Monday, May 14, 2012

Abby's Epilogue - Beauty from Ashes

"To appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified."—Isaiah 61:3.


Five years ago I signed off this blog--ready to step into the future with our restored daughter.  Yet, I promised that perhaps one day Abby would want to add her own postscript--to tell her story in her own words.

This year she has been ready to tell that story.  She has given several speeches where she has shared the story of her accident and what God has done in her life.  As an introduction, I want to tell you what an amazing woman of God my daughter is.  She has a faith that is inspiring and a heart that desires to serve.  God truly took that terrible accident and brought beauty from ashes (see the previous post for some photos!).  Here then, is Abby's Epilogue--her story in her own words:

MY STORY

Have you ever been in a deep, dark place you thought you would never get out of?  I have.  My name is Abby Linam and this is my story:

I had a normal childhood - I spent time playing with my friends, playing sports, participating in 4-H, and attending church, where I had a fairly strong faith—a faith that would be tested in the fall of 2006.  

The day was October 3, and, after getting home from a junior high volleyball game, I went for a ride with one of my neighbors on her 4-wheeler.  While entering a street we were hit by a car; neither of us were wearing helmets. Thankfully, a neighbor was having an outdoor Bible study, so he quickly called 911.  He stayed beside me until Wimberley EMS arrived.

I was life-flighted from the scene with a broken collar bone, ankle, and a traumatic brain injury.
I was in a coma for eleven days.
I was in ICU for three weeks.
Then I was in a rehab hospital for two months.
I attended daily therapy for three more months.
I continued taking more therapy for a year.

I don’t remember most of the early days in the hospital and rehab hospital.  My parents tell me about them being afraid I would never wake up and then being afraid I would never have the ability to respond to them.  When I finally did begin to be aware of my situation, what I remember most is lying in the hospital bed and not wanting to live.  Everything was so frustrating and difficult.  I felt like life could never be the same again. I couldn’t do basic things like walk or speak or control my hands, and it was so frustrating to not be able to think clearly or remember things well.  Worst of all, I felt like people pitied me and even friends seemed to treat me differently. 
And I thought there couldn’t be a God who would let all this happen to me.

Perhaps it’s hard to understand my particular frustration if you haven’t been through a head injury, but it was so real to me.  I really wanted to escape and die, but every time I would hear a distinct, “NO! I LOVE YOU, AND YOU CAN LIVE WITH ME!!   That voice was God.   Hearing Him tell me that I still had a purpose to live is what made the difference. 

Close friends and family also made a big difference.  My family was beside me every day.  My best friends stood by me through everything and never treated me like I was different.  My youth pastor also convinced me that God still loved me and had a plan for me and wanted me to go on.  And so I did.

God has brought me so far and restored my abilities (well, except that my memory is still sometimes not so good!) and brought me joy and hope for the future.

I wanted to tell you my story because one of the things God has shown me is that I can reach so many more people because of my accident.

First, I want to tell you that, if you are going through a hard time, there is hope.  Even though I didn’t feel it at the beginning, God was always there. 
The neighbor who rushed to the scene said he felt God clearly saying, “My Grace is with you” as he knelt beside me on the road.
And now I know that God was with me even in the darkest times. 

I also believe that God can use hard times to help us become stronger for Him in the future.

One of the strongest Christian leaders in the world today is Joni Eareckson Tada.  When Joni was 17 she experienced a diving accident that left her paralyzed from the neck down.  Like me, she was angry and depressed at first, but, unlike me, she never regained many of her abilities.  Joni did not stay angry and depressed, however.  She learned to trust God and became a speaker, author and accomplished artist—learning to paint with her teeth!  Recently Joni has been battling breast cancer as well, but she is continuing to inspire others with her faith and courage.

Even though my life was not impacted as much as Joni’s, I now realized that God opened some doors for me after my accident.  For one thing, I do still have a tremor in my right hand and had to give up playing classical violin.   However, when I put down the violin I picked up the bass guitar and have been able to lead others in worship as part of several Christian bands.

The second reason I want to tell my story is so that you can help others.  It is my prayer that, if you know someone who’s going through a hard time - I plead for you to continue being their friend and just be you with them.  In my opinion, don’t treat that friend like they are handicapped just because they are in the hospital or just coming out - treat them the same, because that is part of what kept me alive, how my best friends NEVER treated me any different than they did before the wreck.

Third, I also want to tell my story to ask our country to take care of our soldiers who have suffered head injuries.  Traumatic Brain Injury has been called the “signature injury” of the wars in Irag and Afghanistan.  A U.S. News and World report in 2009 estimated that 360,000 soldiers had suffered brain injuries in the recent wars, but a government report noted that many times these veterans are not being diagnosed correctly or getting adequate therapy—the therapy that they need to regain their lives and capabilities.   We owe our soldiers as much care as I received!

Fourth, through my injury I can also encourage people to use safety equipment such as helmets and seat belts.  It’s worth it!

Finally, I want to tell my story to thank God for giving me a second chance -- because HE KEPT ME ALIVE!!—first, at the accident scene and later when I wanted to give up.  I just want to share that hope with you.  One day I hope that I can share it with others by becoming an occupational therapist.
And by continuing to tell my story.

18 Years of Blessing

Spoiler Alert!

The following is the collection of Abby's photos that will be shown at her high school graduation.  We hope you'll be able to view them there, but, if not, feel free to enjoy these beautiful memories that we have been granted...


video

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Christmas thoughts and blessings

As I prepared our Christmas letter for this year, I was reminded again of God's faithfulness in carrying us through the last year, and so I wanted to add one more postscript to our blog in the form of lyrics from these three songs. We have found them to be true. May you as well.

"Hold Fast"
By Mercy Me

To everyone who's hurting
To those who've had enough
To all the undeserving
That should cover all of us
Please do not let go
I promise there is hope

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He's come to save the day
What I've learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast

Will this season ever pass?
Can we stop this ride?
Will we see the sun at last?
Or could this be our lot in life?
Please do not let go
I promise you there's hope

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He's come to save the day
What I've learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast

You may think you're all alone
And there's no way that anyone could know
What you're going through
But if you only hear one thing
Just understand that we are all the same
Searching for the truth
The truth of what we're soon to face
Unless someone comes to take our place
Is there anyone?
All we want is to be free
Free from our captivity, Lord
Here He comes

Hold fast
Help is on the way
Hold fast
He's come to save the day
What I've learned in my life
One thing greater than my strife
Is His grasp
So hold fast


"You Never Let Go"
By Matt Redman

Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death
You perfect love is casting out fear
And even when I'm caught in the middle of the storms of this life
I won't turn back, I know you are near

I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm,
Oh no, You never let go, in every high and every low,
Oh no, You never let go. Lord, You never let go of me.

And I can see a light that is comin' for the heart that holds on
A glorious light beyond all compare
And there will be an end to the struggles
But until that day comes, we'll live to know You here on the Earth

And I will fear no evil
For my God is with me
And if my God is with me
Whom then shall I fear?
Whom then shall I fear?

Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm,
Oh no, You never let go, in every high and every low,
Oh no, You never let go. Lord, You never let go of me.

And I can see a light that is coming for the heart that holds on,
and there will be an end to the struggles,
but until that day comes,
Still I will praise You,
Still I will praise You...

Oh no, You never let go, through the calm and through the storm,
Oh no, You never let go, in every high and every low,
Oh no, You never let go. Lord, You never let go of me.


"Bring the Rain"
By Mercy Me

I can count a million times
People asking me how I can praise You
With all that I've gone through.
The question just amazes me--
Can circumstances possibly
Change who I forever am in You?

Maybe since my life was changed
Long before these rainy days
It's never really ever crossed my mind
To turn my back on you, oh Lord,
My only shelter from the storm,
But instead I draw closer through these times.
So I pray...

Bring me joy, bring me peace,
Bring the chance to be free,
Bring me anything that brings You glory.
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain,
But if that's what it takes to praise You,
Jesus, bring the rain.

I am yours regardless of
The clouds that may loom above
Because you are much greater than my pain.
You who made a way for me,
Suffering your destiny,
So tell me, "What's a little rain?"

Bring me joy, bring me peace,
Bring the chance to be free,
Bring me anything that brings You glory.
And I know there'll be days
When this life brings me pain,
But if that's what it takes to praise You,
Jesus, bring the rain.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Lee Ann's farewell - October 3, 2007

I've just finished tucking Abby into bed and feel a need to blog. Actually, I'm not sure yet if I'm going to post this, but writing is what I must do now.

Today is the one-year anniversary of Abby's accident. One year ago at this hour I think that Gordon and I were huddled in the hallway of ICU in Austin Children's Hospital while the neurosurgeon inserted a intra-cranial pressure monitor into Abby's skull. But we were not alone. We have never been alone. As we prayed and pleaded with God, the hallway outside ICU was full of friends from Hill Country Christian School, from Texas Parks and Wildlife, from Wimberley, even some friends we had never met before that night, also praying. And in a huge radius around Wimberley, Austin, New Braunfels, and beyond praying was taking place. And, despite our desperate fear, the healing had begun.

God heard. Even before we made that long drive with friends to the hospital and waited desperately to see Abby, He heard. He was in the people who rushed to the scene of the accident and provided care for the two girls. He was there with EMS on the ground and in the helicopter with the nurses. He sent people to find us so that we could briefly touch Abby before she was whisked away.

But there were still to be many frightening, uncertain days ahead of us. When Abby's sedation removal failed on day six and she had to be re-intubated, I fled away and shook my fist at God and told Him that I could not bear to have her not return to us. When her eyes opened, but it seemed she did not see us or comprehend us, we begged God that the healing would not stop. When her body awoke only to flail in frustration, our hearts broke. As she struggled with basic schoolwork in the first few months at home I cried. It was a very long road.

But God was with us. And you were with us. And that is why we wrote this blog--so that you could continue to walk beside us in prayer and so that others might find hope and comfort. Our faith is not faultless. We still do not understand why the healing we were granted is not granted to others who pray; all we know is that God is the source of hope and strength when there is none. We still sometimes mourn what Abby has lost , and we at times feel an envy for the wholeness that we see in her peers, but we also know that we have been granted a precious gift in Abby's sweet spirit. That gift is all the more priceless because we know how fragile it is. And, despite the moments of mourning, we have hope that the healing will continue and that God holds the future, even if it is different than the future we envisioned. We pray this blog conveys that hope.

And, so, on this anniversary, we begin a new chapter. I have struggled mightily with this decision (maybe because this blog has been good therapy for me...), but I think it is time for this blog to close and another to begin. I want this year to stand alone as a testimony of hope during a dark period, of learning to live day-by-day, of cumulative miracles that can carry one from the precipice of death to dreams of a bright future (did I mention that Abby finished her schoolwork early both yesterday and today?--Hallelujah!). And, then maybe one day Abby and I will come back and write a postscript that completes the whole story...

For now, thank you, thank you, thank you...for reading and praying. The kindnesses we received all along the way showed us the best parts in our fellow man, and we are honored beyond words that people have cared to continue to share our lives with us through this blog. If you're interested in the sundry daily activities of the Linam clan, feel free to check out www.linamramblings.blogspot.com. We'll keep posting some updates there, as I think our families have figured out it's the easiest way to keep up with us! It's been a privilege to share our lives and hearts with you over this year...

With love,
-the Linams

Thank you to--
*God, our source of hope, strength, and healing
*Beth Mitchell and the Schaedes for their love and prayers for us
*everyone who worked and prayed at the scene of the accident
*Wimberley EMS and Star Flight staff
*Austin Children's Hospital doctors, nurses, therapists, and social workers
*Ronald McDonald Houses in Austin and San Antonio--more than just a place to stay
*Doctors, therapists, nurses, and social workers at Warm Springs Rehab Hospital
*Little Tesoros home therapy staff
*Therapists at St. David's Rehab Hospital
*Teachers and special ed staff at Danforth Junior High in Wimberley, especially Mrs. Ruiz
*Teachers, coaches, classmates, and Pastor Tom Ray at Hill Country Christian School
*Dear friends at New Braunfels Church of the Nazarene for food, companionship, and prayers
*Wimberley 4-H, Hill Country Christian School, and all those who participated in the community fund-raiser
*Friends, co-workers, and Cypress Creek Church for the work on our home
*Supervisors at Texas Parks and Wildlife Department who gave us the time to heal together as a family
*Friends, family, pastors, and even strangers who visited, sent food, spent time with Frank, cared for our animals, called, emailed, donated money, and prayed; especially Abby's friends who have stayed by her side all the way

Sunday, September 30, 2007

Linam Family Update - September 30

It's been another busy week at 200 Hoots Holler. Well, actually, if we had only been at Hoots Holler a little more, then maybe it wouldn't have seemed so busy!! But, then what news would there be for the blog?

Maybe I'll work my way backwards from the weekend. Yesterday was the annual Pet Fest in San Marcos. We set up a booth for the 4-H dog project and had lots of fun in general. Abby and Arby performed their musical drill routine and did a great job despite some scheduling and technical difficulties on the part of the hosts. The kids also had fun entering some of the light-hearted contests with the dogs, and Amigo actually won the "best smile" category for his Charlie Chaplin imitation. We missed Pet Fest last year when it was held in October, so we were very glad to be there once again, rain and shine. Frank also squeezed a baseball game into the day, where he did some good pitching again.

The week was full of sports and schoolwork (and some music practice), but Frank and I also sneaked a trip in to San Antonio for a show at the Aztec Theater and a lunch with a dear college friend of mine. Frank and I decided it was a social studies field trip since we saw a movie on the Mayan Indians, and Marilyn is the author of a book on San Antonio history called It Happened in San Antonio, so maybe it wasn't too sneaky. (Although I guess it would have trouble passing for TPWD work, but that's why I work part-time!)

I do have a couple of prayer requests for you this week. The first is that, just in general, Abby would feel encouragement about her schoolwork. She's feeling discouraged about the ground she's lost and about things taking longer now. I know she will continue to improve, but right now she just needs to feel okay about things. The second is that this Wednesday is the anniversary of the girls' accident. We are not going to make a big deal about it in respect of Abby's feelings, but please keep Abby, Taylor, and the driver of the car in your prayers.

Thanks for praying with us all this year--you have shown the devotion of true friends and have taught us much.

Love,
-the Linams






Sunset in San Marcos this week (photo by Abby)

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Linam Family Update - Sept. 23

Will it really be Monday again in two hours??? Where did our weekend go? Where did the last week go? Well, let's see if I can figure it out...

Abby spent her week finishing up her first round of tests (one A and one B this week--not too bad!) and playing two volleyball games (one win and one loss--not too bad!), along with dog agility practice, music practice, horseback-riding, and volunteering at the riding therapy center after school. Frank also finished up his first round of tests (both A's this week, but not 100's, as he got on all his tests last week!), and threw in some baseball practices, music practice, a 4-H dog meeting, and a swim with some other homeschoolers. Then came the weekend and we really got busy--a violin lesson, volunteering at a 4-H luncheon, a baseball game (Frank pitched a perfect inning and hit a triple!), a visit to Natural Bridge Caverns to celebrate Juanita's birthday, and one other very special event.

Abby received an invitation to attend a "Courageous Kids Reunion"--a special celebration for children who had been patients in the ICU at Austin Children's Hospital. It was held on Saturday in Austin. Just to be there was, of course, such a celebration, but it was also very special to be able to enjoy the activities with many of the doctors and nurses and even some other ICU family members who were with us during those very hard times. We had the chance to tell many of them thank you for the care and hope they gave us, and they, in turn, had the chance to finally get to spend some fun time with the "real" Abby. I'd like to just share a few photos of some of these special people--taken this weekend and also during a couple of other return visits that we paid to the hospital. Thank you all, and God bless you...













Abby with ICU nurses Tamra & Rachel - Jan. 07










Abby with trauma doc, Dr. Maxson, & nurse Emily - Feb. 07











Abby & Hannah with night staff at ICU - Mar. 07














Lisa, ICU night nurse - at Courageous Kids Reunion












Sara, prayer warrior whose son was in ICU at the same time as Abby - at reunion











Abby uses her throwing arm to dunk Mr. Maxson (sweet revenge on one of her favorite doctors!)











A chance to visit the Star Flight helicopter--some more heroes












Frank with one of his heroes--Carolyn, a Child Life Specialist

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Linam Family Update - September 16

Well, it's official--both our kids are now ready for summer vacation! It seems the novelty of school has worn off extra-fast this year!

Maybe Abby's attitude has to do with the fact that the end of the third week usually brings the first round of tests, and this year was no exception. She did a lot of studying this week and did fine on tests in math, science, and English. She's putting in a little more time studying this year, but earning good results, so we'll go ahead and spend that little bit of extra time at the kitchen table each evening. The volleyball team also had good results this week. They lost a well-played home game on Monday, but won their game in San Antonio on Thursday. Abby played especially well in that game--coming up with several saves. Again, sports are more work now, but that work is paying off!

Speaking of hard work in sports, Frank worked out with a homeschool junior high basketball team last week. And boy, was it a workout! Those boys ran, with and without basketballs in their hands, for 90 straight minutes. Then Frank decided to run a few more layup drills while he was waiting for me to pick him up! We're not sure if he'll play with the team this year, but we might see about joining practices just for the conditioning. (Wonder if they have a toned-down version for Moms...?). He will also start practice for fall baseball this week, so our sports-crazy son should soon be content with plenty of athletic extra-curricular activities...

As for the parents, we just try to keep up with the kids, but they do their best to show their appreciation. They treated us to a homemade dinner on Friday, and then on Saturday they enjoyed helping us teach an aquatics workshop at a lovely nearby camp (we won't tell you the story about nearly being swept away in the Blanco River...) Today, believe it or not, Gordon and I actually had dinner out together alone, as Abby and Frank were with church friends--it's been a long time since we've done that, and life's too short to not grab hold of those special moments.

So, this week may you have a few minutes to appreciate the ones you love...
Love,
-the Linams

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Linam Family Update - September 9

I guess the big news from this week is that Abby played her first volleyball game of the year. The HCCS Junior High team couldn’t pull out the win, but Abby contributed some good serves and passes to the valiant effort. The HCCS team has a lot of potential, so I bet they’ll get some wins in the coming week, and I’m sure that Abby’s skills are going to continue to improve by leaps and bounds. Already I’m proud of all of them for the support they all show for each other...I have a sense these girls know what really matters…

On the homeschool front, Frank continued to make good progress on his schoolwork and his travel blog (check www.linamramblings.blogspot.com for the latest). I did take him on a wild lizard chase one day. We were supposed to be checking out a location of a horned lizard sighting in Austin, but all we found was a man that we rescued from some bumblebee stings. Frank's a happy camper this weekend, with the NFL season underway; both kids and Gordon got their fantasy football picks made this week. That's one hobby I can do without...

Otherwise, the weekend was not big news…lots and lots of work sorting through junk in our house…we tried to have a garage sale, but no one else wanted our junk either…maybe it didn’t work because we don’t have a garage…Anyone in need of a used front door?

Giving thanks for junk and more…
-the Linams