Let’s Talk Spinal Cords

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

Derek's Been Keeping a Secret

Numbers 6:24-26

24 The Lord bless you
    and keep you;
25 the Lord make his face shine on you
    and be gracious to you;
26 the Lord turn his face toward you
    and give you peace.

 

Even though you only turn every age once, for some reason 30 just seemed like a big one. I remember on my 18th birthday, I told my mom, "Finally! No more drama and no more acne!".

This year, my birthday fell on a Wednesday, I figured Derek and I would work that day and then celebrate with a nice dinner Wednesday night. Boy. I was wrong about my 18 year old chant and I was way wrong about Wednesday, July 19th.

As many of you know, we've been tossing around the idea of a puppy for awhile. We finally settled on getting a dog once we moved to Quarry. Well, Derek settled on it and I agreed that it was fine if he wanted to wait. In the meantime, I bought training dog books.

Part 1

Wednesday morning started out pretty normal, but then around 1pm, Derek announced, "It's time to go! And make sure you cancel our dinner reservations for tonight. No way are we making that." I was confused and excited...mainly because who doesn't love to be kindly kidnapped in the middle of a work day. 

We climbed into the car and started heading north on 65. He announced that I could ask one question every 30 minutes...and I apparently chose really bad questions because I had no idea what we were doing. A little over an hour in, we turned off on this country road and then down a gravel driveway. It snaked around and opened up on this beautiful farmhouse. As I parked the car, I noticed on the big front porch were 2 adult Bernese Mountain Dogs. I basically just started crying tears of joy and Derek laughed.

*I should clarify here that I've always known Derek can keep secrets like crazy but I never knew he had a planning bone in his body.

A minute later, out tumbled our boy. At 20+ lbs and 8 weeks, he's a big, fluffy fur ball. We named him Barkus Adroolius Lavender, after the great Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius (think Gladiator). And yes, that was all Derek. I just gave permission.

We got this papers, instructions, and were back on the road within a few minutes. I was IN SHOCK. As I asked questions, I learned Derek had bought the pup about a month ago and had been ordering supplies through Amazon. The supplies were actually down in our apartments mail room! 

Part 2

On our our way into the city, Derek suggested we swing by Quarry. With the big back yard, we figured it would be a good way for Barkus to stretch his legs a bit before the rest of the drive home. 

As we pulled up to Quarry,  there were cars everywhere. I know how ridiculous this sounds, but I seriously didn't think a THING about it. I told Derek, "Wow! Our contractors must have the whole team here today!!". As I unloaded the wheelchair, I then noticed we were parked next to my brother's very distinct vehicle with Ohio license plates. And then I squealed. 

Inside, Quarry was stuffed full of my favorite people from ALL over. So much love, food, and tons of kids. Derek went all out and ordered dinner from our favorite local places, had asked some people to come early to decorate, and even had those big, gold 3-0 balloons *you know those are necessary for any trendy birthday party*.

We finally got home around midnight, and I just felt so full (emotionally and physically). As we laid in bed and Barkus whimpered on the floor, Derek said, "You are so loved by so many people." And with that, my birthday came to a close. I have never been more grateful for the community God has surrounded us with. Thank you ALL for making my 30th the absolute best July 19th ever. 

Ps. Barkus is doing great! Already 92% potty trained and is only getting up once or twice a night. He has started to nibble on our furniture, so the house is now wrapped in bubble wrap and tin foil. We plan on starting training classes next week! 

So. Feel free to pass on any puppy advice. Any tricks for leash training?

With Love,

The Lavenders 

 

Our Journey to Healing Day 365

Joshua 1:9

9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.”

"I find that anticipation is worse than the anniversary." - Joy Lavender

1 year ago at 7:13am, I found myself in a situation that I had absolutely no idea how to handle.  News was leaking about the accident and people from all over started to pray. After rushing to the hospital and learning of his injuries, I begged for coffee and started making phone calls to family.  In typical LeAnne fashion, I found myself trying to be the hostess with the mostess in the surgical waiting room as family and friends started to arrive. Small talk is apparently difficult when the only thing on your mind is your husband and the long, grueling surgery he was enduring. I finally gave up with the "social butterfly" attempt and went to a quiet little corner to just sit and pray. 

Around 6pm that night, the neurologist huddled us into a little room to speak with us. He explained that Derek did great (even signed off on his own spinal surgery) but the damage was worse than they expected. They gave him less than a 5% chance of walking again and said that his recovery time would be extensive due to all the other broken limbs.  A few minutes later, his mother and I finally got to walk into room 610 on the 6th floor to see him for the first time. After a series of doctor meetings, we learned he shattered his T6 vertebrae and also managed to break his left wrist, right hand, left arm, scapula, 8 ribs, his nose, eye socket, occipital bun, had a collapsed lung and also suffered hearing loss in his right ear.

We struggled through the ICU phase with an incredibly scary moment on Monday, June 27th. After a rough night of low oxygen level, his lung collapsed around 7:30am. I remember being ushered out of the room as about 15 doctors and nurses came rushing in. I sat there shaking and asking a doctor if he thought Derek would have brain damage since his oxygen was so low. He looked at me and said "LeAnne. I'm not worried about brain damage. I'm worried he isn't going to survive this."

But he did and he did it with guts and glory! After a scary first few weeks in the ICU, we escaped and headed off to RIC in Chicago for inpatient rehab. Rehab consisted of 3 hours of Physical and Occupational therapy, as well as 3 hours of exoskeleton research each day. I was blessed by a wonderful family with keys to their gorgeous condo and enjoyed the walk down Michigan Avenue each morning to go see my man. 

Fast forward 4 months and we made it back safely to our city. We found a great accessible apartment this fall, started back to work the first of the year,  bought a house this spring, and will start renovating our home this summer! We went on a mini trip, had a new niece, celebrated a wedding anniversary, 2 birthdays, and decided to get a puppy. Yup. It has been quite the year.

It's no secret that I (LeAnne) have been the one blogging this whole time. It is also no secret that you all have been asking to hear from Derek. So, for the first time in blog history, Derek is here to answer some of your questions: 

You and motorcycles don't have the best track record. How do you feel about them now?

I am still a motorcycle enthusiast! I wrecked my dream bike (be careful what you wish for) but I still understand and share the lure of the motorcycle. Unfortunately we have been around people who have been injured in all kinds of different ways, some of them were being reckless, others didn't do a single risky thing. End of the day, motorcycles are dangerous, I was lucky enough to have been raised in a culture of motorcycle safety so my helmet, titanium threaded jacket, and gloves helped mitigate the damage (i.e. saved my life).

How has this trial helped you grow this past year? 

This trial has helped me grow a lot in my relationships with others. Obviously, LeAnne and I have grown closer to one another then we'd ever imagined. While a lot of it may have been out of necessity, we have had the great opportunity to spend a lot of time together and our marriage has become stronger as a consequence. I have also grown much closer to friends, family, and co-workers. They have done so much us over the past year that it has really brought us closer to everyone involved. 

This trial has also really helped me grow in my sympathy and understanding of others with disabilities. Being surrounded by people with varying levels of disability for a few months has really opened my eyes to the different types of issues people have to deal with on a daily basis. 

The best part of this past year? Go!

It's hard to put a "best part" to it. There have been so many little things that have added up over the past year to make it great it would be an injustice to pick just one. Celebrating holidays, niece/nephews birthdays, getting a new niece, resettling down in Indianapolis, and believe it or not going back to work all come to mind. Drinking water for the first time in about a month after the ICU was also a pretty exciting moment!

What is one thing you and LeAnne have done to strengthen your marriage this past year? 

We have been spending A LOT of time together! Not being able to drive and requiring a lot of assistance when I was freshly injured required it. We have spent our time together reading, playing cards, and wandering around Indy/Chicago. Our marriage has been strengthened by intentionally finding new ways to appreciate each other in view of our new lifestyle.

How has transitioning back to work been going?

I have been VERY fortunate to have an amazing workplace that has done nothing but support me through everything. I am also very fortunate to have an occupation that doesn't require a lot of physical labor. Transitioning back to my pre-injury efficiency has been a bit of a challenge, but I have slowly been making progress.

1 prayer request

I can't possibly ask for any more prayer or support for myself. We have been so overwhelmed with kindness and love this past year it would be selfish to ask for anything more. One of the most difficult parts of this past year has been my inability to properly thank everyone who has been there for us. My friends, family, and fellow co-workers have done so much for me I can't possibly repay them or even properly show them how much I appreciate all they have done. I guess my prayer request would be that I can use this experience to identify ways that I can help others in similar ways people have helped me this past year.

 

Well, we did it! We made it a whole year and we appreciate you all more than you will know. 

Thanks for sticking by our side. 

With Love,

The Lavenders

 

 

Our Journey to Healing

Romans 12:12

12 Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

When we got married, I thought our biggest issue would be that Derek enjoys a good, thought provoking argument. I basically say "I'm sorry" within 2 seconds of a disagreement and then start to cry. We've both been like this since children and we've found ways to work around it. I need a warning that he is just arguing to argue and he will force me to explain my reasons for  apologizing which makes me realize I have no idea why I am apologizing. But there is one thing we can't seem to get over:

Derek hates surprises.

Daggar to my heart. In typical LeAnne fashion, I planned a surprise 30th birthday weekend for him because I was convinced that he didn't like surprises because he never had a good surprise! Well. The surprise was quickly spoiled about a week later when the host from the AirB&B house emailed our joint email address. Forehead slap.

So, I forced Derek to act shocked anyway and a group of close friends swept him away for a fun weekend in Kentucky. We rented a cute little house, toured a couple bourbon distilleries, grilled out, played some card games, and soaked up the weekend! It was a great way to practice traveling. I will say, there is a lot more that goes into paraplegia than just finding a good ramp to get up steps. We are happy to be getting the hang of being away from our comfortable apartment and enjoying the things we loved to do before the accident.

Here are a few more updates:

  1. Derek finished driving school! He did so well that they cut his required hours in half. Here in Indiana, there is a program called Vocational Rehab where they will cover the cost of your vehicle modification if you have started the process of returning to work. The paperwork has been filed and we are just waiting for the thumbs up to send our car to the shop! We will also run to the DMV for a new license which shows that he is trained for hand controls. Don't worry, we will show you how hand controls work once we get our car back!
  2. The second big happening is the teeth. We have finally settled on a treatment plan and are really excited to get started. Derek will be doing braces for 18 months and then will move forward with implants. The implants can take around 2 years depending on how well the bone grafting goes. Basically, we are in it for the long haul (about 4 years). We joked that our future children could have teeth before he does. 
  3. All around health has been going well. His heart rate and blood pressure seem to be leveling out a bit. We have only had one scary episode recently with his blood pressure but we are fairly certain that was from me feeding us questionable ham for lunch. 

I feel weird leaving out details about the new house but those are over in a different tab.. So, head on over to the "house" tab at the top of your screen. That is where the renovation updates will be!

I will cheat and give you a hint: We did officially close on Bunker last Thursday and also got the keys to The Quarry. We are meeting with 3 different contractors to get quotes and then we will move forward with the renovations. Fingers crossed! 

Also, please scroll back up and read that verse one more time.

With Love,

The Lavenders 

Our Journey to Healing April 30th

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Proverbs 3:5-6

5 Trust in the Lord with all your heartand lean not on your own understanding;6 in all your ways submit to him,and he will make your paths straight.

Today is Derek's birthday. And although he is usually not much of a "birthday person" (whatever that means), I am forcing celebration on him. This handsome, smart, kind, witty, hard working man is officially 30.

Derek was born on April 30th to a set of amazing parents (Jay & Joy). He was a happy little guy with blonde hair, beautiful blue eyes, and a mischievous smile.  He grew up loving to tinker around the garage with his grandpa and playing with his older sister Courtney.  His mom remembers him always creating some type of contraption and from an early age, she knew he would make a great engineer. Eventually, his parents were forced to create a rule where Derek had to ask before taking anything apart because he  he hadn't gained the skilled he needed to actually put items back together.

Along with his mad handy skills, Derek has a huge heart. While working on his engineering degree, he volunteered with an organization that built handicap ramps for families. He will be the first person to drop ANYTHING to help someone out. Obviously, I could go on and on about the man I got to marry, but I wanted to hear from others. So, here are some things his friends say about him:

  • Derek has never been too embarrassed or too old to hug me. His heart is tender and compassionate even if he would act like he wasn't...On the flip side he has been known to play inside  a dog cage for an afternoon! - Joy (Derek's mom)
  • Although Derek is an extremely intellectual lawyer type... don't be fooled. He has an extremely goofy side as well. That may be one of my favorite things about him! One of my more recent favorite memories of him is reading "The Book with No Pictures" to his nephews. Derek's sound effects & facial expressions had the boys laughing harder than I've ever seen (& maybe me too)! You should also ask him about his childhood performances to the songs "Runaway" & "Leader of the Pack". - Courtney (Derek's sister)
  • My favorite thing about Derek is his creative spirit. He knows so much about how to make things work, as shown by his awesome job remodeling Bunker --- I'm still confused about how he took out the rafters and the ceiling didn't fall down! I know he's probably got awesome plans for the Quarry! -Adam
  • I love his new wheelchair & playing games with Uncle Dizzle. -H (nephew- age 3)
  • He is really good at helping me with Legos. My favorite was the Batmobile. -T (nephew- age 5)
  • Derek has this unique self-confidence to be, well, Derek. Rudyard Kipling has a quote about “keeping your head when all about you are losing theirs”. I don’t know what it is or how he does it, but Derek has always seemed to keep this level head about him. He just does what is right, and with lots of humor in between.I first met Derek when I was in junior high and have since looked up to him. It’s weird having a hero of yours also be your friend. I often feel this pressure to impress Derek because I always know he’s up to something interesting and cerebral! I have been able to observe Derek throughout the years I’ve know him; being his teammate on high school sports teams, hanging out with friends, and also hanging out one-on-one, and I can say that Derek is himself in all those arenas. There is no pretense or acting differently just because he’s with a different crowd. He’s funny, insightful, and always down for being quirky. Always.So I guess my favorite thing about Derek is that he is just himself. And doesn’t try to be like anyone else. That’s very hard to do. Ironically, and this is no hyperbole, I will often think about what Derek would do in a given situation because his answer would be the closest thing to a thoughtful/simple solution. I guess you could say it’s #mcm with Derek every day of the week. -Joel
  • Over the course of a year or two Derek successfully died his hair nearly every color in the visible spectrum. It was weird, and edgy. -Kevin
  •  When I was very pregnant with ten pounder Kevin, two year old Derek came up to me, pointed to my belly and asked, "Auntie Jill, whatcha got in your pocket?" -Jill
  •  The title to one of my favorite country songs, describes my very fine son-in-law. "Humble and Kind". -Dave
  •  As Derek's mother-in-law, I appreciate him as a man of integrity and perseverance. Derek has a soft spot in his heart for animals. His escapade with rescuing a skunk whose head was stuck in a yogurt container didn't work out too well for him! He always thinks before he speaks and has impeccable manners!  We love having Derek as part of our family! -Donna
  •  Some of our favorite times spent with Derek (and LeAnne) are around the table with a little wine and lots of card games. He and LeAnne take great pride in beating us in a little game called Euchre. It's pretty rare that we win, so Derek often comments "keep the gravy train rolling" when he's feeling pretty happy with his skills. Derek, you're one of a kind and we're so thankful for your friendship. Looking forward to 30 more years of memories with you! Happy dirty thirty buddy! -Nate & Liz
  •  Derek doesn't say much but when he has an opinion on something, you know he is right. -Ryan

They say the first year after any tragedy is always the most difficult. Every holiday or celebration seems to be marred with the reminder that things were different the year before.  We know we are lucky.  There are many of you out there that have been handed a much worse deck of cards. Many are hurting, struggling, and trying so hard to put together answers for what you have been given. On the other side, I do not want to downplay all the tears, frustrations, work, and adaption we have worked through as well. Today, more than any other day this year, I am so thankful for Derek and his life. He means the world to me and I am so proud of who he is.

I had tears streaming down my face in the middle of Silver in the City as I read the following card. It really expresses how I feel about this beautiful day:

Why do I look forward to your birthday every year?It's not the cake, the kazoos, the stretchy paper streamers, or the shiny balloons. It's not the hugs, the candles, the sparklers, or the awkward singing. No, I look forward to your birthday because it's a chance to celebrate one more year of you in my life. With cake!

Here's to another year with you in my life. Let's not cut it so close next year. Deal?

With Love,

The Lavenders

Our Journey to Healing April 12th

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Matthew 11:28-30

28 “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. 29 Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. 30 For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”

Our long awaited weekend getaway came and went way too fast. As you may remember, we headed out to Lake Havasu, AZ to catch up with old friends and try our hand at flying. I am happy to report back that it went very smoothly with only one hiccup at the end of the trip.

Why Havasu? While Derek was in undergrad, he had an internship at Harley Davidson working at their test facility. He spent 3 years (on and off) in Alabama before Harley moved their facility over to Arizona. Derek headed to Arizona for one semester at the end of his senior year and roomed with his friend Matt. Matt (and his awesome wife Lisa) still live out there. For years, Derek has talked about going back to his old stomping grounds and showing me around. When the therapist suggested a trip, we thought this would be the perfect little test run.

Friday, we headed to the airport with plenty of time to spare. After a slightly different rigamaru with security and the airlines, we made it onto the plane with zero complications. We landed at the Las Vegas airport (the nearest airport to Lake Havasu) and promptly made dinner plans. We decided to explore Las Vegas for the evening and wound up at Caesars Palace. In typical Lavender fashion, we ate so much food that we then swore off eating for the rest of the weekend.

Saturday was filled with some of Derek's favorite places to visit. This included the boardwalk on Lake Havasu, a few off roading trails with beautiful views, and a tasty dinner spot. We also sat and watched a jet ski race while frying our knees in the hot Arizona sun.

By Sunday, we decided to be a bit more low key and ended up hitting up the local Swap Meet (where a gentleman trying to sell Derek a hat called him a hillbilly), went on a scenic driving tour where we came across a few adorable wild burrows, and then crashed at home by watching a few painful episodes of Paint Wars.

On Monday, we packed up early and Matt drove us back to Las Vegas. This is when the hiccup occurred:

We boarded the plane with no complications but before we could take off, a storm front started to move in! The captain explained we would wait a few minutes for the storm to pass but we should be on our way in no time. Well, the storm passed fairly quickly, and instead of heading to the runway, we headed back to our gate. The captain explained a federal regulation requires him to only fly a certain amount of hours before taking a 10 hour break. Unfortunately, our small wait for the storm pushed him over his hours and we now needed a whole new flight crew.

With Derek's chair already stored below, we were stuck. The crew told all the passengers that they had no way of knowing when a new crew would arrive, so it would best if everyone just remained in their seats and they would give updates every 10 minutes. An hour passed with the same 10 minute updates. Finally, they agreed we could get off the plane but needed to close because they didn't know when we would take off.

By hour 2, I decided I would step off the plane for a break and to grab us a few snacks. 15 minutes later I returned to our gate (C22) and flew into full fledged panic mode. There was NO plane at gate C22. I checked, double checked, and then ran to the nearest Southwest employee desk asking about our flight.  All I could think about was Home Alone and that this would happen to us. She kindly explained that there was no record of our flight...and then 30 seconds later she corrected herself and said our plane had moved to gate C19.

At hour 4, Derek and I both started to get a little worried. See, with spinal cord injuries, you must take a restroom break every 4-6 hours. You can occasionally push it to 8 hours, but that can cause an AD episode.

Ok, so a little info on spinal cord injuries (SCI). When you or I get uncomfortable from sitting too long, something pinching/poking us, or even just our pants being too tight, we can move around so it is no longer painful. With an SCI individual, they cannot feel that pain or discomfort and therefore don't know about it. The body starts to get really mad and will shoot their blood pressure up. If the discomfort does not get correct within a 5-10 minute window, the person can actually have a stroke. This effect is called Autonomic Dysreflexia (AD). 

At this point, we had been sitting for 4 hours and had at least another 4 hours of flying in front of us. The captain got on and said the new crew was on their way and we were expected to leave soon. So, with the fear of AD seared into our brains, I requested Derek's chair from the bottom on the plane and insisted they let us take a break before the plane took off.

Derek was a trooper and transferred into his chair in front of 110 annoyed fliers. The crew was great and helped us with our request. Thankfully, we made it back on the plane before the crew arrived! In fact, we sat there for another hour. When we took off, everyone let out a sigh of relief. I almost felt like I was living in a country music video. The flight crew was handing out free drinks and the final college basketball game was on, so there was a lot of hooting and hollering. Overall, it is just a funny first trip story but we hope that doesn't happen again!

We arrived home safely and scarfed down chicken noodle soup and crackers before hitting the hay around 1am. When I asked Derek about the stresses of flying now as opposed to before the accident, he said, "I hated flying then and I still hate it now". So there you have it! Southwest did send us a little coupon off our next flight (I want a free flight but whatever). We are already planning our next little weekend getaway!

Thank you for the prayers!

Ps. A HUGE shout out to Matt, Lisa, and Dingo for putting us up all weekend, showing us around, and being great friends. Can't wait for you two to come visit us here in the midwest!

 

With Love,

The Lavenders

Our Journey to Healing March 29th

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Romans 15:13

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.

As I was getting ready for work on Monday, I had a strange realization.  Derek was out in the kitchen drinking his morning coffee and I heard footsteps coming from one of the rooms.  My mind instantly thought,  "I wonder if Derek is coming back here to grab his hat..." and then it hit me. I may never hear his footsteps again. Never hear him bounding down those stairs in Bunker. Never check on him in the middle of our co-ed soccer game when he pulled his hamstring for the 3rd time and hear him complain about how old he is getting.

 As I thought about the concept of footsteps, I realized how footsteps symbolize leadership, trust, and direction. I know the first thing in your head is the little picture every mom has hanging somewhere in their house. The footprints in the sand with a nice, encouraging verse about trusting God. Trust. Trusting. Trusting continually that even if we can't see the direction where He is leading us, there is a purpose. That purpose happens to be greater than the purpose with footsteps.

How ironic, I thought. We replaced shoes for wheels. Muddy footprints with dirty tire tracks. Loud bounding steps with sneaky, quiet rolls. Living a comfortable life complacently with now living a beautiful life completely leaning on God.

PS. The footsteps belonged to our upstairs neighbor

So, that's the lesson from our life this week. A little heavy. A little intense. But, it is what it is.

In other news, we are heading out on a mini-vacation Friday! Our therapist suggested we try flying, so we decided to take her up on the challenge. We will be visiting our good friends Matt & Lisa for a long weekend in Arizona. During college, Derek worked at the Harley Davidson test facility out there and loved it. For years, we have talked about going to his old stomping grounds and having him show me around. So, that is what we are going to do!

Flying with a wheelchair can be a little bit of a process. Well, basically the process is praying the whole time they don't lose his wheelchair. We will get to the airport early and board first. Derek will transfer onto an aisle chair (the aisles are too thin for a regular wheelchair). They will help him transfer into his seat and then we will wait for everyone else to board. His wheelchair will either go down with the luggage or they may be able to store it in the closet at the front of the plane. We have heard horror stories about chairs getting lost, so I am really hoping we can put the chair at the front. We did end up getting a non-stop flight, so thankfully we don't need to go through the whole process more than once. We will be sure to take lots of pictures and are really looking forward to spending time together in a different setting!

 Derek did finish his therapy sessions last week! Both exciting and bittersweet. Exciting to see how far he has come, bittersweet to know there are no other tricks to this paralysis thing. It just is what it is.

Also, we realized an upside to wheelchair life. Derek's shoes will stay nice for years. Gone are the times of me scolding him for wearing his brand new birthday shoes to cut down tree limbs. He picked out some new shoes this week and I told him to choose carefully because he will have these for years!

Thank you for your trip, house, and heart rate prayers!

With Love,

The Lavenders

Our Journey to Healing- March 23rd

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Matthew 6:31-32

31 So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them.

We are giddy over here. Well, I'm giddy. Derek is the appropriate amount of manly happiness. Because:

WE BOUGHT A HOUSE!

That's right. We, the Lavenders, are the owners of the cutest little limestone ranch you have ever seen. I use owners lightly because we still have to close. *fingers crossed* There are also probably cuter limestone houses out there, but I think it's just the best.

On Sunday, Derek and I headed out on the 11th edition of The Great Lavender House Hunt. I found a house that weekend I really loved and thought it could be "the one".  Instead of dragging our realtor all the way out to see just one house, Derek picked one that he was interested in. I bet you can see where this is going.

So, we get to my house and I am running around trying to convince Derek why it is perfect. It actually was a pretty good option but when we got back in the car, Derek was less than enthusiastic. He kept saying, "Well, you just wait until you see my house".  As we pulled into the driveway of his house, I had every. single. intention of stomping on his home dreams  just like he stomped on mine.

But instead, we bought it.

I should clarify the reason I was a little hesitant on his place was due to the location and bedroom count. Our new house is in a cute, quite little col-de-sac in an area of town that we had never considered. Once we got out and poked around, I loved it! It is also only a 15 minute drive from Derek's office, which is a huge plus.

The house also has only 2 bedrooms, which realistically we really need 3. There is nothing wrong with a 2 bedroom home, but with me working from home, hoping for baby Lavenders one day, and wanting to have guests, we really needed that 3rd bedroom.

So. Solution. Since the master suite and garage are not accessible right now, we will kill two birds with one stone. We will turn the current garage into the master suite and then add on an accessible garage! Overall, the house is adorable. The owner did an excellent job updating the house but keeping the 1950's charm.

If you followed along with our Bunker renovation, you know that we will obviously be blogging about our new house renovations! We can't wait to get started and wanted to thank you all for being a constant support to us.

PS. Here is a little peak of the mid-century wonderfulness we happened to snag:

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I'll be posting some more sneak peaks on our IG account: lavenderslittlehouse

And of course, a house name coming soon.

With Love,

The Lavenders