Friday, December 27, 2013

A New Year

Brad and I had a great Christmas together and with family, being able to catch up with one another. However, this time of year still  presents sad and hopeless emotions. Reflecting on the past is bittersweet. We love knowing that we had 11 years together being able to be normal (whatever that is) and getting to enjoy life as a young couple. So much happiness and life lay before us. It's also so sad because of everything we have lost. I know I have used the "suffocating" analogy before but it still suffices to describe this feeling most clearly. I read from Joni Eareackson Tada's daily devotion that she feels emotional pain is much more hurtful than physical pain and I have to agree. It just leaves an empty, restless, overwhelming hole that is very hard to describe to others  (or to myself) or to change. All of this to say that we have had many opportunities to share our story with others and them with us. Our eyes have been opened to those in need and hurting around us more than ever before. A lot of times when life gets hard and continues to present valleys it's hard to get out of ourselves and remember that God is on our team, He is for us. He holds us in His palm, shelters us under His wings. Bra

d and I have been called to live a life that most people will never experience, never want to experience. I just cling to the hope that God would have us somewhere else if this is not where we are supposed to be. Hopefully we will have more peaks than valleys in the year to come and will have an amazing journey to share with others!

Saturday, November 9, 2013


So much has happened in the almost year since my last post. I feel that we have grown more "comfortable", for lack of a better word, to how it's going to be. At the start of this new year I remember Brad and I talking about how excited we were to see what God was going to do in and through us this year. Looking back, I feel sad and almost wrong to say that we have had to face many sad and hard situations. Just this year alone we have had many major life disruptions. We are still not ready to share these, but hopefully one day will be in a better place and willing to share our full story.

However, we have had good things come from these painful experiences. Our families have continued to step up and help in any way imaginable. God has used our family, church family, and friends to help us feel His love when it doesn't feel that He is close or that He cares. This is one of those thoughts where we know that He never leaves our side and always has our best interests at heart; just hard to find comfort from this in the middle of circumstances that we would never have asked for. I have reconnected with a friend from long ago, made many new friends, and grown stronger in the friendships that have proven faithful and true. Through all of this, I have learned that so many people have gone through similar situations that we have faced.  The funny thing is that we would never have known any of this had it not been for the fact that God put these people in our paths at exactly the right time to share their stories. This has enabled us to share our stories with them and to grow and learn from and with these friends who have gone through similar experiences.

A good friend of mine recommended The Language of Letting Go by: Melody Beattie. From this book I have learned much about the grieving process and how to deal with and move on with life. So, much of what follows is straight from her book (she says it better than I ever could). I will use quotations to set apart her words from my own. The grief process is...

1. Denial and isolation: For the longest time I prayed that God would change our circumstances and knew in my heart that this would always be something I prayed for. There was no way this was God's plan for our lives. Brad and I have always tried to do the right thing as far as our relationship with God and with each other goes. We have tried to live a life that was pleasing to God (obviously we fail at times) and that our actions would shine a light and be an encouragement to others. So surely, this is not what we were called to do and deal with. There was just no way! Isolation was also a huge part early on, and one we still struggle with, because no one else in our immediate circle knows exactly what we are going through. Many friends and family struggle with their own things and I am not slighting that pain in the least. I am simply saying that paralysis, in and of itself, is rare and so different from case to case that finding someone to relate to and empathize with you is not very common. We have, however, made friends who have helped us feel that we are not completely alone in this process.    

2. Anger:  There has been so much of this emotion that we feel we are experts at how to be angry. Why us? Why not other people who don't try to live a life that is pleasing to God? "Why didn't God do it differently? We have to go through our own angry stage to achieve acceptance. We won't stay angry forever. But we may need to get mad for a while as we search over what could have been, to finally accept what is. Anger comes before acceptance and peace. Ultimately, surrender and self-responsibility are the only concepts that can move us forward." After reading this part of Beattie's book I found the concept of self-responsibility and personal accountability as a strange way of moving forward. Obviously, this is not something that Brad and I chose so what is our responsibility in the matter? In doing my quiet time this morning the thought came to me that my responsibility in all of this is remaining true to my heart's tuggings reminding me to spend time daily with God. Many days that is the last thing I want to do because anger has been, and still is at times, prominent in my thoughts. However, "Faith is like a muscle. It must be exercised to grow strong.  Repeated experiences of having to trust what we can't see and repeated experiences of learning to trust that things will work out are what make our faith muscles grow strong."

3. Bargaining: "In the bargaining stage we go back and forth  between believing there is something we can do to change things and realizing there isn't." As for me, I thought that if we wanted something so badly and if I spent enough time in prayer and devotion that surely God would grant us these things. I was giving Him everything. However, when these things didn't turn out I immediately took it all back. Anger stage again. "We may get our hopes up again and again, only to have them dashed. We have turned ourselves inside and out to try to negotiate with God and reality." This lends itself to a roller coaster of emotions, which would be a mild way of describing us this past year.  

4. Depression: "The process of adapting to change and loss takes energy. Grief is draining and exhausting. Some people need to 'cocoon for transformation'. Grief is heavy and can wear us down. We may feel more tired than usual. Our ability to function well in other areas of our life may be reduced temporarily." I can not count the number of days that we have wanted to stay in bed, watch mind-numbing TV, and not talk to anyone else.  Some days this feels the only way of making it through another day.

5. Acceptance: "There is no substitute for accepting reality." I feel that we are working our way more towards acceptance in the nearly two years since Brad's injury. This is not to say that we don't backtrack often and find ourselves still questioning and being angry at God and our circumstances. We don't, though, spend as much time dwelling on the sadness and craziness that is our daily lives. Accepting what is is making everything we now have to do differently a little easier to move past.

"We should take responsibility for making ourselves feel good and enjoy life. We'll understand when it's time. We can also trust that the gift is precisely what we need. Then we decide that, although we would like our situation to be different, maybe our life is happening this way for a reason. Maybe there is a higher purpose and plan in play, one that's better that we could have orchestrated. We call this faith. We can trust that when things don't work out the way we want, God has something better planned. Today, we are right where we need to be. Our present circumstances are exactly as they need to be, for now. We can trust that something valuable is being worked out in us, even when things are difficult, even when we can't get our bearings. Insight and clarity do not come until we have mastered our lesson. I am going through what I need to go through to learn something that will prepare me for the joy and love I am seeking."

Brad and I are working hard on learning to accept that this is where we are called to be. If not, we would be somewhere else. This is extremely hard because this looks nothing like what we would have planned. Hopefully, we will one day be able to say that we are thankful for all of the pain (physically and emotionally) and heartbreak. We continue to pray for this continually and that God would use us in a mighty way. One of my personal prayers is that God would blow our mind with all that He has planned for us! One day...

Our last minute trip to the beach this summer!
Celebrating a friend's wedding!

Our new favorite pictures of our babies!

How could you not love them?!!

Our favorite thing to take pictures of this summer!

Brad's most recent painting!

Out supporting baby Ryan!

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Forever Changed

At this exact time, one year ago today, we were all in the ER waiting to hear how severe the accident really was. I remember waiting with everyone, being in the ER with Brad, the different thoughts going through my head, talking to Brad through the pain, ultimately... scared to death. I remember that night, spending it in the family waiting room on a chair, and constantly waking, not being able to fully turn my brain off with all of the new information from the day before. That Friday, the day of the surgery, was the longest day I can remember. It seemed to last all day with the prep, actual surgery, recovery, and then waiting to hear from the doctor. I still replay in my mind the time spend in the NSICU, wanting so bad for my best friend and partner to wake up. In the 11 years we had been together up to that point, we had never gone that long without talking and here I am completely aware of the tragedy that had occurred and Brad still sleeping, unaware. I remember when they called from the hospital that Brad was somewhat awake and asking for me... how fast mom and I drove to the hospital, me running through the halls getting there as quickly as I could. Brad waking up was joyful, terrifying, and extremely sad all at once. It seemed that there were many trials after waking up and each one brought a sense of, "I absolutely have no idea how we are going to do this and get through this." 2 months spent in rehab seemed horrible while going through it, and seem even more terrible having been home for some time now. Not being in your own bed, surrounded by things that are unfamiliar, will definitely wear on a person. A blood clot and hospitalization after only being home for a little over a week seemed to add insult to injury. What a whirlwind of events in such a short amount of time...

Now, we are a year out from the accident and things are still hard. Emotions aren't as raw as they were initially, but I can still cry and get extremely sad and discouraged at the mere thought of what we have gone through and continue to go through daily. People tell me what an inspiration Brad is, and while I'm glad others see this, they have no idea how true those words really are. Being so blessed to be with him every step of the way and share my life with such an amazing person I know to the fullest extent what an amazing person Brad is!

Some encouraging news, though, is we have recently reconnected with some friends we met in rehab. His injury is almost identical to Brad's which has helped us relate to them even more. He and his wife have triplets, which is such a fun and encouraging thought to consider! We have gotten together with them a few times over the past week and I had no idea how much I needed to be around someone who knows EXACTLY what we are faced with on daily basis. Talking with them has been so helpful and uplifting and we are forever grateful for them!

Brad is also looking into getting a hand cycle which would be so much fun to ride together and spend time outside of the house! Please be in prayer for this as we explore how to begin this process!

We are also extremely thankful for our family and friends that have been by our side since the beginning. Our family has pulled through and helped out in ways that we will never be able to fully comprehend or thank them for. I can't even begin to wrap my mind around all they have done and sacrificed to be a source of help and support through all of this. Thank you!
Our friends that call and check in on a regular basis have been so great, as well! With the passing of time it is easy to forget how traumatic this has been and our friends that continue to check in and ask how we are, you have no idea how much this means. Your thoughtfulness and generosity have not gone unnoticed and we thank God for you guys on a daily basis!

We are looking forward to a more peaceful and joyful 2013 and we pray that we can wait in patient expectation as God reveals His plans and timing for our lives...

Brad's most recent painting. This is what 70 hours of determination and hard work look like!