Thursday, September 30, 2010

notes of encouragement...

I made it. I thank the Lord for you, Katie. Waiting to open your letter was very hard, I waited till I was on the plane and O-man. Your letter was a great, great encougagement for me. You make me want to be a better man for the Lord and you. The way you told me that you see a good leader in me is better than any commander/leader saying good job. Telling me to stay in the word and pray is awesome. It shows me that you care as much as me about the Lord. I cant decribe how much that means to me. I had the hardest time watching you walk into the house. I cried all the way home and knowing that you were crying for me it killed me even worse. I can not help think of you all the time and when I will be able to hold you in my arms. HeeHee next time I will not let you win so easy in thumb wars. Well I have to go but I will write as fast as I can again

For My Angel,

This was written by Ben 4 years ago today. It was his first deployment that he left on since we had started dating. He was letting me know that he had made it and that he was safe. Two things that stood out to me in this e-mail. First, I had forgotten that we played thumb wars so long ago! We worked so hard on getting him to do it since the accident and he has been doing it for quite some time now!! God is good to refresh my memories and remind me of ALL the He is still up to!

The first part of this e-mail shouted out that Ben needs and has always needed encouragement! Every man does! Every man needs his wife to stand beside him (not behind or in front) and encourage him that what he is doing is good, he is strong enough for the task, he will suceed and that I do believe in him!
Bottom line...BEN NEEDS ENCOURAGEMENT!! I am asking a HUGE favor from all of you who read this blog and who are praying for us...
I have a door in his room that I want to see full of encouraging cards. If you are able please send a card to Ben that is full of words of affirmation, encouragement, scriptures or whatever else you feel led to write! I want to get as many for him as we can and show him how many people who care about him and that are praying for him! Right now is his phase of recovery he learns and remembers things by sight and step. I believe that when he sees all of these cards that it will be such an encouragement to him!
I will save all of the notes until Oct. 27th! Not only is this our 3rd wedding anniversary but it will make 14 months since the accident (it was Aug. 27, 2010.) I am hoping that we have a HUGE pile or cards to give to Ben and that it will fill the door in his room! If you feel led to join in on this then that would be much appreciated!!

Blessings to you all!!

***Again, I will save them all until Oct. 27 and then give them all to him at one time!!

our boating adventure...

well folks, here it is! i am finally writing about our boating trip out in the San Fran bay!! It was fun, amazing, adventurous, peaceful, frightening (lifting of Ben), and just plane good to take Ben away from the hospital.
We went to the event called the Wheelchair Ragatta. This event happens every year and it has been going on for over 10 years! We transfered Ben to the front seat of the van like we had been practicing about 0915...of course he did great! Another couple whom I have mentioned Cale and Kathleen were also in our van! Off we went for about an hour drive up to the Oakland side of the water.
We got the the yacht club, unloaded and got in line for our turn to board the boat. While we were waiting in line we got to meet this hmmmm young man...

{he is a 91 year old vet survivor from pearl harbor}

He was super fun and cute! We also got to enjoy some music of what I have labeled some arrr matey music! Kathleen and I were able to dance around a bit with him and the boys looked on then at the end joined in!

We moved up slowy in line, got a group shot or us all and this is what it looked like as they were loading people into the boats...

Finally it was our turn! We found out that we were going to get our own boat! Just the 4 of us and then our rec therapist that came with us. The Oakland fire department came to volunteer with getting everyone on the boats. Well, one of them came and took Ben from me, wheeled him down the ramp, picked him and up, wheelchair and all and placed Ben on the other side of the boat! I have to admit that I was a bit anxious! I almost gave my camera to Kathleen and looked away but I chose to look and take it all in! The guys were so good to Ben and reassured him the whole way!

Once we got loaded up we were off to discover that waters of CA! Ben looked like he was in heaven and so super comfortable! When I would ask him how he was feeling all he could say is AWESOME and THIS FEELS SO GOOD! It warmed my heart!
Here are a few more photos of our day together...

{love this man}

{coast guard boats...ben loved these}

{view of san fran}

{docking lifts that look like horses}

{me and the hat}

At the end of our boat ride we were able to be apart of a BBQ they had for us! It was tasty after a whole day being out on the water! We headed back about 3pm and got back to the hospital around 4pm. Ben was super pooped and so we got him into bed for a nap! Even before his head hit the pillow his eyes were closed! It was a grand adventure for both of us and like I said it warmed my heart to see Ben so happy!

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

after these visitors...

....we will be right back!

i know I still owe you photos and an update
on our grand adventure this past Saturday!
remember this sneak peak...

well, my uncle joe and aunt sharon have been here visiting!!
we are having a ton of fun and Ben is showing off!

one night we went out for dinner and the dessert
looked so good that i just picked it up and ate it...

{plastic of course}

and then tonight we were treated to In-N-Out
and this is how ben and i felt after our
chocolate milkshakes...

{full and on a sugar high!}

more to come...

Saturday, September 25, 2010

my cry reaches His ears...

The Lord knows what we need just at the right time and I again found this out a few days ago. As Ben and I were in my room he was resting and I was finishing up a few tasks. I was finished and had the battle of thoughts in my my Bible, read a magazine and so on! Well, I was obedient and I opened up my Bible. I started reading Psalm 18 and was blown away by some of the things I was reading.

Ps. 18
"But in my distress I cried out to the LORD; yes, I prayed to my God for help. He heard me from his sanctuary; my cry reached HIS ears. Then at your command, O LORD, at the blast of your breath, the bottom of the sea could be seen, and the foundations of the earth were laid bare. He reached down from heaven and rescued me; he drew me out of deep waters."
He led me to a place of safety; He rescued me because He delights in me. The LORD rewarded me for doing right; He compensated me because of my innocence. For I have kept the ways of the LORD; I have not turned from my God to follow evil. (I have not turned from God or Ben)
As for God, His way is perfect. All the LORD's promises prove true. He is a shield for all who look to him for protection. For who is God except the LORD? Who but our God is a solid rock? God arms me with strength; He has made my way safe!
He makes me as surefooted as a deer, leading me safely along the mountain heights. He prepares me for battle; He strengthens me to draw a bow of bronze. You have given me the shield of your salvation. Your right hand supports me; Your gentleness has made me great."
So much truth, peace, reassurance, confirming, loving and so so true! These scriptures blessed me as I was reading them and I was brought to tears!

I had some piano hymns playing in the background and felt the presence of the Lord with me. When I was done reading and listening I felt like I needed to pray over Ben. Right at the moment I went to pray, Ben woke up, opened his eyes and said, "hold my hand!" My heart melted as I knew that Jesus did this just for me. He knew what I needed at that moment! I was able to pray over Ben be ministered to at the same time! Thank you Lord for that special time with you and with my Ben!
and then we both ended up like this...

On Thursday Ben had an amazing walking day! I think it was his longest walk yet! He used the regular walker again with the assistance of his PT. He walked the long hallway, got his reward (kisses of course), took a break and walked back!! Ben had some on lookers as well! There was one nurse who started watching Ben and she left after a bit...but she must have told people what Ben was doing because we looked around and there were several people looking on and in awe of how Ben was walking! Some came when he was done and were bummed out that they had missed his awesomeness!!
Here is the long hallway that we walked down and can see him (barely) at the very end!!

Back to Ben's room for a quick snooze and then off to meet another special guest! General James Amos and his wife Bonnie! General Amos is a four-star general in the United States Marine Corps and the 31st and current Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps. A naval aviator by trade, General Amos has commanded the 3rd Marine Aircraft Wing during Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2003 and 2004, Marine Corps Combat Development Command, and was Deputy Commandant, Combat Development and Integration from 2004 to July 2008. General Amos assumed his current assignment on July 3, 2008. Him and his wife were very sweet to both of us! An amazing couple who gave us huge hugs and many blessings! He referred to Ben as "son", which I loved to see, and me...well him and his wife had tears in their eyes! It was an honor for both of us to meet them!!

Just a few highlights of the rest of our week! Of course I save the best for last but that blog will have to come in a few days...I am exausted from our grand adventure today and must go to bed!!

Here is a sneak peak of our fun day...

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

mini vans, pedi and milkshakes...

Yesterday was another accomplishment for Ben! we have a big outting coming up on Saturday (stay tuned for blog report) and Ben's rec therapist didn't really want to take the massive wheel chair van. so, she got together with Ben's PT and they decided to try Ben out on transfers to the front seat of a mini van!! This was a first and I was super excited! Ben did amazing with his stands and he was able to do it 2 times! We didn't go anywhere yesterday but told him that we would take him someone today!

Later that afternoon I went out with another patients wife Kathleen! She is a lovely lady who I have been able to hang out with on several occassions! We hit up the mall, got much needed pedis and dinner at PF Changs!!

Today we made sure that we practiced more car transfers and then took Ben on his first ride, in a van, in the front seat to get of course a milkshake!! We got it for him and gave it to him to sip on the way home! It was not coming through the straw and we were all thinking it was because it was a thick milkshake! By the time we got back to the hospital he still had not got one sip of his chocolate shake!! I tried and nothing...just the sound of air! Poor Ben had a slit in his straw so he couldn't get anything out!! Of course I traded him for my straw and the slurped the thing down in no time!!
We are now set to go to our outting Saturday in the mini van (ours is not here yet so we are using one from the VA!) All we have to do is throw Ben's chair in the back and off we will go...and Ben will be much more comfortable! Photos and updates to come!

Prayer Requests:
1. Ben's smile! Pray that he gets his smile back soon! He does a slight one but I am praying that he get it lights up people's lives...and mine!
2. Trunk control...Ben needs this so that most of all his other movements work.
3. Arm mobility: the tightness in his arms limits Ben to alot that he can do. Pray for movement from the shoulders and loosening of the arms.
4. Continued head and neck strength. Loosening of the muscles and that he can hold it up!
5. Speech...that it would have more volume and that he would initiate words but bigger even sentances!
6. Memory...that Ben will retain what he is learning now and what he has been doing!
7. Continued increase of a better mood! The down in the dumps feeling would leave in Jesus name!
8. Direction for the future.
9. I am emotionally tired yet again! Please pray for strength and endurance!

Love you all and thank you so much for your continued prayers, love and encouragement! Keep them coming because we sure feel it!

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

oh the sweetness...

Back in April I posted a blog about the cupcakes that get donated from Sprinkles every week! Well, yesterday it was Monday and that means 2 huge bins of cupcakes that came our way! This weeks selections included these...

Ben and I ate lunch outside yesterday because it was beautiful and we had to take advantage of good weather! When we came back in from the outside we had to pass the counter that had these lovely lil cupcakes! That was our first mistake! Well, I got to thinking...I don't think Ben has had one of these cupcakes since we have been here...or just a bite at the most! That is not fair...I have indulged almost every week so it was only fair that Ben would get one too! So, I set the bins on his lap and let him choose which one he wanted. He picked my favorite one! Chocolate with coconut!! Of course I had to get one as well, I just ate mine later in the tradition!

I took off for a bit in the afternoon and went to run some errands...ok I went to Nordstorm! Ben said I could go, had no spending limit but be wise with our money! I wanted to be back in time for his neuro psych session and so I made my way back to his room. When I got to his room it was a few min after 4 and I saw that he was still in his room. What I also noticed was this...

He ended up having neuro psych early and she had Ben work on a project for me! She wrote out the headings on the paper and then he was to finish it off and write it. After they worked on the papers she had Ben put them in the order that he wanted them taped together. He arranged them this way and then they hung it from his tray table so that I could see it when I walked in the door!! They were super sneaky to do this while I was gone! Love this man!!

Earlier in the day I took Ben out to lift some weights that they have for people to do when they are in wheelchairs. Ben did the first one and did amazing! The last time we came out to do it, and it has been some time, he could only do like 5 on his own with his right hand! This time he did 25!!! His left was a bit behind but he got in 5! Next we went to one for his arms and he did 50, took a break and did 25 more!! I asked Ben how he felt and he said AWESOME!! He has never said this about what he has done! I asked him why he thought it was awesome and he said because he was outside! We went to one more weight machine which were like pull ups...he has to hang on to handles and then pull his whole body and chair up off the ground...about 220 pounds!! Ben did this 20 times! I asked him again how he felt and again he said AWESOME! Asked him why and he said it was because he did it, he lifted weights and it felt awesome!! I was so proud of him and how he allowed himself to think he did a good job...and that it felt good to him!! He got alot of encouragement and kisses from me following this!!

Monday, September 20, 2010

pain and sadness fills our hearts...

This past Saturday night I got a phone call from Ben's old platoon sgt informing me that one of Ben's good buddies had passed away. Ben met Aaron in the early days of both of their Army careers. They have always been in contact with each other and while they have stayed in contact they have been separated by their jobs. Recently before our accident Ben had been in touch with Aaron about going through a selection process in NC. Aaron was telling him things he needed to know, tips and so on. Then our accident occured. I was in touch with Aaron via the phone a few times giving him updates on Ben's condition. We were invited to Aaron's wedding in March but we were unable to attend. Ben always had HIGH esteem for Aaron and could not say a bad thing about him. They built a ton of memories together by teaming up, working out, doing boy stuff and building each other up in Christ. Both Aaron and Ben had the fact that they were in the Army together and also shared a deep love for the Lord!
I had to tell Ben this horrid news. I told him simply that Grider had died in Afganistan and Ben said with much sadness in his face, "OH NO!" Oh my heart was breaking and has been. The tears were flowing and Ben and I were able to comfort each other.
Later we were able to talk about it a little bit more. Ben decided on his own that he wants to dedicate the rest of his recovery and rehab to Aaron. So, we have agreed together that when things get hard for us that we will not only continue to rely upon the Lord and each other but that we would continue to work hard for Grider, knowing that he would NEVER want Ben to surrender and give up! Both Ben and Grider learned together and very fast that SURRENDER IS NOT A RANGER WORD!

In an e-mail that I received recently from a girl that lost the love of her life and was also a good friend of Ben's she wrote, "Sometimes Katie I feel such assurance of God's hand in all of this. I feel that even though it hurts every single day that Jason is dead, that I can see so much beauty in the life I have been given. I feel so grateful that I was able to know, love and be loved by such an amazing man. I trust in God's, 'good, pleasing and perfect will'. But there are other days when the heaviness of my pain and the pain of others around me almost seem to paralyze me. It also breaks my heart again and again when I look at the pictures of the men they loved and have lost. There's this way to think through things that keeps the emotional toll at a distance. I think the more grief and real pain you experience, the better you are at 'managing' it. But that management is only an illusion. Little things shatter through our carefully planned defenses. Little things and big things. Things like another dead soldier and another heartbroken woman...." So honestly and beautifully put...what my heart would be saying right now too!
It makes me so grateful that Jesus chose to spare both of our lives! I value life and since that day have thanked Jesus every day for it. I get to hold my man, love on him and be near him...even if he is not yet healed 100% yet. These ladies that have lost their loves don't get that!

Please pray for this young bride, daughter and Aaron's family! They will need to experience the peace that surpasses all understanding! If you see a man in uniform, thank them, if you know someone who serves, thank them! You don't want to live with the regret of never saying thank you to those who are giving you freedom every single day!
Aaron, you are our hero! We know that you are in heaven and you are at peace! You will never be forgotten and will always be apart of our lives and in our hearts!! We love you!

Brighton, IL (KSDK) -- A soldier from Brighton, Illinois died while in the Kunduz province in Afghanistan on his 30th birthday.
The Department of Defense said Sgt. 1st Class Ronald A. Grider was hit by machine gun fire on September 18.
Sgt. Grider was assigned to the U.S. Army Special Operations Command at Fort Bragg, North Carolina. He is survived by his wife, Brittany Grider, daughter Katie-Anne Grider, and parents Ron and Rita Grider. Sgt. Grider was born in Alton, on September 18, 1980. He graduated from Civic Memorial High School in Bethalto in 1998.
He enlisted in the U.S. Army as an Infantryman on August 18, 1998.
After completing Infantry One Station Unit Training and Basic Airborne School, Sgt. Grider was assigned to Charlie Company, 2nd Battalion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, Fort Bragg, N.C. where he served for three years as a grenadier and a rifleman.
In the spring of 2000, he attended 82nd Airborne Division Pre-Ranger Course, subsequently attending and graduating from Ranger School in May 2000.
Sgt. Grider was assigned as a scout team leader in March 2002 to Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 2nd Bn., 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, and served in this capacity for seven months before being reassigned to Fort Benning, Georgia.
In October 2002, Sgt. Grider was assigned as a rifle team leader to Co. A, 1st Bn., 75th Ranger Regiment, transitioning to squad leader in October 2004. While assigned to Alpha Company, Sgt. Grider deployed once to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom and three times to Operation Iraqi Freedom.
Sgt. Grider was assigned in November 2005 as a special operations team member, United States Army Special Operations Command (Airborne), Fort Bragg, N.C. For five years he performed this duty, deploying four times to Operation Iraqi Freedom and once more to Afghanistan for Operation Enduring Freedom.
Sgt. Grider's awards include two Bronze Star Medals, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal with Valor Device, three Army Commendation Medals , five Army Achievement Medal, Army Good Conduct Medal (fourth award), National Defense Service Medal, Afghanistan Campaign Medal with two Bronze Service Stars, the Iraq Campaign Medal with six Bronze Service Stars, the Global War on Terrorism Expeditionary Medal, the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Noncommissioned Officer Professional Development Ribbon with numeral three, Army Service Ribbon, Ranger Tab, Sapper Tab, Combat Infantryman Badge, Expert Infantryman Badge, Military Free Fall Parachutist Badge, Master Parachutist Badge, and five Overseas Service Bars and the Valorous Unit Award.
Sgt. Grider was posthumously awarded his third Bronze Star Medal and the Purple Heart.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Big Rich and GT visit-part II...

So, I left you all hanging on Tuesday night and now I will take you into Wednesday! Ben tried some new things in PT today! PT and OT teamed up along with Rich and GT to try Ben out for the first time in over a year on his hands and knees! First it was Ben rolling onto his stomach and getting himself situated. Next it was up on his hands and knees. Ben did alot on his own and then just needed a little help on the way up. Can I just say that despite the fact that Ben has been in rehab for over a year he still has some nice looking muscles! When he was using his arms to hold himself up his tricepts were buldging out!! I think the hardest thing for Ben was to hold his head up! What a stretch for him...but he did great! He said his reward for all that hard work was kisses and yes he got a few!
After being on his hands and knees the got just on his knees and then balanced himself with the ball. With this placement he needed more help with the trunk balance but doing it for the first time he did great! Following the time on his knees he then layed on the ball for some more stretching and balancing! Finally Ben got to just lay on his tummy and do what his PT calls a spread eagle!

Ben was pretty tired after all the new things he tried so while he went back to his room to rest Rich and I went to the Stanford store to get some gear! After getting a few things we went back to see Ben so that Rich could say a good bye to Ben! When we asked Ben if he wanted Rich to come back Ben said, "No!" We were a bit surprised by that but when I asked Ben why and he said, "because I don't want Big Rich to leave" it made sense! I took Rich to the airport and that was not a fun trip! Tried to hold back the tears all day long! After I dropped Rich off I went to REI to see if I could find a special treat for Ben for all of his hard work. I found some t-shirts that he might enjoy and when he saw them his face brightened! He did inform me that one of them was the wrong size...I guess I will have to go back!
Later that afternoon Ben had a Speech/Rec group. He did very well in this session and it was the second one that I went to. He was able to recall everyones names when they asked him and he was also able to say them (out of turn) if another patient was struggling! It was quite humerous and I was proud of him! They played Go Fish and seriously all the patients tied!

On to Thursday! Another full day of therapies! It was GT's turn to get in the pool with Ben! PT again had Ben in the other pool for walking. First came some stretching and then some sit-ups with a styrofaom dumb bell under his legs. This was followed by some amazing walking and his PT actually took her hands off of Ben and let him do it on his own for a bit!!! Ben loved could see how proud he was in his face! After walking he did side stepping followed by mimicking biking movements on the side of the pool. Of course it was a competition with GT who could go longer and faster!

Following PT Ben ate lunch and took a quick snooze! We then jumped on the bikes! I don't know if I told you how heavy those bikes are but they are heavy!! Ben pedaled by himself so he was baring the weight of his body, GT's body and the bike weight! We doubled our distance today and Ben and I had a race as me and another therapist were on another bike! I almost had fighting words with a guy in a HUGE, old cadilac who came speeding through the parking lot! GT had to slam on the breaks to avoid this guy taking them out! Oh man...thank you Lord for your protection and keeping me from taking someone out! Back for an afternoon snooze for Ben!

GT was able to go with Ben to neuro psych and I stayed back to lessen the distraction. GT said they did some memory games and went over how much progress Ben has made!!

Thank you Rich and GT for taking time out of your busy schedules and away from your families to come spend time with and encourage Ben! It means the world to him!!

Big Rich and GT visit - part I...

This past week has been a good one for us! My little (6'4") brother Rich, whom Ben has always called Big Rich, and GT, Ben's buddy from work in GA came to visit!! We had alot of fun and they were able to help Ben in his therapies and encourage him!

Rich got here bright and early Monday morning. I wish you could have seen Ben's face (the one time I didn't have my camera) when he saw Rich! It lit up and he had the biggest grin! Rich was able to get in pool with Ben that morning! Of course there were the times of hard work and then the times of goofing off!
This time in the pool marked another huge accomplishment for Ben! PT had him move to the other pool today! This pool, in the same pool area, has a wheelchair ramp and a long walking area that doesn't change depths. Well, instead of holding on to a therapist or a noodle to walk Ben used his new way of walking...with the regular walker!! For the first time he did an amazing job!! Rich was able to help him along the way and coach him to work hard and keep his head up!
After the hard work came the punching match and the cheese heads! My brother knows how to make a person laugh and I am sure Ben was laughing hard inside!

The rest of the day was filled with lunch, a long walk outside, neuropsych, dinner, and me snuggling with Ben! I love this time! No distractions and just quite time for both of us! I came back to my room to see Rich already asleep...I think he passed out about 8:30pm!!

Tuesday was a very full day but it was so much fun and filled with more new things for Ben! Of course first came speech therapy! His therapist has been working with Ben on his words and the volume of his voice. She will show him words on 3x5 cards and has him first go through them and say them all. Then she mixes them all up and has Ben look at the word and has to then descibe it to her without using the word. Ben has to give her different clues and catergories for the word. She is also teaching him that if someone cannot hear him that he askes them to move closer or if he needs more time to answer the question then he needs to say that he needs time to think about it. He has been doing great!!

After ST then came PT! First came stretching....this Ben used to like but these days he is not a fan of it! GT was there so he jumped up and the mat and did some too. When Ben is uncomfortable he says Rangers Lead the Way in a very loud voice! After stretching all the boys were on the mat and did some sit ups! It was great to watch and you can tell there was alot of competition going on!
Stretching and sit ups done and it was off to the parallel bars for some sit to stands from wheelchair to standing! Ben had a bit of help on the first one but then after that he was on his own! I think he was showing off on how much he could do and I was happy about that!! He then was able walk to the end of the bars. One more task before he was done and that was walking with the regular walker! He had GT to stand beside him and (tall) Rich in front of him to help keep his head up! He made a couple trips around the gym and did AMAZING!

Ben and all of us got about a 30 min break and then we were all off to an outting! Rich asked Ben what he wanted to do when he was there and Ben said, "go fishing!" Well, off we went! We stopped by In-N-Out for all of our favorite foods and a chocolate milkshake for Ben! We then drove to a place called Shoreline lake and ate our food there. While we were sitting there a lady that worked there told us that fishing was not allowed!! What!! Ben's rec therapist went in the shop a few min later and explained the situation and told her that it is for therapy and that we were not using hooks! We got the go ahead! So, we went down on the dock and started fishing! Well, those boys had it in their heads that you cannot fish without hooks and put a few on! GT dropped his line in the water and snagged one! We were quietly laughing so hard!! Of course we put them all (hooked 3) because they were tiny lil suckers! Ben had a great time of casting and reeling them in! We were out for about 2.5 hours and when Ben got back to his room he closed his eyes and fell asleep instantly! He had a good day but was for sure pooped out!!

{look at this whopper!!}

Early that evening Rich, GT and I headed up to AT&T park in San Francisco for the Giants game! Well, it was cold and got to be a boring game because the Giants were not scoring! Booo! It was a fun experience though and fun to go to a stadium that we all had never been to before! Come to find out...the won the following night! Man oh man! be continued...