Waiting on diamonds

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The last week has taught me that this recovery process is going to be full of ups and downs.  (That’s life, right?)  I had a great start to last week, only to end the week in a puddle of tears.  A friend (who is an ICU nurse) explained to me that the brain will make the body regress if the brain is not ready to heal.  That is exactly what I experienced last week.  I felt good in the beginning of the week and tried to get back into many aspects of my regular life but it must have been too soon.  I have definitely regressed.  Many things that should be simple are still so frustratingly hard.  I dropped an entire cake.  I’ve spilled countless drinks.  I’ve dropped and thus shattered 3 glasses.  I’m socially awkward.  I forget nearly everything.

Emotionally, it feels like I’m going through a bit of a grieving process.  I really miss my normal life.  In the last few weeks, I’ve met some well-meaning folks who have told me about their concussion or their child’s concussion, etc. who was back to normal after 3 days.  I really don’t know what to say when people tell me these stories.  I’m so glad that happened to them.  I’m intensely sad at times that is not my story… but there is nothing I can do about it.  Thank you to all of you who have been patient with me.  You have no idea what kind of gift you are giving me.

Today I read in Psalm 5,

Give ear to my words, O LORD; consider my groaning.  Give attention to the sound of my cry, my King and my God, for to You do I pray.

Then I journaled,

Lord, I may have never felt this vulnerable before in my life.  I’ve never felt like I needed Your shelter so much.  I’ve never desired a Protector so deeply but You are all these things.  I don’t have many words these days but I do have plenty of groans and cries. Thank you for hearing me and knowing the sounds of my cries. Just like You give a mother the ability to hear the difference in her baby’s pain cry, scared cry, tired cry, mad cry, You do that with me. I pray to a God who hears what I do not even say and that is so comforting.  Thank you Lord.

May you, my friend, be comforted by a God who hears the sound of your cries.  May you rejoice today in the mystery of God’s works.  May you see Him in your pain and loneliness.  May His face shine upon your tear-stained cheeks to turn your tears into diamonds.  

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Brain Update 4

I am so happy to share today that I am really getting better!  This past weekend, we saw a bit of a turning point in my memory, energy, and ability to tolerate noise and light.  I’d say I’m up to about 70% of normal now and that feels great.  This has been such a strange experience. Maybe because it was so unexpected, maybe because I was so ignorant about brain injury, I don’t know but I think it will take me a while to keep processing.

I am able to tolerate short spurts of reading now (Hallelujah!) and a few days ago, I was reading back through my devotional journal.  I’ve been studying the book of Colossians and this was right at the beginning of my study, from September 1st.  I copied the following verse…

 

 

“We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.” Colossians 1:3

Then I wrote, “Lord, how I would love to be known like this…having great faith in Jesus, love for the saints, and hope of heaven as a motivating factor.  Lord, is my faith too safe?  Am I showing my kids extravagant love or just love+busyness? I don’t want faith to seem boring to them.  Help me with this Lord.  In my daily routine and life, will You help me display great faith, hope, and love?

Reading this over a month later, knowing all that this month has held, my prayers came alive to me in a different way.  The answers to my questions are clear.  Yes, my faith is too safe.  No, I am not showing my kids extravagant love. Yes, I am showing them lots of love + lots of busyness. Yes, our schedule is way too crazy.

I don’t want to over-spiritualize this whole experience, but I really do want to learn from it. And I think that God totally chose this to interrupt our lives to make us ask some hard questions and re-evaluate some things.  I feel like my spiritual toes are on the edge of the cliff and I’m excited to see where God leads next.

Brain FAQ’s, Update 3

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Our son wrote me these sweet notes a few days ago, thus coining my “broken brain” phrase. It’s interesting to see how he is processing all this.

So, I’ve discovered over the past week that my friends are very detail oriented – that’s probably one of the things that makes us friends (it takes one to know one, right?). Several of you have asked a lot of really good questions that I’m going to try to answer here. If you don’t have these questions, then stop just reading here, my non-detail needing friend.

1. How long will your recovery be?
Oh, how I would love to know the answer to this question but unfortunately, there is no way to tell. It was explained to us that a concussion is a bruise on the brain. And just like bruises on other parts of your body, you simply have to wait for them to go away. We have also learned that no 2 concussions are alike, just like no 2 bruises are alike. Some people may have a concussion that is a quick recovery with little symptoms, some may have long recoveries with lots of symptoms, and everything in between. My recovery so far has been really slow and the Doctor advised us to expect that I will continue to improve at this pace. He does expect a full recovery (yeah!) but it may be weeks or even months before I get there.

2. How can I write these posts but not read?
I write these posts on my iPad with the brightness of the screen turned all the way down so it does not hurt my eyes. I don’t re-read what I’m typing because that does hurt my head (so sorry about all the errors that I’m sure are everywhere). The computer has actually been a huge blessing to me during this time. It is 100 times easier for me to type than engage in conversation.

3. Why is it so hard to talk?
I’m not sure I can fully answer this question. I am physically able to talk. I don’t think I sound exactly the same but I don’t think my words are really slurred or anything like that. There just seems to be a huge disconnect between all that is going on in my mind and what is actually coming out my mouth. I’m not sure what is happening but I just can’t seem to get out what I am trying to say. I start sentences without finishing them. I repeat myself without meaning to, etc. Conversation is probably one of my biggest sources of anxiety right now. Maybe it’s because I actually know how awkward I am to talk with but there is nothing I can do about it. That is another reason why typing has been such a huge blessing. There is no disconnect between my thoughts and my fingers.

4. How is my memory?
I can remember everything before hitting my head just fine. Since hitting my head, my short term memory stinks. I often begin a task and forget what I was even trying to do, or start something and not finish it (I’ve found food I prepared for myself but totally forgotten to eat several times.) I often have to look at a calendar to remember the day, or check back through my texts to see if I replied to someone, etc.

5. How are my spirits?
Here’s the deal…this is not fun. It is lonely and frustrating and exhausting and frightening but it could be so much worse. I can think of many blessings that are tucked away in this unexpected season of life. I can see God’s mercy to our family. I can sense the love of Christ through the body of Christ. I can see a much more compassionate me emerging from this experience. I can see unknown sinfulness being brought to light and dealt with. I can even see specific prayers being answered that I’ve prayed for our little 5 person family. And when I think of all those things, I really thank God for His mercy. I needed this. That car door did not have to injure me as badly as it did. I’ve probably been hit harder than that before in my life but God chose this to happen at this time for His purposes. So each day is up and down, but all in all, I’m thankful.

Life with a broken brain update

Thank you to all of you who have commented, texted, emailed, brought food, and prayed for us. Every time we go through a difficult time, I learn so much about how to help others by the help we receive. I thank you from the bottom of my heart.
I’ll post updates here as much as I can for 2 main reasons…
1. It is the easiest and best way for me to communicate right now. Please don’t take it personally if you have texted, called, or emailed and not heard back from me. I just don’t have the stamina to answer many things. Please know that your messages are encouraging me greatly. Some times they are what gets me through the harder moments.
2. I want to raise awareness about brain injury. Prior to this experience, I literally had zero idea what a brain injury was like. I viewed concussions as a more common place, less serious injury and boy, was I wrong! I feel terrible now for being so ignorant but I just didn’t know any better. Perhaps I can help others by journaling through this experience as best as I can. One of you already said that this has helped you understand a family member going through brain injury right now and that is wonderful to hear.

As I wrote in my previous post, this has been a crazy and scary experience. I think part of me is still surprised this is happening since I was perfectly healthy just a few days ago. Every day is up and down. Yesterday was a good day. I got up and sat on the couch a little, and even cut out some fabric for a later sewing project. Today has been a rough day. I’m so dizzy that I haven’t been out of bed for more than a few minutes. Days like yesterday encourage me on days like today. It’s hard not to think that these days are just such a waste. I feel like I contribute nothing to everything and that is where my faith struggles. I wonder what the purpose of all this is…for me, for my family, for all the people who are handling my responsibilities for me. Its just hard to wrap my broken brain around.

At the same time, I do feel like I’m learning a lot already. Here are 2 lessons thus far…
1. Never hesitate to minister and spread love to someone. Prior to this experience, I have often hesitated to help someone for many different reasons. Maybe I had in my head that I wanted to cook them a really nice meal, but money or time just didn’t allow, so I end up doing nothing. Maybe I wanted to send a super cute card but never made it to the store, so I do nothing. Ugh! I’m mad at myself for that now! I have been so blessed over the past week by simple texts of Bible verses or encouraging emails. When I’m all better, I want to lower my own personal standards of having to cook an extravagant meal, etc. and just love on folks. Thanks to so many of you for teaching me that.
2.Prepare for the dark while you are in the light. We all go through dark seasons of life. This particular one for me is not the first, nor will it be the last. I can’t tell you how often in my day I rely on God’s truth that is already stuck in my memory. I am not having much new spiritual input since listening to music and reading are still very challenging for me. I recall many mornings prior to this accident that I woke up early and felt so tired that I wondered if my time spent in the Word was worth it. Now I know the answer. It was so worth it. I am leaning on all those hours spent in study now. Dark times have a way of clarifying who you really are spiritually. I look forward to the time when my brain is healthy enough to study God’s word with tenacity. In my next dark time, I want to be proved stronger than I am now.

Thank you Lord for being made strong in weakness. May You be on display in ways I could never dream right now. Thank you for never leaving me or any of your children. I love you. Amen

Life with a broken brain

This past Sunday night, I was in a hurry and opened my car door right into the side of my face.  It was a hard, head-on collision which resulted in a concussion.  The days since then have been some of the hardest of my life.  Speaking is frustratingly hard for me so I thought I’d try to type.  There is a strong possibility that all that I’m about to type is incoherent but it seems like it will feel good to be able to communicate, even if its jumbled.

I had no idea how scary and difficult concussions are.  Since hitting my head, my world has been covered in a gray haze that will not lift.  The simplest tasks are so hard for me.  I am weak and tired.  I couldn’t even scoop peanut butter out of the jar to make a sandwich for my child.  I’m trying so hard to talk and interact with others but it literally hurts my head.  When someone asks me the simplest question, it feels like they just asked me to do calculus and I’m instantly frustrated and sad.  It feels like everyone talks around me like I’m not in the room, even though I am.  Noises, light, and smells are highly exaggerated. I can’t remember things very well.  I know I’ve asked my husband several times a day, “what day is it” but I just can’t remember the answer.  That is the worst part of all of it – knowing that you are not right but not being able to do anything about it.  I’m feeling very scared of everything.  I’m scared to talk to people because I know it’s slow and I fear they may become impatient.  I’m scared that I’m doing embarrassing things without knowing it.  I’m scared that I’m scaring my kids.  But most of all, I’m scared that I’ll never be the same.  I remember what it felt like to be me just a few days ago.  I used to think very clearly and decisively.  I loved reading my Bible but now it hurts my head to focus my eyes so I can’t read.  I loved caring for others but now everyone is caring for me.

In my head, I keep asking God, “where are you?” not because I think He’s left but I miss Him.  The drastic change from a life so steeped in Him to a life that cannot read His word, cannot listen to music without irritation, cannot be with His people is devastating.  Thankfully, I am benefitting now from hours spent in His word before this injury.  I can remember verses I memorized and they are like balm to my soul.  I really love it when my husband prays.  It feels so comforting, like coming home.  I’m definitely looking forward to treasuring the ability to read His word and sing again someday.  I also am looking forward to seeing what God’s good purpose is in this.  I trust that there is one because He is good.  I trust that I’ll be changed in much needed ways and that maybe those around me will somehow draw closer to Him too.  In the mean time, will you pray that I will make a full recovery?  Maybe I’ll even come out of this as a way better person than before.  And please know that I love all of you, even if I can’t show you right now.

Hope

18 I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19 For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20 For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope21 that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22 We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23 Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies.   Romans 8:18-23

 

I went on a walk this morning while it was still dark.  The air was blustery at times and eerily still at times.  The leaves played in symphony as the wind rustled them with it’s abnormal rhythm.  Then suddenly the sound would halt, as if directed to rest by their Conductor. The street light by my house burnt out and sporadic lightning lit my way.  A storm was brewing and it felt like creation was holding its breath, waiting for what would come next.  I found myself joining in the anticipation… looking at the sky, reading the wind, feeling the air, wondering how long I had before the bottom would drop.  Every creaky tree, every paper dry leaf, every stalk of grass, every sheltered animal seemed to ache and groan for God’s rain.

Today, I echo creation’s groan for my Creator’s provision.  My soul is bordering on paper dry, my mind feels creaky and worn out.  I am battered by the pain in this world.  I find myself calling out to God, asking Him, “How long Lord?  How long before You return and revive all things?”  The verses above contrast the world of “here and now” with the world of ” is to come”.  The present world is frustrated, anxious, and in bondage but the world that is to come is liberated, free, glorious, and redeemed. Amen!

“I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.”  Oh how excited this makes me!  The present sufferings are real and shattering but God’s glory is too wonderful for me to even imagine.  Truths like this build hope in me,  reminiscent of waiting for the building storm this morning.  I knew it was coming, I just didn’t know when.  I know that Jesus is coming, I just don’t know when.  But when He does, we will no longer hold our breath.  In fact, we may join Creation in taking the first real breath our lungs have ever felt.  And the air will be sweet my friends, just wait.

Lord, thank you for hope.  Remind those in dark seasons of life that your hope is the flame that never goes out, even in the darkest nights.  Thank you for promising your presence with us always.  Help us remember You as we go about our days on earth and help us look joyfully forward to the life that is to come.  I love you.  Amen

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Photo Credit: Brice Alvord

Faith Friends

Last night we had the great privilege of hanging out with good friends from college, the Walkleys (on the left) and the Ellis’s (in the middle).

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We’ve known each other for over 10 years now, having met when all of us were dating. 5 of us had the joy of singing together at Ole Miss and let me tell you, these folks are top-notch good.  The Ellis’s recently moved back to Memphis which gave us a great excuse to get together.  Philip and Kelsea, thanks for hosting!

The reason this is blog-worthy is that the evening was just a refreshment to the soul.  All of us are now parents of similar aged children.  All of us are believers in Jesus Christ.  All of us love people, the arts, and good food…so much in common but so much uniqueness too. I drink in God’s creativity in settings like this.

Kelsea and Philip pour their hearts and souls into Memphis’s inner city.  They live there, raise their kids there, work there, support every local thing possible, exuding joy in it all.  Philip is the Executive Director of a huge ministry here, SOS.  His work is an extension of the life his family lives every day.

Jauna and Calvin just relocated their family back to Memphis based on faith alone.  They knew God was calling them home so they literally packed it all up and hit the road without a job waiting for them here.  Our faithful God gave them not only a job but an incredible one!  Calvin will be the Choral Director at Millington High (oh they are so lucky!), his alma mater – a perfect fit!  They found a home in an awesome area, their kids got into great schools and Jauna may even be able to work at one of the kids schools.

I was so encouraged by the faith that propels both of these couples lives.  It was incredibly refreshing to see lives so molded by God, so transformed by Him, so happy in the work He has given.  All three of our families know the pain, uncertainty, and trials included in life.  And I feel certain that all three of our families would say, Only God can write our story, only He can redeem, only He can provide for our daily strength.

I often feel like the concerns of my generation are very material, associated with what we have or do not have. Last night, I felt a break from that.  Without any verbally spiritual conversations, it seemed like the whole atmosphere was one that spoke of and celebrated our safety in God.  I do not mean that we have some sort of immunity to hardship or danger.  I mean that in the midst of hardship and danger, God alone is the Keeper of our souls and we love that.

I walked away from the night challenged to live my life with greater faith, riskier faith.  I wondered, am I the kind of friend that challenges others to dive deeper into faith?  I’m so thankful for these friends who made me dive deeper into mine.

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Here’s the whole crew.

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Please note: the blur of a child in both pictures is Caleb.  He was a blur in every pic we took.  Andrew and I thought that was hilarious and perfectly fitting since he is our child who never stops moving, the same one who our pediatrician termed  “the most active patient she has ever seen”.  Yes that’s him, the blur. 🙂

Breakfast “Cookies”

  Here’s a recipe I made up this morning that is SUPER easy and delicious… because some days you just need a cookie for breakfast.  We skipped plates completely and went straight from the cookie sheet to hungry little (and big) mouths.  These “cookies” are gluten-free, dairy-free, grain-free, and almost sugar-free (the only added sugar is from the chocolate chips).

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Almond Coconut Breakfast “Cookies”

1 Cup Almond Meal

1/2 Cup unsweetened, natural apple sauce

1/2 Cup unsweetened shredded Coconut

2 Tablespoon Coconut Oil

1/2 Teaspoon Baking Powder

1/4-1/2 Cup Mini Chocolate Chips (use a dairy-free brand if avoiding dairy completely)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Mix all ingredients together in a medium bowl.  Form rounded balls of dough and flatten them a bit before putting them on your cookie sheet.  Bake for 10-15 minutes or until edges begin to brown.

My entire family loved these!  I hope yours does too!

 

Just for Today

Our kids are growing up.  It’s happening slowly and quickly all at the same time.  Each of our kids seems to be at a transition point in his or her life – moving away from one stage and toward another. And before we are totally into that next, new stage, I want to take a moment to remember where and who they are today.

Drew  June 2014Drew, in many ways, you are the heartbeat of our home.  You are gifted by God with the most natural and distinct leadership capabilities.  You are fierce, loyal, and protective.  You cannot be swayed once your mind is made up.  I know that God has put that strong warrior heart in you to make a difference for Him in this world.  I love your confidence and your total lack of fear in life.  You believe God’s power and valiantly trust in it.   You are a great listener and observer.  Even when I don’t know it, you are listening and taking in your surroundings.  You are an excellent and avid learner. I love watching you discover the world.  You are drawn to music.  It seems to be a language that speaks to your soul and sticks in your mind.  I think that many of your most enduring spiritual truths will be learned through music.  You are incredibly competitive and play every game or sport with firm determination.  I love the strength of your personality.  You keep me real.  Being your mom has completely changed who I am as a person.  I’ve been stretched in ways I never thought possible and I am truly, truly thankful.  Even at 6 years old, you are becoming more of a man and less of a boy everyday and I am honored to be your Mom.

Caleb May 2014

Caleb, you are the laughter in our home.  Your body literally cannot contain the joy that radiates from your soul.  Daddy and I smile every day just from seeing you smile and interact with your world.  You are overflowing with imagination and creativity.  This photograph depicts you perfectly.  Each day you dress yourself with flair and beg for me to draw a mustache and beard on your face.  You are a talented athlete.  I’ve never seen any physical challenge that you could not tackle.  You can climb anything, pull yourself up on anything, and swing in ways I’ve never seen before.  You are also a budding artist. It seems that you see the world (and yourself) as your canvas. Most mornings, we begin the day by me finishing my devotional time with some journal writing and you right beside me drawing art in your journal.  It’s a memory I’ll cherish forever. You are the sweetest lover of cuddles.  You will choose “cuddles” over any story or song before bedtime and you still say “Yay!” when you get to snuggle in our laps. You are so tender toward brokenness.  It is as if it physically pains you to see a hurting person or animal and you are drawn to help them.  I have seen you fearlessly offer grace and mercy to many in need without considering yourself.  I see you becoming more of who God made you every day.  You are leaving the toddler years behind and entering boyhood with great excitement, curiosity, and joy.  You’ve taught me to approach life with humor, optimism, and delight.  I’m so thankful to be your Mom.

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Emily Kate, you are the sunshine of our home.  You smile endlessly and have the sweetest, gentlest, and kindest demeanor.  For the rest of your life, you are going to hear, “You’re so sweet” because it is one of the first things that others notice about you.  You are extremely flexible with the noise and activity of having 2 big brothers.  You puff them up with confidence just by the way you adoringly look at them.  You are shy, friendly, feminine, and sassy. You are already the most fun companion to me.  You love to be in my arms while I put on makeup, cook, and fold clothes.  You love to just be together and I love that too!  You are already a beautiful singer. During the day, you sing or hum just as much as you talk, and at night, you always sing “Jesus Loves Me” with me before bed.  You already adore your baby dolls and take such good care of them.  You push them around the house in your little stroller, change their diapers, feed them, sing to them and rock them.  My favorite part of  watching you play this way is seeing the joy on your face.  If God one day grants you children, I feel certain that you will be the kindest, gentlest mother. You have definitely stolen your Daddy’s heart and I love the relationship you share.  I cherish the moment that he walks in the door each evening – you run to him with the biggest smile and squeal “Daddy”!  I pray you run into your Heavenly Father’s arms with the same joy and trust.  When God gave us you, he added so much love, light and tenderness to our family.  You are now moving away from the baby years and becoming more of a little girl. I have loved every minute with you so far and look forward to enjoying each stage ahead with you.  I’m so thankful to be your Mom.

And thank you God, who has, just for today, blessed me with these.