cost more than we anticipated not only to buy it, but to do the necessary renovations (that still aren’t done because we ran out of money). It seems like all of our Dave Ramsey progress was lost and we’re having to start over again in our process to becoming debt-free.
  • We drained our savings (and our HSA) to pay for IVF (though MUCH of the cost was donated by generous and amazing people and we are SO very grateful!), and it’s tough to rebuild it.
  • We started an AirBnB in the apartment upstairs and have LOVED running it. It has brought joy to us and to the families and single mothers we have been able to serve and bless through this venture. It has also been hugely beneficial financially. 

    However, two of our neighbors are “uncomfortable” with the idea for ridiculous reasons (they don’t understand AirBnB at all, essentially) and they filed complaints with the township. We were forced to make a decision to either pay $450 and wait three months (and go to two zoning board hearings) to try to be rezoned for this type of use (no guarantee of approval), or give up and just get a tenant (less income, loss of the opportunity to help others enjoy Hershey and run an AirBnB; loss of space to host family and friends and bands (through RYFO.org) upstairs).

    Ultimately, we’ve decided to try to find a tenant because some battles aren’t worth fighting. The township needs to modify their rules about AirBnB instead of trying to make it fit into other molds and making it impossible for residents to do. I am proud of my letter to the township supervisors and hope that it will make a difference in the future for property owners to use their property as they choose.

  • I haven’t had much time to finish my book proposal or to find an agent, even though my manuscript has been complete (and edited) for six months. I’m struggling to remain positive about it being published, even though I believe that the Lord led me to write it for that purpose.
  • I am committed to do many good things, but finding a balance and remaining disciplined has been a challenge.

Even so, it is well with our souls.

It hasn’ t been ALL bad, but the hard things in life tend to overshadow the good; when we focus on the positive we realize that we have had some GREAT things happen:

  • We thoroughly enjoyed our trip to California, Oregon, Washington, and ALASKA in June and returned home feeling rejuvenated even though the trip was exhausting. Seeing the beauty of God’s creation and spending treasured time with family was worth every lost minute of sleep.
  • We found out that we have THREE embryos (out of the five) that are healthy! Two are not even carriers of Krabbe! The fourth embryo needs to be retested, and the fifth has chromosomal abnormalities that are not survivable. We are thankful for these 3-4 and will hopefully do the first transfer in August.
  • Thanks to my dad spending two weeks out here, we’ve nearly completed the basement projects (laundry room/bathroom drywall and paint, etc.). We’re going to be ready for hosting bands and other guests so soon! Since we’re giving up the AirBnB this space will allow us to continue to minister to bands through RYFO – an amazing network of host homes for touring musicians.
  • Brennan and I are trying to become much more disciplined than we are currently in every area of our lives. It’s a struggle but we must overcome and become self-disciplined.

Through it all, my heart has remained at peace because I trust the Lord completely and I have absolute faith that this is all happening for a reason. As the popular song states, “Let go my soul and trust in Him, the waves and wind still know His name…” He is still on the throne, He is still in charge, and, most importantly, He still LOVES us. In those moments when I feel worry start to encroach on my peace, I stop and pray and remind myself that He’s got this.

And so we press on, knowing that it will all turn out alright.

A New Adventure 

If you had told me six months ago that I would be embarking on a new business venture in 2017 that involved clothing, I would have laughed. Hard. 

And yet, here I am, waiting excitedly to get the onboarding call from LuLaRoe along with my friend and business partner, Jenn! 

I discovered LuLaRoe in November when my friend, Emily, sent me a photo of giraffe leggings. I was intrigued and that’s where it all started. 

I don’t necessarily care about fashion, but I definitely care about comfort, and that’s my favorite thing about LuLaRoe. I can be comfortable AND stylish! 


I will be posting more as time goes on about why I love LuLaRoe, but I wanted to share our group link here: https://www.facebook.com/groups/378132492585320/

Jenn and I are doing this for our own specific reasons, but mine (and Brennan’s) is this: we want to be parents again and we know that selling LuLaRoe (and encouraging others along the way) is one way to make that happen. ❤

Pieces of a Puzzle

Like everything in life, there are many pieces of our IVF and adoption journey that have to come together just right. We have to be able to afford it (likely $50,000 for both). We have to have a suitable home (closing in March, if all goes well). We have to have Krabbe-free embryos. We have to be matched with a birth family. There are many other examples, but overall we have to be patient and rely on the Lord’s timing.

In an effort to raise funds but also include others in our journey, we borrowed the idea to “sell” puzzle pieces for $20. The giraffe puzzle is 500 pieces, so that represents $10,000 of the funding needed. More importantly, it will be a physical display of all those who made it possible for us to have more children join our family.

We’ve had a great response so far and we are so encouraged!

If you would like to be a piece of the puzzle that helps build our family, here’s what you can do:

  • Send $20 via PayPal to Lesa.Brackbill@gmail.com OR
  • Mail a check for $20 to:
    P.O. Box 406
    Hershey, PA 17033

Once we have all 500 pieces claimed, we will put the puzzle together and glue it together/frame it. Someday we will be able to show Tori’s siblings all the love that was shown toward our family and who made it possible to bring them into our family.

Overall, we have already raised $1,100 and the auction hasn’t even begun! God is SO good!

The auction will take place here on January 20-25. In this group you will also see the other fundraisers happening (currently, Thirty-One; in February, LuLaRoe!). This is also where you will continue to see progress reports more regularly than on the blog.

Thank you all for the support and love you continue to show us ❤

Saying Goodbye to 2016

Tori was physically part of our lives for parts of four years: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016.

2017 will be the first year we will experience her absence, the first year we will have to say that she passed away “last year” and not this year.

We cannot stop time, nor would we want to do so. Every day that passes is a day closer to seeing our girl again in Heaven. Yet, at the same time, my heart aches as we enter a year she will never know, a year we are forced to experience without her.


2016 was a bittersweet year filled with transitions for us. To name a few:

  • Bitter: Tori went to Heaven;
    Sweet: She was healed from Krabbe.
  • Bitter: We sold our first home, the home Tori knew as her own;
    Sweet: We paid off Brennan’s student loan.
  • Bitter: I was left without a “job” as a mom, a role I treasured;
    Sweet: Finding a new position where I see Brennan and other friends daily.

While it is difficult to say goodbye to 2016, we are hopeful about 2017 and all that is on the horizon.

In 2017, we hope to:

  • Buy a house in Hershey (March) – can’t wait to tell THAT story!
  • Pay off the rest of Lesa’s student loan and be DEBT FREE
  • Publish my book (will pitch to publishers in Spring)
  • Save/raise enough money to do a round of IVF
  • Begin the adoption process
  • Host an encouraging event for those who have lost children
  • See PA make Newborn Screening for Krabbe mandatory for ALL babies
  • Succeed in raising funds for Hunter’s Hope through a pilot program
  • Plus many other smaller goals

Brennan and I both feel encouraged and we feel hopeful for 2017. The Lord has already opened doors that excite us (ones that we couldn’t even have dreamed up) and we know that He has great things in store for us.

Years will continue to pass without Tori here with us, so while this first one is the hardest, we recognize that the heartache will never fully go away. Instead of dwelling on what we cannot change, we choose joy and hope. We choose to continue to fight for Newborn Screening so that others will never know the pain we have known. We continue to be grateful for all the Lord has done in and through us, knowing that He isn’t finished yet.

As we enter 2017, we pray that the Lord will continue to guide us and show us the path He wants us to take. And we pray that for all of you, as well.