Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas

Merry Christmas to you all.  May the light of Jesus shine upon you.

We hope that as 2013 draws to a close, that you are able to find yourself in a spot of gratitude and peace.  We have learned much of these two invaluable traits in the past year.  We live by moments, days, weeks, and now years, of trusting that God has plans for us that extend beyond our capacity to understand, and by resting in His care for us. 

This past year has been hard.  It has had highs, and many lows.  Living with someone with a brain injury is very challenging.  We have been adjusting to our new normal as a family.  Often, we are stretched to care for Lydia's many physical, and emotional needs.  She is currently at a spot in her recovery where she is grieving her losses.  Anger is a part of grief, and she struggles with how hard her life is.  And it is hard.  We wish it wasn't, but it truly is.   It is the testing ground of our faith:  Do we trust that God is taking care of us, even when we can't see his work, or understand his plans?   We call out to him regularly.  We seek his grace for each stage of Lydia's recovery.  We ask the Holy Spirit to counsel us, and to comfort us in our sorrowing. 
Thankfully, some days, there is an ease and peace at home that we are all thankful for.
Lydia can laugh at herself, and her smile is genuine and warm.   Good humour can abound!  Lighter days, allow us to catch our breath, and regain our perspective - always on the One who cares for us, and never leaves us. 
We are often asked, “How is Lydia doing?”  “She is doing well for someone who is recovering from a traumatic brain injury” is our standard response.  Or “She has come a long way, and we are so thankful, but she has a very long way to go, too.”  Both of these answers speak to the truth that is ever present in our lives:  we are on a very long journey of recovery with Lydia.  We are thankful for the progress she has made, and we face the future with hope for continued improvements.  We pray daily for more recovery, strength, and rest.  But this weary mother must confess that the journey is long and the path is not well marked.
We do not know what 2014 will hold.  Lydia will continue to work on her therapies and school.   She will keep trying to learn to run, and this winter will see her on the slopes at Chicopee, learning to ski again in Chicopee's assisted skiing program. She is a determined learner; our parental hearts cheer her on when we see the sheer effort she gives towards her recovery. She will keep working on her singing voice, and we will try to sing the journey together, one moment, or hour or day at a time.  May you do the same, whatever your journey may be.
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.  (Romans 15:13) 


Tuesday, October 1, 2013

September, that back to school month, has flown by for us, as we have three children back to school, each in a different school.  Lydia is at Rockway Mennonite Collegiate, and loving it!  Her specialized educational needs are met in partnership with the school and her private rehabilitation team.  This means that she continues to receive Speech Language Therapy,  Occupational Therapy, and Physical Therapy, in addition to being enrolled in courses at Rockway.  Her daily attendance at Rockway is supported by a private Rehabilitative Certified Teacher or a Rehabilitation Support Worker.  This partnership has worked very well, with strong communication between the Rockway and Therapy teams.  We are so delighted for the progress that "back to school" means for Lydia.
Lydia has been very tired, with all of the cognitive strain that school puts on her.  She needs rest, and once again, night time rest is interrupted; her mind processes and won't shut down to allow her to rest.  She has two different capacities, and personalities: one that is positive, joyful and lively, when she is rested, and the other that is overwhelmed, despairing and challenged to do even small simple things, when she is tired.  Please pray for restorative rest each night.
We have acknowledged many times that this journey is bittersweet: joy and sorrow are intermingled.  We are in a season of sorrow that is sparked by Lydia's awareness of all that she has lost.  She knows what she used to be able to do, and grieves that her life is so hard now - a daily struggle to relearn, and learn anew. 
Her recovery and healing continued over the summer, but she still has difficulty with coordination and balance;  her gait is unsteady, and learning to run has proven to be very challenging.  Remarkable improvement is noticeable in her fine motor skills.  She is able to print and the tremor in her hand is considerably less.  Progress is being made, just at a slower pace than previously.

When someone dies, there are grieving rituals, and time given to mourn.  When someone suffers a significant loss, or disability, there is no time allotted to grieve.  Life continues. 

More than ever, Christ is the solid rock on which we stand.  All other ground is sinking sand.  We give to Him the weighty cares of this journey.  We ask Him to provide for us, and take care of us, day by day. 
James and I are feeling the strains of caregiving: the physical fatigue, and the emotional weightiness of this present journey.  And yet, we are grateful, that we can hold one another, and acknowledge the pain together.  We grieve and pray together.  We thank God that he has knit our hearts closely together. 
We hold to the promises of scripture, that He who began a good work will be faithful to complete it (Phil 1:6) and that He will strengthen us and help us and uphold us with His righteous right hand (Is 41:10).
Sometimes we recite Isaiah 43, inserting our names, and holding to the hope that scripture brings.
But now, this is what the Lord says—
    he who created you, (Lydia),
    he who formed you, (Lydia):
“Do not fear, for I have redeemed you;
    I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When you pass through the waters,
    I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers,
    they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire,
    you will not be burned;
    the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God,
    the Holy One of Israel, your Savior;

Your continued prayers and support are appreciated as we walk, upheld, in faith. 


Monday, July 22, 2013

100 Huntley

We have had many asking us for the link to our appearance on 100 Huntley Street, so here it is.  Our visit was memorable.  The folks there are so kind and genuine.  As the show is broadcast live, there is no opportunity for editing or second takes.  Lydia prepared for the show, but, understandably, she found herself quite nervous.  Thankfully, she enjoyed the opportunity.

Thursday, June 27, 2013

As promised, here is Lydia's speech that she gave at her grade 8 graduation in text form. 
I can do anything.  I have learned this truth this past year.  I have been on a hard journey of recovery.  I could have died, but God gave me a second chance to live, and life is a precious gift.  I am doing my best to live fully, to treasure the life that I have been given.   

I want to share the hope that I have.  I want to ignite a flicker of hope in others, reminding them that anything is possible.   

I spent 2 months in a deep coma, at Sick Kids Hospital in Toronto, where I could not talk, or walk, or even move on my own.  From July until October, I was at Holland Bloorview, a children’s rehab hospital.  In August, when I was at home visiting my family, on my dad’s birthday, I spoke my first sentences.  This past school year, I have spent at home with therapists, teachers and support workers, and I have relearned how to walk, balance, think and communicate.  I am recovering.

Our attitudes are very important.  They shape us.  They have a huge impact on life.  It is important to not face each day with a crummy attitude.  Instead, put on a smile, be thankful, and face each day with hope and strength.   

“Life is 10% what happens to us, and 90% of how we react to it.”  We can’t control everything that happens to us, but we can control our attitudes. Expect the unexpected - something totally out of the ordinary, and when that happens, you’ll be ready to embrace it, whatever “it” is.

Over the last year, I have gone through many mixed emotions.  There were times at night, when I felt like giving up, but God gave me hope.  In the morning, I awoke with a new perspective, renewed faith, and determination.  When hard times come your way, when the unexpected happens, do not lose hope or give up.  Have faith, a positive attitude and you’ll find strength for each step of your journey.  Thank you for encouraging me in mine.

One last note, before I sign off, possibly for the summer: Lydia and I will be guests on 100 Huntley Street on Wednesday July 10, in the morning.  We will be sharing about our experiences this past year: about a loving and faithful God who can hold us and care for us, in every situation, in every moment.
Until we blog again, remember Romans 12:12:  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Grade 8 graduation

Many times, we find this journey to be bittersweet.  Sorrow and joy flow together.  More often, there is joy, delight and gratitude - a sweetness to savour.  The graduation ceremony for the grade 8 students at Baden Public School was a wonderful celebration on Friday evening.  Lydia was able to walk across the stage, and receive her diploma.  The audience spontaneously clapped and cheered as she did so, even though we were saving our applause for the end, due to the number of students graduating.  How beautiful to be cheered on by this community that has journeyed deeply with us.

Lydia gave a speech at her graduation ceremony, sharing some of the lessons she has learned this past year.  She wrote it herself, and practiced it a lot at home, and with her speech language pathologist.  The standing ovation she received tugged at our hearts.  I have been told by many, "there wasn't a dry eye in the audience".  It was powerful.  Here is a link to her speech.
I will post her speech in printed form in a separate blog, for those who would rather read it.

In the car, after graduation, Lydia asked me, "Do you think I would have received an award if I had not been hit?"  Her mind had wandered the same path that ours had during the ceremony.  How might her grade 8 graduation have looked if this unasked for incident had not entered our lives last year?
We pray regularly to be kept in the present - to not dream a different future, or cling to the past, but to be thankful for each day, and praise the Lord for it.  In Lydia's grade 8 homeroom graduation book, she shared her favourite quote: Psalm 118:24  This is the day that the Lord has made; We will rejoice and be glad in it. 
He is faithful.  We entrust our hearts to Him, who gently holds us.
Over the summer, Lydia will have some time off, but will continue with therapy and school.  She is keen to keep pressing on: to regain, relearn, and in some cases, learn for the first time.  She wants to catch up to her peers.  While we have been told that she will have lifelong implications to her injuries, we have not shared this with Lydia.  She is determined, and she keeps working hard.

In September, Lydia will go to high school with a new member of her team, an educational rehab specialist.  She will attend some classes with her new teacher, as well as receiving individual instruction in other subject areas.    Therapy will continue, sometimes at the school, sometimes at the therapists clinics.  We are so thankful for the progress Lydia has made, that permit her to renter school already.  Our educational rehab specialist has told us that often she does not become a part of the treatment team until 2 or 3 years post injury, in cases where the severity of the brain injury was as traumatic as Lydia's.  We praise God for his healing work in Lydia.  Praise God from whom all blessings flow.
We also thank you for your continued prayers.  We are so touched to have people we don't know approach us and tell us they have been praying for Lydia.  Thank you.

Friday, May 17, 2013

May 17, 2013 has been a wonderful day of remembering and being thankful for all that we have been carried through in this past year.  Truly God has been gracious to us, and cared for us every step of the way.  Two favourite songs that we sing are Never Once (did we ever walk alone) by Matt Redman, and Not For A Moment (were we forsaken) by Meredith Andrews.  We are thankful that Lydia continues to recover and make progress.
Just this week, as I was vacuuming her school/therapy room, I was struck by how far she has come.  In the spot where her hospital bed used to be, there now stands an elliptical exercise machine.  Lydia is very keen to learn to run again, and the elliptical is helping her towards this goal.  She does "run", mostly forward, but sometimes sideways, and she has difficulty stopping.  With her balance difficulties, she moves awkwardly, but always full of joy and zeal.  A friend today, who saw her run, remarked that she looked like a frolicking calf!  How that blessed our hearts to remember the promise of this scripture in Malachi 4:2, that was given to us a week after her accident.  Even when she was motionless and unresponsive, we were encouraged that "this was not the valley of the shadow of death" (which we had wondered if it was), but that (Mal 4:2) "the sun of righteousness would rise with healing in its rays, and (Lydia) would go out and frolic, like well-fed calves"!  So we praise God for our frolicking calf!

This week, some great stories have been done in the paper, on our church website and on the news about Lydia's recovery.  We invite you to view them.

And as always, we thank you for your continued prayers.  Whatever you face, we pray this blessing of
Romans 15:13 over you.  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.

Monday, April 15, 2013

spring greetings from the Herrles

With the beautiful spring weather we enjoyed today, winter has surely passed, and it is time to update you on the progress that Lydia is making.  We thank you for your continued prayers.
We have had a good winter.  We have enjoyed family time together.
Lydia continues to work hard, with a joyful spirit and keen determination.  She has moments where she gets discouraged, but they typically don't last very long.  She is more steady with her walking, and her balance is improving.  This summer will not see her return to soccer - not yet!  First, she needs to be able to balance on one foot, in order to kick the ball, and she needs to relearn how to run!  She also needs to regain much strength and endurance.  Her swimming has improved incredibly over the winter, ( it's been great therapy ) and she no longer needs a flotation belt to complete her laps in the pool.   
Lydia's schedule has remained steady through the winter, with continued treatments from her OT, her SLP, and her PT.  As well, she receives home instruction in math and language from two tutors, in addition to weekly visits from a music therapist.  She has not been able to return to school yet, but she is making gains in her cognitive function.

She is able to sustain her attention for about an hour, and does not need the same amount of sleep, as previously.  She still rests regularly, but now about 20 minutes of quiet is all she needs.  Her night time sleep is still regularly interrupted with wakeful periods, where her brain is working over time.  Every night, she prays for a full night's rest.  We invite you to join her, and us, in these prayers.  All of her abilities are hindered when she is tired.
In January, Lydia's Occupational Therapist taught her to make macrame bracelets, to help with her fine motor control.  This activity has been ongoing therapy for Lydia, and she is quite industrious.  She has taught her siblings and her cousins to make them as well.  She also enjoys the art work she does as part of her OT sessions.

We continue to know the mercy and strength that the Lord provides for us daily.  We have enjoyed some new songs this winter, to lead us in worship, and to usher us into the deeper peace that only the Lord can give.

Check out Meredith Andrew's Not For A Moment, and Over Me, or Kari Jobe's Come to Me.

Psalm 25:1,5
In you, Lord my God, I put my trust.
Guide me in your truth and teach me,
for you are God my Saviour, and my HOPE is in you all day long.

 May your hope rest firmly in Him each day.