Season 3 Episode 67: A Blessed Tragedy w/ Jesse Schrake

In this episode Jennifer talks with public speaker and safe-driving advocate Jesse Schrake about the aftermath of his accident. He encourages us to make choices that honor God and the healing power of forgiveness and true identity in Christ. To find out more about the co-authored book with Amanda Watts and Jesse Schrake please visit Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Blessed-Tragedy-Amanda-Watts/dp/1700495623, or their social media platforms.

Passion & Purpose with Marci Corry

In this episode Jennifer visits with founder of Safe2Save App, Marci Corry to talk about passion and purpose. She is devoted to seeing change  in safer driving across the country. In a near fatal accident Marci was grateful to be alive and her faith became stronger. To find more about the Safe2Save Mission and how to get involved please visit, https://safe2save.org/

Season III

I looked up the biblical meaning of three and it did not disappoint. It’s the number of harmony, three accord (strength), three is for eternal life and the resurrection on the third day.

The 2nd season of Accidental Hope exceeded all expectations with guests and incredible stories. The goal was to find stories of overcoming, beauty from ashes, purpose from pain…and hopefully make some friends along the way.

My dear friend Audrey Fulton, a tragic accident may have brought us together but God has connected us in so many other levels. She is a mother of four and her strength and faith are rare. The Fulton’s prove vows matter and marriage can handle anything when God is at the center.

I talked with Dr. Maryann Gray, a pioneer of hope for C.A.D.I.s , she shared stages of grief and her journey of accepting. It was such an honor to meet her and now I consider her a friend.

Darin Strauss, author of Half A Life reminded me the power and freedom of sharing your story. I was so nervous and Darin’s down to earth spirit eased those nerves almost instantly.

We heard from a world-wide evangelist with his struggle in faith (Jay Lowder), a sexual assault survivor advocate (Lavinia Masters) , families who started foundations to honor loved ones, two best friends that literally experienced the most heartbreaking loss and God got the glory. I literally could not pick a favorite episode because they each mean the world to me, my only hope is that they connect to someone else who needed to know it will be okay.

We heard from many moms including my own and how motherhood and tragedy come together, there is grace, fortitude, and inspiration.

Season 2 had something for everyone, an artist and entrepreneur, different types of trauma including racial injustice, living organ donation, battling cancer and daily devotions with Tera Elness.

I don’t have a Word for this year, a vision board, or a prominent goal. No hustle, no BS, just one step forward each day learning and growing and seeking deeper connections with people and faith. I don’t have a plan or an outline or expectations of the season to come but my heart is open and I am ready to receive what may come.

There are many lessons to be grateful for from living through a global pandemic. I hope 2020 taught you, you are stronger than you can imagine, we can pivot when least expecting and triumph when facing utter chaos. The world went upside down, but we are still here and I am grateful!

May God bless whoever finds this little blog!

Blessings.

XOXO, Jenn

Motherhood + Trauma = Incredible Strength

We wanted to crawl in a hole and sit in the chaos. We wanted to turn off noise and demands and tasks, but we couldn’t! We wanted to give up, run away and turn back time, but all were impossible. We wanted to protect our children from the pain of this new reality and the pain of watching us crumble. We had to be strong when we didn’t feel it.

This is motherhood.

Hard.

Worth it!

I want to thank the women who were involved in this project, including my own mother! (I love you mom! )

Grab a notebook and a tissue, no matter what trauma you are facing there is wisdom in these stories, may the Holy Spirit soften your heart and minister to us through their stories.

2 Part Series

To go back even for just a moment!!!😭

To go back in time if only for a day…

After picking up Chris and Patrick from their trip to Dominican Republic we stayed a while on the coast. There were some tears and the euphoria of missing one another lasted at least 12 hours before squabbles emerged, and things got real with 1 bathroom and 6 people but it was perfect! We attempted to recreate a photo from 2013, I don’t know who came up with this concept, but they are brilliant. I’ve seen them on Facebook and it always captures my heart,I am hoping to start a “thing” looking at the comparison stings a little, a lot! As they grumbled about hot sand, the do we have to do this and we were way past lunch time I did not react to the complaining or grit through my teeth about how this family beach pic WAS Happening!!! Instead, I smiled and soaked it all up because one day they will thank me! Patrick will turn 16 this fall and so that means I have 2 maybe 3 more summers together if the good Lord allows. Time shows no mercy I am starting to feel what I have heard other moms describe.
I looked at this picture from 2013 and I remembered the chaos, the sweet crazy that I would love to step into even for just a day. I would hold tight each of those smaller bodies that would still fit in my lap. Haven was still nursing, there were no cell phone distractions, it was loud and exhausting but life was simpler. The mom in this pic didn’t completely realize how precious time was, even though I knew not to sweat the small stuff, I did! I was also a chronic yeller. I was uptight and when I look at the small faces from 2013 I think about how I saw them as big, especially Patrick, oh how my heart aches to turn back time. I would have wrestled with them instead telling them to knock it off! I without hesitation would have snagged a few more snuggles in my lap!
We really didn’t or shouldn’t have splurged on a week vacation to Corpus/San Antonio but thankful I don’t listen to that voice either anymore! Wether it was financially responsible can shove it because time has no mercy, 5 years was just a blink, poof half a decade, bigger feet, longer legs, and way more opinions! I am so very blessed with this life, my crazy chaos, they have my heart!!! ❤️
There aren’t many things I am grateful for from my accident but I now realize in a very real way that tomorrow is not promised, be present in the moment, it’s ok to be loud and silly, even reckless occasionally!
So completely grateful, the Lord is so faithful!!

I lost a day, but gained a perspective

The first anniversary I was distracted by a kind soul (fellow CADI) who shared my same accident anniversary. We talked and waited for the time to pass from 8:07 pm to 8:08 pm and I realized I was still breathing.

The second anniversary I felt a little more assured on the reality that time keeps moving on. Or forward, we do’n’t “move on” we just move forward. I was also aware that beating my self up each Oct. 4th was justified.

The Lord truly works in mysterious ways and the humor of his teachings I appreciate more and more! A few weeks ago I shared how I realized that this day was exactly 6 weeks away. Patrick has scheduled his own orthodontist appointment and I almost shut down. There is a realization is that this date is personal to me, I remember the date where as for everyone else including my family it’s just another day.

(Que dramatic photo)

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I sent that to a small group of loving people who support me in both love and truth. I finished up a poem I dedicated to David and went into a spiral of negative thinking of all the things I did not do since this time last year. I went to bed worked up about the next day.

Here is the irony I had convinced myself that Thursday was the 4th and had set myself up for sadness. My brain went to great lengths to trick myself, I even had wrong date on lesson plan slides. 🤦🏼‍♀️🤣

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So essentially I “lost” a day somehow. I just in my mind skipped the 3rd and got ahead of myself!

I was set to teach and suddenly I remembered the ortho appointment thinking I had scheduled during class time with nothing in place. I panicked, looked at the calendar and realized wait, “today is Thursday the 3rd.” So I didn’t sleep well, cried, shamed myself, bathing in self loathing. So then sitting in the car staring at the calendar I started laughing out loud at myself! Laughed till I cried, I didn’t know if I should blame my blonde hair or the PTSD brain. I had a chance to enjoy the rest of the day because it was really the 3rd not the 4th.

My next step was to praise the Lord for the lesson. If I continue to dread this day, I will ultimately lose a day. The day was not lost and neither is today, the 4th. I paused to think of this day and @8pm tonight I may say a prayer for his family. But I get it! I now believe this mishap was a gift from the Lord, he knew what would speak to my heart! ❤️

Last year on this day I made a post that shared my passion for Safe2Save and their commitment to safe driving. I felt a burning inside me to share the same passion, do everything you can to prevent more senseless deaths with distracted driving awareness. I didn’t know how much that passion would cost me with some friendships (but I trust the Lord in that as well). More that what it cost, I gained. The passion moved me to launch Accidental Hope, podcast dedicated to be a resource for people who have had serious accidents or trauma. 28 episodes strong! I am now speaking and serving with the Safe2Save app, as a Safety  Ambassador which fills my cup to overflow on an innocent person who is not prepared to hear the mission and vision of S2S! 🤣 Sorry not sorry! Another celebration is writing my story with the purpose of sharing hope through the unimaginable curve balls life can throw at us. It is written and I celebrate that not any plans other than finishing a goal!

Philippians 1:6 “He who began a good work in you will carry it on to fruition!” 🙌🏻 Amen my assignment is not complete!

I write all this to say, don’t waste the precious days you have with beating yourself up! No one wins and nothing gained a with that mentality. Honor your future not hold onto the past!

God bless you on the journey!

XOXO

Voices of a CADI, 5 years later ~Cassie

Originally published September 16, 2019

I have been feeling it very heavy on my heart to write a little something. It has been a very long time since I put my thoughts to paper, and I think that has been a good thing for me. The past few days I thought to myself, I kind of wish I had an outlet, another blog page to just put something out there for whoever might need it or just want it. Or maybe it’s just to fully unload it off my chest. Oddly, I received a message from a friend of mine on Saturday. I am blessed to have met her through the internet, to find we share the most inconceivable connection of being a CADI (Cause of accidental death or Injury). Her name is Jennifer Eikenhorst, now an avid blogger and podcast creator of Accidental Hope. She had no idea that the five-year anniversary of our accident was just two days away. I told her that just when I feel God is putting something on my heart, a message from her pops up out of nowhere and makes me think, “maybe I should write that little something.” In turn, she said “you should, and why don’t you post it to my blog as a guest? How fitting is that? So here I am. Writing a little something, 5 years and 42 minutes after the horrific moment that changed my life forever.

It has been quite a journey to reach a milestone like five years. I’ve found myself proud of how far I have come. Astonished that we have made it, that my life is still standing after all of the hell we lived through. Angry that any of this ever had to happen and why to us?  Sad because there isn’t a damn thing I’ve ever been able to do about it, even if I thought in some subconscious way I could make it right. Determined to continue to fight for my life and be light for others in a very dark place. But most of all, hopeful. Hope is something that I have maybe become too much of a realist with. I’ve learned though, that in the worst times of your life, if you do not have hope, you will lose. You might lose anyways. The cards may be stacked against you, and there just might not be a way out. But, no matter what, if you can keep hope alive in your heart, you can keep going. 

In the past five years, I have grieved a lot. I have grieved over the events of what happened September 16, 2014, again and again. On a day like today, it’s reliving each moment as if I’m playing the movie in my head. It’s truly the one time of year no matter how far I’ve come, that I can’t get away from it. I grieved the life I thought I would have and who I used to be. I grieve for Brynn’s family all the time. I see them and they are doing great, they look happy, we can laugh together. But, someone is always missing. And in that moment even if nobody else realizes it, I always will. I lost my dad unexpectedly January 17, 2016. I have grieved him, our kids with him, the life my mom and him had. They would be celebrating their 40th wedding anniversary next month. It’s so hard to not live in anger when you think about these things. Rowyn was just a baby, why did any of this have to happen? And why to us?

But I refuse to live that way. It has taken me a long time to understand that in order to fully move forward I had to focus on the new days. I had to stop chasing what felt like what I needed to be doing and just survive in what was happening around me. I remember thinking, I need to write another book, I need to adopt a child, I need to be doing something more with my life. I need to create something, I need to find a way to be better and do better. Maybe I’ll go back to school, become a counselor, take on trauma cases. At one point, I was even talking about becoming a grief yoga instructor. All of this makes me smile just a little bit because I was desperately seeking a way out of how I felt and what had happened. I could have done all of this, but I could not escape my reality. It never would made a difference. It was my journey, it was all part of the process. 

Now here I am, raising two amazing young boys, ages 9 and 5.  They are both uniquely smart. Funny is an understatement, and resilient. Because they walked this road with us. My oldest, Easton, will likely always be my protector. He worries about me when I don’t think he should be. He is intuitive to when I’m having a bad day, and he hugs me often. He feels the presence of September I think. Even if he doesn’t realize it, it’s forever in his heart too. He was there and he knows what happened. Logan is a comedian without trying to be. Some have said he could make us rich with his own YouTube channel. I do not doubt it. But for now, he is a happy 5 year old who is completely clueless to the nightmare that transpired when he was just 10 months old. My Husband Aaron has become the strongest man I know. He has endured this with me, watched me, lost me, and grieved our old life. Together, we have rebuilt our new life quite literally from the ground up. We moved into a 5th wheel trailer for 22 months with our two kids and a dog. That is a book in itself let me tell ya. We sold almost everything we owned, and started completely over. It was the best thing we could have ever done. Our marriage had been tried and tested, but after living in what we called, “the box”, there is nothing that can take us down now. During that time, we were having our home built. I was able to go back to work 40 hours a week, and I eventually applied for a promotion back to my old position, and I got it. We moved into our new house June 14th 2018. If I had to say, I’d propose that things are as close to life 5 years ago as they could be. Never will they be on the inside, but from the outside looking in, we might look like those people again. 

I keep many things at arm’s length now. I have boundaries set all over the spectrum, and I don’t even realize I’m setting them. I’ve gotten so good at self-preservation and protecting the energy that I do have in order to keep it healthy for my family. I read less, I never go to church anymore (which I don’t feel good about), we do sports 6 days a week, and I do my best to still have healthy meals for my family, exercise, and all the other duties as a mom. I love to laugh and share inside jokes with my family. I worry about far more things than I can control. I drink less than I used to, but it’s probably still too much, I enjoy a camel light when I want one, and try not to take things too seriously. 

But guess what? That is the honest truth of where I’m at, and I am super proud to be here.

~Cassie 9/16/19

More information about Raise for Rowyn

In six weeks I have an appointment

Originally published Aug. 25, 2019

Did you know Orthodontists schedule appointments six-weeks out now instead of monthly (at least ours does).  For a little over a year we trek up the highway to the best deal I could find to invest a small fortune on my oldest son’s confidence smile. As he feels grown now (17th birthday is around the corner) He goes back there and I hang in the lobby scrolling Facebook checking emails and working on lesson planning or podcast dreaming. When he is finished I am normally summoned to make the next 6 week appointment.  As a teacher I think of six weeks in terms of grades are due, chunks of units that need to be covered in order to pace the learning…but this upcoming six weeks appointment made me hit the pause button. How could it have come so soon? It took my breath away, inside chaos momentarily rose up like a volcano of emotions. Patrick emerged from the hall with appointment card proudly in hand. New blue bands adorned his grill and he confidently started to stroll on past me.  “You made your appointment by yourself?”  For a second that realization stung but I smiled at his pride but then he handed the little reminder embossed card and he had no idea the floodgate that opened. It wasn’t the reality that my “baby” is able and should be on his way to becoming more independent. (However under a couple layers that pain sits there too!)

10/04 9:30 a.m.

It is the day that changed many lives and it’s six weeks away until we reach the third anniversary of the accident. I secretly made promises to David  myself about what this year would look like. I talked with God about dreams and hopes of helping people. I challenged myself to take action some of the things I have thought about like starting a podcast and committing to it until the Lord opens another door. Other goals like getting healthier I fell short but emotionally I think I am healthier so that counts and I will make smaller goals this time around. It is easier to focus on one or two goals at a time. The me before the accident could have a cluttered dream board working all at the same time, not now.

I smiled at Patrick and inside I wanted to cry. I thought about going to change it but then I would have to explain why. As true Ennegram 6 I have thought about Chris taking him that day and I have negotiated an inner pep talk  a dozen times that it’s fine. I am fine. The 4th of October is fine.

I will more than likely go about what appears to be a “normal” day but it isn’t. It will be a significant Friday for our family for a couple of reasons.  We will welcome a new member to our family that weekend and privately manage another anniversary. Three years ago it was an ordinary Tuesday turned tragic.

Some CADIs (Causing Accidental Death or Injury) honor the lost in an outward way, some don’t believe in celebrating the most painful day of their lives. Both decisions are right. It is deeply personal, however no CADI forgets. I knew what I wanted to do this year the day after last year.  I hope I make him proud, I live life to honor the life that was lost. I hope I make my family proud despite minor setbacks and some things that will never be the same.

It’s funny and not funny that life throws these “little” reminders my way, of all the days in which the calendar could fall it didn’t choose that randomly.

I am learning to welcome the shock, process it, and continue moving forward. I may hobble but I am not stuck. Praise the Lord for that, I don’t take healing for granted I am so completely grateful!

XOXO,

Jenn