For Katie the Warrior

Katie Keeps Writing!

Its been a crazy couple of weeks. The staff at Katie’s rehabilitation facility had a meeting a few weeks ago and they sat in the room and cried about Katie’s progress. She is writing. The flood gates have opened! She’s not just writing random things. She’s asking questions, explaining symptoms, telling us her feelings. Its insane. The clinicians keep saying its a miracle.

Not only is she writing, she’s answering questions. She’s doing math problems. She’s completing Social work tests with 100% accuracy. Her memory and mind are in tact.

My family has had the flu this week so I facetimed Katie the other day while my mom was with her. She immediately started writing. “Ashley I love you. Love you very much.” So I started asking her questions.

A:”Katie is the Lord still near to you?”

K:”yes”

A:”Does the Lord give you hope?”

K:”yes” “please pray”

I immediately got teary because the biggest, most consistent prayers have been answered. I have been BEGGING God to be near to Katie. I have BEGGED Him to give her hope. I have BEGGED for her to have a way to communicate. So I sat on my side of the screen, teary eyed, and started begging for more. More of all of it. And more of healing that we haven’t yet seen.

Don’t get me wrong, this is far from perfect. We have to place the paper on Katie’s lap. Then we place her hand on the pen. Then we push down on the pen while she writes so it stays consistently on the paper. But she’s telling us her thoughts and feelings and then sharing her hopes for future care. It is nothing short of incredible and nothing short of miraculous.

Over the last twenty months we have prayed and sat and wondered and prayed some more even when it looked like things may never take a positive turn. We’ve encountered the pity smiles while we continued to profess hope in Christ alone as she sat unchanged. The Lord has not left her or forsaken her.

This morning in church we sang the song, In Christ Alone. The last part of the song sent me into an ugly cry as I sang and claimed it for Katie.

“No guilt in life, no fear in death
This is the power of Christ in me
From life’s first cry to final breath
Jesus commands my destiny
No power of hell, no scheme of man
Can ever pluck me from His hand
‘Til He returns or calls me home
Here in the power of Christ I’ll stand”
Please don’t stop praying for our Katie. The Lord is moving and we are so grateful. We want more!

 

For Katie the Warrior

Is She in There?

This is probably the question I get asked most often. It comes in all different varieties but once people learn that my sister has suffered from a brain injury they eventually get to it.

“Is she in there?”, “Does she know you”, “Does she understand whats going on?”

Sometimes the most painful thing is that I have to answer “yes”. Not many people can or would want to imagine not being able to move their bodies much. The fact is tough. It hurts to think about. Something itches and she she can’t scratch it. Something hurts and its hard to communicate. Her foot’s asleep and it’s staying asleep.

A neat thing has been happening the last few months. Katie has begun to write. She needs someone to place the paper and pen in her hand, and to put weight on the pen. She will move the pen to make the letters and motions when she’s ready to start a new letter in a word. Here are some examples from just this week.

When my mom was visiting, Kate’s speech therapist asked her to tell my mom something. She wrote “Mom mall vera” “JCrew Zara”.

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My mom and sister have always been mall lovers. They’ve spent insane amounts of time walking the mall, just looking around. Katie loves JCrew and Zara so it was neat to see her memory working.

Today, one of her favorite visitors, my grandmother, was with her along with Vera and my mom.  Katie had a lot to say! Some of these don’t make sense but only because they were in response to questions.

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Pretty cool for someone who wasn’t supposed to wake up from a coma! Keep on praying!! God is moving!

For Katie the Warrior

A Merry Christmas, Indeed

Oh what a season! We have had highs and lows the last few months with my sister. Talk of a medical plateau, followed by some medication changes, and some improvement. Then some trials all over the place at the same time. Its been a season.

We were told a few months ago that we could begin to be trained to take Katie on outings. This is simultaneously super exciting and a bit scary, and also very expensive. My mom was married a few months ago and it was Katie’s first official non-medical outing! She did great! She was exhausted by the end but we were all thrilled she was in attendance and I’m sure it meant so much to her.

KevinandRobin-130(Photo Credit Arpasi Photography)

Christmas Day was her second excursion! We chose a time of day that meant Katie wouldn’t need anything medically while she was out. We were so fortunate to borrow a ramp from a neighbor for Katie’s wheelchair. My mom hired a transport vehicle to get her to my house. She was picked up from the rehab facility at 12:30 and then they picked her up from my house at 3:30.

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I think she loved it! She was sitting in my living room like the 3000 times she had before, watching our kids open gifts and run around like crazy people. It was so healing for all of us to see her in a non-medical setting. To watch her comfortable and unhooked from beeps. To smell my house on her instead of hospital smells. It was magical.

It came to an end, as all good things seem to do. She was whisked out back into the blistery cold. I held her daughter and answered her questions (through sobs) about why mommy was leaving and where she was going. I squeezed her extra tight then let her down to scurry away with her cousins. Their resilience is a lesson to me!

I was reminded of the sermon on Sunday. The scripture says in Matthew 19:27-30

27 Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

28 Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel. 29 And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife[e] or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. 30 But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first. (emphasis mine)

I immediately thought of my hurting family. Katie will receive 100x what she has lost on this side of eternity. Vera will receive 100x. Ephram. Katie’s hubs. Our parents. 100x our time, our tears, our sorrow replaced. What a joy! What justice! This great sorrow will not last. Its funny how you can go from feeling like life is so unfair to how love is lavished on us so completely. What a God to be extravagant enough to repay 100x our loss. We are trusting Him with our future. Now and forever. He can handle it.

Dan and I were laying in the basement watching a movie last night after we put the kids to bed. He started asking me lots of questions about the day and my feelings and I stopped him. Usually I want to share ALL OF THE WORDS but my heart had to just sit in it for a while. A while later I started to let little thoughts and feelings seep out.

“Wasn’t it sweet how my grandmother was holding Katie’s hand?” “It was”.

“Wasn’t it sweet how Vera sat in her lap” “Wasn’t it sweet how Nevin kissed her on the forehead” “Wasn’t it great how awake she was the whole time” “Did you see Ephram hug her goodbye?”

These thoughts and musings that came to our lips quickly turned to thanksgiving. Praises. It was a very Merry (and tearful) Christmas, indeed.

If YOU would like to donate toward Katie’s recovery, whether it’s to her monthly massage ($100), toward our very own ramp ($1-2000 AH!) , toward Katie having more excursions ($200 round trip), feel free to use the PayPal email, forkatiethewarrior@gmail.com. We are so very thankful for your generosity over the last 18 months. We feel your prayers, support, and friendship deeply. 

 

For Katie the Warrior

Thankful Thanksgiving

I’m trying really hard to stay thankful this holiday season! The kids and I are talking about what we’re thankful for constantly, I’m trying to delight in the mundane and be totally present.

It is a lot easier to be ungrateful. I want Kate out of the long term care facility. I want her laughing and being a mom and my sister. I want her thriving!

It all comes down to this: I’ve been blessed with a beautiful life and called to actually live it. So I’ll cry and beg God at her feet tomorrow, then I’ll keep living this life. One step in front of the other. Day after day I’ll repeat it, one foot with Kate, one in the world that keeps turning. Thankful that I get to be in both.

If you think of it, pray for my family this Thanksgiving. We’re all walking around with lumps in our throats and I’m trying my hardest to keep it together in front of Kate. This stuff is hard!

For Katie the Warrior, Renovation

Lillian’s Big Girl Room! And a Tear-Worthy Quilt.

For a while Lillian would sob about her walls before bed. She desperately wanted to be surrounded by purple. As someone who delights in beautiful spaces, I couldn’t ignore it! She loves purple so she should get to have a purple room.

Before you think I’m a really awesome mom, she wanted dark purple. Like a purple crayon. Well, I said no. I thought she’d grow out of it, and it would make the room look like a dungeon. So I took Lil to the hardware store and got a few samples. I painted them on cardboard so I could move them around the room for a few days. We ended up with Benjamin Moore’s “winter gray”. It’s a muted purple that really goes with everything. And we both love it!

What do you think of the color?

(Notice the handmade mermaid by the one and only #katielaughlin!) (The framed Lilly Pulitzer bathing suit that Lillian wore at three months old will always be SOMEWHERE. I love it!)

Next up! Judah was given a collection of limited edition Aden and Anias swaddle blankets from my sister. He is a teddy bear lover so didn’t get attached to blankets like Lillian or myself. They were sitting in a drawer taking up space but I couldn’t give them away! Judah had just turned one when my sister sustained her brain injury so I really treasured any memories from that short time.

So I emailed out a few crafty friends and asked for their advice. To make a long story short, my friend Betsy turned them into a quilt/throw blanket and I ADORE it! I’ve snuggled up with it several times already and just love to glance at it as I walk through my house. I’m hoping one day it will live on Judah’s bed but I’m telling you I MAY have told Dan I want to be buried with it. What can I say? I’m attached!

For Katie the Warrior

Proximity Matters

I promised an update! It seems in every aspect of life I’ve been thinking about closeness. I wonder how many of us could better heal with people committed to being near. Physically, emotionally near.

I had all four kids for four days straight this week and closeness at this point has meant I’ve hit my touch threshold. This sweet boy doesn’t like to leave my side. Ever. He’s also been a bit whiny. Can you tell? No more touching! Anyone!

Then Ephram fell today and ran to me to be snuggled. Close. It immediately came to mind again that it matters and I wouldn’t trade the opportunity for anything. This proximity matters for healing-theirs and mine.

So I got to the end(ish) of the week and I’m exhausted but I missed my sister. The second Dan got home from work I went to visit her. Kate seemed agitated when I arrived. She had a doctors appointment today which tends to stress her out. Then a massage which likely made her sore. So I rubbed her wrists, turned on this incredible CD* and tried to get her to relax. Usually she’s laying smack dab in the middle of her bed but today she was to the side a bit. I scooted her over some more, moved her arm and layed down next to her. As I started to quietly sob, listening to the cd, feeling her so close, sitting like we have one billion healthy times before, she fell asleep. Within seconds.

I was so surprised! Neither of us are typically “touchy” people but it seems we both needed it. It allowed me to fall apart and it allowed katie to fall asleep and become peaceful. Again, close. Intimate. Healing.

Something in me was sewn back together laying next to Kate. The familiar feelings, smells, sounds of my sister up close and personal. Praying over her, believing God is near to both she and I. It did something to her too. It quieted her, released her body and mind. It reminded me how much proximity matters. It’s caused me to wonder what areas of my life I’m keeping my distance when healing or maybe restoration would come if I’d just get close. If I’d be near.**

*This CD is incredible. It is essentially someone praying over Kate 24/7 and reminding her of the character of God while we can’t be with her. I would suggest it for anyone who needs ANY kind of healing.

**If you can’t be near but you’d like to donate toward a nice, personalized wheelchair for Kate we’ve set up a PayPal account specifically for her health needs. The email is forkatiethewarrior@gmail.com

Fitness, For Katie the Warrior

September Wrap Up!

It has been ca-razy around here! Dan and I have started private school tours and they’re taking up so much mental space and physical time. Why an insane discernment process!

On top of that we are settling into the school year. My job as chauffeur is in FULL swing. Insane but fun! I don’t even want to look at our gas budget.

Next up in unimportant news, I have discovered zoodles. Apparently I am late to the game but as pasta is still giving me a belly ache post weight loss challenge, it’s been a welcome vehicle for marinara and pesto. I’m a bit crunched for time so I purchase the zoodles ready-made at Trader Joe’s. Speaking of the six week challenge I’m now five weeks post challenge. I measured my arm, chest, tummy, and hips and I’m down 10 inches total! That’s an extra three since the challenge ended. Woohoo!!

Next week I’m going to do a more detailed post on my sister but for now, a mini snap shot. We’re in a very slow and somewhat steady portion of Katie’s recovery. I’ve been setting up prayer times with kate with people from our church. The first time we had six people. The second time we had ten-with only one repeat! It’s so super humbling! We found ourselves praying a lot for Katie’s vocal chords/speech/words/mouth muscles. At one point a friend prayed specifically that kate would speak a sentence that week. She did! My mom was asking her to hold her head up and she said “I can’t”! Hallelujah! Thanks for continuing to pray! If you feel lead to donate toward a new wheelchair that’s specialized for kate, feel free to send money via PayPal to forkatiethewarrior@gmail.com

Thanks!

Fitness

Week Nine! Recipes included

Quick update! I’m three weeks out of the competition! I’m still feeling awesome.

Total weight loss-18.2lbs

Body fat- 4.5% down!

I hate burpees and bearcrawls. I just hate them!

I have a gym t-shirt. It must be real!

Okay now for the fun part. People have been asking me what I’ve been eating. So I thought I’d share a few favorites.

  • Broccoli and cauliflower rice. I get a bag of each frozen at Trader Joe’s. I cook them both separately on the stove, dice up the broccoli, combine, then add salt, garlic powder, and onion powder. Super easy to portion out for the week and it’s yummy.
  • A friend of mine gave me this tuna fish recipe and it’s awesome. One can of tuna, DRAINED, with mustard and either relish or chopped pickles. It doesn’t taste like you think it would. I smear some avocado on Ezekiel toast and make a yummy tuna sandwich.
  • For breakfast I usually eat two eggs over medium on top of a piece of Ezekiel toast. With some sautéed bell peppers on the side.
  • I love burgers! I’ll make a burger from super lean ground beef and dip it in mustard. On the side I’ll have a veggie and a plain sweet potato from the microwave.
  • For a quick snack I like a chocolate protein shake made with unsweetened almond milk and strawberries mixed in if I didn’t have a fruit with lunch.
  • I brew decaf iced tea and have stevia on hand. I have an easier time drinking tea than water. So I know I’m staying hydrated.

I hope this helps!

For Katie the Warrior

Oh, The Things We Should Know

Over the past 14 months I’ve had tons of people come up and ask me how to be prepared for a trauma. They haven’t used these words but it’s usually a mom who has wide eyes and says something like “is everything going okay?” Or “How do you know what to do?”. I’m reading a book called GOLIATH MUST FALL and as I’ve soaked in chapters on anger and anxiety I felt like it was time for a post on being prepared for something unexpected. A complete oxymoron, I know.

  1. Have a complete will/living will. I yelled at my sister about this all the time, we even had a conversation about it the week of her brain injury and she didn’t listen. This made everything harder the first few months! I can’t express this enough, call a lawyer and leave a message TODAY. Ive got a great one if you are in Towson. This has nothing to do with who gets your pearl earrings and everything to do with who gets your kids, what to do if something terrible happens to you, whose in charge of medical decisions, etc.
  2. Get life insurance. Again, I have a few awesome contacts if you need them in Baltimore. We obviously haven’t needed life insurance but we all will at one point or another.
  3. Have the terrible conversations. My sister was super clear with who was supposed to care for her kids in the event of an emergency. Everyone knew what to do. We went out and bought a van and that was that. She believes deeply in Gods sovereignty and didn’t want to be attached to a ventilator for life. Luckily we never had to make that decision but I was prepared.
  4. Listen. This seems silly but it’s true. Katie and I talked daily. I knew it all. I knew how she felt about spanking, school choices, clothing brands, her favorite soaps, etc. I have the privilege of reminding her babies of their mom. I can go on and on about her and answer all the questions they could have. I hold the memories they try to keep. It’s hard to admit but Vera probably doesn’t remember her mom pre-brain injury. She was only one! What she needs from me is to be the storyteller and for me to do “it” (whatever that may be) like Kate would’ve. There’s nothing that brings a smile to those sweet faces like telling a story about the day they were born or how pleased Kate was when they learned to walk or talk or giggle. So listen!
  5. Repair broken relationships. There are a lot of hands in the pot. There are relationships I have that I wish were really healthy before all of this happened because now there is not much time and energy left to try to fix them. Katie needs a well oiled machine in the people that love her most and that’s not always possible if we have our own junk in the way. So repair relationships! Not just in case crappy stuff happens but because you’ll never regret it! It’s time well spent.

Sorry to be a downer. I hope this helps you in some way to be prepared for life!

Fitness

One Week Post Challenge

So first of all it seems insane to post about this when there is real stuff going on in Texas. When my sister suffered a brain injury last year and all. of. the. hell. started I was constantly annoyed that people kept living their lives. How dare people care about lip balm when my sister was in a coma and pronounced essentially brain dead.

I’m feeling the same way now. People are hurting and my weight loss is meaningless. The crazy thing is, had I been working out back then I bet I would have survived the last 14 months with a bit more sanity.

So to keep it short and sweet. I added back egg yolks and cream for coffee. I’ve tried to pretty much keep everything else the same. I gained a pound back! I’m sure it will be a few weeks of influx until I’m losing again. To keep me motivated I joined an online, thirty day, 4% weight loss diet bet. I’ve got four pounds to go!