Thursday, February 13, 2014

4 years.

On 02/10/14 we celebrated Cale's 4th alive day! 

I've been attempting to post since that night but this whole pregnancy thing wipes out all energy. Over the last week and half my get-up-and-go has been zapped. 

Sunday night as Cale and I went to bed, I shared with him about that night 4 years ago…and then of course we talked about what happened the next day. When I woke up Monday morning the song It is Well with my Soul came to mind. We had just sang it at church on Sunday and I thought it was a perfect song the next morning. 

How often in the midst of a trial can we actually sing and mean that it's well with our soul? 

Lots of different emotions always bubble to the surface but joy is what surpasses them all. It's been like that every year and I pray that it continues to be that way. I want my heart to truly celebrate Cale's life and the full gift it is. I don't want to be held back by what was and what is…rather, rejoice for all of what is! We have so much to be thankful for…even though I often say that brain injury just plain ol' sucks. That doesn't make our whole life terrible though…! 

Here's the last 4 years-be blessed as I know we are!

We're super excited to see the changes over the year to come! Thank you for continuing this crazy  journey with us!! 

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Setting Aside Selfishness

I told you I'd be posting again later this week…so I'm determined to make it happen! 

How is the rest of everything going? 

Pregnancy is going great! So far, even with the sickness, the extra breakout and the loss of energy…I have loved being pregnant. I had been feeling overwhelmed and extremely intimidated when I let myself really think about how at the end of 40 weeks (give or take) there would be a tiny human for me to care for. Last week as her room came together, I started to look around and realize that now she's what is missing. I can't wait to meet her and rock her in the chair that I now rock in rubbing my ever growing bump. I'm actually feeling more confident in the next part of the whole process… :)

Cale is super super super sweet and helpful with me as I grow. I'm not sure if I shared in the last post but he reads to her every single night. He's been talking to her since the morning after we found out, and about the time her ears actually started to develop and process sound, he started reading her a bedtime story. It is probably my favorite time of day lately because it's the absolute sweetest thing to listen to. He starts out letting her know its time for a story and it just gets better and better from there. I tried a couple different books the other night, but there were just too many words on one page at a time and he wasn't able to read the book, so we picked out the most simple to read ones and will work up to the other ones as Nora gets older and his reading progresses! 

Here's a picture of him reading to daughter…

As for me-

My honest from the personal depths of me answer is that I'm doing great. I really am. There's a whole lot of growing happening, and I don't just mean my size ;)

I had high hopes today for some fun playing in the snow with Cale. We actually have some snow and it's sticking which doesn't normally tend to happen in these parts. Even as I'm typing, the white powdery flakes are continuing to fall from the sky. It's nowhere near the amount the rest of the country is getting pounded with by any means, but for around here…there's quite a bit of it! 

When we first went out, Mama snapped a couple pictures and within minutes, Cale was miserable and the fun time that I had imagined quickly turned into let's-just-be-done-with-it. We came inside and I was told how stupid my idea was along with other grumblings. I had to admit that it was an awful lot of work to get all dressed to go out, but my intentions were that it would have lasted longer than 10 minutes and would have been full of laughter and smiles.

At that point neither of us had showered or gotten ready for the day. I was disappointed and annoyed because of how my expectations had been shot and Cale was annoyed and frustrated that I made him go outside with me. We were both unhappy. What I wanted to do, what my flesh wanted to do, was to give him the silent treatment and just be upset for awhile. The very thing that snapped me out of it was that I still needed to shave his face. I still needed to get him lunch. I still needed to explain what the day was going to look like. 

I don't tell this story to make either of us seem ugly or mean. I tell it because with being a caregiver comes the very act of setting aside selfishness to care for that person. 

I wanted to be full-blown selfish. I wanted to not care about his needs. 

…and this was such a simple not that big of a deal situation. It just rubbed me in a bigger way than needed. 

The first year we were home from the hospital in 2011, I'd say maybe 4ish months after or even before that, Cale was taking meds three times a day. He would fight every single time. His anger looked very different than it does nowadays but it was still impossible to get him to do something if he didn't want to do it. Especially when it was three times a day that we'd have the exact conversation and he wouldn't remember each time. There was one night that I was extremely tired. Way past exhausted. I don't even remember any of the details that had gone on about the day, I just remember coming to him with his meds and a glass of water. I asked him to take his meds and he of course refused. I asked again. Nothing. He wasn't going to budge. It wasn't a time that I could just walk away and have him fight again. The meds needed to be taken so we could go to bed. He was getting more and more angry and I was feeling weaker and weaker. It finally hit a point that as I was holding the glass of water, and he refused by yelling at me, I responded by throwing the water at him. With the glass still in my hand, I ran to our bathroom with hot tears pouring down my face as I slid against the wall finding my place on the floor. 

I cried. I cried a whole lot. I prayed, telling the Lord exactly how my heart felt. I told him exactly how angry I was that a TBI was in our life. 

After several minutes, or at least what felt like several minutes passed, I looked to my left at Cale. He was still sitting in the same position as before on the bed, clothes soaked, clueless of what had just happened. He didn't know why he was all wet and he didn't know we had just gotten upset with each other. He also had no idea what to do with himself. 

I lifted myself up off the floor, walked over to my husband and helped him undress out of his wet clothes. I then helped him into something dry to sleep in and asked again to have him take his pills. He took them this time and after I tucked him in, I silently walked to my side of the bed, pulled back the covers and curled up thanking Jesus for the man he had given me to take care of and fell asleep. 

I know that as many of you look into our lives from the outside in, it may seem as though I do an amazing job caring for Cale. Reality is that it's hard and I make so many mistakes as I try so hard to love him like Jesus does. Yet, often I think about that night that I so clearly remember and how just giving up and being selfish is not an option-he needs me to care for him. And for many of you that are in or have been in any kind of caregiver situation, you know that there is little room for self. Your schedule changes. Your choices and demands shift. You become tired and sometimes weary. You don't want to have to take on the responsibility  of someone else's life, but quickly you know that you love them more than not taking care of them. 

Living life with someone that has a disability gives a vivid picture of what Jesus talks about in Matthew 16 when he says, "If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me." In the New Living Translation it even says, that we must turn from our selfish ways. 

There's a tool in my life called disability that helps me understand denying myself; setting aside my selfish ambition, but this verse speaks to all of us. We are all supposed to set aside our selfishness to follow Christ. We are to love those around us and tend to their needs. We are to help others be comfortable even when we end up uncomfortable. We are to step out of our bubble and reach out to the very lives we come in contact with everyday-even if that means we don't get everything done on our list of to do's.

As the sun sets and then rises again day after day, I'm learning and being molded to reflect Christ more and more. It's not a bad thing to die to self. In fact, many of the ways I instantly want to respond aren't ways that I actually want to respond, they're just the ways of my flesh.

It's not a sob story that the desires of my flesh are dying daily; it's a great thing.

It causes me to be doing great.

Even when in the moment it just doesn't feel that way…

and because Cale can't just do everything on his own and needs me to help care for him, I get to experience true joy when I watch him live life. When I pause from the crazy busy of the day and let myself soak in his humor, personality, and character.

Serving my husband makes me a better wife, daughter, sister and friend.

* I shared a very personal story. Please be gentle with my heart! I felt that I needed to share that moment because of how great of an impact that night was on me…
*I'm sorry for all of you that have had trouble posting comments to the blog! I have no idea why it's messing up! Feel free to email anytime! Just know it may take me awhile to respond! 

Monday, February 3, 2014

How are things really?

I've been asked quite a bit recently, 
"How is Cale really doing?"
"How are you really doing?"
"How is the pregnancy really going?" 
"How is life really going?"

I thought along with giving an overview of the last month, I would also give you a little more detail about how the Darling's are really doing. 

To start 2014 we dumbed a jar full of little notes of things we were thankful for from all of 2013. Cale, Mama, and myself sat at the table and read through every single one of them. We laughed and treasured all the days of thankfulness. We've already started our jar for this year! 

The very next day on the 2nd was my birthday! I was super spoiled this year…I had lunch out with Mama, complete with dessert that we shared. Later in the day I was given a prenatal massage (oh my goodness) and the next day Cale took me (as well as participated) in getting a pedicure!

He was very relaxed while the lady worked on his feet…and not only did he get a pedicure…but he had them paint on Go Red Wings :)

For Christmas I had gotten Cale a Bible that was giant-sized print. He struggled to read a normal print and would always end up frustrated. One morning he was up at 4am and reading it! It only lasted about 10 minutes before he quickly fatigued. Amazing! Reading is very difficult for him unless it's very simple reading with not many words on a page but he can struggle through it and this was so encouraging to me! 

The beginning of this month we traveled down to Palo Alto area and visited friends along with going to see the Red Wings play the Sharks. Unfortunately we lost, but our seats were awesome and we had a ton of fun! We also went to the VA for a quick visit to see the staff. The halls there are filled with so many memories…and surprisingly, even though it was a difficult time in our lives, most of the memories are really good. Thankful for that place…

While in CA, as Nora moved, we started to be able to watch my belly move! I loved sitting and watching my belly move this way and that! We also played corn hole which is a game Cale LOVES! He still gets frustrated easily when he's not making it but it doesn't change his love for it! 

Dave and Barb, our friends that we stay with when we travel that way,  also surprised us with a little baby shower! I'm kicking myself for not getting any other pictures with them except for the one above! Our whole visit was perfect. We went to bed every night talking about how great the day had been. I felt like we were able to see everyone and still have plenty of relaxing time. 

I've been having a blast working on little projects with Mama for Nora's room! We've made crib sheets and things for her walls. I find myself sitting in the rocking chair often enjoying all the sweetness that has already filled her room along with dreaming of the sweetness to come! 

On January 24th I entered into the third trimester and to celebrate the Mr. and I had a date night! 

While in church, Cale always has a hard time processing quick enough what's being said. He'll catch things here and there but just isn't able to follow along in our small group or service. With his new Bible though, the last couple Sundays he reads on his own! He did this during small group as well! I love that even though he can't follow along with everyone else, he's now able to focus on the Word himself! This is such a huge step in his healing! 

Friendship…it's a beautiful thing. Especially when you could pass as being pregnant together…in a manly way of course! ;)

How is Cale really doing?

I'll start off with praising God for the difference I've seen in Cale with appointments! First, in December we went to see a chiropractor. Neither of us have been checked since the accident, and finally had found a great one and made the time to go. The first appointment was smooth. I'll be the first to say that I was nervous because I wasn't sure how Cale was going to react. 

The doc did scans on me and then scans and X-rays on Cale. We discussed some of what to expect and  made the next appointment to come back and go over all the results. During that appointment we looked at the X-rays of Cale and discovered that his pelvic bone is severely rotated which causes his spine to be rotated all the way up his back. His left foot is also longer than his right which causes him to basically walk in a pot hole all day. We had no clue! In fact he let us know that this is the worst he's ever seen. We then talked about me and went over a plan-that was the point that Cale became angry. Hearing that he would have to continue appointments upset him…mega. Our meeting was cut short and there were lots of tears. 

The following week I spoke with the doc on the phone and we went ahead to make the first appointment. I dreaded this so much. It was a moment when I knew what was needed was important but seriously questioned if the result of it all would be worth it. 

After a few weeks of praying and others praying for us, we went to the first appointment…and then the next…and the next. It has been better than I could have written it out to be! I can't explain this in a clear enough way…God smoothed out all of the rough patches. 

We also made a dentist appointment which just happen to be the very worst appointment for Cale. We've had some pretty bad experiences and because of them, I've put off making another one since we've been home from Walter Reed.

We were prescribed medication to give him before he goes to the dentist, but I wasn't completely confident that it was going to be enough. The first appointment we went to I didn't have to give him anything! He did great! The second one he didn't sleep the whole night before and was very anxious that morning so I did give him one and he did great! Even when he was really anxious, the difference was his anger was absent. He was just really nervous. 

These are two amazing examples of how far he's come. Blows my mind. 

It doesn't just stop there though. Cale really is doing amazing. While in CA everyone was so excited and thrilled to see how different he is…and even those in our daily lives here at home will mention every now and then how wonderful he's doing. Music to my ears I tell ya! 

I'm very aware of his brain injury and very aware that we've had some really amazing seasons before that were followed up with some really devastating seasons. 

There is a fear that tends to want to invade my heart, the wondering of whats next and when will this good time with him end? In fact, the day that he exploded at the chiropractor wrecked me. I know hormones are a big part of it, but it was also because he had an explosion and those come far and few between nowadays so when it happened, I instantly went to the thought of us entering back into a really hard time with his brain injury. 

I read a few nights ago, Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him. -Proverbs 30:5

Yes, I'm aware that he may be doing great at the moment but with his disability, a moment is just a moment and can so quickly change…but as I read this verse in Proverbs, I'm reminded that I don't have to fear what may come or the loss of what is. Every single word of God is true and there is a book FULL of his promises that He stands with me and that I'm free of living in fear, no longer held captive to it! He is my shield to the bad days…the heart-breaking days…to the days of complete and utter loss.  

So, I fully rejoice in this time that Cale and I have while he's doing so good. I rejoice in how smooth it all feels right now and how precious our days and nights have been together. 

I rejoice in God's word being truth and the reminder that He's not just my shelter…but Cale's as well. 

Thank you so much for your continued prayers for my man. He's in a constant daily battle and it means the world to me to know you're lifting him up! 

Daddy to be…

Cale is SO excited for this baby girl to join us! He still talks to her all the time, reads to her every night, and prays for her in the most tender way. 

He's nervous some days and the others just as thrilled as could be! 

He loves to put his hand on my belly to feel her move. Many times in the middle of the night, he'll reach out his hand and find my belly to feel her. 

My heart already is mush watching him love her…I can't imagine when he actually holds her…


This is already a long post, so I'll finish up later this week about how other things are really going! :)