By all external appearances, Brittany Price Brooker has a picture-perfect life.
With a handsome husband and five adorable children, her affectionately-coined “Brooker Bunch” looks like they belong on the glossy cover of Family Magazine.
But what you don’t see in this picturesque, no-filter-needed snapshot is the brokenness that lies beneath this blended family threaded together by the sovereign hand of God through sorrow and hardship.
A widow and a widower, with a twisted fairy-tale ending so far outside of what they imagined–but SO far greater than what they dare dreamed.
Brittany recently told her powerful redemption story of finding love after loss on Sadie Robertson’s Live Original blog.
In a poignant blog post entitled God’s Not Done With You Yet, she begins by recollecting the day her first love and the father of her children was ripped from her very hands in an instant.
“I experienced a life-changing brokenness when I least expected it,” wrote Brittany. “I was happily married to a handsome man who was my first love, first hand hold and my beloved husband. We had three little baby boys together, and I felt like I was living out my dream of being a wife and a mother.”
But after a kiss she didn’t know would be her last, the 25-year-old’s whole white-picket-fence fairy tale burst into flames.
“One day, I kissed my husband goodbye and told him I loved him as he was leaving for work, only to receive a phone call several hours later that my healthy, 30-year-old husband suddenly died as his heart went out of rhythm.”
In total shock, Brittany remembers sitting in the frigid hospital hallway, as she only began to grasp the weight of the blindsiding tragedy.
But in that moment, she mustered up strength that was beyond her own abilities to say, “The Lord gives and takes away, He is so good.”
“I instantly became a widow at the age of 25, with three precious boys under the age of three, walking a road I could have never imagined. My dreams and my reality shifted in a moment, taking the breath out of me. I found myself asking God to give me the strength to make it minute by minute, even when I couldn’t see the road He had in front of me. As I waited, I held on with everything I had to the hope that God was greater than my grief.”
In the painful months after the loss of her husband, Brittany continued to “claim the hope from God’s Word” over her little boys, though half the time, she couldn’t believe the words she was uttering.
Her mind swarmed with the questions that would plague any finite mind trying to comprehend the workings of an infinite, all-loving God who would allow such devastation to trample all over her life.
Did God really still have a plan for her? Could He really bring light and beauty from ashes blackened by the sting of death?
“Honestly, there were moments when I felt finished, that life as the happy full of life woman I used to be was gone forever,” she writes. “How could I dream again, when the person who was in those dreams was gone? I remember crying out to God one night saying, God what do you have for me? How can I still have life ahead of me after this?”
The simple message Jesus whispered in her heart became the hope she would cling to throughout the rest of her healing journey: “Hold on, there is joy ahead. I am not finished with you yet.”
As Brittany continued to dive into God’s Word, He began to heal her heart in unexplainable ways. Most importantly, He began to reveal how He was going to use her pain for His purpose, if only she would cling to His promises.
“I watched as God started to do what He promised. He kept writing my story – not putting me to the side saying you are finished, but saying ‘You are part of a story that is bigger than yourself and I will bring it to pass, just keep obeying me.’ He cared so much for me and precious little fatherless boys, and He kept writing our story with an overwhelming amount of grace. He heard our cries for Him and He truly became enough for us. It was not Jesus plus something, but just Jesus. He brought us through the places of being so worn out from grief to a place of life and hope. He began to do a good work in me.”
Brittany decided she could either “stay treading in the waters of tragedy” or “start swimming for the shore of triumph.”
Rather than wallowing in her own pain and self-pity, she chose the latter.
It was in that moment of revelation that she stopped digging for the “WHY” and instead started searching for “WHAT” else God had for her in this circumstance that she couldn’t understand.
“WHAT do you want me to do with this?” became her daily cry to her Heavenly Father in an effort to glorify Him, because this was simply “too painful to be wasted.”
Not long after, God began pressing upon her heart to encourage others in a place of helplessness who felt like their brokenness was also beyond repair. It was during this timeframe that He began to show Brittany the next chapter in her seemingly hopeless story.
“As I was reaching out to one family in particular, another widower with two small children was encouraging the same family with the truth of God’s word. God started to show me His plan, and He began writing a new chapter in my life. Here was another person who could have been consumed by their circumstances, but was choosing life even when faced with the tragedy of death.”
As the Great Author He is, Brittany says God started to pen a beautiful love story with answers to prayers that she had never even thought to pray herself, as He began to fuse two broken hearts into one.
“It may not be a story we imagined, but it will be one that shows He is always at work, even when we don’t see or feel it.”
She is now beyond grateful for her new marriage and the chapters God wrote into her life that she could never have fathomed working for her good. Admittedly, that doesn’t mean all is sunshine and daisies for the Brooker Bunch–but they are now an unbreakable clan of seven forged by the fire of pain, and the collision of sorrow and joy:
“Two families marked by pain, 5 children, all with one parent in heaven and one on earth. Their stories didn’t stop at pain, but instead were joined together when sorrow and joy collided. As a result, the Brooker Bunch was formed. We still have chapters in our lives marked with sorrow and hardship, but we also have them penned in grace and mercy. God didn’t give up on us when we’re at our lowest. He had a purpose for our lives and we had to trust when we couldn’t see.”
For all those taking the time to read her story, Brittany has one simple message to convey:
“God is not done with you.”
“Your story is not complete, so don’t give up when it’s only half written,” she continues. “I remember so many times, my boys would ask me why they couldn’t go to heaven right then. I would look them in their bright blue eyes and tell them, ‘Jesus isn’t finished with you yet.’ God’s word tells us to run this race with endurance and to keep our eyes and hope fixed on Jesus the whole way. The same is true of you and me.”
If you are still living and breathing, Brittany’s charge to take heart and hang on to hope applies:
“He is the good God, and the best story writer. You will see His goodness in the land of the living, because He is the life-giver. God’s not done with you yet.”
If only we are willing to surrender our pen to the hand of the Great Author, we will see a life exploding with redemption beyond our wildest imaginations.
Read Brittany’s story in full on Sadie Robertson’s Live Original blog.