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.