everlasting impressions

This is my life and these are the things that have made an everlasting impression on me.

Choose Your Own Adventure November 22, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurahuisinga @ 5:36 am

Choose Your Own Adventure.

Did you ever read those books as a kid?  You know the ones that allow you to actively participate in the story and help the plot unfold by making key decisions at critical points?  They were called “Choose Your Own Adventure” and they are still among the favorites of my own kids today.  It’s always so exciting to be in control.  You get to decide important things like, “if you choose to follow the mysterious tracks into the dark woods, turn to page 45”, “if you choose to return to the safety of your cabin to call for help, turn to page 62”.  There are several crossroads the characters face and their fate is in your hands.

I think life is like a choose your own adventure story.  At least mine seems to be!  If you would have asked me 10 years ago what do you think your life story will look like?  I would have told you that my husband would be in some type of formal ministry, probably as a pastor until the day he retires.  We would have 4 children, a comfortable home with a whirlpool in the back yard and a cute dog which never has an accident on the carpet.  Circle back to 2007.  After having 3 successful pregnancies and beautiful children to show for it I started having miscarriages.  I was diagnosed with a health condition and the dream of having 4 children became unrealistic for us.

Jump ahead to 2009.  After serving in youth ministry for 8+ years at 2 different churches a serious evaluation of our family and our current stress levels led us to a decision which would take us out of full-time ministry at least for the time being.  Time to choose our own adventure.  What would we do at this crossroads?  If you would again ask me what my life story would like at the end of 2009 and even up until the summer of 2012 I would have said my husband is going to be a police officer and we are going to live somewhere exciting or beautiful, the big city or near a lake.  He will be great at what he does and we will find the best church to be involved in and life will be perfect again.  Our crossroads in 2009 had taken us back to Minnesota and my husband had decided on a career in law enforcement.  He finished school in 2011 and was a top candidate for several positions.  We were now pursuing the adventure of police work.

At the end of the summer of 2012 William was involved in the accident (see previous post).  After walking through this painful, life changing ordeal, we made the decision that Nick would no longer pursue a career in law enforcement.  He said that he has a great job right now that is relatively stress free and allows him the flexibility to be there for us when we need him.  Law enforcement would be the exact opposite.  Well, yesterday we got a call.  It was the chief of police in a dept. Nick would love to work in.  He questioned, “Would you consider moving on in the process with us?  We are very interested in you.”  This offer would likely lead to a position within the next 3 months and I would find myself married to a police officer.  Crossroads.  Choose your own adventure.  Turn to page 108 if you choose to pursue a career in law enforcement.  Turn to page 97 if you stick to your original decision and stay put.

One of the best parts of the Choose Your Own Adventure books is following a decision out to the end but then going back and trying out a different ending next time.  When we reach the last page of a scenario my kids eagerly plead, “Now let’s go back to this part and choose to do the other thing!”  So many options, so many endings.  Right about now I am really wishing we had this wonderful feature in real life.  We have made so many decisions, had so many experiences, been forced in so many directions and willfully chosen others.  I wonder what my life would have looked like if we had stayed in ministry and we were able to have more children?  I wonder what my life would look like if Nick were a police officer?  How does it look if we just keep doing what we are doing right now?  I want to flip the pages and see what ending I like best and then follow that path.  If only it were that easy.  But if it really were that easy, if we could see the outcome of every choice, would it really be an adventure?

The very definition of adventure is an exciting or very unusual experience, participation in exciting undertakings, a bold usually risky undertaking.  On the complete opposite end of the spectrum the antonym of adventure is literally listed as “a sure thing.”  Hmm, what is more appealing?  Many days I think I would opt for the sure thing.  Especially as a woman, I really like my security.  But if every day was a sure thing not only would life get pretty boring but what would become of me as a person?  If I was never blindsided by life or forced to make a tough choice or do something amazing that terrifies me, what would my relationship with God be like?  It has been the “adventurous” things in my life that have caused me to run to God and trust Him like no other.  It has been the darkest places where God has met me the deepest.  He has shown himself faithful and good over and over again.  Is it easy?  Absolutely not.  Do I wish for boring some days?  Absolutely.  But would I change anything?  Definitely not.  I don’t need to have control over the entire story.  I don’t need to have the perfect outcome.  I will make decisions at each crossroad, with guidance from the Lord of course, but sometimes you just have to make a choice.  Let life happen, don’t be afraid of the adventure.  For in all reality, life is not supposed to be a sure thing.  The only sure thing there is, is God and his unconditional love for me.  And really that is all I need.

So back to our adventure.  Nick promptly turned down the chief’s offer.  I am proud of him for putting his family first.  I couldn’t ask for a better man.  We continue on our current path.  What exciting things does our future hold?  I can’t wait to find out.  But for today I will settle on turkey and pumpkin pie and mashed potatoes and cranberry sauce.  I have so much to be thankful for and I know you do too.  Enjoy your Thanksgiving Day and don’t forget to embrace your own adventure.


A Wrinkle in Life October 27, 2012

Filed under: Uncategorized — laurahuisinga @ 12:35 pm

My very first post. Not sure who is going to read this maybe some friends, maybe some family and maybe some strangers. I don’t know how this all works. But I do know that I love writing and sharing and being vulnerable and connecting with people. Hopefully you can connect with me and my words and they will encourage you in some way. Instead of introducing you to me and my life with a list of facts that reads like a textbook I am choosing to jump right in with the sharing and you will glean the details as we go.

So, a Wrinkle in Life? Have you ever had those life events that you never expected? Something you never saw coming, couldn’t plan for, or really in your worst nightmare wouldn’t ever want to live through? I have had a few of those, but on Saturday, August 11th, 2012 our family experienced the most significant wrinkle ever to our already harried life. It was an average summer day, not too hot and a little overcast. We were spending the weekend at a family member’s cabin. But it was just us, our little family of five. Nick and I had taken the kids out for a tubing spin on the lake earlier that morning. Olivia, age 10, going on 20, rode the longest as we casually cruised around, smiling and waving like the glamour girl she is. William, age 8, daring and adventurous surprised even us by making a frantic leap from the tube as we sped along, just so he could “see what it felt like” (in his own words). Ian, age 6, still struggling to grow up as the baby of the family, but always wanting to have the big kid privileges, was a little hesitant. In fact at one point he laid down in the bottom of the boat and said he was so nervous, he just wanted to get back to shore, he thought someone was going to get hurt. We reassured him we were safe and this was supposed to be fun. If only we knew the foreshadowing taking place. We took a break and ate lunch. That’s when the boys went to the shed and discovered the kneeboard. They were content to pull each other around on it in waist deep water, taking turns giving each other rides. It wasn’t long though before the adventurous and determined spirit William has took over and he pestered us to let him give it a shot behind the boat. We got everything set up and he was ready to go. It was this little and simple event that changed our lives forever.

We live in Minnesota, the land of 10,000 lakes, everyone boats and tubes and enjoys time on the lake. Who knew enjoying this ordinary act would turn our lives upside down in one moment? But that’s all it took, one moment. In one moment William was run over by a fellow boater on the lake and as I watched it happen the fleeting thought of “God, take me now too, because I can’t lose my baby” ran through my mind. I was sure he was dead. You can’t get hit like that and survive. I will spare you the horror of the details, but my husband being the hero he is dove in, swam to him, used his knowledge as a certified first responder to save him. As we held him on shore for what seemed like an eternity, blood everywhere, we sang Jesus Loves Me between sobs and desperate prayers. I remember at one point they said the ambulance was 7 min. away. I gasped, we had already been there for so long, why weren’t they closer yet? Thank goodness there was an RN, an EMT, and other helpful people who just happened to be enjoying their day at the lake. They were so great, but where was the ambulance?? Then I heard mumbles from some in the crowd about the helicopter landing in the field across the road. Helicopter? My mind was trying to make sense of it. They are airlifting him? Where? Why? And most importantly can I go with??

The helicopter did land and we were told no, we could not go with. I understand, there isn’t room, they can’t have a frantic parent on board who may require attention themselves. So, no, they would have to take him alone and we would have to drive, a whole two hours to Minneapolis not knowing what we would find when we got there. I ran to the helicopter and kissed William on the head. They loaded him up and that was the first time I looked around. There were people everywhere truly probably hundreds. There was a party at a home across the road and there was a significant number of people at that one home alone, then people had come from far and wide around the lake. I realized here I was in my swimsuit with a bloody towel wrapped around me and everyone just staring at me. I quickly ran back to the cabin and didn’t know what to do with myself. I couldn’t breathe, my throat felt thick, my mouth dry. I collapsed on the ground and wouldn’t have gotten up except for my husband going into command mode and telling me to get into the car. But what about the other two, Olivia and Ian. They had witnessed the whole thing. Were they okay? The neighbors had taken them and distracted them as much as possible with pop and snacks and talk about our pet cat. Livi was visibly shaken and Ian was reacting with comedy, acting silly and making loud statements. I knew they couldn’t go with us right then, but I certainly didn’t want to leave them. Nick assured me my parents were almost there and they would get them and be on the road behind us in minutes.

Nick and I drove off and thus began the longest two hours of my life. I was desperate to get there, desperate to know, is he alive? Is he brain-dead? What are the extent of his injuries? What do you do when you don’t have those answers? I am forced down a path I have never traveled and not only that but I have no coping mechanism for a crisis of this magnitude. Life throws lots of difficult things at you but you often have a general frame of reference or an idea of how you will get through something. But this? The only thing we could do was cry out to God, which was the most and least at the same time. I knew it was the only thing we could do, but yet I wanted something tangible, like a drug to knock me out so I could wake up only when everything was okay. I didn’t think I could do it. We ran through a whole spectrum of emotions fear, devastation, despair, hope, anger, depression, hope.

Almost immediately I had thought to call my sister who lives in Minneapolis. I knew she would get to the hospital and be there when I couldn’t. William has said before that she is like another mom to him, so I knew if he was conscious at any point then she would at least be the soothing presence that I could not. We continued to drive at the fastest, safest speed possible, all the while wondering, but trying to trust God. It was shortly before we got to the cities that I looked over at Nick. I couldn’t believe this was actually happening. But somewhere deep inside I knew. I am not really sure how to describe this. A knowing. Knowing what? I’m not sure. I didn’t know that William would be okay. I didn’t know that we would be okay. It was like I just knew God was there and in control, I guess? It was like a peace came over me, but not really a peace, like it’s okay. But an overall peace that whatever happens in this life is what happens, it was like I just let go. I looked at Nick and just said, “I don’t know what we will find with William. I am so scared. I can’t imagine losing him. But I DO KNOW God is so good. He loves us. And I trust Him. I trust Him and He knows.” Within minutes I got a call from my sister at the hospital and received the first of many bits of significant news, the initial scan did not show anything alarming with the brain. My first sigh of relief. When we arrived at the hospital we were told about his extensive injuries. He had suffered severe facial trauma with broken bones all over in his face and a cracked rib. He was deformed with bones pushed way out to one side, his face looking like it was smashed flat as a pancake. He didn’t look like my little boy at all. He was going to be needing reconstructive plastic surgery. But he was alive and from what they could tell at that point his brain was okay.

I could write a book just detailing the 11 days in ICU and what we experienced, how we felt, how our ideas on life evolved, attitudes changed…the life change that can occur in 11 days is astounding. Normally you have an experience and God will use it to shape you and work on you and it is gradual. You know the whole, it takes years of pressure on the coal to form a diamond. Well how about accelerating the process by a hundred, going through a hyperdrive of formation. It is a cool thing because you are growing and changing for the better. But just as you experience physical pain when your body grows too fast, you experience the same growing pains when your mentalities and emotions are forced to grow so quickly. It has been 77 days since the accident. William is still recovering and we have more surgeries looming. This is still shaping our lives in significant ways and I don’t doubt it will for many years to come. We have been relegated to referring to life as “before the accident” and “after the accident”. However, any definition in our lives due to “the accident” has also brought about positive changes in our home and family. This is what I am excited to share with you. How I’ve dealt with life, the good, the bad, and the ugly and the changes these things have sparked. I have taken a lot of time in this post to describe just the details of this one scenario of my life and I have barely touched the tip of the iceberg in regards to it. This is the most recent and significant event in my life right now but I also have many, many more “scenarios”. Just wait and see. Or maybe I’ve grossly overestimated the “excitement” life has presented me. Either way I will be sharing it here in tidbits and you can join me if you like.

I want to leave you with this thought, when life throws you a wrinkle don’t automatically try to smooth it out. Often you need to let go and wait and let God come in and do the “ironing”. It’s only when He does the ironing that we come out looking crisp and new.

PS-I would love to hear from you especially about your own wrinkles in life.