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.

 

Our IVF/Adoption Journey

As you may have gathered, Brennan and I would like to expand our family and have more children. Our hearts long for this, and we’ve been working hard to make this happen. Unfortunately for us (and others with genetic mutations like ours), it’s not simple.

After much prayer and wisdom-seeking from others over the past two years, we have decided that it is unwise to do this “naturally” and are instead looking to use IVF and/or adoption as a means by which we can grow our family. We started the IVF process last summer but were halted in August because of a lack of funds. We’d love to do both IVF and adoption this year, but that would mean coming up with about $50,000 or more (adoption ranges from $25,000-40,000 or more!). Even with our frugal lifestyle, that’s simply impossible. 

This is why I went back to work in August. This is why we sold our house, paid off Brennan’s student loan, etc. – by doing so, we freed up a great deal of monthly expenses that we can now put toward this endeavor. We are trying to save as much money as possible to go toward IVF/adoption, but even with all of our efforts we will still humbly admit that we need help to raise the funds necessary.

You all have been SO generous to us over the past two years so we didn’t want to just do a fundraiser to ask for money. We wanted to offer YOU a gift, something in return…and we have the perfect thing.


As you may remember, I wrote a song this summer about how I felt after Tori was diagnosed. Thanks to our amazing friend, John Amodea, the song has been recorded and is available to download!

Here’s what we’re hoping will happen: enough people will buy the song (via the “Tip” button on the NoiseTrade page) that we can have/adopt a child in 2017!

If you cannot afford to buy the song, please download it as our gift to you, and perhaps share the page on your own page.

If you would like to buy the song, go to this link: http://noisetrade.com/lesabrackbill/lord-remind-me

We’re doing this as a “pay what you feel” download…and whatever you can give is so greatly appreciated. So feel free to change the “tip” amount to whatever you would like to give.

Please share our story and the song with others, too, if you are willing.

We hope you enjoy the song and that the Lord uses it to encourage you.


In addition, Brennan and I will be hosting an online auction to help cover the cost of IVF/adoption as we seek to expand our family! The auction will be held on Facebook (January 20-25, 2017) and we are in need of donors!

Here’s the link to the Google Form we created for item donations; if you are a consultant for a company, an artist, seamstress, craftsman, musician, etc. and have something you would be willing to donate to our auction, please fill it out so that we can start to build our inventory! Or, if you have a service you can provide (massage therapy, hair cuts, photography, etc.), that would be great as well!

We’d love to have at least 100 items in our inventory!

You can access the auction here.

We will gladly credit you/your business for your donation and offer a link to your website/Facebook page as well in hopes that you will be blessed by this auction as well.


We want to be parents again more than anything. With your help, we can do this!

Thank you in advance for your support!  

The Big Move

I’ve moved far too many times in my life.

  • From Hayward, CA to Red Bluff, CA (and then another move within Red Bluff).
  • From Red Bluff to Azusa (far too many moves to count while I was in college!) – 525 miles.
  • From Azusa to Glendora (and two moves within Glendora).
  • From Glendora to Harrisburg, PA (five moves since I moved to Pennsylvania) – nearly 3,000 miles.

Each move has brought with it new adventures, new challenges, new surroundings. Most moves were welcomed, though some came from circumstances I could not control.

This move is different than all of the above.

This move means leaving the home we fixed up, the home where we became a family, the home from which Tori went to Heaven. So many memories in less than four years.

As of this morning, we owned this house for three years, eleven months, and eighteen days. 1,449 days. I haven’t lived anywhere this long since I left my parents’ house when I was eighteen.

And I think that’s partly why I have struggled with the idea of moving. I know it’s the plan, and I know it’s a great one because of the financial progress we will make. My heart hasn’t been communicating with my mind on this one.

But, it is finished. And I feel like this morning brought me closure. 

Let the new adventure begin ❤️

Busy Summer and a Much Needed Update

I haven’t blogged much this summer and that has partially been intentional, partially not. Brennan and I have been traveling, working many weekends at MHS, spending time with family and friends, helping with church activities, doing photography for an amazing camp, hosting many RYFO bands, and so much more. We’ve been enjoying life and, though busy, it has been restful and refreshing.

We’re overdue for an update, so here’s what we’ve been up to:

Writing: It has felt good to not pressure myself to write, but to only do so when inspired. I have been writing for a new site that launched in July, as well. Check out The Transcend Project for some great articles about life as a Christian and life in Harrisburg, PA from several different authors. I’ve also been working on my book and the manuscript is almost completed. I have likely found an agent, my book proposal is in process, and we’re still hoping to start pitching the book by October.

The House: Our kitchen is finished and it is stunningly beautiful. We are hoping to list the house by the end of August, which means a lot of work needs to be done in order to be ready for showings (i.e. I need to put my stuff away 😉 ).

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(For those who aren’t aware, we bought our home 3.5 years ago with the intent to flip it and sell it; it was bank-owned so we paid far less for it than it is worth. If we sell the house, we can pay off our student loans – $50,000 – and be debt free. Even though we love our home, we will love being debt free even more, and it will allow us to live life so much more freely than we currently can.)

If you’re looking to buy a home in the Colonial Park/Lower Paxton area, we know of a great one that will soon be for sale! 😉

Children: We so desperately want to be parents again, but there are serious genetic risks if we conceive naturally (Krabbe may be a recessive gene, but it is aggressive and it’s very likely that we’d have another baby with Krabbe). We have some options, but they are all incredibly expensive and we simply can’t afford them at the moment. We’ve had some setbacks in that area and it has been incredibly disappointing. BUT, God is sovereign and we continue to follow Him and trust His timing.

Tori’s headstone was placed around her birthday and it is beautiful:

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Her tree was also planted at The Hershey Gardens:
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Work: As if I need anything else on our plate, after consideration and prayer, I decided that it would be wise to get a part time job since we don’t know when (or if) we will be having more children. I accepted a position today at The Hotel Hershey and will start at the end of August. It will only be 2-3 days per week with the option to pick up additional hours to assist my co-workers, which will still allow me the flexibility I need to continue to write, lobby, do photography, and serve the community with our church.

Newborn Screening: There is another Advisory Panel meeting in two weeks and I will be attending. I will give a full update just like last time.

Brennan is running in the Hershey Half Marathon in October with many other people from our church. He wanted to run the race in Tori’s honor and he is working hard to make this happen. Please pray for his training, that he would build the required endurance and that he would finish the race well.

Please continue to pray for Brennan and I for these things – especially the book (for favor from the publishers), the house (that it sells quickly and for the amount needed to pay off our student loans), and future children (that we can have them).

We are doing well, continuing to praise the Lord for the gift that Tori was, and learning to live life without her by our side. God is good, God is faithful, and God is sovereign.

Day One

Today our new life begins.

A life without Tori. A life with new purpose and priorities.

The visitors have stopped, the mail has slowed, the house is quiet.

Tori has been a resident of Heaven for a month now.

My dad has returned to California after being here for five weeks total.

It’s just the two of us now.

Today is the third first day of our new life together.

11.06.10 – We said “I do” and our life together began

07.30.14 – Victoria Ruth was born and our life as a family began

04.26.16 – Our life without Tori – just the two of us again – officially begins


I sit at the dining room table making a list of all the things that I need to accomplish while I sing along to some new favorite worship songs and drink my second cup of coffee.

We are taking some time to not only focus on our marriage but on our individual selves. This is especially important for me because I now have to establish a new routine, new objectives, and, really, a new life. The past two years were primarily focused on Tori and I selflessly poured all my effort and energy into her care.


How do I even begin to focus on myself now?

We decided that I won’t be trying to find an official job in this interim between Tori and whatever comes next. I have lobbying to do, and we hope to have more children in a year or two, so I need to remain home.

It’s so strange to be able to build a daily routine that involves only me – I have to answer questions such as “how do I want to fill my days?” Wisely. 

I have a few priorities right now: lobbying for Newborn Screening, writing a book, getting healthy (including losing all of my “sitting on a couch for fourteen months weight”), spending time in The Word, learning to love to cook again, playing piano and guitar, and continuing to maintain our home and garden.

Driving for UBER and working at MHS  will bring in some extra money in the meantime while still allowing me to focus on things like lobbying and writing. I’m so thankful for our careful budgeting and frugality that allow us to live on one income so well.

We have planned some trips this year and we are looking forward to our adventures and to spending quality time with one another.

I have no desire to fill my calendar and be “busy” every day – in fact, I am forcing myself to allow plenty of time to just “be” and to continue to process all that has happened.

My heart aches for my baby girl and I know that will never go away. But, as much as I long with all my heart to have her back with us, I know that she is where she is supposed to be. Where we ALL (as followers of Jesus) are supposed to be one day.

One day at a time I will establish new routines and take care of myself and our home. The Lord has brought us this far and I know that He will continue to lead us well. We trust Him with our past, present, and future, and we are thankful for His loving and gracious care.