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~{This Guy }~


This guy:

  • He taught me how to be tough
  • And that it is o.k. to also be soft
  • How to change a tire, crank a wrench, the difference between a Phillips and a flat head.
  • That a little or a lot of hard work never killed anyone
  • And when you play, make sure it is harder then you worked
  • He taught me that problem solving is essential to being successful at life
  • As well as a sense of humor
  • He has lived his life with integrity and expected the same from his children
  • I am blessed to call him dad! Red heart

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I know several people who have been in traumatic accidents. You know the kind that you aren’t supposed to live through, but by some miracle they lived.

Doctors told their loved ones we after they became stabilized, “we aren’t sure if they will ever walk again.”  And rightly so, parts of them, the parts you walk on are being held together with metal pins and plates.

Again, by some miracle; a whole lot of hard work and pain, in each of these cases (three friends or spouses of friends) these men are walking. One thing I’ve noticed is they ALL walk with a limp. Another thing I’ve noticed is I’ve never once hear a person say to them, “Stop limping” or “You aren’t really healed because you still walk with a limp” or “There was never a miracle because you still walk with a limp” or “If you just worked harder, ignored the constant pain your leg is in you could push past it and never limp again” .

In all these case the fact that these men still draw breath on this earth is celebrated. The fact that walk and carry on a normal life, hold jobs, play with their children, go on outings is not lost on their wives. Who everyday look at heir limping husband and are grateful that they have experienced healing over an injury that should have taken them out.

I often wonder why we (humanity) are so hard on people when it comes to applying this same concept to ones heart and soul wounds.

Today, it is a hard day. An anniversary. A day where I had a before and after moment. Ten years ago I ended my day in a Trauma unit. I then spent the next three years in an out of the ICU.

You know, like, before the accident.

Before cancer.

Before she died.

Before kids.

Before marriage.

Before the drug addiction.

Before divorce.

Before the affair.

Before his mental breakdown.

Before the robbery.

Before the sexual assault.

Before the miscarriage.

Before ALS.

Before my heart was in a trauma bay.

Before that moment when I needed to be told to BREATH.

I now live in the after of that before moment.

It doesn’t take knowing me long before you are able to pick up on a very distinct fact, I walk with a limp. Not literally, but my heart does, my soul aches in pain whenever I am on that injured leg to long.

For anyone with an old sports injury you know what I’m talking about just the change in weather can send us screaming to the medicine cabinet for ibuprofen.

Over the last 10 years I’ve received all kinds of advice.

Judgments.

People who look at my limp and have decided that because I still walk with a limp, I haven’t done enough physical therapy.

Or seem the right doctor.

Or had the correct surgery.

A.k.a forgiven, let go, gone to the right therapist, pastor, or worked through the pain, surrender the situation to God in the correct manner.

I end up disheartened, discouraged and feeling misunderstood at the end of these conversations, because everyone wants to fix my limp.

I often want to scream, did you forget I wasn’t supposed to live?

Don’t you know there are pins in my heart holding it together?

That limp is part of my story.

A very important life changing part of my story.

A piece that yes while it almost took my life; it also gave my life clarity, perspective, and empathy.

So today on this anniversary of my heart accident I urge you not to be so quick in judging the next person you see who heart or soul is walking with a limp.

They may just be a walking miracle.

It could just be that their heart is being held together with pins.

Their limp, might just be there to remind them how God heals.

Their limp might just be there to remind you of how God works in the trauma bays and ICUs of our heart and soul. And healing on this earth doesn’t always mean that the limp goes away.

 

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Scars


❤ This is still one of my absolute favorite pictures of my kids and I❤.

We look like we’ve been to war. And really I think we had; this photo was taken at the end of one of the hardest lived seasons of my life.

This pictures shows what happens when your kids learn to ride bikes without training wheels. They fall, they crash and burn but they got up and there isn’t a trace of these injuries on their precious little faces today.

Not all our injuries from this season of life are scar-less, and some of those scars run deep, and still gruesome to look at. The scars remind me that something extremely painful took place in our family. And because those scars are no longer gaping wounds, healing took place too.❤

 

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This!

I have had a front row seat as to how the church has treated the mentally ill.

I have watched at a minimum three seminary trained ordained pastors take a passive approach to my schizophrenic brother. They either totally ignored him or decided it was his job to reach out.

Anyone versed in mental illness knows how hard it is to take that first step and say this is what is going. Even for those of us who don’t suffer from mental illness can understand when we are vulnerable with someone who doesn’t reciprocate, how that flares our insecurities.

I watched the church(different church, different leaders) handle my best friend’s schizophrenic ex-husband (current at the time) in a similar fashion. This hands off approach is not isolated to one group of people.

The statistics are staggering when it comes to disabilities, most American families are touched in someway. I hope church leaders start educating themselves and their congregations in how to embrace those with disabilities as well as their families.

Church4EveryChild

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Editor’s Note: Shannon Dingle is compiling the data examining, disability, adoption, mental illness and church. Here’s what she found in terms of research on persons with disabilities in the church.

Last week I opened a three-part series of posts on statistics and ministry by sharing general figures about the prevalence of disability and mental illness in the US. I challenged you to consider how your church can better represent those numbers, that all people may hear and know the truth of the gospel. Today I want us to zoom in a little closer, looking specifically at research pertaining to people with disabilities in the church.

Please feel free to share the information in this post and the other two in my series. If you do so, I’d encourage you to include the sources so that others can be like Bereans and not just believe what we say but verify it…

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Digging Out

Most people don’t share my love for the snow.

Most people aren’t excited, as a matter of fact overjoyed at the prospect of getting snowed in.

The Therapist has always said it is because I don’t have to shovel it.

Guess what, while he was stuck at work for the weekend, the kids and I shoveled almost 30 inches of snow, and I LOVE the snow. I still LOVE being snowed in. 

Granted this guy showed up Sunday to take care of the parking pads.

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Sledding with Friends

I think what I LOVE the most about what a snow storm does is it forces us to slow down. Thankfully most of my friends and I have four wheel drive and an adventurous spirit.

And while 30 inches of snow proved to be a little to deep for the sledding equipment we were working with, it was’t to deep for making memories.

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Happy Birthday


I want to pause a moment and wish my baby brother a Happy Birthday.

Today he turns 34.

I’m not sure if he knows what day of the week it is.

I don’t know what if he’s aware that the world has flipped it’s calendar to 2016; or that today is a day that we celebrate his arrival on the planet.

Regardless of his awareness, I feel compelled to stop in the middle of my busy life and celebrate.

Celebrate that I have a brother.

To remember that although there are many heartbreak, heart wrenching pieces of his story, he has overcome many hurdles.

Today his mental health is stable. 

I hope somewhere deep down inside he knows he is loved, and that today, like many other days, we remember him and celebrate. 

http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions/Schizophrenia

 

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Every year I spend a ton of time contemplating what to communicate in our annual letter.

When the kids were little I just told funny stories about our life. As they get older there is no lack for funny stories, but they now read, and I have the responsibility of protecting their dignity.

This year each family member is contributing a little to our annual letter. I took a trip down memory lane and have inserted some of the highlights in photo. Sorry our letter is long winded, some of us like words and others like photos, but it is clear what our whole family likes is a good story!

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Joshua was proud of the fact that he could play the piano with his feet, not sure his piano teacher felt the same amount of pride.

We will start with Claire. She is 8 and in the 3rd grade. With Elaina’s help she wrote the following:

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Claire playing in the sand on our trip to the beach.

I went to Maine. We went to L.L Bean, I got 3 little stuffed Labs. They are so CUTE! I gave one to Elaina and one to Joshua, I kept the yellow one. We went to the top of a mountain to see the sun rise. It was really cool, but it was really cold. I got pictures. Then we went canoeing, in Long Lake. That was our lake. We went on a bike ride up a mountain and down the other side. We camped in a parking lot on the way home and the way there.

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Joshua was multitasking on the beach, playing in the surf and flying our kite.

Our dog, Molly died. It was sad.

We went swimming a lot this summer.

This fall, we got a new dog. Her name is Georgia and she is a Black Lab mixed with a Red Bone, (We are pretty sure.)

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Mother’s Day Weekend Camping trip with family. We went to Camp Hebron and relived some of our childhood memories.

I walked in the Halloween parade with my friends. We were a roller coaster! It was fun. Those friends got a dog too! Her name is Bacon!

I had a lot of fun this summer! Merry Christmas!

Love, Claire

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Elaina was excited about her birthday gifts.

Joshua is next. He is 10 and in 5th Grade. Both he and Claire attend a Montessori school in Gettysburg:

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A camping trip to Hickory Run State Park. The kids love climbing trees and rocks.

Thins I did and saw this year. I went to Maine and got to explore Acadia National Park. Also, I got to see very good paintings. Another thing I to see was dolphins. I also went to RVR (River Valley Ranch) for camp. Finally, I got to get a dog for an early Christmas present.

Sincerely, Joshua

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Our trip to Maine was profitable, at least if you are a fisherman.

Elaina is 12, which she reminds me of quite often. She is in 7th Grade at University of Scholars, a division of PALCS (Pennsylvania Leadership Charter School). I am back to having a kid home with me everyday as this is a cyber school program.  As you can see Elaina is the writer in the family, summary means 2 pages single spaced typed: Smile

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My world. My life. My loves.

Where to start, where to start? Well, things have happened this year……. Oh! I know where to start, okay. Now, one thing before I start, I am 12 so, if I say something in the wrong context, sorry, don’t get offended. (Note: I will tease people😉 But all the people I tease; I love.) DSC_9326_4481

The sea fills my soul and renews my spirit. Watching my family enjoy it, my heart was full.

So, I am going to start at this summer, in Maine. Maine is AMAZING! If you don’t like um… things that we do, (Ahem, camping, peeing in the woods, screaming/getting up at the butt crack of dawn, dancing/sleeping in Walmart/ Walmart parking lot etc.) you still should go. Basically what we did was we left on a Sunday (??) and drove until we were past Hartford, Connecticut. I know you guys are wondering if we slept in the Suburban, and the answer is NO! That Burb is NOT comfy! We slept in our traditional Walmart parking lot! YAY! Then the real party began. One of the things that really stuck out for me was waking up at 5:00 am, (Yeah, we need to have our heads checked.) and going up to Cadillac Mountain to see the sunrise. It was cold and I spilled water on my pants but it was SO worth it. I mean, come on guys! You can’t go and see a sunset in Maine and not tell me that God doesn’t do amazing things! We went to Seal Cove,-Sorry guys, no seals. :(- walked ’til our feet almost fell off, ate lobster, walked on rocks, watched Mom be a wimp about walking across a little creek while holding her hiking boots, screamed a little, looked at tide pools and ate wild blueberries. So, pretty much, we had a AWESOME summer. (Well, sort of.) DSC_9532_4686

An educational program we went to while we were on Schoodic Peninsula

That sorta part, leads into this paragraph, (if you are a sympathy crier, get a box of tissues and a trash can) Some sad things happened this summer. Our Golden, Molly, died. I know, tear… We went to the pool to swim and we came back and she was just gone. Hold on, let me go get a tissue… Okay, I’m back. Anywho, she had a bowel obstruction. That was a sad moment in our summer…

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Every free chance she gets her nose is in a book. Why would the beach be any different?

BUT, don’t be sad! We got another puppy! Her name is Georgia and she’s a Red Bone and Lab mix. She’s only pooped in the house once and she’s chewed on a variety of things including Dad’s flip flops- Note that these were the ONLY flip flops he ever liked… no joke- Claire’s flip flops and crocs, my tape dispenser, Joshua’s hat (and homemade Christmas present made by Mwah), Mom’s scarf, 2 pillows (One can be repaired, one can’t be) her bed and a pen. Other than that, she’s been GREAT. She is a good fit for our family. She was a stray in GA before she came to us. We all love her, (Just admit it Dad, yeah, sure, she chewed on your flip flops and pen, but get over it, buy new shoes. You love her, admit it.) Claire has been in Heaven-on- Earth since we got Georgia, the cat… well, she hasn’t exactly been happy that her house is being taken over by a large black animal. DSC_9552_4706

An educational program we went to while we were on Schoodic Peninsula

Now, we are going to talk about my favorite subject, school. (Note the HEAVY sarcasm in my voice.) Joshua and Claire have been going to GMCS- Gettysburg Montessori- and I have been drowning in my cyber school PALCS- PA Leadership Charter. School is actually hard for me, which is an adjustment. I have been basically dying in math and hating Spanish, oh, I went hunting… and missed a doe… then I was being ruined because someone… got a 10 point… GRRRRRRRRR!

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One of our last trips with Molly, Rickets Glen State Park.

Joshua has been…. doing Joshua stuff whatever that is. Basically, he has been going crazy, annoying me, and dancing like a weirdo. I love you Jopha, but the dolphin and “beat-boxing” sounds need to stop before I am driven up the wall!

Claire has been decorating her room, doing crafts, tackling me and begging me to read her books…… uhhhggggg! She has been a ray of sunshine and she loves the dog.

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The kids and I ran a 5k the end of March. It was snowing, we for sure felt like REAL runners.

Mom has been doing Mommy stuff and taking pictures, and working her other…. 10 million some jobs.

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For Joshua’s birthday we went to Ford’s Theater in Washington D.C. for the 150th celebration of the day Lincoln was shot. He got to meet one of his favorite authors, James Swanson.

Dad has been hating the cat, thinking the dog’s a moron, (He secretly loves her), hating the cat, shooting his bow, hunting, being made fun of by his wife and daughter  and did I mention hating the cat?

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Claire’s birthday was a field trip to the mall, she got her ears pierced.

Some other eventful things that have happened this year: I almost ran a half marathon, but backed out and screamed like a crazy person for the people running it, (Yes, I am a crazy person. It runs in the fam.) Joshua turned 10, Claire turned 8- AHHHHHH!- I turned 12-Not that amazing but me and my friend became “sister wives” after proposing to the same random dude at the mall (Scavenger hunt.) Dad hates the cat even more (Not surprising but I decided to include it anyway), Mom turned the big 4-0!! I got baptized! That was really great. (Thanks to all y’all that came to be there for me at that milestone!) Joshua ACTUALLY cleaned his room! (That was huge!), I dumped water on my computer (My hand slipped!)

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It was a cold winter. Everyone got to experience what I grew up doing, ice skating on a frozen farm pond with friends.

Another thing that happened, Dad became a “pastor!” He’s teaching a Bible study and in my opinion, it is good. He wanted me to take that part out, but I didn’t want to because I really think that he has potential.

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One of Elaina’s many 6th Grade presentations.

Basically, we had a typical year, yelling, chaos, cleaning like crazy people, hiking, hanging out with our awesome people, embarrassing each other, having dance parties, crushing Joshua at arm wrestling, all good things. I hope you guys had a good year to and didn’t sit on the couch like a potato and eating junk food………I bet some of you did that………….

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An educational program we went to while we were on Schoodic Peninsula

Through all the things that happened this year, we’ve kept our eyes on God and made sure that we tried not to kill each other. (There were many close calls.) So, yeah. This year has been eventful. Again, hope you have a Merry Christmas and I hope you laugh at Jopha’s HILARIOUS face on the Christmas card. (I tell ya, he’ll have the girls screamin’ and swoonin’ when he pulls that face.)

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The Therapist and I chaperoned a school field trip to the PA Farm Show. Elaina LOVED the butterfly room. 

Peace out,

(:P Love you guys!)

Elaina

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Exploring Schoodic Peninsula on our trip to Maine.

Finally The Therapist is weighing in on his year:

I’m not totally sure how to summarize a year that honestly went by so fast I feel like I was just writing about 2014 a few minutes ago.

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Our trip to North Carolina provided some fun!

It definitely seems like the years are going by faster and I think about all the projects and things that I would love to do but either doing take the time to start or doing have the time to start. 

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Boating in North Carolina

The highlight of the year was our trip to Maine.  I love that we took the time and effort to buy a used travel trailer and make it ours.  I am thankful for places like Cabela’s and Bass Pro who allow “boon-dockers,” like us to crash over night for free.  We tend to be a biiiit intense when it comes to our vacations so being able to crash when you are tired and driving for hours in order to get to the fun earlier is perfect. DSC_9749_4898

Exploring Schoodic Peninsula in Maine.

Among the highlights of the trip is when we got to our final camp ground we had the opportunity to fish in the harbor we overlooked.  Thanks to the generosity of the old sea rat harbor master I was able to grab a rod and get after some Mackerel.  Joshua, Claire and I reeled in 28.  Now none of them were big but after cleaning them we had a few of those bad boys for dinner that I cooked over the fire.  YUM!!

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Of course there is much more but I think this is getting long.

I am so proud of my kids and their performance in school.

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Experimenting with my light ring.

I am also really proud of my wife and the success of her new and growing photography business.  She is SOO good at what she does and I’m still holding out to be a kept man.  Maybe I could hunt some more.

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First Day of School 2015, he REFUSED to smile

Not entirely sure what he is thinking with the kept man part. I wondering if he thinks that I do only fun things while I’m home all day with his children?  Being a therapist you’d think he would have had a class about these things. Winking smile

 

As you can see the highlight of our year was our trip to Maine and our new dog Georgia.

As Elaina pointed out I had a big birthday, 4-0. It wasn’t a crisis. My 30’s weren’t so kind, they were the most emotionally trying times of my life. It was a decade of figuring out who I was and what I was made of.

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First Day of 3rd Grade.

Honestly, I was excited to turn a new leaf to say good-bye, close that chapter.

It is great to be able to know I’ve lived on this planet 40 years, I’m no longer wet behind the ears, as my dad would say, I’ve got scars and experience to prove it.

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Camping with friends provided hours of entertainment, which included fort building.

There is something empowering about reflecting on your life, looking at all the obstacles you’ve over come, looking at your 20 year old self and knowing because of  tenacity and grit, and the grace of God, I am a stronger, more compassion and all around better human then I used to be. DSC_0686_5358

My most precious memory of the year. Elaina was baptized. My Grandpa congratulating her.

As I reflect over the year I can honestly say with all the ups and downs that come with marriage and parenting we are truly blessed. I am eternally grateful for this life.

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I lead a photowalk in October, Joshua cam with me, he was not impressed with the cold and rain.

As you embark on 2016 our prayer for your family is you can take some moments to stop and count your blessings, be grateful for this life, and thankful for the moments that make you a better more grateful person.

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Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year!

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