{Not} Consumed

Because of the Lord’s great love for us we are not consumed, for his mercies never fail. They are new every morning. Great is thy faithfulness.

Lamentation 3:22-23

In the last 24 hours, I have read of three families who suffered deep and painful losses.

As I pray over these families who are in the darkest days, with the fresh open wounds of suffering, my heart goes back to “that awful week” which is how I refer to the days following Justin’s passing. Even having lived through that week, I only know my perspective; the grief of a wife mourning a husband, parents mourning a son, children mourning a daddy are still unimaginable to me. But I’m confident that God’s promises stand true no matter the perspective, and I am praying for the truth of these promises to surround these families in these dark days.

Here are some words I wrote after reflecting on that week.


Lamentation is an expression of sorrow, mourning, or regret.  It is also the book of the Old Testament that I was reading in that August day when we heard the news of Justin’s tragic passing.  My journals leading up to that had been a bit sparse, but two days earlier I had copied down Lamentation 3:22-23 and even taken a picture of this scripture in my bible.  “Because of the Lord’s great love for us, we are not consumed, for his compassions never fail.  They are new every morning.  Great is thy faithfulness.”  As we drove up I-95 into the epicenter of lamentation, this was  the picture I saw there just a few photos back in my camera roll. 

No single word can describe that week for me – those few days between the news and the service.  The house was full with a steady stream of loved ones coming and going.  Kind neighbors were bringing food, children were running around, arrangements were being made.  Every bit of air in the house was heavy with shock, disbelief, and brokenheartedness . I had an acute awareness of Brooke, barely leaving her side.  When I stepped into the house I fully took on the role of sister, temporarily pushing aside Mom, Wife, Daughter, Sister-in-law.  It was all about Brooke in those days.  The horrifying list of things that had to be done and impossible decisions that had to be made created a frantic feeling. We tried as gently as possible to seek Brooke’s wishes, dreading the fresh wave of grief each question would bring. I clearly recall walking through the mostly-empty Belk one of those days thinking how wrong it was that I had to search for funeral outfits in the children’s department. In the evenings, when Brooke retreated to her room and most of the family left, we shifted focus to the children.  There was this need to be close to one another so all of the kids made pallets on the floor so the carpet was covered with a tangle of blankets, pillows, and bodies.  It was a strange contrast –a slumber party in a house of sorrows.  Jon and I rotated through the kids, lying with them one by one.  And finally, when the house was quiet, Jon and I fell into bed and he held me as I wept and wept. No single word can describe how I felt, weeping in bed those few nights, but the closest word I can find is consumed.  

After a fitful night’s sleep, twilight arrived and as I lie there in the quiet house the first rays of the morning sun give light to see a picture on the wall of this yellow room where Jon and I were sleeping.  Beautiful hand lettering delivered a different version of a very familiar promise: “The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His Mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning.  Great is your faithfulness” ~ Lamentations 3:22-23.   From the rising of the sun, God sent his comfort to me – “dear child, you are NOT consumed.  I am faithful and full of mercy.” 

Eighteen months later after Brooke’s passing, we lamented again, but God had proven to me the truth of his promises. Grief was deep and there was still much weeping, but that week I did not feel consumed.  As we remembered Brooke’s legacy at her service, I sang these promises with confidence along with a sanctuary full of voices: “Great is thy Faithfulness, oh God our Father;…. Morning by morning new mercies I see.”   Words that Brooke loved and believed with her whole heart, and words that were made more beautiful after carrying us through the darkest of nights.

Everything’s NOT Awesome

I say to myself, “The Lord is my portion; therefore I will wait for him.” Lamentation 3:24 (NIV)

Many of you have known Brooke and the Turner family for years, and have been following and praying for her story. Part of what I wanted to do on my blog was to put on paper the story of God’s faithfulness from the perspective of the Fisher family. This is something I posted about HERE (in a post I pulled over from Facbook) and will continue to add to under the segment called “The Fisher’s Journey.”

On August 24, 2018, our family took the kids to their first football game. We watched our local high school rival teams play one another and the kids got to high five the players as they ran out on the field to the backdrop of a gorgeous Florida sunset. It was August in Florida and our upstairs AC had gone out, so when we got home we opened the sofabed and the kids grabbed pillows and blankets and slept downstairs. 

Ponte Vedra High vs Nease High, Aug 24 2018

It was here on this on this sofabed that we’d all be sitting the next day, tangled up in a mess of sheets and afternoon PJs, that I’d tell the children that their uncle JJ had been hit by a car and had not made it. I’d watch as their young minds individually processed, asking questions as they tried to grasp. I watched as it dawned on them, and I think it came out as this question…”but what about Aunt Brookie’s cancer?” The children had gotten used to seeing mommy cry about Brooke’s cancer, but this was different and gut-wrenching as my mind went quickly to the ‘on paper’ outcome of this all. Widowed sister with stage 4 breast cancer. The kids reactions were proportionate to their age and understanding, My oldest caught glimpse of her shirt that said “Everything is Awesome” – the one that all the kids wore to Legoland for our visit just weeks before. Through sobs she said “mommy, everything is NOT awesome.”

“Everything is NOT awesome.” – Reagan Fisher, 8 years old

Legoland, Aug 2018

No matter how much a song gets stuck in your head, it doesn’t make it truth.  “Everything is Awesome” (from the The Lego Movie) is one of those songs that takes up permanent residence in your brain.  But the truth is when I was cutting those letters out and ironing them to those shirts, even then everything was NOT awesome.  The palm tree and ocean breeze backdrop did not automatically make for a pretty picture.   My job was as stressful as it had ever been, as I had to navigate one crisis after another. While we had wonderful friendships, we were craving the church community that we had not yet found. But the true tension that kicked off 2018 was the news that Brooke’s cancer has spread.  Now definitively Stage 4 – having moved into sternum and lungs – we were living in the reality that our time with her should now be counted in years rather than decades. Ever fiber of me wanted to pick up and move to Columbia then and there. I set up job searches, looked at houses, and school districts. But the Lord had other plans, and we were faced with some clear roadblocks that put a halt to that planning. I finally had to accept that the answer was “not right now”, and I did not accept it very well.

You see, in January of 2018, the Lord put the word “BOLD” on my heart, and I clung tightly to that word as my first ever ‘word of the year’. The accompanying verse was in Psalm 138 says “I called and you answered me, you have greatly emboldened me.” So when Brooke’s diagnoses came in February, it was obvious to me that THIS was the bold step the Lord wanted us to take, and that all of the rest would fall into place.   

When I called, you answered me. You have greatly emboldened me. Psalm 138:3 (NIV)

But in hindsight, God knew there was more work to be done, and over the first 8 months of that year, through many circumstances that arose, our faith grew stronger, and we were truly emboldened to face what was to come. By the time August came around, I had accepted that we needed to wait for God’s timing. In my journal from August 22 2018 I wrote: “Lord, thank you for your many blessings. I do not know what direction your will is for me, but I now see that you are lighting the way one step at a time. Let me not miss your voice Lord.”

Just a few days later, as we mourned and processes Justin’s passing, God’s spoke loud and clear in a voice that could not be missed. This was the time, and God had emboldened us for this moment.

This chapter and any chapter can be named accordingly: Everything is NOT awesome. We live in a broken world. But even in our darkest moments of despair, even if we cannot feel His presence, God is there, and He is working out His will in our lives.

His Grace STILL Abounds

Brooke was a book person. She always loved the written word, and she always loved holding pages between her hands, even as more and more books went digital. She dreamed of bookcase walls filled with books that had accompanied her on her life’s journey. She also dreamed of writing a book, and this was one item she mourned in her final weeks as her health declined. As we sat there on her bed that day, I reminded her that she had written a book – in her journals, her blogs, her posts. She had written multiple volumes.

Five years ago today Brooke published her first blog post here, titled “His Grace Abounds” (see link at bottom of this post). The night of that conversation, I found a website where I could print this blog as a book, quickly imported and hit “ORDER”, in hopes to give to her just some of her profound words in a traditional book form. The book arrived at our home on the day of Brooke’s funeral, and though I never got to flip through it with Brooke, it has been such a treasure to me over these months of grieving.

From that first day holding her beautiful words – her voice of wisdom- in my hands, I’ve had these stirrings that I wanted to add to it so I can print again a more complete story for her children and loved ones to treasure. So over the past few weeks, I was able to obtain access to this blog and learn the basics of navigating the blog world. I’ve pulled over her most recent blog and many of her Facebook posts through the later part of her journey and including Justin’s passing. You can see the original source of the post in the Categories section to the right.

As I was bringing these posts over, a hashtag she commonly used jumped out at me. His Grace STILL Abounds (#hisgracestillabounds.). Though Brooke is no longer on this earth to profess this absolute truth, I can voice this with complete confidence: His grace still abounds.

In the past few months, God has put many words on my heart. Some of them pop into my head and I scribble frantically in my journal and make a note to myself to share at some point in the future. Others reveal themselves after stepping back and taking a higher level view of our journey. One consistent thing I’ve learned is this: I have this great desire to share with the community of people praying for us, but rarely can I do so in just a few sentences. 

For these reasons and after prayerful consideration, I have decided to continue writing the story of his abounding grace here, through blog posts.  I hope you’ll continue to follow our story and pray for our family, as we truly feel the prayers of God’s people have carried us during these difficult times.    As Brooke said in her first post 5 years ago , “I pray that God would squeeze every ounce of Glory out of this trial for Himself.”

One thing I’ve learned during the last 5 years it is this: the next phase for us will not look like anything I can imagine. We learned that six weeks to this journey as a family of 8, as the Covid-19 sent us into a period of homeschooling and social distancing. Another thing I’ve learned is this – God is writing our story, and he can take whatever brokenness we face and make it something beautiful.  

Original Post:  His Grace Abounds

Brooke Arnold Turner: 2/27/80 – 2/2/20

No photo description available.

Today this precious woman of God – my sister Brooke – went to join Justin in her eternal home. She has joyfully fixed her eyes on Jesus through years of grieving and suffering, and now there is a celebration in heaven as she is welcomed into the presence of the Lord.

Brooke, the Lord placed “Nearness” on your heart as your word of the year. Psalm 16:11 says “You make known to me the path of life, in your presence there is fullness of joy; at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.”

You are near to Jesus now… in his arms, enjoying his pleasures forevermore.

Liz’s Facebook Post from 9/23/19

Today I am taking a day “to remember the deeds of the Lord, [His] miracles from long ago. I will consider all [His] works and meditate on all of [His] mighty deeds” (Psalm 77). 

A few days ago, in a book I have come to love so much (Streams in the Desert L.B. Cowman, Sept 16), God spoke to me the words he spoke to Elijah, that I needed to “hide thyself by the brook Cherith” (1 Kings 17:3). 

From the devotion: “None of us, therefore, can dispense with some Cherith where the sounds of human voices are exchanged for the waters of quietness which are fed from the throne; and where we may taste the sweets and imbibe the power of a life hidden with Christ. {From Elijah, by MEYER}.

All of that being said, I requested a vacation day, grabbed my bible and a stack of journals from the past year, and have spent the morning in the absence of human voices and the waters of quietness and the waters of the fish tank. I’ve been reflecting on all the times God has shown up in BIG WAYS in the last year, since that move to Columbia. I have pages upon pages written in my scribbled cursive which would surely disappoint my daughter’s 4th grade teacher. 

And as I conclude my Cherith day – I feel empowered by God to share of his good works. I realize so many people know the high-level story of our family and our move to Columbia, and so many have been praying for us. And if I’ve had the chance to talk with you at any length, I have probably mentioned what a story of God’s faithfulness it has been. However most of you I don’t have a chance to have deep conversation with, and I wanted to share how the Lord has shown up and answered prayer over this past year. 

Today I’m making a commitment, to share some pieces, some excerpts of the last year to point only to God’s goodness. Many of these are word documents typed up many months ago and kept saved in a folder titled “PERSONAL.” I know the Lord will help me fight those silly fears that Satan uses to stop me from sharing of God’s faithfulness: the fear that I’m not good at expressing myself, the fear that I’ll be doing it for the wrong reasons, the over-analysis of every word and sentence and how it may be misconstrued, the fear of opening myself up to others. Coming soon… the first chapter I call Truck Stop Farewells. 

One last thing – I want to say that am so very grateful for the body of Christ and how my family has been covered this past year.