The doctors classify it as a brain injury. 

in·ju·ry  (nj-r)
n. pl. in·ju·ries
1. Damage or harm done to or suffered by a person or thing: escaped from the accident without injury; a scandal that did considerable injury to the campaign.
2. A particular form of hurt, damage, or loss: a leg injury.

Somedays I watch from my post as mother and see the other injuries. The emotional injury and the life fracture that now belong to her. The doctors would deny the contagious nature of these injuries, but I have witnessed and experienced the spreading of the trauma. I know it exists. Like yeast. A little yeast spreads throughout the entire loaf. Yes, this is a particular form of hurt, damage, and loss like no other. This giant, looming cloud remaining with us; much like the cloud with the Hebrews during their 40 years in the desert. I often cry out for more. My cries very much like their cries- their moaning. I moan. I pray that my sadness and confusion doesn’t effect entry into the Promised Land. I’ve heard it preached that unbelief stopped them. I have to believe that God understands my hurt over this shattered life of my child. I have to believe that He understands why somedays I scream and cry and feel fear exploding in my guts. Does this mean I don’t trust Him? This is often a place of few answers. 

Ely sits beside me tearing the fringe off the side of a sheet of spiral notebook paper. She tosses the trash away and comments on the good smelling cinnamon candles. Hal, our dog, runs to greet her and begins to encourage her in a game of chase. We go outside for 10 minutes and help the family move some firewood. She requires a lot of direction, but she wants to help and work like the rest of us. When we come back inside, she returns to her room to color in her SpongeBob book. Today is a day that is full of awareness of the situation. I don’t know how to process her condition. Where can I store this reality? What do I name it? What will happen in the future? 

This happened almost 5 years ago. Now she can speak to us. Now she uses the restroom alone. I wash her hair and shave her legs. My beautiful 19 year old daughter needs my help. Because of her disability, I am paid to be her nurse for 5 hours a day. Cooking, cleaning, bathing, and driving her to her appointments. All of the duties I would do anyway. I am her mother. It helps our family now. I was teaching but cannot continue with that career. Sometimes I feel guilty for taking money to care for my child. Guilt. I know about guilt. As I drag you through the ramblings of my emotional injury, I hope my journey can in some way offer insight to you. I honestly don’t know if it can. I pray it isn’t one dark gloomy moment after dark gloomy moment. Maybe the Lord is trying to pull out all of the gunk in my heart. I don’t know. I don’t know. These days do show forth their ugliness. It is hard to be busier than hurt.

I don’t know how to take each day for exactly what it is. I feel comparison to before bubble inside. I wish for her to have restoration without the depression. I wonder if I could be happy with her life as it is if I knew without a doubt that she was satisfied and happy. I think I could. Yet, I know she is not satisfied. I have heard her cry and want to have her mind back. Still, we wait. 

Somedays are happy and full of laughter. We devour those days. Other times... it is heavy to walk inside of this ‘injury’. 

Lord, help us. I do not understand. Again. 


This day
She smiles
She laughs and talks with us.
We thank God
For the river of sweet mercy and life.


This beautiful puzzle

Things are so different now.
At times-in certain moments, I feel like a puzzle piece from a separate picture puzzle box is being jammed into the puzzle I have been caring for and overseeing for years. This puzzle of mine- I know every piece that fits together. I have grown to know the shades of color and bits of images forming. I know them intimately. I can remember the days when they found their partner pieces allowing this bigger image to flash its more total self before my eyes- before my heart.
Yes. I remember those coming together days like a parade.
The drums pounding that marching song as candy is tossed, whirling by my head while little children dance and smile. Then the streets clear. Folding lawn chairs carried on home. Just the candy wrappers left lying on the ground.
That alone-ness opens your eyes to the remaining pieces. You can clearly see what is before you without the distractions. No hoopla to entertain you. I find I am grateful to the kind tap on my shoulder bringing me back to the stripped down moments-- the awaiting of the coming together moments. These pieces standing in line for their placement, their parades, and candy wrappers.
My fingers trace these unplaced pieces. Inside there is some level of recognition. Their awkward shape is just an introduction really. This unfamiliar image is a fraction of my life. I know this foreign fragment. I feel it churn in the tunnels of my heart.

I don't know.

My daughter shrugs her shoulders, and her eyes move away. She turns under the blanket, a torn and tattered handmade quilt. The large yellow quilt with green yarn tied inside the squares. All the yarn dangles from the knots. All the bows have come undone.
She turns away then back. Her eyes searching mine. I find myself fighting to keep the window open with her.
And it's the same struggle resurfacing. Let her see. Should I let her see inside of me? She already does. NO! Protect her from the unresolved trash and pain in my mind. She doesn't deserve that.
So, I smile in that moment, and I am conscious of the forced effort of it. One of those unfamiliar familiar puzzle pieces is tricking me. I try to place it there in that empty spot, but it doesn't belong.
So I kiss her sweet forehead. "You know a lot of things. You know a lot more than your mama. You teach me so much. You know?"
She reaches up and hugs me.

It seems like it's either the warmth or the numbing spot. I try to shake off the numb. I feel like a bat or a whale-- I send out a heart cry to get some echolocation reading. Where am I again?

Is that puzzle piece I saw in the corner one that belongs in my puzzle? The colors seem brighter. Even the proportions and shape seem different somehow... does that piece belong with my set? Did it come from my box?

Have her puzzle pieces gotten mixed in with mine?

I see it now. They are rising up. It's not two flat separate pictures full of their own pieces.

Somehow, our boxes were dumped out together. Somehow, our puzzles are mixed into this quilted pieced together thing.

Ours is now a beautiful sculpture with a front, a back, sides that form a picture to touch and move around.  My eyes and body are required to travel the shape of it. My heart hears its voice that yearns for creation. It is unlike the original understanding I had. It's unlike the map. Different from everyone's.

Today it's not a puzzle. It's a masterpiece.

I love you.

I know.



Last night was graduation for Ely's "class".
The week prior to June 3rd felt especially draining emotionally. The bombarding thoughts of "She could've..." pounded my heart. I stay surprised at the ways the Lord will level any ground within us when we request that. It is not my desire to hold fast to "could've" nor do I want to waste one moment of joy by trading in for regret... sometimes the lines connecting me to the past and the future trip me in the present.
I sat down to write congratulations cards to some of Ely's closest friends and family, and I was overwhelmed with a flood of emotions and memories. I remember writing "Life is full of mysteries..." I remember feeling the Lord was speaking more to me than I was writing to these few people.
Will the way ever be clear? Will I always be extending a hand from my heart to feel my way?
In those moments when there are no explanations, no words... I ask for help to count my blessings.
My daughter is alive. She is not in a vegetative state. She can communicate with me. She can wrap her arms around me and tell me she loves me to the moon and back. Her viewpoint is one of deep love and tenderness... she is gentle, she is kind. She did not receive a diploma on this night. She didn't receive any acknowledgments or awards. She sat observing from the sidelines with a smile.
I enjoyed watching Ely look over her former classmates with such love. She smiled and told me their names from the stands. My husband's eyes were full of tears as he protectively sat beside Ely. I was thankful the Lord gave me strength NOT to go into that could've land... I was blessed to share with Ely enjoying the accomplishments of others. She teaches me what love is. I don't know if I would be brave enough to live her life, in her shoes. I don't think I am selfless enough. I will praise God for allowing my beautiful daughter to be my teacher and one of my best friends.
I praise God that He is mysterious and yet faithful to instruct and reward. My reward is His love. He shares so much of His love through Ely and her new nature.

1 Corinthians 13

 1 If I speak in the tongues[a] of men or of angels, but do not have love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. 2 If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing. 3 If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast,[b] but do not have love, I gain nothing.
 4 Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. 5 It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. 6 Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. 7 It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.
 8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part, 10 but when completeness comes, what is in part disappears.11 When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put the ways of childhood behind me. 12 For now we see only a reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.
 13 And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love.


this day

Hind's Feet on High Places:
In the silence which succeeded the storm Much-Afraid heard her voice, low and trembling, but quite distinct, saying, "My Lord, what dost thou want to say to me? Speak--for thy servant heareth."
Next moment the Shepherd was standing beside her. "Be of good cheer," he said, "It is I, be not afraid. Build me another altar and lay down your whole will as a burnt offering."
Obediently Much-Afraid raised a little heap of sand and loose stones, which was all that she could find in the desert, and again laid down her will and said with tears (for Sorrow had stepped forward and knelt beside her), "I delight to do thy will, O my God."
This day, Lord, I lay down my will. I trust You with my life, my children, and all that You have given me. You have given all, You oversee everything with Your good ways. Lord, fill me with thankfulness, wisdom, and produce the fruit of the Spirit in me for Your glory alone. Let it be AS YOUR WORD says.
I thank You for Ely's progress, Lord. God, give me eyes to see her progress in every moment. Protect me from the enemy who whispers against Your miracles and promises. I desire Your love alone to operate through me for her. Remove my worldliness that demands to know the future, but give me a new heart that delights in trusting You with every moment. Satisfy me, Lord, with YOU.


... again ... trusting again

The words still don't come. This must be a season of just listening and standing. Resting in doing what we've chosen for therapy. I know the therapy won't benefit her unless He blesses it. I pray for His blessing. I know Jesus did not turn away those who came asking for life, asking for health... I know He hears me and loves me. I know He hears Elysia pray for healing. My heart twists when she says, "Help me, God." His compassion is so much more than mine-- how is He moved by that? I know I am Abba's child, and He knows what is best for the masterpiece He desires-- the one He is creating from our lives.
Inside the battle continues, I am always amazed at the feelings and thoughts that arise: the thoughts of others regarding her, "No- she's not retarded... who cares if she was?" "No we are not girlfriends... this is my child." Shame tries to drizzle itself all over us. When shame goes on a coffee break, there's anger to step in.
I share this because I believe He wants me to. I pray this will help someone else-- no you're not alone. He is always with you. He said He would never leave us nor forsake us. I know He's been with me and is with me, or I'd have succumed to defeat. He gives me strength to carry on, and He gives me peace inside this chaos.
I see His beautiful hands shaping and working -- I trust Him for the masterpiece. I trust His decision regarding what is beautiful and desirable. Standing in the waiting must be something beautiful to Him. Maybe those are the moments He fertilizes trust, love, and joy. His fertilizer bag has PEACE and REST written all over it.
These days, Lord, I've lost the words to pray my requests for healing. I don't seem able to repeat my situation again. I only have the desire to be with You in that place for your peace and rest. I need to lie my head down against you while you hold me. I know you love me. That is my treasure. That is enough, Jesus. That is enough.
These days are prayers with another tongue. I rely on the Holy Spirit to use my spirit to pray. I am trusting. I am hoping in my great Hope. I cannot without You.


Loss of words

Sometimes there are no words. Maybe labor and effort push out the words. That may be a blessing. As we continue our schedule of neurobiofeedback, equestrian therapy beginning again with Spring, and our home-therapy (physical- workouts, speech- speech book exercises, ocupational- fine motor skills; writing, dressing, bathing, personal care, light chores), Ely has entered into a phase of resistance. Rather than engage in therapy, she wants to watch dvds. Movies. She becomes frustrated as I require home-therapy. I very often sit inside this not knowing how to proceed with her. Encourage her into therapy? Yes. When she rages against it? Love her and stand-- offering support.
God, what are You shaping in me at this time? Patience, endurance, gentleness in the face of resistance?
My awareness of my lack of being ENOUGH is painfully obvious.
In those moments of weakness, I am reminded- MYGRACE IS SUFFICIENT.
Why are you downcast, O my soul, and why are you troubled within me?
Hope in God for I shall yet praise Him.
Hope in God, I'll trust in His holy name.
YOU are my joy. You are my everything. --song by Brady Toops
This song has lifted me as I continue this walking out... step... trust... stand... trust... cry... trust... breath... trust... pray... trust... rejoice... dance!
The reasons for this entire experience are so much bigger than me and my ability to understand. God has allowed me this place of continuous opportunities to TRUST.
Blessed are the poor in spirit... I am a beggar. I must come to Him for everything. He is my everything.


Follow Follow

I stay amazed at the teaching, the guidance from Him. His instructions are so gentle and kind, yet the truth resonates so powerfully. I love that about Him. He is the Truth, the Life, and the Way--and inside that His Way will sift and shake loose what He desires to free you from. I can rest in the truth that He is faithful to generously give freedom when I cry out.
Lord, I need You to give me patience to become like YOU when I mother my children. WOW. He does. He really does.
My Pastor came to me about a month ago and told me, "God wants to give you things. He has many things for you too NOT only Elysia." I was in a mind lock where I only prayed for her healing. Here and there on particularly stressful days I cried out, "Help me," but I only wanted it for my kids. You know? I wasn't considering myself as His love as well-- only my child as my love. Missing the larger, more beautiful picture of Jesus engaging each child, each person individually.
In His grace, my sweet Julie said, "Let's start our 9:30 prayer time again." When I agreed and began meeting Him with dedication, my heart and mind began to change. I am sitting with Him daily- period. Everything and everyone can wait. He has things about Himself to share with me. He wants me to share all concerns with Him.
Worship at church last night was even different. I was dancing like never before. I felt free in a brand new way. It's Him.
Cast my cares upon Him. Yes. Rejoice in my strength and my shield. Yes. He is Jehovah Raffa, God, my Healer.
He has been bringing to my mind the fact that He never turned away someone coming for healing or someone bringing a loved one for healing. He will heal Ely. He saved her from death at age 14. Her healing is truly like the transformation from caterpillar to butterfly. She has moved through coma-like non-response to relearning to walk, use the restroom, eat- feeding herself, chewing, swallowing-- I remember when she learned to scoot again and turn and dress herself. God in His complete mercy allowed a NEW start. His kisses are new wine. He has been very affectionate with us, and I will forever praise my God, my King.
He took me to Lamentations recently, and as I read, I was asking, "God, why are you showing me this? It's so sad and troubling to my heart." I felt His soft Truth reveal so tenderly again, "My child, you are sad. You are seeing the devestation and the acts of the enemy more clearly than Me."
Amplified Version: Lamentations 3:1-41
1I AM [Jeremiah] the man who has seen affliction under the rod of His wrath.

2He has led me and brought me into darkness and not light.
3Surely He has turned away from me; His hand is against me all the day.
4My flesh and my skin has He worn out and made old; He has shattered my bones.
5He has built up [siege mounds] against me and surrounded me with bitterness, tribulation, and anguish.
6He has caused me to dwell in dark places like those long dead.
7He walled me in so that I cannot get out; He has weighted down my chain.
8Even when I cry and shout for help, He shuts out my prayer.
9He has enclosed my ways with hewn stone; He has made my paths crooked.
10He is to me like a bear lying in wait, and like a lion [hiding] in secret places.
11He has turned me off my ways and pulled me in pieces; He has made me desolate.
12He has bent His bow and set me as a mark for the arrow.
13He has caused the arrows of His quiver to enter into my heart [the seat of my affections and desires].
14I have become a derision to all my people, and [the subject of] their singsong all the day.
15He has filled me with bitterness; He has made me drink to excess and until drunken with wormwood [bitterness].
16He has also broken my teeth with gravel (stones); He has covered me with ashes.
17And You have bereaved my soul and cast it off far from peace; I have forgotten what good and happiness are.
18And I say, Perished is my strength and my expectation from the Lord.
19[O Lord] remember [earnestly] my affliction and my misery, my wandering and my outcast state, the wormwood and the gall.
20My soul has them continually in remembrance and is bowed down within me.
21But this I recall and therefore have I hope and expectation:
22It is because of the Lord's mercy and loving-kindness that we are not consumed, because His [tender] compassions fail not.(A)
23They are new every morning; great and abundant is Your stability and faithfulness.(B)
24The Lord is my portion or share, says my living being (my inner self); therefore will I hope in Him and wait expectantly for Him.(C)
25The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him [inquire of and for Him and require Him by right of necessity and on the authority of God's word].
26It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation (the safety and ease) of the Lord.
27It is good for a man that he should bear the yoke [of divine disciplinary dealings] in his youth.
28Let him sit alone uncomplaining and keeping silent [in hope], because [God] has laid [the yoke] upon him [for his benefit].(D)
29Let him put his mouth in the dust [in abject recognition of his unworthiness]--there may yet be hope.(E)
30Let him give his cheek to the One Who smites him [even through His human agents]; let him be filled [full] with [men's] reproach [in meekness].
31For the Lord will not cast off forever!(F)
32But though He causes grief, yet will He be moved to compassion according to the multitude of His loving-kindness and tender mercy.
33For He does not willingly and from His heart afflict or grieve the children of men.(G)
34To trample and crush underfoot all the prisoners of the earth,
35To turn aside and deprive a man of his rights before the face of the Most High or a superior [acting as God's representative],
36To subvert a man in his cause--[of these things] the Lord does not approve.
37Who is he who speaks and it comes to pass, if the Lord has not authorized and commanded it?
38Is it not out of the mouth of the Most High that evil and good both proceed [adversity and prosperity, physical evil or misfortune and physical good or happiness]?
39Why does a living man sigh [one who is still in this life's school of discipline]? [And why does] a man complain for the punishment of his sins?
40Let us test and examine our ways, and let us return to the Lord!
41Let us lift up our hearts and our hands [and then with them mount up in prayer] to God in heaven:
I am reminded of a scripture I had on my wall during the suicide season... "Behold, I am the Lord , the God of all flesh. Is anything too hard for me?" Jer 32:27
There was no possible way He could explain His intentions in detail to me. He is about His higher ways, and I must be about my trusting and rejoicing and loving. When the anxiety attempts to arise, I will find that river whose streams make glad... I will curl up in Abba's lap. No darkness- no situations that face me or the ones I love are too great for my King, the Bright and Morning Star.


There is a river whose streams make GLAD

Valentine's Day 2010...
Yesterday was two years. Instead of another rebirthday party, Ely relaxed with Mom while Wells and I went to the church for dance and filming. I was busy rejoicing in creative LIFE. Today at the altar, He touched my heart and I was flooded with gratitude. All life was meaningful even without my understanding. I love His peace. I rested there truly GLAD. He is enough.
I watched Mia sit in Ely's lap tonight during puppets and sing and laugh. She was content with Ely, loving Ely as Ely is. Praise God. Thank you, Lord, for allowing me to see Mia, the wise child, thank you.

Faith inside this child's heart
come reside in mine
Small hands holding giant friendship
love rushing out from your smile
Lesson layered between truth love trials
eyes searching to heal with kindness
joy the balm accepting this moment
no need beyond
this joy is here
small hand carrying a complete moment
small hand hold mine

Thank you, Lord, for this day.


From Shonna

You know it is weird. I find myself anxiously awaiting your next post. My sister, the writer, the follower of Christ, the mother of my precious niece, and the strongest woman I know. I remember that 13th day of February closely nearing our second year anniversary. A true celebration of life thru the eyes of a child. A child of God's. When Natalie started writing this blog, I found myself realizing that she was writing so many words, thoughts and feelings that I daily felt. A little history about my relationship with Elysia: I knew how much I loved her the night her mother knocked on my door and said, "I just got pregnant." Yes, she knew from the moment she conceived this precious child! I believe that God spoke to her at that moment to let her know about the gift she was being given. I was given the gift of being in the water with her when she delivered Elysia. What a powerful and beautiful moment! I thought I would be selfish and not want to share my sister with anyone else, but it is true the love God gives us just keeps growing. From the moment I could see her and hold her she brought me and my husband such joy. Rusty and I did not have any children of our own during our marriage, but we were blessed with the presence of Ely. That takes me back to 2/13/08. I was getting out of the shower and the phone rang, it was Natalie. When I heard her voice she was so calm that it was eerie. She said she needed me, that Ely had hung herself at school. She said she needed me, that Ely had hung herself at school and that she was at Cozby-Germany Hospital being resuscitated, I couldn't breath. This wasn't real. I was dreaming. It was the worst nightmare. She was lying. She wouldn't lie to me or about her children. Get it together Shonna! Natalie, calmly said, "I need my sister." "What do we do? Where do you want her to go?" At that point all I could think was get her to a higher level of care. My nursing and Trauma instincts kicked in, thank God, that is the only thing real I could hold on to at that moment. Nursing not "Aunting" at that very moment was a gift that I knew God had given me, but was I making the right decision? If she had gone to a different tertiary facility would she be at a different healing level today? Daily I have to tell myself, "it is all in God's hands, plan and time." No, God did not make this happen, but he does take a bad situation and use it for good. I had to learn that over and over from my own childhood experiences. When I hung up with Natalie, of course, I called the only person that I needed to at that very moment, Rusty. Just hearing his voice gave me enough strength to get dressed and in my car. I called my dear friend Melody and said I wouldn't be in to work in the Emergency Room that night. I was so blessed to be working exactly where I was and with the peers and leaders that I was brought to at that moment in my life. When I go in my car I called my Father and he did not want me to drive, but like Natalie I knew I just needed to be alone with God and drive. I don't remember the drive. I remember making phone calls to the incoming hospital. I had close friends and peers that were ER nurses and Trauma surgeons.

I kept thinking maybe if they know she is mine, my niece, my family that they would work harder and not give up on this child. I called friends that lived in Tyler and could get there and be with my sister before I could. They were my angels, my saving graces that day. Just knowing that Amy and Samantha could get there made me a little calmer. I didn't want to see anyone when I arrived at the hospital except my sister and Elysia. I couldn't even think. How did I get there? How did we get to this place? Why? Why would this precious beautiful and brilliant child kill herself? Did someone hurt her? Did I miss something? How did I, an Emergency room nurse, her Aunt, not know that this child was so sad that she REALLY did not want to live? You see, in Emergency medicine we learn early on that if you really want to die or commit suicide, you don't take pills, cut yourself, or even use a gun. No, we know that if you want to be successful at suicide, you hang yourself. "We" know that this is the best way to ensure death, that these patient's are truly disturbed by life and choose death. Somehow I made it through the hallways, elevators and corridors and saw my sister. She was on her knees praying until we saw one another. She got up and lead me to the doors outside of the ICU where Ely was being "held." Her face was so purple, swollen, and distorted. Her tongue was protruding and her eyes were bulging. I still pray every night to clear that vision from my head and heart. All of the petechiae around her eyes and bruising to her neck. I kept flashing back to the Trauma and Forensic patient's. Most of those patients with those injuries did not live. I ended up praying with their families and performing post mortem care after an unsuccessful resuscitation. But, there was my niece, Elysia! She had this innocence about her. Her face thru all of the injuries and trauma was beautiful and child-like. God, I love her! God please help her! My pleas and bargaining began. You see, we handle stressful events in our life based on our earlier experiences. So, mine wasn't arguing with God, it was bargaining with him, just like in my earlier childhood experiences.

 Quickly within arriving to the room, probably within the first shocking and heartbreaking 3 minutes, God blessed me again with kicking in the nursing. Although, this time I got to be her and touch her, pray with her and my sister. I always knew how much Natalie loved me and trusted me with her babies, but not until this did I really realize how much she shared being a mother with me. The childless daughter. In this adult ICU the visitor rules should not have included letting someone stay at the bedside, but since Ely was an adolescent she was allowed someone to remain there. Natalie at that very moment gave me the most precious gift she could ever give, and that was allowing me to stay with Ely. Some asked me, but she is her mother why did she let you stay? You know why.....because of her selfless love for her daughter! She thought that I could do Ely more good than she could. Now, I don't know if that is true or not, but I don't know what I would have done if she would not have allowed me that special gift. I even caught myself over the next several days taking this dictatorship role over who should visit. I know now it was fear and my "Aunt Shonna" role that was in control during those moments (mixed in with way too many years being in charge). I also know now why God chose Natalie to be the mother instead of me. Growing up everyone would have assumed that motherhood would have been my role, and boy were we wrong. It has taken me several weeks to get the courage to write my feelings even to this point. Like motherhood, Natalie was also given the writing ability on our side of the family, not to mention her faith and strength. Thank you to my beautiful sister and my loving and forgiving God!


thoughts from today

When tears begin, very often Ely trembles and shakes... tonight it happened again. We are trying to encourage her to use the computer to assist with sequencing and problem solving memory issues in a fun way. Tonight Ely worked on her island on Facebook, and moving the mouse with the touch pad sometimes requires multiple attempts to get the cursor in just the right spot then clicking is another challenge and the effort seemed overwhelming for her. She was frustrated. I encouraged her reminding her how much she's remembering on her own.
God spoke to my heart about her frustration and showed me that I also fall into the pit of frustration when I am not operating at the level I believe I "should" be. There's no difference. It's frustration because of some implied should be... Ely and I aren't embracing what IS in this moment aside from all circumstances. Accepting the Lord at the age of 37 often creates the thought inside of me, if I'd have committed to Jesus earlier, my _______________ would have been different. I'm sure Ely thinks, if I wouldn't have made the decision to die, my life could be ________________. Does everyone find themselves in that whirlwind at times?

When this occurs, He showed me we can't operate in His abounding grace because there are comparisons and limitations wrapped up in the past and stretching out into the future that are somehow dependent upon us. When I begin to examine what I can produce, what I haven't accomplished, the joy drains.
He is eternal. Time doesn't LIMIT the Alpha and Omega. Because all things are NEW creations in Him, there are no limitations. There's a song by John Mark McMillan (yes, love the way his brain processes life and God's LOVE) that says I'm crawling on the floor just to find You now... Yes, that fits this season. We are crawling and searching and hungry for You, Lord.
Lord, bring Your peace in this moment. Generously give peace and satisfaction in You.


Memories of ICU

After the seizuring from the paralytic, Ely spent several days just lying there. Her eyes opened now and then, but she was so still.  A picture comes to mind of a winter's night we had here years ago. There was snow everywhere and ice covering the braches of the trees. It was beautiful outside. I remember how quiet it was. Summer nights are full of bugs and frogs singing their songs, but a snowy winter night is without sound. 
The bruising on her face was dark, and her beautiful face was swollen. 
I watched her not move for hours. The only noise being the oxygen machine on her trach,  occasional beeping from the IV feed, and medical personnel moving around and talking. I could she her lips open slightly. Her front right tooth had been knocked loose when she was intubated and within 3 days, she'd fought so much and bitten the tube-- the tooth came out. The same tooth she'd knocked out at the age of one. Time returning.
It seemed God was making this act of grace familiar on purpose, deep purposes. Remember her as a child? Remember her? See her purity regardless of what is visible. Discount every mark of pain that your eye may detect. I will restore Ely, and she will be stronger and more complete than before. Don't you believe me? You have the opportunity to view her as I do. Know that as you will care for her; I care for you. 
I remember pleading with God, "Make her move. Is she okay? God, what are you doing? When will she wake up?"
Hours passed as I rubbed her with lotion, talked to her, read aloud to her, and she laid there. Finally during one of my journaling times, God spoke inside of me. "I caused Adam to sleep. I caused Abraham to sleep." I was okay then. She began to open her eyes for longer time periods. Her left arm was unable to move. I remember one nurse, Farah, who was determined for Ely to recover. She would pinch the tender skin near Ely's armpit to create a reaction of her moving that dead arm. Ely cried, but she moved the arm a little. Farah's routine continued, and Ely began to move her left arm.
God's plan for Ely and I is beyond my understanding. It boils down to walking with Him. Trusting Him. A friend of mine recently said, "If we could see the whole finished picture, we would choose His way because it's so much better." Not a little better. Not okay, I can do that. It's THE WAY.
What is He creating in our lives? We are being shaped, transformed into the image of Christ. It's not going to be like we would design, but what a gift to accept His design, His leading. He's the Good Shepherd, and the sheep know His voice.
They began sending a PT therapist to Ely's room. Her name was Gold, and she had a heart of gold. She would help Ely sit up, and help her walk with assistance. She took Ely for rides in the wheelchair and encouraged me to help with baths, walks, and exercise. There were several nurses who stood out, who truly cared, who prayed for Ely.
I would never have chosen this way because intellectually it doesn't make sense. I've heard people say, "Such a shame. She was such a smart girl." And now-- what? Her brain doesn't define who she is. I'm not angry with those statements anymore, and not really hurt by them. Yes, I hurt for my daughter's condition on some level, but I trust my God's direction. There is healing we don't consider, but He is faithful to bind wounds not physical. I trust that He is healing Ely perfectly. It's been almost 2 years now, and something in me shouts, "We've just gotten started."


tightrope walking

A disclaimer seems to be flashing around me these days as I step toward the computer: you are about to move into the past-- it is only the past-- it is crucial that you remain in the present. When the disclaimer causes me to remain away from the past completely, or the laundry, or the dishes, or homeschool :)  -- a soft alarm begins to ring and says to me, "This also needs to be written." And so with all that said, the past is the past, thank you, Jesus. And the present is rich and alive, thank you, Jesus. And the future-- is like a box of chocolates...
I remember the flood of visitors at the hospital. Some wanting to see Ely and others just wanting to share a hug or a gift. The prayers stand out in my mind the most. Strangers coming, children of God coming to pray with me and over Ely. Brother Mitch and Stacia sang "Amazing Grace" Tomlin version and shook the 3rd floor of ICU. Without a doubt, darkness trembled at the praise and hope released in song.
Pastor Randy who wasn't our pastor at the time came and prayed for Ely. It was so powerful that Ely upon their first actual, conscious meeting in rehab at Our Children's House in Dallas, sat straight up in the bed smiling and stretched her hand to him making the I love you gesture. That has been their special sign since that day. This kind pastor of a group of loving children of God continued to pray and dance in service for Ely, standing in the gap.
Another man from a church, Word of Victory, in Canton, came to ask if he could pray with me. This kind stranger wept with me in the kitchen of the ICU and interceeded for Ely. He shared with me how God had recently delivered him from a life of addictions. He was so thankful to God for the healing, and he knew if God would act on his behalf, He had the power to act on Ely's behalf. His was a mighty prayer of faith.
Churches all over put Ely on their prayer list. She was lifted high, and her name came before God over and over and over. Thank God that He laid it on so many hearts to pray for her. I know the power of prayer and faith rescued her from death. Jesus moved. He longed to move and when the cries came up, He came.
It's so interesting this back and forth between God and His children. I don't understand how it works. I know He never leaves or forsakes us, I know He was with Ely from her wrapping the belt around her neck until this day. I know He has never left me although I must address certain things it feels- as some independent lesson. He was with us, maybe calling to His children, "Come and love. You will be known by your love." Maybe that's the feeding multitudes He told me would happen. When His children came, they prayed, they loved, they sang, they brought support of every kind to our family, and we walked a step at a time as the bowls were filled with prayer and praise and faith in our loving merciful Father--- and He released life.
I don't remember the exact day I heard the scripture "Some demons are only cast out with fasting and prayer" in my heart. It was followed with "Don't eat until she speaks." Liquids only. He taught me so much pulling me away from flesh during that time.
His glory was a kalidescope during those weeks-- beautiful picture connecting and changing and moving as He breathed into our lives. His breath like winds of a storm will remove limbs, His pruning, and this creates a new strength to what stands beyond the breaking. You know? This process still continues. Thank you, God.


Poem from my wonderful 5th grade teacher

Ms. 'Forrest' sent this to me today.

So sweet how God places us back in touch with kind people who impacted our lives, and they still impact us.

                      ON LETTING GO

As children bring their broken toys with tears for us to mend,
I brought my broken dreams to God because he was my friend.
But then instead of leaving Him in peace to work alone,
I stayed around and tried to help through ways that were my own.
At last I snatched them back and cried, "How could you be so slow?"
"My child," He said, "what could I do? You never did let go?"

New Mercies

"My mercies are new each morning."

That is a line that is repeated in His song over me. He has to remind me. It is the line that connects the dots of my days. It gives hope and meaning to each crisis. It dispels all doubt. He is teaching deep inside me how to be patient, how to be satisfied, how to find joy in trials and consider and declare myself blessed.

Count it all joy, my brethren, when you meet various trials, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness. And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all men generously and without reproaching, and it will be given him. James 1:2-5

I want to be found faithful. I want to wait upon God with full expectancy and joy in everything He has given. Not looking to tomorrow for happiness, but pleased with this day and knowing His mercies are new each morning.

The first week my sister, Shonna, an RN stayed beside Ely continually for that extra medical care during such a critical time. God positioned her there, and she assisted her resuscitation several times during that week. The doctors didn't expect her to make it. We expected God to show up and to sustain her. He did.

I remember laying in the waiting room floor which turned into a makeshift bunkhouse at night for all the ICU family members. The Holy Spirit spoke loud and clear to my heart on the morning of Feb. 14th, His mercies are new each morning. I saw the sun rising through the large glass windows. The cloak of darkness thrown off. I was filled with certain HOPE. My daughter lived through the night, and He wouldn't leave us. Each morning we awake, He is waiting. God let that be the first thought of my day.

He reminds me still that He will not leave us. He is the Bright and Morning Star that rises inside of the fears and questions throwing off the cloak of darkness and uncertainty. Jesus, you are the HOPE. Let me know you more, LORD. I want to be faithful and KNOW first whatever you have is right... I pray that knowledge fills me completely.

The night of the 14th, I lay praying in the floor knowing He was in charge, and yet some part of me still shook inside of the uncertainty. I didn't know what was going to happen, I believed Ely would live, but something else still remained. I took all of that junk to Him in two words, "Oh, God..." He met me there and walked me through the outcomes: what if she remains in a coma-- I trust you, Lord; what if she comes home tonight with Me-- I trust you, Lord; what if ... and I sat up on all fours, and I said, "BUT I KNOW YOU." In that moment, He showed me Ely bringing fishes and loaves to him. He said, "With what Ely brings me, I will feed multitudes."

He is still feeding the hungry crowd of concerns inside of me. The starving "what ifs" standing in the soup-line.

Let your mercies fall-- shower them down..



How can I realize my emotions are rising up; how can I be aware of that and then give way to them? He always makes an escape... why am I not running to the DOOR?

God has been showing me that a great deal of anger still exists inside of me. I thought I'd given it all to Him. Maybe, sometimes, we have to give and give and give it to Him each time He peels back another layer. Maybe this committment to His healing is a continual process. Maybe that's the faith to faith, glory to glory...

For two days of homeschooling and therapy, Ely was very argumentative and defiant. She didn't want to do her work... she didn't want to do her weights and excersizes. Days like this are so hard.
God, what do you want me to do? Do I let her just relax and sit with a movie? Do I push her through her rage and fits? What do I do? I drove Ely to Mom's so we could have a break from each other. I didn't know what else... Sometimes I think it would be better for Ely to have skilled therapists working with her. I remember as a teacher there were things my students would do for me that they resisted to complete for their parents. Am I holding her back by keeping her home with me? My home vs. group home? God, JUST TELL ME.

So after the tsunami of tears... puffy eyed, exhausted-- I drive back out to Mom's. I can't leave her there. She will think I don't want her. Honestly, I don't know what she'll think... I don't know what she'll think or feel, but I do know that God will never leave or forsake ME.  With all my heart, I want to please Him, and I want to be like Him. He doesn't run from me when I am argumentative or defiant... I have injuries that He came to bind up. I want to be that for my daughter. How does and injured person help another injured person? Lord, heal us.

I know I can trust Him, Ely belongs to Him. Why then did I get to that high panic mode place again? There are so many questions that flood my mind. How am I supposed to be? Why am I still so broken inside about the suicide and injury? Am I doing enough? Is love the only healing she needs? Do I worry about spelling, speech, math, science? Or are rest and laughter the best medicine? God, JUST TELL ME!

I truly am thankful for His miracle. He allowed her to live, and I see improvements. I know she has many moments of joy. That should be enough, shouldn't it? Why am I desperate for her to be independent and functioning? Why do I desire to know the finished product that she will be? God is the one who will either give her restoration or won't. His judgements are better than gold... why is there a pulling in my chest? Why do I fast and pray and fall into this paralysis? I'm waiting, God.

I remember one day months ago when I was struggling-- laying in the floor, crying and yelling... God, WHY? Do you love me? Why aren't you taking care of this NOW? You could if you wanted to... You could've stopped her from hanging herself. You can do ANYTHING! And I heard His sweet voice so quietly whisper in my heart... You're not glad...

Oh, God, I am glad, but I want Your gladness to fill me completely. I want your gladness to overflow and run and run and run. I am so sorry that I want more... I long to be glad and complete in You, abiding in the Vine, dwelling in You, and following Your voice. Thank you for Your grace when I am overcome by my emotions. Thank you for reminding me that You have overcome, and in You, I am also because You say it is TRUE.

And so, at the end of the battery of questions and tears and regrets, I find my Master waiting with arms wide open... and I thank Him. I fall into His good arms and rest.

I Am A Temple by John Mark McMilan
(Krew's favorite song right now. It spoke forgiveness to me today.)

Deep inside me
There's this burning
That just won't let me go
You are my fire
You are my righteousness
You are my rock in roll

I wish I could fit you
Down inside my chest God
I wish I could swallow you whole
I'd wrap you up
In a blanket of my skin
And you could call my body home

I am a temple
My body is a temple
I am a temple

So what if I'm not worthy
You make me clean

I can't get over how quickly you recover
The pieces of my heart as they shatter
Cause in your hands I am
More than just a brand new man
And all my falling down now
It just don't matter

I am a temple
My body is a temple
I am a temple

So what if I'm not worthy
You make me clean


Fast Forward

My intentions were to move from the event forward; reviewing journals, rewriting, recalling... in order. Primarily, that is the way this blog will be shared. However, today screams inside of me, needing to be locked down here.
It was a hard day. It was a day of frustration and tension. Battling in such an unusual multi-layered way. So often I find myself balancing between mother and therapist. I grapple with finding this perfect mixture of myself... how much firm? how much encouragement dipped in tolerance??  So firm won out for most of the homeschooling day, and she chose rebellious probably due to her frustration.
I want to know how to help her NOT give up on trying. I know it's hard, but she tosses in the towel so quickly- handwriting, math problems, puzzles. Before the hanging, Ely was in the Gifted-Talented courses. She'd never faced any subject matter that was difficult for her. Her mental processing abilities were so amazing to experience. Brilliance shone in her eyes and through every conversation... it's different now. It is so hard for her, and she's aware of the discrepancies. That surrender triggers alarms inside of me. It's like panic and fear mock me... "She still wants to give up."
So the enemy punched me a couple of good ones today. I didn't run screaming, trying to find someplace to hide like July 2008- July 2009. Thank you, Jesus, you are the strength inside my weakness. And YET... with the grace He's placed inside of me, He is still displacing anxiety which morphs into attack so quickly. My fears-- I hate the friction in OUR working this out. I must remember EVERY day to cast every care upon Him. The enemy gave me a bloody nose again. I didn't leave the fight though. Praise God.

 I want to be a LOVE WARRIOR that can't be shaken.


A blur

When I was allowed in to be with Ely before the helicopter arrived, I was handed a bag of piercings, earrings and other pieces of metals from places I didn't know about... I remember looks. Eyes hold such a great variety of thoughts and emotions. Maybe they weren't judging my daughter, maybe they weren't judging me as a mother-- maybe it wasn't the piercings, maybe it wasn't her committing suicide, maybe it wasn't her Gothic hair, nails... maybe it wasn't the cuttings they had seen that I hadn't seen. Maybe they were sorry for this, truly hurting with me without words. Maybe my confusion and pain tried to give their eyes words.
Who can hold you, who can mourn without speaking or adding opinions in this time? Only the Lord.

How could this be? All of the hidden pain my beautiful child kept from me. I tried. I wanted to be close. My husband and I even paid counselors... I wanted her to talk to someone. If it wasn't me, I just prayed for God to allow her peace to open up to someone.
I remember when I tried to talk to her about this black phase, she said, "Mom, I'm the same person with or without the black clothes." Yes. I remembered my days of spray painting my VW bug and wild clothes. I thought, she'll move through this period of expression to the next one.

Standing in the ER, my daughter lying on a gurney awaiting her care flight to Tyler, I looked through the tubes, beyond the purple bruising around her neck, and I bent down beside her ear. Whispering intimate pleas for her to remain here, apologizing for not knowing, begging for another chance to be a better mother, a better friend, and promising to give her my all...

I couldn't think of anyone to call. Of all family, friends, of everyone-- I only wanted quiet. No talking. Just stillness. I wanted to be alone, to be quiet.
Be still and know that I am God.
Maybe my spirit was accessing Him in this shock-mental shutting down. They asked me over and over if I wanted to call anyone. No.
Finally, my sister's face came into my mind-- I don't remember if I called her or if my sister-in-law did, but in that moment,  I know I wanted her to come. I wanted her. I realized I also needed someone to take care of my children at home while I drove to the hospital.
"You can't drive yourself," but I did. I had to. I wanted to be alone with God. I drove and prayed. He kept His arms around me. As I hung in that temporary limbo that robed itself with terrifying possibilities, He held me quietly. He didn't speak immediately, but I felt Him there.
At ETMC in Tyler, the flood of people, faces, doctors, and even loving strangers began.


And they follow me...

My sheep hear my voice. I know them, and they follow me.
He wouldn't lead me to the bathroom of the high school to witness my daughter lying dead upon the bathroom floor; He wouldn't lead me to that moment watching her come from the high place of the noose, belt unwinding from her neck; He wouldn't lead me to this picture carved in this reality of her face whiter than stone, lips and tongue pushed out-- colorless...
He wouldn't lead me into this place of devastation without purpose.
What is His purpose?
I don't understand.
I don't understand.
I continued repeating this over and over and over and over. I couldn't cry. I couldn't scream. I couldn't think.
My eyes were full and vomiting-spewing the image of my child, the beautiful, intelligent, loving daughter-- the precious soul struggling with depression, anger, questions about life, God, relationships... she had given up, tired of trying and tired of hurting.
Only days before, she had climbed into bed with me and my younger children. Tears filled my eyes, and I remember she asked, "Mom, are you crying?" And I said, "I have all my babies in my arms. Life is so good." I thought we were moving through the darkness, and yes, Jesus was leading us through, but we still had the Valley of Death to face.

As the principal began CPR, I fell to my knees. No. No. God. No. Please, God. No.

When EMT arrived, they began to bag Ely. After several moments, they had a faint pulse and rushed her to the small hospital in town. The faces in the hallway at the high school... there were screams, loud cries... I spoke to one woman, a teacher I am friends with... what is happening? I have to get out of this place, away from these eyes staring at me. Hurting makes me want to bury my face in a pillow until everything comes out, and I can walk away and leave the pillow and the pain. Those pillow containers of our brokenhearts must have some type of homing device connected to us...

I ran to my car. I drove the 10 or so blocks to the hospital. I hid in my sister-in-law's office.
I didn't want to talk to anyone. I wanted to see Ely. They were working on her in the emergency room. Their eyes said, "Poor, Natalie. She is going to lose her daughter." It seemed like they all thought Ely would die.