Sunday, December 11, 2016


It was a dark and stormy night.

It really was, back on Dec. 11, 2007.

I've told the story before. It was cold and rainy outside while Steve and I huddled in a dark room at the nearby hospital, standing next to a radiologist, talking to Steve's primary care physician on the phone, staring at films that showed an out-of-place spot in the pons of Steve's brain stem.

No one in that moment believed the spot was a tumor. Steve was too healthy (except the nagging symptoms that sent him to the doctor in the first place). It had to be demyelination or multiple sclerosis or some other unknown inflammation.

Of course, we were all wrong.

My pastor spoke today about the choices people make when faced with a real-life nightmare. We've all lived a nightmare -- the worst-case news that we've feared or never even imagined. Billy spoke today about how we aren't defined by the nightmare but rather how we behave when we wake up.

We're defined by the joy we embrace, the strength we find in knowing that God surrounds us and lives within us.

Steve received nightmarish news on Dec. 11. His official diagnosis, after a harrowing biopsy a few weeks later, made the nightmare even worse.

But he woke up and kept on living. He made people laugh, he continued the work that he loved, he read books to his children, he lavished praise, he read novels, he watched movies, he learned how to knit, he prayed.

I think of all the families we know who have been touched by tragedy in the past nine years. Dozens and dozens of families who have had their own MRI Day, who wake up from their own nightmares, who have said goodbye too early to loved ones, who have experienced loss that shakes -- and sometimes sharpens -- their faith.

We are fragile people, and we are strong people.

Tonight, as I think of Steve and his MRI Day and the pain he endured and the joy he shared despite that pain, I also think of Jeff, who had his own MRI Day yesterday. He has brain surgery tomorrow. I think of Suzanne, who had her own MRI Day earlier this year and has breast reconstruction surgery tomorrow.

I am praying for Jeff and Suzanne and a too-long list of friends who face trials and crises. I pray that they find strength to get through the nightmare, that they feel loved, that they feel joy in the darkness.

We don't know how many dark and stormy nights we have in store. Sometimes the storm builds, and sometimes it pops up in the middle of sunshine. Sometimes the night lasts longer than we think we can handle.

Nine years after our MRI Day, I continue to give thanks for the community that surrounded us, for the kind souls who still encourage us, and for God, who offers strength and guidance and joy for the journey.

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Cooper, Tyra & Katie, Thanksgiving Day 2016