I always thought there were certain guidelines, rules that if you followed them life would pan out. I didn’t grow up going to church or knowing that Jesus was my Savior. But when I did accept Him as Christ and began attending church, there was an underlining expectation that God would hand over the keys and my life would be one blessing after another.

“For Better or For Worse,” isn’t just for the institution of marriage. Kin becomes a part of the vows you make on your wedding day. So when tragedy stepped in, I held even tighter to God, because I’ve seen families fall apart.

Let me take a minute to tell you there wasn’t some sort of bad vibe leading up to our daughter Hannah’s TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury) it was a regular day in our routine. The whole thing happened like a flick of a light switch. It was mid-summer when my husband was called to pick up Hannah from cheer practice early. Danny called me when he and Hannah were in the car and we decided to meet at the hospital.

When I saw Hannah one pupil was large while the other pupil was screwed in tight. When the ER doctor asked her what year it was, Hannah believed it was 1998 the year she was born instead of 2013. At first the doctors talked like this was common among athletic teens with a concussion, as if there’s no need for concern. My only requirement from the ER doctor was to have Hannah follow up with our family doctor at the end of the week. The ER doctor anticipated she would be fine in a few days.

But something went wrong during those few days, a short in the wiring of her brain, and everything became erased from her memory. All of it. Including us. For half a year, every single day I had to reintroduce myself to my own flesh and blood as her mom.

We watched home movies and turned pages of photo albums to help her recollect our family history. I realize now this probably didn’t help in her recovery. All it did was make her question who she was.

Our daily lives became crammed with reminders of to do’s from nuclear scans, handfuls of supplements that would make anyone’s stomach turn green. Hyperbaric chambers, plus an unapproved stimulation therapy that was used for scientific studies in hopes to heal her brain were all a part of Hannah’s daily medical treatment.

…until she said enough.

She just wanted to be a normal teenager.

How do you help a girl fit in when there’s not a single recollection of God, family or a holiday past to forge a foundation on?

There was nothing harder or more profound than Hannah telling us that the old Hannah had to die so that she could move forward. Traumatic brain injuries can change a person’s personality and Hannah wasn’t who she used to be. We had to stop saying, “There’s the old Hannah.”

But here’s the crazier part. Two years later, Hannah and I were in a car accident, hit from behind by a drunk driver. He hit us so hard that he pushed my 5,000+ lb. suburban through the intersection shearing off the light signal and rolled us down a hill. Hannah sustained another head injury. This time we completely removed Hannah from the private high school she attended and placed her in a hospital home care program through the public school system.

Over these almost four years I’ve had to hunker down, and its hardened my insides quite a bit. I want to shake off all the resentment and hurt because I’m left hollow inside. Like I’ve lost a part of myself along the way.

God pulls me to the edge of something new, something that He wants to do that will change not only me but also our family from the inside out. Because as a family were in this life together “For better or for worse.”

I don’t have all the answers there’s days when I find it hard to see beyond the heavily rutted path we’ve been walking. And yet when I look at life from the side of gratitude I can see how God has helped me though what I thought would have wiped me out.

People tend to say, “I cannot find joy within myself, that God is the supplier of it.” I have found that to be true, but the heart has to search for His joy and not allow the suffering to take center stage. Like a child holding up their cup to be filled with juice, God does the same. He fills us full to the brim with His goodness.

I have found joy in my weakest moments. In the care giving that has left me fatigued and broken I have found laughter. My innards have found the simplicity of living a God-life in the now instead of wishing for what’s around the corner. Joy is a matter of my heart not the quality of my life.

Today I’m sharing this part of our story over at Chronic Joy Ministries https://chronic-joy.org/ If you are a care-giver or someone who needs help, I’d love for you to click on their link.