We Tested Out the Accessibility of Lake Tahoe

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Mountains, large bodies of water, and windy roads don’t usually go hand in hand with wheelchairs.

But when work offers to send you to Tahoe for a class, you don’t refuse. We were able to stay a few extra days to soak in the scenery and do some exploring.

Our big trip was met with an obstacle as I (LeAnne) came down with the stomach flu the day before we were to leave. Determined to not let a nasty bug stop us from our FIRST ALONE VACATION SINCE OUR HONEYMOON, we survived (but didn’t thrive) our travel day to Tahoe with lots of prayers, fluids, and plain rice from the airport gift shop.

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As newbies to Lake Tahoe, we were thrilled to discover that Incline Village was an adorable little town with tasty restaurants and wonderful sunsets.

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For the first 3 days, Derek found himself in meetings and I by the pool answering emails and staying up with work. In the evenings, we bopped around with our friend Ryan (Derek’s coworker) enjoying the fresh mountain air.

I also went on a Pinecone Hunt and shipped back some adorably huge (some bigger than my head!) pinecones for winter decor. Derek was embarrassed but I felt it was a very good use of my time. Does he even know how much those pinecones would be at Hobby Lobby?!

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5 Things We Learned in Lake Tahoe

  1. We called ahead to Enterprise and let them know that we would like hand controls on our rental car. They added them free of charge!

  2. Driving and eating are always accessible.

  3. Lake Tahoe has a group of dogs called “Geese Patrol” that scare away the geese. We want Barkus to be on the Geese Patrol next summer.

  4. October is the “downtime” of Tahoe. It was nice and quiet but a few of the things we wanted to do were closed due to it not being tourist season.

  5. We need to continue to grease Derek’s wheels. One of them got stuck on his chair and it took us a solid 1.5 hours to “unstick” it!

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Tahoe City Marina

We quickly learned that just because we are on a vacation doesn’t mean we get to leave the disability at home. Isn’t that just how life goes? Often times we believe we can be free our issues through a trip or avoidance. I learned this week that like it or not, this disability isn’t going anywhere and it is just an extension of our story and who we are. Not something to be escaped but something to be praying over, that God would use this thorn to teach us new lessons and help others.

We had a wonderful time and are very thankful for the opportunity to spend a little 1:1 time together.

Have you ever been to Lake Tahoe? And if so, did you swipe some pinecones too??

With Love,

The Lavenders

Accessible Fire Safety- Close Before You Doze

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Have you ever noticed on all elevators there is a little plaque that says, “In case of fire, take the stairs”?

It is Fire Prevention Week and this topic is one I never thought about until after the accident.

During our time in rehab, the therapists gave us a crash course on what to do in case of a fire. You will now start to notice on all elevators there is a little plaque that says, “In case of fire, take the stairs.” That’s right. They shut the elevators down and you have to take the stairs. Not helpful for someone who can’t take stairs. I’m talking about both Derek and Barkus- that dog couldn’t climb down a flight of stairs to save his life.

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Now imagine this.
One week out of rehab, Derek and I had just moved into our accessible apartment which was on the third floor.

We’re trying to get used to our morning routine when the fire alarm goes off. I panic and run downstairs to find an apartment worker running like crazy saying the alarm isn’t a test and we need to get out of the building as soon as possible. I sprint up the 6 flights of stairs and pass a guy running down. I yell to him that we need help getting out of the building. He comes into our apartment where I am frantically trying to talk Derek into getting dressed faster so we can get out. About 30 seconds into my rant, the fire alarm stops.

Here’s my point. Fires are never planned, never expected, and certainly never welcomed. Disability or no disability, below are a few things you can do to keep your family safe. But the biggest one? Close before you doze!


Fire Safety Tips

40 years ago, you had 17 minutes to escape a home fire. Today? You have about 3 minutes. Due to synthetic materials, furniture and construction, fires spread faster.

  • UL FSRI found closing your doors can significantly slow fire spread, reduce toxic smoke levels, improve oxygen levels and decrease temperatures. This simple action can grant critical moments to escape in the event of a house fire

  • If you have a disability, call your local fire station and make them aware. They will tag your address with a note letting first responders know.

  • Double check your fire alarms. When moving into Quarry, we upgraded to Nest Fire Alarms which allows us to check the alarms from our phones if we aren’t home. They also talk to you, telling you exactly where the smoke is. My mom finds it pretty hilarious when it says, “There’s a fire in the bedroom.”

Also, thank goodness for our 1 story house but if Derek was to ever find himself in a situation where he couldn’t use an elevator, he would have a few options:

1. Rely on the kindness and strength of others and hope they could carry him down the stairs.

2. Turn his wheelchair around, grab the handrails, and slowly proceed stair by stair.

3. First responders do have “sleds” which make it much easier to get someone down the stairs safely.

And remember, #closebeforeyoudoze.

With Love,

The Lavenders

Our Journey to Healing- Day 730

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Isaiah 41:10 

10 So do not fear, for I am with you;
    do not be dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you and help you;
    I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.

It has been two years since the accident.

Boy. How fast and slow these two years have moved along. We've hit some major milestones and major setbacks. We've laughed so hard we've cried and also cried so hard that we literally went to the store for more tissues . We've gone from a hospital room with roomates, to an apartment where we shared a wall with a very sad hound dog, to a wonderful home with a bedroom bigger than Bunker (our 440 square ft home we lived in before the accident). We sold basically all our belongings and started fresh with an accessible vehicle, 6 different types of weehlchairs contraptions, and a puppy. 

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Truthfully, there are moments when we say we wouldn't take it back. The life lessons we've learned, the people we have met, the way the accident has changed our relationship and dependency on God sometimes feels completely worth it.

And then there are more instances when we desperately miss our before. We've had serious struggles (and talks) with the Lord over Derek's injury and all the tiny details that now go into our life. Brutal moments when we would both rather go back to June 14th, 2016 and freeze time..even if it means not experiencing all the ways God has grown and stretched us. 

    And that's OK.
        It's OK to not always be OK. 

But a line needs to be drawn at some point. There's a difference between playing the victim and processing. We all need to be careful in not letting our trials and circumstances give us an excuse to wallow.   

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We have come to a realization that paralysis will most likely be in our life for good.

There is no easy way to swallow that fact but we are certainly doing our best. Unforuntely, there hasn't been any new movement or regaining feeeling since the accident. Since there is no new progress, we have stopped attending physical therapy for two reasons:
1. No new movement means insurance won't cover it
2. Derek is doing incredibly well with the day to day tasks required of him

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We want to encourage you all to not fear the unknown. Instead, embrace life, those around you, and focus on building community. Even though it sounds cliche',  God will give you the strength to endure the next big "moment" in your life.

And sometimes friends, sometimes enduring is truly the only option at the time. Surviving is just one step closer to thriving. 

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Thank you all for being our cheerleaders these past two years. The love, encouragement, and prayers we have received mean the world to us and  has helped this transition go as smoothly as possible. 

Here's to Year 3!

With Love,

The Lavenders

BACK TO THE BEGINNING
Didn't join the party until recently?
Click HERE to go back to the first blog entry I made after the accident. 

Getting Your Before Back

This post is a little different. In fact, I've never really talked about this topic aside from an occasional conversation with a close friend.
But enough is enough. 

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1 Corinthians 10:31 

31 So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.

 

I remember catching myself always saying "before the accident" or "after paralysis". You've been there, right? Something happens in your life which causes your "life timeline" to split it in half. There is life before, the incident, and then life after. 

One of those "before the accident" moments is my health, not Derek's. Before the accident, my reasons for being "fit" were simple. I wanted to fit into the jean shorts I bought two summers ago and I enjoyed being outside, so running seemed like a nice way to accomplish two things at once. 

Over the past year, I've learned that I like to be needed. In fact, Derek jokes that I put things places he can't reach just so he has to ask me to get them down (specifically the cookies and chocolate). He has done a great job of pushing me to get out of the house, go do things, and to not to worry about him. I'm realizing that this desire to be needed and constantly available has turned into me putting off something that is now really important to us, my health. 

Since the accident, I've become very aware of how physically weak I am. I had an ah-ha moment two weeks ago when I realized that I am going to be lifting a wheelchair and lugging around heavy things for the rest of my life. So. Enough is enough. My excuses for making it almost 2 years without a solid workout routine has run out and I am determined to be strong for Derek

I've been given an incredible gift and opportunity through our friend Tammy who runs B Present studio here in Indy & Granger, IN. This adorable fitness center focuses on women's wellness while providing a really comfortable atmosphere.  In an attempt to stay strong for our little family, I've joined B Present for 3 months as a trial run.

Brutally honest, I am that person who is easily excited  about a new challenge and then quickly fizzles out after a few weeks. The first step is acceptance, right?

I've been convicted of my lackluster attitude and have fallen into an unhealthy habit of making excuses for not being active. So, what better way to avoide excuses than to tell basically everyone we know. 

While I am sweating through these fitness classes, I really want to encourage our readers out there to take ownership of their health. Yes, do it for yourself but also do it for those who love you.

Wanna join my 3-month commitment to stopping the excuses? Comment below if you're with me!  We can do this.

With Love,

LeAnne

When Life Doesn't Go As You Planned- Part 1

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Romans 15:13
May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

We've all been there, right? You have this nice, tidy, thought out plan and then BHAM. Maybe it came in the form of a text, a phone call, or a knock on your door. Maybe the plan changed your life, your best friends, or your family member. 

I had the privilege of speaking at a women's conference this past weekend about our story and how to handle life when things just don't stay simple. As you know, we all have our own stories. And like most stories, there are twists and turns that we would have never seen coming.

How do we turn those instances into moments of joy?

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I've decided to break my talk down into a few separate blogs because I believe finding joy and hope in hard situations is a struggle for many of us. 

Also, I know our story may not be as tragic or painful as some of your stories. And some of you may be thinking, “Eh, I haven’t had anything too crazy happen to me.” But if you haven't had heartbreak happen yet, it will.

Looking back, I can clearly see how God was lining all things up for His Purpose and how he was preparing us for what was about it happen.

 

 Romans 8:28 says, "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose."

In order for things to work together for good, this means they need to be planned out, thought through, calculated. I am a firm believer that God isn’t surprised or shocked by ANYTHING we do or anything that “happens” to us. He takes all our things and works them for good.

God was not surprised on June 15th, 2016.

I remember the 12 hours leading up to 7:14 am and basically the next 24 hours to a tee. I can tell you what I made us for dinner the last night we would ever sleep in Bunker. I know what Friends episode we were on and who won the game of Yahtzee. 

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As many of you know, the next 24 hours played out and you could find Derek in the ICU fighting for his life after a serious motorcycle accident on his way to work.

He sustained a spinal cord injury and we were given the news that he would never walk again. As a T4 paraplegic, Derek is now paralyzed from the armpits down. 

 

For the next year, I was working on trusting God to provide joy, peace, and hope in my life. I still caught myself with thinking back on how could he allow this to happen to us.

So often I feel like we get stuck in “ Why would God allow this to happen?” instead of moving past it into the redemption stage and allowing God to use WHAT happened for good.

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For months after the accident, I really struggled to compare my new life with the old one. You know the old life: Before kids, before marriage, before I was so busy, before my parents passed away, before our money issues, before I was out of shape, etc.

It seemed as though my struggle wasn’t comparing my life with someone else's, I was comparing myself to myself. There’s a difference between looking back and seeing all the ways God has orchestrated in your life and looking back to dwell on how life used to be.

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Isaiah 43:18-19

18 “Forget the former things;

   do not dwell on the past.

19 See, I am doing a new thing!

   Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?

I am making a way in the wilderness

and streams in the wasteland.

 

So. I did this crazy thing. I started taking my thoughts captive. Intentionally not dwelling and thanking God for the ways he orchestrated our “Former life” to work so well with what he had planned out all along.

When I started taking my thoughts captive, my eyes were opened to all the ways God clearly went before us:

  • He gave us incredible friends/ family that we spent time investing in. These loved ones then rallied behind us when life got really hard. Would you believe that over the 5 months we were in the hospital, I never spent a single night alone? Our friends and family took week/weekend shifts to spend time with Derek and I or at least be available at night when I came back from the hospital /rehab.  These friends hosted fundraisers for us (and so many of you reading this blog contributed to those fundraisers- THANK YOU!) so that we walked out of rehab with basically no medical debt.
  • All those hours spent at Bunker paid off and allowed us to get a good return on our work, which helped us create our dream accessible home. 
  • 3 weeks before the accident, Derek felt bad never having purchased anything from our Financial Advisor at Northwestern Mutual. So what did he buy? Supplemental Disability Insurance. 
  • Derek's motorcycle had been for sale for over a month without any nibbles. 
  • My mom's cousin works for our insurance company, specifically with Spinal Cord Patients going to rehab in Indiana and Illinois.
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When I intentionally looked for God in the situation, He was EVERYWHERE.  And because of this, I refuse to sit and wallow in our less than ideal situation. God has a plan for our life. I can't wait to see what healing He will bring and how much we will learn about Him through this trial. 

How have you seen God work through tough situations?

Take heart. There is a purpose to your pain.

With Love,

The Lavenders

Make Your Care Package Count

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Never believe that a few caring people can't change the world. For, indeed, that's all who ever have.
-Margaret Mead

 

After spending months in the hospital, one thing became very apparent very quickly. People are kind.

Within our first week, I remember our neighbor Harry calling and explaining that he had a whole box filled with letters and care packages.  Friends, family, random acquaintances, and complete strangers spoiled us with so many wonderful and helpful things.

Today I want to talk care packages. We know you want to help others and unless you've spent some time in a hospital, you may not know WHAT would actually be helpful (or fun).

1. Books- Most people's gut reaction is to send something inspirational and encouraging. But when you are going through a traumatic experience, sometimes the last thing you want to read is how others have dealt with trials. You want to escape to a world where there are spies, mystery, and basically anything other than someone else semi-depressing story. So, grab a good fictional novel to toss in that box!

In the above photo, you will see a John Grishman book someone sent us. We spent so many evenings sitting outside and reading novels. Ps. Inspirational books are great after the realities have sunk in. We are reading a few now! 

2. Warm Clothing- Fun fact. Hospitals are FREEZING. Throw in a twin size snuggly blanket (hospital rooms are also very small), maybe a pair of nonslip warm socks, or even a zip up sweatshirt. 

3. Games- At some point, TV just gets boring (unless it's Shark Week). A  couple cheap games from Walmart always helped keep us occupied. Someone threw in a random game called THE GAME and we played it for hours and hours! Hint, keep it to deck/ or small games. They are easier to keep track of and to store. We love Monopoly Deal, cards, Banana Grams, and The Game. You can also consider printing off your favorite card game instructions and including it in the package. 

4. Hygiene Supplies- All the dry shampoo, all the time. Seriously. I'm pretty sure at one point I went through a bottle of dry shampoo in a week. Face wipes, small bottle of body spray, deodorant, etc. Basically, raid the travel size aisle at the grocery store. I kept a small thing of toothpaste, deodorant, etc. in my green backpack at all times. It was nice to feel like I could freshen up while I waited for D to get out of a 2 hour MRI.

5. Giftcards- Duh right? These are obviously SO helpful when it comes to food, gas, and general life expenses. I will say, be careful with sending in just a thin envelope. We have had some issues in the past with the card arriving but the gift card not being in there. Our favorites? Ones that had apps to keep track of the gift cards. Starbucks has an app that you can upload the card and just use your phone. Pretty handy! 

6. A little something special- Think of what this person loves. For me, it is obviously plants. I had a few friends drop off some adorable, fake mini succulents to sit in our window.  With the holidays approaching, maybe it's a tiny Christmas tree or a simple string of battery operated lights.

7. And finally, nice pens- For a long hospital stay, writing down doctors notes, etc. is basically second nature. A good writing pen is awesome to have around (and a cute notebook never hurts either!).

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No amount of words could express our gratitude to you all. Our life was made abundantly easier through your generosity and we can't thank you enough!

Now, get out there and keep showing the love!

With Love,

The Lavenders

I'm Offended, You're Offended, We're All Offended

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Ephesians 4:29

29 Don’t use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them.

 

Let me tell you a little story:

Derek and I just boarded our second airplane flight since the recent diagnosis of paraplegia. As you can imagine, wheelchairs can be a little tricky to maneuver around thin plane aisles. Because of this, we were the first ones to take our seats. Once Derek was situated by the window, a stewardess retrieved his chair and whisked it below with the other luggage. 

Now the waiting started. I couldn't help but feel like we were keeping this great secret. As people shuffled onto the plane, no one had any idea Derek actually couldn't just stand up and walk out of there. Well, the secret got less fun to keep as the literal hours rolled on. When our flight continued to be delayed due to weather and pilot hour issues, I got more fidgety knowing Derek's chair was not within easy access. The flight crew then released everyone to mill about the cabin or take a break in the terminal, so at that point, we were really stuck. 

2 hours into our wait, a bubbly flight stewardess plopped down in the seat next to me and struck up a conversation with us. A few minutes into chatting, Derek's legs started to bounce from spasms. As they bobbed about, the flight stewardess sweetly said to me, "O hunny. You know what they say about a man who bounces his legs like that...he must be keeping a secret from you!" I laughed and just smiled knowing the joke was actually on her. 10 minutes later I asked the flight staff to grab Derek's chair because we needed to take a break from the plane. You should have seen that poor woman's face as Derek transferred into his chair. She just mouthed to me, "I'm so sorry. I had no idea!"

Offended. 


Now days, it feels like everyone is offended over something. If we aren't personally offended, then we are offended for the stranger who is offended. 

Here's the deal. Being offended really has a way of stealing the joy of daily life. As my dad would say to Jr. High LeAnne, "The mean kids days aren't ruined by them being mean, so don't let it ruin yours." 

We've learned that 99.9% of people have good intentions. No one (yet) has set out to belittle us or make comments to hurt our feelings regarding Derek's injury. But we have had some instances where comments were said, apologies were frantically given, and laughs quickly followed.

Example:

Derek's mother was discussing how his grandma was confined to a wheelchair in her final days. She said, "It was her time to go. She just had such a low quality of life because of that wheelchair." 

My mother said (in reference to an individual who woke up paralyzed and it would take months to regain feeling/ walking abilities), "Can you imagine how scary it would be to wake up and know you wouldn't be able to walk for months?"
Derek's response, "Not as scary as waking up and knowing you were never going to walk again!" 

We laugh at these moments and take comfort in knowing that even our closest people have said ridiculous things.

Truthfully? We are all taking ourselves and others a little too seriously. There is joy and laughter that comes from learning life together. Now, I understand there are real life bullies who want nothing more than to tear others down but what about the millions of others who are just out here doing life for the first time along with you?

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If you say something ridiculous, you won't offend us, we will just tease you. And if you are offended by something someone says or does, ask them about it. You may be surprised to learn that they did not intend it to hurt your feelings at all.  

Not confronting the person about the issue does not give you the right to complain about it to other people. Wouldn't you want the chance to apologize or defend yourself? Give others the same chance you would want to be given. 

May we all be quick to laugh and even quicker to forgive. 

Please don't be offended by this blog post. 

With Love,

The Lavenders

Our Journey to Healing Day 454

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Psalm 30:2

2 O Lord my God, I cried to you for help,
    and you restored my health.

As we roll into September (pun intended), we thought it may be a good time to just give you all a little life update. Obviously a year ago, things were changing so quickly with Derek's health that updates every few days were almost necessary. We are happy to report back that the reason you haven't heard from us much with health stuff is that not much has happened!

  1. Our big praise (and big pain) is that we are on the track to getting Derek's smile fixed. As you may recall, we believe Derek hit the underpass face first. His face-mask was completely shattered and when the neurosurgeon handed me his helmet, a tooth fell out! Little did I know what a pain busted teeth can be!  I am sure there are several of you out there nodding your head because you have been there and done that.

    Basically, he is missing 7 teeth and we are on step 2 of the 5 step teeth plan- braces! We are so thankful for Gordon Orthodontics who stepped in to save the day.  Derek's braces will remain on for another 16 months and then we will start step 3- implants. We joke that our unborn children will probably have teeth faster. 

    Ps. Derek is missing his two front teeth. Did you know that they can create fake teeth to attach to braces? We will get those added on around Christmas. So here in a few weeks, you won't even notice the missing teeth!
     
  2. After a 6 month process, we finally have him back on the road with hand controls. Basically, there is a handle to the left of the steering wheel that he pulls and pushes for gas and brakes. On top of the steering wheel, there is a knob (some call it a suicide knob). This knob helps him steer the car easily since he does not have his core. 

    I can still drive our vehicle. I just need to pop off the steering knob each time I get in the car...because the one time I didn't do that, my sleeve got caught on it while I was turning. I about smoked a utility pole. 

    If you live in Indiana and have an injury, make sure to check out your Vocational Rehab program. It is a state funded program to help those with disabilities get back to work.  They actually paid for the updates on our vehicle! 
     
  3. Barkus is doing great. He is slowly coming out of the puppy chewing stage which had both of our ankles bleeding and a couple weeks of me sleeping on the couch. He is all about people and started puppy school a couple weeks ago. He has learned very quickly that adults have treats, dogs do not. So, he usually heads straight to all the people perusing around looking for a tasty snack. 
     
  4. Derek officially got his first fall out of the way. As silly as it sounds, it was something we were both kinda waiting to happen and obviously dreading. Well, God turned that moment into a fun memory:

    As Derek was transferring onto the couch, his leg spasmed and sent him into a 180 tailspin, landing him on the floor. As I scrambled around the kitchen island to get to him, Barkus found his lap first! Within 5 seconds, that sweet dog was snuggling and loving on Derek. He was just thrilled to have his dad down at his level!
    After checking to make sure he was ok (just checking the blood pressure for an A.D. effect from the fall) we sat down there a bit with Barkus before transferring to the couch (which took us 6 attempts). All in all, it was a success...well except for the broken big toe we discovered the next day... 

  5. Quarry is finally moving along! We started demo work last week and it is looking great. To keep updated on the house renovations, head on over to the "House" tab at the top of the blog. Random photos of the renovation will be posted on our Facebook group (Lavenders Longshot) or in our Instagram stories (lavenderslongshot).

Our spirits are high and your prayers are felt. Although we still have our tough days or times that this injury is just really frustrating, overall, life is amazing. 

With Love,

The Lavenders

3.5 Tips on Maintaining a Strong Marriage During a Life Change

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1 Corinthians 13:8

8 Love never fails. But where there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away.
 

Last month, we were asked to guest blog for the gang over at the Relationship Project. They wanted to get our opinion on how to keep a strong marriage while going through a  life change. So, we did and here is the article! 

For those of you who have been with us from the get go, the first part will may be a little bit of a repeat so don't hesitate to skip forward:

We basically love marriage (especially our own) and are excited to share with you a few tips that have helped our marriage flourish even in the most difficult season of our lives.

Last year, we were just your typical late 20’s married couple. We had recently purchased our first home and were set to adopt our first pets (baby goats). We loved playing Yahtzee, hosting bonfires, and watching Friends.  On June 15th at 6:20am, a serious motorcycle accident changed everything. Although the cause of the accident is still a mystery, Derek unfortunately severed his spinal cord when his body slammed into a concrete underpass near his work exit.

After hours of surgeries, many other broken bones and 4 months in the hospital, we finally made it back to our city this past fall. As a T6 paraplegic, Derek cannot feel below his armpits and has been given a less than 5% chance of walking again. With this new reality, together we are learning to pick up the pieces and move on with our life.

One thing we learned early on is that it is important to not compare and contrast people’s painful situations. We only know pain based on our own experiences, so a broken heart to one person may hurt as much as a death in the family to another. With that in mind, some pain obviously may last longer, but the initial sadness is always there.

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So, here are some tips that helped us endure those painful and difficult times:

1. What’s the worst that can happen?

You heard me. Let your mind go there. It can be easy to fear the unknown and worry about the future. But, what’s the worst that can happen? Talking it through extensively and getting a plan in place will make you realize even the worst case scenario may not be that bad.

2. Let people help- Period.

Put away that pride and the “O no that’s ok, we are fine”, and just let people help. I remember the first night in the hospital I kept turning down offers until my brother reminded me that people WANT to help, so let them. You make them feel better about helping and you will feel less stress. So, take someone up on that meal train.

3. Remember: You picked them.

Since your wedding, you’ve changed. Maybe you are now more quiet, enjoy a different genre of music, or have taken up a new hobby. Now imagine your spouse saying “Ya sorry. I know I married you but I really hate that you are into knitting. You just aren’t who I married.” If you married someone under the pretenses that they were never going to change, then you need to adjust your thinking. Right now. Traumatic experiences immediately change people. Expect the change to occur and expect for you to handle it differently than your spouse. You can either choose to get to know your spouse through the change or refuse to adjust your thinking. You chose them initially for a reason, so choose them every day by embracing who they are becoming.

And don't forget...marriage is a continuous choice.

Within the first few weeks of the accident, we heard the divorce statistics of paraplegic couples which is unfortunately even higher when the injury happens after the wedding day.

The words we promised to each other only 2 year before, “For better or worse, in sickness and in health” all of a sudden took on a very real, tangible form. We want our marriage to be so much more than “Divorce just isn’t an option, so we will stick this out”. The tips you read really have played a big part in our relationship feeling normal again. We still take people up on their kind offers of help and are learning to be more flexible on expectations we set for each other.  We don't have a poorer quality of marriage now, we just have a more complicated life that takes better planning and more communication.

We realize our story may be very different than yours, but trials are still trials. Viewing your spouse as your teammate and clinging to each other during a difficult time should be a priority. Practice your patience, kindness, and listening skills and you will come out of this life change as a better person and a stronger couple.

With Love,

The Lavenders

Cheers to 4 Years

1 Corinthians 13:7

7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.

To say anniversaries aren't bitter sweet would be a lie but I am so incredible proud of how far we have come in just 4 short years. 

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On August 3rd, we stood before our family with knots in our stomachs and huge smiles on our faces.

Back on a quiet country road, we were married at my parents farm house.  In an attempt to keep things simple and low stress, we opted to have a family only wedding, surrounding by the people who watched us grow up, grow in love, and of course are our biggest fans.

As I walked out onto the wrap around porch and down the steps, I couldn't stop smiling at Derek (and also thinking how awkward it felt to have everyone staring at me). He was so handsome, standing there in his black button up laughing at my little nephew who just kept saying "ball...ball..ball". 

During the ceremony, Derek's uncle told the story of how there was still a small chance we were related due to our grandparents living only blocks away from each other. 75 years later, their grandkids met in a different state through totally unrelated friends and the love story started. 

We said our vows, prayed with our family, and wept tears that Derek's dad (who passed away suddenly a few months before) was not able to be there with us. As the ceremony came to a close, I so clearly remember placing his dad's ring on his finger and just being blown away that this was actually happening. That was the same ring I frantically asked the nurses to find the night of his surgery. The same ring I wore on my finger those 5 months in the hospital. And the same ring that clinks against his wheels every day. Same ring. Same commitment. Same mushy feelings. 

Today, we celebrate our marriage and our commitment to each other. A commitment is a commitment, but don't you love when a commitment doesn't feel like a commitment? My commitment to being a great aunt is way more fun than committing to stay in semi-decent shape. Way more fun.

And that's how I will sum up my feelings about our 4 years together. It is a commitment that has felt more like getting to eat Oreos every night for dinner. 

With Love,

The Lavenders