Let’s Talk Spinal Cords

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


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?


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. 


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.


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.



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.

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