My Naniel

Wow, it’s hard to know where to even start when talking about my brother, Daniel. He was all I ever knew; he was 13 months old when I was born (bless my mama, we were like twins). One of my favorite pictures is of us in a crib, it captures me screaming at the top of my lungs with Daniel wide-eyed, scared to death. He didn’t know what he was getting when he got me for a little sister! I kind of think he liked me, though, we were like best friends growing up.  I looked up to him and loved him unconditionally; I called him Naniel. Probably more like a brother to him in those earlier years, he was my hero and I remember wanting to be just like him. He would always put me up to something and of course I would do it, get caught and we would both get in trouble. He was mischievous with a humor and wit that would make everyone laugh.

I never knew anything was different about him. When we would be in public though, other people would stare at him. I was his protector, as siblings are, and I did not like the looks and stares he got because his legs looked different. I know there were times he held me back because I wanted to hurt someone for looking at him the way they did. I just wanted to protect him. He, however, took it all in stride, I rarely saw it get to him. In hindsight, the children just didn’t know better…maybe the adults didn’t either, but it still hurt me every time…but not my Naniel.  He held his head high and I can even remember him making crazy silly/scary faces at people to get them to stop. Ha. Never a dull moment, and if there were, Daniel would make a way to fill it with laughter.

Don’t get me wrong, we were siblings, so would fight, get on each other’s nerves and even hit each other from time to time. As we grew older, Daniel and our little sister, Emily, grew closer, which was neat. They developed a beautiful bond, too.

Mentally, Daniel was fine—sharper than most of us probably, but never did he enjoy school, homework or tests.  His greatest loves were cars, airplanes, fishing and computers to name a few.  His challenges were strictly physical and other than numerous surgeries and hospital visits, he led a fairly typical life.  He played basketball and baseball when he was younger, had a steady job from age 15 on, got his drivers license at 16, but as he grew older, would often prefer his wheelchair or crutches if he had to walk far distances, probably due to the pain or strength it took.

We never discovered exactly what Daniel had, he was just Daniel. My middle child curiosity really wanted to know, but some things are just for God to know and us to trust Him. He doesn’t make mistakes and He certainly didn’t make a mistake when He made my brother.

I hate Daniel lived in pain and went through surgeries and hospital stays, etc…but he was truly amazing and secure in who God made him to be (something I struggled with myself for years). He never tried to be anyone else; he never tried to mask his disabilities, and never did you hear him complain…never. There was such a gentle, sweet meekness about his spirit with a little sneakiness added in there, too. He certainly had times of rebellion as we all do, driving too fast, wrecking cars, missing curfew, etc… But never was he disciplined differently because of his physical limitations.  I truly admire my parents for their role in Daniel having no self pity or sense of entitlement because he was different.

One thing Daniel did beautifully was look past the outside of people and into their eyes and hearts. He was one of the most accepting people I have ever met. I learned so much from him and I know I wasn’t the only one.

The morning I received the phone call from my parents is one I will never forget. My housekeeper had to pick me up off the floor. Several friends came over to just sit with me while I cried and cried and cried. My mother-in-law drove me to my hometown where, once there, I sat crying in my mom’s lap for hours, wanting to crawl back into her to make the pain go away. Not believing this was really happening. Wanting to wake up from the nightmare, wanting just to die too. Wanting the pain to stop. Wanting my brother back. Wishing I had said more to him and known him better in those last few years. So much more time I could have spent with him, so much more love I could have given him, so much more I could have learned from him.

I remember our pastor coming over to discuss the funeral with us. Dad had picked “It is Well with My Soul” as one of the songs. I was so not OK with that because it was NOT well with my soul, how could we sing such a song!?  But, by the time the funeral came around, I knew the Lord would help me in making it well with my soul, and He has.

We didn’t know how we were going to make it through the visitation and funeral, but my goodness, God carried us in a way we had never experienced.  My dad even did the eulogy, amazingly.  There was not a dry eye in the packed church because everyone who knew Daniel felt the great loss of not only a friend but an outstanding, brave, unique man.

The weekend before Daniel died, he and my sister came to see me.  We had a night to ourselves, just the three of us, and I am forever grateful to God for that night.  God knew what was going to take place later that week and He gave me one last night with my brother.  I remember during the visit, really studying him, his movements, his features.  I sat and watched him do things like I never had before, I even remember Emily and I admiring him while he slept.  Those images are etched in my heart forever and I am so thankful.  I didn’t know it at the time but wow, was that God preparing us or what?  I am so grateful for that night and so grateful for my brother.

We talk of him often and it’s as if our daughter, who was born almost 2 years after Daniel died, has always known who he was.  Her sweet little life brought so much joy and healing to our family.  Our son has Daniel’s dark brown eyes and I love it; I think he resembles him also.  Daniel’s name will be continued in our family by God’s amazing grace and blessing of the baby boy I am now carrying.  He is so faithful to give me a second son, one I can name after my brother.

Years ago Daniel gave my mom some roses for Mother’s Day, she planted them and to this day, even surviving a move to a new yard, that rose bush produces the most beautiful, vibrant roses at the most perfect times.  It’s a reminder of our Daniel but also of God’s faithfulness.

It took a while not to be sad about losing Daniel, but no longer do I mourn, I smile when I think of him.  Of course I miss him and would love one more hug or laugh but I know he is in a better place and I will see him again one day!  I feel so blessed to have been his sister and will forever praise God for my Naniel.

“The Lord gives and the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” Job 1:21b

Thank you, Lord, for my irreplaceable, one-of-a-kind brother, Daniel. Thank you for giving him the soul, perseverance and personality that you did. We know you have a plan and purpose for each and every person you create, no matter what they look like to our human eyes. May we take joy in the beauty of your creations, and may we love ourselves and accept ourselves the way you made us uniquely knit in our mother’s wombs. Thank you for 29 years with Daniel, I don’t know who we would be today if you hadn’t given him to us. I thank you for my parents, the only two people you deemed able to properly care for and raise Daniel. I pray for continued peace and joy in their souls until they are reunited with their firstborn. They are amazing and I’m glad you chose them for me, too! I am so grateful we had Daniel for as long as we did and I am extra grateful He is now walking pain free, no crutches or wheelchair, no scars or stares from others, with You. For all eternity. Thank you for his salvation. In Jesus name, Amen.  


Meet My Brother…In His Own Words

My Space.  Does it even exist any more??  I’m so grateful for it because, from it, came these beautiful words by my brother.  They are answers to questions about his life for his My Space page, probably written the year or the year before he passed away.  What a blessing they have been!  Enjoy getting to know my brother, Daniel Matthew Sprott, in his own words.

(1995 senior pictures)

 Born in Little Rock, AR at the Doctor’s Hospital Building and immediately rushed to St.Vincent’s due to complications.  I’ve been in and out of hospitals ever since then.  I’ve had 30+ surgeries, I lost count years ago.  I’m a professional patient!  I’m still kicking.  That is a testament to my resilience.  We lived in Brinkley until I was about 9 years old (4th grade), then moved to Harrison.  I’ve owned 5 vehicles in my life and I have a 40% kill ratio.  A ’66 Dodge Coronet 440 which I still own, ’95 Plymouth Neon, ’92 Dodge Dakota, ’01 Chevy Blazer, and now a ’00 Honda CR-V.  I’ve hit 2 airbags and I believe in them.  I’ve survived turmoil’s I cannot begin to express!  Since my last wreck, or rather because of it, I have quit a lot of things.  Quit drinking cokes and increased my water intake.  I’m feeling better everyday!  My family is special in this day and age, my parents are still married after 36 years.  I have 2 of 4 grandparents still living, all of whom are over 92 years old.  I have two wonderful sisters, both younger, both beautiful, and both super-smart.  We’ve all been blessed!  Welcome to my life!

 My weakness: my legs.  My fear: falling.  My goal this year: pay off my Honda (which he did).  My most missed memory: riding with Grandpa Greene in his truck.  Do you believe in yourself: yes.  Do you get along with your parents: yes, they are my favorite landlords.  Ever been beaten up: yes, once, never again; I believe in the “right to carry.”  My heros: my father and grandparents, and Deputy Upton and John Neal, who pulled me out of two of the cars I wrecked.  What do you want to be when you grow up: respected.  How would you want to die: skydiving or in my sleep, just not in a hospital.

(his Dodge Coronet, his pride and joy; I was always embarassed to ride in it but he drove it proudly!)

On this day (October 19) in 2006, my brother unexpectedly died.  Not in a hospital or skydiving, but in his sleep, most likely from heart failure.  He was 29 years old.  It shocked my family to the core and changed us forever, but we know Daniel is with Jesus and that is so comforting.  What was the most joyous day of his life, was the worst of ours.  We love so selfishly, don’t we?  We miss him terribly but God has healed most of our hurt and will continue to heal our hearts until we are reunited with our Daniel again one day.  We praise God for who he was and for the years and time we had with him!

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16

(at my husband’s and my wedding in 2002; he danced so hard that night his legs hurt for weeks! But he had so much fun and would’ve told you it was worth it!)

Memories of Daniel by Jim Sprott

Memories of Daniel, Nine Years Later

A friend told me once that whenever he thought of our son, Daniel Sprott, he just could not help but smile. Stories of Daniel’s wit, wisdom, escapades and antics, reflect a joy of life that gave each of us in his family great strength and solace. His physical shortcomings, his wheelchair or crutches, his multiple surgeries, his daily pain, nothing seemed to disturb his calm peace with himself and his life. His message to us all: Never judge anyone by appearance—look in their heart, instead. “You cannot tell a book by its cover,” I’ve heard him say.

When Daniel was six months old, he was hospitalized in Little Rock and his health was declining daily. A doctor told me to prepare for Daniel to die. Well, Daniel fooled him by 29 years! He loved fooling doctors.

In 1990 or so, when Daniel was an early teenager, he told me he wanted to enter the Five K race at a Festival we have in our small town, in his wheel chair! So he and I signed up, the ONLY wheel chair entrant. We started the race at our Community College, and I pushed him to the top of Harrison Hill, the highest point on the highway in town, and off he went, just Daniel and his chair, about 25 miles per hour winding down the Hill. I didn’t catch back up with him until we were in the football stadium, rounding the track to cross the finish line in front of the stands, where they were playing “Chariots of Fire” on a boom box.

After the race I overheard two runners talking. “How did you do,” asked one of them. The other said “Well, I thought I was doing pretty well until some kid in a wheelchair came zooming by me like I was standing still!”

Daniel zoomed right past a lot of us. But on the morning of October 19, 2006, I looked at Daniel’s lifeless body lying in his bed in our home, and knew that Daniel was gone. I did not want him to be gone. There were things unsaid. There was no “Good bye.”

In the hours that followed my acceptance of Daniel’s passing, my mind returned to our many trips together: to the ranch, to St. Louis ballgames and museums, to NASCAR races at Bristol, Kansas City and Talledega, to San Francisco, Atlanta and Washington, to airshows all over the country, and to work together nearly every morning. He and I had plans for many more trips together, and there were so many things I wanted to give him to make his life a little better, a little more joyful. I wanted to make his life the very best it could be.

But I could do no more, for he was gone. I did not want him to be gone. And yet, I know he is now with a Father who can accomplish more than me. That Father has given Daniel a perfect body, a heavenly body he will enjoy for eternity. Think of it! Daniel can RUN in Heaven! No wheelchair! He is perfect, and all who see him there see perfection, no flaws and no pain. Thanks be to a God who can finally fulfill the dreams of this earthly father, and make Daniel’s life the very best it can be. This is the hope our family has, the assurance we pray each of you hold in your families, too.

No, we did not want Daniel to be gone. But we entrusted his spirit to the Heavenly Father who can do all those things this earthly one wanted for him, but could not complete. When we think of Daniel today, and his joy of life, we just can’t help but smile. Thank you, my son, for the example you have left for us.

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are called according to His purpose.” Romans 8:28

I Shout for Joy

“You thrill me, Lord, with all you have done for me! I sing for joy because of what you have done.” Psalm 92:4 (NLT)

Surreal.  It’s honestly how I feel about all of this.  We are a few weeks into the second trimester and are completely overjoyed.  The fact that this is happening is such a miracle in more ways than I can explain.  God is so good and faithful!  He truly amazes me at His works, His timing and His love.

You see, I just knew God had promised me another baby; I just didn’t know when.  I tried to hold on to the sign He had given me but it got hard and I doubted I had heard Him right.  But then, when I least expected it, a baby.  The fulfillment of a special promise He made to me; a precious gift I cannot wait to have placed on my chest.  Maybe then it won’t seem so surreal, maybe then I can breathe…because I’m not going to lie, the anxieties still creep in from time to time.  But my, how the Lord is teaching me during this time about my anxieties, where to cast them and where to turn with any worry no matter how big or small.  I am grateful for this time of teaching and dependence solely upon Him, His promises and His peace.  May I take away lessons that last my lifetime.

“For the Lord is good. His unfailing love continues forever, and His faithfulness continues to each generation.” Psalm 100:5

I am praying the further into the second trimester I get, the more my energy returns.  Although this season of rest has been good, it has been difficult to function some days and my meeting Jesus in the mornings (or anytime) hasn’t happened as much as I desire, and my how that affects things!

As I get back into some consistency, I hope to encourage you with several posts from myself and family members about someone we love very much who we lost 9 years ago this month.  Someone whose legacy will continue in our family as we will name this precious baby after him.  Oh God is so good.

As always, friends, thank you for the prayers.  This baby is not only a testament of God’s faithfulness but also the power of prayer.  I cannot thank you enough.