Hope - the prequel to Still Thankful

My last blog, “Attitude from the heart,” mentioned following it with a part two, however an awesome detour was thrown in my way when a friend introduced me to Brian Summerall’s recount of Christmas eve.  I contacted Brian for permission to give it special attention as a guest blog, because it is an excellent representation of Still Thankful, yet from an angle our family hasn’t experienced, and thus I can’t adequately explain.

O holy night

I spent Christmas Eve, not in the way I expected last night. My friend, Tod Bush, passed away a couple of days ago. While his brain showed no activity, his body was kept alive on a respirator for the last two days. So yesterday evening I went up to the hospital for one last earthly goodbye and to try to find some closure.

What I found instead was hope.

Tod Bush

Tod Bush

You see, Tod was an organ donor, and his body was kept alive so he could serve as a gift to many with no hope. After a tearful “I love you and I’ll see you in heaven,” and a final prayer, I sat with his family in the waiting room as this friend I love became the ultimate gift on Christmas.

In the midst of pain and heartbreak, hope entered right about 8:00 in the form of a blue cooler.

It was accompanied by an EMT and two heart surgeons (one in scrubs and one in golf pants and hat) from North Carolina. They had just landed at Addison Airport and arrived by ambulance. One of the surgeons told us Tod’s heart was going to a woman who desperately needed it in North Carolina. While the surgeons were rushed to the operating room with their cooler, we sat with the EMT for two hours and told her about Tod.

Next thing we knew, the EMT got up, the surgeons rushed by, thanked us and told us everything went perfectly, and Tod’s heart rolled out the door in that blue cooler and boarded a private plane to North Carolina.

Jesus gave Tod a new heart when he accepted him at Frontier Ranch 30 years ago. On Christmas Eve, Tod gave that heart to a woman in North Carolina to save her life.

“Love so amazing. Love so divine.”

Within minutes, the next EMT rushed in with the lung team. We told her about Tod and his love of the Dallas Mavericks. We told her about the woman in North Carolina who would get Tod’s heart and would soon be wondering why she has a strange desire to watch Mavericks games.

After about an hour, his lungs rushed out the door to save a man in Florida.

“Then the LORD God formed a man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.” Genesis 2:7

The same lungs that God breathed life into for Tod would now give life to a man in Florida. The lungs that climbed mountains so countless kids could hear about Jesus would now give life at sea level.

“A thrill of hope the weary world rejoices.”

It went on all night. They took his eyes so a blind man could see.

“Mary did you know that your baby boy will give sight to a blind man?”

He gave everything… heart, lungs, kidneys, liver, eyes, skin, bones, tissue. Coolers rolled out, and planes took off one after another filled with gifts of hope.

Tod gave everything so that people who had no hope on Christmas Eve would receive the gift of life on Christmas morning.

What’s truly amazing about all of this and the reason it truly stirs our hearts is that Tod’s story is really God’s story. What Tod did for so many last night, God did for all of us on Christmas.

Like the woman in North Carolina, God’s word says our heart is defective.

“The heart is more deceitful than all else and is desperately sick; Who can understand it?” - Jeremiah 17:9

We are in desperate need of a transplant. Without a donor, we have no hope… no life.

On Christmas Eve, God entered the story. But instead of hope in a rolling cooler, we find it in a manger. Hope entered the world in a baby. Jesus. God with us.

A world with no hope on Christmas Eve, was given the gift of life on Christmas day.

“He came that we might have life and life to the full.” - John 10:10.

And just like Tod, God gave everything.

“For God so loved the world, that he GAVE his only son…” John 3:16

“Surely he took up our pain and bore our suffering… and by his wounds, we are healed.” Isaiah 53:4-5

The ultimate gift.

“Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God” - John 1:12

Those who received Tod’s gifts last night got a new life. Those who receive God’s gift today, get eternal life.

New heart, new breath, new sight, new life.

So in the midst of heartache and loss last night, I saw God’s story. I saw what God did for me. I saw hope.

I saw Jesus in Tod when he lived, I experienced Jesus in Tod when he died.

“A thrill of hope the weary soul rejoices
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn!

Fall on your knees
Oh hear the angel voices
Oh night divine
Oh night when Christ was born.”

Michele & Brian Summerall

Michele & Brian Summerall




Thank you, Brian, for your words.  It is people like Tod and Robyn Bush, and the hope they create through organ donation, that allow people like me to be Still Thankful.