Saturday, November 17, 2018

15 | "Silver" Anniversary

Today marks the 15th anniversary of my car accident, which means I've been paralyzed for 15 years. 15 years is a long time! I'm calling this my "silver" anniversary.

A couple years ago I read an article in Meridian (an online magazine) with an analogy comparing the trials and sufferings of mortal life to the process a silversmith uses to rid silver of impurities. This excerpt is kind of long, but worth the read:

In Malachi 3:3 we are told that the Lord “shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver.” There are some great lessons here for us. For centuries, silversmiths would put broken, crushed ore into a fiery furnace and turn up the heat to melt off the impurities. Are we not broken, rough, and filled with impurities?

Silver experts knew which impurities would melt off at which temperatures. And the refiner had to be vigilant and watch carefully, because if the temperature got too high, the silver could be ruined. This is exactly how the Lord watches over us, with constant attention to the details of our lives. He knows every pain, every sorrow you feel—in fact, he took those upon himself in atoning for us. He also will not allow us to be tried beyond our ability to withstand it, if we turn to him for help.

But one of the most beautiful analogies in this process is how a silversmith knows when the silver is done—he sees his reflection in it. And Christ will see his reflection in us when all our impurities have melted away, and we have truly given our hearts to him.

When harsh challenges arise, we still have a choice. We can be as a wisp of paper thrown into a fire and quickly consumed, or we can choose to be silver, and allow that trial to refine us, and make us into something better than we were. We can sink into despair and self-pity, adopting the victim role, or we can be fearless and faithful, determined to triumph.

James E. Faust once said, “Here then is a great truth. In the pain, the agony, and the heroic endeavors of life, we pass through a refiner’s fire, and the insignificant and the unimportant in our lives can melt away like dross and make our faith bright, intact, and strong. In this way the divine image can be mirrored from the soul. It is part of the purging toll exacted of some to become acquainted with God. In the agonies of life, we seem to listen better to the faint, godly whisperings of the Divine Shepherd.”

If you are struggling with a problem (or several) right now, ask yourself: Am I going to be paper or silver? We get to choose.

So often people look at their less-than-ideal, challenging, or unfair circumstances and they just get bitter and angry, and fail to use it as a springboard for growth. Anger and bitterness are normal reactions, of course, and they are justified for a time, but after a while you just have to accept things and make lemonade out of the lemons life has dealt you. With the Lord's help, I have allowed the challenges I've experienced as a result of becoming paralyzed to shape me into a better person than I was in my pre-paralysis life. There's truly nothing like adversity to expedite personal growth! For this reason, I'm so grateful for my accident and all it has helped me become. I've always maintained that the worst thing to happen to me physically, was the best thing to happen to me spiritually and emotionally, and I'd never change things if it meant forgoing all of that growth.

So the next time something bad happens to you, just consider it your own time to become a little less like paper, and a little more like silver. 

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Christian Turns THREE!

My adorable nephew, Christian, turned three on September 7. It's hard to believe that this little guy is already three! We got together with Chandra's family for dinner on September 9 to celebrate Christian's birthday. Chandra made some delicious bacon-wrapped pulled pork for dinner, with homemade coleslaw, and it was soooo good!

I tried to get a picture of the whole family, but Christian didn't want to cooperate. Anytime he's outside, he just wants to run around and play! The second picture isn't too bad; Christian at least has a smile on his face!
After dinner, Christian opened his birthday presents from us: 
Christian wasted no time putting together his new puzzle. It had 48 pieces, so he needed a little help from Grammy:
Cute picture of Ruby and her dad:
Christian was very specific with what he wanted for his birthday treat: carrot cake cupcakes with red frosting. Simple enough, and easy to do! He wouldn't smile for the picture… he was too busy preparing to blow out the candle!
Chandra did manage to get some great shots of Christian recently. Here are some of my favorites:
Christian is also a great big brother. I hope he and Ruby always have a close relationship.
We love Christian so much, and he's such a great boy. I'm personally so glad that Chandra and her husband live close to me, and that I get to see their kids several days a week. Here's to another great year of learning and growing!

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Jared for President!

Several weeks ago, my sister Kristin told me that her son, Jared (who is in fifth grade), wanted to run for student council president. I was a little surprised, but I thought it was great. Each student that was running for a student council office was allowed to make up to six posters to hang around the school for their "campaign." Jared, Kristin, and my brother-in-law, Scott, put their heads together to come up with a good idea for Jared's posters. Jared loves video games (as a lot of young kids do), so they decided to make Jared's posters look like Nintendo Switch devices. Making these posters was a family affair, and everyone in the family did something to help. When Kristin sent me pictures of the finished product, I thought they turned out SO well, and I was really impressed with them.
Jared also had to write an essay, and also a speech that he would deliver to the student body. He worked hard to write a good speech, and he practiced it at home many times, so that he could work on his delivery. (Nothing is worse than listening to and seeing someone give a talk or a speech, and they mumble, speak too quickly, fail to enunciate their words, or forgot to make eye contact with their audience!) My sister went to the school to listen to the kids' speeches, and she said that Jared did great!
Sadly, Jared was not elected to be the student council president. :-( He was pretty crushed when he found out, but he was a good sport about it. I know he would've done a great job, and I was just so proud of him for giving it a shot, and working so hard. Jare is a great kid, and I'd vote for him any day!

Thursday, September 13, 2018

Ruby Recap: 4-6 Months

As of September 7, this little jewel is now six months old. It's always surprising how quickly the time goes. This first picture of Ruby was my absolute favorite!
Ruby with Grammy, and on her first Fourth of July:
She also had her first dip in a pool, and looks so pretty in pink:
Such a cute little smile, and she loves her play mat and swing:
She also loves baths... and kisses from Grammy:
Pictures of Ruby with her dad, mom, and favorite aunt (within 100 miles), as well as pictures with her favorite brother:
Here she is a few days before she officially hit the six-month mark, and she's wearing the new dress I bought her (it also came with light pink cardigan, but it was too warm for it). She looks precious in it, as always:
We love Ruby so much, and are so grateful for her!!

Monday, September 3, 2018

Invisalign

Here's a post about my experience with braces and Invisalign. I couldn't wait to get braces when I was in middle school (I had them in 7th and 8th grade). Although I was young, I felt self-conscious about having crooked teeth, and I always made a conscious effort to to smile without showing my teeth. After getting my braces off, I wore my retainer for several years, but then I got lazy and I quit wearing it... BIG mistake! You would think that I would've been more diligent with wearing my retainer after I finally had the straight teeth I'd wanted for so many years, but I was ignorant to the fact that teeth will move. My teeth did just that, and my retainer stopped fitting. That's being a dumb kid for you. ;-)

Fast-forward a decade. When I was in my mid-20's, I really wanted to get my teeth fixed, because they weren't as straight as I wanted them to be, and as I knew they could be. However, as much as I wanted perfectly straight teeth again, did I really want to go through hassle and expense of getting braces again? I wasn't sure I wanted to get traditional braces again, but I did like the idea of Invisalign, which are a series of clear aligners/retainers that you wear all the time (except when eating and brushing). I wouldn't go to just any orthodontist, either. Being very disabled and in a wheelchair, I knew that would make things trickier. Not impossible, but I just envisioned things being awkward, so I only felt comfortable going to someone I already knew.

Around 2005, I met Rich McDermott at church after he and his family moved to the area. He was a brand-new orthodontist and had just gotten his first job after finishing his schooling/training. Rich was always so kind to me whenever he would see me, even if it had been a few years since our last encounter. Around 2015, Rich opened his own practice about 10-12 minutes from where I live. I thought, "Okay, I'm comfortable with Rich, his office is nice and close, so if I can get Mom on board, I'm going to do this!" (I already have so many doctors that I have to see on a routine basis, and I didn't know how my mom would feel about adding more appointments to our life, but she fully supported me in pursuing this.) I went to a consultation at Rich's office in April 2016 and I did all of the preliminary paperwork, pictures, etc, including getting digital impressions of my teeth. I was told that the whole process would take about 18–24 months.

I started wearing my aligners on June 1, 2016. I went in to the office for an appointment every 6 to 8 weeks, and Rich would check my progress, and I would receive the next three or four sets of aligners. I was very compliant with wearing my aligners, and I wore them religiously. Because of this, I was able to expedite the process by switching to the next set of aligners after only 10 days (and then seven days), instead wearing each set for 14 days. I went through 52 pairs of aligners, each one straightening my teeth a little more. I finished with my last pair in January 2018. Then I got my retainer, which I had to wear day and night for six months. Now I just wear it at night, and you better believe I'm going to keep wearing it this time around... FOR LIFE!! For anyone out there with braces (or who have children in braces), make sure you/they don't slack on your retainer wearing!

I'm really happy with my results, and I'm so glad I did it. Dr. McDermott's office was close, bright and cheery, and his staff was extremely friendly. I never had to wait more than a couple minutes for my appointment, either, which I really appreciated.

Here are my official before and after photos of my teeth: 
As I said, my teeth before Invisalign weren't all that bad, especially compared to some people's, but my teeth had definitely moved over the years.
Here are two pictures from before Invisalign, and two pictures after: 
Rich and me:

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