*Walking* Out of Therapy!

Throwback  to the very first time I stood up after the accident!

Hi everyone! I hope the rest of your holiday season was fantastic. 🙂 My own new year is off to a memorable and positive  start on the therapy front, too! Honestly I never really imagined being in any sort of therapy. Much less for one. entire. year. But that is what happened, and it happened in 2017. I was just figuring out how to move  around in a wheelchair on my own this time last January, and we devoted hours every day – at home plus during multiple Kaiser trips each week – to help me relearn the most basic skills of daily life. And now we get to the good part: My therapy journey is finally coming to an end! Last Monday I said goodbye to my physical therapist. Although my abilities aren’t 100% perfect, I’m blessed to have made it way farther than many stroke patients (not sure if enough people survive getting hit by a car to have comparisons on that front).  I look and walk totally normally to an untrained eye…just with some interesting scars on my legs. Such stellar progress does come with a long-term commitment: I was released with the understanding that I will continue spending around an hour each day doing my exercises at home in order to maintain the strength and flexibility necessary for normal activities. My legs still hurt occasionally and I’m prone to knee tendinitis, but overall I’m thrilled with my therapy end point given what we’ve been through.

On the left hand front, I’ve transitioned to occupational therapy as needed, which will probably look like a “check up” once a month. Here too, I’m still committed to maintaining my abilities through daily practice at home.  We now know my inability to feel that hand is permanent due to the location of the strokes in the brain (confirmed by 3 different neurologists). Nevertheless, I’ve had such gifted therapists that I can take care of myself, take care of our apartment, make simple dishes, type, and play basic piano just using my eyes to control my hand. Don’t get me wrong: in spite of all that progress, having the end prognosis confirmed made me deeply sad.  My skill as a violinist was integral to my pre-accident identity, and loss always hurts. I had envisioned God would answer my prayers by completely restoring feeling (especially since feeling is the key to playing violin). It didn’t happen. He did answer my prayers though, by giving me a gift I discovered only a short time ago. For the last year, my therapists wisely pushed me to the limits of what I could do without saying what was reasonable to expect from a stroke patient. This led me to believe I was making a “normal” amount of functional progress. However, at my most recent neurology check up a couple of weeks ago, the doctor  confessed that in 30 years of practicing he’d never seen someone able to use their hand “normally” if they couldn’t feel it. Wow. God doesn’t always answer prayers exactly the way we want Him to, but He does answer them in the way He knows is best. I’m extremely thankful for the ability to be an atypical patient and succeed at what is usually impossible.

On the brain note (it’s funny how brains always work their way in to these posts), we continue waiting to see if my new medication will kick in and begin working. Seizures are still frequent, which keeps me at home and often reliant on the transport wheelchair since my ability to walk is impaired for a few hours after I’ve had one. We keep hoping and praying…but in the meantime I wanted to share with you all the exciting progress God continues to bring in the other aspects of my recovery 🙂

New Year, Old Year



Grace: Hi everyone! We hope you’ve all had a merry Christmas and are having a happy New Year’s Day. 🙂 This holiday week has been nontraditional to say the least, but incredibly meaningful and hopeful (especially compared to last year!). Last year I spent Christmas in the hospital and hadn’t even graduated to using a wheelchair. This year felt much more like our “first married Christmas” as we got some practice splitting celebrations between families (on separate days, since I still struggle with fatigue) and started our own personal Christmas traditions on Christmas Eve.

Fast forward to Saturday – the 30th – and we had the privilege of celebrating our 2nd wedding anniversary. This too felt much more like our first anniversary, since last year I only got to see Ivan for an hour and a half that day: he was moving us out of our old apartment and into a handicap/wheelchair-friendly one, plus dealing with other legal paperwork (all very necessary to the husbandly quality of providing and protecting, but decidedly not romantic). To be fair, the fact that I had just starting learning to transfer to a wheelchair with lots of assistance, had half my face still paralyzed from the stroke, and was working on swallowing without drooling was also decidedly not romantic. So as you can see, we had A LOT of catching up to do on this anniversary. A lot. We still had to split up the festivities over several days due to fatigue and seizure triggers, but I think we made the most of what was available at this stage (sushi for Ivan, coffee for me, and book browsing for both of us). And at the very least, being in the same place at the same time sans moving boxes, facial paralysis, drool, etc, felt like a celebration in itself.

To gloss over the challenges of this week would be misleading: several seizures, my new transport wheelchair, and lots of sunglasses and earplugs to minimize seizure triggers were all involved…not to mention missing church yet again. BUT the overarching theme has been gratitude and celebration. This time last year I doubt we could have imagined succeeding at or even attempting all the things we did do this week. It has truly been a week of blessing to our hearts – and I hope to the hearts of both our families too.

Ivan: Wow…another year is here!! As I take time to reflect on the past year as well as where we are right now, to be honest, I’m not even sure exactly how I feel. We’re still in a transition period, and we aren’t sure how that will end up. But I’m reminded of God’s truth that never changes:

King Solomon said, “Don’t boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day might bring.” Nor what a year may bring, for that matter. So many things can happen in a year!! At times 2017 felt much longer than one year, but as I’m typing this it almost feels like it went by in the blink of an eye. What will 2018 bring? Only God knows. But He knows! So much of life feels uncertain because we don’t know what the future holds, but God knows and He extends His hands to invite us all in to His love and grace.

One thing I am sure of, is that Grace and I are so thankful for God’s care and provision throughout last year! We are thankful for the prayers of our brothers and sisters in Christ…your prayers! We are thankful for opportunities to grow, learn, and make progress, especially in terms of Grace’s recovery. God is a God who heals, restores. Healing takes time, and will be fully completed in Heaven, but we are grateful for the “in between” time–for the present, for each day that we get to walk closer with Him as He guides us through dark valleys as well as green pastures.

God deserves all the glory for 2017, as He will for 2018 and beyond…here’s to another year of pursuing and loving Jesus, as He has first loved us! 🙂

I Played A Game!

Post-game selfie!

Happy First Day of Winter, everyone! I don’t know about you all, but I’m celebrating the shortest day of the year with a cozy fleece-and-scarf combo, paired with a steaming cup of Peet’s coffee (by far the best coffee in NorCal…or possibly anywhere).

So after that shameless plug, down to the real post 😉 :

We’ve spent a lot of this holiday season in various medical facilities (NOT exactly how we planned for things to go) and you, reader friends, have gone right along with us. However, Christmas is a time for celebrating all the gifts we’ve received: most notably our savior Jesus, but also literally thousands of other blessings that pop up every day.

So in the spirit of Christmas, I wanted to share with you all a “little” praise from last night: I played a game for the first time since the accident! My family has always been into games…card games, board games, long games, short games, etc…pretty much any kind of game except video games 😉 . The game enthusiasm dates back to our Wisconsin years, where frigid winters and little daylight made indoor games our pastime of choice.

Anyhow, the brain injuries from last December put my game career on a hiatus…short term memory, sequential thought, strategy, and spatial discernment all being skills I suddenly lacked. However, Anna brought a new card game called Sushi Go when she moved home last weekend, and it looked so adorable and fun that I just had to try it. We started out tentatively: Ivan and I were a “team” (Mom and Anna played for themselves since it’s not a team game) so I could have someone to remind me of the rules and give decision-making hints. It took less than 5 minutes for me to start debating Ivan’s strategy rather vigorously…at which point everyone voted that we’d all be better off (i.e. happier) if I played solo. I successfully made it through 2 games of Sushi Go all by myself! While Ivan ended up winning both rounds (I guess I shouldn’t have argued with his strategy after all) and Mom and Anna tied for the middle spots, my scores were still close enough to theirs to be respectable. It might seem like a small moment in the middle of “normal” holiday festivities, but last night was actually a great tangible reminder of skills regained. I think God knew we needed another landmark for how far He’s brought us already, and encouragement that no matter what current brain drama may be unfolding, He’ll keep carrying us the rest of the way.

Also, I’m reminded of how much I like games….and sushi.

Hope from Redwood City

Just so y’all can see brain waves on an EEG!

Grace: Hi Everyone! As I think you already know, I spent Monday-Saturday of last week as an inpatient of the Epilepsy Monitoring Unit (EMU) at Kaiser Redwood City. The purpose of the visit was to reexamine my initial diagnosis and uncover why my seizures appeared to be getting worse instead of better. Since that unit is very specialized and seems to have a long waitlist, the fact that I got a bed there so quickly is truly an act of God and a result of your tireless prayers…so once again, thank you! The good news about the EMU is that everyone (doctors, nurses…EVERYONE), was kind, helpful, and expertly trained. The bad news was that since my head had to be hooked up to an EEG machine for 5 days, I couldn’t really leave my bed (much less shower….GROSS!!!) for 5 days. Hopefully this explains the lack of photo documentation during that part of my stay 😉

Okay, so the part we’ve all been waiting for: results. Although I imagined that we’d get some definite clarity and direction after the first day or two, that was not the case. My unusual symptoms had even my initial specialist confused, and we all began to fear that I might leave the EMU in as unclear a state as I arrived. This drove us to a lot of prayer and crying out to God for some sort of intervention…. and was possibly the biggest faith challenge I’ve faced thus far: could I keep saying “And if not, He is still good” when it felt like I’d already been through too much and just couldn’t keep going anymore?? But mercifully, after putting us through that test, God did have other plans. On Friday – the last day of testing – God brought a new epileptologist who was able to decipher my complicated brain. He reviewed all my recordings and explained that although there was focal epilepsy in the stroke areas of my brain, it wasn’t causing the entire problem. Instead, my large and unusual-looking seizures were the result of the traumatic brain injury (TBI) overreacting to focal seizures occurring on the other side of the brain. Therefore, with a medication change to control – or at least diminish – the epileptic seizures, the large TBI  seizures should go away too. (Simple example: a person who’s allergic to cats doesn’t sneeze if they’re not around a cat).

So, things to be thankful for:

  • Although the epilepsy diagnosis is still permanent, the new med seems to be working well so far and I’m doing better at home
  • The large seizures we’ve all been so worried about weren’t actually harming me since they were more of a reaction and didn’t involve extra electricity in the brain

Even my fabulous new doctor admitted that this won’t be an overnight transformation like some cases are, but he was extremely positive and optimistic about the long term likelihood of my functioning “normally” and without visible seizures. Praise God!! That is the most hopeful outlook we’ve heard in a long time – and a superb early Christmas present. 🙂

Ivan: Just wanted to chime in…yes, last week was another challenging week, but God yet again proved Himself faithful (spoiler alert: He always will ;)). To reiterate what Grace said, our current diagnosis is that Grace has focal seizures which immediately trigger larger TBI-caused seizures. Medication should help control the focal ones, and the TBI ones should heal with time. On behalf of Grace and I and our families, thank you all so much for your prayers!! Our God is mighty, holy, loving, and present, and we know He hears our prayers. As we approach Christmas, may we pause to reflect on His eternal gift to us and thank Him appropriately by worshipping Him in our lives. God bless you all!

One Year: Not Always Forward, but Always Upward

Miss Daisy needed to check out the transport chair…


It is truly surreal to realize our accident story started one year ago today! God’s grace has brought us way farther than most people would have predicted if they looked at the injury reports on this day last year…and yet even as we sit down to write this commemorative post, I’m reminded of just how far we have yet to go.

For those of you who have been praying and following our recent “seizure saga”, we do have some good news to report. I had another severe incident the day after Thanksgiving that landed me in the ER…again. (As in, I’ve been there so many times this month that the staff already knew who we were when Ivan and my dad brought me in. Yikes.) However, while the event was highly unfortunate, God did use it to produce some much-needed fruit. I’d already been referred for a 5 day EEG study to help solve the mystery of what exactly is happening in my brain…but we’d been warned the waiting list for that test was at least 2 months long. “2 months” sounded nearly catastrophic to us, since the severity of my recent episodes has caused therapy to be suspended and relegated me back to a transport wheelchair any time I need to leave the apartment (definitely a downer given how hard I worked to be wheelchair-free earlier this year). HOWEVER…after last week’s incident someone (probably a doctor but also absolutely God) worked something miraculous…and the short story is that I’m being admitted to Kaiser Redwood City to begin the study tomorrow. Tomorrow. Giant thanks to God, and to all our prayer warriors!

If I’m being honest, I must admit that a transport wheelchair and yet another hospital admission were not in my original vision of how we would commemorate our first “accident-aversary.” But nevertheless, these are the things God chose as best for this day and this upcoming week, and we desperately need them both. While recovery might not always be linear (only moving forward and upward), it’s always moving in the exact direction that God wants. And for now, we are full of thanks for what He’s already done, and full of prayers and hope for the much-needed clarity this week could produce.

Ivan: Wow. One year…so many emotions come with this landmark date. First and foremost, glory to God for all He has done, is doing, and will continue to do! He knows the span of our days from beginning to end, and His loving, glorious purpose will stand. This day last year God chose to spare Grace’s life, and we trust that He has more for her here on earth before she comes home to be with Him forever.

As Grace said, we hoped that by the one year mark we would’ve left the “critical” stage of her recovery and have moved on to the slow-and-steady part of her recovery…but the recent resurgence of seizures has forced us back into a period of multiple hospital trips and even another multi-day hospitalization. But God knew this was coming too, and we will keep trusting Him.

Thank you all for your continuing prayers for us! We can’t thank God enough for all of you, and we hope you all know how much we love and appreciate you all! May God keep working in all of our lives, and may we live open to His love, grace, and guidance. He gives us peace in the midst of the storm. To Him be the glory forever!

Giving Thanks No Matter What!

It’s easier to be thankful with this baby around! ❤

Hi everyone! First off, Ivan and I owe a giant THANK YOU for all the love, prayers, and concern we received after Ivan’s post 10 days ago. The love God shows us through you all is literally a pillar of support for each new trial we face. So, from the bottom of our hearts: thank you!!

From the medical side, I wish I had more positive news to report, but we haven’t made it that far yet. Some of you may know that I spent the Sunday night and Monday after Ivan’s post as an inpatient in the neurology unit at Stanford, but we will need to do a more extensive test before we get good, solid answers to share with you all.

But in the meantime….it’s THANKSGIVING! I don’t think there’s any mistake in the timing of all this: what better challenge from the Lord than to seek a thankful heart in the midst of uncertainty and waiting? So here’s some things we would be very remiss if we didn’t celebrate this week:

  1. I can walk, talk, eat, and think! Just around this time last year, all of those were thrown into serious jeopardy.
  2. God has placed us in the perfect location for our needs at the moment (close to my parents, Kaiser, and Valley Christian).
  3. God worked through many people – especially our loving and concerned Hillside family – to provide a job for Ivan that placed us in the ideal location I just described.
  4. MY FAMILY. I literally have no idea where we would be without them. I think we all hoped that Mom would have graduated from extensive “babysitting” and medical care duties by now. But even as these needs resurface so unexpectedly, she’s jumped back in with her whole heart, and Dad and Anna have been right beside her. Not to mention the five months she spent living with us in Riverside earlier this year.
  5. Ivan. He’s embraced more pressure and responsibility than anyone could say was reasonable for a 23/24 – year-old…and done it with a consistent faith in God’s love and unwavering love for me…no matter what my latest “problem” happens to be. As we approach our second anniversary, I really can’t imagine a better best friend or husband.

And last, because He is the most important….I’m thankful for our loving Heavenly Father. No matter how difficult each day may be, I’m thankful we can cling to what we know of Him. He created us, saved us, loves us unconditionally. He saw and planned the end of my and Ivan’s journey before we were born, or met each other –  much less started the beginning of it almost a year ago. And the best part is: He never makes mistakes.

Status Epilepticus.

Obligatory hospital selfie…


Ivan: Hello everyone! A lot has happened recently that we’d like you all to be aware of and that we’d appreciate lots of prayer for.

Two Thursdays ago (11/2), Grace met with a new neurologist who specializes in epilepsy. She diagnosed Grace with permanent focal epilepsy, which means that the seizures are coming from a specific part of the brain, as opposed to a “generalized seizure” which occurs throughout the entire brain. Unfortunately, since Grace’s seizures originate from the parts of her brain that were damaged by the strokes, they are permanent…you can’t reverse a stroke. This was a huge blow for us, because not only did we just recently learn that Grace’s “episodes” were actually seizures (we were hoping they were TBI-caused episodes that she’d eventually grow out of), but while we knew that seizures can range from mild to severe, we didn’t expect to receive a diagnosis of permanent focal epilepsy (which is pretty serious).

The following Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday, after adjusting some medication, Grace continued to experience seizures, but this time with new symptoms indicating a severe form of seizure. We reported these new developments to Grace’s neurologist, and on Wednesday her neurologist called us and gave more news: based on the symptoms we reported, Grace is at risk for status epilepticus. This is a condition in which a person enters a prolonged seizure or a series of back-to-back seizures from which they don’t come out. It can be fatal.

The doctor adjusted Grace’s medication again, and Grace began taking the new meds on Wednesday. The goal of epilepsy medication is to control the seizures (meaning, prevent any from happening), not necessarily eliminate the seizures–but on Thursday, Grace had another seizure. Which brings us to…

Friday, November 11. Yesterday morning, Grace was doing her morning exercises when an unexpected loud sound triggered a seizure. I was there with her, so I gave her a “rescue” med that’s supposed to quickly prevent more seizures from happening. A minute later, she had a second, then a third. I gave her more of her rescue drug. Twenty minutes later, she had a fourth seizure which lasted more than five minutes, which was my cue to call 911. Grace’s fourth seizure lasted a total of twenty minutes, during which time she was unresponsive, crying, breathing rapidly and showing a rapid heart-rate. The paramedics arrived and brought Grace to the ER. I caught up with them at the ER and learned that Grace had had a fifth seizure en route to the hospital–they’d given her even more of the rescue drug then.

Grace and I spent yesterday afternoon in the ER as the doctors monitored her to see if the medication finally worked to suppress any further seizures from happening. During our stay, Grace had a sixth seizure…cue more drugs. But praise the Lord, they stopped at six. Around 4:30pm they let us go, and we picked up even more new meds on our way home. Grace was very, very drugged–her thought process and speech were slowed, her balance was impaired, and she felt very nauseous.

We got home and tried to eat something but she couldn’t keep it in…after a few minutes we tried to eat again, and this time everything stayed down. All of last night Grace basically couldn’t support her own weight, her mind was very cloudy, and she could barely keep her eyes open more than ten seconds. The way a lot of these epilepsy drugs work is to slow down the electrical impulses in your brain, so that a seizure can’t occur (a seizure is like an “electrical storm” in your brain).

This morning Grace is still very drugged and is mostly bed-ridden. I don’t want to think about how much drugs they pumped into her body yesterday…not to mention the hundreds of thousands of pills/IV dosages she’s had since December 3 last year. She’s been incredibly brave and strong, still trusting God. But she was scared yesterday, and I was scared.

From a human perspective, this is all too close to death. For the believer, death means meeting Jesus face to face and being with Him forever, which is the best, in the most literal sense of that word. But while we are earth-bound, death reminds us that sin has broken the world, and our lives.

But God is still sovereign, still good, still gracious and merciful and in control, and powerful and faithful and worthy of all praise, glory, worship and honor. Our Lord Jesus has overcome all, and we will keep walking with Him.

Thank you all for walking with us! Grace and I “thank our God every time we remember you.” We love you all, and thank God for loving us first. To Him be all the glory now and forever!


No, I actually don’t want my (old) life back.

Studio pic
This picture was taken about a week before the accident..


Hello, everyone! I realize it’s been a while since my last update, but my mind’s been moving a little slower lately due to medication changes (here’s Ivan’s take on our newest brain stuff 🙂 )

Anyway, as the calendar creeps ever closer to our first accident-anniversary (“accidentaversary” for short!), I want to share something very important with you: I’m not trying to get my life back anymore. For almost a year now,  “getting my life back” has been a recurring and important theme. It’s an umbrella-like phrase that can cover just about every recovery goal significant to me, my caregivers, my therapists and doctors, and even our extended friend-family-church community. But the more I think about it, the more I find that phrase falling short of what I think we all mean to say.

It’s true…my life before December 3rd, 2016, was extremely rich and varied: an artistic and demanding musical upbringing culminating in two years at a conservatory in New York, three years in the health sciences (including research projects presented at the national and international level), traveling around the country with Ivan as part of a choir and orchestra, and through it all the blessings and challenges of growing up as a pastor’s kid. Each of those experiences shaped a unique piece of the adult puzzle that is me, and I wouldn’t trade any one of them for the world.

But working hard to “get my life back” implies that I want to go back to the way things used to be, and honestly…I don’t want that at all. You see, I’m not even remotely close to the person I was one year ago. I know myself differently, I know my family differently, I know Ivan far differently, and I think I know God “most differently” of all. And all those “differently’s” are very good. So good that I wouldn’t risk losing even one of them for anything. Obviously, I haven’t exactly enjoyed many parts of this year, and it saddens me to know that my struggles affect way more people than just me most days. BUT this is what it took to get us to where God has placed us now… and at least on my end, it has been worth it. So if “getting my life back” means going back to the old me, the way I was eleven months ago, I think I’ll pass.

Instead, the phrase I feel expresses our future hopes best is “building a better life”.  While I want to honor all the significant aspects of my first 23 years, I have an equal desire to treasure and foster the new knowledge and sensitivities God has been cultivating in me, Ivan, and the rest of my family over the past year. I sincerely hope the near future will include continued physical, mental, and emotional healing..for example, I would like to be able to play my violin again. But regardless of what the end of the story is for me, Ivan, my parents, Anna, or anyone else…I’m glad that we can’t “get our lives back” exactly as they were before. I’m proud of the people I’m watching God transform Ivan and the rest of my family (and hopefully me!) into. And I’m absolutely certain that the new life we’re building will be better than the old one, in all the ways that matter most.

Another EEG…

Grace went for an outdoors walk recently and saw this fawn!!

Ivan: Hi everyone! Long time no see 🙂 Just wanted to give a quick update on Grace…last week we saw her neurologist and did a second EEG (the first one was back in March). What precipitated this was that recently Grace developed symptoms which her therapists felt like resembled seizures. These symptoms had also started to prevent Grace from doing a lot of the things she’d wanted to keep doing, like visit with people and go to church, Peet’s, etc. Surprisingly, the EEG came back normal. But the neurologist said that with the type of injury Grace’s brain sustained, seizures could be happening which wouldn’t show up on the EEG, and given the symptoms we described, he concluded that these “episodes” were, indeed, seizures.

While no one wants to be diagnosed with seizures, in a way it’s good that now we can at least pinpoint and address what’s been going on. (Before, we thought some of these symptoms resulted from TBI…hence the T-rex arms post.) Grace had been on a light dose seizure medication before, as a preventative measure, because people with brain injuries/strokes can develop seizure disorders. After our visit last week, her neurologist decided to double the dosage and keep monitoring her. It can take up to three weeks for the new effects to kick in, but we’ve already noted some encouraging changes!

That being said, unfortunately this doesn’t mean that we’re completely out of the woods yet…we still have some limitations in terms of visiting with people and going out in public, but hopefully we’re one step closer to regaining a normal level of activity.

Also, kittens make great at-home therapists. Grace and I are thankful for our Daisy Mae’s hard work every day, 24/7!

Also also, Valley Christian Schools is an amazing place to work and I’m so grateful that God has opened the door for me to teach there!

Also also also, you all are amazing!! We still feel like we’re walking uphill with a giant burden on our backs, but you all help make the burden feel lighter! Thank you all and God bless! 🙂

I Discovered My Elephant!


A few nights ago, Ivan and I spent some time pondering a puzzle: If we had to streamline all of our experiences and struggles over the past year into one 5-minute conversation with a stranger, what would we share as the most important lesson God taught us?  We both came up with separate answers, but I wanted to share mine with you here, especially in light of the stream of tragedies that have been in the news recently.

Most of our “accident” conversations (online, in person, with friends, family, strangers, and even each other) tend to circle around a recurring theme: before vs after…gains vs losses. I learned to walk, but I lost sensation in my left hand and other areas. I’ve relearned a lot of household tasks and personal care, but I can’t drive or go to the store. Those are two examples, but you can imagine how the comparisons could multiply endlessly! And not just for us…anyone who has lost anything could theoretically spend their post-trauma life in the same analytical cycle.

However, I realize that I’ve focused only on what I was good at before, not what I needed to improve on. I had musical talent and training, a strong work ethic, academic prowess, and a competitive edge. Those all sound like really good things, right? Except that they sometimes tempted me to be mediocre at people, at enjoying God’s biggest priority – community – unreservedly. True, I did squeeze in friends and social time and serve musically at our church. But I was quick to shy away from the inconvenient, the labor-intensive, the messy side of relationships…basically anything that posed a serious threat to my goals or my expertly time-managed week.

Ironically, community is the one thing we could not have survived this experience without. Do people spend entire lifetimes in wheelchairs? Absolutely. As much as it would have been tragic, we could have “made it” without my walking again. Do people lead successful lives without a limb? Sure. So even if I never feel my hand again, at least I have two hands. Do families cope with caring for a loved one who survives brain trauma  but is left with permanent and severe cognitive deficits? Unfortunately, yes. My point in this list is, that even if we were never granted any of the answered prayers we have received, technically we could have “made it” in some fashion.

BUT, how could my family have stayed with  me at the hospital 24/7 without the sacrifice and love of friends that brought food, blankets, and sometimes even clothes to help out? What about the sacrifice of my Dad’s church (Hillside) to let him spend much of the peak Christmas season hundreds of miles away from them? Or the church that Ivan worked at, for that matter? I couldn’t have gotten into the acute rehab hospital without the kind intercession of another friend, since technically I wasn’t strong enough to meet their physical qualifications. And when I went home, what about the messages, cards, phone calls, and visits from friends that sped the months along although I couldn’t really leave the house? Or the prayers, messages, and gifts from people I’d never even met. My mom lived apart from my dad for 5 months just to take care of me. Ivan would not have even known that Valley Christian Schools existed, apart from the Hillside community…which, by the way, we still hadn’t met in person. And once we did move up north, I would still have been relatively isolated except for kind church members who took the initiative to reach out and visit someone they had never even met in person.

If I wanted to be exhaustive, I could probably write a book just about all the details of the relational sacrifices that helped us make it this far, but my abridged point is this: we couldn’t have survived without being flooded with the very thing I was not great at before the accident. People were making inconvenient, painful, time-consuming, uncomfortable, costly decisions to benefit us every single day…. and that, even more than healing, is what propelled us to where we are now. We would not be enjoying a beautiful new life if we weren’t surrounded and supported by a community of Christ followers.

People, community. That was what I was not gifted at before the accident, but it has turned into the “elephant in the room” of my recovery. An elephant that I really needed to discover and name for myself. An elephant that God didn’t make just for me, but for everyone who has been thrown into a period of devastation. And an elephant that I pray I can spend the rest of my life growing more skillfully invested in.