Wednesday, July 31, 2013

a hard week

I am finally sitting here at my desk with a little bit of time on my hands. Time that has been really hard to find these days. I am going to attempt to write and somehow capture all that has happened in our family in the past couple weeks. I am sure my words will fall short. I'm not sure how to even begin, how much details to give, or if I even feel up to the task. But I am going to try. I'll turn to my heart with how to begin, with God's Word:
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight and the sin that clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus the pioneer and perfecter of our faith, who for the sake of the joy that was set before him endured the cross, disregarding its shame, and has taken his seat at the right hand of the throne of God.”  (Hebrews 12:1-2)
This was the scripture from my daily devotion time two Wednesdays ago, on July 17. How fitting for me to read that at the time and in the place that I did. That Wednesday morning, my life changed. Our lives changed. I'm not sure how significantly. Time will tell that. But it changed nonetheless. Following are the notes I took after reading those verses:
Surrounded by a cloud of witnesses... Family, friends that love and care for us, people we strive to love and care for in return. God's children who were strangers to us before today. All who we want to see the light of Jesus in us, people we desperately want to be examples to.
Lay aside every weight... Not get burdened by the things of this world; not give into temptations and desires of the flesh; to not be troubled, anxious, but to trust in the Lord.

Run with perseverance the race that is set before us... I mean really? I always think of Joe anyway when reading this verse, but really? Today, Lord? Joe has quite a race, a challenge, a significant recovery before him now.  He will need perseverance. I know that we all have a race to run. That race is to become who God wants us to be; to decide to do His will for our lives, and not our own.

Looking to Jesus... Yes. Not to anything or anyone else, but to him. For grace, peace, comfort, wisdom, guidance, discernment, and mercy.

Endured the cross - the pain, suffering, ridicule Jesus faced to take my sins away, to give me the chance to spend eternity with Him. His completely selfless devotion displayed to us, His children, on the cross was the ultimate act of love. We will never be able to comprehend that love He has for each of us.

The throne of God... He is all-powerful, all-knowing, capable of healing our bodies, our hearts, and our minds. His mercy and grace covers us. He is always with us. That comfort is available to all who love Him, who seek to follow His will, and live their life according to His Word.

That Wednesday, just before 8 a.m., Joe was hit by a car while riding his bike. He was coming home from the gym and going the route he started at the beginning of the summer when he wanted to start incorporating a bike ride into his workout. He was on the Fall Line Freeway, and the car was traveling about 50mph. He was two miles from home. He was taken by ambulance to MCG in Augusta. There are a lot of details to the story like: how it happened, how I found out, how the whole town seemed to know within an hour, the extent of Joe's injuries, how those hours went in the trauma unit followed by two days in the hospital, and how the road ahead may look for us... but that might take days to write. In fact, it did.

That night, as Joe was resting, I laid on my bed in the hospital room and started to write: 
So blessed today. My husband is alive, he is not paralyzed, and he will heal. We have the most amazing and supportive family and friends, and a God who's love and peace knows no bounds. His providence and protection has been abundant. He knows our anxieties and our pain and has met us there in the uncertainty and suffering. I feel His peace, just as I know His arms are cradling all of us.
I woke up to my little girl. She wanted to cuddle. She wanted to get up on the bed. She wanted Momma out of the bed. She wanted me to get the sleepymen from her eyes. She wanted me to hold her. Some mornings she is very independent. Today she was needy, Mommy's girl. I crawled out of bed, put on my running clothes - it's Wednesday - and went to get Joseph's milk and my coffee. I sat Hannah on the counter where she started working on her mermaid coloring.
Then, my phone rang. A number I didn't recognize. I wasn't going to answer it, but God told me to... A strange voice. A Good Samaritan. It was 8:07. The truck driver called me. "Mrs. Buck? I have your husband right here." Heart stopping moment. And then, mercifully, Joe came on the phone. "I was hit by a pain...Fall Line...ambulance...taking me to Augusta..." He was ok enough to talk to me. He was alive.

And I continued to type in my iPad the details of the day - a day I wished never happened, but at the same time, a day I don't want to forget. Since then, Joe and I have pieced together the story, bit by bit - his version interwoven with mine. I wanted to record in my journal the details, my thoughts, my feelings before I forgot. 

Joe sustained several injuries, including a mild concussion, four fractures in his left leg, a fractured (L1) vertebra, several cuts, and road rash. He was pretty beat up.

God never left Joe. God never left me. He doesn't ever leave, so I should say, rather: I never left God. He was constantly in my thoughts, in my heart, and in my words. It is by His grace and His strength that we are where we are today. Difficult or traumatic circumstances tend to lead people to - or away - from God. I will never be able to explain, but Joe, on the side of the road, and I, driving to the hospital, had peace. That peace, which surpasses all comprehension.  The range of emotions experienced is wide. Above all, though, the strongest emotion - the most present thought - is gratitude, my thankfulness and praise to God.

sunrise, July 18, 2013

Practicing on crutches so we can go home!

As I count my blessings, I am thankful for:

divine intervention - the unlikely event that Joe survived the accident and managed to suffer injuries that will, in all likelihood, heal.

a lady who, while being the cause of this horrible event, immediately began praying over Joe as he laid on the side of the freeway.

a truck driver who was kind enough to stop.

the relief I felt the moment I heard Joe's voice on the phone.

the brief moment I had with Joe in the ambulance so that I could say a prayer with him.

a kind paramedic who calmly assured me everything was going to be ok, and then walked me to the shoulder of the road and prayed with me.

a friend who followed me the hour and a half  to the hospital and then stayed with me the hours Joe was in the ER and until we got settled in a room.

the help with Hannah and Joseph, from the moment I dropped them off in a neighbor's driveway, overnight stays, and playtime with lots of friends ready and eager to help.

a good team of doctors and the good medical care we received in the hospital.

visitors (my little brother and many friends) who traveled to see Joe in the hospital, and even bring him home.

phone calls and text messages that flooded my phone on the way to the hospital, during our stay, and every day since.

a mother-in-law (who was a nurse) that came and stayed with us for a few days when we got home, showing me how to dress wounds and give injections among other things. 

the kindness and generosity of friends that stepped up and did - and continue to do - anything and everything, to help out, run errands, and provide meals. 

a church staff who is able to take care of things so that Joe doesn't have to worry and retired and other clergy and lay leaders that are ready to stand in on Sunday mornings.

church members and neighbors who are doctors, nurses, therapists, pharmacists, and others in the medical profession that have given their services, supplies, and advice.

the cards that continue to come in for Joe to read as he lays on his hospital bed at home.

children that are resilient; who have made this so much easier than it could have been, adapting to different caretakers, different houses.

a family, that while being so spread out, is always encouraging Joe (and me), and is never more than a phone call or drive away.

the prayers that are being said by family, friends near and far, church members (past and present), and even people we don't know, for Joe and our family.

a faith that gives us direction, comfort, and peace in challenging times. 

As we were in the hospital and getting settled at home, our friends who took care of Hannah and Joseph sent us pictures:

It was so good to see them doing great and having fun.

We came home from Augusta that Friday evening. Five days later I received the news that my Uncle Pete had finally succumbed to his battle with pancreatic cancer, a mean disease that eventually took over his whole body. He suffered tremendously those seven months after his diagnosis in December. As much as I loved him and selfishly was sad to lose him, I was ready for him to be relieved from suffering and be with Jesus. I will see him again. In the meantime, heaven is a much livelier place!

I've talked about him recently on this blog. He was one special person, a loving man with a larger-than-life personality, a father-figure in many ways to us nieces and nephews. My family is probably closer than the average but we like it that way. Uncle Pete exists in so many of my childhood and adult memories. He was a "first responder" - which is ironic in that his two sons are actual first responders. Uncle Pete was usually one of the first ones there - anytime anyone was in need. He helped, mourned, celebrated with everyone. And everyone was family. I will miss him greatly. 

We traveled to Savannah for his memorial service last Wednesday - one week after the accident. Joe, not being able to string coherent thoughts together in order to write a eulogy, stopped taking his heavy pain medication a couple days before. The trip was exhausting for him, but we settled in at my mom's and he pretty much stayed in bed except for the service. {His back was the main source of pain, so keeping him in a flat position was necessary.} As for the eulogy, God-given strength enabled him to crutch up to the front of the church, sit in a wheelchair (sitting straight up is his worst position), and speak for twenty minutes. So many people were praying for him, and prayers work! Once he started speaking about Uncle Pete, he felt no pain. It was amazing. He did an incredible job and I was so proud. It was exactly what Uncle Pete would have wanted. Joe's words captured him perfectly.  

The kids stayed in Savannah with Meme for a few days so we could have some time back at home.

The house has never been so quiet. Even Mollie dog was boarded.
We are into somewhat of a routine now. We will go back to Augusta tomorrow for appointments with both ortho-spine and general orthopedic doctors, where surgery will be scheduled. From there, it will be a long, slow road to recovery. But it’s one we’ve already started. Joe is already doing so much better. The pain is manageable. The road rash is almost healed. The bruising, which became so bad, has gone down considerably. I am not na├»ve enough to think that things will be easy from here on out, after all my very-active husband is bound to a bed, but I am optimistic. I am hopeful for a fast and complete recovery. I have absolute faith and trust that God’s hand is at work in our lives, that He is watching over us and will give us the strength to get through this challenging time, that we will know His peace and love; and that our relationship with Jesus will be deeper because of it. 

"Whoever speaks must do so as one speaking the very words of God; whoever serves must do so with the strength that God supplies, so that God may be glorified in all things through Jesus Christ. To him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 4:11)

Well, this blog post turned in to something that, just like my journal, took days to write - a little here, a little there. Before I go, here are some pictures I've taken:

 Mommy and Joseph smiling at ourselves on the iPad

 checking out Daddy's boo boos and being cheesy

 Hannah wasn't too comfortable around Daddy for a while. She has since warmed up to the hospital bed.

 Joseph, on the other hand, had no problem climbing up there.

We received a sweet card from our little friend, Ella:

In closing, a couple of other things I want to share. First, this email:
Dear Joe & Lindsey,
When it rains on you people, it pours!  I could tell by the look on your face last Sunday that obvious relief that Joe is going to be ok; but I also know the look that signifies loss.  I didn't know him, but I realize that it's been a long road for your Uncle Pete and all your family; but truly, he has passed from sickness to the new existence.
"And he that sat upon the throne said unto me: 'Behold, I make all things new.'" 

What beautiful words written by a couple that attend our church. The husband is a retired elder and is so willing and happy to step in while Joe is unable. They are two of the kindest, Christian people we know.

And this, which I read in a devotional book soon after we got back home from the hospital:

"Only through faith can you discern the hand of God in any event..."

With the recent events in my life, I’d say the timing of those words could not have been better. And wholeheartedly believing those words can get me through anything. 

Thank you, God, for opening my eyes and my heart to seeing your glory even when circumstances are challenging and hard to understand. Give me the energy, patience and wisdom to be the best wife, mom, daughter and friend I can be. Help me as I strive to be a follower - and not a fan - of Jesus. Guide me and let my life reflect your light and reveal my faith in all that I do.

Monday, July 15, 2013

momma's 'scara

I think I forgot to post about the time, oh about a month ago, the little buggers got into my make-up, applying mascara...waterproof mascara to their faces.

They spent a few minutes in time-out, but then I had to take pictures, so I'm not sure how much of a lesson they learned. But, getting it off was fun. Did I mention it was waterproof? Neither child was happy then...

Thursday, July 11, 2013

savannah and tybee

It took a while to get to the blog, but this is what we were up to the end of June. Quality time with family...

After we left Fernandina, the kids and I spent the week in Savannah with my mom while Joe returned home to work. It was so nice being in Savannah for that long. I can't remember the last time we were there for more than 36 hours. Beginning of November, maybe?

The purpose of the trip was to see family and friends. That's it. We didn't run around like crazy. We didn't pack our days with errands and exhaustion. We had some down time. We played in the backyard and on the beach. We ate yummy meals, and the seafood that I so miss living landlocked. We stayed with Meme, and got to see Gran Gran and Poppy, Aunt Sarah, Liam and Marshall (cousins), too. But the main reason for our visit was to see Uncle Pete.

{Brief story: Sunday, the day we got to Savannah, all the boys headed to Lake Mayer so Thomas (little cousin) could show Uncle Pete all he has learned to do with the remote controlled sailboat Uncle Pete gave him. On the way there, a car - driving insanely fast - tried to pass both of their cars over a double-yellow line on a small bridge as they were beginning to turn into the parking lot, and hit my mom's car holding both of my uncles. Thankfully, no one was hurt too bad. Mom's almost-new car is totaled. It could have been way worse, but everyone was definitely shaken up. Scary start to the week.}

The Dream Foundation granted Uncle Pete, Aunt Kristie, and their family a week at Tybee. They stayed in a great beach house, nothing between them and the ocean but dunes. We went down to the beach several times to play. The first night we brought dinner with us and got a teeny bit of time on the sand. I love this picture of Joseph showing Uncle Pete his gummies, and Hannah talking to Meme:

Itching to see the ocean...

playing in the tide pools - a favorite!

...except for Hannah, writing her name in the sand...she does not like to get anywhere near the water.

The next morning we met Gran Gran, Aunt Sarah and the boys at Forsyth for some good old fashioned fun in the sprinklers. No bathing suits = no problem.

We spent all of Wednesday on Tybee. After dinner with Meme, we walked down the pier. The kids loved it.

Joe came to town on Wednesday night. Thursday we mostly played at home. Hannah was over-the-moon to have a new trampoline at Meme's house. Cousin Lucas (who fell through the old one) is no longer in trouble.

Friday, it was back to the beach.

My high school friend Beth, and her twins met us down there. As always, so good to see them.

Caroline and Hannah

best one we got!

While Hannah stayed on the sand, Joseph loved the water. Cannot overstate that. He was all about jumping over the waves. We had a ball playing with him in the ocean. Unfortunately those sunglasses only lasted a day... Joseph does not like the bright sun, but thought the shades were pretty cool.

Our last night, the whole family met at the Crab Shack on Tybee. Only missing a few people, it was a big crowd.

About to eat the yummiest crab legs!

Hannah, Joseph and Jackson playing on the alligator.

Uncle Ben and Hannah feeding the alligators; Hannah giving Joseph a victory hug when the alligator chomped down on the food.

my brothers Ben (left) and Will, both weird.
Uncle Pete's tribe

the five, and spouses

Finally, a few miscellaneous pictures from the phone (all involving sweets, interestingly)...

 Joseph eating jelly for breakfast.

 frozen yogurt one night; Krispy Kreme on the way out to the beach one morning

 dinner with friends followed by more froyo!

 vanilla ice cream cone with sprinkles at the Sugar Shack...Hannah's favorite.

We drove back to Sandersville that night. It was late when we got home, but so worth staying for dinner. It was a great trip. I was sad to say goodbye to the family, especially Uncle Pete, but we are blessed to have gotten the chance to spend time with them. It has been about 7 months since Uncle Pete's diagnosis. We know what the doctors say, and what Hospice tells us, but we are one strong-willed family who believes in the power of prayer. This family has seen countless blessings and shared special memories together in that time, and I am grateful.