Book Review: The Jesus Who Surprises by Dee Brestin

img_8482The Jesus Who Surprises: Opening Our Eyes to His Presence in All of Life and Scripture is an excellent study – one I enjoyed from beginning to end.

The author looks at the entire Bible to show us glimpses of Jesus where we may not expect to see Him. She masterfully shows that the Bible is indeed one connected story, one of hope, redemption, and love. She also approaches important topics like suffering, and she shows how those things produce a joy like none other (something I know from experience). I thoroughly enjoyed this study and repeatedly found myself excited and encouraged by her words. That isn’t something I can often say.

Here is one of my favorite quotes:

When we realize that the Lord is in control, a peace comes to us, despite the suffering. We realize that this shaking is temporary and that we have an inheritance that can never be taken from us. (Page 123)

I especially loved – and learned from – the third part, looking at Isaiah and what is in store for us. She summed up the whole study so well in the last sentence:

My hope is that seeing this same story from Genesis to Revelation will give you great confidence in the reliability of the Scriptures and the truths they hold. For the Jesus that surprised the two on the road to Emmaus, and surprises us in our everyday lives, is not at all finished surprising us.”

Dee also challenges the reader to see Jesus at work every day – something I’ve practiced for years thanks to missional training I received. He is always at work, you just have to see it. This practice alone can significantly change one’s perspective.

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This beautiful study can be done individually or as a group. Dee provides thoughtful questions to encourage a deeper study of Scripture at the end of each chapter.

I highly recommend this book and I look forward to reading more of her studies.

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I was given a free copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my honest review.

What Might Have Been

I try not to think about what might have been, cause that was then…

We can’t go back again, there’s no use giving in, and there’s no way to know what might have been.

– Little Texas

It’s so easy to let our minds run away from us and to ponder what might have been instead of what actually is. 

If we aren’t careful, we can make ourselves incredibly sad on days like today – when our Tori would have turned two – instead of celebrating instead that she is healed and with Jesus. 

We could focus on all that she might be doing as a two year old here on earth, or we can imagine her healed, whole, healthy body running around in Heaven where we will see her again (soon, but not quite yet, as Jim Kelly said yesterday).

Brennan and I have learned that you must take control of your thoughts in times like this – not that you can’t grieve, of course, but to not force yourself into sadness simply because you are wondering about what may have been. It doesn’t change anything, it doesn’t benefit you in any way, and it doesn’t bring joy. In fact, it steals joy. 


It’s a choice, just as joy is. You can choose to have a great day or a miserable day based on how you control your thoughts.

So, today, on Tori’s birthday, we are remembering the great times we had with her. We are thinking about what actually happened instead of what could have happened if she had been healthy. 

And our joy is REAL. It is genuine. It is God-given.

We take such joy in knowing that she is running around with Jesus. She breathes normally, her nerves don’t cause pain, and her body is whole. And that is the best possible gift we could receive today ❤️

Thank you, Jesus, for Your peace and joy, and thank you for making us Tori’s parents.

God is ALWAYS on Time

If I am being honest, lately I have been struggling to pray for Tori’s healing. I ask others to do it but I can’t form the words in my own heart and mind. I feel stuck. Numb. Defeated.

I absolutely still want it and believe that it can happen, but doubt has worked its way into my heart and mind, and lately I doubt that God is going to heal her here on earth. Because of this doubt, I struggle to pray. I start but the words just don’t come.

It is times like this when I am most thankful that we don’t have to pray with words. God knows our hearts, and His Word tells us that the Holy Spirit intercedes for us when we don’t know what to say (Romans 8:26).


I still struggle with hope because hope is difficult. Yet I still desperately want her to be healed on earth. Desperately.

In a dream that a friend had recently, I wasn’t able to see an older, healed Tori in a picture on a wall. She could see her, but I couldn’t.

I’ve been thinking about this ever since she shared the dream because I think God is trying to tell me something.

My friend has been praying about the meaning and suggested this: that no matter what, I need to see her as being healed, because she IS healed somewhere.

I’m still praying about the meaning. And I’m praying that this dream in particular is prophetic…that Tori will be the older sibling to many other children and that she will be healthy…that her testimony will change the world.


“Then like a hero who takes the stage when
We’re on the edge of our seats saying it’s too late…”

– MercyMe, “Flawless”

It seems like God speaks through His Word and the words of those seeking Him when I am struggling the most.

He keeps bringing stories of healing to my attention, and while these accounts are encouraging, it also leaves me wondering why He is bringing these forward. Is He going to heal her?

This happened two months ago in my daily Bible reading (the Bible is split into 365 readings, dated, not a “pick your own reading” type of thing). It also happened about two weeks ago when I finally found our Kindle Charger and was able to scroll through the hundreds of free eBooks we have obtained since we lost the charger.

The eBook “The Same Love” by Paul Baloche (a well-known songwriter) caught my attention so I opened it and began reading.

What was the first chapter about? Healing. Timing. Love.

Baloche started with Mark 5:21-43 which shows two healings – one of a woman who had been bleeding for 12 years, and one of a young girl who was sick and died but Jesus brought her back to life.

The woman seemingly derailed Jesus from getting to the young girl in time, but what this proved was that Jesus works outside of “time” and He is NEVER late. He created time and is not restrained by it.

I love the way that the author paraphrases the scene between Jairus and Jesus after his daughter has died:

Jesus had barely finished speaking when several people ran up. Jairus, it’s too late. She’s gone.

Jesus moved between Jairus and the distraction. This moment is about you and what you say you believe. This can end here, or we can keep going. What do you say?

 (The Same Love, Chapter 1)

The author points out that all those involved in this passage experienced the same love, the love of God. Just like we do today. Yet, even those who walked with Jesus in person also experienced doubt. Amazing, isn’t it, that those who saw with their own eyes the miracles that Jesus did still doubted?

Shouldn’t we admit, though, that even after experiencing this love, we’ve entertained doubts? And though we have seen answers to prayers, some questions still remain? In this life we experience the discipline of holiness alongside the inevitable humanity of sinfulness. And between these opposing realities, we’re daily called to choose to pledge our allegiance to the God who never leaves us, committing afresh to walk the walk of faith. God’s unwavering love for us continues, even when ours falters…

Faith by its very definition is belief in that which is unseen. It’s believing that the same love that spread the heavens wide and was crucified and raised Jairus’s little girl and sent a woman back into her new life is calling to you today. Your circumstances will be unique to you. Maybe the same love is challenging you to choose what you believe. Maybe you’re being asked to bravely step out and let everyone see you and your story…

(The Same Love, Chapter 1)

While these words are so encouraging, and so seemingly meant just for me right now, I still have no idea what God is going to do in Tori’s life…and that’s okay.

We are definitely called to let others see our story, which is why we are being as open and transparent as we can along the way.

We wonder if God is going to heal Tori here or in Heaven.

If here, we wonder when and how. Gradual? Immediate?

We wonder how long she will be with us.

So much wondering, not enough trusting.

We need to stop creating scenes in our head and instead trust the One who wrote the entire play.

Whether He heals her now or later, we know He is going to heal her. She is healed. It may not be the way our hearts would prefer, but we trust that God is good and has an amazing purpose for all of this that we simply can’t see at the moment. This is Act One, and Act Three is many pages away.

We aren’t meant to understand right now – we are meant to trust Him and keep on walking.

Our God is never late. Our God loves us deeply and created us with purpose. He will heal her in HIS timing, in HIS way; we need to trust Him in this and with this.

“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

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.

The Hope of Easter (and how we celebrated)…

But very early on Sunday morning the women went to the tomb, taking the spices they had prepared. They found that the stone had been rolled away from the entrance. So they went in, but they didn’t find the body of the Lord Jesus. As they stood there puzzled, two men suddenly appeared to them, clothed in dazzling robes. The women were terrified and bowed with their faces to the ground. Then the men asked, “Why are you looking among the dead for someone who is alive? He isn’t here! He is risen from the dead! Remember what he told you back in Galilee, that the Son of Man must be betrayed into the hands of sinful men and be crucified, and that he would rise again on the third day.” Then they remembered that he had said this. So they rushed back from the tomb to tell his eleven disciples—and everyone else—what had happened. (‭Luke‬ ‭24‬:‭1-9‬ NLT)

Easter is about more than bunnies, eggs, and food. While our culture has made light of the most incredible day in history, it is a celebration of unparalleled grace and mercy…of God’s incredible power to raise people from the dead and to forgive our sins. It is a day of such joy for those who love and follow Jesus, because without this day, we would not have the hope of eternal life. We do not deserve this amazing and precious gift, but He gives it freely to those who follow Him.

It is this hope that gets Brennan and me through each day – before Tori got sick, but especially now. Jesus’ sacrifice on the Cross paid our debts and opened the gates of Heaven for those who follow Him. We could not have done this for ourselves, so Jesus became the ultimate sacrifice. He died and then rose again on the third day – Easter. His resurrection was an incredible display of God’s power and reminds us that He is MORE than able to heal our baby girl.

Easter also gives us the hope of eternity with Tori, even if she goes before us. Another Krabbe family reminded me this week that our time on earth with Tori is a mere fraction of the time that will be spent with her in Heaven. Our earthly lives are so short in comparison with eternity! Does that mean we won’t grieve? Of course not. But it does make things a little easier knowing that she will be in the best possible hands and that we will see her relatively soon if that is what the future holds.

We are so thankful for all that Jesus did for us. He is risen!

Once and for all
The Father’s love
He is the light in the darkness
Who took on flesh
And took our place
The weight of the world on His shoulders
The weight of the world on His shoulders

We believe our God is Jesus
We believe that He is Lord
We believe that He has saved us
From sin and death
Once and for all

Once and for all
Our debt is paid
There on the cross it is finished
The Lamb of God for us was slain
Up from the grave He is risen
Up from the grave He is risen

Jesus, Jesus
God from God
Light from Light
You are our salvation
Jesus, Jesus
God from God
Light from Light
Your kingdom is forever

— “Once and For All” by Chris Tomlin


I have never cared about fashion, coordinating with Brennan, etc. I still really don’t care. But, for some reason, what we wore on Easter mattered so much to me this year. We grew up wearing new dresses/outfits on Easter to symbolize the new life that we have been given through Jesus’ sacrifice, but I haven’t bought a new dress in years. So, I think the thought that this could be our only Easter with Tori made me want to make it as memorable as possible in even the little ways like this.

So, when the outfits I had bought for us came in the mail and mine didn’t fit, I was so disappointed. I really don’t like shopping, so the fact that I went to TEN stores to try to find a dress for myself that matched what we already bought Brennan and Tori was really something. 🙂 But, I finally found a dress that went well with what they were going to wear, thanks to the help of Brennan’s cousin Sarah.


We had a fantastic day, starting with church. Our church is such a blessing and the Word of God is faithfully   preached; they have become like family to us and we are so thankful!

    

After church, we went to Brennan’s cousin’s home to celebrate with his family. As always, it was a wonderful time.                      
  

Tori did so well and napped next to me on the couch for about an hour! Then she was intrigued by the patterns on the pillows for quite a while. She did so well today despite the volume levels. 🙂 Brennan’s family is fun and can be loud when they all get together 🙂    

We finished the day by relaxing together at home and opening all the mail for Tori from the P.O. Box! We share the P.O. Box with our friends and they are so kind to check it for us every week.  We are so amazed at how many people love our Tori and are praying for her! All of the cards mean so much to us! We have been trying to display them all but we’re running out of room, so we’re having to put them in a basket now. 🙂 It’s a great problem to have!


Jesus is alive, He is risen, and He has defeated death. What an amazing reason to celebrate today! Thank you, Jesus!