Wednesday, December 8, 2010

A letter from Andrew

Greetings to you all.

You’ve been on my mind for quite some time. Please accept my apology for not send a correspondence sooner.

I would like to begin with a heartfelt thank-you for your kindness, generosity, compassion…compassion…compassion. Did I mention compassion? There are so many of you. At the risk of appearing lazy, I send this note of update ‘en-mass’.
A few updates…

Sarah (our 15 year old). Approximately 5-6 days after my collision she checked-in to the hospital with a ruptured appendix. After 29 days of intensive medical care in Red Deer and Calgary due to the event and numerous complications she has nearly recovered in full – a bit more strength recovery still occurring. I was ‘sheltered’ from the severity of her event for a while and did not see her while I was at Foothills Medical Centre (FMC). However, I was able to see her hospital – Alberta Children’s Hospital – from our lunch room on Floor 58 at the FMC. Tried to wave but could not see her… .

A couple of miracles I am very thankful for:

1. On a selfish note…when I left FMC I did not have to go to a graveyard. Oh, how kind our God is. It would have been too much…I am so thankful that I did not have to find out how hard….

2. Sarah was extensively blessed with compassion from many and the medical professionals. So much so, that it has confirmed to her a desire to enter the medical field. As she put it, “Dad, after being desperate and receiving compassion, I want to do share compassion for the desperate.” The ‘seed’ was planted in November 2009 after she went with a group into the slums of India. It was ‘watered’ through this experience. She’s amazing…

3. In the first week of November, I was given two airline tickets to Toronto. Sarah and I went together for 4 days. Enroute, I looked over at her and thought, one or both of these seats should be empty… then thanked God…again. A couple of highlights:

• Getting a latte on Young Street.
• CN tower.
• Going to Niagara Falls.
• Lunch at the Hard Rock CafĂ©.
• Dad/Daughter time… precious.

Me (Andrew). A lot has happened. Immense amounts of good. As you are aware, the original prognosis after my ‘unexplained’ survival was not positive. Here is a summary of some key events:

1. I came out of the coma and had no memory for about 21 days. So thankful that there are no memories of the event of May 29th.

2. Had to learn to walk, think, write and a multitude of other things. Sometime we should have a coffee and I can share some of the miracles…things that I might have taken for granted…that are much bigger than one would think…like being able to formulate or remember a thought. Or, go to the bathroom without assistance, drink regular fluids, dress one self, not wear a diaper, write one’s name, eat with a fork, speak without foul language, control my emotions…and be thankful for breath, life and the events contributing to the new daily realities. I turned from a ‘man of faith’ to one of ‘those’, you know, ‘religious freaks’ .

3. A couple of miracles…

a. Technically, I am supposed to still be a resident of FMC.
i. August 11, I was discharged and walked out – with a cane. The medical people stopped to watch me leave.

ii. The prognosis after ‘intubation’ at the accident scene was not good. There existed a possibility of becoming mute or having severe vocal restrictions; I could only whisper. The left half of the larynx was ‘shredded’. I now have complete vocal healing. The medical people – including the doctor that did the original diagnosis - were speechless.

iii. At the end of July I progressed in one week, as follows:

1. moving on my elbows in bed, being lifted by 4 nurses and placed in a wheel chair and pushed,

2. getting in the wheel chair by my elbows and a small board,

3. propelling myself forward in the chair with one foot,

4. to using my hands on the wheels to propel forward in the chair,

5. Using a walker,

6. Walking with a cane.

The medical staff passed me in the halls when I was walking and did not recognize me. When they passed I greeted them; they said hello, walked passed and stopped, turned around and said ‘Is that you, Andrew??’. Then, they smiled in amazement.

4. On October 4, I met with my Orthopedic Surgeon. As he examined me with his two interns, he then spoke - assertively. ‘Andrew, I don’t want to ever see you again. Go play rugby. ’. Then he looked over at his interns and said, ‘This is why we do what we do.’ I asked if I could give him a hug of thanks; he said ‘yes’. As I hugged him I thanked him and whispered, ‘bless you’. When I let go, both his eyes and mine where filled with tears.

a. Deborah was told 6-9 months. It was 0 + 127 days…

5. On November 21st , I was discharged from Occupational and Physical Therapies as an outpatient at Red Deer Regional Hospital.

6. December 1st . I passed a medical to drive.

7. December 2nd. I drove home from Red Deer to Penhold. It took 20 minutes. I cried for about half of the distance…they were tears of ‘thanksgiving’.
8. December 1-now. Started back working. Ramping up…fast. 

A lot has occurred. Deborah and the children have been though immense challenges. As a family, we are all still going to counseling to make sure that we have a safe place to communicate and understand the past six months.

I guess, as the saying goes, ‘if it doesn’t kill you, it will make you stronger’, right??? Well, there is some merit to that saying…within the power of the ‘Almighty’.
I would like to finish something that many of you have already heard from me...
A miracle is bigger than a lotto 6-49 win, a hot date or great job. Our God is in the miracle business. As a dead man walking, mute man speaking, simple man thinking, I attest to HIS miraculous hand. When you have no hope and you need a miracle, turn to HIM – HE’s in the business.

With love, thanks and humble heart,

The Carpenter Family. (Andrew, Deborah, Rebekkah (17), Sarah (15), Joshua (13), Caleb (8) and Grace (7))

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

A New Beginning

Over the past 6 months I have been walking a road that I would not have chosen if it had been mine to choose. The consequences of the events on May 29 and the following weeks are far reaching and less than perfect. I am thankful to be able to say that the Lord has upheld me in ways that only a loving heavenly Father could do. I still question the reasons why all these things have transpired and what ultimate good that might come from them, but at least I am at peace with my new reality.

Andrew has recovered enough from the accident to finally be returning to work. This is something that could not have been predicted in the weeks following the accident and I praise God for His mercy to us and our family in this area.

I worked for 2 and a half months at my "dream job" - reception and administrative support at CrossRoads Church. When it became evident that my family needed me to be at home full time I left that job and I have been rewarded in ways that I could not have imagined. My new "dream job" is working along side my husband as he returns to his pursuing his passion - and have discovered it is mine as well. Funny how God works...

Endings are hard - and so are beginnings. But beginnings are filled with anticipation and promise. They are full of potential and of what can be. They reassure us that all is not lost. There is more to come. And that is a good thing.

So here is to my new beginning. I look forward to seeing how it all works out.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

July 18, 2010

It has been just over 7 weeks since my husband's accident. I am glad to say that he is doing quite well but still has a way to go. We had many desperate moments as we have navigated the realities of a brain injury and so many broken bones. He developed numerous blood clots, but thanks to modern medicine (and a gracious Father), they have been dealt with. Good news about the damage to his larynx from being intabated at the scene of the accident; he will make a full recovery without any medical intervention!! At this time, he cannot raise his voice...(oh well)!

Andrew is still in Calgary hospital and is working very hard on his rehab. They plan to keep him for awhile yet as our home town hospital does not have the expertise to deal with his injuries. This is ok, but I would really like him home. Baby steps, I guess.

Sarah has made a full recovery from her ruptured appendix. Her total hospital stay was 4 weeks exactly. I am very thankful for all the prayers that went up on her behalf. They made all the difference.

Through all of this, I am assured that God is very kind. And He is good. Not because He has healed my daughter and is continuing to heal my husband. He is good because it is His Nature. He was good when He allowed the truck to hit Andrew. He was good as the infection raged through Sarah's body. He was good as I walked through the deep valley of depression, anger and frustration.

His Goodness is not dependant on my perception of "goodness". I tend to view things a little different than an Almighty Sovereign God. To say He is Good in my present situation requires me to submit to His Plan and Purpose. Easy? Not so much. I prefer protection FROM hardship not His Presence THROUGH it. Thankfully, He knows what I need better than I do. I may not like it, but I have never been alone. Not one day.

In it all, He is Sovereign over all. In a culture that demands a God who serves them, this circumstance has reminded me that it is He whom WE serve. We would do well to fall on our knees and worship a God that is Good. Because He says He is Good. And we must trust Him. He deserves nothing less.

Monday, June 21, 2010

Day 23

I have tried 3 times to write this blog post. What can I say? Andrew has come a long way since his original diagnosis but has a very very long way to go. He is on day 23of his marathon back to wholeness. I am navigating a new way of relating to him as we figure out the nature of his brain injury.

Sarah is still experiencing complications from the appendicitis and is still in the hospital. She is on day 15. They have changed the antibiotic again as they have found e-coli that is resistant to the previous one. She was supposed to be home today but that has been put off. Her lungs are still an issue as well as her body is becoming malnourished due to her inability to eat properly.

I am not sure one moment to the next if I will be able to keep moving forward but so far I have found the strength to do so. Some moments, I am filled with gratitude and others, I am frustrated beyond comprehension. I am not sure where I thought I would be at this point in the journey so I can't really be disappointed in the progress. Still, I would rather not be on this road at all.

I can't say I am any closer to the Lord...but I am not farther away, either. I do think, however, He is closer to me. Does that even make sense? But that's how it feels. I haven't made any attempts to figure out His Purpose or His Plan. I know He must have one but it doesn't matter to me right now. If He chooses to let me in on it, I will be grateful but I don't have the energy or emotional fortitude to go there any time soon.

This post didn't turn out the way I thought it would. I had hoped that by the end of it I would have come to some "happy" conclusion. Instead, it turned out to be a little more honest than I had intended.

If you have stuck with me this far, thank you. Things will get cheerier, I promise.

Monday, June 14, 2010

On the morning of May 29th, My husband kissed me good-bye and headed out to an early morning fund raiser for a local charity in Red Deer. The weather was snowy and wet, not uncommon in Central Alberta as winter, spring and summer clash daily trying to claim as many days for their season that year. Alberta's winter is never a gracious looser to Summer, while Spring is the classic middle child - often overlooked and perhaps either too insecure about her place in the world or too uninterested to join the fight.

On this day however, my husband became the victim of the battle of the seasons. An oncoming truck lost control on the slushy roads and hit my husband's truck. My husband just happened to be talking to his brother(on his hands-free cell)so my brother-in-law heard him cry out. Jim immediately called me to tell me something was wrong. I jumped in my vehicle to find the accident. In my mind I expected to find Andrew exchanging information with another driver or maybe talking with police about what had happened.

Instead, I found him still inside his mangled 1 tonne Dodge Diesel while firemen were trying to cut him out. I tried to get to Andrew but a VERY big fireman stopped me. He said he didn't know anything about his "condition" but I should wait in my truck. I obeyed. I sat in my vehicle and watched as they cut the door off and then covered Andrew with a silver emergency blanket. They then began the process of using hydrolic hooks to pull the cab apart.

Finally a police officer came and told me that Andrew was alive and that I should go to the hospital and wait...

I obeyed...

I got to see Andrew briefly at the Red Deer hospital. They were getting ready to send him to Calgary. STARS Air Ambulance was not an option as the weather was too bad. But not to worry...a ground ambulance driving with lights and sirens would have the same turn around time...

His injuries were extensive. Both arms and both legs where broken and would require a 5 hour surgery to repair with rods, pins and plates. He had a skull fracture and 2 bleeds in his brain. Neurology in Calgary would be best able to deal with him. He had lost conscienceness and had been intibated.

5 days later, on June 3rd, I sat in the ICU family room and heard the doctor tell me and my family that my precious husband had a Moderate Traumatic Brian Injury. Diffuse Axonal injuries from the "rapid deceleration" of his brain on impact, as well as Fatty Embolisms from the bone breaks. (You can google those...)

This would have been enough to deal with...except on June 5th, my 15 year old daughter was rushed into emergency surgery with a ruptured appendix. I left my husband's side in Calgary to be with Sarah in Red Deer.

She already had 3 abcesses. In the following week, she has developed pneumonia and several more abcesses and she is still in the hospital in Red Deer. She is having her lung drained today in an attempt to reinflate a portion that has collapsed.


I haven't processed much yet in a meanful way. I want desperately for this not to be my life. I have absolutely no idea what tomorrow holds. I want to scream and yell and punch and kick - or just lay down and not get up again. Of course, these are not options for a "victorious woman of God". Whatever THAT means...

But I do know one thing. Beyond a shadow of a matter what I think He is trying to "accomplish" in my life and how I feel about it...

I have a God who sees me.

And for now? That is enough.

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Family Time

My mommy and daddy are here visiting!!!!!! We are having so much fun! My kids are having a blast hanging out with gramma and grampa. It warms my heart to see my youngest daughter, Grace, sitting on gramma's lap with her arms wrapped around gramma's neck. A few short years ago, Grace was not very friendly. Now she can't get enough! Josh and Caleb got to play catch with my dad. Rebekkah, Sarah and I got to shop with my mom. We didn't buy anything but it was a wonderful girl-bonding time!

My husband is able to show them a video of his trip to Bangledesh and India. It was almost 2 years ago now (which tells you a little about how often my parents and I get together) and Andrew is excited about sharing it with them finally.

The relationship with my mom and dad hasn't always been that great. A little while ago, a visit like this would not have been possible. But because of a work of the Holy Spirit, it is now possible. I praise the Lord for how He has "restored the years the locust have eaten".

I can testify to the amazing restoritive power of the Holy Spirit in relationships that seem like lost causes. For anyone in a difficult situations with loved ones? God can change things!! He will change things! And he loves getting the credit for it!!!!!

So thank you, my God and Father for your mercy and grace in this situation. My you receive all the glory and honor for giving me back my mom and dad...

Monday, April 19, 2010

A Good Day

I had a good day today. It was good because I got a lot done at work; I made a real supper for my family and even got the kitchen cleaned up after - including getting the floors swept; I finally got online to do a strength finder test I have been meaning to do for over a month now - I will blog about that a little later; and last but not least, I changed the sheets on my bed!!! Yup, tonight when I lay my tired body down, I will fall to sleep satisfied that all is right with the world. For now.

Some days I am just glad to have reached the end of it with my sanity intact. Other days, I am sure insanity was my saving grace! But today I feel as though I have accomplished something. It may not have been much but it is more than I got done yesterday!

So, as I said a little earlier, I did a strength finder test this evening and I will share with you my results. (Because you are dying to know, right!) My top 5 strengths and a VERY brief description of each are:

Connectedness- believe things happen for a reason; caring, considerate, accepting; a bridge builder; give others comfort that there is a purpose beyond ourselves.

Communication - like to explain, to describe, host, to speak in public, to write. I want my information/idea to survive.

Restorative - love to solve problems; energized by a breakdown; love bringing "things" back to life.

Intellection- like to think, mental activity; introspective - which leads to a slight sense of discontent as I compare what I am actually doing to all the thoughts and ideas my mind conceives

Adaptability - live in the moment; do not resent sudden requests or unforeseen detours, instead expect them; at heart, very flexible and stay productive even when being pulled in different directions.

For those of you who know me, you can decide if you agree with Marcus Buckingham and Donald O. Clifton, Ph.D. Those of you who don't know me, well, you may know more about me that you ever cared to!

Maybe you, like me, have always found it easier to identify your weaknesses. I might not be able to do much about them - but they clearly define what I CAN NOT DO. Knowing this keeps me safe from crashing and burning in some ill-fated endeavor that should never have been attempted!

Instead, knowing my strengths helps me define what I CAN DO! This shift in thinking is a huge step to take. It changes my focus from trying not to fail to planning to succeed!

I know that I need to work on embracing my strengths and putting them into practice. I know that they have been given to me by my Creator who knows how best to put them to work! (And I am pretty sure that is an other topic of discussion altogether!)

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Does Absence Make the Heart Grow Fonder?

I believe I have violated the first rule of blogging - if there are actual rules in which to abide by. The rule, as I understand, is to not let too much time pass between posts. And I have allowed almost two weeks go by! How did this happen? Ok, I know how it happened. I got busy doing mommy, wife, friend, employee stuff. Although, if I were to be completely honest about it with you, I avoided it. The pressure got to me.

It wasn't that I didn't have anything to blog about. I had a weekend away with my husband with no children (they were at my mother-in-laws) and am in the middle of an amazing book by Dr. Larry Crabb. My kids have provided me with many hilarious anecdotes and I have provided myself with a few too. I've even had a few "deep thoughts"! It is just hard to sit down and commit to paper (so to speak) those events, thoughts and ideas. It feels a lot like stage fright.

But I need to get over it! NOW!

So, I am sitting in McDonalds while an Alberta Spring Blizzard rages on outside, drinking coffee and blogging. I had forgotten in the past weeks how much fun this really is!

I am glad to have friends who have encouraged me to get back on the horse! Thanks Tyler.

Friday, March 26, 2010

I am not a very holy person. I may have moments where I am in the vicinity of holiness but they seem few and fleeting. I rely heavily on the miracle of Grace in my life! But holiness still calls.

I am reading a book right now called "66 Love Letters" by Larry Crabb. In it he breaks down each book of the bible to show us how God is calling us into relationship with him. And not just any relationship. A relationship beyond any we have ever experienced before and won't be able to fully appreciate until we enter heaven's gate.

The first three books of the bible (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus) tell us of how "we have failed and He succeeds". God set out requirements for living and we just messed things up. God set out the 10 commandments and then added more rules to how the Hebrew people were to conduct their everyday lives...right down to how they were to wash their utensils. He left nothing out. Then He set out rules for sacrifices to be made because the people couldn't keep the first set of rules.

I know from a theological standpoint that all these laws were set in place to show people that we COULDN'T meet God's Righteous requirments and that we would require a Saviour to be the Final Sacrifice.

And somewhere in all of this, I am invited into intimacy with a Holy God through the Saving Grace of Jesus Christ. Me. Self-centered, unfaithful, complaining spirited, just to name a few, ME. And there is the rub. The closer I get to God the more aware I am of my failings. I know that He loves me and that He has imputed Christ's Righteousness onto me. But as I enter deeper into intimacy with Him, I become painfully aware of the area's in my life that are not in line with His Holiness. I know that His Grace was costly to the Father, allowing His son to die in my place. Isn't it the very least I can do to pursue holiness with a little more energy and passion?

But that can be very demoralizing if I let it. I will continually hit up against a standard that I can never never meet. And that makes me feel like crap. Sorry, but it does. I don't measure up. How can I have a real relationship with a Holy God if I can't even be "good enough" to live as if I am thankful for the Grace He has offered me? (Can't you just hear Satan laughing at this point?)

I am still groping in the dark in this area of my life. I want to live a life worthy of the calling of Jesus Christ. But I am not worthy. He knew that - God did, I mean. He stands in the gap for me. His Grace covers my past sin and my current sinful state. Every day He calls me to enter into His Throne Room of Grace and I still tend to want to cower in the corner. But if I approach boldly, I will find a God willing and ready to accept me as I am and yet somehow also inspire me to be better than I am - and offer His spirit to do the work for me. I still don't understand. I know that it is by the Blood of the Lamb that I am able to do so but I don't think I completely appreciate the fullness of the Power.

I have heard this feeling described as the great tension of the Gospel. What we are, what we ought to be, how God sees us today and how we will be at the end of things.

I will continue to trust in the Saving Power of Jesus Christ. I will continue to pursue holiness and allow the Spirit of God to work in me to make me more like Jesus.

I'll let you know how it goes...

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Crazy Day

I thought it was going to be one of THOSE days. I awoke to find that my alarm had not done it's job. Well,that isn't exactly true. It went off and I thought I hit the snooze button. I turned it off instead. So at 7:20am, a full 50 minutes past the time I should have been up, I scrambled out of bed to get my kids fed breakfast, teeth brushed and out the door to awaiting buses. When they were gone I raced to get myself ready and out the door. This was not goinig to be good. I had a tonne of things to do and I was sure something important was going to be left undone or someone was going to be let down.

Well, I am ok with things not getting done. Things can wait - like laundry or emptying the dishwasher. But when I let someone down? If I don't meet someone's expectations? That upsets me. When I fail to meet my own expectations? That kills me.

I read somewhere that we have expectations and then we have reality. The further apart our expectations are from our reality, the more frustrated we are with our lives. So, it would seem that we have two choices: lower our expectations or alter our reality. Sometimes we do well to lower our expectations of ourselves and of others. This can be the kindest thing you can do for yourself and those you care about. Regardless, we still have expections of some kind. And since we can't alter reality, we need to make sure that our expectations of ourselves and others are reasonable. So, what is reasonable?

Micah 6:7-9 tells us "He has shown you, oh (wo)man, what is good. And what does the Lord require of you? To act justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God."

Today, in my crazy busy day, did I do as the Lord has instructed? As I raced to get kids out the door, did I act justly and did I show mercy to the child who had a hard time getting up and going - just like I had? In my frustration with the day, was I humble or did I act as though what I had to accomplish was more important than being kind to the grocery lady as she took WAY TOO LONG to scan my items?

We are always going to have unmet expectations - like alarm clocks not going off. And we are going to let other people down when we don't meet theirs. This is reality. We can be uptight about it or we can rely on our Heavenly Father for grace to deal with it! And Grace through Jesus Christ is what he offers us when we fail to meet HIS expectations of Holiness. Let's receive it with gladness and joy - liberally passing it on to those in our lives who also need us to extend it to them!

Tonight as I set my alarm (which I fully expect to wake me up tomorrow) and get into my unmade bed I can thank God that He sustained me today. I didn't do everything perfectly. I didn't accomplish all the things on my to-do list. But God doesn't care. He cares that I took time to be with Him. He cares that I was merciful and kind to others. He cares that I tried to be a little more like Him today.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Beginner Blogging

With the help of my good friend Tyler, I have entered the world of blogging. This is very strange to me as I have never considered that people would want to read anything I might be inspired to write. But Tyler has assured me that even if no one else follows my beginner blog, she will. (thanks!)

I suppose having an audience is the very reason for blogging. Putting your thoughts and ideas "out there" is a much more rewarding experience if you think someone might read and be inspired/challenged/encouraged by them. Even so, the idea of an audience is very intimidating. It is easier to stay silent, out of the spotlight, invisible.

But I want to move past my fears and insecurities, out of the shadows and off of the sidelines and onto the center stage of my life. I want to develop the skills and talents that God has given me for His Glory. And yet, as I step out and become more visible I want the world to see HIM and not me. In essence, I need to be invisible. It may seem a little strange but the only way this can be about me is that it is NOT ABOUT ME!

It is like God is asking me to step into a spotlight; and the light that shines on me simply reflects back Jesus.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Wish we could have stayed longer...

KUDOS CrossRoads Retreat Team! You have done what I would have thought was impossible. You have made a Retreat Girl out of me!

I stayed up way too late. Learned to play Dutch Blitz and Banana-grams! Worshipped with an annointed worship team. Had a WONDERFUL 40 minute massage. Started this I had a lot of funblog. Ate way too much food. I even got to shop for jewellry and books! It was a great way to spend a weekend!

In all of that, I think my favourite thing about the retreat this year was the time of relaxed fellowship. I was able to meaningfully interact with old friends and make new ones. Most important, it provided me with the environment where I could connect with my Best Friend, Jesus.

See you all next year! And Jesus? Thanks for meeting me there.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

Lessons from Retreat

Insecurity and anxiety are rooted in unbelief and pride.* This is good news and bad news for me. The bad news is that this lumps insecurity and anxiety in with the sin of unbelief and pride. The good news is that I can deal with my insecurity and anxiety the same way I deal with any of my other sins...let it be placed under the blood of Jesus Christ.

*From Beth Moore's DVD series Loving Well.