Wednesday, October 25, 2017

Late at Night in the Quiet of it All I Pray

For the longest time after the crash I couldn't sleep. It was a good seven months before I could sleep. Nightmares came at times. No one wants that call when you know tragedy is on the other end. I'd often wake in the early hours, sitting up in bed, thoughts rushing through my head. Then I'd remind myself. Rob, he's in bed. He's asleep. He's safe.

There are nights late when I walk Stanley that the moon is hanging over and the stars are shining God's glory. In front of our home is a two lane highway. Some drive slow. Many make the choice to speed. With Stanley on his leash he spends his time hunting. He probably listens to me as I talk to God. I know he does. Every once in a while his ears will perk up. Everything at that time of night seems so peaceful. As if grace has covered the night. 

I walk closer to the edge of the yard, keeping myself and Stanley safe. But I hear a car coming. As it passes I can feel the earth shake. The breeze from its speed rushes by and I in that moment think about what that night must have been for my husband. The impact. The rush. That moment where death and life are a fine line. 

See, last October 12, 2016 he was in a severe crash. He was stopped at light. It turned green but before he could get the truck in gear the driver, Dawn Woosley of Washington, Missouri,  was already swerving into his lane hitting him at a high rate of speed. Never braking. He was in her path of destruction. She was arrested that night for DWI. This woman refused to take a breathalyzer. Only one reason a person refuses that in my opinion. We are currently in two trials. One where the judge is making his decision on revoking her license. The second is the criminal case where she is charged with a Felony C- assault in the second degree-operating a vehicle while intoxicated. You can find all this information by going to case-net.This case is now set for jury trial April 5. Can you imagine a jury? They hate drunk drivers. Oh, wait. Accused drunk drivers. All twelve of them will hear the case, will hear my husband's testimony, and I will give the victim's impact statement. All this with our entire family sitting next to us. 

It is for this reason I cannot share a lot about my husband. What I can share is he is suffering from Post Concussive Syndrome. It's been over a year now. He was out of work for five months. He was forced back to work. If he hadn't we would have lost everything we have worked so very hard for over the last twenty-seven years together. His memory is scary. This is the husband who never had to look for phone numbers. He could tell you by heart every number in his phone. He's never forgotten dates, times, years. February 14th is our anniversary. He's never forgotten. This is the first time. Our oldest daughter's birthday is at the end of this month. He had no idea. He has ringing/buzzing constant in his ears. He says it sounds like cicadas. It has never stopped. So, this has done scary things to his hearing. I now have to look directly at him so he can hear me. Confusion and fogginess create days where plans are cancelled and home is the safe place to be. One of the hardest parts of this concussion is not being able to attend birthday parties of our grandchildren and to play with them as he always has. Loud sounds bring him to his knees. Light. That brings on headaches. The intense neck pain has never ended. Like I shared. Good days and bad days, but every day has changed. Nothing in our lives is the same as it was before the crash on October 12. 

I want my husband back. Whole and healed. I have become the person in our home who does the majority of everything. This isn't my husband. He's that man who helps me do everything. We have always helped one another. Now he grows so exhausted. 

I remind myself that it won't always be this way. This too shall pass. God will make right all that is wrong. Our faith remains strong. We know our Lord stands for His people. He surrounds us with His strength. Covers us with His peace. 

Closing my eyes I can hear the crash. I can hear metal crushing metal. I can see my husband rolling in his truck as he flipped end over end, landing upside down with gas pouring all over him and then crashing sideways into a utility pole. I see him frantically trying to get his six foot body out of a small side window. 

Yes, it's been over a year now. But it hasn't ended. It's difficult to move forward when this is now your life. We live this life never wanted, never expected, but one that was forced upon us by an individual who was careless. You know, this person is a nurse? This nurse, this bar owner, gets out of her vehicle laughing with her friend and never checks on my husband. How does that happen? If a person is in their right mind wouldn't you rush over? If you know you had just caused an innocent crash wouldn't you do all you could to help the person who you just injured? Especially being a nurse of all things? She never even picked up her cell phone to call 911. 

This Post Concussive Syndrome could last years. It could last a lifetime. This is what happens when irresponsible people get behind the wheel of a vehicle. My husband's life, my life, our entire family. To try and live a normal life, doing all the things we did before this crash, caring for our aging parents, helping with our grands, all of these activities of just a normal life is so extreme now. As it takes everything out of him it adds more stress to me. A circle that continues with such unknown. I have no idea where this Post Concussive Syndrome will take my husband. I can only pray for continued healing. Every day I wake up and hope to God that today is the day!

My husband loves to farm. He hasn't been able to do much of that. We planned a vacation to travel to New Mexico to spend time with my friend. It was suppose to be a trip that I have anticipated for a few years now. It just couldn't happen. My husband just wasn't up to traveling across country. This entire year has been altered because of one person who made a choice to place others in harms way when she decided to drive irresponsibility.

There are times I look at my husband and wonder where he is. What's he thinking? This protective and loving husband of mine gets this lost look in his eyes. This strong man, this husband of mine who has always cared for me and everything in our lives just isn't the same. How does a wife share all that with her husband? You can't. I can't. He already feels terrible that he can't remember as he once did before the crash. Often he doesn't feel like doing much. Work takes just about everything out of him. 

He's a mail carrier. He loves his job. He's always traveled. Now he loves being at home. He's won safety driving awards. When he is on the road safety is his first priority. Not only his safety, but the safety of others. In his dangerous line of work he has witnessed many crashes, many deaths. He has seen drivers on fire in their trucks. So, imagine you have been in a crash, you're upside down and you feel gasoline pouring all over you. She crashed into him so powerfully that nothing underneath the truck was left. She crushed his gas tank. That fear hasn't left him. 

What does a wife do? She does all she can to see that the woman who caused this with one choice to drive irresponsibly is held accountable for her actions. A wife speaks to attorneys, prosecutors, officers, the court, she makes appointments as she finds specialists. She helps her husband in ways like never before. She's a prayer warrior. A fighter for justice.

A wife too lives with every emotion. This woman, is she sorry? Sorry for being caught? Sorry the public will find out? Sorry about her reputation? Is she sorry for her actions, choices, and now dragging a family through six more months as we wait for a jury trial to begin? Without action saying I'm sorry is just empty words. Being sorry for your actions means taking accountability for your choices. It isn't placing blame on others and it certainly isn't making excuses. It's standing up, saying, I did this. I am ready to accept the responsibility for my choices and how they left a family living a new and unexpected life. 

As I sat in court last month listening to her attorney question the police officers there to testify, he questioned whether or not she was even driving. Was her passenger Audrey driving? Maybe it was Mr. Prater's fault. Were his lights working? The officers testified that she was angry that she couldn't drive her car home. Her car was totaled!! She told them that my husband crashed into her?! How does that work when she crashed into him from behind? She wasn't in court this day to hear her attorney question the police officers. He tried to make them look incompetent, but the woman, the driver who is trying to get back her driver's license didn't even show up for court to be questioned about what happened and the truth of the crash. Her attorneys may tell her that's wise. but most people would see that as cowardly. If there is nothing to hide, if you did nothing wrong, why not be present in every court date, speaking on your own behalf?

At the time we took photos of the cars we wish now that we had taken a photo of her odometer. It broke at 76 miles per hour. We are told that new cars now have this ability that when they crash the odometer breaks at the speed they were driving at impact. As she topped the hill there was plenty of room. My husband was the only other car on the road. He in the right lane. She in the left. Why did she have to cross over? My husband would share with you that it was better him than a young mother on her way home from work or a youth on their way home after a shift at a local fast food joint. Better him than a young father rushing home to see his young children. But see, my husband has five children and five grandchildren. He's dad and Papa. He too has a wife who feels so blessed to be able to share a life of twenty-seven years with this faithful man who walks with such integrity. He is everything to me. He's the man who led me to Jesus. Who gave me my first born son. The man who every day tells me how beautiful I am. 

Yes, as a wife, when you live daily witnessing your husband struggle you grow angry. You feel broken and at times so lonely because the man you once shared everything with you can no longer share your greatest fears. You feel exhausted and you just want it to all end. There are times I just break down and the tears fall as I cry out to the Lord. I feel overwhelmed and at times cheated. You pray for the judges, the prosecutors, the defense attorneys, and yes, for Dawn and her passenger, Audrey. My greatest prayer is that God will bring good from what Satan deemed as evil. That God will make right all that is wrong. I pray that He moves on our behalf, but for every soul involved, every person who knows this case will come to know Christ as their Savior.

Tonight I pray that Dawn will plead guilty and hold herself accountable for her actions, being the example to her children and grandchildren, to the very people in her community. Being sorry isn't trying to manipulate the law in order to lessen your offense. Being sorry is being truthful about the accounts of the crash, before and after. Being sorry is humbling yourself and admitting you made poor choices and the choices you made invaded a family's life, maybe for a lifetime. 

We can argue if she was drinking or not. The officer in court testified that she admitted leaving her bar where she had been drinking. Let's say she wasn't drinking. Then why make such poor decisions after the crash? Nothing about that makes any sense. I've seen car crashes just as you have. The normal action of people, especially when they have caused a crash is to run to the victim. Being a nurse you would think that would be second nature.

Sure, people pay high-powered attorneys for their advice, but that doesn't mean their advice is what is best for us. That's the same for visiting a doctor. For every person charged with a crime it is for that person to look into their heart, deep down, and ponder their decisions. What's best is to do what's right. Truth has a way of prevailing. We don't do what's right to make us feel better. We simple do what's right because it's what's right. 

She could never place herself in our life this past year. She could imagine if it were her family, her husband, her child, her grandchild, but it wasn't. It was my husband. God's son, His child. He protected him that night and brought him home to me. He has been present in every moment of our lives. It won't always be this way. This too shall pass. God will make right all that is wrong. 

This is our journey. Our life. It is our greatest hope that those who witness us live this unwanted life see Jesus living through us. It's His strength on our weakest days. His grace that brings us to our knees with grateful hearts. We know things could have turned out much different. A thousand different scenarios, but that's Satan's game. We cannot allow that to mold a root inside our head. It is a daily battle to fight all we know is wrong in this upside down world. We must choose to see that God has a plan and in this moment we are a part of this plan. So, we hold tight to Him and see just where He leads. 

Thursday, October 19, 2017

In the Middle of the Mess (Strength For This Beautiful, Broken Life) by Sheila Walsh

I first heard Sheila Walsh speak at Women of Faith. I loved her then in all those moments she spoke transparent love. I was blessed to see her many times, hearing her stories as she shared her love of Jesus. I too have been blessed to review most of her penned works, created to bring us closer to the Savior. Are you ready? This just may be my favorite. Just maybe it arrived in God's perfected time and it is just what He ordered. You gotta love a God who brings to us just what is needed for the journey forward. 

I would say to get yourself over to Amazon and pre-order this gem of a read. Reading this cover to cover I already have a friend in mind who I'll be sending it to. This is a book for every woman at every age. Sheila writes so transparent, so easy. I would even say that there isn't a man out there who shouldn't read it too. After all we are all a mess, right? 

Sheila shares about her own deep wounds. She shares personal. She's that girlfriend that goes deep. The encouraging friend we all need. The woman that inspires us because we see Jesus in her life, through the beauty and mess. Sheila shares life for her in the death of her father and later in life when her mum leaves this world for the other side of heaven. 

In 1992 Sheila was in a psychiatric hospital for two weeks. Her words hit home with me. "Sorrow was not to be shared; it was private. So I learned to cry alone." Let me share a few more words from Sheila that point blank bring truth to so many of us. 

"I have always needed a community around me-we all do-but it was the thing I was most afraid of. It's why I hid, even when surrounded by community. It's why I guarded that secret cellar. I wondered: What if I let you see the real me? What if I let you into my innermost thoughts and feelings and you too a long, hard look? Would you see scared, broken little girl? Would you see someone who didn't have it all together, who didn't know how to trust the Jesus she loved to preach? Would you turn and walk away? What would I do then? What would I do without my hiding place? You would think that within Christian community-specifically within the church-I could have confessed my shame, my panic, my fear. But I knew that sometimes our Christian community is the crucible where shame is born. Many of you also know this sad truth. Too often, sharing secrets and shame in the church begets more shame, which leads to more secret-keeping. That is tragic. We survive, cut off from the very help and healing we need." 

I could continue sharing. This book is powerful, redemptive, grace-filled. There isn't any hiding here, but a place where it's safe to be us. I found myself within these pages. There's healing to be found here too. I would love to wrap my arms around Sheila and say, thank you. Even through reading I can hear her accent which brings her to be so genuine in a time and place where fake resides, but not here in this book. 

I'll leave you with a few quotes that I found to be poignant.

"We all have struggles, though they look different-booze, anger, bitterness, pills, disconnection from our children or spouse, drugs, discontent with our career, conflict with our boss or neighbor, porn, homosexuality, depression, physical illness-it's all the stuff of present brokenness. And though we, the church, have little grace for certain struggles, that is why Jesus came. He came to save us for eternity, yes, but He also came to save us today."

"My child, do you believe that I love you?" That was the most important question of all, the one that's redefined me. It has never been about me getting it right. You either. We've got it all upside down. We see from the earth up, but God sees from heaven down. We see ourselves from the perspective of the mud we're sitting in, but God sees us through the blood of Christ that washes us clean, in the present, in the middle of our messes. And in His love, He wants to save us-in the present. He wants to give us strength for our broken, beautiful lives."  

Sheila reminds us that we are fully known and fully loved. She allows us to journey with her through some of the most difficult times in life, but what I love the most is she gives way for us to see that Jesus was there the whole time, past, present, and future. She not only shares the mess, but through it all she shares the Jesus, the Friend, pointing us straight to Him, never wavering side to side. This book is about her journey, but pulls back the curtain for us to see the glory of God at work in her life. Yes, the light is always on Him even when she is on stage. 

This is a book that blessed me and I cannot wait to gift it to a friend so they too can reap the in the blessings. 💙

This book was a gift from Thomas Nelson for sharing my review with you. 

Sheila Walsh is a powerful communicator, Bible teacher, and bestselling author with more than five million books sold. She is the author of the award-winning Gigi, God's Little Princess series, Peace for Today, Loved Back to Life, The Storm Inside, Five Minutes with Jesus and The Longing in Me. She is cohost of Life Today with James and Betty Robison. Sheila lives in Dallas, Texas, with her husband, Barry, and son, Christian. 

Monday, October 16, 2017

50 Hours by Loree Lough

When I knew Loree was releasing this new gem, the story behind it, I knew it was one I had to read. First, I love this lady. Her penned creations are more than words placed together. She brings a story together like no other author I've had the privilege of reading. She writes heart, soul, and reality. She knows how to not only touch the heart, but as that last page has turned the reader comes to ponder a change of the heart. 

She gives detail that intrigues and brings to life characters in which we immediately connect. She writes transparent stories with emotion that stirs the soul. With her novels, just as this one, I'm so excited to open the first page, but when the last closes I am left wishing I would have read a bit slower. They're those kind of novels you just don't want to end. I suppose reading her novels, especially this one is an experience. A journey for the reader, sometimes to travel to another time and place, but with this novel, it's a place we would rather not enter. But leave it to Loree to bring peace where fear is real, beauty where ugly is a tragic reality. She allows the reader to journey through an experience that brings grace, humility, and mercy. I was left with a hope that 'if that was me' I hope I do it that way. 

This is a bit of a different kind of love story. Love covers these pages, but it is a friendship that goes beyond what Hollywood would give. It's love of friendship. The unconditional kind. The kind that our Savior gives. 

Here in this novel Loree writes so gentle and pure. There is a beauty within these pages like no other novel she has yet to pen. The conversations between the characters are transparent in such a way we can only imagine if it were us there in the circumstance of fifty hours. Each of the characters have traits where the reader can easily find themselves. To remember we all have a story, to live in such a way that we are not just taking from this world, but leaving a legacy, yeah, that's what Loree portrays here in these words come to life. 

We meet a handful of characters. All facing life altering circumstances. Some are brought about by choice. Like the character, Franco Allessi. He starts out being somewhat hard. His choices have brought him in front of a judge who has to make the decision to bring Franco to a place where he can see that there is so much more to life than the sadness he has been living. He must do fifty hours of community service. 

Aubrey Brewer, oh, she is a woman of beauty and grace. She has known how to live. How to enjoy life to the fullest. But now everything has changed for her. How will she live out the ending? Yeah, that's the beauty of this masterpiece of black and white. We see how to live, how to appreciate, and how to place others before ourselves, all when we know our time is not the years we dreamed it would be. 

There is a young fella who is rooming next door to Aubrey. He's a smart-mouth, feeling pretty angry, and is about to explode with emotion he isn't sure as how to release. He doesn't want to be treated a baby, but I think to crawl up close to his parents is exactly what he would love. He and Aubrey have a special kind of relationship and through their time together we get a glimpse of what beauty looks like when we decide to let go and simply live out the moment of right now. 

So, fifty hours. For one it is a judgement of service. Franco starts out counting down the hours he has left. By the end of his time he's wishing for more. Aubrey knows she doesn't have much time left, but she has made the decision to live it, to push the boundaries and experience something that could have never come about in any other way. 

All of these characters are brought to life in a special way. It was a treasure getting to know them. Although I loved all the characters in this novel there is one who surprised me. Aubrey's mother. Oh, she's hard woman. One that everyone would rather avoid. Beyond that rough exterior, is a mother who is fearing saying goodbye to her only daughter. She's trying to figure out how to do it all and all she wants to do is protect her precious girl. I love how their relationship grew and toward the end of the novel her mother was gifted to see her daughter in an unexpected way. 

So, yes, this is anther gem penned by one of the great storytellers. Loree never ceases to bless my heart, but this one was something really special. It just may be my favorite so far. I cannot wait to see what this beautiful lady pens next. 💜

This novel is published by Rising Phoenix Press.

Loree Lough best-seslling author Loree Lough once sang for her supper, performing across the US and Canada. Now and then she blows the dust off her six-string to croon a tune or two, but mostly she writes novels that have earned hundreds of industry and "Readers' Choice" awards, four-and five-star reviews, and five book-to-movie options. At last count, Loree had 115 award-winning books on the shelves (nearly 7,000,000 copies in print). 

Loree enjoyes sharing learned-the-hard-way lessons about the craft and the industry, and her comedic how-to approach makes her a favorite speaker at writers' organizations, book clubs, private and government institutions, and college and high school writing programs in the US and abroad. She and her husband live near Baltimore and spend as much time as possible at their cabin in the Allegheny Mountains, where Loree continues to hone her "identify the critter tracks" skills. 

A writer who believes in giving back, Loree dedicates a generous portion of her income to favorite charities. (See "Giving Back" at An active participant on most social media sites, Loree loves hearing from her readers, and answers every letter personally. Be sure to stop by and say hello on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, and Instagram!


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