His Help Through Harvey

Today I take a break from posting in my “Finding Hope when Your Story is Unfinished” series.  I plan to post the final blog of this series in the next several days.  In the meantime, I would like to share a testimony of how our great God has helped me over the past two weeks.
The past week and a half remind me that I’m not in control. I’m so thankful that I have a good good Father who IS in control of every single circumstance. Nothing that happens is a surprise to God!  My faith can falter. My faith can be so weak. I was reminded this week that it’s not the strength of my faith that matters, but the strength of the OBJECT of my faith.  The object of my faith is Jesus, and He is the One who is the Solid Rock beneath my feet.  

This past Sunday in Houston as a part of worship we sang these lyrics:  (interesting aside – my home church in SC worshipped to this song on Sunday as well!)


When darkness veils His lovely face,

I rest on His unchanging grace;
In every high and stormy gale,
My anchor holds within the veil.

His oath, His covenant, His blood
Support me in the whelming flood;
When all around my soul gives way,
He then is all my hope and stay.

On Christ, the solid Rock, I stand;
All other ground is sinking sand,
All other ground is sinking sand.

There have been frustrations, tears, and even confusion over the events of the past two weeks. But when I take a few moments to reflect back, God reveals to me His faithfulness and His power without fail – EVERY SINGLE TIME.

Isaiah 41:13 & 18 says
“For I, the Lord your God, hold your right hand; it is I who say to you, Fear not, I am the one who helps you. I will make the wilderness a pool of water, and the dry land springs of water.”
The week of 8/21 the tropical storm that was brewing in the gulf turned into Hurricane Harvey, and it became evident that the gulf coast of Texas, including Houston, would experience Harvey’s wrath.
I was planning a trip home to South Carolina the weekend of 8/25-8/27 so I knew I’d miss the worst of Harvey….if I could just make it home. As concern about Harvey’s hover over Houston escalated, I decided (upon strong suggestion from my dad and husband!) to fly home a day early on Thursday, 8/24. I would miss a treatment on Friday that I’d have to tack on the end, but at least I wouldn’t be stuck in Houston alone during a hurricane. I made it home late Thursday 8/24 – the kids sleeping soundly had no idea I was home a day early. I surprised them Friday morning. It was especially special because my seven year old daughter, Selah, showed me a prayer she journaled on 8/20 asking God for Mommy to come home early. She wrote “I want my mommy home like other kids mommies”. God answered her prayer. I was home.
It was so special to be home, but as I saw footage over the weekend my heart was so burdened for the city that means so much to me. The flooding was beyond what I could even have imagined. Streets I have become familiar with turned into rivers, homes were underwater. The city shut down. Sweet faces flashed through my mind…new friends, the radiation therapists, doctors, the other patients.
Sunday morning (8/27), the gravity of the situation hit me — not only what it meant for the people there, but what this meant for my treatment plan.
Typically radiation treatments for breast cancer are scheduled Monday thru Friday for a certain number of weeks. (Mine was 6 weeks plus three “booster” treatments). It is important that these treatments be consecutive, other than weekend days.
At this point on Sunday, I had already missed one treatment (Friday, for coming home early), and it looked like I wasn’t getting back to Houston any time soon. I had a flight booked to return to Houston Monday morning 8/28, but it became clear that was not going to happen. Houston airport shut down, all flights through Houston cancelled, and the airports were not planning to reopen until Thursday 8/31.
I did some googling (bad idea) and saw that missing 4 or more radiation treatments increased the risk of cancer recurrence. Recurrence? I’ve been there, done that, and don’t want to go through this again!
MD Anderson closed all operations other than their inpatient services, so we weren’t even sure when MD Anderson would open back up, much less when I’d even be able to get BACK to Houston. It was a mess.  (And my mess was only a fraction of what the people there were facing!)

roads surrounding MD Anderson

I enjoyed doing “regular” life at home on Monday and Tuesday…taking the children to school, going into work. It felt like regular life..other than a huge piece of my heart that was still back in Houston…concerned for the resilient Houstonians who were underwater, and also concerned for my treatment.  It was all so out of my control.
On Tuesday 8/29, a doctor who works with my radiation oncologist called me asking if there was any way I could make it back to Houston by Thursday 8/31. They were trying to contact staff and see if any radiation therapists could get into work. MD Anderson would still be closed, but radiation oncology got permission to treat patients who could get there, considering the time sensitive nature of our treatments. The airport would still be closed, but I knew I’d do whatever it took to get there.
Tuesday after this phone call was CRAZY making arrangements. We decided that I would fly into an airport near Houston, rent a car, and then attempt to drive in. Many roads were still underwater, but we were given some websites that we could use to find clear routes. We decided for Justin to travel with me to help me navigate the unknowns. We didn’t even know if my van was flooded and drivable, considering it was in an open airport lot throughout the storm.
Wednesday 8/30, Justin and I flew into Austin and rented a car…(and got a fun date night out in a fun city!). Thursday early we made our way into Houston. The interstates were clear, but some of the frontage roads on I-10 looked like lakes. It is indescribable. But much of the city appeared to be moving forward. We made it to my apartment (in the rental car), thanked the Lord that my apartment fared well, and then I made it to my 10:45am treatment.

out in Austin

After my treatment the adventure continued. Our plan was to go retrieve my van from the airport and then turn in the rental car we had rented in Austin. We breathed a sigh of relief when my van was dry and it did not appear that lot flooded. When we cranked it, the van started making a strange sound, but I chalked it up to being parked for a week.
I followed Justin (who was driving the rental) to the rental car return center. I waited in the van as he turned in the rental car. A few minutes later a light flashed on my dash indicating a problem. Moments later the van went dead.
By this time, Justin was making his way back to me. Moments earlier he had turned in the rental car, and there we were, stranded at the rental car center. The lines at the rental car center were SO LONG – so many others in Houston trying to rent cars because theirs had flooded. We were not sure if our problems were related to the flood or just a strange coincidence. Based on our limited knowledge, it seemed to be the alternator. We were told we would probably not be able to get a rental car because of the high demand. Justin tried to get back the car he had just returned moments earlier without any luck. We were thinking uber might be our only option to get around for the foreseeable future. I was thankful MD Anderson is relatively close to my apartment, so I could walk if I needed to..
A tow truck called, and supposedly dispatched, and we waited six hours in our van when we were finally told it could be a couple days because the tow truck companies were understandably overwhelmed. We were advised to remove valuables and hide a key inside. At least we knew someone couldn’t steal it because it was dead!
Justin went back to the rental car desks and praise the Lord was able to rent another car for us to use over the weekend! (That was a small miracle!)
We left the van, and finally six hours later, made our way back to my apartment.
We got word Friday late afternoon that the tow truck made it to my van and took it to the mechanic.  I found out today that my van has been repaired, and it was not related to the flood — just a fluke coincidence that the alternator decided to break.
I’m back in Houston now, and I’ve made up most of my missed treatments (we doubled up on Friday and staff came in on Saturday to help catch up!).
My final treatment is NEXT FRIDAY – 9/15–and afterwards I’ll be making my way HOME! My sister, Elizabeth, is flying to Houston next Thursday to drive home with me. I’m excited for hours and hours of special sister time!
My prayers continue for this great city of Houston, and the surrounding areas. I have seen the Body of Christ (specifically witnessed Bayou City Fellowship and City Church) rise up and be the hands and feet of Jesus.  It will be a long road of recovery; please continue to pray for the people here.
As I recount the events of the past two weeks I’m reminded of two things about the character of God:
*Our God is a God who holds our hand and NEVER lets go!
I see so many glimpses of His grace over these past two weeks. That I made it home before Harvey hit, that Justin was with me when my van broke down, that I made it back to Houston with as much ease as I did. He leads us, and guides us, and protects us as a good Father.
*Our God makes our difficult “wilderness journeys” more comfortable to us.
This season has been so incredibly difficult, but God has made it more tolerable by so many comforts — the extra three days I had with my family at home, generosity from family and friends, special time with my husband, a rental car available when I thought I’d be walking — see His grace?! Friends, it could always be WORSE. When we’re at our wits end in the wilderness, God provides those “springs of water” in the desert. Over the past 28 months of my cancer journey, God has provided ABUNDANT provision of “water and shade” in the wilderness.


Friends, these are just a few of the ways I see Him work in my days. I pray He continues to make His name great through cancer.
“God does great things for His people that He may be taken notice of” (Matthew Henry)
“I am the One who helps you, declares the LORD, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel…And you shall rejoice in the LORD, in the Holy One of Israel you shall glory….that they may see and know, may consider and understand together, that the hand of the LORD has done this!”
Isaiah 41:14, 16, & 20

Finding Hope When Your Story is Unfinished: Part 4

I’m in the middle of a five part blog series called “Finding Hope when Your Future is Unfinished”.

Click here for Part 1: The Ending Will Be Good

Click here for Part 2 : Moving From Lament to Hope

Click here for Part 3: Getting to Know the Who of Hope


Part 4: For when Life is Completely Out of Your Control

Life can turn upside down in one heartbeat. 

April 13, 2015 during my morning quiet time, I journaled:

“Father, I worship You.  You are the Great I AM – the beginning and the end – the Creator of all, perfect Love, fullness of joy.”

I continued on, thanking God for the calling to serve the women at NEPC as Women’s Director (I had been in the ministry role for six months).

I proclaimed the Message paraphrase of Ephesians 3:20 in all caps:


I was on a “mountain top”! I remember in those days feeling so excited for all the ways God was moving and the possibilities that were ahead. I prayed about selling our home, for the heartbeat of our family, for ministry vision.

Eight days later, one flip of the journal page, and the heading is “cancer”.

In the flip of one journal page, I went from on top of the world to standing in the middle of the swirling hurricane of a cancer diagnosis. I went from a healthy 35 year old to a cancer patient who had a life threatening illness multiplying within.  I was catapulted into a chaotic world I’d never known, and the simple joys and frustrations of regular life seemed a million miles away.

April 22, 2015 – the day after being told I had breast cancer, I prayed:

“Lord, I do not know what the days ahead hold.  I am scared.  I am sad.  I am still in shock.  But I know You are with me.  I know that I am not alone….I have tasted and seen that You are good.”

I remember those first few days after being diagnosed with breast cancer in 2015.  We were scheduling numerous doctors appointments and scans. Managing the communication of my illness to people who loved me felt like a full time job.  I was beginning to process the news myself, as well as share the news with others.  I was scared feelings would get hurt if someone found out before someone else…and how would we tell the children? What did the future hold for Team Turner?

My tidy, controlled existence was now shattered, and the future went from clear and exciting to dark and foggy.

Chances are, we will all experience a life-altering moment like this.  If it hasn’t happened yet, it probably will.  So what do we DO when we are thrown into chaos and our life is complete out of our control?

We get a clue from Psalm 107: 23-30

The Psalmist describes people who “saw the deeds of the Lord”.

Some went down to the sea in ships,
    doing business on the great waters;
they saw the deeds of the Lord,
    his wondrous works in the deep

They were on a spiritual mountaintop! But in a moment, everything changed.

For he commanded and raised the stormy wind,
    which lifted up the waves of the sea.
They mounted up to heaven; they went down to the depths;
    their courage melted away in their evil plight;
they reeled and staggered like drunken men
    and were at their wits’ end.

Seemingly out of nowhere a storm comes. Instead of seeing God, they saw the waves and their “evil plight”.

But look what happens next:

Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble,
    and he delivered them from their distress.
He made the storm be still,
    and the waves of the sea were hushed.
Then they were glad that the waters were quiet,
    and he brought them to their desired haven.

Psalm 107:23-30

In the middle of the swirling storm, the crashing waves, the chaos, they cried to the Lord in their trouble.

When life is catapulted into chaos, the one thing we can do is cry out to the Lord.

So what does crying out to the Lord look like for me personally?  There are many ways people cry out to the Lord, but most often this is what it looks like in my life.  The three things I need:

My Bible, A Journal, A Pen.

When I’m in an “out of control” situation, it’s easy for me to focus on the circumstances.  I must intentionally get quiet before the Lord so that I can begin to fix my eyes back on Him.

When I enter into a time of solitude and prayer, I am reminded that even when I feel in control, I’m not. Crying out is purposeful, intentional engagement with the One who is writing my unfinished story.  This cry of desperation puts me in a posture of humility as I acknowledge that there is a good God who IS in control, and that I can trust Him.

Prayer reminds us that we are not in control. Prayer resets our gaze on the One who is.

The best antidote to fear is faith.  One way to grow our faith is through prayer.

Today I’m sharing a very practical three step prayer strategy that has helped me when fear overwhelms me. A desire to be in control is rooted in fear:  fear that if we don’t control the situation an undesired outcome will occur.  The temptation is to numb the fear with distraction (social media, entertainment, busyness, food, etc etc), but those are only temporarily quiet the fear. The only way I’ve found to move from fear to faith is to apply God’s truth to the root cause of my fear.

I frequently journal my prayers because it grows my faith to be able to look back and see how God has moved in the circumstance, or moved in my heart giving me peace.

“…casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you”

1 Peter 5:7

Here’s an example of a journaling page I did last week. This feels very vulnerable to post,but I’m praying that it may help someone move from fear to faith. The root fear I am fighting with God’s word is the possibility that I might not be healed this side of heaven: that the cancer may return once more.

When life feels out of control:

1-I attempt to identify and name my fear and write it down in a journal (left side, top in above image).

2-On the adjacent page (right hand side), I find scripture that directly speaks to that fear.  I write out the verses. These are God’s promises! If you are unfamiliar with the Bible, a simple google search or a good bible concordance can help.

3-Finally, I write out a prayer (left side, bottom), weaving in those precious Scriptures.  Another benefit to writing it down is that I can go back to it when the fear sneaks its way back into my heart!

After spending time quiet with the Lord and His truth, hope floods my soul as I’m reminded that my ultimate hope is Jesus.  He endured the ultimate chaos for me, so that I could seek refuge in Him during the storms of life that WILL come.

Then, and only then, am I able to rest my soul in God’s steadfast love.

Let them thank the Lord for his steadfast love,
    for his wondrous works to the children of man!
Let them extol him in the congregation of the people,
    and praise him in the assembly of the elders.

Psalm 107:31-32

When your life feels out of control, what practical ways do you move from fear to faith?

Finding Hope When Your Story is Unfinished: Part 3

This is part 3 in the series: “Finding Hope when your Story is Unfinished”.  To catch up:

Click here for Part 1: The Ending Will Be Good

Click here for Part 2 : Moving From Lament to Hope

Part 3: Getting to Know the WHO of Hope

In the Fall of 2003, each morning I would arrive to work, open up my laptop and wait with baited breath for an email. I’d sit alone in a stark European office, watching that screen as if my life depended on it.   As the computer booted up, my heart beat quickened and my stomach fluttered with butterflies.

I waited, wondering if I’d see a certain name in my inbox.

This was back in my Corporate America days. I met Justin in 2003 while visiting home in South Carolina, and promptly had to hop on a plane to return to my short-term international assignment in Europe.  Calling cards were expensive, so we mostly emailed.

Most mornings I’d see his name in my inbox, and my heart would skip a beat as I slowly read every word.I was hanging on every word he said.

My future with Justin in those early days was uncertain. We had just met and were discovering together whether or not our young relationship would gain traction.  I hung on every one of his words because I wanted to uncover his heart for our future together.

As we seek to find hope in the midst of our unfinished story, we can hang on God’s every word in Scripture, and be encouraged by the One who holds our future.

God’s will for your life is for you to have hope TODAY in whatever circumstance you’re facing. Romans 15:13 says “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that by the power of the Holy Spirit you may abound in hope.”

Romans 15:4 tells us that God gives us His Word so that we might have hope.  When we’re walking through a season of darkness, God’s Word illuminates the dark path and gives us just enough light for the step that we’re on. As we seek to find hope while our story is still unfinished, God’s Word reminds us that a good God holds our future. His Word is true, His promises unfailing.

A mind saturated in God’s Word creates a soul satisfied in God’s Hope.

Why Scripture is Essential in Giving us Hope:

As we spend time reading and studying God’s Word, we embark on a journey to:

  • Understand God’s Character and
  • Understand God’s Ways in Suffering


Understanding God’s Character

As we saturate our mind in God’s Word, we begin to trust who God is, and become convinced that He is for us and we were created to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever.  This side of heaven, our “enjoying Him forever” includes having a joy-filled hopeful expectation that no matter how our story is written, that the ending will be good!

Scripture illuminates the beautiful Gospel of Jesus, the scarlet thread of scripture woven from beginning to end.  Because of Jesus, we can draw near to our Holy God. Jesus gives us access to God the Father. The veil separating us from the Holiness of God was torn in two! We can approach the throne of grace without fear.  Hope is the anchor of our soul, and our ultimate hope is established in the work of Jesus.

He who did not spare his own Son but gave him up for us all, how will he not also with him graciously give us all things? Romans 8:32

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16

We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain. Hebrews 6:19

Understanding God’s Ways in Suffering

We can never fully understand God’s ways.  Isaiah 55:8 tells us that God’s ways are higher than our ways, however His Word begins to illuminate the fact that our suffering has purpose.  We read accounts of people in the bible like Joseph, or Job, and especially Jesus and we witness that very difficult trials birth beauty.  We are strengthened as God’s Word tells us that our pain has purpose, and that God will use the most difficult parts of our journey to prepare us for what He has ahead.

Not only that, but we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us. Romans 5:3-5

Now, let’s get practical.  You may be reading this, nodding your head. You understand the importance of getting in God’s Word every day but you don’t know where to start.  It’s difficult to find time in your full days.  I’ve been there!

Here’s are two practical tips that I’ve found helpful in developing a discipline of getting in God’s Word every day:

Set Apart Time

Carve out a set apart time in your day to spend time in God’s Word.  Start with 15 minutes. Place a high priority on this time.  I prefer the morning because the children are still sleeping and it starts my day centered on God.  My successful morning starts the night before, and I must get to bed at a decent time to get up early to spend time with the Lord.  Not a morning person? That’s ok! Maybe your time with God is on your lunch break, during a child’s nap time, or in the evening before bed.


Pair up with a friend who also wants to get in God’s Word daily and hold each other accountable.  You could ask a friend to wake up 15 or 30 minutes early and text each other that you’re awake and in God’s Word.  You could text a photo of the scripture you’re reading that day. While you’re at it, share how you can pray for one another throughout the day. We’re better together!


I’m working on developing a free, downloadable resource for you to help you overcome the obstacles you experience in getting in God’s Word every day.  I know how much developing a daily discipline of getting in God’s Word has meant in my life.  These early mornings with a hot cup of coffee and my bible spread open have served to establish me and infuse hope into my weary, discouraged soul.  I want to give you hope and help you overcome the challenges you face.  This is one small way I would love to serve you and come alongside you on your journey toward hope.

This is where you can help!

Please answer this one simple question:

What obstacles prevent you from developing a daily discipline of Bible study? 

You can respond by commenting to this blog post, writing a comment on Facebook or Instagram, sending me a private facebook message or emailing me at brooke (at) brookeaturner.com

Thank you in advance for your honest input as I develop a resource to equip women to get in God’s Word every day.

Finding Hope When Your Story is Unfinished: Part 2

Earlier posts in this series:

Part 1: The Ending Will Be Good


Part 2: Moving from Lament to Hope

In December 2016 I learned the breast cancer had returned. I was embarking on a new “divine adventure”.

I felt like a walking contradiction.

My emotions were a strange mix of deep lament and deep hope.

In one moment, I wondered if my children’s story would be one without a mother.  I wondered if Justin’s story would be one without a wife.  These very real possibilities made me very very sad.  I remember tossing and turning at night, praying for peace within the unknowns.  I was so sad for my family and the difficult journey that could lie ahead for them.

There were also moments that I specifically remember where winds of overwhelming hope would blow through my soul.  It would take me by surprise, and cause me to pause and wonder if I was delusional.  It didn’t feel normal.  This hope was not hope that I’d be ok, but rather hope that IT would be ok.  See the difference?  

At night I’d still have imaginary images that haunted me – images that clicked through like future motion pictures on the big-screen of my mind’s eye.  I’d see Selah trying on wedding dresses without my encouragement, Hannah applying her prom makeup without my help, Samuel graduating high school without my obnoxious cheers from the audience.  These thoughts made me cry.  A lot.  (They still do…)  

But then, there it was again.  The surprising winds of hope that it would be ok, actually better than just ok. That God was in this, as painful as the possibilities were.  There was a bigger story being written here, and the end was good.

There is a misconception that lament and hope cannot coexist.  We sometimes believe that hope means no tears or struggle.  We mistakenly believe that if we have hope, we jump straight to the good, bypassing the hard.

We learn in Scripture that it is ok, even HOLY, to sit for a while in the lament.  There is a whole book of the bible dedicated to Lamentations.  We ought not move through the lament too quickly.

It is my experience that deep lament stretches my capacity for deep hope.

As the brokenness of this world intersects our lives we feel it very deeply…and that is sacred.  Jesus felt deeply – He wept as He grieved the death of his friend LazarusHe pleaded for God to remove the cup of suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane.  

Jesus is our perfect example as we seek to become comfortable with the tension of lament and hope dwelling together in the same soul.  He asked for God to remove His suffering, but persevered for the joy set before Him.  He IS Hope.

As we deeply feel the brokenness of this world, we can deeply experience the hope of the One who has overcome this brokenness.

Lament births sorrow; hope births joy.  The apostle Paul tells us to be “sorrowful, yet always rejoicing.”  (2 Corinthians 6:10)   Lament and joy can co-exist.  It’s an uncomfortable tension that will only be resolved when our journey on earth is complete.

As we desire to move from lament to hope, there are two essential spiritual disciplines which gather soul kindling to spark hope:

  1. Saturating your mind in God’s Word
  2. Covering your circumstances in prayer

God’s Word and prayer, wrapped in the context of community, are beautiful gifts that God gives us and can come alongside as we move from lament to hope.

In the next couple of blog posts, I’ll unpack each of these, and get very practical about what it’s looked like in my life.  I’ll share what I’ve found helpful and I pray it encourages you as you seek to find hope in the middle of your own unfinished story.

Click here for more on Learning to Lament

Finding Hope When Your Story is Unfinished : Part 1

Part 1: The Ending Will Be Good

Eight years ago a friend spoke words over me that I hope I never forget.

“Brooke, God is writing a story with your life.  I don’t know how the story is going to end, but it’s going to be good”.

Moments earlier, through tears, I had shared with a group of friends about our long struggle to conceive. Medically, our options were limited.  We weren’t guaranteed I’d ever get pregnant, but that day my friend’s words infused hope into my soul.  I was reminded that even though my story was unfinished, I could be certain that the ending would be good. 

Today, eight years later, I write from a Starbucks in Houston.  The biggest chunk of my heart is in Columbia SC -1,065 miles away (to be exact).  It feels weird to walk around with most of my heart missing.

I have Stage IV breast cancer.  I’m being treated by the world’s best cancer team at MD Anderson Cancer Center, half a country away from my husband and children. All of the normal bits of life are moving along without me:  last minute summer reading, filling the final hot summer days, and target runs for school supplies.  Soon my kindergartner and second graders will walk into a new school-year without the comfort of Mommy’s embrace.  No doubt, this is hard.

I’m at MD Anderson because they give me medical hope that few other places in the world can provide.  Even at one of the highest rated cancer centers in the world, they cannot guarantee that the cancer will be gone forever.  Even though my story is unfinished, I can be certain that the ending will be good.   

What is Biblical Hope?

Biblical hope is not wishing for our circumstances to improve (“I hope the treatments work”).  Our hope cannot be in the happy ending we desire.  (“I hope I’ll have a baby one day”).  This is earthly hope which is flimsy and wrapped in uncertainty.

Biblical hope is vastly different.

Biblical hope is hope not in the harvest of our desires, but in the Healer of our yearning heart.

Biblical hope is having a confident expectation that God will turn the ashes of your life to beauty. (Isaiah 61:3)

My definition of hope:  the certainty of God’s future goodness and grace.

Join me for a Five Part Blog Series

Over the next few weeks I will be writing a series on “Finding Hope When Your Story is Unfinished.”  Hope is a topic that is warm and fuzzy, but can be difficult to wrap our arms around.

Consider this blog series a vessel of hope to the suffering sister.  My prayer is that these words will feel less like blog posts, and more like a good friend on the journey.  There is so much pain, so much hurt, but so much beauty.  I am spurred on by your emails and facebook messages and instagram comments.  We all need hope, and I see a crisis of hope in our generation. 

I long to sit across the table from you and hear your story, and look to the Lord together.  Outside of the minstry to my family, this is the greatest passion of my life: extending the hope of Christ to weary women.  So, ladies (and maybe a fellow or two)- let’s pretend we’re at Starbucks across the table, sharing our stories, looking to Jesus and cheering one another on as we seek Him together.

Together we will unpack:

-What it means to fight for hope, and why is it such a fight?

-Why Scripture is essential in our search for hope, and practical ways to dive into God’s Word when you don’t know where to start

-The importance of prayer, and some ideas when you feel like your prayers are hitting the ceiling

-The purpose of community in finding hope

-Practical ways God has helped me find hope in the thick of the suffering

Is there something in your life right now which feels hopeless, and the story is unfinished? Perhaps you’re single and you don’t want to be.  Maybe your child is wayward, a chronic illness plagues your body, or an empty womb breaks your heart. Is it a broken marriage or financial distress?  Join me for the next few weeks as we together find hope when our stories are unfinished.

“Let your steadfast love, O Lord, be upon us, even as we hope in you.”  Psalm 33:22

Friday Threads (Health, Heart and Housekeeping)

My screened porch is a place where I meet with the Lord.  The sun greets me over the trees in the east and bird voices welcome me back to my spot. Sipping hot and black coffee, I crack open His Word and my eyes fall on His character and His promises.  My memory traces His faithfulness over my life.  My hand personalizes these promises in a polka-dot journal.  “Brooke, I am your shepherd, My child, goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life.” (Psalm 23) My heart begins to trust in the exquisite front side of my life-tapestry.  In His grace, often I can even see glimpses of the real-life beauty right here, in the middle of the mess.

In my last post, I shared briefly about the messy threads of life.  In the gritty hours of my days, especially in this life navigating a serious disease while mothering young children, my mind frequently drifts towards this metaphor of the tapestry.  With my eyes of sight, I see the messy backside of the tapestry – the chaotic myriad of colors, the knots and unraveled threads.

The truth: life is challenging – balancing young children, marriage, keeping up a house, and serving in a part time job/ministry. The days feel gritty and imperfect; the rough edges of sin and suffering rub like sandpaper. I see you nodding your head because you get it.

It’s tough enough without cancer.

Add in a two year fight against an unrelenting disease, and these circumstances could crush me.  Instead, they’ve brought me to my knees in utter desperation for my God.  That’s not a bad place to be.

These past two years have removed any false notion that I am smart enough, disciplined enough, and capable enough to do this life on my own. Today, I’m desperate like never before, leaning hard into the One I can trust with everything.  It feels like a deep breath of surrender, and the comforting embrace of just being held.  I’m humbled that God would entrust me with this desperation journey at age 37, instead of 77.

Today I’m sharing the “Friday Threads” of my heart and health.


*God has been gracious in the healing from mastectomy surgery on 6/21/17.  I’m five weeks out, and all pain is gone!  Hallelujah! My range of motion is returning! Praise the Lord!  The healing of my heart and accepting my new scarred and broken body will take much longer. Right now my coping mechanism is to avoid mirrors. It may not be the healthiest way to cope, but this is all part of the journey and He’s there.

*Next week I start radiation therapy at MD Anderson Cancer Center.  The radiation will be on both my right chest area and sternum.  I’ll have radiation in Houston five days a week for six weeks.  The radiation oncologists in Houston are very specialized and it is imperative that I get the best care.  I’ve already been radiated once, so this situation is very delicate.  I’ll be living in Houston six weeks in a short-term, fully furnished apartment four miles from MD Anderson.  Justin and grandparents will be home with the children. I have several groups of visitors coming to keep me company for a few days at a time. Thanks to God’s provision and kind, generous souls I’ll be able to return home to see Justin and the children some of the weekends.  I have plans to fill my days alone in Houston with set apart time with God, NEPC Women’s Ministry work, reading, worship walks around Rice University (beautiful!), writing, making blog changes, and praying for divine appointments with other ladies who need prayer and a hug.

*For updates about my cancer journey, please “like” my Facebook page: Brooke Turner’s Cancer Journey  I would be so grateful if you could life up our family during these days.  I post specific prayer requests on the Facebook page.


Six weeks feels like too long for any mother to be separated from her children, especially when a new school year is starting, and the baby of the family will be starting kindergarten.  A new adventure to begin, a milestone to experience without the comfort and encouragement of Mama in person.

Six weeks feels like too long for any wife to be separate from her husband; requiring him to be Mr. Mom and Mr. Dad, and provider, and boo-boo kisser, and homework doer, and lunch packer.

Anxiety and worry can bubble up when I dwell on all that seems wrong with this scenario.  If you and I speak about this time in Houston for more than 30 seconds, there is a 99% chance that I will cry.  Especially if the topic of kindergarten comes up.


When I pause and take just a moment to lift up my eyes, He reminds me of the hidden work that He is accomplishing in my life, and in my family.  He reminds me of His daily faithfulness and provision each day I’ve traveled this rocky journey. Reflecting on His goodness along this unchosen path transforms my attitude from grumbly to grateful.

I’m grateful for His provision of a supportive husband and incredible daddy who loves his children so fiercely.

I’m grateful for grandparents who selflessly serve our family and provide some semblance of consistency (and laundered clothes!) during these topsy-turvy days.

I’m grateful for my sister who, in the midst of a full family life and demanding work life, has come alongside me in so many beautiful ways; coordinating trips and finding me an apartment, and traveling with me to Houston, and making plans to help with the children.

I’m grateful for friends who generously provide house cleaners, and send gift cards, and listening ears, and voxer messages, and warm hugs, and encouraging texts, and funny cards.

I’m grateful for the crinkly pages of Isaiah 61 in my blue bible.  My hope is wrapped up in this promised One, Jesus, who every single time without fail exchanges gladness from despair; comfort from mourning; beauty from ashes.

I’m grateful that I don’t have to wait to get to the other side of these difficult circumstances to experience God’s goodness and be steadied by His Hope.  His presence and His Hope are right here in the messy middle. This establishes my soul, and it can establish yours too.

Many of you look at our situation and allow fear to hold your heart in bondage.  “What if that happened to me?  How would I cope?”

One purpose of writing and sharing my story is to show you through this one, imperfect life that as we walk with the Lord in suffering, God always exchanges beauty for ashes.  

I pray my words infuse hope into your messy middle.  We’re all in the middle of something that feels like a mess.  It has not been easy, but this journey has been sweet and intimate, and one which God has gloriously grown me in ways only He can.  Our darkest seasons brith desperation for God, which allow for us to know Him intimately and comfort others with the comfort He has given us.  As we draw near to the weaver-God, He allows us to believe that He is weaving a perfect tapestry through the seemingly disconnected threads of our circumstances.


*As I went through treatments (again) for breast cancer, most days I was too weak or my brain was too foggy to continue writing on this blog. God gave me a precious gift in my dear friend, Maria Currey, who so graciously sat at the feet of the Lord each week and wrote beautiful prayers which she posted here as ACTS of prayer.  Maria was my point person to distribute prayers both on the blog and in our church for faithful prayer warriors.  I’ve heard from many how thess “ACTS of Prayer” deeply ministered to so many of you, as you used them to enter into time with the Lord by first adoring who He is before seeking His hand.  I have saved each of these and plan to put them in a special place on my blog,  Thank you, dear Maria, for faithfully serving me and the readers of this blog.

*My vision for this blog is to serve you as you seek to find God’s goodness and His hope in the middle of your own mess.  The Lord has impressed this on my heart, as I listen, cry and pray for women in my life.  We’re all in the middle of something that feels like a mess. Your mess may be a waiting room of infertility, chaotic days with young children, infidelity, a broken relationship, or a debilitating disease.  Your answers will help me as I seek to serve you from an overflow of what God is doing in my life, as He walks with me through stage IV cancer.  I’ll be unpacking this further in the days ahead (as I have hours along in Houston). In the meantime, if you have a moment and you feel a need for this message in your life or in the life of a friend, would you please answer this:

What obstacles do you fight against as you seek to see God’s goodness and experience His hope in the messy middle of your circumstances?

You can comment here, email me at brooke@brookeaturner.com or send me a message on Facebook or Instagram.

Thank you for how you’ve carried our family in prayer in these days. Your love for our family is making indelible imprints into our hearts and the hearts of our children.  For this we are deeply grateful.

Friday Threads (Health & Heart)

On this cloudy Friday afternoon, I have an urge to write and update; share and process, but the problem is I’m suffering from a case of “chemo brain”, so this I’m unable to wrap these disconnected thoughts into a nice tidy bow with a beginning, middle, and end.  As I’ve decided whether I should write at all, I realized that this type of post pretty much my life.  God is weaving seemingly disconnected threads into a beautiful tapestry, but I can only see the backside… a random disorderly beautiful mess.

Here are some disconnected threads for this Friday that I’m trusting God is using to weave together to create something beautiful.

What’s happening in my HEALTH:

I have Stage IV cancer.  This has been the case since discovering the sternum metastasis in January. It’s difficult to accept, but thankfully, I have the “best case” of a bad scenario.  I have breast cancer with one area of bone metastasis in my sternum.  Under the oversight of a team of physicians at MD Anderson, since January I’ve been going through the most aggressive chemo regiment they can throw at me.  I had four infusions of “the Red Devil” chemo, and then four infusions of Ixempra.  The last three chemo cycles they also added in a daily oral chemo called Xeloda, which involves 6 pills a day.  This is the most aggressive chemo regiment to give me the best chance of “No Evidence of Disease”.

The standard of care with Stage IV has been palliative care, instead of curative care.  In other words, holding back the disease as much as possible to extend life.  However, recently there have been many studies that have shown Stage IV cancer patients who are able to extend their life many many years, especially patients like me who have no “distant disease”.  In other words, my area of metastasis is local to the breast area, so it seems we have contained it locally before it spread to vital organs.  This is the reason behind the very aggressive chemo, and I’m thankful to be treated at MD Anderson where they are on the cutting edge of research and treatments.

God has been SO gracious to me, and I have tolerated the side effects of the chemo remarkably well! In 2015, my first experience with chemo was pretty horrific.  Every single doctor and nurse I encountered was very concerned about how I would tolerate this regiment.  It is a MIRACLE and makes absolutely no sense medically speaking.  I know it’s my GREAT GOD!  I’ve had .some pain, (a lot of) fatigue, a little nausea…of course hair loss.  But I’ve been able to get out of bed every day, work a lot of days, and be Mommy to my little ones!  Thank you for your prayers for minimal side effects!!

My final infusion chemo (Lord willing) was May 8, and I’ll continue to take my oral chemo for another week.   I’ll have a PET Scan (likely May 20) and we head to MD Anderson (Houston TX) May 24-27.  I’ll meet with a surgeon May 25, who will assess the PET Scan and determine if I am a candidate for surgery.   They want to see the disease contained and inactive.  We’re looking at a double mastectomy with reconstruction.   I’ll do surgery in Texas, probably in June, and I’m not sure how long I’ll be out in Texas.  After surgery, in theory the only cancer would be in the sternum, since the breast will be gone.  Doctors have also mentioned radiation for the sternum area.

Lots of questions…we’ll know more after our Houston trip end of the month!

My prayers are that the PET scan will show “No Evidence of Disease” — a complete response to this aggressive chemo I’ve been on for nearly 5 months!  My prayer is that we can move ahead with surgery and radiation, and that the Lord would give me many many more years to be Justin’s parter and Samuel, Selah and Hannah’s mommy!

All of this that I share is wrapped in faith, and the knowledge that my hope is not in the medical treatments, but God alone.  God is not limited to cancer “stages”.  God  is writing a story here, and He wrote every day of my life before I lived one! He sees the beginning, middle and end, and has numbered my days!  My life rests securely in His sovereignty, and His plans for me are GOOD. His plans for my family are GOOD.  His goodness chases me every day of my life, and through His daily grace, I can have joy in the midst.

What’s happening in my HEART:

On motherhood & legacy… just the tip of the iceberg….

Mothers Day brunch with my youngest

At Focus Bible Study, as we completed our study of the book of Romans, we were challenged to consider what kind of “footprints of faith” we are leaving to the next generation.  We sang an old  (slightly cheesy, but precious) 1980s song by Steve Green “Find us Faithful”.  As tears streamed down my face, (and the faces of the other mothers of young children worshipping around me), it occurred to me that the desire of all of our Mama hearts was that we would be found faithful…for our children but also other “children of faith” we have the opportunity to disciple.    With my health situation, these thoughts are at the forefront of my mind daily, and I desperately long to leave behind “footprints of faith” for my children to look back on after I’m gone…..whether it is 5 years or 50 years from today.


At the same time, there is the recognition that faith is a matter of the heart, that ONLY God can do.  I cannot transform my children’s hearts, only the Spirit of God can do that.  Through discipline I can correct their behavior, through teaching and training I can share the Word of God (and faith first comes from hearing of the Word)…but there is an invisible work of the Lord that I CANNOT do.  This is hard for a recovering control-freak like me!

This realization is a call to press in and surround my children with “kindling” that the Holy Spirit might ignite into full faith one day —- a passionate, life altering faith that results in a life of extravagant worship.  It’s a call to be on my knees for my children, begging God to do the work that only He can do.  And it’s a call of dependence for me, to entrust my children to Him daily, and do the next right thing in my responsibility to share the goodness of the Lord with them.

To all of you mothers out there~ press into the hearts of your children.  Pray big prayers over their lives; plans and purposes that only God can accomplish.   Most importantly , make your spiritual growth a priority…press into the Lord yourself, and by God’s grace, you will be found faithful, only by Jesus – the Faithful One.

praying “plentiful redemption” over my health, and over my family…

Find us Faithful by Steve Green

We’re pilgrims on the journey

Of the narrow road

And those who’ve gone before us line the way

Cheering on the faithful, encouraging the weary

Their lives a stirring testament to God’s sustaining grace


Surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses

Let us run the race not only for the prize

But as those who’ve gone before us

Let us leave to those behind us

The heritage of faithfulness

Passed on through godly lives


Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful

May the fire of our devotion light their way

May the footprints that we leave

Lead them to believe

And the lives we live inspire them to obey

Oh may all who come behind us find us faithful


After all our hopes and dreams have come and gone

And our children sift through all we’ve left behind

May the clues that they discover

And the memories they uncover

Become the light that leads them

To the road we each must find

Learning to Lament

This past Sunday, Justin and I had the opportunity to share our “God-story” through this video we filmed in January.


I remember this weekend in January when we filmed the video.  The Lord’s strength was nearly palpable as we were interviewed by our Pastor.  I remember answering questions, hearing the answers through my own ears, and knowing those words were not my words, they were His words.  This has only happened a few times in my Christian journey and it is strange.  Throughout scripture we see God opening the mouth of His people and putting words in their mouths, so I should not be surprised.

It is an incredible feeling to sense God so near; to sense His strength and experience His presence in that way.  If you’ve seen bravery or strength, be assured that isn’t my courage or strength.  It’s the Lord’s.  He does make me brave, and where I’m so weak, He is so strong.

In the early days of my re-diagnosis,  I said so many times to so many people “I feel like I’m wrapped in a cocoon of grace in these days”.  His presence was so near.  I experienced the hope, joy and peace that was available to me in Christ, in the fullest way that I had ever experienced it.  How in the world could I actually have joy in the midst of a second cancer diagnosis in 20 months ? It was surreal, and such a gift.  I remember in the middle of these hard but sweet days, I said to a friend “I’m afraid of the darker days that I fear are ahead”.

I’m typically a “glass half full” person, so why would I expect dark days ahead?

This isn’t my first journey through cancer.   In the middle of the journey in 2015 there was a chunk of time that God seemed far off; His presence did not feel near.   That is scary to write and to admit, but it was my experience.  This distance was worse than any of the physical suffering of treatments. Thankfully, through time, His Word, and community He pulled me out of that pit, and my testimony was “Faith isn’t faith if it is always felt”.  In looking back, God taught me that for the first time in my life, I simply had to be carried. I couldn’t “pull myself up from my bootstraps”.    I barely held onto His promises by my fingernails, but He was securely holding me the entire time.

To be completely honest, there have been many days recently where the strength and hope of what I shared in my video has seemed so far off.  I’m reading His Word, I’m praying (more like wailing out to Him), I’m journalling, I’m in community, I’m going to church.  It seems like I’m doing all the right things, but His presence sometimes seems distant.

I long more than anything to FEEL His presence in my life.  But what about the days when we don’t?  Faith isn’t faith if it is always felt.

Yesterday I sat around a table with three strong, beautiful brave young women who, like me, are walking through stage IV cancer.  And like me, they all have young children who need their Mommy.

I was an absolute wreck, holding back tears the entire time, because it was literally the first time I sat in the presence of others who understand the emotional complexities of walking through a very serious disease, while being a Mommy to young children.

They get it.

We briefly shared our stories, and I couldn’t help but think this is NOT OK.   Young mothers should not have to fight for our lives, in the “prime” of our lives.  Our sufferings are worthy of lament.

A lament is an expression of deep grief and sorrow.  I feel in our churches we haven’t done a good job of talking about how to lament well.    The Psalms do a good job of exploring this “trusting tension” – the “It is NOT well, but it IS well” tension that we will all experience during some time in this journey of life, if we live long enough.  As I am stretched in this, I’m understanding that it’s ok to lament.  The Psalms teach me not only how to lament, but how to point to God in the process.   The Psalms teach me how to trust in what I KNOW , not only what I feel.

It’s ok to lament, but I should remember the “YETs” of my faith.  This is not ok, YET I will rejoice in the Lord.  (Habbakuk 3:17-18).    This is not ok, YET I trust Him.  (Psalm 9:9-10) This is not ok, YET I believe He is good and working all things together for my good.  (Romans 8:28) This is not ok, YET I will seek Him first (Matthew 6:33),  trusting He will not withhold any good thing from me (Psalm 84:11).

These tensions are harder to live in than to the “coffee mug” Christian platitudes; platitudes spoken through a plastered smile, with an overly cheerful tone, masking a distressed, groaning heart.

I’m preaching a lot to myself these days, and asking my heart to catch up.  What God is teaching me is there is so much purpose even in the days of lament, as He takes me even deeper, stretches me more, opens and empties my hands even more, so I can receive even more of Him.

Just as it was such a blessing to sit with those young mothers yesterday, knowing they get it, I hope these words encourage someone else who is in a season of lament — you’re not alone.

Sweet friend, I get it.


Psalm 41: 1, 2, 11

As a deer pants for flowing streams,

so pants my soul for you, O God.

My soul thirsts for God,

for the living God.

Why are you cast down, O my soul,

and why are you in turmoil within me?

Hope in God; for I shall again praise him,

my salvation and my God.

Habakkuk 3:17-18

Though the fig tree should not blossom,
    nor fruit be on the vines,
the produce of the olive fail
    and the fields yield no food,
the flock be cut off from the fold
    and there be no herd in the stalls,
 yet I will rejoice in the Lord;
    I will take joy in the God of my salvation.

Psalm 9:9-10

The Lord is a stronghold for the oppressed,
    a stronghold in times of trouble.
And those who know your name put their trust in you,
    for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you

Romans 8:28

And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.

Matthew 6:33

seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.

Psalm 84:11

For the Lord God is a sun and shield;
    the Lord bestows favor and honor.
No good thing does he withhold
    from those who walk uprightly.

Let Him Hold You

I sit in a Houston hotel room in the sound of silence.  Cancer brings me out to this massive city once again.

I’m half way finished with chemo, and it’s time for a follow-up appointment with my oncologist at MD Anderson.

From the time one steps foot on the MD Anderson campus, it is clear that their mission is to end cancer.  That’s why I’m here, to end my relationship with cancer.  Cancer is an unwelcome stranger in my body, and I’m ready to bid it farewell.



I’m so very thankful to be at one of the world’s leading cancer centers, as the team here is on the cutting edge of cancer treatments, research and clinical trials.  However, this morning, as I considered doctors who can help me be rid of this awful disease,  God reminded me through Psalm 54:4 that He, and He alone upholds my life.

Behold, God is my helper;

the Lord is the upholder of my life.

Psalm 54:4

I did some digging and discovered that this word “uphold” when literally translated from the original Hebrew language, means “to place or lay something upon any thing so that it may rest upon it and be supported by it.”

My life, and your life is upheld by God.

When we place our life in His hands, we are held by His loving and capable hands.

He allows us to rest in His care.

He supports us, carries us, protects us, and pleads our cause.

How can we reconcile these truths when our life is intersected by pain, suffering, or heartache?

It’s trusting and believing that nothing comes into our lives that has not been filtered by the loving fingertips of God.
Psalm 139:5 says “You hem me in, behind and before,

and lay your hand upon me.”

Imagine His Perfect hands holding your life, a hand both cupping and covering your future, present, and past.  The cupping hand carries, and the covering Hand filters the good and the hard, and only that which pleases Him passes through.

As I type, my body is still weakened by the ravages of my most recent chemo treatment a week ago.  Traveling through the airports yesterday was harder than I thought.  I write from the valley, where these truths of His perfect sovereignty aren’t merely pat, Sunday school answers.  But it is also here in the valley where I feel the most carried by His upholding Hands.

It’s where He teaches me to rest in Him and to let Him hold me.

Whatever hard thing you’re walking through today~ Don’t try to squirm out of His perfect embrace.  Let Him hold you.

Why You Shouldn’t Fear Cancer


In August of last year, I was presented with a thick book; “Survivorship” printed across the top.

My scans had all been clear, and it was time to talk about life after cancer.

One of the most difficult parts of life after cancer is the temptation to fear a recurrence.  This is something I wrestled with, and had to daily, sometimes hourly intentionally cast this fear onto the Lord.   After a bookend was placed on the cancer journey, anytime I would consider a recurrence, tears would flow like two hot rivers streaming down my cheeks.  I could not even conceive of a day, some imaginary day in the future, where I would find out cancer had once again intersected with my life.  My biggest fear within the fear was finding out that I would have to go through chemo again.   Chemo was not friendly to me in 2015.

Little did I know that four short months after receiving the “Survivorship” book, would I actually hear those words that I so feared.   The cancer was back, and chemo would be the first weapon used to battle it.

On December 7, 2016, the fear that I had so feared had become reality.  The news I had so dreaded, and the “worst case” that I had cast upon the Lord was no longer a “what if”.   But on that day, what surprised me even more than the news, was the gift that the Lord has prepared for us, waiting for us on that day.

It was the gift of grace in the moment.

Grace was waiting, a gift unopened until those moments when we needed it most.

I want to spell out exactly what this grace looked like in that exam room, so this thought isn’t just a nice concept but it becomes concrete in your heart and my heart.

His grace gift –   the day prior, I gathered with three prayer warriors and they prayed powerful prayers of grace over whatever we would learn the next day- good or bad.

His grace gift – a prayer emailed to me the morning of the appointment by a precious prayer warrior, which I read aloud before the doctor came into share the news.  God used this prayer and scripture spoken aloud in that physical space to establish our hearts and prepare us for the news we were about to receive.

His grace gift – after the doctor shared the news we feared my response was simply: “I have faith.”  As the words fell on my ears, I knew they were not my words, but words the Lord put in my mouth and spoke over me, through me.

His grace gift – the “Like a River Glorious” peace that flowed through our hearts, despite the very difficult news we had just received.

Grace was waiting.

His grace is like manna from above – we cannot hoard it, we cannot gather it early, it comes ONLY when we need it. We must have faith to believe that if we walk through that hard thing we fear, that grace will be waiting, like a gift waiting to be received.

Right now, in your heart and in mine there is a “worst case scenario” that you fear. Maybe your “worst case” is the reality that I am living.  I’m here to share today that YOU DON’T HAVE TO FEAR that worst case “what if”.  You don’t have to fear sickness, the death of a loved one, a child straying.    You don’t have to fear cancer.

Grace will be waiting.

The reality is, some of those fears may actually come to pass.  (Not encouraging, but stick with me).  You might get cancer, your husband may not return home from deployment, your child may walk away from the Lord.

BUT, if you ever get to that day, grace will be waiting.

I do not want to make light of this journey.  I’m journeying through a deep valley. But His daily grace is deeper still.  It greets me daily in surprising and delightful ways.  His sustaining grace envelops our family and allows us to make it through another day.

Matthew 6:34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.”

This is why you don’t have to fear cancer.  If you are ever hear that news, His abundant, perfect grace will be waiting for you there, too.