I look at my wife and just can’t believe this is happening. I can’t believe that I’m here, in this room, still trying to fathom how quickly a life turned around. I can’t describe how differently I saw this week going. I can’t believe this isn’t the worst nightmare I’ve ever had.

I can’t figure out how I’m going to go on. I can’t determine how I’m going to be a parent to my two children without my other half, my helpmate. I can’t picture how I’m going to make it from day to day without her by my side. I can’t imagine walking back into our house, or sitting in our living room, or standing in our kitchen, or laying in our bed. I can’t figure out what I’m going to tell my children (at least Brady, as Halle is too young to understand anything), or how they’re going to respond to Mommy not being around anymore.

I can’t accept this. I can’t stop wondering “why, God.” I can’t stop wondering “why not someone else” or “why not no one else” or “why now” or even “why not, God.” I can’t stop being angry at a fallen world where stuff like this has to happen to people every day. I can’t stop asking and wondering.

I can’t stop believing that a miracle will happen. I can’t stop wondering why I can’t stop believing. I can’t stop begging God. I can’t stop pleading and crying and screaming and asking. I can’t figure out why I’m in the cross-fire.

I can’t stop aching or hurting. I can’t stop being miserable. I can’t stop thinking about all of these things.

I can’t stop having hope in God. I can’t stop having faith in Him and knowing His ways are above our ways. I can’t stop believing His Word. I can’t stop believing how much He loves us and how He proved that when He sent His Son to die for us. I can’t stop remembering God and Who He is and how He is. I can’t seem to forget that He loves me.

I just can’t figure out what He’s doing.

And what it has to do with me.

36 thoughts on “Can’t”

  1. Brad, I’m just so sorry. I am begging God to heal her too. I’m so sorry that this is happening, and that this world is how it is.

  2. Brad,
    I know that you don’t know me, but after reading your blogs day after day I feel like I know you and your family. I am so sorry for what you are all going through right now. My heart is breaking for all of you. Life just doesn’t seem fair at times. I know cause I’ve been there. Only God knows His plan for Stephanie, but I do know that if God chooses to take her home, you CAN go on. You CAN because you have to for YOU. You CAN because you have to for those beautiful babies. You CAN because it is what the love of your life and the mother of those beautiful babies would want and expect you to do. How will you go on? You will go on because God will provide you the strength to do it. You will because your family and friends will always be there for you to help you. You will because your babies need you to. Your wife gave you two beautiful babies to love and care for. And though them you will keep Stephanies memory alive. You will see her each and every time you look at your children. And you will keep her memory alive forever as you teach your children all about the wonderful woman who was blessed to be their mother.
    If God chooses to take Stephanie home, it will be the hardest thing you will ever go through, but God WILL give you the strength to get through it because His grace is sufficient for us. He will wrap His loving arms around you and give you His peace which surpasses all understanding.
    Brad, how lucky your children are to have such a wonderful “child” of God to be their earthly father. Your faith and honesty throughout this whole ordeal have touched the lives of so many people. It has been your gift to us, and, in turn, Stephanies gift to us. I think many people will find a renewed faith in God through your testamony of faith and love of God. And, thus, Stephanie has given many people a priceless gift. That each of us could leave such a wonderful gift to those we love, let alone to so many people we don’t even know. Thank you Stephanie & Brad.
    I will continue to pray for the healing that we all so desperately want for Stephanie. You will all continue to be in our thoughts and prayers.

  3. Brad,
    I know you do not know me, nor do I know you but I feel like I do know you. I am in tears every time I read your blog entries. I too am angry for you, and for your children and your entire family. I don’t know if we will ever understand “why” this has happened. I am going to continue to pray for that Miracle for Stephanie and for you and your whole family. I will be praying for you throughout today as you face such difficult decisions. You will all be in my thoughts and prayers……

    1. The beautiful thing about our “I cant’s” is that God can! It may not make it easier or different for you, but HE CAN and in turn YOU CAN through Christ who strengthens you. Praying for His wisdom and will to fill you with a peace like you have never experienced. Praying for your strength in Him to surpass any. Praying.

  4. Brad – I’m so sorry you are put into a position of “can’ts”. It isn’t fair to you or to anyone. Know that we are here for you whenever you encounter a can’t – we will do our best to help you to find the “can”.

    I know the pain you are feeling is something that many of us can’t truly understand, as few of us has experienced what you are. But I also know we will do whatever we can, for the long haul to try to make the pain more bearable.

    I know today will be tough for you, and If I could – i’d call off for you. Know we are standing behind you in spirit.

    If you need or want any of us with you – just ask and we will be there.

  5. Job 42:10-16
    10 After Job had prayed for his friends, the LORD made him prosperous again and gave him twice as much as he had before. 11 All his brothers and sisters and everyone who had known him before came and ate with him in his house. They comforted and consoled him over all the trouble the LORD had brought upon him, and each one gave him a piece of silver [a] and a gold ring.

    12 The LORD blessed the latter part of Job’s life more than the first. He had fourteen thousand sheep, six thousand camels, a thousand yoke of oxen and a thousand donkeys. 13 And he also had seven sons and three daughters. 14 The first daughter he named Jemimah, the second Keziah and the third Keren-Happuch. 15 Nowhere in all the land were there found women as beautiful as Job’s daughters, and their father granted them an inheritance along with their brothers.

    16 After this, Job lived a hundred and forty years; he saw his children and their children to the fourth generation. 17 And so he died, old and full of years.

    When I think about something consoling to tell you, there is nothing I can say or do. Only God can comfort you, and the only person God has given me to show you someone who’s been through something the same is Job, because I certainly cannot understand.
    In Christ’s Love & Prayer
    Jackie Gamble

  6. I wish I had answers for you, but I don’t. I will continue to pray for you and your family, that God will bless you all with peace and strength to get through this awful time.

  7. Brad,
    My heart goes out to you and your family. I will pray that God guides you in your decisions and helps you gain peace. I can’t even begin to imagine what you are going through but know that God will get you through this. I will also pray that if it his will he will heal your wife.

    Gods Blessings be with you,

    Kelly Lucas

  8. Brad,

    Hang in there. As much of a cop out as that sounds, you are handling this with so much faith and grace and wonder. Moreso than I ever could. You are in our prayers constantly.

  9. Brad, I came over here because one of my blog readers said you needed some prayer. I want you to know you have people praying for you – for Stephanie’s healing. Whatever your reality becomes, I pray that God would cover you with his grace.

  10. My heart is breaking for you and your family. I won’t stop lamenting to Jesus for Stephanie. As for you and the kids continuing to live on…Jesus will do it. He will do it. He will do it. He will give you more than you need to conquer this unforseen life. It’s not a surprise to Him. He has your future covered. You just get by second by second, minute by minute, hour by hour, day by day. God does amazing things with shattered hearts. He will heal yours. Praying without ceasing…Pam

  11. Prayer will help you the most!!!! YOu can do things with Christ. He is your everything even through he is not there physically.He is give you words to say and hope. God is always and will never change his love for you and your family. Keep God your focus even though it maybe be hard. Praying!!!

  12. God created your feelings & emotions. Your pain… your sorrow…. your anger….. He knows before you are aware… He loves you through everything you are experiencing… Know that your testimony has touched many many hearts and lives….
    You are not alone …. I will continue to pray for Stephanie… for you… your children… your family… long after God’s will has been done….

  13. oh sweetie, I wish you knew how much I wanted to wrap your whole family in my arms and just take away all of the pain. You don’t know me, so that might be kinda weird, but I would still do it. And I say this as my husband and I are having issues. The man I love, the man I have loved since I was 18 years old and he loved me, regardless of the shame that people put on us. (I had a baby and he was forbidden to see me, but he found me 8 years later thank goodness for the internet. funny that’s how I found your story) The last 2 weeks I have felt so much emotion because of our personal issues with family and finances and I haven’t wanted to go on. Then I read your story. and I made an appointment with my dr. And I told my husband. I don’t know what I would have done….probably just kept on being miserable. But I just wanted you to know that after reading your story, I had to pull myself up and fix it. Because I had a choice. You don’t. And I wish I could give anything to fix that, but I can’t. but thru your words, you and your Stephanie have helped me. And my husband. And our 4 boys. (one of which lost his biological father last year). I’m sorry. But thank you.

  14. Brad,

    I have been reading along ever since I found out the news and can’t put into words how sorry I am that you are going through this. It makes my heart sad and my stomach hurt, because I know what you are going through and it’s misery. I can relate to every emotion you have gone through – the anger, the “whys”, the moments of peace and clarity, the disbelief, everything. Please know it’s okay to feel whatever it is you are feeling, that it’s all normal and part of the journey.

    The thought of the kids being without their parent is what got me the most too. I know Stephanie was an amazing mother, that those kids were her world. That sucks. No other way to put it. But if God chooses to take her before we would all want, please know that you will be okay eventually.

    I always wanted to ask “why” but knew that I’d never get an answer and I’d just drive myself crazy trying to figure that out. I figured God needed Mark in heaven more than I needed him here. And the one thing that helped me get through it all was my belief that there is a heaven and that our time here is short, compared to eternity there. That one day we would be together again. I know it doesn’t give you solace now when you want to have here on earth AND eternity in heaven together. But I once read this email about a woman who passed away and wanted a fork in her hand at her funeral, because she wanted to remind people that just like at dinner when you save your fork because dessert might be coming (arguably the best and last part of your meal), that heaven is like that… the best is yet to come.

    I know through reading all of your posts that your faith is unbelievably strong, more so than most I know. So I don’t want to sound preachy. I just want you to know that I can very much relate to everything you are going through and all of it seems unfair because, well, it’s not. But whatever the outcome, you will be okay. God will make sure of that. And the wonderful friends and family surrounding you will get you through as well. You should be proud of yourself for the way you are handling it all. I know you probably don’t feel that way… you just feel you are getting by. But others can see it and you should believe it.

    I’m approaching two years this coming November that Mark passed away. He was 32 and the kids were 18 months and 3. Similar in ages to Stephanie and your children. I’m not going to lie – it was tough. They didn’t really understand. But here we are nearly two years later and we’re still going. It hasn’t been easy but it’s possible, and I know if that’s the path that God chooses for you that you will make it. I pray for a miracle, or for God’s will. I pray that He gives you strength but still allows you to feel. If you ever need to talk about anything, please feel free to contact me. Timmy or Rebecca can give you my number or email. Again, I’m sooo sorry you are going through this and I will continue to pray for all of you.

    Much love,

  15. Brad, your love for Stephanie is so amazing. It brings tears to my eyes reading your posts about her. I took a drive down to Columbus this week to see my husband at work and I spent the whole time in prayer lifting Stephanie and you before God and praising Him. One of the songs I listened to over and over is David Crowder’s He loves us. As I listened and prayed, I thought of Stephanie and how great His love for her is. How much rejoicing He has over her about the daughter she became to Him. How much He must smile and boast that she belongs to Him. She is a jewel in His crown. I know that He will be eager to have her with Him, dancing and singing before Him. How could He not? She is beautiful in all ways! I pray that He will wait to bring her home to Him. I pray that He restores her to you, that it would be His will. I will pray today for your peace during the meeting and after. I hope that you may listen to the song and that it would bring you some comfort thinking of how much He loves her and you.

    He is jealous for me
    Loves like a hurricane, I am a tree
    Bending beneath the weight of his wind and mercy
    When all of a sudden
    I am unaware of these afflictions eclipsed by glory
    And I realise just how beautiful You are
    And how great Your affections are for me

    And O how He loves us
    Oh, O how He loves us
    How He loves us all

    Yeah He loves us
    O how He loves us
    O how He loves us
    O how He loves

    We are His portion and He is our prize
    Drawn to redemption by the grace in His eyes
    If grace is an ocean, we’re all sinking
    So Heaven meets earth like an unforeseen kiss
    And my heart turns violently inside of my chest
    I don’t have time to maintain these regrets
    When I think about the way

  16. When you can’t, He can! You’ve been so honest with God and so open and He sees your heart and knows your pain. He too felt the devastation of losing His love…His very Son. His heart breaks to see you in such pain because He loves you so fiercely.

    Through your own devastation you have kept your mind on God’s plan, and even in not understanding, you’ve held fast to God’s ways being higher than our own. We may never understand on this earth, and that is hard. Knowing might least make some sense in our minds and ease the pain…not knowing seems almost unbearable. I’m praying that God’s peace will in time help still the questions and give rest to your heart and mind.

    Brad – Stephanie saw amazing qualities and abilities in you and saw the character of man that she knew would make a wonderful father. You will be exactly what they need and when you feel you’re lacking, God will guide you and give you wisdom and your family will be right there by your side supporting you and helping you.

    You can because the one who can do all things lives in you!

    Continuing to pray and cry out to God for you, for Stephanie and for your family!

  17. We are still here and are still praying for you and your family. I am still believing God to do nothing less than a miracle that will amaze us all. God has already been glorified in your example of a Godly husband and father. Believe God for nothing less than a miracle. We love your family and are here for you in any way you need. We had discussed coming to the hospital to see you and your family, but feel it is best for you to have this private time with your family. Still praying Ryan and Dawn

  18. Brad, No one can answer the many questions you have. But I know my God will give you what you need to not only make it through but to flourish once again. I know it may not feel like it, but He IS with you and will carry you through this dark time.

    “Let all that I am wait quietly before God, for my hope is in him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress where I will not be shaken. My victory and honor come from God alone. He is my refuge, a rock where no enemy can reach me. O my people, trust in him at all times. Pour out your heart to him, for God is our refuge.”

    Psalm 62:5-8 NLT

  19. We are praying without ceasing for you, Stephanie and your whole family. Our whole church family has joined us in praying for a miracle. God is using you in such an amazing way and we ask for His Will to be done. May you feel all the love, support and prayers over you during this difficult time. Know that we are always here for you!

  20. Brad, I am at such a loss for words for the pain and struggle you are enduring. I can only offer up to you my continued support and prayers. I so wish I could take these hard questions and pain away from you. But in time I pray healing will start and your heart will heal.
    Continued Prayers, Elizabeth

  21. Brad,
    I haven’t stopped praying. Take the time you need.

    I understand “can’t,” but please remember, God never wastes anything. Where you can’t, He can.

    Hold onto His truth,


  22. Brad, You have no idea who I am or probably ever will. I want you to know that I am going to inform my entire church and they will all be praying for you, for Stephanie, and for your precious children. I have had my own expierences will illness, and prayer has always been the one constant. It helps and as I also “visited” Heaven the last time I was in CCF I can tell you that she is expierencing such peace you will never know until it is your time to reunite. God will always have the right answer and if you let Him, He will halp you to understand. He is good no matter what. Keep your Faith as it sounds so strong and you will always have Stephanie by your side and see her in your children.
    God Bless, Jan

  23. Lord,

    We humbly come before you and ask for your renewed mercies. Please give Brad your strength to carry through each moment. Raise him up in your peace and comforting arms. Fill him with your presence. Draw near to him so that he knows you’re continually with him. Lord, protect him and his children. We leave them in your guard, in the safety of your protection.

    We ask for your mercy and grace in Christ’s Name. Amen.

  24. You can’t, but you will. You’ll go on in confusion and pain and sorrow, but you’ll go on. To do anything less wouldn’t do honor to the love you shared with Stephanie.

    The person who said that asking why will just drive you crazy is right. Better, I think, to say, “His ways are not my ways.” I don’t get it, but it *is*, and I will try to accept it. God will certainly work all this together for good (though I don’t see it as good of itself, but as the result of a fallen world, as you do), but you won’t necessarily be able to see it, at least for awhile.

    Here’s one little piece of advice from someone who’s never gone through anything remotely as awful as this: spend lots of time with your children and let them draw you back into life. And when you experience bits of joy, trust that it’s sent to you from God, and is a good thing.

  25. Brad,
    I read your blog often; am praying constantly; my heart is breaking for you and your children, and all of your family. I cry every time I read. I pray you will find comfort and strength in our savior.

  26. Brad,
    I sent an e-mail out through our prayer request link at church so many more here in Pennsylvania are praying for you and your family, especially as you talk with the doctors this afternoon. As soon as my friend Nicky got the e-mail she began praying and sent me this verse Psalm 139:16 “your eyes saw my unformed body. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” just as a reminder that the Lord knows the outcome and He has ordained all of yours and Stephanie’s days.
    Korie and Jarrod Snyder

  27. I woke up this morning with Stephanie on my mind and I don’t even know you. My heart aches for you and your family. I don’t know the exact pain you are feeling but I lost my sister suddenly in Feb. and I feel alot of the can’ts you are. I heard a very good message yesterday about the “Dark night of your soul” and I am there. But the thing is are we walking in that “dark night” alone or with God. He has your hand. Let Him guide you through this “dark night” and you will make it. A dear friend told me this little saying and I have claimed it also. “The strongest hand I will ever hold is the Hand I can not see!”. I am praying for you to have peace with the decisions you have to make and praying that God will send a ram in the bush at the right moment. Hold tight to His Hand!!!
    In Christ,

  28. Brad,

    You do not know me, but I am a family friend of Clare Smiths. I have been reading your blog and praying relentlessly for strength for you and those taking care of you and Stephanie. Yesterday at church, we discussed cultivating confidence in a world with everyday peace and joy busters. I thought of you because of this sudden unexpected bad news with your wife. Although, I have read and know that you have a good confidence in God. You have joy and peace in Jesus Christ and others will surley come to Christ through Stephanie and your experience. Declare your faith in Him. Say to yourself, “I’m going to trust in the power and goodness of God. I’m going to choose to beleive in the best case scenario until I have a reason to beleive otherwise and I will cross that bridge with God when I get there.

    Praying for you and your decisions today.

  29. Brad, I want you to know how many lives you have touched thru this blog. I’ve read a lot of comments from people who do not know you or your family, but have had kind words and comforts for you. My friend, Angela:

    Angela Orr Please keep this family in your thoughts. 33 yr old wife and mother unconscious after seizure lead to breathing failure and cardiac arrest. Today, husband and doctors talk about decisions. Heartbreaking.
    46 minutes ago · 4 · Comment ·LikeUnlike

    Angela O: I officially can’t read anymore. What an amazing husband, going through such a heartwrenching time.

    Amanda C: Thank you so much, Ang. Its people like you that bring tears to my eyes. Never even meeting, and willing to be suppotive. Thank you.

    Angela O: He writes so well. I don’t think I could be coherent during such turmoil. It truly breaks my heart. I read most of the way down the page instead of going to get my car fixed. Literally can’t read anymore because I can’t stop the tears. And the strength of his faith?!?! Just wow.

    Amanda C: I know exactly what you mean. I`ve been following the blog all week. He`s made me realize to always trust in God, no matter what the situation. I`d be in the psych ward by now. I am amazed by his strength & faith.

    Please know, we are ALL there with you.

  30. James 1:12 (New International Version)

    12 Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.

    Brad it doesn’t say IF you stand the test, it says WHEN!! Gods grace is all around you my friend and nothing can stop you being all God wants you to be.

  31. Our hearts absolutely ache for you, your sweet babies, Stephanie’s parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, cousins, friends, your church family, and even for the doctors who deliver heart-wrenching news.

    I too am moved to tears every time I read your blog and think of all that you and your sweet family are going through.

    I have no “answers” – but agree with so many of the comments left here.

    Know that we are all deeply touched, and praying for God to continue to be the anchor of your weary soul. May His strength carry you through all of the emotions, decisions, and life-changing events that you are facing!

    One day He will wipe away every tear, until that day He sees every tear and promises to be CLOSE to the broken and crushed in spirit.

    With a heavy heart – we continue to lift you up believing that God will see you through to the other side, even when it seems impossible to make it there!

  32. Brad, i’ve been keeping up with your blog and every time i read it my heart breaks with tears. I must say your situation has brought closer the perspective the perspective of who God is, His sovereignity and power. GOD is GOD when all is said and done and He holds the power in His mighty hand. Can’t understand all the why’s, but GOD can coz He’s orchestrating it all. I pray for you and the family on a continual basis…may the peace of God rule and reign and give you strength for one step more. God bless.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.