The Story of my Christmas Cards

I broke with tradition (or rut, some would say) and sent out three styles of cards this year for Christmas. Until this year, every card has been alike. It's a personality disorder--all my cards have to be alike.

Or as alike as handmade Christmas cards can be.

This year I went back to my paper crafting punch-loving' roots and fell in love with this tree punch from Martha Stewart's punch collection (even tho yes, I still technically really dislike MS in general) along about the same time I saw this tree card by the fabulous cardies at Impress Rubber Stamps.

Add in a little Scenic Route paper and some tearing and glittering, a little stamping using the Stampin' Up Cute n Curly set and poof...there's my Christmas card creation. Some got glitter, some did not. I hope no one feels deprived if they didn't get glitter. I had a can of silver glitter spray that I had purchased for the wedding and did not use, so I thought it would be cool to add a little spray glitter to the Christmas card projects.
Unfortunately, the task of spraying glitter is rather messy and makes one a little high after a bit so it must be done outside. I usually do my creating after everyone has gone to bed and it's been kinda cold lately. So it was either spray the glitter inside and have a huge mess and a "buzz" or spray it outside in the dark and freeze my fingers.
I froze for a few cards, had a high for a few more, then gave up the glittering. If you didn't get a glittered card, please don't take it personally. :)
Made about 25 of these 6x6 cards and mailed each in a vellum envelope. I love vellum envelopes.
This tree kick I've been on is sticking around. I'm working on a piece of art for my bedroom involving a tree branch and some leaves. Lovely trees.


Operation Home

Several people have inquired about the curious lack of information forthcoming about Andy lately. Lack of news is an indicator of the holding pattern the boys are in for the moment. Andy's health is good and items are being checked off the to do list with increasing regularity. The truck has been purchased and is in the process of being fitted with the lift system. Andy was adamant that this big thing be fully achieved before he goes home--something that is fully understandable.

Andy's hope was to be home by Christmas but that's not going to be possible. Right now, it looks like a week or two into January will be the date of his arrival to East Texas. He's chomping at the bit but understands the absolute necessity of having all the ducks (even the little ones) in a tight row before leaving Tampa.

Daniel made a trip home to Texas recently and secured a brand new, 2 bedroom apartment that is fully accessible for Andy to call home while his more permanent abode is arranged/built. Daniel says the apartment is nice and they are quite excited about it.

So, since Andy's been property of the United States Army for a couple of years now, he's been living a paired-down lifestyle. Whatever he needed, the Army issued. Now that he's going to be a civilian, he will be starting from scratch, setting up a complete household.

Many of you have already helped out in this area and for that we are ever so grateful. Some others have asked what is left to do, so here's what I know: Andy has assembled a Wish list at WalMart and Target (with a great deal of help from Mom). He still loves Starbucks and has said that he's found a new enthusiasm in books and music, especially in the act of going to Barnes and Noble and selecting books and music. There's a nice B&N in Tyler (with a Starbucks in it) I know B&N gift cards would be well appreciated too.

Gifts can be sent to Mom and Dad's or if you are in Tyler, Mrs. Sherry Crain is coordinating gifts there. I will email addresses upon request. My email is

It's probably a good idea to stop all mail going to Tampa by the end of this week.

Pray...we all believe and know that God's timing is perfect. As anxious as we are to get Andy home and close, we understand that nothing is more important than God's perfect timing. Pray for calm and for smooth transitions. Pray for the path to be made straight and the rough places shorn down. Pray for strength and stamina. Pray for a grand homecoming.

As always, thank you for the generosity of prayers, encouragement, and gifts that have been so amazing so far. Thank you for walking with Andy and all of us in this.

Walmart Wish List

If for some reason the above direct link is malfunctioning, go to and click on the wish list option. It's under Andy Burnett in Texas.

Target Wish List
Also under Andy Burnett in Texas.



I Still Do

Seventeen years ago today
this boy took my hand
and said I do.

Baby, I still do too.


The Night Before Christmas

The Night Before Christmas
- by Sister St. Thomas, B.N.D. de N

T'was the night before Christmas, and all through the town,
St. Joseph was searching, walking up roads and down;
Our Lady was waiting, so meek and so mild,
While Joseph was seeking a place for the Child.

The children were nestled, each snug in their beds,
The grown-ups wouldn't bother,
"There's no room," they said;

When even the inkeeper sent them away,
Joseph was wondering, where they would stay?
He thought of the caves in the side of the hills,
"Let's go there," said Mary, "it's silent and still."

The moon on the breast of the new fallen snow,
Made pathways of light for their tired feet to go;
And there in a cave, in a cradle of hay,
Our Saviour was born on that first Christmas Day!

The Father was watching in heaven above,
He sent for His angels, His couriers of love.
More rapid than eagles God's bright angels came,
Rejoicing and eager as each heard his name;
"Come Power, Come Cherubs, Come Virtues, Come Raphael,
Come Thrones and Dominions, come Michael and Gabriel;
Now fly to the Earth, where My poor people live,
Announce the glad tiding My Son comes to give."

The Shepherds were watching their flocks on this night,
And saw in the heavens an unearthly light.
The Angels assured them, they'd nothing to fear,
It's Christmas they said, the Saviour is here!
They hastened to find Him, and stood at the door,
Till Mary invited them in to adore.

He was swaddled in bands from His head to His feet,
Ne'er did the Shepherds see a baby so sweet!
He spoke not a word, but the shepherds all knew,
He was telling them secrets and blessing them too;

Then softly they left Him,
The Babe in the hay,
And rejoiced with great joy on that first Christmas Day.
Mary heard them exclaim as they walked up the hill,
"Glory to God in the Highest, Peace to men of good will!"


Rest in Peace, Armando. Hello Poppye!

Armando, my beloved computer, went up in a puff of computer-generated smoke today. Self-destruction is never pretty. Volcanic ash is hard to get out of the paper on my desk. And the smell...well, let's just say it was not pleasant. I cried. I mourned. And then I went shopping.

Sorry Armando.

I see no need for a long period of mourning.

I've got things to do.

So, say hello to little red Gateway laptop! She's beautiful.

Thanks babe.


Trees of the Season

So I've been noticing the great prevalence of trees this winter and Christmas Season. Lots and lots of trees. Not that this is a new trend, mind you--trees are a large part of the season, of course. I guess I always knew that, I just never noticed it so much as I have this year. (Can you say "slow"?)

Trees really are astounding and beautiful. Here are a few tree projects I have enjoyed lately and thought you might too.
First, there's this awesome creation from Scrapbook etc (magazine) that seems so simple but so right:

I love felt ornaments and buttons and it's only natural that this little piece of handmade goodness from etsy would grab at the heart. :) Oh and this one too!

From Lasting Impressions--a company that specializes in brass embossing stencils sent this in an email:

Impress always, well, impresses me with their creations...and this one using tree punches is no different:

This collage tree on 2Peas.

This gorgeous wintery button tree on 2Peas.

This card using the famous "Lovely as a Tree" set from Stampin' Up by Jacynthe. This is a fabulous set of stamps!



Guy Patterson lives with me.

So my dudes love the movie, That Thing You Do. I'm not just talking have-watched-it-once-and-liked-it-ok. No. I mean we-have-watched-that-movie-so-many-times-we-know-every-line-and-every-song-and-we-wanted-to-be-Guy-Patterson-at-Halloween.

For the unenlightened, That Thing You Do is a Tom Hanks movie that tells the story of a rock n roll band in the 50s who had a hit song (called That Thing You Do). Their band was called the Wonders and thru a series of unfortunate events, Guy Patterson becomes their drummer and eventually leads the band to embracing their hit single. The band doesn't last long, buy Guy is the coolest drummer and he gets the girl. It's a rockin' little movie that my boys l-o-v-e. It's Tom Hanks genius!

My little dude is so desperate for drums that he has been forced to improvise with over-turned laundry baskets and flatware as sticks. At first it was just cute. Now he's a little obsessed. He likes the "drums" arranged a certain way. He has two favorite "sticks" that double as flatware. He must wear the shades. He's determined to convince his father that we need a stage in our living room.

Last night we were hanging out and he was doing the drum thing, so I shot a little video. Santa, are you watching? This boy needs some drums in a bad way. :)


Music for the Season

I heard this song for the first time today and so moved by it.
I hope you enjoy it too.
Go to her myspace and click on the player for it.

Here with Us by Joy Williams



A nasty little virus took me out of circulation for a week. Sorry about that. Sarah was working diligently on all things computer-ish and suddenly, everything disappeared. No icons on the desktop. None. As you can perhaps imagine, she quietly melted down in fear that 4 years of photos and 11,000+ songs had disappeared. Luckily, she knows who to call when I need to see an appropriately-qualified doctor fast.

So I'm back now after a week of recoperation and a healthy scrubbing.

She will update the blog asap.

--Sarah's computer.


New Picture

Mom, Andy and me
November 24, 2008
at the Fisher House

Mom, Dad and I made lunch at the Fisher House on Sunday and Andy came over. It was quite the most wonderful non-eventful family dinner. Wish Daniel and Deb and Matt could have been there.

Andy's still not to excited about excessive photos but he did indulge us for a few.



So many things to write about my trip but while I'm getting my thoughts together, I wanted to go on and post that there are a couple of areas of concern today that warrant prayers:

a minor infection that's being treated but this is the second one in about three weeks...

an elevated heart-rate

the possibility that he's developed an ulcer...will know more this evening after a meeting with an endoscope...gotta love those. :)

More this afternoon. Hopefully I'll be able to touch base with Daniel and have news on the housing front as well.



Pictures from Daniel

The above was taken on Veteran's Day...the boys attended an outdoor parade to celebrate. (Andy on the right).

Airborne--all the way!

**Note: Both pictures stolen from Daniel's Facebook--there are others if you want to go there to see more click here.

I'm departing on Friday morning for a quick visit. I know updates have been a little sparce recently...stuff just doesn't change as fast as it once did as far as blog-worthiness news items. Being there with Andy may alleviate some of the info-clog. :)

Andy's address (by request):

James A. Haley Veterans Hospital

13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd

Tampa FL 33612

SCI-D47-2 James Andrew Burnett


Quick Andy Update

Big News! Andy and Daniel are spending the weekend at a hotel in Lakeland FL...on their own. Very (very) nice hotel. No big plans...just going to enjoy being out and about. Pray for smooth transitions and no abnormal physical complications.

I'm going down next weekend for a quick visit--so looking forward to it!


The Countdown Begins

Counting the Days...
Grand Cayman is calling.
This time I will not be derailed.


Today is the Day for Thanks

Today is the day for thanks and remeberance and I am particularly grateful for those in this position with the Army...and I can't help but wonder if it was this pilot or that medic who retrieved him to safety...I wish I knew.


Moreover the strongest support is provided not only to protect the young from evil, but also to rouse them and attract them more easily and gently to the performance of good works. Like the twigs of plants, the young are easily influenced, as long as someone works to change their souls. But if they are allowed to grow hard, we know well that the possibility of one day bending them diminishes a great deal and is sometimes utterly lost.

-- Saint Joseph Calasanz


Update from Dad, received 11.10.2008

Dear Andy's Family,

I returned from visiting Andy and Daniel in Florida earlier this week where they clarified for me the difference between "Snow Boarding" and "Snow Birding." It seems to do the first, you run toward the snow and to do the second, you run from the snow. I actually had an unexpected encounter with two dear friends, Bill and Carol Shearer, who were doing the Snow Bird thing for the next few months in Tampa. When Daniel and I went to church on Sunday morning, there they were. The last time we saw each other was almost two years ago in east Texas. It was a really nice surprise to find friends in a place that you didn't expect them to be. That happens to us a lot lately.

This was a somewhat different kind of visit than those preceding. This time, Daniel didn't leave out as I was coming in, so, the boys were all together. I'm not sure how my sons felt about that, but for "Pop" it was great. I got such a "kick" out of watching those two boys interact. For years they have had their own thing going, and it seems that it is even now just going right on.

When Daniel and Andy were growing up, most of the time they shared the same bedroom, and almost all of the time, all of the other issues of life. Now, it seems, in those years they just really worked out the "getting along" thing. Well, it is still working. In a time when so many ideals have gone by the way side, it is so personally refreshing to me to see brothers actually being brotherly.

Daniel is amazing. He has quickly figured out and fitted into his new, though somewhat temporary, role to his brother. He knows just when to get in Andy's face and just when to give him space. He is Andy's right arm, his administrative advocate, his confidant, his trusted psychologist, his greatest admirer, and always his older brother ( If not his big brother. The weight advantage actually shifted several years ago. Strangely enough, that is also about the time the physical confrontations stopped. Go figure.)

Dan is fearless in the taking-care-of-Andy task. He tackles anything and everything from unfamiliar cities to hospital bureaucracy to helping Andy get going in the morning (he is better and faster at it than most of the nurses) to the biggest deal of all, braving 5:00PM Tampa traffic to "bring back" the "take out" for half of the SCI unit at the hospital.

It usually goes down like this. About 4:00PM, after the last physical therapy session of the day, Andy starts attracting people. Typically they will sit outside in the patio area for a few minutes and talk. The conversations range from profound to mind-numbing (I promise you that there is way more mind-numbing stuff than profound stuff.) but eventually they get around to the "prime question:" Where are we going to eat tonight?

At that point these titanic intellects all become focused as one mind to answer this all important question. It usually takes about four seconds. They just consider two things: What did we eat last night? (because we sure don't want to eat that again) and What do we have gift cards for? (Thank you all for those precious gift cards)

When those defining questions are answered, the mighty Daniel swings into action. A quick check of Google Maps to find the chosen place and he is off to retrieve the bounty. In a flash, he is back to distribute these favorite rations of the day that compose what has to be the worst diet of any soldiers in the US Army. I have to say, It's good, It's really good. But this stuff will kill you if you are over 50. However, if your under 30, it seems you can flourish on it, at least while you're in the hospital.

Dan seems never to tire of trying to accommodate these food tyrants, sometimes stopping at two or three places to get all the orders filled. And this is at the end of a day that always starts at around 6:00 AM after ending the night before well after 11:00PM.

Andy is getting to be Mr. Independent these days, and he is very careful to consider Daniel and take as much weight off of him as possible. He has told Daniel that he can make it in the morning. I also offered to take over a few mornings. Dan's answer, " Naw Dad. It's not necessary." When I pressed him a bit to let me do it, he opened up a little more. He said, "Dad, it's OK. Andy could actually get going without me. I know that. He's getting pretty good at taking care of himself, and he has great nurses. But, he hurts in the morning in his hands and arms especially. And I can save him some of that pain. So, I just like to do it. We got a system."

I knew better than to press it any further. I've been watching that "system" work for a long time now. And I have to say, I am extremely proud of their - system.

The really big thing that happened on this visit was Andy's first outing without a professional therapist. He got a pass to leave the hospital and on Saturday evening about six, he rolled out to the pickup (the seat of which is about 8 or 10 inches above the level of his wheel chair seat) made the "transfer" into the vehicle (after warning me, "Dad, stay back! I can do this.") and bopped off to The Texas Road House for his first steak as a "free man."

As we drove Andy, was mostly quiet and obviously jittery. You didn't have to be a rocket scientist to know what was going on inside him. But, here he was, pushing on into a very frightening unknown. But he did it, and it went well.

The place was absolutely packed, the music (country of course) was so loud that you could not hear yourself think. But he was undaunted. ( I was absolutely frazzled.) He wheeled himself through the crowd, positioned himself gracefully at a table that required some finesse and eventually went to work on a great steak.

After a while we were done. Then back through the crowd, back in the truck, and back to the hospital, but with a lot more confidence. I think courage is sometimes just being bigger than your comfort zone. Andy lives there.

I also found out that Andy is getting a second Purple Heart. It seems that on the same day that he was wounded in the neck, he was hit on the left side of his face with some spraying shrapnel from a disintegrating bullet that hit the tripod of a weapon that he was near. I guess in his silly mind this was classified a "unworthy of mention."

He said that he never really thought about it. He said the fragments surprised him, knocked him back a little and cause his eye to close involuntarily. He explained that they also knocked his best friend, Mac, who was firing the weapon to the ground. Andy, said the sergeant that was in the tower with them "went nuts," yelling, "Burnett, are you OK?" Andy said the sarge was all over him, trying to check him and see if he was all right, while he was trying to get his eye to open again and get to Mac to see if he was all right.

Finally, in frustration, Andy yelled, "Sarge, you do your job and let me do mine." So the sarge jumped on the weapon ( guess he figured, "This kids must be OK.") and Andy, always the medic, then went nuts checking on Mac (McCain) who, as it turned out, was also OK. Thus, is the saga of the second Purple Heart. So, somebody wrote it up because it he was actually wounded. And the people who do such things are planning a second presentation ceremony now.

We had a long discussion about Purple Heart Medals one afternoon with Andy's room mate who is a staff sergeant in the Marine Corps. He has four Purple Hearts. We all decided that if you get one purple heart that is OK. Not really your fault. But if you two or more they ought to Court Martial you for destruction of government property. We laughed. It is what Dad's do to keep from crying. But later, back in my room, the Lord inspired me with a poem concerning the sacrifice that those Purple Hearts represent.

I'll just close with that poem, and another inadequate expression of our gratitude for your love and support for Andy and his family in these days.
Thank you for being our circle of security.

(A tribute to all who have fallen in freedom's service.)
I saw a soldier's heart today.
I wondered at its strength.
It seemed afraid of nothing mortal,
Fearless, breadth and length.

It spoke to me of war and pain,
The toll of Freedoms Gate.
It spoke to me of sacrifice,
And a noble warrior's fate.

It spoke to me of hearth and home
Revered above all else,
And the courage to defend it
Without regard for self.

It spoke to me of fallen love,
And a hero's greatest struggles.
And it spoke to me in a language red,
For this great heart was purple.

With deep respect and appreciation for their difficult service
--- Larry Burnett



Daniel and Andy had another outing on Tuesday--to the mall where Andy reportedly dove head-long into some intense "retail therapy". :) New acquisitions included a new shirt, some sunglasses and cologne. It was a good trip out and there was marked improvement in the transitions.

Intense physical therapies continue with progress coming slowly. The work is hard but Andy's highly motivated and the ability to get out and go keeps him pushing on.

The paperwork for the driving test has been filed and it's possible that the driving test will happen within the next week.

There was some discussion of "moving" but Andy's going to continue his rehab in Tampa for the forseeable future. While both Andy and Daniel are wishing for home, the unit in Tampa is a safe strong environment and a good base for now. Morale is high and there's a great deal of comfort in the familiar. No date of departure has been set.

Daniel noted that while they both miss East Texas, the weather in Tampa is a wonderful consolation--yesterday it was a breezy 77 degrees--in Novemeber!

The boys send their appreciation for the care packages that have been sent. Not only do they enjoy the contents and the excitement that is "mail call", they have become known for their generous sharing of the contents. Goodies help make friends. :)

Daniel finally ventured out and found himself a good Nazarene church to attend as he is able and like any good Nazarene church, they've adopted Daniel quickly. The second time he attended there was a potluck meal--Daniel l-o-v-e-s church potluck meals and they have made him feel warmly welcomed.

The blood pressure issues are decreasing in intensity as Andy's body adjusts to the ups and downs. This is a very good thing.

Andy has enjoyed visits from some of his fellow soldiers--Daniel said two of his buddies drove down from jump school at Fort Benning (GA) for a visit. Andy is encouraged and enlivened by these visits. Daniel says he can see the difference that it makes in Andy's spirit when his fellow soldier stop by.

Both Andy and Daniel are very future-oriented right now--looking towards the best possible future for both of them. There are many things to do and decisions to be made. Andy's striving for as much independence as he can handle--chomping at the bit, Daniel says.

The main area for prayer is for the upcoming holidays. Understandably, holidays mean shifted and disrupted therapy schedules and lightened workloads for Army personnel. Conversely, this lightened load gives Andy more free time, which is not always a good thing. Pray for him to be strong in mind as well as to continue to build strength in his body, even with the lighter sessions.

That's all for now...


Purple Onion

Ahh, the smell of red rubber.
Warmed from the mail box.
Life is good.

Stephanie Wheeler's designs at Purple Onion have seduced my red-rubber lovin' heart. It's going to be a stamping night.

I'm just sayin'.

In other news, I talked to Daniel today so there will be an Andy Update posted shortly. I have to get dinner for my guys...


Do you believe this?

So I've heard it said that if the Christian Church (meaning the universal Christian church) were doing it's part in following the commands of the Bible and actually following Christ's mandate of caring for the poor, the down-troden, the captives and those in need, there would be no need for our government to be in the business of handling these tasks.

Do you believe this?


There's no home for the beach.

Now there's an odd statement.
There's no home for the beach.
What I mean is "there is no home for the beach in my home."

I found some silver-plated shells at Target.
They are beautiful.
I thought they would be a perfect way to bring a bit of the beach to my space.
I assembled a plate and some sand and carefully beached the shells.
I set the plate on my desk.
It got sloshed by the flow of papers and projects.
I took it to my bedroom, to see if the nightstand would make a good home.
No, definately not. Too much stuff there already.
I took the beach to the kitchen.
So now it's back on my desk.
And there are grains of sand in my Quickutz dies.
I think perhaps the beach is going to be relocated from the plate to a bowl.


Darn Commercials Makin' Me Cry

McDreamy is the voice of this State Farm COmmercial...but it's the visual that makes me cry every single time it plays.

In scrapbooking news, if you've been contemplating the Nestabilities dies, here is an excellent source. I'm playing with Labels One and Two and the Stars tonight...and they were definately worth the wait.

Little dude is learning to dribble a basketball and in the process has managed to jam up 9 of his ten fingers. Poor guy. Not to mention, he's still sick, so he's stuck inside. I'm considering building some kind of outhouse for sick children. When one gets sick, one is secured in the outhouse for the duration. I'll deliver food. And maybe dress in a hazmat suit for a hug or two. I'm so tired of short people making tall people sick.

And maybe I would pretend to be sick for my own vacay to the out house. Hmmm. This idea might have potential. We do have a big backyard, afterall.

Anyway...short wave note to my mother and sister: did you know that ooey gooey butter cake is the same thing as a Chess Cake? I seriously had no idea. Bought a mini-Chess Cake (the size of a brownie) at the bake sale at school and learned that some people call OGBC "Chess Cake". Who knew?



This is a sight I can believe in.

Daniel uploaded this to his Facebook's Andy, surfing the net at the Fisher House, where Daniel resides.


Yesterday...oh my what a day. It seriously was so bad that I considered skipping out on today completely and staying in bed.

I'll spare you the gory details and say only that a) I think it was some sort of cosmic preventative for my big plan to visit the scrapbook store and b) that it ended up with us getting a rental--which turned out to be the only remaining available vehicle at the Enterprise place--which, as luck would have it is a t-r-u-c-k. A quad-cab Mitsubishi Raider. It's bigger than any car or Jeep I've ever driven. Quite a change.

While I am not sold on it, (I will always be a Jeep girl) certain shorter people that I haul around regularly think it's absolutely the coolest ride ever. Traitors. I've tried so hard to indoctrinate them with the love of Jeeps and they betray me because this thing has a tailgate. Ugh.

Big brother is particularly convinced that "this truck is cool" and has asked several times how long it will be before he gets to drive. HA! When you are 25...maybe. Enjoy the tailgate buddy, cause that's as close as you're coming to driving anytime soon.

I need drugs.

So if you hang around my people for very long you know that they have an abnormal attraction to pipes of any kind. I can't explain it. I just live with it.

So with this in mind, you can imagine the excitement that ensued when we saw this creative use of a hay bale and pipes at little boy's school. How cool is that?

And in girly stuff news...I fell in love with this card by Kristina Werner and had to dig out my rotary piercing tool again. Good stuff.

So now you know.


More Hat Less Webb, please.

So, I had the pleasure of attending the Art-Music-Justice Tour Concert last Tuesday at our church. If you missed it, Art-Music-Justice is a production of 5 (Christian) artists--Charlie Peacock, Sara Groves, Brandon Heath, Sandra McKracken and Derek Webb.

Overall, it was fantastic...but then I am deeply biased because I really love Charlie Peacock's music. The only way to have made it better was to let Charlie P play some more. For my money the other guys could have taken the night off...but no one asked me. :) There was precious little of his music and while I get that the 5 artists were sharing the stage...I was so hoping for a little bit of "Don't Be Afraid" or "Cheer Up Church" or "The Way of Love". I got the feeling that most people thought it was Sara Groves head-lining the tour...not in my book. :)

As an aside, a few years ago my brother Andy happened to be in town on the evening of a concert of the abundant artists from our church, including Charlie Peacock (and a dozen or so more). In my exuberant description of the concert's value, I told Andy "and of course, Charlie Peacock--he's the best".

Andy says "Who is that?"
Break my heart.
I listed off some songs.
He didn't recognize any of them.
How can you not know "Big Man's Hat"?
Then I remembered, Andy is 14 years younger than me. That's a generational difference in music love, right?

So I said "He produced Switchfoot."
That he got.

Anyway, back to the present.

Tuesday was a night of good music and call to action for the church regarding human trafficking and abuse of human rights, as being tackled by International Justice Mission and several other service organizations. And then there's Derek Webb.

If you know anything at all about Derek Webb, you know he's kindof radical, maybe even off the wall at times. He has activist tendencies and seems to take it as his calling to call the church on the carpet as he is led. Usually, he does it pretty well and I have no problem with it. Pot-stirring suits some people.

But, Tuesday night he decided to speak for just a couple of minutes about the election and he pretty much said that if you look at the candidates and you don't see someone who holds up the truths that you believe in and then you look at your Bible and try to find a mandate for voting for "the lesser of two evils", you won't find it. So maybe you shouldn't vote. Sit it out. Basically, his idea is that since there is no biblical mandate to vote, Christians who were of a mind should sit this one out.

I was glad he only had a few minutes to speak. Honestly, his words made me want to throw something at him...bean him in the noggin with a Blackberry or something...but I need my I refrained. But it wasn't easy.

My heart overflows easily lately. I don't tolerate dissonance and lack of patriotism very well. Because of the freshness of the price Andy and others like him have paid for our country, I take patriotism v-e-r-y seriously and my patriotism is wound tightly inside my faith.

I am deeply biased...I freely admit that.

I think every single American should be held accountable for their participation in their own government. "Of, by and for" is not just a catchy's a mandate. The right to vote was bought with a price by our forefathers and is protected by dare we devalue that price by blowing it off like it doesn't matter? There are people around this globe who give their lives for the right to be counted in an election--to participate in the democratic processes...and we think it's OK to sit on our collective bums and choose not to vote? How is that acceptable?

So, if this question --how can a Christian participate in this election process when the candidates may or may not be believers in Christ and when they may or may not be believers in the Christian faith--was posed to you, how would you respond? Is it biblical to vote for someone who is less than an appropriate keeper of the faith? Is it better to not vote at all, than to vote for what you consider to be the lesser offensive? Is sitting out this election because the candidates do not represent the faith position very well acceptable or is it kinda like when a child stomps his foot and says "play my way or I'm taking my toy and going home"?
Yes, no, what say you?
Who are you and what have you done with this blog?
For what it's worth, here's what Chuck Colson has to say on the topic.

EDIT to ADD: Found a YouTube of Derek's comments of a similar nature, at a different concert on the tour.

"At liberty to not vote."



I called Daniel last night for a quick update on Andy and got off the phone one hour and 29 minutes later. Not quick but boy it was good to talk to him.

Andy went on the outing as planned on Wednesday. They went to a nearby mall and theater for dinner at Chic Fil A, a show and a little bit of ball cap and sunglasses shopping afterward. Andy wore regular civilian clothes (quite an ordeal to get into and out of but apparently worth the difficulty) and Daniel noted that his arms are getting visibly larger. The work is paying off!

As to be expected, there was some apprehension around this event. Not too much was verbalized about it but it was definitely there. However, after the outing, Andy told one of the other patients--M, (a buddy who didn't go on the outing) that it wasn't as hard as he thought it would be and that people didn't stare as much as he had thought they would. Daniel said that this buddy is "behind Andy" in the healing process from a similar injury and Andy's kinda prepping him for what to expect, in some ways. Apparently, M expressed some concerns about his own impending outing and Andy told him "If I'm still here when it's your turn, I'll go with you."

There is progress being made, to be sure. If you had told me three months ago that he would be this far along in this amount of time, I wouldn't have believed it. Outings. Driving. Improving motor control. Muscular development. He's working very hard and his efforts are being rewarded.


Daniel reminds me that it's hard. Every battle is uphill and requires so much more than we all imagine. Andy's determined and driven, but at a price. And the hardest part of this is that it never stops. There is no reprieve, no laying down the difficult for even a moment. The mountain is ever before him.

Today is an important day. Daniel has to attend a lunchtime meeting that will set the course for the immediate future. Please pray for the best possible outcome, for all the decisions that are being firmed up, and for the most efficient and wise steps to be laid out in front of Daniel, Andy and the rest of the team. There is much to be decided today. It's comforting to know that we already know the One who holds the future.

Daniel continually expresses a deep appreciation to all who have sent cards, letters, pictures, and gifts. Mail is encouraging to both of them. Thank you to those who are participating in that way. At the risk of bragging, it gave me immense pleasure to hear him say "NWYC people are awesome!" (I resisted the urge to say "Well, duh.")

Part of our long discussion was about handling the adversity of all this. What you and I chose to do in the face of an immense and complete adversity is the point at which we either do remarkable things or give in to being run over by life. What Andy does by getting up and out every day and by choosing to "drive on" is the best way to handle this adversity. He doesn't think too hard about what's involved or what's required of him to get where he's going. He doesn't self-indulge. He drives on.

The way that Daniel chooses to become what Andy needs, despite some minor misgivings about his own abilities, is his way of handling this mountain of adversity alongside his brother. True, he may be "just a carpenter from Texas," (his words, not mine) but he has chosen to become a remarkable advocate for his brother. He pursues all the possibilities, he is considering the future, he is bending the ears of generals, doctors, therapists and nurses about medications, treatment options, facilities and a million other topics, he is operating inside a system that is often frustrating, indecisive and slow, he is navigating loads of paperwork and administrative tasks and he is present with Andy, in the ever-changing situations being encountered in the SCI-D.

It's pretty amazing, if you ask me.

Finally, recently there have been some discussions of the medications Andy's on and this is an area for which Daniel is adamantly desiring prayer. It's a very long list of meds, some of which help and some of which may not be helping as much as they should. It's a tedious balance to be achieved and it's weighing heavily on Daniel and Andy. Pray that Andy's body will function to the best of it's ability and that his needs for chemical support will decrease steadily with time and the continued healing of his mind and body.

Thank you for continuing with us on this journey.
Peace to you,

"Imagine yourself as a living house. God comes in to rebuild that house. At first, perhaps, you understand what he is doing. He is getting the drains right and stopping the leaks in the roof, and so on: you knew that those jobs needed doing and you are not surprised. But presently, He starts knocking the house about in a way that hurts abominably and does not seem to make sense. What on Earth is He up to?

The explanation is that He is building quite a different house from the one you thought of--throwing out a new wing here, putting on an extra floor there, running up towers, making courtyards. You thought you were going to be made into a decent little cottage: but He is building a palace. He intends to come and live in it Himself."
--CS Lewis, in "Mere Christianity"


Joal's on iTunes!

Maybe it's just me...but this just seems so cool. Joal's music is now available on iTunes. As soon as I relocate the page and it's link, I'll link it up here. Until then, you can search for Joal...with an a...there are actually two weird is that?

Joal - Reds, Yellows and Green - Reds, Yellows and Green
Joal's Music

And in other news, there's a new (second) free song on his myspace page called "Both the Here and the Now" that was written especially in celebration of National Write Your Congressman's 50th Anniversary.


Must See

Today was our annual pilgrimage to the Pumpkin Farm with Friends. Coming home, Joal turned on the radio and in our tiredness we all were kind of lulled into calm by Steven Curtis Chapman singing "Yours". It's a song that we know and love.

And then suddenly there's a new verse.

I'm not a fan of bootleg concert video, but I'm making an exception this one.


Beautiful Mobility

Update on ARMY ANDY!
(Don't anybody fall in the floor in shock.)

On behalf of my brothers, I'm taking over as the information passer-alonger. Quite honestly, Daniel would like to be the one to send emails and updates but, in his words, "at the end of the day, my brain is mostly mush". So, after the wedding, I had a chance to talk to Daniel and get a very detailed report on all things Andy. I also proposed to Daniel that I would call him more regularly for the expressed purpose of getting information to pass along to family and friends via the blog and emails. Hopefully, this relieves some of the pressure on Daniel and still meets the needs of all those who care about the boys and wish to pray specifically for them.

Daniel made it back from the wedding in good shape. He drove from Tyler to Tampa so he would have his truck for mobility and he was able to stop for the night in Jackson, Miss to see his long-time friend, Brandon Weems for a night. If I have my years straight, Daniel and Brandon have been friends since about the first grade. I could be wrong, but it's been a really long time, so he was thrilled to get to see him.

Andy was really happy with the set-up of the webcast for the wedding and receptions. There were some moments that really made him laugh--especially at the reception when other guests got the chance to send him messages. David, we will all be eternally grateful for what you gave us all by making that possible and successful.

In big headlines: Andy D R O V E a modified truck today. If you know Andy, you have an inkling of what a joy this was for him. Over the moon doesn't begin to describe this accomplishment! He told Daniel this was his best day since he got shot. Mobility has always been a huge part of who Andy is and this is one of the keys to his satisfaction. The truck is modified so that it can be stopped and accelerated with a hand control. It's equipped with a motorized lift that sets him into the driver's seat and deposits his chair into the back of the truck.

Very soon Andy and Daniel will be purchasing a truck for Andy and it will be similarly modified. There's even a Driver Certification Class for him to pass. I can just hear the muttering that's going on about having to pass yet another driving test but what a day that will be!

In other news, Daniel was happy to chat tonight, as he and Andy were just returning from a MOAA dinner. The Military Officers Association of America sponsors a project called Helping Hands for wounded soldiers and their families that includes some really nice dinners and a chance for officers to acquaint and re-acquaint with soldiers who are wounded. Daniel said he and Andy sat across from a 2-star general and they talked quite a bit. It turns out that this General is the logistical command for food and supplies for the ground forces in both Iraq and Afhanistan. Daniel said Andy thanked him for the proficiency with which he got their supplies--especially the food--delivered, from half-way around the globe, no less. The MOAA meal was fantastic according to Daniel--grilled steak, all the right veggies, rolls, and brownie with Blue Bell Ice Cream! and you know how the boys feel about good food. :)

The immediate future for Andrew holds two serious milestones: an outing to a public place and then an overnight stay, hopefully a hotel with a beach view. The first--the outing will involve Andy taking his first field trip with a small entourage of other soldiers and care givers from the hospital. Daniel thinks they may be going to see a movie. This outing will be huge. Andy's sensitive (he'll probably smack me for saying this out loud) to how he's perceived and when he was a 6' 4" soldier entering the room, he was perceived differently than he will be as a man in a wheel chair entering a room. It's a major re-adjustment of his thinking. He has to come to terms with it, just like the rest of us. He will...but the first few times are extremely challenging.

The second is to be an overnight stay away from the hospital. Andy's hoping a beachfront hotel stay can be arranged. Daniel has some persuading to do if he wants to get Andy to actually visit the beach, but true to Daniel's form, he's done the research and found at least one beach that's wheelchair-accessible. We shall see how that works out.

Andy's immediate need is for a place to live when he leaves Tampa. It appears that he will be leaving Tampa on/around November 20. In the next six weeks, Andy and Daniel will be choosing a place for Andy to live for around a year, while Andy's house is being built. Pray for smoothness in the transitions and for ease in finding the temporary place as well as the right piece of land for the house. These are big hairy deals. Andy has expressed his desire to be as independant as possible but complete independence is not going to come very soon. He has also expressed the desire to have 2 things: a comfortable home and a truck he can drive himself. Everything else is icing.

Daniel (and the rest of us) are determined to see that both of these goals are achieved ASAP. Daniel has architectural skills and can design and build the house to Andy's exact specifications. Daniel is up to his ears in research about accessibility right now. At this point it looks like the plan will be to build a 2-family house, similar to a duplex but beefed up. Andy's very specific, accessible home will be on one end, complete with gym and other requirements. The second home will be on the other end for Daniel and the two will be intersected with a garage and common area. (I'm still rooting for a pool in the middle, but that might be coming later.) :)

I know this is getting long, but I do want to pass along one kinda funny story about the brothers Burnett. Yesterday Andy handed Daniel a plastic water bottle. With his right hand. (The right hand is the lesser functioning one.) Andy was being coy about his newest achievement and instead of saying "Dude, look what I can do with my right hand today" he simply said "Daniel, do you want a water?" Daniel, who was distracted, said "No, I'm fine." without looking at him.

Andy would not be deterred--he asked again "Man, have a water." Daniel declined again, much to Andy's irritation. "Well then at least look at the hand trying to give you the water." he said, finally getting his brother's attention.

I can just hear Daniel saying "Oh!" and coming up out of his chair. This new-found ability to grasp and hold onto a water bottle and direct his arm's movement is a major accomplishment. Cheers all around!

With gratefulness for your continued prayers and concern for this long journey,

Sarah, for the family.

A little bit o' scrapbooking and a whole lotta heart

I don't really like the whole owl trend that's big in scrapbooking right now but when I first laid eyes on this paper, I knew exactly what I wanted to do with it. I love layouts that come together so easily.

On a completely different note, a fellow Middle TN blogger/scrapbooker known as "Just Jane" reminded me today (by her blog) that in these economic crunch times, it's often the non-profit service organizations that suffer as people tighten up on non-essential expenses. Jane works for a local non-profit that's close to my heart, called Graceworks. My church was instrumental in starting Graceworks 13 years ago and continues to support it in many different ways.

I look at my own pantry and see so many choices--I am humbled by the grace that is so obviously apparent in my home. The thought that just down the road, Graceworks ministers are turning away hurting and hungry people in need makes me ill. In these desperate days, requests for assistance are up and giving is down. Something must be done.

Today I must do something. What about you? If not me and you, then who?

I'm sure there's a Graceworks-style ministry or food pantry in every community, and chances are great that they are suffering in similar ways. Let's do something...small or large...doesn't matter. Buy a few extra items at the grocery...or a gift card. Make a donation...forgo some extravagance in the name of someone who is in need. You will not regret it.

Thanks for the reminder Jane, and for all that you do on the front lines.


Andy, the wedding by remote and the school bus!

As happy as we are for Matt and Deb, there were some moments of sadness that Andy wasn't able to be present physically at the wedding. It was an amazing gift that, thanks to David and Sandi, Andy was able to see and hear the wedding by remote web cast! How cool is that? Quite a few people spoke to him on the phone and by video as the day progressed and Deb talked to him several times throughout the day.

Daniel is taking some cake back to him!

Speaking of Daniel--Leslie came to the wedding with him. Aren't the two of them just the cutest?

You may be wondering why there's a picture of a bus in this post. Matt and Deb both drive school buses during the school year. Yes, my sister has a CDL. :) So, as they were looking for a way to transport the wedding party from the church where the ceremony was held to the church where the reception was to be held, it seemed only natural that a school bus was the perfect answer. They made it happen and it was so cool, as you can see. They also chose to leave the reception on the school bus! It was positively adorable.
I love weddings!


Dum Dum Dah Dum

The wedding is done! Are those angels I hear singing in the background? It was such a sweet day...went off with no hitches and there was plenty of food. All my goals were met.

A quick funny story. Deb and Matt have been a thing for a really long time. My boys met Matt for the first time in person in the early summer of 2007, when he came for a visit, while Deb lived with us. Even though it wasn't official, we all had a pretty good idea that it would be a long-term deal so he was dubbed "Uncle Matt" right off the bat. He became very popular on the day that he turned two plastic 2-liter bottles and an air pump (and a ton of duct tape) into launchable water rockets!

Fast forward to Thursday--the day I left to fly to Oklahoma--I was telling the boys I would be going to see Aunt Deb marry Matt. Greyson piped up with several questions, including this jewel:

"Momma, can we still call him 'Uncle Matt'?" :)

He really is our Uncle Matt cool is that!


His Heart is Strong

On the night that I arrived at Walter Reed to meet Andy, a very capable and experienced charge nurse told me the best way to handle my first visit with Andy was to go into his room, look directly into his face, talk to him for a few moments and then she would remove me from the situation and brief me. I will forever be grateful for her wisdom and experience.

I was radically unprepared for what I saw and the truth is those few moments stretched out in front of me like days. Seeing Andy--my Army Andy--like that was beyond explanation or description. I'm still working on the words. Captain/Nurse was very wise and she rescued me from needing to be with him yet not wanting to embarrass him or redirect his staff by doing something stupid like falling in the floor in a heap in a big ol pile of sisterly mess.

She pulled me out and gave me an empty room to recompose in. And then she asked if I knew what was going on with him. I told her I'd only arrived a few moments before and had only the basic story. She began to relay his current assessments and conditions and concerns, graciously translating her medical-ease into lay-persons terms when I requested (which was quite often) and repeating what I didn't understand. Honestly, I don't remember most of what she said. It's captured in the haze of "my Army brother is down the hall in that bed--he's been shot". In those moments everything--and I do mean everything else seemed non-essential.

After several minutes of trying to listen coherently (and no doubt failing miserably), I managed to form a question. It was a moment of clarity that could only have come from the Father, because I have no idea why or how I got to that point. I asked her "what are the areas of primary concern today?"

She said: "the actual wound, the remaining frag and the possibility of fluid and infection in his lungs." She stopped, looked at his chart and said five words that rained down hope in my soul:

"His heart is very strong."

I'm sure she was speaking from a medical standpoint, pointing out that despite the trauma, his heart rate was strong and steady. And that was certainly reassuring information, in a laundry list of problems and questions that didn't contain an abundance of "good information". But this Captain/Nurse doesn't know my brother. His heart has been strong since the day he drew his first breath. Even I knew that. More than the medical, this was about the part of him that no bullet can shatter.

It was this phrase that stuck with me through the next few hours.
His heart is very strong.
His heart is very strong.
Lather, rinse, repeat.
His heart is very strong.

I needed something to hold onto and there it was. A good sign medically, no doubt, and also a statement of truth that I already knew was more true than anyone else on that wing even had a clue about. All rolled into the neat little five-word package.

His Heart is Strong.
After I came home I began writing these words down and I finished them on the plane today:

His body is hurting for the moment
His spirit has taken a beating
His mind is clouded and longing
His understanding not so certain
But he is not broken down
He cries silent forbidden tears
but let there be no doubt, his heart is strong

His arms are heavy from carrying more weight than one man should have to bear
His dreams are overshadowed with the living images that plague his mind
Sleep is healing and torturous and erratic

Confusion is his unwanted companion, his unbidden protector
He is bent but not broken
His heart is strong

His legs may never take another single step
but his journey is far from over
His fingers disobey his wishes and refuse his orders

but his eyes are blue and shining and he is here with me
His path has been altered but not abandoned
He is tall in spirit and yes, his heart is strong

He has given of himself for the country of his birth, for his family, his honor and his chosen bretheren
He has done great and mighty and horrible things
He has endured the fury of war and stared down fear without wavering
And he will again, on a different field of battle, no doubt
He soldiers on, every moment of every new day that comes
His heart is strong

He admits no defeat
He accepts no limits
He defies complacency
He denies uselessness
He refuses to question

He embraces the pain of progress and begs for more
He pushes onward and upward
He will boldly become more…more than he ever imagined
He goes to work
His heart is strong

Today his hands tremble,
tomorrow they will be grasping firmly
Today his voice is softened
tomorrow it will be resounding
Today he moves with trepidation and clumsiness
Tomorrow he will move with security and determination
Today he wonders what other people see
Tomorrow he will know that most people see more in him than ever before
Today his heart is strong
Tomorrow it will be even stronger


In a week...

In just over a week my sister will be married. Where's my tissue?


Update and a few thoughts

It happened again today. Ever notice how just when you think you have all of life squared away...boom. There's one more thing. Smackin' ya in the face. Maybe it's just me.

I was picking up a few groceries at Publix (affectionately known as "the mothership"), minding my own beeswax. And boom. It all just fell apart.

I turned the corner to the soup aisle and right there in front of me was a camo-clad, Army boot-wearing, clean-shaven, red-headed soldier from the 101st Airborne. He was studying the soup and probably gettin' a little skeeved by the woman who was studying him with a little too much intensity. Julian was behind me and he nudged me with his elbow and said "Moma, he's an Army man." in his Julian way. As if I could have possibly missed that fact.

I resisted the urge to hug said Army man stranger and buy him lunch or just some soup and be a complete idiot stranger...but not by much. I can't explain it. I am the last person on earth who would hug a stranger. Ever. I have a well-defined bubble of personal space. I would completely melt down if a stranger person asked to hug me, if the roles were reversed. What on Earth is wrong with me? I guess it's a good thing I don't live closer to Fort Cambell. It might get out of hand. I can see restraining orders and official complaints...not good. :)

I learned something new appears that Andy will be staying put in Tampa until the end of November. He's making good progress and working hard. The original plan was 6-8 weeks...and I haven't been able to track down when that changed...but apparently it has. This is good. He has a good situation there...good work being done.

Happy Wednesday.


Ten Days

So sorry for the ten day hiatus on yon blog.
Swamped with stuff here and news from Florida has slowed. Andy's not slowing...just the flow of news around him. From all accounts Andrew is kicking butt and takin' names, as usual. Dad spent a week with him last week and I will post his email following.

The good news:
I can have my personal life back now that the 52 page cruise scrapbook for NWYC is done. Joal's taking it to the company anniversary gala this weekend. For those of you who may have missed it, every year NWYC (the company Joal is part of) sends their top producers on a Caribbean Cruise. We went on the cruise in March. Every year I make a scrapbook of the cruise for the company to show off in their home office in Dallas using as many photos as I can cajole people to contribute. This year I took more than 800 photos myself!

The book should have been done months ago but I've been a bit out of sorts and getting it done was like giving birth...slow and painful. :) Next year you better believe that I will not let it drag out.

I feel like I can breath again, finally.
Now we can focus on the wedding!

Here's Daddy's note about his time with Andy:

Dear Andy's Family,
Well I'm back from Florida and it is a beautiful place. It has breath taking views down extremely long halls. It has sparkling, beautifully waxed floors. It has ceramic tile... oh, no, wait, that is the hospital. Well, come to think of it, that's about all I saw of Florida, but it really was beautiful. It was a place of healing and hope and I saw a lot of that going on.

Really, I did see a little of Tampa on two occasions. One was coming in, on the plane. Again the Hero Miles Program operated by the Fisher House Foundation made the travel super easy. As we arrived over Tampa I looked out the window of the plane to see beautiful homes lining what seemed like endless shore lines. It could easily have been one of those aerial shots for CSI Miami. (Maybe they really shoot those in Tampa.)

Daniel and Staff Sargent Main picked me up at the Airport and took me to the hospital. When I first saw Andy, he was working on some occupational therapy and he had his back to me. My first impression was, "he looks frail," so I hugged him even longer. That was the last time I got to feel sorry for him because he would have none of that.

Knowing that I was the "rookie" who was going to be filling in for Daniel (Mr. Experience, at this point) Andy gave me two very important instructions while I was there. The first went like this: "Dad, the idea is for me to not look like a dork, and you to not look like a chauffeur." The second was: "Dad, if I don't ask you to do it, don't do it." (He raised his voice a little on that last part - for emphasis I guess.)

He had to repeat that last instruction a few times over the first couple of days. It was the little things that tripped me up. They seemed so easy for me and so hard for him, so I did them automatically. Then would come that raised voice again (I let him get away with a little more along those lines than I used to). Mr. independent might ask for a bottle of water, but he didn't want it opened. He might want his razor off the table, but he didn't ask me to turn it on. And so it went until I finally got the message: "I have to learn independence again."

It is at once an inspiring and heartbreaking thing to watch. It is inspiring to observe the character of my son rising to such heights in the face if such a daunting task. It is heart breaking to watch the pain of the process, itself. Every little thing has to be consider and analyzed. The small things, the ordinary things, the automatic things - there are none of those any more. The frustration is enormous but every day he goes at it, and every day he gets better at it.

Andy is surrounded by some great people at James A. Haley. The therapist are mostly young highly trained professionals. They seem to not only know therapy, but people. Andy relates well to all of them and he looks forward to therapy every day. He seems more at ease working there than anything else he does through the day.

While he works they also laugh and joke and talk about movies and music and pick on each other. Often in the last therapy session of the day (3-4pm) there are fewer patients in the "gym" and other therapist will come over and sit around and talk and gab and laugh. But the work always goes on.

On one such occasion when Andy was on the "Tilt Table," a device that re-trains his body to control blood pressure when he is vertical, Andy decided to entertain the group. He was strapped to the table and standing at 80 degrees while his blood pressure leveled out. Somewhere in the background some music was playing, so, Mr. Andrew put his hands on his hips and started moving his head and hips as though he was dancing. He made all of our hearts dance with him. It was quite a moment.

Andy has a way of creating those moments often though. At one point we were discussing some mistake that I had made in "disability etiquette," and he was giving me a hard time. I wasn't really looking at him, I was just listening - mostly. Then I caught the end of a paragraph. He said, "I don't know how I turned out so good." I instantly cut my eyes around to his face only to meet that stupid, crooked smile of his.

And the boy never quits pushing himself. If you remember from previous Andy Updates, because his energy level was so low at first, the therapists wanted him in the fully-motorized chair so he negotiated for half time in the assisted chair (You put in a little energy, it puts out a lot of spin.). Some of you may remember that I told you that he would re-negotiate that deal before it was over. Well, it came to pass. When I got there Andy was in the assisted wheel chair. He had already negotiated that to full time but he still wasn't happy about it. He wanted a manual chair, so he warted them until they gave him one. (Really they are very accommodating to his aspirations.)

The first day or three, it exhausted him and frustrated him to no end because his hands don't have quite the strength of grip required. It was difficult to watch him return to his room at night with zero energy left for anything. After a couple of days, I had watched about all I could. I asked him to consider that maybe it took too much energy for now. Big mistake. He said, with perfect resolve, "Dad I can do this. And, I have to do this."

And he did.

By the first of the next week he had tried several different kinds of gloves that successfully improved his grip and therefore his ability to move the chair. His body began to adjust amazingly quickly to the energy need. So, by Monday Night Football time he was wheeling and dealing in the manual chair. We went to Fisher House where I stayed on the hospital grounds, propped up in front of the big screen TV in the den area, ordered pasta from Pizza Hut, and stayed up late watching the game. It was an amazing time and a highlight of the trip for me. By 11:00pm he was tired but then so was I. So, much for "can't do."

Besides personal independence, the other issue that Andy is dealing with is "perception / respect." He has a new identity that is connected to a wheel chair and he is still a little insecure about that. The idea is "How will people look at me now?" But, as usual, he is dealing with it, and he is doing a good job.

Over the last several days of this visit, I have been amazed at the escalating personal gravity that Andy has. So much so, that I have begun to see him so very differently myself. The child image and awareness that has been so long ingrained in my mind seems now to have gone away somewhere. To the point that, where once I was more likely to give Andy advice on life, now I am just as likely to ask his advice. I think he will have no trouble with the issue of respect. He just needs a little time to discover that for himself.

Well, I better close. It was a great time in Florida. I cannot wait to get back. It is a pure joy to be with Andy there. Thanks so much for your continuing prayers. They become the energy of his daily achievements in the very real terms that I described.

Our love,
Larry, Donna and Family


Newspaper Article part 1

If you want to read the first part of the newspaper article Dad wrote for the Texarkana Gazette, I have posted photos of the actual paper to my photobucket account. Maybe it's weird but I like reading newspaper articles from the newspaper. These images are huge--that's the only way to make them readable. It's a big story. If you are using dial-up, you'll probably be pretty frustrated. Sorry about that.

See them here...4 images.

Have a blessed weekend.

Thursday Night Update

Sent from Mom on Thursday evening (9.18.2008)

Dear Family,

The procedure to help Andy swallow easier and speak louder was a success. Larry saw on the screen the vocal cord on the right was working as it should. The one on the other side was arched to the left so when they flexed, they did not come together as they should. Following the injection the cord straightened up and the two cords came together.

Success but not without cost.

When Andy spoke for the first time following the procedure, he could only speak just above a whisper--much softer than before. The doctor did not tell Andy that the needle would cause temporary swelling and much less volume than he had. The swelling should wear off in a day or two, bringing back his voice and hopefully to new levels. But immediately, Andy was devastated.

Larry said that it was a real set back. Andy felt (and said) that the one thing that he had (his voice) had now gone away. He did not speak much all afternoon.

In spite of the disappointment, Andy worked hard in PT. He was asked and shown how to do something new, I think, sorry I can't remember exactly what. Whatever it was, he did it for 8-10 MINUTES! The PT was blown away. He expected 8-10 SECONDS! OORAH!

Andy transferred himself from his chair to his bed -- no assistance needed. That is a big accomplishment. Before Larry left for the evening, he and Andy had one of those special Dad/son times. Larry encouraged Andy to rethink how to keep his dreams alive. Of course, there are some he has had to let go of, but he can replace them with new ones. They talked a long time and I am sure there were a few hugs involved.

Daniel has done an excellent job for and with Andy. I am sure there have been many brother to brother talks but sometimes a guy just needs to talk with his Dad. Many of you, through financial support have allowed Larry the time off from work to actually be at the hospital to be a father/counselor to his son. I am grateful.

With my sincere appreciation for your continued interest and prayers in Andy's behalf,
---Donna B
for Larry, Sarah and Joal, Daniel, Andy, Deborah and Matthew



I have the great pleasure of being married to a man who is a writer of songs and a player of a pretty mean guitar. His newest CD arrived on Monday! Yes, we are very was a very long process.

Joal's music has been called "the thinking-man's music" and "John Mellencamp meets Jesus". :) He's a rocker with soul.

For a free song, you can visit his myspace at

I have a few free CDs at my disposal...if you'd like one, shoot me an email.


Wednesday--Go Andy!

This is a picture of Daniel that I stole from his Facebook page. We always talk about Andy and show pictures of Andy...I thought you should all meet Daniel, face-to-face. For all the ooh-rah that Andy is, Daniel is ooh-rah under a little more control. A little. Not much. He's the oldest brother--#2 in the lineup of Burnett siblings, but in many ways, he is--I think--viewed by Andy and Deb as the oldest. It's complicated. Daniel is a little quieter but alot sneakier. He has learned, over the years, how to operate under the radar of Andy. He knows Andy better than anyone and that makes him very dangerous. :) Daniel told me not too long ago that he and Andy are like "Garth and Hub" from Secondhand Lions. And they probably will be even more in 40 years. I hadn't thought of it before, but I can see it now.
Dad arrived in Tampa and will have some time with Daniel to get acclimated before Daniel leaves tomorrow for a few days at his home.

I spoke to Daniel this morning and he reported the following "good news" items:

--Andy had a swallow test yesterday and did really well with it. A swallow test is done periodically by the Speech specialists using a scope to determine how well controlled his swallowing is or isn't, which in turn is a deciding factor in what alterations can be made to his meal plan and approved foods and drinks. There's always concern that if swallowing is difficult or there is further damage in the area, that food or drink will get misdirected.

As a result of good news on the swallow test, water and other non-thickened liquids are back on the approved list. This is excellent news, especially because at least one of the medications makes his mouth very dry.

--One of the newest goals that Andy has set for himself is to go from using the power-assist chair to the regular wheel chair in the next two weeks. Daniel says this is a very reasonable goal and has no doubts that Andy can do it. Building upper body and arm strength is the key to success here...and he is continuing to do that.

--Yesterday Andy spent some time on the "tilt table". This is a PT device that stands him up--or at least starts him on the process of being upright again. The purpose is to encourage circulation, especially to his legs and to re-train his body to deal with the blood pressure issues. It's a process that will continue slowly and he will build up to success on this one.

--Daniel said that Andy started talking about some of his future plans with his friend Matt, who visited over the weekend. This is such a good thing. We can all make all the plans in the world for him, but until he embraces hoping, dreaming, doing all kinds of things in the future--until he believes again that this altered life is still worthy of all his might, it's just us making plans for him. It was a great sign to Daniel that Andy's embracing and planning his future.

Daniel said that there's not much new to report on the medical or day-to-day side of things. Andy's days are pretty routine now. He does many hours of all the different therapies every day. He works hard and never backs down from a challenge. He truly is doing the "drink water and drive on" maneuver. :)

Matt brought Andy some of his belongings--his iPod, his computer, (the shoes)...the wallet and dog tags are still in the wind. Hopefully they will come in the Army's shipment of items from Afghanistan and Italy.

Also in the belongings that Matt brought, was a copy of an x-ray showing the round when it was lodged in Andy's spine. Daniel's words were "the bullet is huge, it's as big around as Andy's spinal cord". Weirdly enough, the bullet is still perfectly shaped.

Matt told Daniel that the round "bounced" off the Kevlar helmet that Andy was wearing and then penetrated his neck. There's visible damage to the helmet...Andy's hoping that the helmet is in the gear being shipped to him. He wants to see it.

And finally, on a lighter note, Daniel said that the boys held a wheelchair time-trial in the long hallway--Matt, Daniel and Andy. :) He's still doing the math to figure out how far and how fast and who won. Unfortunately, Daniel got scolded by a rather famous nurse for not maintaining the "walking speed" rule in the hallway. He thinks Matt and/or Andy is responsible for getting him into "trouble". Daniel's considering how he can connect with one of the campus police officers in hopes of borrowing a speed gun and conducting another event in the parking lot.

(Safe travels Daniel.)


The Shoes

From Daniel...

Hi to Andy's family,

When we were at Walter Reed, I was told a story about my brother in Afghanistan.

While Andy was in Afghanistan, he ordered a pair of shoes that he really liked. They arrived in the mail but he would not wear them, because of all the dust, dirt, grit and grime that is Chowkay, he didn't want to wear them and get them dirty.

So for two months he planned to wear his shoes at home on leave.

It was told to me that he would take them out of the box and actually smell them. He told some of the guys that he liked the "new shoe smell" a lot better than the smell of the world around him. He would look at them, shine them up and imagine wearing them back home. For two months, he dreamed of wearing the new shoes, and then he was wounded.

At that point, he wasn't thinking about shoes--just surviving and getting better. A few weeks back, Andy remembered those shoes and once again they became something to hope for. After some checking we were able to find out that one of Andy's best friends had them and would be hand delivering them as soon as he could.

So more waiting--Two more months to be exact.

He had to wait four months after he bought them but on Friday of last week I put them on his feet and he got to show them off. Matt--Andy's friend--brought them all the way from Afghanistan and, like he said he would--he hand delivered them.

The most important thing Matt brought with him was not the shoes, as cool as that was. It was rather the understanding of a fellow soldier. It was a tremendous blessing to see how those two men helped each other. I am so amazed at how God works things out for our benefit.

--J. Daniel

From Sarah
And because I know some people will want to know...they are Under Armour Shoes.

Dad to Tampa

Dad is flying to Tampa today to be with Andy while Daniel goes home for a few days rest. I spoke to Daniel this morning and Andy had a very good friend and fellow Army man come for a visit this weekend and it did him so much good. Daniel said "Andy looked up and saw him and just about turned himself inside out."

I will get a copy of the first part of the Texarkana Gazette series posted later today (hopefully) and also the Vanity Fair article...

Tomorrow will be 2 months...


Andy's Address with a new room number

Slightly altered address (reflecting the new room number)

James A. Haley Veterans Hospital
13000 Bruce B. Downs Blvd
Tampa FL 33612
SCI-D47-2 James Andrew Burnett

Daniel assures me that if you have sent something recently with the other room number on it, do not worry. It will get to Andy. The SCI-D is not very big...and everyone knows Andy.


Texarkana Gazette

Today's edition of the Texarkana Gazette holds the first installment of a ten-part story that was originally written by my father chronicling Andy's journey over the last two months. You can only read it online if you are a subscriber to the if you are, check it out. Know that I am jealous of you. :)


September Photo

Drive On

Sorry it has been so long getting back to you. Things have been a little bit crazy. Crazy good and crazy bad.

Bad first. Blood pressure issues are a real pain. Both of us are trying to learn what he can handle and when. This is not an easy thing and when you mess up, the price you pay is rather unnerving. But, we drive on.

Pushing papers is not my thing but I'm doing it for my brother. Your prayers that things will get to who they need to when they need to would be a wonderful help. My focus is shifting from rehab to finance--I want to be good at it for my brother. He is earning it!

He is still adjusting and because of that some days are just lousy. But he pushes through and keeps going. Paratroopers have a saying, "Drink water--drive on." That's what he's doing. Actually it's thickened Gatorade, but you get the idea.

The good stuff. He's still adjusting and because of that some days are really good. At the end of last week we were in on of the therapies and he looked up at me and said "my right thumb is moving". Bear in mind that he can't even make a fist with his right hand so I thought he meant it was twitching because of the spasticity. He said, "No look, I'm moving it." I looked and sure enough, it was moving ever so slightly. We debated for a second and decided that I would hold his other fingers and wrist, still just to make sure. It was, in fact, his thumb, moving.

As I was about to climb up on the table and yell out in triumph, Andy was kind enough to tell me that might not be such a good idea. I was still happy!

The other big thing has been the transfer from bed to chair and from chair to bed. When you have a one hundred and fifty pound rag doll, it can be a little difficult. OK that's an understatement. It involves a track-mounted, overhead lift system with a large sling that goes under his back, back side and legs plus one or two people to make sure that nothing is tangled, hooked, snagged or pinched.

Not easy at all.
Or at least that's how it used to be.

Now he has a board that he lays between the bed and the chair and with help, he can slide right in. It is still very hard but he has more direction and control over his own care. This is huge!

No longer does he have to be hoisted by strangers but rather they can help balance him as he sits up and slides around. It is a big confidence thing.

I'm also attaching a picture of Andy for those of you who don't actually know what he looks like these days. By the way, its not a good idea to take a picture of a paratrooper with out asking permission! Thank you all.

God bless,