Friday, November 16, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello!  I'm back to write again.  I have a lot on my mind, but my mom is going to post something first.  It's a speech she gave at a Joni & Friends banquet recently.  She wants to post it in order to encourage friends who are going through some very tough times right now.  I don't remember all the events surrounding my brain injury sixteen years ago, but she does, and I'll let her tell you from her perspective.

Joni and Friends Phoenix Banquet speech. "Bridges of Hope"

When Pam called and asked me to share my testimony,  she gave me the theme of this banquet--"Bridges of Hope." She didn't know it then, but HOPE is my favorite word...and has been for 15 plus years.  You see, 16 years ago I thought all hope was gone.   Our dreams, our plans, our hopes, life as we knew it...all gone!  But through God's word, the love and help of scores of friends, and a meeting with Joni Eareckson-Tada, God showed me that He not only had a different plan for our lives...He had a much better plan--one filled with blessings, and treasures, and HOPE!

Jay and I married in 1977.  Both of us were saved as children, growing up in Christian homes. By 1986 we had four children--3 girls and 1 boy. (In 2000 we added another girl to our family.).     Daniel (who is the middle child) was born with a serious heart defect, and by the age of 11, he had undergone three open heart surgeries.  During those years, however, he remained very active-- participating in baseball, basketball, and his love, soccer. He slept, ate, and breathed soccer!

In July 1996, however,  Daniel  underwent another surgery, but this time it was a "simple, routine" hernia surgery.  What happened, though, was anything but routine, and we were not at all prepared.  The attending anesthesiologist made several mistakes during that surgery and our active, energetic little boy was given back to us severely brain injured. We were devastated!  Daniel's life was turned upside down--so was ours.  He could no longer walk, talk, eat, see, go to the bathroom on his own, or use his hands/fingers.. The journey of our faith, and Daniel's recovery, are being chronicled in a book coming out soon so I won't go into those details now, but Daniel, even though still severely injured, graduated from Bible college last May after seven years of intense study.

I had always loved reading about Joni.  In fact, I began reading Joni's books during the summer of 1976 when her first book, Joni, came out. I had also watched the movie about her life several times.  I loved Joni but had no idea what living in a world of disabilities was all about, and I really didn't care to know either. No one we knew had ever been affected by a disability...not in our family nor among our friends...that is,  not until Daniel.

Fast forward to 1997, nearly  one year after his injury, as I stood in our kitchen pondering the past year and pleading and crying out to God to heal our son, a newsletter from Joni came in the mail.  I didn't feel like reading the entire thing, but a verse at the top of the second page did catch my attention and it felt like God was speaking directly to me  It said, "Do not dwell on the past. See, I am doing a new thing. Do you not perceive it?  I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland.". Isa 43:18-19.  Wow!  Those verses hit me like a ton of bricks, and as I meditated and pondered on them, they forever changed my life.  I soon had new vision, new encouragement....a renewed hope for our future. God would make a way us...somehow!

I remember thinking then that if I ever had an opportunity to meet Joni, I would tell her what had happened and how a simple newsletter revived my spirit and recharged my faith in a God who truly loves and cares and has a plan in place, even for a severely brain injured little boy and his mom and dad. years later, the Lord gave us that opportunity, when we took Daniel for therapy in California,  and made visiting the JAF International Disability Center a  part of that trip.  Daniel asked Joni many questions during our 2-hour visit, but the one that had the biggest impact on our family was when he asked her why she thought God allowed this to happen to him.

Joni replied that she didn't know why, but maybe if he came to a Family Retreat with her in Georgia that summer, he would get answers to his questions.   I had known about Family Retreats for many years--and had even thought about going-- but I resisted because I was still struggling to find a place and a reason for Daniel's disabilities. I didn't want to be around people who were sad and struggling also.

But at Joni's urgings and promptings, we went....and I'm so glad we did!  It was completely different from what I had expected.  We had a blast!  And everyone was happy!  Daniel was no longer a spectator but a participant, and I was not sad at all On the contrary...  I was elated to see him having so much fun with friends he had just met!  As for me, meeting and talking with moms who live the life we live everyday was a little taste of heaven.   I truly didn't want the week to ever end.  Since then, and for the past nine years, we have attended a different Family Retreat every summer in a different part of the country.  This past summer, because we had just moved to Phoenix, we had the privilege of attending the Arizona  chapter JAF Family Retreat. What a wonderful week!  It seems that each retreat is different, carrying its own personality, and at  each retreat the Lord speaks a different message to me.   This summer was no exception.  What I took away from this past retreat was that it's not important that  people know us or Daniel, but rather that they know our God--Daniel's God...that they see Him displayed in our lives. That's all that really matters. And  I reflect on that message throughout this year,  I look forward to another Family Retreat and am excited to see what the Lord will say to me again next summer.

Well, that's  our story in a nutshell. I have learned, and am still learning, that God is good. He is loving, caring, faithful, and kind...all the matter what the circumstance. And I've learned that peace--true peace-- is not dependent on the events of life....good or bad. God's peace is perfect no matter what.  And HOPE...hope built on Jesus everlasting and true and real.  HOPE...Heavenly Opportunities Presented on Earth..keeps me going and carrying on until He comes again or takes us home!

 Joni quotes a line from a movie when she speaks about hope, and I will leave it with you as I close because I love hearing her say it:

  "Hope is a good thing...maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies."

Thank you so much for listening to me, and thank you very much for coming and supporting the work of Joni and Friends this afternoon.   May God bless you.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

My Turn to Reflect mom posted her thoughts.  Now she tells me I need to do this.  So I will.  Do I really have a choice?  :)

Sixteen years ago, after making a "Select Soccer team" on Saturday morning, I went to my first soccer practice with my new team.  The next morning, on July 10, 1996, I went to the hospital early that morning for surgery.  I was not scared.  I was not nervous.  I remember playing basketball in the waiting room because this was ONLY hernia surgery..."a piece of cake," they said.  After all, I had already had three open heart surgeries.  This WOULD be a piece of cake...  Or so I thought.

As they took me through the double doors into the operating room, I remember turning around, seeing my parents, and saying, "I love you, Mom.  I love you, Dad."  Life was never to be the same after that..

What do I think about now 16 years later?  I think things like this:  Why did God allow this to happen to me?  What would my life have been like had I not been brain injured?  What is God's plan for me now?  How can I impact people for Him?  How can I encourage others who live through difficult circumstances, beyond their control?

I have no idea, really, the answers to these questions.  But who really does?  None of us knows what will happen tomorrow.  None of us has any guarantees that we will even wake up tomorrow.  I never dreamed on July 9, 1996, that I would be so seriously brain injured on July 10.

But God knew.  My injury was no surprise to Him.  He had a plan.  He was working out His plan for my life, as difficult as that is for me to believe sometimes.  But He is, and He is still working out His plan in my life, even though I don't yet know what that plan really is.  Maybe I will never know.  He just tells me to live for Him one day at a time.

Let me tell you this, though.  John 3:16 says, "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him will not perish but will have everlasting life."  And that pretty much says it all.  I may be brain injured, but I still have a hope because I trusted the Lord Jesus as my Savior many years ago.  I know this life is not all there is.  And that is what I am trying to get across to you.  If you would just trust in Jesus Christ who is The Way, The Truth, and The Life, you would have the same hope that I do.  Give Him a try; He will not fail you.  Your life will never be the same.  (And then let me know how it is going with you.)

I said, this life is not all there is.  Why?  Because when I get to heaven, I will have a new body.  I will be perfect and whole, and everything will work as it should.  I will trade in this old, brain injured body for a new one.  And even though you may not be brain injured, you still have a body that "sucks," to be blunt.  If it works well now, it might not tomorrow...or next year...or in ten years.

The bottom line is this:  You never know.  You might be like me--one minute you can do whatever you feel like doing, and the next minute, you could be in a hospital room fighting for your life.  So, if you know the Lord, live like it is your last day because who knows?  It might be!  Make every day count for the Lord!   And...if you don't know Him, what are you waiting for?  Start here:  Get a Bible and start reading in the Book of John, chapter one.   And as you read, remember that it is never too late as long as you still have a breath.  Make the most important decision of your life today.   Put your faith and trust in the Lord Jesus Christ, the One Who will never let you down. The One Who will never leave you nor forsake you.  You will not regret it.  I guarantee it.  And someday I will see you in heaven--with a new body, just like mine!

Monday, July 9, 2012

This is Daniel's blog, of course, but I thought I'd weigh in today since his injury is fresh on my heart and in my mind.  Tomorrow will be 16 years!  Sixteen years!  I can't believe it!  It is interesting, that as I journal my way through the Psalms, two of my favorite Psalms "came up" yesterday and today...Psalm 40 and 41.  I love those Psalms as they have such rich meaning, memories, treasures for many many heart-wrenching many painful yet beautiful memories.

Sixteen years ago tomorrow, early in the morning, we took our precious, intelligent, athletic, strong-willed yet gentle son to the hospital for what was to be "routine" hernia surgery.  Hours later, we were given back a terribly brain-injured little boy who was left fighting for his life--complete with tubes, wires, IV's, and ventilator.  How our lives were turned upside down...our precious son's life never to be the same again.

AND YET...God in His mercy--as He always does--reached down and touched us.  Loved us.  Held us.  Carried ways we could have never dreamed or imagined (Ephesians 3:20).  He has lifted us out of the miry clay, given us a firm place to stand...and put a new song in our mouths--Praises to our loving, all-merciful God.  Many have seen and feared and trusted in the Lord because of His marvelous works!  (Psalm 40:1-3)

AND NOW...We praise the Lord.  We praise Him for His marvelous works of love, mercy, and kindness.  We praise Him for the new life He has given us. We praise Him for Daniel's love for life, for Daniel's humor, for Daniel's "Barnabas-like personality."  For Daniel's Smile.  (Oh, how I love that smile!)  We praise Him for sparrows.  We praise Him for blessings beyond measure.  Who could have known, 16 years ago, that life could be so sweet, so treasured, so beautiful.  Only God.  God knew then...and all He asked us to do was to trust Him.

  As difficult as that was then, I'm so thankful we did. I'm so thankful He lovingly loved me when I was so angry with Him.  I'm so thankful for the dead sparrow in my path...a constant picture to me of God's loving--oh, so loving--care.  I'm so thankful that He didn't give up on me.  What a faithful, compassionate, tender Heavenly Father!

I leave you with passages from one of my favorite Psalms...

"I waited patiently for the LORD; and He inclined to me and heard my cry.
He also brought me up out of a horrible pit; out of the miry clay.
He set my feet upon a rock, and established my steps.
He has put a new song in my mouth--Praises to our God.
Many will see it and fear and will trust in the LORD."  (Ps. 40:1-3)

God is good--ALL THE TIME.

Friday, February 10, 2012


John is one of my favorite books in the Bible because I think John is so practical.  This morning we read John 9 which you probably know... is about that blind guy who receives his sight after meeting with Jesus and washing in the pool of Siloam.   Jesus said to him, "Go wash..."  And he obeyed and yes, he received his sight. That pool may have been really small--at least that is what I imagine and you can see by the picture that my sister Joy took when she was in Israel last summer.  But anyway, he did it, regardless of what the pool may have looked like, and he was healed.  Let me just say, he wasn't healed because of any properties that were in that pool.  He was healed because of Jesus!  When Jesus healed him, he was a new man.  He was completely restored.   No longer did he have to sit outside the city gates and beg like most blind beggars had to do in the Bible.  It is interesting to me, however, that in this passage the Pharisees were so worried about what Moses said that they missed who Jesus was or what He did by the power of His Heavenly Father.  When they saw the now-seeing blind man out there, they didn't want to rejoice with the blind guy.  They only wanted to incriminate Jesus for healing on the Sabbath.  Oh how we get caught up in religious tradition, in petty squabbles, in sweating the small stuff!  I'm sure deep down they knew Who did this--and that He was for real.  They just were so blinded themselves that they couldn't see the Truth (in the form of a healed man) standing right in front of their seeing eyes!  Now let's go back to the blind man and why Jesus healed him in the first place.  (This passage has so many applications, but I don't have time to talk about them all here.  My mind is rambling!)  Jesus was put on this planet for 30 plus years to do His Father's will--to glorify His Father.  And that is exactly what He did.  The blind man, however, though born a sinner, was healed by Jesus for the glory of God.  It wasn't because of something he did or didn't do to deserve his handicap.  According to John 9, it was "that the works of God should be revealed in him."  This is my favorite part.  I believe the Lord allowed my brain injury so that His perfect will could be shone in my life, and His glory would be revealed in my weakness.  I believe Joni Eareckson-Tada was injured for the same show God's glory and strength in weakness.  Handicapped people, including the blind man, do that!  They reveal God's glory in their weaknesses, and that's what I want to leave you with today.  You may not be physically handicapped, but maybe you have other "issues."  Just know that God can use you for His reveal Himself in your weakness too, whatever that weakness may be.

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Reflections on Christmas...a little late! (Started before Christmas...)

The Christmas season is supposed to be all about Jesus, but we all know it is far from that.  To the world, it is all about Santa and the presents.  I don't know if Michael Buble knows the Baby in the manger, but he at least sang what Christmas is about as I sit here listening to his Christmas CD.  He is singing "Silent Night" right now which takes me back to the real meaning of Christmas.  It is so disappointing to me--how the world views Christmas.  And, to a Christian, it's not just about the baby in the manger--it's about what the Romans and the Jews did to Jesus--why He came to earth in the first place...TO DIE--for you and for me...for our sins!  Jesus only spoke the truth because He IS THE TRUTH!  I guess people just did not want to hear it because you know how some times the truth really hurts?  Well, He must have hurt and pricked their evil consciences.  I think that is probably why the world rejects Him so much...because the truth hurts, and no one in this life wants to feel pain.  But Jesus came to give us life...not just on this earth but in the life to come.  Do you know Him personally?  Is He your Lord and Savior?  Have you trusted Him as your ONLY way to get to heaven...because, after all, that's why He came in the first place--as that Baby in that manger--to give you Eternal Life.  If you want to know more about this, then you can get on,  get into a Bible study,  and they will show you how to get "the rest of the story."

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

What I've been up to for the last two months...

                                                       Celebrated Grandma's 90th birthday

                                                             Cambria reading to me

                                                    Christmas morning with my best friend

                                                                Hot Air Balloon Ride

                                                                  Up, Up, and Away

Insight Bowl

                                                                      Playing Princess

I'm working on a post, will post it soon. 

Monday, October 17, 2011

Birthdays Can Be Fun!

My mom and I have been reflecting on birthdays...they really can be fun if you are with the right people!  And I was last night--with my family (minus JoyAnn) and friends.  And, of course, birthdays are great when your team gets a chance to go to the World Series.  Go Cardinals!  Baseball is a really nice diversion from the issues of life.  If you've never tried it, I suggest you do.  There's something peaceful about sitting in front of a TV, watching your favorite team beat the other guys.  Somehow it makes you forget there is a world out there!  I like that feeling...sometimes.  But of course, we all have to go back to the real world...eventually.  It is nice to escape for a few hours, however--to follow a little ball around a baseball diamond!  On to serious matters, though...  I don't know what will happen in the next chapter of my life, and if I'm really honest with you, I  hope it does not cost me any more pain.  But...let me end on this note.  As Corrie ten Boom once said, "You can trust your unknown future to an all-knowing God."  That's what I want to leave you with...He is in control.  No matter what happens in your little world...this week, this month, or this year...He IS in control.  And that's my birthday greeting for you today.