A little angry at God…

Yesterday, in a heated, but heartfelt discussion with our son, I learned something that I hadn’t known.  I knew there was something going on with Christian, because the past few days have been rough.  His attitude has been off and his heart not in the right place.  In trying to get him to figure out what the issue was, I asked him if there was anything that was bothering him.  At first he didn’t answer, but then I used my Mom persuasion to get it out of him (I’m not saying I’m proud of this, but when my child is struggling, as a mom there’s this crazy urge to just make him say it out loud so I can help him).

“I guess I’m just a little angry at God,” he finally told me.  He continued with, “You know… because of what happened to Michael.”

My heart dropped.  Because while Christian has walked by us throughout this seven and a half month journey with Michael, I hadn’t stopped to think of how it actually affected him.

A little background.  We knew Michael’s sister Katelyn before we knew Michael.  One of the first times we met Michael was at his house for a party.  He told us later that his first impression of us was that he thought it was kind of weird that his sister had friends that had kids.  Thankfully, he didn’t think we were too weird, and as the story goes, Michael very much became a part of our family, kids and all.

That being said, both Christian and Ellee got to spend a lot of time with Michael as he spent a lot of time with us and our Youth Ministry.

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Christian and Michael had many opportunities where they served together.

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They also had lots of opportunities of just having fun playing games together as well.

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A few winters ago, Michael gave Christian a pair of his old ice skates to use.  He had a blast with them and was very thankful for such a fun gift.

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Michael spent lots of times with us in our home

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As well as overseas.  And in all of these interactions, Christian got to know Michael very well and see the great example that he set by the amazing way that he chose to live his life.

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When Christian heard about Michael’s accident, he was devastated.  Those first few weeks after the accident were so hard for him.

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Eventually our kids would settle in to our new schedule of hospital visits.  During those first three months, they would join us most weekends for hospital visits up to see Michael and his family.  I was always proud of their attitudes and in how they handled this time.

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Christian would always ask about Michael and how he was doing (because he was in the ICU, they weren’t allowed to go and see him).  He always remembered to pray for Michael and his compassion was something that we were so thankful to see throughout this terrible tragedy.

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When Michael moved to Rehab, the kids were able to get to spend a little more time with him.  Ellee’s had a hard time with it, I think because she is younger and doesn’t really understand as much.  And that’s fine.  But Christian has been able to connect more and is always willing to come and see Michael and talk with him for a little while when we visit.

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But of course, all of this has been hard on him.  So I’m not sure why I was so surprised when he finally told me that he was feeling angry at God about what had happened.  As we talked, I was able to share that I understood how he was feeling and that it was totally normal to feel that way.  To be honest, I think many of us could relate with feeling angry about seeing something so terrible happen to such an incredible friend.

It is so hard to process the pain that we will experience in life.  It’s hard to understand that age old question of why bad things happen to good people.  It’s at times just gut wrenching to see people you love going through such a difficult time.

But no matter what we go through, there are always truths to hold on to.  There is always a positive light to see our troubles through.  And while it’s not always easy, finding these truths and perspectives is best.

Awhile ago, I came across an online sermon through North Point Community Church called See The World: Through the Eyes of a Lion.  I wanted to share it here because it was something that really helped me to process Michael’s accident and how to work through the pain of a tragedy.  Levi Lusko experienced his own personal tragedy and shares so beautifully a few things that helped him and his family work through the hardships that they faced.

Most times, I chose to focus and see the positives around Michael’s accident and journey.  I do this partly because it’s the way I process things and partly because it’s the best way for me to keep on the upswing of things.  But there are definitely times that I’m sad or angry or just plain heartbroken.  Again, I think many of us that love Michael and have followed his story can relate.  But in these times, we all can take great comfort in knowing that God is close to use when we are heartbroken and He is the one that saves us when we are crushed.

Just a few thoughts from tonight.  If you get the chance and need to be encouraged and hear something good, I’d strongly encourage you to check out Levi’s message here.  Please keep praying for Michael and his family.  He is thankfully back at Rehab after being in the hospital last week and we are looking forward to seeing him tomorrow.

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Among the Wildflowers

In high school, I spent my summers working on a Summer Missions Team at a Christian camp in Tustin, Michigan.  For some crazy reason, my mom let me go away for eight weeks every summer to serve at the camp.  Each week we would help out in a different area of the camp’s ministry.  Some weeks I was a Jr. Counselor and others I helped out in the Kitchen or on Maintenance.  Whereas I loved working in the cabins, I have to admit, I also loved Maintenance, because it meant that I got to mow the lawn on the camp’s big ride-on mower while listening to music.  Granted, I probably should have been listening to something more wholesome, but my absolute favorite songs that summer were from a borrowed Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers cassette tape.

It’s probably where I first fell in love with the song “Wildflowers.”  And so you can imagine what was on loop through my head the other evening when Ellee and I walked over to the Tuttle’s Flower Field to cut some beautiful bouquets.

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I don’t know what could be better in that moment, than the summer’s fading light on our sweet daughter in a field full of beautiful wildflowers.

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Of course in honor of full disclosure, in that gorgeous field, there were also gnats and mosquitos and grasshoppers that could startle you if you weren’t paying attention.  But who wants to focus on those?

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She instead delighted in the flowers and getting to wear her Mommy’s silver heels (crazy enough, we are the same shoe size) and in twirling around in her beautiful dress.  Because that’s the choice, you know.  You always get to choose what to see no matter where life brings you.

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You can focus on the bugs or you can focus on the butterflies (they love the wildflowers as much as we do).

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After a few pictures, she got to work.

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She’s become a bit of a pro this summer.  She always looks for the biggest and most beautiful flowers.

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She plans as we go for who we can bring our bouquets to.  I love that she considers others and I do my best to nurture that character quality whenever I can.

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I am so, so thankful for these summer nights and these summer memories.  Our children are growing up so fast and so I do my best to capture these moments when I can.

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What more can I say?  She belongs among the wildflowers and I’m so thankful for the opportunity we had to cut and savor this beautiful part of summer.  A huge thanks to our friend Jonathan Tuttle for letting us go and hang out in his beautiful flower field!  I’m so glad that we can soak up these summer blessings…

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Love and Basketball

So this is a story about love and basketball and I’m writing it for those of us parents who have our passions and our kids and who work through life trying to find the right balance of the relationship between the two.

My husband Jeremy really loves basketball.  Shortly after we started dating, it was apparent that he had a passion for both playing and watching the sport.  It was something that I quickly accepted about him.  I became a Duke fan.  During March Madness, I’d fill out my bracket and make basketball cupcakes to eat as we cheered on our teams.  Loving something that someone you love loves is one of the best ways to bond, I quickly learned.

Jeremy’s love for basketball would continue to be present as our family grew.  Two weeks after Christian was born, we Anne Geddes photographed him, not in a basket of fruit, but in an actual basketball basket.

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We bought him baby basketball gear and basketball toys that he loved to play with.

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When Christian was in kindergarten, we enrolled him in a local basketball clinic.

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There he started to learn the basics of the game and had fun while doing it.  We spent our Saturdays driving him to his practices and were so proud when he finished the season strong.

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And from there throughout the years, we’d continue to look for opportunities to strengthen his playing skills.  A few summers ago, he went to basketball camp and had a great time.

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He’d continue to do a few more years of clinics and games through MYO Basketball.

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In fourth grade, he was asked to play with a local travel team.

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We did double teams that year, and spent quite a few Saturdays attending games earlier for his first team and then later for his travel team.  It was a busy season, but it was fun to see him learn and grow through the sport that we loved.

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Fifth grade was a fun year because it was the year that Jeremy decided to help coach Christian’s team.  Thankfully, it turned out to be a great dynamic between the two of them and Jeremy was able to teach and pass on his passion to our son as he coached him and his team.

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Then there was this year.  It was Christian’s 6th grade year and last year of elementary school and it turned out to be another really great year of playing for him.

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He played through the winter season and then did a few weekend games with some other teams as well.  We were really proud of him and his hard work.  Sixth grade seemed to be the year that everything came together and he really excelled in this sport.

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As I mentioned before, all of this has been fun to see because Jeremy has had such a passion and love for basketball.  Throughout the school year, he still plays every week with a great group of guys and it’s something that he still really enjoys.

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I’m so proud of him and have really enjoyed watching him play over the years as well.  So I wasn’t really sure what to think, when I started to notice Christian have a change of heart about the sport that he played for so long.

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Last year, Christian started running.  He joined a running club and participated in a few 5Ks as well.  This summer, when Christian was asked to participate on a summer Basketball team, he told us that he would rather focus on running instead.  We were totally fine with it and wanted to support our son.  At that point, he still was open to trying out for Basketball this coming school year and so we were excited to know that was coming.

But then today, he finally came to a decision.  “I don’t think that I want to do Basketball in Jr. High,” he told me, “What do you think Dad will say?”  I hesitated.  Because I wasn’t sure.  I know that basketball is something that Jeremy loves and I know that it’s also something that he’s loved seeing Christian play all these years.  I told Christian that he should just talk to him and see what he had to say.  So he did.

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I was so happy to hear how their conversation went.  Christian a little nervously shared that he didn’t think he wanted to play basketball this coming year.  He said he wanted to run Cross Country and try out for Volleyball.  And without missing a beat, Jeremy said that was totally fine.  He gave our son a hug and told him he was proud of him and that we as his parents mostly just wanted him to be active and to do what he loves.  Sure, my husband loves basketball, but most of all he loves his son and is excited to support him no matter what sport he plays.

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As parents, it’s hard sometimes not to want to live vicariously through our kids and through their extra curricular activities.  We have our passions and so of course it’s natural to want to pass them on down to our kids.  Sometimes they will love the things we love, and sometimes they won’t.  Or in our case, they might start out strong, but decided that they want to try something different as the years go by.  Overall though, I’ve learned that more important than getting our kids to love what we love, is loving our kids and supporting them wherever they are at.

Second to Last

Tonight was our second to last week of Youth Group at the Beach.  It was an incredibly gorgeous night with some incredibly amazing people.  We played a little net-less volleyball, explored the crazy waves and hung out on the lifeguard stand as the sun was setting and the moon rising.  Benjamin Tuttle shared a great lesson to wrap up the night and all in all it was a pretty great summer night at the beach.  Here are a few pictures from our night.

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Just to note, next Wednesday (August 24th) will be our last official Youth Group at the Beach.  We meet at the church for drop off at 6:00pm and pick up is also at the church at 8:30pm.  We would love to have your Jr. or Sr. High teen join us as we end another incredible summer of Youth Group.

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Sustain

sus.tain: strengthen or support, physically or mentally

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Sunday afternoon, after church, we drove up the Stony Brook University Hospital to visit Michael.  There was a sense of familiarity as we walked throughout the hospital that we got to know and love earlier this year.  However, this time, we rode the elevators up to floor 17, instead of 18.  After dropping the kids off to the waiting room, I had to smile just a little because as we walked to room 108, I realized it was the exact same room Michael had been in at the beginning, just one floor down.

As we walked in, Michael was doing okay.  He was awake and alert while we were there, so we were able to talk with him and give our love and encouragement.  Sally shared that he had been through quite a few rounds of tests as the doctors were working to find out what was causing him the pain and discomfort.

All in all, it’s been a rough few days for Michael and his family.  Being in the hospital is never easy and it’s certainly been hard for Michael to be off his normal schedule and for his family as they’ve worked to help and support and advocate for him.  Tonight Sally shared that as long as things went well tonight, tomorrow he should be able to be discharged and back to the Rehab where he needs to be.  So she asked that we could pray for this specific request.

I’ve always loved the verse in Psalms that talks about how we can cast all of our cares on the Lord because he cares for and will sustain us.  During these past few difficult days, Michael and his family have needed to be sustained.  And I’m so thankful for the many people who have prayed for this very thing.  Even in the tough days, God continues to support and strengthen this wonderful family that He loves so very much.  I don’t even know where Michael would be, were it not for his family supporting him while his friends, family and community support them.  It’s been so beautiful to see the good that has come out of this terrible situation.

Please pray tonight and tomorrow that Michael will be able to get back to Rehab and that he could recover from these past few days of being set back.  Please pray for miracles in his healing and rehab as he works to relearn so much of what was lost.  Please pray especially for his dad Mike and Mom Sally and sisters Katelyn and Sarah as they continue to love and support him in any and every way.  Thank you for continuing to share in Michael’s life and story, trusting that God will continue to do great things in and through him.

Time of Distress

We have a little boat that we love and it gets us to all sorts of fun places in the summer.  Last night, we took it over to Westhampton Beach for dinner and treats at the Beach Bakery.  And then we headed home.  Right away, we noticed a huge dark cloud to our right.  And ever so often, we’d see these flashes of light.  As we sailed home, we noticed them more and more and finally realized that it was lightning that we were seeing.

We assumed it was heat lighting.  Because yesterday was so hot and humid.  At first, I didn’t mind it so much.  Because it was crazy beautiful to see the clouds all lit up on a dark night on the water.  But as we got closer and closer to Eastport, that cloud full of lightning seemed to be getting closer and closer as well.  And the random flashes of lightning were getting stronger.  Jeremy said it would be fine, because he didn’t see any cloud to ground flashes, but just after he said that, we saw a few.

I’ll be honest.  My heart was terrified.  Because you learn as a kid to never be outdoors in lightning and being on the water?  That was just asking for it.  So I made little comments to Jeremy, just to make sure he realized the severity (in my mind) of our situation.  I worried.  I felt fear grip my heart.  And I prayed.  Oh, how I prayed.

Thankfully, we got to the dock safely.  And then out of our boat and our boat out of the water and then safely home as well.  And walking into our home, I was able to slowly shake those heavy feelings and it was such a needed relief.

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And I write this all to share that we will have those times of distress.  Things will come up that will bring fear and worry and doubt.  But throughout those times, we can trust God to be with us.  Trust Him with our situations.  And have faith that He will lead and guide us.

I feel sad to write these words.  But on Friday night, Michael was having stomach issues that were concern enough for him to go to the hospital.  He spent yesterday getting a variety of tests done.  I got a text from Sally this morning that he is back in the ICU with a fever and lots of neuro-storming.  Sally has been with him since Friday, and has not gotten sleep in the past few days and in so many ways this is such a sad and devastating situation.

Friends please pray for Michael.  Please pray for the doctors to find what is causing him distress.  Please pray for healing and for strength.  Please pray for Sally, Mike, Sarah and Katelyn as this has such an impact on them as well.   Please pray especially for Sally.  She has been through so much and is in need of so much support and strength right now.

She asked me to ask for prayers and I told her I would do just that.  I am standing firm believing that God is faithful and that He will be with Michael through this storm.  I ask that you would stand in prayer and faith as well.

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A List of Things

This past Monday, marked seven months since Michael Einfeldt’s car accident.

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It’s kind of hard to believe.  In some ways, the days and weeks and months have flown by.  But I know that there have also been seconds and minutes and hours that have seemed like an endless eternity while waiting and praying and hoping.

The kids and I drove up to see Michael yesterday.  And while I always look forward to seeing him and spending time with him, it is still always a bit hard to see someone that you love and care about, struggle.

Sometimes life is hard.  Sometimes it’s painful and sad and it may not seem like there is much to be thankful for.  But these are the exact times that we need to focus on being thankful.  Gratitude is a powerful tool.  It can completely shift perspective, from hopeless to hopeful.  It’s a truth teller and it brings into light what is real about our situations.  So today, I thought I’d take some time to share some of the things I’m thankful for, when it comes to Michael and everything that he has gone through.  Here goes..

  1.  He’s here.  Looking back at the picture of his car accident, it could have been a different story.  But God’s plan was that Michael would survive his accident and I’m really very thankful for that.
  2. He has the most incredible family support.  His Mom Sally has been by his side since the very beginning.  I’m pretty sure she only left the hospital once that first month or so.  Between his Mom, Dad and sister Sarah (his other sister lives in Canada) they have been with him around the clock every day.
  3. Sally‘s maternal instincts combined with her nursing knowledge.  It’s been inspiring to see how she’s been able to help Michael and advocate for his many needs throughout the months.
  4. Stony Brook Hospital’s ICU.  For the first three months, we were there most days.  The doctors, nurses and support staff took such good care of Michael and were able to get him to a place of stability so that he could leave for Rehab.
  5. Family, Friends and Strangers.  So many people have been praying for Michael since the beginning.  Some knew Michael from before his accident, but many did not.  The support from everyone has been an incredible encouragement to him and his family.
  6. Our Community.  A few weeks ago, I met four different people who all stopped me to let me know they were thinking of and praying for Michael.  It was a really good feeling to know that we are part of such a caring community.
  7. St. Johnland’s HIRU.  The HIRU stands for Head Injury Rehabilitation Unit.  It’s where Michael has lived for the past four months.  They have a great staff that has worked hard to get Michael better.
  8. And now some more specific things from Rehab.  One being Michael’s trach coming out and that area being completely healed.
  9. A new wheelchair for Michael.  When he first started Rehab, he had one that had a head rest support.  His new one doesn’t offer as much head support, which is great because it means that Michael is getting stronger.
  10. Pudding.  It’s the first and only food that Michael has had so far.  Sally shared that he’s had a few times now that he’s taken some tiny bites and been able to chew and swallow.
  11. Michael’s Smiley Face Pillow.  Mr. Keith Caputo with Helping Makes You Happy gave it to Michael when he was still in the ICU.  Michael uses the pillow a lot and it always makes me smile.
  12. Shoes.  The last few times we’ve seen Michael, he’s been wearing shoes and it just makes me smile because it’s a good step in the right direction.
  13. New Haircut.  Michael got one this week from our amazing friend Steve-O’s mom.  She cuts hair in Center Moriches and is actually very gifted in cutting people’s hair who have scars.  Michael’s haircut looked great.
  14. Letters for Michael.  Many people sent theirs to me and I printed them out and brought them to Michael and his family.  It was heartwarming to read them and a great encouragement in a tough situation.
  15. Emotions.  I’ve seen a few and heard (from others) about some new expressions and emotions that Michael is starting to show.  This is a very encouraging thing to see.
  16. Less Medication.  Michael’s had some changes in medication that Sally shared about yesterday.  This is a good thing, because it will help him to be more aware and we just pray that his body will adjust to it with no problems.
  17. Perseverance.  As with all things in life, sometimes it’s just about keeping on going no matter what.  There are so many elements of the need for perseverance on this particular journey.  The road to recovery with brain injury is long.  There are good times and there are tough times.  But it’s been encouraging to see Michael persevere and it’s something that we continue to pray for his family as they continue on.

To be honest, I could go on forever I think.  As difficult as it’s been, there are always so many things to be thankful for.  1 Thessalonians 5:18 says to give thanks in all circumstances, and I’ve learned that there is no better way to get through all circumstances than to focus my heart and make a list of the many things that I’m thankful for.

Please keep praying for Michael and for his family.  Thank you for checking in and please know that Michael is making progress and working so hard to recover.  We continue to pray for God to work miracles as He is the great healer.  We are so thankful to see how He has already worked and we trust and pray that He will continue to watch over Michael and his family.