Teetering focus

I consider myself a realist, the younger, more naive version of myself could find the sunny side of just about any predicament.  And then life, but I am trying to find my way back to the middle where I am content with all situations.

For example, I’ve graduated my oldest son, I don’t need my mini-van anymore. Read that again in the voice of a mom navigating transition.  “I don’t need a mini van anymore!” The end of an era and embarking on new terrain. I have celebrated it and grieved it. I’m teetering so many emotions and I am working hard on embracing the beauty in it all.  I am deeply sad to see my oldest son go off in some ways because there are parts I would do over again if granted that wish. He makes the letting go easier in moments when he refuses to help with dishes, ha! And yet I am elated for him to find adventure in his new freedom…Polarized feelings any given minute.

Ex. 2 When my hosting for the podcast switched about half of my files did not transfer, so I am reloading them. I am reloading them and therefore learning from them again as I re-listen to every episode!

Ex. 3 A small group of C.A.D.I. s want to get together here in Waco, in person!!! Like I love these people I have never met, and yet the only reason for our chance meeting…we share the deepest pain we wish on no one, ever! And yet I anticipate when we can all come together and cry and hug and laugh and encourage and inspire one another.

Ex. 4My older daughter is like a little mama to my younger daughter, this can be both endearing and dangerous.

The other day my older daughter was preparing to leave for camp, she told our younger daughter a set of instructions. I smiled and said, “um hello, she has me lil mama.” And then I remember that my daughter took on some roles for me while I was struggling to just survive. The guilt has tried to tangle me up but I remain working on that focus, that God equipped us all while navigating that season. And praise the Lord grace covers it! Thank God they had each other and their is an unbreakable bond because of it but there is resentment too.

2 Corinthians 12:9 covers both scenarios, “But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.”

I grieve my life before the accident but I am so grateful for the person I have become and the community I now love.

Can you think of something that has you walk the line of appreciating different perspectives?

We went to the Homestead here in Waco, and I could have spent all day there tucked away, it is so peaceful. Wildflowers scattered everywhere, it was unusually cool in TX for July and it was drizzling rain. There is a barn that was rebuilt from early American settlers with a watermill to power it’s storefront. I just stood and listened letting the trickling sounds sooth my soul. I want to go back and just sit again. Contently. The people who live there choose a simpler life. While visiting the coffee shop there I took this picture of a sunflower patch, the picture doesn’t do it justice and then the camera adjusted to get a shot of the raindrops gathering outside. I loved both pictures equally.

I want to love the me before and the me after equally too. I’ll get there and I hope you do too!

XOXO, Jenn

P.S. to those with little ones and you are tired and would give anything for a night of pre-kid sleep…take time to breathe it all in. Those moments that break you in tears of frustration (i.e. the exploding diaper or marker on the new couch) those memories are precious too, I promise!!

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

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)

0FA0F9DF-358B-4DDB-939B-E87602E63A8C

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. 🤦🏼‍♀️🤣

B2A7302B-008C-4E7D-9C48-9D5C96F5C2AE.jpeg

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

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

The Truth Will Set You Free

Courage is the most important of all virtues, because without courage, you cannot practice any of the other virtues consistently.” ~Maya Angelou

Maya is one of the greatest souls to ever walk this earth, I had the privilege to see her read poetry in Dallas many years ago. I giddy in a packed room listening to every lingering word that she spoke. She had a presence about her and a different pace in how she articulated that set her apart. In her lifetime she shared many amazing and painful events in her life. Her transparency is only one aspect of her tremendous courage. I can’t begin to imagine the tasks she tackled and triumphed personally and professionally. For damn certain she was called, equipped and she did it scared!

I know why the caged bird sings…

When you are locked in your head and trapped inside yourself you feel like a caged bird. I didn’t know how good it would feel to release my truth into the world until I did it. I was terrified but I realized letting in free nothing had power anymore. No one could hurt me worse than I felt and so I literally had nothing to lose.

I responded to a project found on Accidental Impacts for a journalist from The New Yorker. Out of the thousands that could have been chosen, Alice Gregory selected a few for her research. From the floor of my closet I spilled my heartbreak, regret and bad words to a complete stranger. When I gave every detail, fear and frustration about “the accident” I felt a weight was lifted. I felt slightly freer.

Followed by crazy anxiety that maybe my details crossed a line or perhaps this would become a big mess, but to this day I do not regret sharing my truth with the world and being a small voice of an emerging community calling out from the shadows of guilt and shame.

Went and picked up this copy for $10 that was later ruined by spilled coffee

Link to the full article here.

Link to episode where I follow up with Alice. Episode Season 1 Episode 18.

The second crazy thing I did that started this whole crazy ride was another project, a new podcast concept called “What Was That Like.”

Again I did something I have never done before and I was so very scared to show my wounds to the world because at that time they weren’t scars. I had not even felt the reality of the first anniversary. But keeping it in was also destroying me, so I did it scared.

Graphic credit Scott Johnson

I didn’t realize that speaking out would help me find a community that has blessed my life incredibly. I am thankful for every sacred story shared with me and the pain that bonds us. I care deeply for complete strangers from all over the world. I am grateful. Humbled. These “projects” were catalysts for a calling God was calling out in me.

Hebrews 13:21

May he equip you with all you need for doing his will. May he produce in you, through the power of Jesus Christ, every good thing that is pleasing to him. All glory to him forever and ever! Amen

Mulling Over Moral Injury

When someone puts words to your feelings there is instant relief. It identifies the “thing” you struggled to communicate yet it is as real tears you cry to express it. I felt this when David Peters explained moral injury. From a clinical view I feel it was almost text book.

The phrase moral compass describes the innate pull to know right from wrong and choose right. I feel confident, not arrogant for saying I had and have a moral compass. Not perfect but I tend to navigate towards what is “right.” I also try to apologize and take responsibility when I have wronged someone.

The accident left me feeling like I was no longer a good person, my soul, my spirit injured…moral injury. Thankfully with God’s grace this is not a stamp marked across my forehead yet it lingers. God’s word says that I am not marked by my sin or experiences, it does not define me, or you.

Here are some of my take-a-ways with talking to David.

  1. The first thing was his name. I won’t over-spiritualize this but David was the name of the man I was in an accident with. I vowed to the Lord I would not fear that name every time I hear or speak the name David but instead I would pray for his children. So secretly the whole time I was also thinking of them during this podcast recording.
  2. It amazes me that through this painful experience God has made connections with complete strangers. How a teacher from Central Texas can have common ground with a retired Army Chaplain who has served our country overseas and yet there were several instances of true understanding behind actions and thoughts. (Connection to song, hating our cars, triggers, taking chances that would be “fair” if something happened to us like cosmic law)
  3. Crushed- it is a strong word. Crushed in spirit. Crushed dreams. Crushed identity. When we crush something you might feel it is destroyed but not through a biblical lens. The crushing of grapes is a transition that leads to wine. In my humble opinion wine is the best part of grapes. I am glad that this was brought up, take time to meditate on this topic. Here are some additional verses: 2 Cor 4:8, Proverbs 15:4, Proverbs 13:12, and James 1:2-4
  4. Speaking of grapes, let’s talk communion. When your heart is heavy, this practice always comforts and puts things in perspective. David said during his time of disconnect and anger with God he could still be fully present and connect with this sacred practice. Unknowingly, my interviewee had no idea that I too am fond of the breaking of bread and drinking the cup. I am always moved by this remembrance of what Christ did for me, for all. Often I weep as I pray over my wafer and tiny cup of juice. This was the first thing Chris and I did as husband and wife. A precious memory. If you feel burdened by your past or current state I urge you to grab a cracker and splash of juice. Give thanks for what Christ did for you on the cross, ask for forgiveness and cleansing. Ask for renewing of your mind and praise Him for bearing the burden of sin. Thank him for his love. You will be changed.
  5. Silence. This is something I take part of more after the accident. Before I did not enjoy silence in fact it made me nervous and I would fill up space with awkward or irrelevant noise, humming, conversation, anything to fill the silence. Now I need it to recharge. It gives me time to sort out thoughts. I am often over-stimulated with just the daily grind. What struck me is that both my first guest Dr. John Knox ( the Chaplain who helped me immediately after and during the recovery) also talked about the ministry of silence. David referenced the book of Revelation 8:1-5 where heaven was silent before Jesus return. The calm before the storm. The enormity of what will happen when Satan is defeated. The preparation.  Silence really is golden. If you struggle with silence as I did before my accident I challenge you to reflect on why, embrace it, make peace with it and take emotional inventory of how you feel afterwards.

Since the editing process I have listened to the episodes again and not for any vain reason but to really hear and absorb all that we can learn from one another. What stood out for you?

Please check out my friend and fellow CADIs book, Christ Walk Crushed: A 40-Day Journey Toward Reconciliation. If you missed the podcast here are links to the series.

XOXO,

Jenn

Overcoming P.T.S.D. and Unresolved Trauma Part 1

Part 2

Part 3