Sunday, February 28, 2010

Update 2/28/10 15 weeks since crash

Dear friends,

Fifteen weeks ago, Hannah was intubated and unconscious. Tonite she's working on a big report for AP Global, and eating a bowl of Cocoa Puffs (we're all about nutrition around here...). Despite the fact that there are hurdles yet to overcome for this amazing young woman, she has come miles from that terrible night. The Great One has done great things for us, and for this our hearts are filled with joy. He stands alone.

Stephen also is living proof that when the Great One acts, all we can do is stand in awe. His doctors have all expressed their delight at the speed of his progress. And despite the fact that he has some permanent injuries, he too is light years from those fateful words "we're not sure if he'll make it through the night". My gratitude to the One and Only is really only fully known by Him.

I must thank Lovely Lucy, Fab Phyllis, Marvelous MaryAnn, Magnificent MaryBeth and Judy the Good for their encouragement today. I had my own hurdle to jump, and I had no psychological strength to make it over. But all of these wonderful ladies, along with Sweet Sue (who whisked me off to Vanilla Latte Land yesterday), were my coaches and cheerleaders as they have been all along this road. I only hope I can be the kind of friend they have been to me. I continue to be amazed at the way the Great One gives me so much more than I deserve, and puts the finest of folks all around me. But that's the nature of God. He is always loving us in that "no matter what" kind of way. "Amazing grace, how sweet the sound, that saved a wretch like me..."

Well friends, today is the LAST DAY OF FEBRUARY! Is it not the longest month of the year? Is it not a soggy, gray month? I really did try to see the good in February, and there were indeed moments. And certainly February tests our metal, and makes us stronger. But I've never been so happy to turn the page of a calendar. I'm still thinking of Coast Guard Beach, and corn on the cob and washing the car on the driveway. The PT warned us that long walks on the beach might not be in the offing this year, but I'm not losing sleep over it. There have been too many "not going to's" that have been forecast, and have not materialized. Like the rest of it, we'll take it as it comes.

It's the closing night of the Olympics, and I feel kind of sad to see them go. What is it about watching people striving, pushing, enduring and reaching that so fills our hearts with optimism? Even when they lose, we are inspired. I've grown comfortable these past few weeks with these amazing athletes in my living room. They reached the top of their mountains. You can't help but feel proud of them.

Tomorrow is picture day at Our Savior's Lutheran School. David took a shower tonite, and hopefully his hair won't be too crazy tomorrow. But that's asking alot for the Smith kids, where crazy hair is in the DNA. I will miss being there. As many of you know, I had to leave my job as a part time aide in first grade after the accident occurred. I'll miss combing the little ones hair, and tying the bows on their dresses. I'll miss reading to them while they wait their turn, and chatting with my dear Mrs. Barnes while we get them ready. What a blessed woman I am to have had the experience of working with these precious little ones! I'm thankful for the time we had. Right now I'm doing the work the Great One has for me to do. And with that I am also content.

Happy March, my friends. Even the name, March, carries with it a sense of expectant forward motion: "March on my soul, be strong". Fifteen weeks ago it was November. And you were with me. Here we are in March, and still you remain. You are the definition of faithful. One day we'll have a big party and you'll get the cake. For now I can only continue to say, wow. And thank you.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Saturday, February 27, 2010

Update 2/27/10 Day 111

Dear friends,

Stephen's brother John came to visit today, the world's best twin brother bringing with him the world's best ice cream (from his shop, Bruster's, in New Milford, CT.). John and Stephen are absolutely best friends. I love seeing them together, enjoying one another's jokes and simply being together happily. I praise the Great One for the incredible love He has shown to us through family and friends. John, Bettianne, Tom, Sandy, David, Laura Jeanne, Melissa, Richard, Debbie, Donnie, Danny, Kathy, Lori- these are the sibs and their significant others. There are so many more to mention, but I want you guys to know how much we love you! It's completely humbling. I can only rejoice and be grateful.

Once again the news was wrenching today. Chile needs our prayers, friends. Another terrible earthquake with all the heartache that goes with it. I pray the Comforter will be with the people of Chile, and that He'll show us once again our part in helping these folks so many miles from our homes. The troubles of this world so outweigh our own small problems. This quote by King George VI of England, given on Christmas day in 1939, gives hope to all who travel through difficult times:

"I said to the man who stood at the Gate of the Year, 'Give me a light, that I may tread safely into the unknown'. And he replied 'Go out into the darkness, and put your hand into the hand of God. That shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way'."

To you my dear friends, in your troubles, God shall be to you better than light, and safer than a known way!

Smitty got a big smile on his face the other day. These simple words do the trick: "pitchers and catchers report..." Tomorrow is the last day of February. Soon the "boys of summer" will be on the radio. Soon a whole host of Steve's friends, Mets fans and Yankee fans alike, will begin the banter that gives them such a load of fun. The serious business of life - following the Great One, doing what is right, looking to the needs of others- these are the meat and potatoes of our days on earth. But isn't it fantastic that simple pleasures, like baseball, are thrown into the mix by our creator to be enjoyed in their right place? They're never supposed to be the main course of life, but the delightful snacks along the way. How great is our God, who knows the need for frivolity along the way.

I know I've said it a hundred times on this blog, but thank you for everything. Our family owes you all a debt of gratitude. We can't pay it back, but as you've heard me say time and again, we will do all we can to pay it forward. The Great One has made you all the vehicles of that "better than light, and safer than a known way." Despite my missing the mark in many ways, you have shown me grace. And He has shown me amazing, astonishing, undeserved Grace! What a Father!

Please pray for the dear people of Chile. And please pray for Oscar Lewis, to whom my heart extends and who is loved greatly by God.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Update 2/26/10 Day 110

Dear friends,

Very short post tonite. It's really late.

Seems the path gets rugged in ways you don't expect. Pray for our family relationships. We love one another, but troubles bring strain. I know you all understand that. You have troubles of your own. I hold on to this:

"Neither death, nor life, nor angels nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come, nor height nor depth nor anything else in all creation shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord..."

We have had a strange week. Lots of ups and downs. Crazy weather to boot. And somehow it's still February. I dig my heels in and refuse to succumb to the wet blanket of self pity that threatens me. I am praying for all of you to stand firm in your trust that the Great One will make all the wrongs right, all the crooked places straight, and all the rough places plain. I look to Him to bring complete restoration to my family. There is no stopping. There is no despair, even when I mess the whole thing up. There is only looking to the Hope of all the ages, and to remembering why we're here in the first place. Somehow God will make a castle out of the cottage of our souls. But it takes some tearing down and reconstructing. The trials of life make up the materials of this purposeful rebuilding. As for me, in my flesh I want the easy life. But in my spirit I say to the Great One "have at it". Make something good out of this frail frame. Even if it takes a lifetime.

You'll never know how glad I am to know you're out there, fighting the good fight. Keep it up.

You know I will ever be...

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Thursday, February 25, 2010

Update 2/25/10 Day 109

Dear friends,

Today was a day of sober emotions and thoughtful consideration. A day of relief and sadness all balled up together. Today was a day of rough justice, the only kind possible on planet earth. Today Oscar Lewis pleaded guilty to aggravated vehicular assault and DWI in a Rensselaer County courtroom for the crash and subsequent serious injuries that brought this blog in to existence. There is no joy in any of this. But there is a sense of moving on. There is much to tell regarding our feelings in this process, and as time goes on you will hear more. We are still sorting it all out. In eight weeks, the sentencing will take place in the same building, and Stephen and I will give our victim impact statements. All of you will know the date and time about a week or so before so you can attend if you would like. You have supported us right along, and you certainly deserve to hear our take on the impact of all of this (not that you don't know it already-you've been such a part of it).

From the very beginning, the scripture was blazing in my heart: "Vengeance is mine, I will repay says the Lord..." From the minute I got the awful news that my precious baby girl and dear husband were catastrophically injured I received a divine grace to forgive Oscar Lewis. I don't hold any hatred or vengeance in my heart toward him. That's the truth. I pray God will get a hold of him in prison, and he will find the mercy of the Great One and turn his life around. My true hope for him is that he will be set free from the prison of guilt and shame. Only the Great One can do that for a man.

Vengeance is dark. Vengeance kills with unforgiveness. But justice is another matter. Justice is a lovely and righteous virtue. Justice calls sin by its right name and seeks the good and safety of the innocent. Justice must be done so no other 14 year old girls are unjustly afflicted with brain bleeds. Justice must prevail so no other fathers of three fight for their lives and then struggle and experience suffering every day. It is only right and fair that this man serve the time the human system of justice says he must. No amount of time in prison can rewire Hannah's brain. No time can make Stephen's leg grow back to its right length or give him full use of his right arm. Only the Great One can do those miraculous things. But to find some kind of justice is what keeps our country from becoming like many third world states, corrupt and evil. Justice may be the very thing to save this man's life. So I can honestly say that I hold nothing ill in my heart toward Oscar Lewis. And I see no contradiction in also adamantly supporting his sentence. I hope you understand where I'm coming from. No matter what, my conscience is clear before "the One to whom I must give account."

Once my family is back in one piece, I look forward to helping folks like my friend Bill Dikant, whose wife, son and daughter were killed by a drunk driver. I will do all I can to help sweet Ms. Lockwood at Columbia High get the word out to kids that drunk driving kills and maims. And I will do my best to lock arms with hard working advocates to stiffen the penalties for DWI, which is what leads to disasters like the one we experienced. Ultimately, human intervention can only go so far. So we pray to the Mighty One to make effective the work of our hands. In the meantime, I'm so glad I can simply share with all of you my sorrow over the whole thing. You are the supreme team! I hope you know how much I love and appreciate all of you.

There are still hurdles to overcome. And this part won't really be in the rear view mirror until after the sentencing. You know we'll need your prayers for that day. But this day was simply another step up the mountain, another piece of up and over on day 109. I can't really express all the emotions tucked inside, but I've tried to give you some of it. I promised long ago to be honest in this "public diary", or else why write it? Someday my grandchildren will read these words, and I want them to see the struggle, to see the good, the bad and the ugly so they can know for sure that the Great One is always strong. Then when they have a supreme climb, hopefully they'll hold on tight to the God who never, ever fails. May He be forever praised!

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


PS: Thank you to the East Greenbush police, who have been there for me all along. Four of them were in court today. These are the cream of the crop, friends. The absolute top of the heap. God Bless them!

Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Update 2/24/10 Day 108

Dear Friends,

This is my crab apple tree. The picture doesn't really do justice to its beauty, but I wanted to share it with you anyway. This little tree is the source of all kinds of delight here on Meadow Lane. In every season it makes us smile. Our winged friends use its branches as a hang out in between stops at the bird feeder. Children have spent many a happy hour perched in the triangles you see there. It is dwarfed by the gigantic tulip tree (barely showing in the picture on the left), but where it lacks the majesty of that massive flora, it makes up for it in perfect form and function. Both trees are fantastic. As with people, I say "vive la difference"! The Great One absolutely revels in variety. I continue to be astonished by His wonders. Especially the way he designs people. Agents of free will with the divine signature on each one. It's a big Wow! And it keeps life interesting. Very interesting...

My boys hoisted the shovels today, and I used the snow blower. It was killing Smitty to watch us all work, but I reminded him that canes, shovels and snow blowers don't mix. He did help me get the darn thing started, and once I got the hang of it it was actually kind of fun. I didn't have any interest in shoveling that heavy snow, so the strapping boys did that part. We had it all done in about 45 minutes. Since November 8th I've learned to do a few things I don't normally do. But next winter Steve can have at it. He may limp a bit, but he'll have the strength to snow blow. At any rate, as Mark Twain said "If you don't like the weather in the northeast, wait a minute..."

Steve and I have a rather big day on tap for tomorrow. I'll give you the update on tomorrow's blog, but send up some extra prayers for grace as we go about some stressful business.

Hannah Rejoice told me today she wants to, (gulp), color her hair. At first I started to panic inside, until she said she just wants to do one strand in red. Or she wants to do all of it in dark brown. But she only wants to use wash out color (phew!), so my anxiety level dropped quickly. Really, hair color is a small thing. And if it helps her express herself when doing that seems so very hard for her right now, then so what? Besides, since her mother is best friends with Miss Clairol, I am in the position of possibly appearing a bit hypocritical... But I digress. Yes, as shocking as it is to all of you, I digress...

We have a saying around here. As the day gets older, Smitty gets older. His poor feet and ankles look like mine did when I was pregnant for Joseph in June. Except his calves look just as puffy! He walks hunched over and each step is difficult. Getting his legs up, and using the wheelchair for a while does help some. It makes me really feel for those dear folks who have arthritis or other painful joint conditions. It's ironic to watch my sweet husband hobble along, and to see the star athletes at the Olympics do their feats of daring do like they are super human. What a wonder man is! What a greater wonder is the One who made him.

Well friends, it's time to get my young cub started with flossing, brushing etc... If I start him up now, maybe he'll be done in an hour. Anybody else have a doddler? Mine is the Olympic champ in procrastination. But I couldn't love him more.

Like my little crab apple tree, you my friends are a delight to my heart. Thanks for your abiding kindness and care.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Update 2/23/10 Day 107

Dear Friends,

Well, it turns out we were a bit premature with the whole Stephen driving thing. Dr. Somaio kind of looked at us funny when we told him today that Smitty had driven a couple of times (but only with me in the car). He immediately wrote a prescription for a driving evaluation, and until that happens the man is grounded. I'm sure there won't be any problem, but since he did experience a concussion it must be done. Really it's more to protect us in case there was ever a collision. Without a formal driving eval, a lawyer could have a field day with us if Smitty were to get into an accident. So, it's good to have Sunnyview "sign off" on Steve and put him in the clear. In the meantime we continue the hunt for the next Herculesmobile.

Looks like I'll get a chance to go cross country skiing after all this winter. I love being out in the woods, talking to the Great One and shooping along pretending to be Franz Klammer. (You have to go back quite a few Olympics to remember him!) Unfortunately my main squeeze will have to sit it out this year. Too bad, he enjoys it too. Last year we went skiing upstate near Friends Lake, on a day where the temperature was about 50 degrees. We had such a great time! How I wish we could do that again this year. It's one of those things, a small one I know, that we just have to let go. It's ok. Maybe next year...

God has held Steve and I together through the many changes and pressures of the past 14 weeks. I have heard that many marriages suffer through trauma or disruption of an extreme nature. I'm not saying we haven't experienced any fallout from this trial, but we have been preserved. "He will not allow your foot to be moved..." The unacceptable thing would be to make it through the worst of all of this, and then to take a hit in our relationship. So we trust the One and Only, who saw the whole thing coming, and as with the rest of this, He'll bring a mighty big good out of trouble. It always comes back to bringing everything to Him. Believe me, I'm more than willing given the track record of my own foibles...

So winter hangs on, and why not just appreciate it? Why not find the beauty and charm in it? My crab apple tree in the front yard looks like it's draped in the finest lace, and my tulip tree looks like some kind of snow cathedral. Everything outside is quiet and lovely. The red cardinal at the bird feeder would take your breath away. And as I have to compare everything (I think you've noticed this, my darling blog friends!) isn't it like everyday life? Maybe we were hoping the winter was over, maybe we had our sights set on tulips and daffodils. Maybe the way we thought life was going, well, it didn't go that way. So the options are to find the good in the way things are, or to fuss about the disappointment of a deferred desire. Spring will surely come, but if we get too stuck on that we'll miss the absolutely stunning beauty of winter. I'm talking to myself, friends. I want everyone in my house to feel better, to be able to do all they did, to move on. But we're not there yet. It's incremental. Sometimes it's one step forward, two steps back. I know the Great One will get us there. He wants us to look out the window and enjoy life as it is NOW. I get it. I just need His help to live it.

The Nordic Olympians are my heroes, by the way. It's all about endurance. They don't get the big splash of some of the other flashier athletes. But I love people who persevere. Like you have with me. I give you all the gold. Thank you.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Monday, February 22, 2010

Update 2/22/10 Day 106

Dear friends,

Rumor has it it's going to snow. Living in upstate NY, that's not a surprise. What is startling is that we haven't had a significant snow all winter. My dear relatives in Virginia got whacked this year, but not here. Now it may seem odd to you, but I really believe all this lack of snow was a benefit right from the Great One to me. I love a nor'easter! But with wheelchairs and walkers, I petitioned the most high for a light winter. I'm certainly not the center of the universe, but I am a recipient of incredible mercy and grace. And this was just a bit of it. Now that Stephen is a little stronger, we can manage the snow a little better. I still hope it's not too much tundra. But whatever comes, I'm grateful for 3 months of clear roads and walks.

Hannah Rejoice saw Dr. Samaio at Sunnyview today. It was another follow up visit to track her progress with the brain injury. The good doctor said he thinks she may be able to go back to regular gym class in late April. At that point we'll be 6 months out from the accident, and he thinks she'll be ok to take a little more risk. She'll see him again then. It's tough on my daughter to go to Sunnyview. She would rather not think about any of this - the accident, the injury, the hospital stays. It's a reality I believe she will cope with better given time and healing. Remember, she's 14. There's a lot here for a young teenage girl to wrap her head around. But God will never let her go. He'll be her shepherd until she arrives in her green pasture.

Has anyone else noticed the prevalence of robins around this winter? Good gravy, I have seen flocks of them on my lawn more than once. Even in January! I look at this oddity with joy, like a little (or a lot) of spring in the midst of winter. That is what the love of so many was like for me during the long, dark winter this year. You were robins on the lawn in the midst of my winter! The Great One has kept me sheltered in the storm of my life. It's hard to describe, kind of like a dream. When I look back at the acute phase of it all, everything seems surreal. At the same time when I look back, I see a thousand faces of kindness. In all of that turmoil there was a gift I will cherish in my heart forever. It warms me to remember.

So, we continue over that mountain. Remember when Sister Laurie said "If this mountain won't be moved, we're going over it..." And we continue to do so. I knew from the start it wouldn't be quick and easy. But what we have gained along the way has been, dare I say it, worth the pain. And we will continue, all of us, to claim the spoils of love and peace and the glory of God until we've conquered the mountain altogether. Light will swallow up every particle of darkness. Hallelujah!

Tonite specifically I'm praying for some spring in your personal winter. Some robin on the lawn of your life. Hang in there my friends, no season lasts forever. They all give way to something new...

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Sunday, February 21, 2010

Update 2/21/10 14 weeks since crash

Dear friends,

Today felt the closest to "normal" of any day since November 8. It wasn't a weekday, so Stephen being home wasn't strange. We all went to church in the van, and Smitty drove. We stopped at Freihofer's Thrift Store for bread and a yummy cake after church which we often do on Sundays. I had a pita bread with hummus for lunch while we watched a half hour political show on PBS called "The McLaughlin Group". Hannah worked on her report using her beautiful yellow laptop (thank you again, you wonderful anonymous donor), and Joe played guitar while David cut out some cardboard thingamajig. For a minute, maybe the first minute since the crash, I forgot about the last 14 weeks. I was simply home with my family on a Sunday afternoon. Wow.

We're still looking for a second car to replace the squished one, and frankly the whole car shopping thing is a mystery to me. Neither Stephen nor I really know much about cars, or how to negotiate for them, or what's a good deal. We are praying the Great One will help us through the process as we learn and grow and find the right car. Safety, of course, is a great concern. It amazes me how expensive cars are, even ones with pretty high mileage! Our van has been wonderful, and we'll keep running it til' it's no longer sensible. It's like a comfortable shoe that you understand. We've test driven a 2000 Saturn and a 2000 Buick so far. So send up your prayers for the right car. We know there's one out there for us!

The kids go back to school tomorrow, and we return to the old routine. It was so much fun going skating with David this week, and being home with my children in general. Joseph got a few driving lessons, and Miss Rejoice had 3 sleepovers. When I think what could have been for her, I am filled with a profound gratitude. Despite the challenges still ahead for Hannah, she can experience life. The devastation of brain injury is very real to us. But our hearts are filled with hope and joy at the recovery our dear daughter is making. We trust His Majesty to restore to her ALL from her losses, indeed to give her even more than she lost. In the meantime, she is a delight to our soul just where she is in the process. So are my boys, who make me smile inside and out.

Stephen is doing very well working at home. His new employers are absolutely top drawer, allowing him to work part time from here until he's ready to go back to an office. They have provided him with a laptop to access important things for his work, none of which I understand. I know they are just one more piece of the puzzle of God's gracious provision in all of this, and I am praying the Lord will bless the company greatly for their kind understanding. Steve continues to study for an exam that will give him another license of value in his type of work. It's so healthy for him to be working, even though he really can't do it for a whole day yet. He gets very tired and sore in the afternoon. Sometimes it's easy to forget (because he's doing well) that he's still in the midst of major healing of his bones, lymph system, vascular system and even his brain from concussion. Fourteen weeks is a short time in the wake of the types of injuries Stephen sustained. He stretches himself, but I see the fatigue and the pain he experiences everyday. I love that Hercules! We've got to keep walking the road steadily, but slowly, to allow for the amazing healing power God placed within this miraculous frame to do its job.

Steve's brother Tom gave him a set of the old Batman TV shows, so I'm signing off to watch the Boy Wonder say one of his cheesy lines, and to cheer on the dynamic duo as they put the bad guys in their place. I might have a piece of Friehofer's cake too. My own dynamic duo, Steve and Hannah, are watching the show together right now. And they have been a picture of God putting the ultimate bad guy right in his place. There is no darkness that our Jesus can't put his foot on and crush. POW! BAM! ZAP! God wins every time, no matter what!

I better get in there, sounds like Mr. Freeze is doing something diabolical!

Wish I could share my cake with all of you. You deserve extra frosting.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Update 2/20/10 Day 104

Dear friends,

Helping David with his homework today, we took a good look at Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 from the Book of Life:

"Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him-for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart."

I absolutely love these verses. They were written by the most materially blessed man in the world at his time, King Solomon, and the whole book of Ecclesiastes documents his wrestling with the meaning of life, and the wild unpredictability of it all. This is an honest book, written by a man of great wealth and power, who frankly exposes his feeling of "I don't get it". But in the end, he sort of does. When I read the verse above, I make it really practical for my life. The best days I've had through all of this messy business have been the ones I've accepted and determined to enjoy. The worst have been when I've stomped my inner foot and balked about my lot, and complained that it's not the life I wanted. But that was true before November 8 too.
When I recognize the Great One beside me, and attend to the service He ordained for me that day, it is all sweetness and light. Even when the thing is difficult and mundane. God himself is the joy of the day, and all his gifts are the icing on the cake. This theme of "satisfaction with God" seems to be repeating itself with me. I'm terribly thick at times, but like Solomon, over time, I "sort of get it". Thanks to the grace of the Great One.

So part of the work of my day today was to shop for smaller clothes for Hercules. He can wear jeans some of the time now, but the trouble is he has lost 30 pounds. Everything is huge on him. Well, I got some great sale pants for him at Boscov's. Trouble is everything I bought is a bit too snug. Believe it or not, even getting the bottom of the pants over his lower legs is difficult because of the swelling. I think we just need a different brand. But I couldn't resist those door buster's at $9.99. We gave them a try. Back to the drawing board. I think back to when Stephen first came home from Sunnyview and dressing was such a burden. Now the main problem is bending that right knee. We've come a long way. A very long way.

Whenever I hear about a tragedy these days I feel the pain much more acutely. A 21 year old relative of some dear families who have helped us so much was struck by a hit-and-run driver yesterday and killed. Please send many prayers for the Comforter to be very near to all of those affected by this terrible thing. Once again we are reminded of Solomon's words "the few days of life God has given him..." I am so sensitive to this brevity of life thing. That's why I long to make mine count. And not in some phony way that impresses others, but in the unseen things like the way I treat my family and the secret works of love and kindness. This is where the real walk of faith abides. I can't walk it out without the strength the Holy One provides. And for all my stumbling, it's still my heartfelt desire. From the way you have all walked with us, I know it's yours too. Outstanding.

To lighten up the evening, we're watching "Keeping Up Appearances" tonite on PBS. Hyacinth Bucket (pronounced "Bouquet" by her) is hilarious in her efforts to be something she's not (and to drag her poor husband with her)! This is perfect stuff for Saturday nite entertainment, but not real life. Accepting who we are, being satisfied with our life (while striving for all God wants for us!), these are the building blocks of peace. They sit on top of the foundation of the redemption and forgiveness provided by Jesus in the hothouse of everyday living. But it's loads of fun in fantasy land to watch Hyacinth work out her next harebrained scheme. (I wonder if God laughs when He sees some of mine!)

I know some of you have questions about the criminal aspect of all of this. Answers are coming, and as it is appropriate we will let all you dear people know the next step. For now we are all sad about this part of it, and look for a just and peaceable resolution to it all. Sometimes we have to look in the rear view mirror even when we are keeping our eyes on the road ahead.

Tomorrow is Sunday, such a happy day of the week. I was supposed to start back at AMC tomorrow, but for reasons far to dull too bore you with, I won't be going back until March 28. At that point I'll return to my old schedule all at once. I so appreciate the folks at Albany Med who have really gone the extra mile to help us through all of this in so many ways!

I love walking the pilgrim road with you, you know that. I pray you will find great satisfaction in whatever the Great One has for you to do today. Whether it's emptying the trash or building a tower. "To accept your lot and be happy in your work, this is a gift of God..."

Your satisfied (today!) friend on the pilgrim road,


Friday, February 19, 2010

Update 2/19/10 Day 103

Dear friends,

Just back from a few hours with some girlfriends, good food and a game of Taboo. A little recreation is so good for the soul. "He blesses us richly with all things to enjoy..." Of all the things the Great One gives us to enjoy, people top the list. It always comes back to the relationship thing. God loves it with us and for us. No earthly gift would have meaning without people to share it.

Hannah is at a Generation Church tonite, at an overnite "Lock In". She and a whole bunch of other teenagers will be rollicking and staying awake til morning. Rock climbing, laser tag, all manner of games, food and music will be on tap, and when Miss Rejoice gets home in the morning she will hopefully sleep right away. When she wakes up, will grumpiness ensue? Let's hope not. By the way, insurance has approved covering laser treatments for Hannah's scarring from the accident. She is particularly concerned about her legs with summer coming up. Please pray for her about this. We are allowing her to make the decision since the initial treatment will cause the scars to be more noticeable. Over time they will fade much more quickly with the lasers, but she is the one who has to choose. It's a difficult position for a 14 year old to be in.

Stephen is making me so proud as he presses for the prize in physical therapy. This is not a fast road, but as I've said before, "progress is victory in increments". He works very hard for every inch of range of motion. His skin graft was bleeding today after he worked on the exercise machines (just a little where the scabs are). His legs are rather swollen this evening, and he is sore, but that's kind of the way it is, especially at night. Feet up on pillows is the prescription for him. We have more pillows in this house than I can keep track of. It's a must, orthopedic wise. (If you've ever seen the Billy Wilder movie "The Apartment", that line will have some meaning to you). He's a strong fellow, my Hercules. One of the scriptures I got hold of in the hospital for him was "They that wait upon the Lord will renew their strength. They will rise up on wings, like an eagle. They will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not grow faint." How about a big YES for that one. Praise the Great One for His mercy. The man can walk. Haltingly, with a limp, and with some gawdawful ugly feet, but walking it is. My gratitude is busting at the seams.

My dear blog friends, don't let the repetition of my thankfulness for you become old hat. Please know I speak it true. It's not routine for me. Walking happens on the outside and the inside. Smitty walks on the outside, and both of us walk on the inside because your love and the love of the Father continues to give us encouragement to put one foot in front of the other. This road is way too long and way too difficult to go it alone. I would have perished a while ago, if not physically, then emotionally. I pray you will see the truth manifested in your lives: "a man reaps what he sows..." You have sown kindness, generosity, understanding and love. The principal is you always reap way more than you sow. May it be that way for all of you.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Thursday, February 18, 2010

Update 2/18/10 Day 102

Dear friends,

Does February ever end? How can such a short month feel so confounded long? It's like being caught in a trap between winter and spring, still much more in winter but longing for that first breath of almost warm air, and the mud on the front lawn, and feeling like you want to wear yellow. The Great One moves everything along as He sees fit. Far be it from me to try running the Universe! I have trouble pulling up the suction cups on the bottom of Stephen's shower bench. February is exactly as long as it's supposed to be. My patience, however, is not.

I had a pretty good cry today. My Joseph got his learner's permit. Now it's not that I'm so sentimental or thinking of him as a beautiful, plump, adorable baby (well, maybe a little), and that the time has rocketed by (it has). In reality, it's the trust factor raising its head again. A little over 3 months ago I almost lost my husband and daughter behind the wheel of a car. So the idea of my firstborn driving is freaking me out a bit. I know he'll get lots of practice between point a and point b, but it's still a major step of faith at this juncture. I have seen the power and mercy of God in ways I never would have if not for this trouble. But there's no escaping the unpredictability of life. I've always known it is there, but it resides in my bones now. I have to let him learn. I wish I could hide him in a total protection suit. I know all you parents know exactly what I'm talking about. I hang on to a scripture God cemented in my heart when I was pregnant for Joe: "I will pour out my spirit on your offspring, my blessing on your descendants..." The Great One is trustworthy, no matter what. It's hard to add that no matter what. But that's where the rubber meets the road. Do I love God only if He plays by my rules (as if He were "tame"). Or do I know that "there's more to this world than meets the eye" as my daughter so eloquently said when she first emerged from unconsciousness 3 months ago. Not only is He the boss, He's the Father. So what He says, goes. But what He loves is us. And that impacts the what He says that goes. "Never will I leave you, never will I forsake you..." That's rock solid. That we can depend on. So behind the wheel my baby will go.

The movie tonite was too much for my psyche. I left the room to write while Steve and Hannah are watching The Bridge on the River Kwai. I just couldn't do the war movie thing. I mostly want comedies these days as you know. This Sunday, I will start back to work at Albany Med. I'll ease back in with just one evening a week and eventually I'll return to all 3 evenings. It's a bit scary going back. On the homefront, I want to make sure my family is ok. At work, I don't even remember my computer sign on. This should be interesting. I'm grateful for the job, believe me. It pays for my health insurance. Amazing how much that is a month. But if anybody knows how necessary it is, it's us. Even with insurance, something like this packs a financial punch. I again thank you all so much for your generosity, which will help tremendously with the expenses waiting in the pipeline. 15 OT and 15 PT visits just won't cut it for Smitty. That's all insurance covers. So the Advent $ will keep him going. God bless all of you!

Busy therapy day tomorrow, and Miss Rejoice's first guitar lesson in the afternoon. I'm dog tired, and still have that nagging pain on the right side, so I'm off to beddie by. Keep the faith, friends. This little joy ride is short.

You're the tippity top!

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Update 2/17/10 Day 101

Dear friends,

Can you believe it? After schlepping around hothouses of germs, getting little sleep and eating far too many donuts, it took 100 days for me to get sick. God is really good! I'm feeling much better today, but still have a pain on my right side. I happened to have a Dr. appointment today, and she said to keep an eye on that pain, it's right where my gall bladder sits. I certainly can't complain, what with people in my own family and dear friends dealing with far greater pains. I am so grateful for my healthy body and fully functional mind. (My husband may question that second part).

Stephen used a cane today during therapy, and got lots of exercise in the fitness center. He rode the stationary bike, and a kind of sit down elliptical to get a little oxygen flowing through those arteries. While he was working out, I got in a conversation with a sweet young man, a 30 year old quadriplegic, with a better attitude about life than most fully functioning people. He is in college studying human services so he can help folks who have been catastrophically injured like him. It's amazing how much more there is to us than flesh and blood! With no use of his legs, and little of his arms, this young man is all about others. And his gratitude to be alive is striking. Surely the Great One has a great plan for his life! I was honored to share a little bit of it.

Genuine Joanne made us a spaghetti dinner tonite, and stayed with Bob the Earnest to eat with us. We had a beautiful time, and the food was delicious. (Her food always is!) I wish I could make a meal for all the meal makers, but right now I can only just keep up with the permutations of my day. I pray in the midst of it I can give some love and deliver some kindness to the folks in my path. One day I'll be able to be more proactive, but these are the parameters the Great One has placed around me for now. It's all ok. "Patience produces perserverance..."

Today starts the 40 days leading up to Easter. The resurrection. Hallelujah! But before the triumph came the wrestling, and the sorrow, and the cross... Our burdens don't compare to His, but He knows exactly what to allow (by that great mystery of His sovereignty) to bring us closer to Him. Not always comfortable, sometimes downright agonizing, but always for our good, and always with victory in mind. Your struggles and mine can be altered by our perspective. One man's sore toe can cause more fussing and fuming than the plight of the paraplegic, until he sees that man's burden. I'm so far from understanding all of it, but I do see glimpses of pain's power to transform us and the world around us. It's a change of perspective, and it turns the boulders in the way into stepping stones along the road. I hope this makes sense. If not, leave it behind.

I thank you once again for your travailing with me on the pilgrim road. It's made all the difference. I look forward to walking the Lenten road with you for the next 40 days. It's a prime time to tuck in close to the Great One. He's the One with the perfect perspective.

"The Lord bless you and keep you,
The Lord make His face shine upon you,
And give you peace, and give you peace,
And give you peace forever..."

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Update 2/16/10 Day 100

Well, I've got some distressing news for all of you faithful readers out there . . . this is not Loriann writing today's entry - this is Stephen! Since this is Day 100 we thought it would be nice to give Loriann the night off. Well, that and the fact that she's been really, really sick since she woke up in the middle of the night last night. So if you're here just because of her excellent writing you might be disappointed.

Our good friend Paul was over yesterday for the first time in a while (and to my embarrassment I forgot to wish him a happy birthday - the date clean slipped my mind!) and he quipped "Not many people can say that they learned to walk and learned to drive on the same day!" Loriann told you yesterday that I got to drive for the first time since November 8th. Well, earlier in the day I was in the kitchen making pancakes and sausages for the kids (sleep-overs galore this week because the kids are off from school!), and I took a couple of steps without my walker. Now yesterday I had tried that but I was only able to take baby steps (or Frankenstein steps) - today I was actually able to take relatively normal steps, if only three or four of them. It was exciting! I did it a few times during the day, pushing my walker a few feet in front of me and then walking up to get to it. Now, trust me when I tell you that I'm not walking like I used to - it's stiff and hesitant, but still it felt really good.

A funny thing was that when David woke up yesterday morning he told Loriann that he had had a dream that I was walking without my walker. Loriann told him that that was a dream that would come true. I know yesterday's walking wasn't the fulfillment of that dream, but it was a "step" in the right direction. (As my friend Mortimer would say "Wait for applause.")

The driving yesterday wasn't planned either. Loriann was test-driving a car (we're very much in the market for a second car now since my last one got in an accident - perhaps you've heard?) and when she pulled into the Columbia High School parking lot she pulled over and asked me if I wanted to drive it around in there for a bit. I was happy to see that I could get myself in behind the wheel of a normal sized car (not a van) and after driving around for a few minutes I felt pretty good and so I took it out onto the regular streets for about five minutes. Afterwards Loriann told me that I drove very well, which might have been the first time she admitted that about my driving! Walking and driving both - two milestones in one day!

Today was a good day, except for Loriann's being ill all day long. Loriann picked up a cane for me last night at Walmart's, and today I was using it to walk quite a bit around the house. I haven't used it to go upstairs (or downstairs) yet, but I expect that that day will be here soon. I studied for my upcoming exam and got to hang out with my kids some.

Sorry, but I don't have my bride's gift for seamlessly going from writing about the ordinary living of everyday life to writing about God's great love for us and his amazing, intricate plan. I do know that I've seen God's love clearly in the love of our family and our friends, and through the prayers, comments and e-mails of those people and people that we had never known before all of this happened. I can't say it as eloquently as Loriann can, but believe me when I say that I too treasure you all and thank you for sticking with us so faithfully!


P.S. Loriann told you last Thursday that I "walked up a few steps today". Just for the record I actually walked up an entire flight of stairs, then down the flight, then up and down it again. I felt that I needed to set the record straight! : ^ )

Monday, February 15, 2010

Update 2/15/10 Day 99

Dear friends,

The best thing to do when you act like a complete idiot is to admit it. I was driving home from Walmart with Hannah and David in the car. We had to stop because one of those humongous tow truck thingy's was trying to get a car up on its lift. The police had their lights on. On the left side of the road was an establishment, and it looked to me like there was a gravel parking lot in front of it. My kids told me just to turn around and go the long way home, but as I said, this is a story about being an idiot. I did not heed my children's good advise. Instead, I thought I could pull over to the gravel area, go past the whole mess, and continue on my way home. Well, it wasn't gravel, it was grass (hard to see in the dark, but remember, idiot is the operative word). So instead of waiting like the rest of the non-idiot population, I pulled in to the gravel, oops, grass area and was promptly pulled over by East Greenbush's finest. Extremely embarrassing too, since I love the East Greenbush police, and it hurts to have one of them tell you off (even though they're completely right). They had to phone my license in to see if it was legal. I wanted to crawl in a ditch, thinking Officer Ernie or Officer Mike heard that. I even told the policeman (who kind of stuck the knife in when he questioned if I needed corrective lenses), that I would gladly sit and wait till every car moved to do penance for my stupidity. He let me go, and off I went , grateful not to have a ticket but feeling about 2 inches tall. So there you have it. I'm not patient enough to wait like everyone else, I can't tell gravel from grass, and my 12 and 14 year old's are way smarter than I am. You got the whole confession. This is what you're dealing with, my friends. Lest you have me on a pedestal.

An old temptations song was running through my head today, and I believe the Great One was singing it to me:

"There ain't no mountain high enough,
Ain't no valley low enough,
Ain't no river wild enough
To keep me from getting to you..."

That sounds like a song Jesus would sing to us. It wouldn't be just words either, because he sure enough proved it by laying aside the vast, glorious, wild, beautiful heavenly place to land smack dab in a dusty, backwards Palestinian town. He comes to set people free from the law, and the agony of guilt, and the crushing power of death, and He winds up on a devise of torture being mocked and ridiculed. But I know while He experienced all the bitterness of Hell (so we wouldn't have to, by the way), that in His heart he thought..."ain't no mountain high enough, ain't no valley low enough..." When I'm tempted to be completely discouraged by the sorrows of this present darkness, I am surprised by joy when I recall again the relentless love of God. No matter what. No diagnosis, no relationship disaster, no stock market crash, no car crash, no anything can keep Him from getting to you.

Steve drove a car today. No kidding. And here's the irony. We started in the Columbia High parking lot, the spot he was airlifted from on November 8 to get to Albany Med. I didn't realize it at first, but once I did I thought, "now doesn't this just give the enemy of our souls a kick in the butt". He did great, and went out on the main road without a hitch. It was a psychological hump to get over. And over it he went. "Ain't no mountain high enough..."

I did lace up those skates today, and had a beautiful time with my youngest, dodging in and out of "traffic" on the rink at Hudson Valley. David and I both compared skating to flying. We did it, Pastor Gordy! And there's more to come.

I continue to be humbled by the love of the many people who have prayed for us over these 3+ months. Now I ask you to give some of that energy to a dear friend just diagnosed with lung cancer. I keep her name masked for her privacy, but you don't need to know it, do you? You are the kind of folks who knock and God opens the door. I think I know this. Let's pray, with fervor, because in the process we will see the Great One.

"Pray the largest prayers.
You cannot think a prayer so large
that God, in answering it, will not
wish you had made it larger.
Pray not for crutches, but for wings!"
Phillips Brooks

Thank you again for sticking with me even when I'm an idiot. Thanks for your incredible love and effort on this pilgrim highway. We keep climbing. "Ain't no mountain high enough..."

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Update 2/14/10 13 weeks since crash

Dear friends,

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you check out yesterday's post for some photos of some of your blog compatriots. I wish I had a photo of every one of you! That would be some great Valentine card for me.

It's the beginning of a new week, with the kids home from school and a few sleepovers planned for all three here and there. I'm taking the kids skating this week, and I really can't wait to lace up my own skates and glide over the ice. (Speed skating at the Olympics is on TV. I'll be pretending I'm one of them at the rink at Hudson Valley this week, albeit a little slower. OK, a lot slower...) Stephen, of course, will have to miss this particular recreational event. Originally I had big ideas about taking the whole family to NYC to visit the Museum of Natural History, but I realized I was putting the cart before the horse. Too long in the car for stiff legs, lots of walking, need a wheelchair, strength still limited, endurance still limited. The whole thing could be a bit of a disaster. So, we have to wait. What else is new?

Pastor Dave the Humble gave a message this morning that I gripped and got. The theme: Walking in the Holy Spirit. (Galtians 5 is all about this subject). Two points he made will live with me this week. Walking implies:
~ A destination
~ Forward progress

Wow, how everything in the natural world imitates the spiritual world! Art imitates life. Life imitates the True Life. I can tell you this: that without the gracious Spirit of God I have no idea how to do life in general, and especially how to do life with catastrophe. But the beauty of it is this: The Great One gives us strength and power to do this thing. It may sound a little corny, but we are His valentines! He so wants us to walk strong. And he enables us to do it. Even when we feel crummy. Even when the destination is hazy. Even when the forward progress is slow. In Stephen's recovery, I sometimes feel we're moving quickly and sometimes it all seems endless. But we are moving forward. It's like that in our souls too. We're too close to it to see how we're growing. You can't xray someone's inner life. But by faith we can count on gaining ground. Because the Great One loves us, and he's always at work where nobody sees. I believe it. Even if I don't always have the courage to trust Him enough to risk greater faith. But that's my goal. Trusting Him all the way is my destination.

Miss Rejoice is at Walmart with a couple of her girlfriends. They have decided to buy some anti-valentine candy. The girls seem to be unfavorably disposed to this whole hearts and flowers holiday. They're 14. They were muttering about the how they really dislike Valentine's day, and how they refuse to get caught up in the whole thing. With all we are struggling with since the nightmare of November 8, it's such a joy, a present from the Great One, to see Hannah being goofy with her pals. I must be circumspect when it comes to her in order to protect her privacy, but I have no need to hesitate in sharing the everyday glory of the power of friendship. So many of you have prayed for my baby girl, and reached out to her in love. I owe you forever for this. Our children can't possible understand how our hearts are entwined with theirs, can they? By the way, (forgive me if I've already mentioned this), Hannah made the Columbia honor roll for the second quarter, even though she missed almost 2 months of school. God is going to give that child back everything and more. We only need to keep walking, with a destination, moving forward...

I've eaten way, way too much chocolate today. (I know some of you would ask if such a thing is possible). A figure skater on the Olympics just stepped off the ice. Her red skating suit is beautiful, and her red, sparkly lipstick looks so wonderfully shiny. She's all bright and cheery. I wish I was wearing a sparkly red thing, and had on some shiny lipstick. I think it would perk me up. Sigh, I'm wearing a gray fleece and gray sweats with no makeup at all. Oh well, tomorrow is coming. There's lipstick to put on, hills to climb, roads to walk. There's today's chocolate to walk off.

I love walking with you friends. You keep the momentum moving forward. Walk on!

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Saturday, February 13, 2010

Update 2/13/10 Day 97

Dear friends,
Just a short note tonite, but some beautiful pictures of some of the most excellent people on the planet. All are different, all are dear. What a Maker we have! People are the great joy of life, the essence of it all. The Great One made us for relationship - with him and others. How glorious are people! These particular ones are your people too. All are part of our blog community. I love them, and I love you.

Exhibit A: Some wonderful girlfriends who make life grand with pancakes and laughter. Sweet Sue, Fab Phil, Marvelous Mary Ann and Lisa the Brave.

Exhibit B: Smitty with Brooklyn Hugh, who brings light into every room he enters. Thanks for lending him to us for a few hours, Joelle!

Exhibit C: Here he is, the Great Dan Lane with his son Cody and wife Becky. This incredible young man was my army medic angel, and was instrumental in saving Steve and Hannah's lives. He, his little guy and his wife are every bit as dear as they look! God bless them as they move to Indiana for the Army, and from there, only the Great One knows. I'll miss them.

These are some true friends on the pilgrim road. I love all of you to bits! What a blessing to share our lives with all of you, those pictured and those not.
I will always be....
Your friend on the pilgrim road,
Sorry for the short text tonite. It got late.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Update 2/12/10 Day 96

Dear friends,

The great Cosette is stretched out at the end of the bed. She is the picture of relaxation. Not a care in the world. Scratch behind her ears, give her a treat, keep the dish full and she's lovin' life. As they say in the old Disney picture "Everybody wants to be a cat, cuz' a cat's the only cat, who knows where it's at...". We people, however, are not meant to spend our lives in pursuit of pleasure. You sometimes see the shipwrecked folks who went that route, and found out how meaningless it all is. We need a purpose, and thankfully the Great One figured that in to the plan. He summed it up in a "big picture" way when He said "Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and mind and strength. And love your neighbor as yourself." Everyone's way of playing that out will look a little different, but in that paradigm lies the key to meaning and fulfillment. Vacations are an important part of life, but were never meant to be life. One of those sounds really nice right about now...But I digress.

Your love and prayers this week were the critical mass that kept me from going over the cliff. It is some wild thing that my cousins in Massachusetts, and my never-met-her friend Laureen in Jefferson (aka Podunk) NY, and my DFG friends all over the map, and the rest of you amazing blog buddies towed me up the mountain, and we weren't with within 2 feet of each other. Prayer is some kind of powerful, mysterious thing, but also as practical as a big old water bottle on a hot summer day. (Do you think I'm thinking about a warm weather vacation in the recesses of my mind?) Speaking of bloggers, the comments and emails I have received in the last 5 days or so have me completely undone. First of all, I wish I could take all of you home with me and light a fire and drink hot chocolate. I would listen to all your stories, all your hopes and dreams, and all your agonies. The words you have written to me have been medicine for my soul. Kim and Rosebud who commented yesterday, I love you so, but you give me way too much credit. Believe me, I'm not trying to do the false modesty thing. But if you could hang out at my house for a day you would see me tripping up and being downright dopey at times. I am grateful if anyone is helped by my telling the truth, which is that the Great One has my back. He's got yours too.

Tomorrow evening it's pizza with the great Dan Lane and his family. And we are getting an unexpected visit from our dear old friend Brooklyn Hugh while his family skis at Windham. Hugh brings all things merry when he walks in the room. Don't you love folks like that? That's what you are to me, and I mean it. Just knowing you are reading and pulling for us is light in a cave. The Great One has brought so many to our aid it's completely stunning. No trial can match wits with God. He's a master at help along the way while we persevere.

At the Smith cinemaplex tonite we saw a wonderful, inspiring movie - Rudy. Talk about perseverance! I loved 2 quotes from the picture:

"We pray in our time. God answers in his."

"I've learned 2 things: There is a God. And I'm not Him."

I knew these things before our lives were inverted on November 8. But I really know them, to the guts, now. I know this too: that God in His great, wild, ocean deep mercy will allow adversity to do its work so we can get to the purpose thing. He's too good to let us wallow and drown with a life of ease. He's got people for us to love, meaningful work for us to do, and good news for us to deliver. We're not cats, after all. But a few weeks a year...

You are all my Rudy's. (Watch the movie, you'll know what I mean).

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Thursday, February 11, 2010

Update 2/11/10 Day 95

Dear friends,

Thank you for your prayers yesterday. I was hoverboarded over that terrible anguish by your kindness. There are some things one just has to tough out when going up a mountain. But it sure helps when you've got some behind pushing and some ahead pulling. That's the picture in my head. Ropes tied, relentless determination, lots of heave-hoing. I love you for it.

I met a lady in Stewart's today while I was getting coffee. She was trying to find Sunnyview (around the corner). I struck up a conversation with her (I know you're shocked by that), and learned that her son was injured in a snowmobiling accident with a spinal cord injury. I saw that look in her eyes. I know it well. I put my arms around her and told her I was sorry. I also told her how uplifting a place Sunnyview is. Later, we met up at Sunnyview, and she stopped and gave me a hug. She was so relieved there was a place like this. I'm telling you, this is what I live for. A moment to encourage someone suffering. Even a moment is joy. There are people everywhere, every day who are in pain. It doesn't take much to bring a little comfort. But so many days I don't see them. I'm distracted. God help me to see them. "For what does the Lord require of thee? To do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God..." Amen.

Stephen actually walked up a few steps today during physical therapy. Mary gave him a cane, and he did a great job! It also gets his knees bending, an important part of normal walking. Please keep praying about his pain and stiffness. They are all expected with such extensive injuries, but not appreciated. Hercules is working very hard to get back to "normal" (whatever the heck that is).

Thanks to Lovely (inside and out) Michelle S., we found a guitar teacher for Hannah. She will start next Friday and go every other week. She already found chords on the internet and started teaching herself! She got some blister on her thumb from strumming without a pick. Her brother (Joe) nearly hit the roof when he saw it. He informed her he has a hundred picks, and why did she do that to herself. Gotta love the sibling thing. Hannah was given an Ovation guitar by one of her nurses at Sunnyview who moved to Hawaii. Joseph covets that guitar, he pines for that guitar. He already has 3 guitars, so I guess he'll be alright...

I'm going to sign off early tonite. Going to listen to David sing some songs from his school musical (he's been singing day and night), then maybe play 20 questions and finally watch an old Bogart picture. Hoping for a good hair day tomorrow - haven't had one of those in a while. And if I don't get some exercise soon I'm going to scream. I think it will help the stress level too.

Let's all go do justly, and love mercy, and walk humbly with our God. What a calling! What a road!

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Update 2/10/10 Day 94

Dear friends,

I suppose I should have seen it coming. I've been warned by many, and I've seen it before in others. But no matter how much you think you are prepared for a headlong crash into grief, you never really are. It's incredibly difficult to even write these words, given the gratitude I have for all the grace I've been given. Still, I committed to being completely truthful, so here it is. Today was absolutely agonizing. Today I was sad, angry and distraught over the changes in my family's life. I was riddled with guilt about having an older car without all the safety features (even though that was what we could afford). I cried hard about the troubles that are here and now, and wished with a passion that I could change it all. The helplessness is a cascade. And to protect those I love, I can't publicly share some of the source of my sadness. If you want to stop reading now, it's ok. I know this isn't uplifting, but it's what is.

Now the faith I profess is put to the test. Now I find out if all I say is played out in my life. I know loving God does not protect us from pain, even anguish. I know these dark moments on the pilgrim road are temporary. I know I have no guarantees about the future. But I tell you from the depths of my battered soul that I will never turn back. I will follow the One who rescued me from myself, and not because I'm strong, or amazing or especially faithful. But because He is so utterly good and compels me to go on. Ultimately it comes down to this "I will stand, because He is able to make me stand". And it comes down to this "He who began a good work in you will be faithful to complete it." And it comes down to this: "Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death I will fear no evil, for THOU art with me...". Don't get the idea that I'm some strong Christian with great faith. On the contrary. I can only say the Great One said He'd never let me go. I look longingly for the day when all sorrow will cease. Until then, I hope. I'm not strong, but the rope I'm holding onto is very strong indeed.

Pray I'll do what's right always, and that I won't act out of pain or fear. Pray for my boys, who are a joy to my heart. Pray for Stephen, who stands on top of pain every day with a beautiful disposition. And, I can hardly say it, for my girl, on whom the brunt of this thing has landed. Pray for blessings and prosperity of spirit to visit her all the days of her life. I know the Great One must be at work invisibly in her beautiful life. Her music is music to my soul. I would gladly, for any of my children, take on all their troubles. But as you know, it doesn't work that way. Everyone, even these young, innocent creatures have to walk their own sojourner's road. We can only walk close at hand.

Friends, I've never been more relieved that you are out there praying and caring. This thing surprises me so often. You would think that 94 days in is an odd time for a meltdown. But I've known from the beginning this wouldn't be short. If only someone could say "On day such and such, everything will be alright". No one can. I love the line from an old Amy Grant song:

"I've heard it said, when the river's running high
You get to higher ground, or you die.
Well muddy waves of pain washed over me,
and it only made me see, it's gonna be alright..."

I'm not dead, so I guess I'm getting to higher ground. Thanks for going with me to the pit. Thanks for making darn sure I don't live there. You are my shining stars.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Update 2/9/10 Day 93

Dear friends,

We got some of the "crooked" off of Smitty today, when his PT (Mary) put a 5/8 inch lift in his left shoe. If only other things in life could be straightened out so easily! Alas, only the Great One can ultimately make "the crooked straight and the rough places plain..." He's walking to beat the band, but the price has been quite a bit of pain, especially in his right knee. Turns out when the femur was fractured, one of the many broken pieces jutted down right to the top of his knee joint. The injuries were severe, and the scar tissue, along with fluid build up from not being able to move for so long, add up to limited range of motion and... pain. But the man is a trooper, determined to push through and get better. What a miracle too, that he hasn't plunged in to any kind of depression which is very common for trauma patients. His recovery has been without any setbacks so far. The glory goes to the Great and Mighty One, who stands alone. We are ever grateful for His mercy.

Elena the Sprite delivered a meal to us this afternoon. She has been a friend of our family for a long time, our lives wangling together and apart over the years, but always merry when together again. She, along with many others has been a fellow traveller on this highway, and a blog companion, and an encouragement with her emails, and comments and facebook postings. Though I can't respond many times to all your wonderful notes in their various forms, please know how dear they are to me. I cherish every word of hope and care, every kindness, every joke! I hope you know that. Communicating through this challenge has been God's medicine for me. Thank you again for listening. What a fabulous bunch you are!

I'm not sure if I told you this or not, but we bought Steve 2 pair of sneakers the day he got the okay to walk. One pair (for the right foot) is a size 13. The other pair (for the left) is a size 11. His old size was a 10! Dr. B. said it might take 6 months for the right foot (that was the one that was really trashed!) to go back down to size. Both his feet may be permanently a bit larger. The PT told us that New Balance will sell shoes, one of each size, for the price of one pair. Anyone know of another company that does this? Eventually Stephen will have to put dress shoes on again for work, and those can be a bit pricier, especially if you have to buy 2 pair. I told him this morning that his right foot looks like it belongs on Shrek. Nothing like a gentle, encouraging wife! Still, the truth is the truth. Hopefully he won't send small children away screaming on the beach this summer between his Shrek foot and Frankenstein skin graft. If they run away, we'll just have more room around our spot on the sand. Ha!

Hannah has expressed an interest in guitar lessons. She already plays piano, and loves to sing. I wonder if any of you could recommend a teacher for her? Music and writing have always been a key for her in expressing herself. She's so different from me, and I could plumb the depths of Hannah and never get to the deeps of her person. She is a poet and and ponderer. Though she is struggling now, I know the One who loves her will restore all her ways of being. But she never was an extrovert. She tells the world her story through the subtle transmission of music and words. How I love her! We are cut from different cloth, but the same Maker weaved both of us. He loves variety. I do too.

Time to go pick up my teenagers at Generation Church worship practice. I love you all dearly! Thought you might enjoy a photo of Steve washing the dishes. You go ahead and appreciate the picture. I'll continue to relish the reality!
Your friend on the pilgrim road,

Monday, February 8, 2010

Update 2/8/10 3 months since crash

Dear friends,

Disaster struck in the kitchen tonite. Linguine Primavera was on the menu. Butter sizzled. Garlic sizzled in butter. Parmesan cheese was added. Milk was added. And then, it happened. Season with salt. Tip over salt shaker. Watch top fall off of salt shaker and entire contents thereof land in yummy sauce. No longer yummy. Start over. Blast. My distracted mind got me into this mess. I had just finished adding salt to the shaker. I must have started doing something else and forgotten to actually screw the top on. No wonder my daughter asks if perhaps I'm not the brain injured one. I've asked myself the same question!

Stephen and I took a walk to the end of the block today, just for the heck of it. He's eager to get those legs strong, but I'm thinking we might have to ease up a bit. He's been sore to the point of pain today, and the stiffness of his right knee is profound. Tomorrow we'll talk to the PT about it, and see what we can do. Unfortunately he can't take a hot bath (first of all, getting down in the tub at this point would be impossible), because Dr. B. doesn't want him soaking that skin graft. I think it still gives our dear Bob the Builder pause. He says he continues to watch for infection because of the seriousness of the injuries. As you know, Smitty is adverse to taking pain meds. Hopefully as his muscles strengthen and the fluid in his legs begins to drain naturally he'll be more comfortable. This is part of the whole deal. He doesn't complain, but I can see the ouch on his face. These are the times to do what that fiesty Apostle Paul charged: "Let us therefore come boldly before the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Hebrews 4:16. Boldly. Yes indeed.

As for Hannah, I simply can't talk about it today. I ask only that you continue to go to the Great One on her behalf. Here lies my greatest heartache, and my most pressing hope. I am forced to wait. I have no other choice. At these times I can feel angry that a sweet angel like my baby girl must bear the consequences of another's sin. If I didn't know for certain that God will take her over the mountain, and that He has a great purpose in the "day of disaster" for Hannah, I would cave in on myself. So there you have it. I'm mad, but not forever. I'm frustrated, but not hopeless. I sorrow, but not without meaning. There will be a day when the pain of this present shadow will give way to some kind of wonderful light. He who loves us is faithful. February will one day be July. All that lies below the surface will arise in splendor. Where it was cold and closed in with winters cover, every manner of beautiful growing thing will make its display. And so it will be for my dear one too.

I finished reading "The Count of Monte Cristo" today. I walked with the complex Edmond Dantes through the pages of Alexandre Dumas' epic story of suffering and vengeance, darkness and redemption. At the end of the book, I relished the main character's final summation of what he found through the rough and ready of an astonishing life:

"Live then, and be happy, beloved children of my heart, and never forget that until the day when God shall deign to reveal the future to man, all human wisdom is summed up in these two words, 'Wait and hope'."

My dear companions on the pilgrim highway, thank you for praying for us, and pushing us up the path for all you're worth. Let's all of us hear the words of this great piece of literature. It's all borrowed from the Great Author of All. "Wait and hope."

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Sunday, February 7, 2010

Uptate 2/7/10 12 weeks since crash

Dear friends,

Blogging a little late tonite. I had to wait for the "Saints to go marching in" before I could write. Our annual Super Bowl party was scaled back quite a bit, but it's always been so much fun for Mr. Steve, so in the spirit of "go for it", so we did that American thing. The dear friends who shared the evening (and the food) with us have been coming to our Super Bowl fiestas for many years. Friends are a great joy in life. Especially these kind of friends. We are humbled to be loved by people so great! I mean it. I think of our church family at Delmar Full Gospel Church. This morning they all clapped when the man walked in to the sanctuary for the first time, and all the while I wanted to make them sit down so we could clap for them! I think of our friends from many other places, including this blog community, who have been the Wheaties that have kept us strong through the strenuous climb we're on. I think of our immediate and extended family who have prayed and written and driven and encouraged selflessly. Uncle Tom and Aunt Marilyn, we can't wait to see you! Friends, pray for these dear folks. Their son Brian has cancer, and they are going to visit us while they're up here to help him. As they have cried out to the Great One for us, can we do the same for them? I know you, so that's a dumb question. You all are the best!

Trouble is a magnifying glass. It shows what we're made of up close, the lovely and the unsightly. I will admit, I have seen in myself a great many weaknesses and foibles that I might have missed during "peace time". My tendency to grumble has loomed much larger with the heat turned up. But here's the great news: "Where sin did abound, grace did more abound..." . Seems the Great One has already accounted for the mess we would make by employing the loveliest of kindnesses, amazing grace! Unmerited favor. We can't earn it, and we can't escape it. It rains down in torrents wherever trouble finds the child of God. It can wear a disguise, but be sure it is there. I have seen it in many ways, but mostly in the glorious hiding place of the human heart. It showed up when my brother in law Richard picked me up off the floor of the SICU. When Pastor Greg sang songs to my unconscious daughter in the ER. When Connie the kind walked into the hospital with a bucket of soup for Steve's family. When Sweet Laureen emailed me and shared the sorrow of her son's brain injury. The list is endless. So is the grace.

Tomorrow it will be exactly 3 months since our lives turned a corner we never could have anticipated. Sometimes at night I think I can hear the actual impact of our car with that big pick up truck. It fills me with dread. And then I come back to reality and see that despite the terrible moment all this happened, and even the terrible moments afterward, there was never a moment, not a single one, when the Great One was absent. He was an "ever present help in trouble". He still is. There is no corner around which He doesn't see what's coming. In His providence He takes the thing designed to curse, and turns it in to an opportunity for grace to abound. Abound it has. Through the fire and the flood. We've still got lots of ground to take, and I am confident in the Grace Giver to make us strong and courageous for the fight.

The Beach Boys just sang "California Girls" on the Jack Benny show, circa 1965. It's got me "California dreamin', on such a winter's day..." Different song I know, but the sunshine sounds great. I'm looking forward to Hercules helping me lay down some mulch this year when I put in my red impatiens in the front yard. I didn't know 3 months ago if he would ever see springtime.
"With God, all things are possible." Beyond all my expectations, grace is shovelled out to me. I tell you true, I didn't earn a bit of it. It's simply the character of the Great One. He truly is the Lover of our souls!

Talk to all of you tomorrow. Let's go out and spread some of that abounding grace around town. God knows there are plenty of folks who need it.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Saturday, February 6, 2010

Update 2/6/10 Day 90

Dear friends,

I'm getting frustrated with technology again. I tried to cut and paste something into the blog, and it wouldn't work on the laptop. It works on the desktop computer. I'm telling you, these things are the devil! Talk about a love/hate relationship. Even inanimate objects are a mixed bag. Unreliable. People are more so. Especially the one banging on the keys right now. I was reading that incredibly no-nonsense book in the Bible, James, and it says this: "Every good and perfect gift comes down from the Father of lights, in whom there is no varying, nor shadow of turning." Well acquainted with my own fickle ways, I cling to this truth about the Great One. He's dependable and steady. He's a rock in a hurricane. He is not rocked by my folly, neither the visible nor the part which only He and I can see. His love doesn't fluctuate. His commitment is relentless. If I didn't know it before, I do now. Ninety days after the typhoon of my life.

Today was a big day in the Smith house. Smitty made pancakes and sausages for the first time since the crash! Now you've got to understand, he cooked breakfast faithfully every Saturday morning since the kids were babies. It means a lot to him. And to them. David was delighted to go downstairs and get the electric griddle for Dad this morning. And there the man stood, our own darling Emeril (ha!), standing with his walker, flipping those flapjacks and shuffling about the kitchen, happy as a robin with the first worm of spring. AND HE MADE MY COFFEE! I could smell it from the bedroom. O happy day! It tastes so much better when he makes it. And you could almost hear the powers of darkness grunting in disgust as the Great One gives us back some of the simple blessings of home and hearth. I tell you the truth, even if He didn't, He is still so very good. But how grateful we are for these small pleasures. I can hardly wait til Tuesday, to go to the third floor at Sunnyview, and have Stephen walk up to his inpatient physical and occupational therapists. They will remember the day Hercules had to be Hoyer lifted into his bed. They will remember the first day he tried to stand on his left leg and couldn't. They will remember how he could barely lift his head, and couldn't put on his own shirt. This is the good stuff. Wait until he strides in there without the walker. That day is coming. The prayers keep coming too. Thank you!

Next Saturday, we will have the honor of having pizza with the great Daniel Lane, and his wife Becky and his little guy Cody. Dan is 23 years old, by the way. I mean, he could be my son! Imagine at 23 helping save a life! Astonishing. Anyway, we are so excited to be able to meet this family, and I will give them all a big hug from this incredible blog community. I feel the love you have for dear Dan. I hope he feels it too. You just know I'll get a picture to post. Wish I could have one of every single person who helped save their lives. Maybe we'll meet more of these folks. I sure hope so. I'm thinking a party will be in order at some point. The Great One loves parties. What with being made in His image and all, we love them too!

A little side note now from Hercules himself:

I have a prayer request for you all - and who better to ask than you faithful people? I had a rather long and serious talk with my daughter Hannah today. Now, I can't go into details of it because I would never betray her confidences, but I can ask you to please keep her in your prayers. Please ask our Heavenly Father to show you how you can show her love - that's what she needs right now. I think she's in the paradoxical position of not wanting to talk about the crash (because she doesn't want to be thought of just as "the girl in the crash") but also feeling that she's kind of drifted to the background because my wounds are so much more visible and because Loriann's sharing her thoughts with all of you lovely people here on this blog. Just ask "the Great One" (as my bride calls Him) to direct you on how you can love her best - but please don't let her know that I discussed this here. I know she is loved by all of you - I just want to make sure that she can feel it, as well. Thank you for your continued prayers - they're helping tremendously!

Back to the Mrs...

Brain injury throws all kinds of curve balls, and we are learning how to respond. We love our daughter more than words can say. The complexities of the mind, combined with trauma and adolescence make for a potent challenge. This recovery process is not neat and clean. Like us, it's mixed and varying. But the Great One has no "shadow of turning". For Him, the future on the pilgrim road is plain as day. What is foggy and steeped in the unknown for us is crystal clear to Him. He's got us. He's got all of us.

I love you greatly.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,