I'm a little more nervous as I sit here to type than I think I've ever been preparing to post. It's a good thing and I know that God is asking for more of me. I'm trying to even organize my thoughts as my fingers are moving across the keyboard.
I'm going to first answer a few of the questions I've received lately whether it was by talking with one of you or an email that you've sent.
I'll ease myself in and then I'm going to open my heart with you-my heart not about Cale, but about me. I'm going to reveal and confess a few lies that have in different ways taken over my thoughts and actions in different moments that have continually held me back from the call on my life.
So friends, here I go.
1. Q. How is Cale doing with living in North Carolina?
A. He loves it! I've actually asked him many times if he wants to move back to WA. Every time I ask he says no. He loves where we were born and what was home, but he (at least for now) wants to stay here. It's home now. My plan is to always always keep that door open. I never want to make it seem like that's not an option. At the same time, I don't want to live here as though it's temporary. When we talk about the future, we talk as though Nora will go to college here. We're blooming where we've been planted as they say. :)
While in WA, I think he was living in a constant battle mentally because we were back where we both grew up and he had memories, not in order or all like they actually happened but a lot of memories and things were so very different from what he was living after brain injury. He couldn't quite separate the two and completely understand the changes. Here he has zero memories and there seems to be a freedom.
2. Q. What does Cale do?
A. His big thing right now is sled hockey. This is something that challenges him and that he truly enjoys. We missed this last week because we were out of town but the week before he was so excited the whole drive home because he said he did so good. We haven't really connected with the team like I had imagined. I'm not sure he would say he has a "friend" on the team yet that he would want to hang out with but that's ok. He's getting to play hockey and that is such a gift. Nora knows all about daddy playing and she loves it. She was able to go ice skating with him for the second time back in December (I don't remember if I had shared about that?) and she hasn't stopped asking to go again! When Easton sees a picture of a hockey player in one of his books he says "dada!" Which we of course love that they both know and join in Cale's passion.
3. Q. How do you do it? Especially with having two little kids on top of your situation??
A. I love Jesus. I know that seems like an easy out, but it's the absolute truth. Cale's doc called yesterday afternoon and talked with me for a long time. At one point she asked this same question that comes often. My hands are full, it is so very true. I'm not trying to live in denial...but my heart is so so full. It really is. Cale is a gift. A crazy, wild, stubborn, uncontrollable, amazing gift. The two kids that we were brave enough to add to our journey-there couldn't be sweeter gifts aside from Jesus shedding his blood for my sins to be covered. No joke. Our home can be...um...well, it's just NEVER boring. I love it all though. It's just a lot of wiggling and being flexible.
We also have some pretty incredible people in our circle here. There is one guy from church who almost every week picks Cale up and takes him out. There are two other guys that switch off coming every other week to hang out with him. We have friends who have helped with the kiddos or who randomly will hang out with Cale. And I have many friends who love on me in different ways. I get to see people be like Jesus to our family...and it's a beautiful thing.
4. Q. Are you guys going to have any more kids?
A. I get asked this a lot. Would I love to if our life looked differently? Absolutely. And some days I think that maybe one day when these two are a little older...but no. We're at our max and we are truly content. In a few years when I feel as though one more baby would be oh so wonderful, we're going to get a dog. Ha.
5. Q. When are you going to write a book?
6. Q. Did you guys complete your date a week challenge?
A. Yes we did! And because my heart struggled so much this last year, we are just so so so so so thankful we had that challenge in place and stuck to it!
7. Q. Has Cale been doing better with eating veggies?
The ugly things that spin around and entangle the mess out of my thoughts are the things I'm about to share. Well, some of them. The road block I'm having is that some of these twisted thoughts turn into fear and when I am allowing fear to control me rather than what God is asking me, I'm not able to move past the place that I'm in. Over and over God's word tells us not to fear. Isn't it the easiest response though? Sometimes I don't even realize that fear is holding me back until God is calling me to obedience and I would rather dig my heels in and not budge.
This last weekend Cale and I went away for a perfect weekend to a marriage retreat. One of the speakers that we listened to was actually one of the Veterans. At one point while he was telling his story (which was incredible to listen to) he said, "If you don't share everything, even the dirtiest ugliest parts, you're missing out on sharing God's glory."
How do I even start this?
I'm going to try bullet points. We'll see how it morphs. Haha.
When this blog was first started after the accident, I didn't even know what a blog was. I'm not cool like that. And I think blogs were just taking off...at least that's what I tell myself. Cale's best friend at the time set it up for a place to post updates on everything that was happening with Cale. At first Mama was just posting on her fb page but not everyone was friends with Mama. All of us would type updates and ask you to please keep praying. I remember it was one of the greatest gifts to know you were praying with us and for us during such a hectic time. My brain is still super fuzzy when I think of those first few months. I know I've forgotten many details.
When all of our friends and family had to return to their normal life and I was left alone in a new place not knowing anyone, I was told I should keep posting. I really didn't want to. I felt like it was going to be too much and I just didn't have the brain space. God silenced my fear and reminded me that He would fill in the gap. He was using our story and I just needed to be obedient and type. So, I began to write, no longer from a place of heaviness and fear, or even just desperate to get an update to you. Rather, from my heart. Suddenly, even though I was very much alone at night in my hotel room, I felt like I had an army of friends and family walking this journey out with me. And it wasn't just a feeling-you were.
The blog became the place that I would dump everything out of me so that it wasn't balled up inside. I prayed (and still do!) as my fingers hit the keyboard, "Jesus, somehow let them see you."
He is faithful.
Over and over many of you would email me or message me in some way how God had encouraged your heart as you read what I had typed or just how thankful you were that Cale was progressing and you felt as though your prayers mattered.
Tears come to my eyes even now as I type these words.
Your kindness to our family has always been so beautiful.
Through time, I have been able to meet some of you that I had never met before this blog and I probably would have never met. This is the same for the accident. It was an awful dent in our life but we're thankful for the way that my relationship with so many of you has filled us in sweet sweet ways.
#1. What if I'm not as great as they think I am?
I'm not sure at what point that lie began to take root. Along with this blog has come some praise that I never sought out or dreamed of. It's just me. Bad grammar, babbling thoughts and obedience. Yet, at times there would be one of you that were so excited to finally meet me. Well, I'm not that cool. And I'm not even trying to be humble. Haha. Cale was always the life of the party, able to make everyone laugh-and let's be honest, he still is! I'm not. I don't have a loud take over the room personality. I'm totally ok with that. Over time and growing up, I was able to learn that God created me, me. Cale and I had many conversations when we were dating about how we really did fit well because he was so crazy and I was so not and that together, we were fun. Haha.
Please do no read this and suddenly feel like you need to message me and give me a boost of confidence-please! I'm only confessing that at least in my head, because of this blog I was put on some level that I was some amazing person and the reality is, I'm just not. But after meeting someone, this lie began to creep up...what if they're disappointed now.
Basically, I've forced that thought to go away time after time BUT I want to confess it to you as well. It's just me, a normal woman who 31 years ago was named Kathleen. Nothing crazy special about me! I get stuck in my head too often, I embarrass way too easily and I babble way too much.
Jesus loves me this I know. :)
#2. There's other people who say it better.
Listen, I have never been good at expressing my thoughts-ever. I have friends that would tease me about this. Growing up, writing was never my strong point. My journals from when I was younger are hilarious. This was never my gifting.
I think this blog has allowed some writing to seem great because first, God opened this door for me to share our story and reveal His glory. Second, it's from my heart and again is only possible because of God. Even when I've tried other ways of getting my thoughts out-they never come out right! I even attempted a video to put on here one day-it wasn't pretty. Even the times I've spoken at churches-nope. It can be about our life or a thought I have about something, and I end up not making sense. That's ok! That's me! Another...uh...awesome perk. Ha!
I do however know that there are a lot of people facing really hard hard things in life and they can make words come out like silk. They can articulate perfectly a situation. They, they are skilled.
Ok, I know this sounds like another lie about my self confidence and maybe I just need to read a self help book about becoming a better me-this really isn't the case.
The truth is that if I allow this lie to turn into fear which than leads me to disobedience because why should I put anything out there when other people do a better job, I'm telling God He's not bigger than me. He didn't do a good job of choosing me. He messed up when He created me.
In Exodus 4 God is instructing Moses and calling him out to lead the Israelites. Moses responds to God in verse 10-
But Moses said to the Lord, "Oh my Lord, I am not eloquent, either in the past or since you have spoken to your servant, but I am slow of speech and of tongue."
verse 11 God says, "Who has made man's mouth? Who makes him mute ,or deaf, or seeing, or blind? Is it not I the Lord? Now therefore go, and I will be with your mouth and teach you what you shall speak."
Guess what?? Even after God says that he will be with his mouth and teach him to speak- Moses begs him, pleeeeeease no! Send someone else.
And then with anger towards Moses, God calls out Aaron.
Every single time I read this passage, I get goosebumps and I react with a sudden burst of crazy hyper energy. Ugh. Moses, duuuuude. What? What were you thinking? How was your confidence so small when God himself was speaking to you?!!!?!?
Guess what friends, every time I read this passage I want to shake Moses and then I turn right back to myself...ugh.
Kathleen, duuuuuude! You know God has opened this door and created a way for you to be a light. He did not ask you to type perfectly looking all Hollywood and getting every word perfectly. If my theology is off a little-oh fat well. He's calling me to obey Him.
I could easily say, "Oh no, no no no. You have the wrong girl." But what if we never pursued anything because someone else can do it better?
#3. This isn't like a lie, lie. But it's there and I need to get it all out-
I must be butter cus' I'm on a roll!!
This last year has probably been the hardest for me. Partly, we've added another kid and that does add to all sorts of stress levels. Partly because we've had a few hard chunks of time with Cale. Partly because ______.
I can insert whatever there and it probably would be partly true. We just had our 8 year anniversary since the car accident. Every year, including the first year, I have approached Cale's Alive Day with such praise and thankfulness. I have looked back through each year and been so AMAZED at all that had taken place. This year though, I wrestled a wee bit more.
It's not because I haven't allowed myself to grieve.
It's not because I'm depressed.
It's not because I've given up on the power of God and my relationship with Him.
It's not because I never feel like I can have a hard day.
I just needed to wrestle some things out and it wasn't easy.
I needed to work through some thoughts about how much brain injury affects our every day and how that just sucks sometimes.
I needed to work out why it is that when I would rather go back to Africa and live on a dirt floor in a mud hut and love on babies that have not a single soul on this earth to love them-why did I have this instead? This life with brain injury?
I needed to wrestle with something that has continued to happen with Cale that I don't understand. I get frustrated and feel hopeless about it. I feel like we've been in the same boxing rink with this issue over and over and yet it keeps happening. It feels lonely.
I had to wrestle with looking at Nora and knowing that I can look at our marriage and feel like so much was stolen from us with the "could have beens" and the "should have beens" but it happened to us. We chose to bring two babies into this life. I know there are some of you who strongly disagree with our decision. Don't worry, I get why. I do. You read me struggling through and you wonder how in the world we could add a child.
It was never a light discussion.
We also know that Nora and Easton have a home where love is dumped on them by not just a mommy and daddy but also by Grammy.
We know that God will fill the gaps. We know and believe that as they are raised in a home full of love, grace and forgiveness, they will grow to also live in that. We know and believe that because their daddy is a little...off the charts (hahaha. ok, guys, he's REALLY silly and we just finished a weekend loaded with story after story revealing this!) that they will grow to love people the way that God sees them and not how the world labels them. We know and believe that the life we choose to live and the home we choose to have will help equip our kiddos to love God and love people well.
With all of the above, there's a wrestling within as I watch my almost four year old (say whaaaat?!?!?) process and deal with life with brain injury. I look at her and so quickly feel as though so much has been stolen from her and I chose that for her.
I know what the truth is.
I know that God knew Nora before I did.
I know that He has great plans for her.
I know that she has the perfect personality for a girl walking in her shoes.
I know God will provide what she needs...
(and the same for Easton)
...but my mommy heart still needs to wrestle with it and chew on it. I still need to process how this looks and how I can best help guide her.
I still have to watch my sweet girl suffer and although her "suffering" is not the worst she could experience in this life, it's hard. For my mommy heart, it's hard.
I also fully realize that it has been eight years. Eight years since I've seen Cale as the the way my heart longs to see him again. When trauma happens, typically there's the initial blow, a grieving period and then you began to move on. I think there's maybe a couple more steps? I don't remember. What I do know though, is we have brain injury that entered our life and it's not going away-it is here to stay.
As I've been going through a difficult season, it's not because of anything specific Cale has done, it's because of my heart. The inner parts of my heart processing and learning. Growing and being challenged.
It's hard but good. Not fun but needed.
I do plan to be posting more again and continuing to share all that God is doing.
Will you continue to pray for us?
Here's just a few fun pictures to end with :)
Enjoying the sunshine. Not sure if you can tell but his hat is basically sitting on the top of his head. It was his hat he wore last year! I am in denial that this boy is growing...
This is Nora puppy. She's a sweet little puppy :)
This girl is about to turn 4. Holy!
She has big plans for being 4. They include but are not limited to, her starting karate (she wants to do this so bad. I think we're going to give it a shot soon!), gymnastics (we'll maybe wait until she gives karate a try), go super super duper fast on her scooter, she'll start to obey because 3's don't obey, she'll eat new food, she's going to take a trip to WA (I'm so hoping I can make this happen!), she's going to go to the beach. She's going to go rollerskating and stay up late with mommy. The list just keeps going...haha.
This is Us.