Monday, March 03, 2014

5-Month Update

Last Tuesday marked the 5-month mark since Adam's accident. In some ways, it feels like it was so long ago, but at other times, it all still feels new and there are parts of this that still ring very fresh. 

Here's some significant things we've celebrated lately:
Adam passed a 3-hour test with the Department of Transportation recently. They cited no concerns over him being behind the wheel. (I'm sure glad they didn't make me take the test!) 

Adam has been released from his outpatient therapy at Mary Free Bed as of last week.  His therapy was an extension of his inpatient time there. Basically, their goals are for him to gain independence and to be able to do things on his own. He's been doing that for awhile. They released him as they need to be able to focus their efforts on those in those earlier stages and in greater need. He could still pursue further rehab at another location. 

We are still seeing some very small and slow improvements. Much harder to notice these days. I don't notice them as much, so I've had to ask Adam to "update" me even when he notices the small things of when something is a little easier. 

Someone that sees Adam on a weekly basis from a distance casually said, "So, you're pretty much back to normal, right?" 

I think Adam and I both stared at this person and blinked several times, wondering if they were serious, before figuring out how to respond. 

The simple and short answer is "no." 

We have seen a miraculous and non-typical recovery. He is so fortunate to be doing all that he is. He is able to function and do everyday things very well.  But there are still very large deficits, not only to what he used to be, but even for a typical 34-year old guy. 

Adam has always been a lot more than a "typical" guy. He was a superb athlete. He could compete at any athletic thing he tried. He was strong. He was quick. I still remember watching him play college baseball and feeling like I might have blinked too long because the play he had made seemed impossible to what I thought humans should be able to do. 

We love to play tennis together. I played throughout high school and I'm decent, although he only ever played recreationally. At times, he would try to secretly play left-handed so that we would be more evenly matched so that I wouldn't get so frustrated about losing to him. 

I still remember seeing him do feats of strength that I would just shake my head at. Moving things. Lifting things. He is a BEAST

Now I'm watching him wake up in the morning and go to bed at night moving as though he is 75-years old sometimes. I hold my breath when I watch him stiffly walk up and down the platform steps at church. I see him throw a football (which is great!), but well, it looks rather sad. I see him fatigue after doing a handful of push-ups. I watch him attempt to build something using his tools and hear about his frustration over how it took 5 times as long as what it used to. I hear about how he struggled to be able to swim and keep himself afloat during his pool therapy recently. 

Yes, he is getting back to doing a lot. But there is still a sense of loss that we are daily working through. His doctor's office calls him an incomplete tetraplegic/quadriplegic. (Education time: Complete would mean the spinal cord was completely severed and there is no motor or sensory function below the spot of injury......Incomplete means that it was not severed and there is a varying degree of motor and sensory function. Some incomplete injuries may have no motor function, although they have sensory - in other words, they can feel, but they can't move their limbs. While others have varying degrees of motor function.  At this point,  Adam looks to be a high-functioning tetraplegic/quadriplegic.)

I'm reminded of when I went to the Secretary of State Office to get our handicap parking tag. The attendant wrote it to last through October 2017. 
I said outloud, "Wow. I didn't realize it would be good for so long." She looked at me, in between her gum smacking, and said, "Honey, the doctor wrote this to be a permanent pass."

The first few months of Adam's injury was crazy. We were in survival mode as we navigated through almost 2 months of hospitalization, many helping hands in and out of our home, and then just getting back to "living" again. Now that we've settled back into a groove of day in/day out activity, there's room for noticing just how different things are for the time being. The initial shock and trauma have worn off and now we are sifting through what's happened. 

Adam's physicalness wasn't WHO he was, but it did make up a very large part of HOW he operated. 

Please don't misunderstand.
We are thankful. Thankful, thankful, thankful. So thankful. 
Overwhelmed with gratitude at times. 
Adam really is doing so well. It's wonderful. And we're still seeing improvements. 

But we're also human. 
Well, I'm speaking for myself here anyways. 
I have my moments of missing just how athletic and able-bodied he was. 
Sometimes I don't like having to think about whether or not he can do something. 
At times, I try to think about what the future looks like and I wonder if this injury will always be obvious. 
Will he be able to handle a hike in the woods someday? A family bike ride? A walk on the beach? Throwing a baseball with his someday teenage sons? 

Sometimes it's overwhelming and I let it get to me. 
I certainly don't think its wrong for me to have moments of grieving and mourning a loss. But its the worry and fretting that I know I need to combat. 

I know that worrying does me no good. And I know full well that God does not want me to worry. 

He says it in Scripture again and again. 
And again. 

So we continue to thank God for ALL that He's done, yet we still hope for more.

"I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord." (Psalm 27:3-14)

Saturday, March 01, 2014

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal

I believe this is the first recipe that I have shared on the blog. 

I've been wanting to for awhile. Not because I'm such a great cook and want to impart my wisdom with a few loyal readers (because I'm not really great, "adequate" is probably a term I would use), but because sometimes I need a good place to store my recipes! 

I often turn to the internet when I want a recipe for something.  Then I try the recipe.  Close my computer. Eat the food. Sometimes find that it was a GREAT recipe. Although, I nearly always make tweaks and a few changes. Several months go by and I want to try that recipe again, but I spend 15 minutes looking on my computer for what site I used. And then I have to try and remember what tweaks I made. (Yes, I know what Pinterest is and I use it, but I don't always "Pin" everything.) 

And I'm sharing this Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal recipe not because it's the best thing I can make......but simply because I felt like posting it and actually followed through.  

So, onto the Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal. 
My family loves this. I do a Pumpkin Baked Oatmeal that I am crazy about and will maybe share the recipe sometime. But the boys requested Peanut Butter today. 
This isn't like a bowl of goopy, mushy oatmeal. This bakes up, almost cake-like. I like to eat mine with a little milk poured over top. This is great for breaking up and letting our 1-year old eat as well. Regular oatmeal is messy for him or I have to sit and feed it to him.  

Peanut Butter Baked Oatmeal
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 1/2 c. milk
    • 2 t. vanilla
    • 2 T. butter, melted
    • 1/2 c. brown sugar
    • 1/2 c. peanut butter
    • 2 t. baking powder
    • 3/4 t. salt
    • 3 c. Old Fashioned Oats
Using a wisk, mix eggs, milk, melted butter, vanilla in a bowl. Add in brown sugar and peanut butter. Add in baking powder and salt. Last stir in the oats. Spread in a greased 9×13 pan. Bake at 350 for 20-25 minutes. If you like it a little crunchy on top cook for a few minutes longer. 

I promise that I'll take better pictures. Someday.

Sometimes I've mixed this up the night before and then just put it in the oven the next morning. It really mixes up easily, but I just don't like to have to do "clean up" first thing in the morning. 

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

A Dear Woman....

I trust God's sovereignty. I trust His plans. I trust His wisdom. I trust His goodness. I trust that He keeps His children ever on His mind. We are His affection and we have the unbridled attention of the ever-present and ever-loving creator and sustainer of life.

But sometimes, I must admit, I simply do not like the pain that dear ones must endure in this life. Nor the ache that is left in our hearts when we must go on without a special person that God has called home to be with Him. 

A lovely woman was taken to her forever home on Monday morning. 

Much too quickly. Not in the suddenness of a tragic accident without any warning, but with only a couple months of notice from a diagnosis of an aggressive and overpowering cancer.  Thankfully, for her sake, it moved very swiftly and did not drag out her bodily suffering and pain.  But for those that knew her, we are left with a longing of more time with her. 

Jean was a long-time member of our church.  Many knew her much, much better than I.  Many were on the receiving end of her prayers, of her service, of her thoughtful and timely cards, of her beautifully crafted blankets. 

For a year I had the privilege of meeting with her for breakfast once a month. She was always punctual, both in and out.  After our time together, she always had an agenda for her day, much of it revolved around her ministry of visiting and caring for our church's shut-ins.  A task many overlook.  But not Jean. She was committed. 

We shared our stories.  Our struggles.  Our concerned hearts for our family members.  
She was real with me.  Easy to open up to. 
And she never seemed to mind that I could easily polish off a very large plate of breakfast food. 

A little over a week ago, I had my last conversation with her.  She was being cared for in a hospice facility. 

I had visited once earlier in the week and found her resting peacefully.  Disappointed, as I had heard of many others having the chance to visit her and share some time with her. She had only been there a couple of weeks and the staff told me she was quite the popular lady. 

The next day, her daughter called me and said Jean wanted me to know that she was so sorry that she missed my visit and she apologized for being asleep. Dear goodness Jean, you are suffering through an awful and vicious cancer, you DO NOT need to apologize for getting much needed rest! But that was Jean. I promised I would try and visit again. Very soon. 

The next day, Saturday, I made a point of making the effort again.  A snowstorm was predicted and we were already getting a heavy falling.  That wasn't going to stop me.  I just figured (and hoped) that I might get her all to myself and I wouldn't have to share her with anyone else for a bit.  

Which I certainly did. 

She held my hand. I thanked her for the breakfasts we had and told her how thankful I was to have gotten to know her and how I admired her. She let me get her tissues and a wet washcloth. She shared that she was worried about how her daughters would handle her passing. She told me she had made her arrangements and planned out her service. She said she wouldn't be going back to her house anymore. There was a hint of concern, of sadness, of realization that her life here was coming to a close. She asked me for updates about things we had prayed together about in the past. She asked about Adam. 

And then she was tired.  So very tired.  I kissed her on the cheek and left with a heavy feeling knowing that was quite possibly our last conversation. But thankful that, for my sake at least, I had that time with her. 

Jean has now seen her Savior face to face. Basked herself in His unimaginable glory.  And in the final verse of so many hymns and songs when the lyrics describe what it will be like when our life on earth comes to a close and we arrive on the shores of the next, I am thinking of Jean these days.  Her love for her Savior was true and deep. She's experiencing all of the delights of Heaven and her heart's longing has been met. 
Photo courtesy and permission of Joanna Doenier

Saturday, January 25, 2014

Landon turns 6!

This cute little guy turned 6 years old today! 
Landon at 5ish months
We opted to not do the big hyped-up party like we did last year. 
Click here for a reminder of what that was like.
Super fun, but I don't want to set the precedent that I'm always going to be that adventurous.

We let him invite 2 friends over and join our family for a day of celebrating.
The plan was to take them to a fun playplace, but weather conditions were super snowy, blowy and cold, so we opted to stay at home the whole time.  The boys didn't seem to mind one bit. 

Landon chose to have Stromboli for lunch.

Then we played a variety of games and activities. There was a bit of an outer space theme to the day as Landon wanted a "rocket" on his birthday cake this year (which was not at all easy to find).  One of the games may have involved them being alien hunters and searching for the alien (a.k.a. me) while I ran around and they attempted to shoot me with cans of silly string. Lots of shrieking by me and them. Very fun though. Sorry, no pictures of the alien.

All 4 boys enjoying a quick Rescue Bots show. 
Hey, Transformers came from another planet....still fits the theme. 

Then we opened presents. Since all of the grandparents (except for a couple of "greats") and aunts/uncles live out of the area, we had a handful of gifts and cards to open from them that had arrived in the mail this week.  Highlights were Lego sets, a Puma outfit, Disney Planes toys, sweet new soccer cleats, a TMNT game, army playsets, and a crisp $10 bill.

Then we had cake and ice cream.

I think they all had a fun time. 
One boy said he didn't want to leave.
And the other asked if he could come over next week.

Here's what Landon is like at 6 years old:
*He enjoys making paper airplanes. He'll make a bunch and then insist on saving them. 
*He also likes things like army guys, Teenage Mutant Ninja turtles, cars, Legos, and Star Wars.
*He is easy to excite and quick to laugh.
*He loves making friends and gets along well with others. He's quite a social kid with other children.
*He has really picked up reading this year in kindergarten. He's doing great at it! 
*At Christmas, he was coming home from school telling us about how he took polls of kids at school about who believes in Santa Claus and who believes in God. He's still been doing it, even thought Christmas is over. He is very excited to find other God-believers. 
*He can be quite the bossy big brother. 
*He loves being timed for how long it takes him to do something. He likes contests, races, and winners. 
*He struggles with "worrying" sometimes or being fixated on how something will work out or what will happen. 
*He is starting to understand money and likes to find ways to earn it. 

Overall, he is a happy kid who has blessed our lives in so many ways! 
We love him! 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Miracle Talk

These two pictures were taken in our home.  The first one is vinyl lettering that we've had up for over 5 years. It was given to us at Christmas one year. I'll admit that I didn't fall in love with the quote, but I liked it and it looked nice on my otherwise artwork-deprived and barren walls.  The second one is a plaque that someone gave us when Adam was in the hospital. We joked whether or not he'd display it on his dresser since it's a quote from Cinderella.  But it is indeed on his dresser.
(And I do know who gave us these.....I just figured I wouldn't call them out on the carpet. I'm sure they remember giving them to us as well.)

I'll admit that I'm not a big talker of something being a "miracle." 

I'm from a conservative background and have probably been unknowingly pre-dispositioned to tread matters like this with caution.  I absolutely believe in the many miracles that were recorded in the pages of Scripture to display God's glory, to save His people, to connect Jesus to His Father.
Waters were parted.
Food fell from the sky. 
Men were saved from fire.
The lion's jaws stayed shut. 
Storms were stilled. 
Demons were driven out.
People were healed. 
The stone was rolled away.

And I do believe God still chooses to intervene and display His glory today through situations that cannot simply line up as coincidence or be dubbed as good "karma." Situations that leave us baffled and only able to give credit to something, Someone, greater.  Situations that should lead us back to the Creator and Sustainer of life. 
The only One that can truly be given credit for miracles.

Even seeing what we've seen, I still approach "miracle" with a certain amount of caution and wonder.

But I do think that God intervened in our situation. 
He has allowed Adam to experience healing that is not "normal."  
I do believe that we can point this all back to God.

Many times God intervenes and we don't give Him credit.  
We don't even recognize and take a moment to realize what He's given us. 
What He's done.

Maybe people are getting tired of me talking about all of this.  
And someday I'm confident that we won't be identified by Adam's accident/injury.  
But for now, I know I am still working through it.  Grappling with it.  Living with it.  Breathing it all in. 
Trying to understand God's plan for all of this and what we're supposed to do with it.

Some days I struggle to see beyond the limitations and what that will look like in the future.
Oh me, of little faith.

My God works miracles.

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

2014 Goals

And, here it is.........our 2014 Goal List. In no particular order. 

- Send a handwritten note in the mail once a week. A lost art. But who doesn't adore getting a personal, unexpected, stamped handwritten note in their mailbox? For me, it's a real pick-me-up to know that someone was thinking of me and took a moment to let me know. Hopefully, I can do that for others throughout the year. (Becca)

- Finish knitting a blanket. This blanket has been on circular needles for well over a year, maybe even two. It still has a VERY, VERY long ways to go. I've knitted one other large blanket before. I know I can do this. The other one made such quick progress because it included a road trip to/from South Dakota. (Becca)

- Read through the Bible in a year. (Adam)

- Do more art. I really enjoyed the little bit of painting that I did this year. I have a few requests to do some more of the "O Come Let Us Adore Him" canvases that I showed a few weeks ago. My mind is going with a few other projects as well. Would love to get back into my artsy side. (Becca)

- Read through the "Jesus Calling" daily devotional.  I love the idea of daily devotionals to last throughout the whole year, but sometimes I tend to lose interest in one or find another one that piques my interest. Would love to work through these daily intimate notes of beckoning my heart to His. (Becca)

- Shoot a Deer. (Adam) (I'm assuming he means with a bow since that is all that he hunts with....but he's not home right now as I write this post).

- Have a TV-free night at least once a week. Many nights we end up turning the TV on after the kids go to bed. Not because there is something we necessarily want to watch, just out of habit. Many times it may just be background noise to something else we are doing, but still we'd love to be intentional about keeping it off more often.

- Do something about our dining room table. Since our family has grown, it's hard for us to have company over and all fit at our dining room table. Thinking about building a Do-It-Yourself table. Or maybe find a great used one. Or maybe a not-so-great used one and re-vamp it. Would love to have one that will seat 10-12.

- Go on an anniversary trip.  This one is a carry over from last year. We had it scheduled. Had to cancel it. Definitely still want to find a way to make it happen in the coming year.

- Pray the Prayer of Jabez. I know there was a lot of hype about this little book that was written back in  2000. I read it then, but recently re-read it. Would love to incorporate it into a consistent part of our prayer life this year.  "And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, “Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested." I Chronicles 4:10

- Ride the Merrell Trail. (Adam) Yep,this is the mountain biking trail where Adam's accident took place.  He wants to ride through it again (avoiding all of the extra apparatus', such as the A-frame one where he took his fall). I'm not a mountain biker, so I'm counting on Adam's mountain biking friends to accompany him. Mark your calendars, guys. Maybe a 1-year anniversary event?

Feel free to check in with us throughout the year and ask us how we are doing with these goals! 

Sunday, January 05, 2014

How we did on our 2013 goals....

How we did on our 2013 goals...

  1. Go on a 10-year Anniversary Getaway - Well, we tried. :) We researched, booked, paid for....and then had to cancel it. That whole husband-broke-his-neck-and-hurt-his-spinal-cord-thing kinda put a damper on the plans. Expect to see this carry over to our 2014 goal list. 
  2. Keep a prayer journal - Did really well until May. Then I misplaced the prayer journal. And then I found it, but didn't write in it anymore. Boo. 
  3. Work out 2 times a week - This was a bit of a rollercoaster. I was fairly active until the end of September. Not sure if it registered at 2 times a week always, but there were probably other weeks where I was it all evens out, right? 
  4. Neighborhood Gathering - CHECK! We hosted a neighborhood Ice Cream Social in mid-August. Less than 1/2 of the invited homes participated, but we had over 50 people in our backyard and we received lots of positive remarks. Loved having the chance to connect with some neighbors we hadn't yet and also to provide the opportunity for others in the neighborhood to connect. Thinking we'll make it an annual event! 
  5. Paint a Picture - CHECK! A friend had a birthday party at a gallery where everybody paints the same picture. It was rather fun. And then for Christmas I painted some canvases as gifts (see previous post). 
  6. Learn How to Use my Camera Better - Hmmmm....not so much. Checked out a library book or two. Maybe watched a video tutorial or two. But I didn't really concentrate and try to understand ISO, shutter speed, or lighting any better than what I do now. But I took a couple of decent pictures (cute kids help). 
  7. Take Care of Grading Issue Around House - CHECK! In June we had the entire backyard dug up. Drain tile was put in on the north side of our house. The backyard was regraded to drain away from the house better. New grass was planted. Plus, now you can run through the backyard without fearing that you will roll your ankle on the bumpy and uneven ground. 
  8. List 1,000 Things I'm Thankful For - Well, made it to about 280. And then misplaced it (along with the above prayer journal). Pretty sure I've had the opportunity to be thankful for about a million things this year....they just didn't get written down. 
  9. Bike Ride 500 miles (Adam) - Made it to almost 300 before his accident at the end of September. 
  10. Give Up Pop (aka Soda) (Adam) - We decided to let him have it for special occasions (vacation, holidays). But otherwise, he made it through most of August until he decided he just didn't want to do it anymore. 

Working on our 2014 goal list. 
Stay tuned....

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Thoughts at Christmas

Christmas day not only represents the glorious coming of Jesus as a baby into our world to live and later die as a sacrifice for the sins and atonement for mankind, but it also marked the 3-month anniversary of Adam’s accident.  Not nearly as significant in the grand scheme of life, but in this stage of our life, we are still measuring events and abilities in relation to September 25.  We often talk about things how they were pre-accident versus post-accident.  We keep track in our heads of how much time has passed and also realize that as we inch closer to the 6-month and 1-year windows, we will have a greater idea of where Adam’s recovery will end up.
We have had multiple Christmas celebrations with family and have enjoyed having a feeling of normalcy.  
Not “normal” quite how it used to be, but still there is a rhythm that we have fallen into and one that is not too far off from how life used to be. 

Here's a few pics of family that we captured over our Christmas celebrations:
(Sorry, there were a few gatherings in which my camera did not come along)

Heath intrigued by the Christmas orange in his stocking.
Just after I took this picture, he wound up and threw it. 
Everyone looking so nice on a beautiful day.
Adam's sister, Jaime, and her boyfriend, Ben.
Adam's mom, Debby, and her husband, Kevin.
Same day. Just looking a little crazier.
The Strahm side of the tree.
The grandkids looking so well-behaved and compliant.
The grandkids looking a little more normal.

Loved having the chance to see so much family and spend time with them. 

Adam is doing so much these days.  He is driving.  He will still go through a driver’s rehab program to be reviewed for his CDL passenger license since he plans to return to driving the church bus, but otherwise, his surgeon and doctor both said that if he feels comfortable, he’s fine to drive.  And I’m feeling comfortable with him doing that as well, which was probably the biggest clincher to him getting behind the wheel again.  He is very helpful with the boys and is able to get them breakfast, brush their teeth, play with them.  He can hug me and lift me off the ground. He can do push-ups….one at a time. He says he can feel himself getting stronger.  His walking is getting better.  He says he still has to concentrate and focus to get everything moving how it should.   He is going into work and has resumed much of his responsibilities at church. He is shooting a bow.  It’s a 30-pound youth bow, as opposed to his previous 60-pound bow.  He can’t really hurry doing things, but he can do a lot. He’s very good at doing dishes….which I’m very happy about since its my least favorite household chore.  He’s realized he doesn’t sweat at all yet, which also might explain why I think he smells different to me.  
We can still only look back and feel grateful for all that we have witnessed God doing in our lives.  It’s certainly not all “roses” for us.  We have our tough moments and our moments of longing for how things used to be.
We also look back and are grateful for what our experience has done in other’s lives.  This has all been worth it if someone has been drawn back to trusting and worshipping God.

I got in touch with my artsy side a few weeks ago. If you knew me in high school, which was almost 15 years ago now (YIKES! I don’t feel that old), art was one of my languages.  I’ve dabbled in it from time to time since I decided not to pursue a career in it. And I still enjoy it, although its just hard to find the time, space, and priority for it.  I did some simple canvas paintings for some family members with a phrase that is not only at the forefront during this season, but hopefully at the forefront of every moment of our lives.

Let us come and adore Him.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Adjusting....but Thankful

Adam's been home for 2 weeks now.

Short story: It's very good to have him home. He is doing very well. We are so grateful for so very much.

Long story: This is all an adjustment. Not necessarily a bad one.

Adam is doing well. He can fully care for himself. Well, I did have to help him with some of his buttons this morning on his shirt. But he even tied his own tie. I insisted he didn't need to wear one. But he still wanted to. Everything just takes him longer than it used to. He is also doing quite a bit with the boys. He insisted on being left on his own when I went into work. He was fully in charge of our 1-year old. Our neighbor helped to pick up Tate from preschool that day. He hasn't been cleared to drive yet (still trying to figure out what he needs to do to be cleared). He insists he would be fine to drive. And I insist we need a professional to tell him that.

Daily he is working on stretching and strengthening exercises. The two older boys think it is fun to go exercise in our basement now also. I've noticed some things that are different about him. His hands are very different. They are much paler and thinner. And they are even "cold" at times. So are his feet. That never happened before. The cold air causes his body to stiffen up quite a bit more also. As I was holding his hand in church this morning, I even noticed that they felt soft and smooth. Very weird. He used to pride himself on his "manly" calloused hands. And I don't know if it's even possible or has any sort of explanation....but he smells different. Not bad. Just different than he used to.

I think I'm doing pretty good. I somewhat still feel like I'm in "survival" mode though. I still feel like a lot is on my shoulders.  I'm getting acquainted with the kitchen and meal planning again, which is good. There are quite a few jobs that I've had to do that normally I would rely on Adam to do. Carrying up all of the Christmas decoration and tree boxes from the basement (why are there so many?!). Shoveling our driveway (three times already and its only December 1!). Driving is my job these days. And I've never liked to drive all that much. I'm a multi-tasker. You can't do much else when you are driving! If we go anywhere, I carry the baby. I've had to become mildly acquainted with the creepy attic space above our garage to get out some seasonal items that Adam always stuffed up there. And I just came off a long Saturday of single parenting as we thought Adam was fighting a stomach bug, but it turns out he took the narcotics that he was prescribed for pain as needed. (He hasn't needed them at all)  He took 2 of them instead of another prescription he was supposed to take. Hmmmm....that would explain him passing out in the bathroom in the middle of the night and feeling nauseous and lightheaded for the whole day.

This is all just teaching me new levels of what loving my family looks like. We still can't estimate what things will look like a year from now. I feel like I'm spread thin and behind on everything, and I know I can't do everything how I want to. And I don't like that feeling. But I know I need to focus on what's important. My attitude. My motivation for my actions. My responses to my husband and children. Not letting little things get me worked up or upset.

And I don't always do a good job with that. I'm snappy sometimes. I yell sometimes. I'm cranky sometimes. I might hold my tongue, but my mind is saying unkind things. But at the end of the day, I thank God for His grace and pray for a new dose for the morning. And then I sleep hard and good.

Every time I think of something that is difficult to deal with, I try to turn it around and find what I'm thankful for in the situation.

Tate had a stomach bug on Wednesday night. Not fun. But it freed up our Thanksgiving as we quarantined ourselves at home and I'm thankful we were able to get all of the Christmas decorations up.

Sometimes I feel the loss of all that has happened. And the loss in Adam's abilities. But I'm thankful I still have him and that he has gained back what he has.

We would have been on our 10-year anniversary trip right now. RIGHT NOW. THIS VERY MOMENT. Groan. Soaking up Caribbean sun. Spending time together away from the demands of parenting and regular life. Relaxing and lounging around. But I'm thankful that we purchased traveler's insurance, and even though I was fairly certain the plan we purchased would not cover 100% of our costs, I'm thankful that our trip has already been fully refunded to us.

I was lamenting to myself a little about having to shovel twice in the same day and that Adam couldn't help. And then my 70-year old widow neighbor saw me and came over and helped. Humbled. Thankful. 

I'll leave you with a picture of the snowman that the boys and I built on Saturday as our snow melted away. Not included in the picture is Heath who was bundled up in puffy coat and pants and sprawled out on our driveway since he couldn't move in all of his winter gear. Thankful for these cuties.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Got Thoughtfulness?

Because I simply don't want to forget about how people have been thoughtful, kind, and generous to us in the past 2 months, I wanted to make sure I jotted some of them down. Very early on, I attempted to keep track and write thank-you notes, but I quickly realized I couldn't keep up. Not even close. Plus, I ran out of thank-you notes. So, instead I just started praying that the people that were extending themselves to us wouldn't be the kind of people that would keep track of whether or not I wrote them a thank-you note and be bitter about the probability of it never arriving.  

People's thoughtfulness towards us has made me realize two things:
1) I am not very thoughtful.

2) I want to be more thoughtful.  

I'm working on it. 

Here's a list of some things that people have done for us. Let it be an encouragement. A challenge. A place to get ideas of how to help others. A virtual hug if you realize you did something mentioned on this list. (And an apology if you did something and I did not think to mention it in this given moment when I wrote this post)

*A friend brought giftbags for Landon and Tate full of little things that their hearts would adore to help entertain them during hospital visits. A couple of people even dropped off giftbags for me the first few days in the hospital with snack foods, notebook, lotion, etc.
*Landon and Tate's former preschool teacher, who also works with the youth group at her church, helped prepare a meal for us with some of her youth group girls and then delivered it to us. 
*Speaking of meals, we have had over 50 meals brought to us! Delicious! And SOOOO appreciated! Without this, we may have had cereal for dinner frequently. My weight loss during this would have been even greater than what it has been. And our freezer is nicely stocked for the coming month or two also. 
*Someone special dropped off boxes of diapers, wipes, paper towel, and toilet paper on our porch. 
*A neighbor made us a delicious pie with the words "Welcome Home" stamped on it and delivered it after Adam returned home. 
*Over 190 cards/notes were sent to us while Adam was in the hospital. Thoughtful, encouraging notes were written on many of them. Words that came just when we needed them. I plan to save all of these.
*Two girlfriends finished processing and canning the remaining apples from the day of the accident. Another party of women had an applesauce making party and delivered even more to us!  
*A group of staff/faculty that I work with at Kuyper College took a collection for us and gave us a very generous amount of Meijer giftcards. 
*Various family and friends came from out-of-town/state to our home to stay and help wrangle boys, feed us, and provide moral support. Out of the 54 nights that Adam was hospitalized, there were only 11 nights when someone was not staying at the house with the boys/me. I sleep much better when I'm not the only adult in the house. 
*The dining staff at the hospital, one woman imparticular, frequently brought me extra food at mealtimes when I was at the hospital with Adam (NOT leftover food! of someone that checked out early or no longer needed a meal tray). 
*Two different guys offered to mow our lawn for the rest of the season. Our driveway snowplowing is taken care of for the winter also. 
*A group of college-age adults came to our house on 2 Saturdays and did fall yard clean-up. 
*Several friends came to watch boys during the days so that I could be at the hospital with Adam. 
*A small brigade of women came to our home to clean right before Adam came home. I keep the house pretty well picked-up.....but I let them clean our toilets. Our toilets. Neglected toilets that little boys use.  
*People responded with thoughtful and generous monetary gifts to help with expenses during this time. Some were tucked lovingly in my hand. Some were mailed. Some were hidden in my jewelry box. 
*Someone sweet dropped off pumpkins for us to decorate. 
*Numerous people visited Adam at the hospital. Some brought in food from the outside. Some quickly popped in/out not wanting to disturb him. Some stayed and chatted for awhile. Some took shifts when he still needed to be fed and I couldn't be there. 
*A friend, who is a massage therapist, brought her table over to the house one night after the boys were in bed and gave me a much-needed stress-relieving massage. I almost cried because it huuuurrrt and felt so good at the same time. Another thoughtful person insisted on paying for this special house call. 
*A group of guys came over to help Adam rearrange the garage so we could get it cleared out to park our 2nd vehicle in. 
*A friend did our laundry for 2 weeks. 
*People prayed for us. They got their friends and family to pray for us. They had their churches pray for us. 
*We had offers from people coming out of our ears. For caring for the boys. For meals. For help however we might need it. 

Know that you blessed us and you helped us.
Thank you.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Welcome Home Adam

Fifty-four days, almost 8 weeks, after Adam's mountain biking accident that resulted in a spinal cord injury, Adam checked out of Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital and walked out of its doors.

Rather than wait until Monday morning to check-out, we asked for permission to leave on Sunday when he was done with his therapy.

 We thank God for the AMAZING recovery that we have witnessed at this point.
He gets all of the glory for this!

Adam even took the high road and willingly let the nurses paint the toenails on one of his feet. 
I was so proud of him. I sat him down for a talk the day before and told him it wasn't worth it to hurt himself or anyone else over toenails being painted. 

Adam will return several times a week for Outpatient Therapy after Thanksgiving. They encouraged him to spend 2 weeks at home getting a feel for "normal" life and seeing areas that may need to be worked on.

This journey is certainly not over yet. But we have seen God's care and faithfulness and felt His presence everywhere we've turned. This song sums it up pretty good for where our hearts are today.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Release Date Has Been Set

Adam's release date from Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital is set for Monday, November 18. Two weeks ago, they said it would probably be another 4 weeks, which would take us to right before Thanksgiving.

But today, they communicated to us that it is this coming Monday....only 5 days away!

We had been hoping to keep Adam there as long as we could to benefit from as much therapy as possible. Our insurance year started over on November 1. We are covered for 45 days of inpatient rehab. We had been advocating and making it very clear that we wanted him to stay as long as he possibly could....even all of it if possible, which would take us to mid-December. Our outpatient coverage is not as good and is limited to 30 visits per insurance year.

Well, fact of the matter is, Adam is just doing too well to be able to stay there inpatient.

That's good.....right? We've been praying for him to make great gains....right?

Our sudden release date is just taking us by surprise.  We kinda feel like we are being kicked out (maybe Adam shouldn't have given the staff such a hard time?!). And we also feel rather unprepared. We were not happy about the decision at first and after talking to the insurance company and Mary Free Bed, there is just very little that can be done. The attending doctor would have to appeal for him to stay there longer. And at this point, that really can't be justified. Adam is doing too well. And we get that.

So....we have to figure out what sort of assistive equipment may be needed. Buy, rent, borrow? We are waiting to figure out where insurance will play a role.  We don't think we will need anything long-term, but we just don't know yet. Definitely in the short term, we may need a walker, a wheelchair, a cane, etc. We'll know more in the next few days. Don't start offering your equipment that is sitting around in the basement just yet. We'll make it known if there are items we are seeking.

Some have asked about if anything is needed to be done to the house. Typically, MFB sends a team on a home evaluation prior to being released and recommendations are made on what sort of things should be done to the house to aid in the person being able to get around and function. We've been told they won't even be doing that for us based on how Adam is getting around. Our bedrooms and full baths are all upstairs. Adam can do stairs. Up better than down, but he can do them. He's been home a couple of times now and was able to get around without any hitches. A few days at home will probably reveal anything that we may need to alter, but we aren't real concerned about it at this point.

Bringing him home does cause a bit of anxiety. He'll have been gone for almost 8 weeks by the time he comes home. What will this look like for us? He'll be home, but we'll need to adjust to family life again....and a somewhat different family life. He can't carry a baby. The fine motor skills it takes to change a diaper aren't quite there yet. He can't do buttons or tie shoes still. Can he open food containers? Use a kitchen knife? He is not driving yet. Many things he was relied on for around the house will not be on his plate anytime soon. And this girl has been handling head-of-the-household responsibilities and parenting on her own. I'm not unprepared for some hiccups/tension as we bring Adam back into all of this and figure out ways to make this work.

BUT, the more I've had the chance to let this settle in, the more excited I am!

I've missed my best friend a lot. Even to have him here to talk to when the day is over will be so wonderful. Phone calls are not the same. And for the first month after his injury, we didn't even do that since he couldn't hold his phone. I cannot wait to lounge around and watch a movie with him. Hold hands. Cuddle. Being able to go to bed at the same time. That other side of the bed has been dreadfully empty. It will feel so nice to have him there again. The boys will love having dad's attention again and not just for an hour visit. He'll be great at reading stories, playing games, and talking through their day with them. We'll all be able to sit down and enjoy dinner together again. Go places together. We'll feel like a family again.

And that's very good.
(August 2013)

Sunday, November 10, 2013

6.5 Weeks after Injury

"How does it feel to be a miracle?"

That's the question that Adam's surgeon casually posed to him after examining him last week, 6 weeks after his injury. 

I don't think I've ever really let it sink in that Adam's injury was very, very close to leaving him paralyzed. 

From day one, I could not let my mind linger there for very long.  I simply knew I could not let myself go there and be able to function in taking care of the boys, Adam, and myself.  In a few moments of weakness, I would find myself searching the internet for information on spinal cord injuries. Searching for what could be expected for this type of injury.  Searching for miraculous recoveries (and not easily finding stories).  None of that ever proved to be helpful to my mind and heart. And it never proved helpful to try to think too far ahead and wonder what the future may look like. 

We've been trying to take it one day at a time. And that's been helpful. 

Adam is doing quite a bit of walking during his therapy sessions. They are even pushing him in walking on un-level surfaces, walking uphill, practicing his balance. He is not using any sort of walking-aid much of the time when he is walking. He does still use a powered wheelchair to get around at the hospital quite a bit. His grip is getting better. He ate using regular silverware last night. He still struggles to do very small things. He does not have a lot of feeling at the end of his fingers. He seems to have stopped losing weight (he lost 20lbs). 

On Wednesday, the surgeon said that his neck was healing great from the fusing of several vertebrae in his neck with a metal plate. Adam attributes it to all of the milk that he drinks.  He told Adam that he could wean himself away from the neck brace. (Adam was super excited about this and shaved his manly beard off by the next day, as he was mostly keeping the beard as his neck would've gotten very irritated by being shaved and being in the brace still). 

This past Saturday I took Adam to a multi-church youth group flag football event for an hour or two. He was the surprise guest speaker during the devotional break time. I know Adam was very excited to be able to get out and share what he's been experiencing and how God has been working in his life. Some of our youth group kids were there and many other youth groups that knew about Adam's injury and have been praying for him were there also. Adam spoke for about 30 minutes and was simply seated/leaning on a high stool.

Remember, it wasn't that long ago that we were celebrating him being able to move his fingers. It wasn't that long ago that they were having to move Adam from his bed to his wheelchair using a sling that lifted him from one to the other. It wasn't that long ago that he was having to be fed by others. It wasn't that long ago that he was needing nurses to come in every 2 hours at night to shift him so that he wouldn't get bed sores.

We know that Adam's progress thus far is not typical for his injury. It is extremely accelerated and he's gaining a significant amount of movement and ability back. It's not completely unheard of, but it is not very common either. 

While this is amazing and what we've been hoping and praying for, it's also rather humbling to be on the receiving end.

Right now, we are surrounded by people who are not seeing such wonderful gains and have much more serious and difficult injuries at the hospital. We know of several people in our lives who are dealing with aggressive and ugly cancers.

And in many of those cases, we know that many, many people are praying for healing and restoration. Just like in our case.

But it doesn't always come. God doesn't always choose to use His hand to show a beautiful picture of His ability to physically heal. And sometimes our finite minds simply cannot make sense of when and how He chooses to move. And we never will.

But wow.
Why us, God?

We are so grateful for all that we are seeing God do in Adam's body and spirit. So, so grateful. And we are striving to point it all back towards Him.

Not gonna lie though, we're still asking Him for even more.
We know He's capable of doing even more.