Drowning Rats

I was at a conference the other night and one of the speakers told the story below, I found it summarized online so I’m giving that version:

β€œIn the 1950s, Curt Richter, a Harvard graduate and Johns Hopkins scientist, did a series of experiments that tested how long rats could swim in high-sided buckets of circulating water before drowning. Dr. Richter found that, under normal conditions, a rat could swim for an average of 15 minutes before giving up and sinking. However, if he rescued the rats just before drowning, dried them off and let them rest briefly, and then put them back into the same buckets of circulating water, the rats could swim an average of 60 hours. Yes, 60 hours. If a rat was temporarily saved, it would survive 240 times longer than if it was not temporarily saved. This makes no sense. How could these rats swim so much longer during the second session, especially just after swimming as long as possible to stay alive during the first session? Dr. Richter concluded that the rats were able to swim longer because they were given hope. A better conclusion is that the rats were able to swim longer because they were given energy through hope. The rats had a clear picture of what being saved looked like, so they kept swimming.”

– Isaiah Hankel from Black Hole Focus

I can’t stop thinking about it. It feels so true. The last few weeks have been rough for me personally, hence the radio silence. I’ve had a mountain of questions and not a whole lot of answers. Kate, (my sister emerging from a coma if you haven’t read up in a while), continues to improve slowly, slowly, slowly but we claim that as a victory. We’re in the midst of some insurance battles, some placement battles, some battles over confusion and hopelessness but it really does feel like we get to that 14th minute and God pulls us out of the water. We find our hope and we get ready for the next sixty hours.

The conference I went to last week included one night that had an emphasis on healing. Pretty much nothing I had hoped would happen ended up happening. Let me be blunt, absolutely nothing happened that I begged God to let happen! I left so deflated! But since then it seems some things we’ve been praying for have broken free. My mom was with Kate late into the night past visiting hours while I was at the conference and she needed to be there at a very specific moment (health episode) to speak for Kate. That only happened because I was at a prayer conference. So if it seemed God wanted to send Dan and I 90 minutes north so somebody would be visiting Kate when she needed a visitor, we say “yes” to that provision. 

It helped us see that this is not the end of this story. She’s not out of God’s care. I tell her nearly every time I see her through sobs that she is precious to God, that she is loved and not forsaken, that nobody is giving up hope of restoration and that we all keep fighting together until we win. I say it when I question if it’s true and when I’m certain that it is. I thank God out loud over her when it seems cruel that I get to leave and when it feels absolutely true that he’s been faithful. I’m convinced the longer that we walk this road, that out of me she needs someone willing to stand with her and pray, to remind her of truth. Whether through gritted teeth or sobs she needs to know I’m still standing while she lays. 

I beg of you, keep praying! Keep standing with us as we make really hard decisions, as we fight like hell, and as we turn into puddles. We so value your loyalty to our family, your kind words, your thoughts and ideas. We couldn’t support Kate like we are without you!

If you’d like to donate to help with costs, please click here!

“No time” food!

I have no time these days. I take that back, I have the same amount of time as everyone else but it seems I’m having less and less time to cook. Some of it is Judah’s needy age, some of it is lack of time to plan and purchase adequate meals, some of it is exhaustion; physical and emotional! Some of it is sheer laziness. I’d rather be___________. (Usually running out of the house when Dan gets home to get a quick visit in with Kate).

So I’ve had a few meals that are literally keeping my family alive. I’m still trying to lose baby weight sixteen months later so I’m trying my hardest to eat well and not carb load. Boo.

Onto the good stuff. I’m listing a few favorite quick, easy, yummy recipes below. Please comment with some other crowd pleasers in your home! The quicker the better! 

1. My Dan lovingly calls this recipe “quinoa beef” which admittedly sounds gross. It’s delicious! I tolerate quinoa but I legitimately love this dish.(Gf)

2. Burrito bowl from Rachel’s Nourishing Kitchen. It’s super yummy! We make this almost weekly all summer long. (Gf)

3. Ok so this ones more for Dan and I. This grilled cheese is heaven. We don’t do the blue cheese. When I was pregnant with Lillian I would eat two of them. So, so yummy! Especially if you have some fresh pesto lying around, which these days I do not!

4. I’m all about this turkey bolognese sauce. All about it! I just want to eat it with a spoon it’s so good! If I’m making a pound of pasta I typically buy two. It’s in the frozen food section at TJ’s. (Gf depending on the pasta used!)

5. Fall is arriving in Baltimore and that means soup! I’m all about slow cooker soups that I can throw together early in the morning, especially if all of the ingredients are real food! This chicken wild rice soup is a favorite. Certainly not the lowest calorie soup but everyone needs a splurge! (Gf)

Now don’t forget to comment with a favorite QUICK AND EASY recipe! Help!

God of Miracles

Sometimes it doesn’t look like an immediate reversal in a symptom or disease. Sometimes it’s protection. Sometimes it’s favor. Sometimes it’s everything falling into place when it shouldn’t.

It feels like we have been given a shower of hope this week. During the first month when Kate became ill we had a lot of doctors proclaim some pretty rough stuff over her life. These doctors spoke about broken systems and lack of functioning and a grim future and we listened. We cried, we asked questions, we took it in. Then we started praying pretty specifically that all the gloom and doom talk would serve a purpose. That her progress would one day blow the doctors away and that they’d be pointing to the miraculous vs their own strength. 

Kate has been on a slow and steady incline, it seems her body chooses areas to focus on healing. Last week Kate started moving her toes, feet and legs consistently and unprovoked. Friday, Kate’s vocal chords started working some. Sunday one of our pastors prayed specifically for Kate’s healing at church during the service. Monday  she got her highest rating (17) yet. Tuesday that same pastor felt compelled to pray specifically for her toes/feet/legs without knowing that they had started to move. Wednesday a few friends sat in her Physical Therapy session and SHE STOOD UP. Someone was helping to steady her but her weight was on her legs and they didn’t buckle. 

Sometimes miracles look like an immediate healing. Sometimes they look like a room full of therapists cheering on the 32-year-old woman with little kids at home as she stands for the first time in almost three months. Sometimes it looks like people committing to visit weekly come hell or high water in their own lives. Sometimes it looks like insurance bending rules. Frankly, sometimes it looks like your three year old telling her little cousin “God loves you, He’s inside your heart and He wants to make your mommy feel all better. He loves to heal people”. Sometimes it’s all you need to hear coming from the back row of the minivan. Yes, He loves you. He wants to heal. He is healing more than Kate. He’s healing all of us and we’re so thankful to be let in on the journey and to watch the doctors be blown away.

A Rambling Update

About nine months ago a few of my friends from college decided we would go to the Belong Tour In Philly. (The funny thing is three of us live in the same neighborhood and walk to each other’s houses. Step 1:go to college, step 2: buy houses in 1/2 mile radius so you can pretend you never are leaving  college) Anyway, a few of us really love Jen Hatmaker and it seemed like the perfect reason to take 24 hours and be us again without our families. Fast forward to a really bad summer and I was looking forward to the short trip away. 

By Friday of last week I was not a puddle but a river of tears. Id been trying to visit Kate for a full week and it just seemed like the entire world was plotting against me. Our tenant decided to tell us he was breaking our lease, we found out we needed to have our sewer line replaced in our rental, a thousand schedule issues came up and by Friday I was a mess. I finally asked a friend to watch Elle and Jay and I were off to visit my sister.

There’s something about the drive to see her. I sob the whole time. It’s a mix of anxiety about the whole situation, I’m reminded of how normal we were when we were at the OBX a few short months ago when all of this happened. (I vow to never set foot there again.) I think about the loss I feel daily, how I miss her. I think about her kids and husband and pray for them. I pray that when I show up something would be different or cool or we’d have some type of neat connection. I sometimes tell the story in my mind of the last few months to see what new things have happened since the last time I visited. Then I try my very hardest to give Kate to God. I feel like Abraham offering Isaac over and over to God and it doesn’t get easier. The hardest part is it doesn’t feel yet like he’s told me to stop.

Anyway, I strapped Judah into the ergo, kiss his sweet head as he sucks his thumb and snuggles into my chest. Then we start the walk in to visit. We sign in and get the dumb visitor tag then turn all of the turns to get to her room. Deep breath in and I see her in her wheelchair. I look over and my dad is talking to the PT. as always I introduce myself and she says as everyone does “you look alike”. I smile and think ‘Kate loves when people say I look older’ so just for Kate I tell her I’m younger and wink. She’s rolling her eyes on the inside, I know it.

Then I ask the PT how she did today and the PT tells me a miracle. She doesn’t tell me it’s a miracle, of course, but it is. Something that wasnn’t going to ever heal is healing and they’ve done nothing to help; its just working now when it didn’t before. Of course I cry again. I bend down to Kate with my Jay in my arms and tell her how awesome it is that Gods healing her day by day. It was a good Friday.

Before I knew it we were on the road to Philly. We go to the tour on Friday and at breakfast Saturday we decide next time we go away we want no agenda, just time away with honesty and tears and maybe a beach. We go to day two of the conference and it was fine, nothing blowing us away. Jen Hatmaker ended up not being able to attend our specific conference in the tour (gasp!) but they had someone else. Glennon Doyle Melton was there! A friend just sent me her book, Love Warrior, last week and she just acted like we were having a conversation across a table from one another!

Have you ever had one of those days that everything changes? You were living your life and them BAM nothing will ever be the same?

Yep. June 26th

Do you have some kind of pain that has just rerouted your life and you have the opportunity to walk toward it or run?

Why, yes. Everyday

I suggest you walk toward it, here’s why…*

It was craziness. I sobbed for the entire presentation. Her pain is different; a betrayal, a marriage collapsing, it’s not the same. But pain is pain and I was just with her, hanging on to every word! I felt like God sent her to that conference just for me and I was so grateful. 

We left the conference, spilled our guts some on the way home. I got home to a sick baby, by Sunday night had two sick kids.

I spent a few hours this morning pushing my kids in the stroller at the mall while I made phone calls to ten different plumbers trying to get quotes for the sewer. My dad texted me that Kate went up FIVE POINTS in the coma recovery scale in the last ten days. She’s dropped a few the week before but she is still 4 points more than she has ever been before and it seems like God is just hollering, “you better keep watch or you’re going to miss it!”

So I’m exhausted. Trying to not get sick and starting another crazy week. 


*my paraphrase 


Oh how I have been dreading September. It started with my brother-in-laws birthday, days later it will be he and Kate’s sixth wedding anniversary, their daughters birthday, both of my parents birthdays. It feels brutal. Suffocating. It’s hard to celebrate in the midst of so much sorrow. A few weeks after Kate became so ill one of our pastors spoke on celebration as a spiritual discipline and I think we took a collective sigh of relief knowing that September was on its way. We do need to celebrate, we need to remember that we have huge reasons to celebrate and that Kate would want us to celebrate! Once you start, you know it’s so right and good. These people and milestones deserve to be celebrated and who doesn’t love cake! 

I’ve been reading Ann Voskamp’s One Thousand Gifts and while her writing style grates on my nerves the point of the book is not lost on me. Especially when so much feels wrong and cruel, I have to meet God with thanksgiving for everything. If I ever want to experience joy I need to celebrate and name our victories and blessings, whereever I find them. And we have so many.

Just this week my sweet nephew has been sharing memories with me when I remind him of Kate. The silly things I say, the way I tell them not to announce their gas in public, etc. I’ve been so thankful that I remind the kids of their mommy, that I’m in a position to be able to spend so much time with them, that I feel strengthened in hard moments to talk about Kate and stop what we’re doing to pray for her. I can’t wish this season away, as much as I’d like to! September is here, coma emersion is a long process and we’re in it for the long hall, little minds have questions and somehow over the last two months I haven’t totally botched any responses. We’re forced to stay present, there is no other option to do this thing well, so we might as well be thankful along the way.

And now for an update on Kate! I asked for specific prayers last week that she’d grow two points on her emersion scale, and she did! And another point this week!

She’s started pointing to a board with the words “yes” and “no” to answer questions and she’s getting all the answers right! This is so good! My mom asked her the other day about birthday gifts for Nevin. She said “no” to an H&M gift card and “yes” to JCrew. (Clearly she’s of sound mind!) But seriously, the answers she’s giving give us so much hope that although she can’t communicate with her voice she still knows who we are and the right store for her husbands birthday gift. Your prayers are so important to us, God is moving mountains! I’m serious, mountains! We have a really long road to go. We don’t know what Kate will go through and be like and be able to accomplish in the next year or two. We are so hopeful that she will be restored to us. She probably won’t be exactly the same, by Gods grace none of us will ever be the same. For now we are so thankful for small victories that show up weekly and we just keep praying for the mountains to be moved.