Tuesday, January 29, 2008


Today is a really good Day...We got the word today-we have been approved to receive a disability settlement from TSGLI (Traumatic Service members Group Life Insurance). We are elated and beyond grateful on so many levels. I was in tears as I was speaking to the person who brought such joyous news to our family. I just kept saying "you have no idea what this means to us and thank you". Rodney was in tears when I told him. We are both stunned but in a good way :) We have known for a couple weeks that Rodney's case was being looked at again due to guideline changes. We were optimistic but not overly confident due to our many experiences with disappointment with the system along this journey. We had been turned down in for TSGLI in Dec. 2006 because Rod's wounds didn't qualify.We were shocked then as well. It took us many months of calling, contacting and contemplation to finally decide not to appeal our claim. We obviously didn't have the fight left in us, so we moved on to survive. Here we are 13 months later and we have been approved!!!! Praise to the Lord!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! It is only through him that this could have happened!!!!!!
Now we can feel more financially secure and worry less about finances and concentrate on living and healing, not just surviving. Some of our dreams can possibly come true-the dreams we held onto so tight during those months when Rodney was deployed. We might be able to buy a house,quit wasting money on rent,get out of this gloomy duplex-into a good neighborhood with more children for Connor to play with. We are even considering moving out of town-close enough that Carley can still attend High School locally but get Connor out of the middle school atmosphere in 5th grade,(it is like a pseudo high School). There is faith, hope and possibility where there was defeat, hopelessness and anger. Thank you to everyone for prayers for our family-Prayer does works!Continued Prayers that this really does happen (sorry I have been burnt too many times) and we will have the $ in the bank in a week and we will make smart financial decisions.(pay off bills, be charitable,get a different place to live,help Taylor with college, send me back to school to re-train for a career, pay back relatives who have kept us afloat,consider Rodney's Harley Davidson??? and maybe even a vacation to DC.(I would love to be able to visit other wounded warriors at Walter Reed and meet some of the individuals instrumental in helping us along the way)Many things to take into the equation and consider. I am most thankful not just because of $-it is because I know some part of the system for wounded warriors does work.

God Bless & Keep Imagining!

Sunday, January 27, 2008

A picture is worth a million words...and smiles

I have spent the better part of this last week going through old pictures (pre-digital).I have 2 major slide show projects to get done-one for my son's cub scout den and the other for my nephew who is a senior. I have a true passion for doing slide shows-it is my art and it is fun. I even have a company name-Priceless Memories Productions. So looking thru the pics.. It is a great deal of work (probably 15 years worth of them in a semi-organized state) but it is also a walk down a path where I get to watch my kids grow up all over again and the memories come flooding back. I love photos-they are my most prized possessions- I don't want to forget. The thing I find interesting is that when I look at a picture I see more than what is occurring in the pic but what was going on in our lives-I realize I probably thought that particular "time" period was difficult but I can't see it in the faces of those in the picture-I see happiness, laughter and silliness. I see a family living life. I see me with some really bad hair-do's, actually I usually end up thinking wow I looked OK there (unless you are talking back in the 80's then there was some scary hair)-So I leave you with this-take lots and lots of photos-you will never regret it. I hope you enjoy some less recent pics of my kiddos and even one of me and my sis circa before age 40 :)
Keep Imagining!

Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Dreaming & Hibernating in Kansas

Well we all know my feelings on cold weather and all that comes with it- I understand bears more each day and I too have put on my winter "fat"-so do you think if I go to sleep for a couple months (hibernate) I will wake up and have lost 40 lbs? Just call it the slumber diet! Really though we have had more snow this winter than in recent years and I refuse to watch the weather anymore-too depressing!! Why do I dislike cold, snow and ice?? Dirty cars, dirty snow,scraping windows, wearing coats,scarfs,hats,gloves, and having the weather dictate if I can venture out some where-to name a few! My sister and brother in law are considering moving to Colorado in the next couple years. My question was why would you go someplace where it is more frigid and there is so much snow! They aren't winter sport enthusiast or anything. (they are taking there first ski trip in March). It is their dream and I do appreciate that. Don't get me wrong have been to Colorado in both winter and summer-it is breath-taking.It is also one of the cleanest places I have ever been to. I love the community of Boulder-it is something really special and a great place to visit. Mork even liked it! So I would go visit my sister whom I love dearly but she can come visit me on the beach if I have my way-yes the beach and warm temps are the way for me. I even said when asked many years ago-I was a senior in H.S.-what I wanted to do with my life-I said be a BEACH BUM Really! :)I don't think I will ever live as a beach bum, but on can dream!:> So off to my warm hibernation chamber-snug and cozy, I even have someone sleeping next to me who snores like I think a bear would-ha! I hope you all sleep well and are staying warm. Enjoy the weather where ever you are the best way you can. Keep Imagining!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

A Song with a Lesson For Me

I came across this Mercy Me video on one of the caringbridge sites I visit often. This particular site is for a beautiful little girl who had cancer but is now free in Heaven. She is just one of so many of the little angels who weren't long enough on earth. The family she left behind obviously misses her beyond words, but without her they must go on. I have often wondered over the last few years how does one not get mad a God when they lose a child or some other horrific thing that happens in their life. It is something that I have spent a lot of time wondering and questioned my own faith during our long journey. Everyone has trials and some burdens are heavier. I just wish the lesson wasn't so difficult for me to learn but I will keep trying-I have to-because without faith for me there isn't any hope! I admire and am inspired by all the families that exhibit such faith during the toughest of situations.Recently I came across a blog of a man who obviously walks with Jesus every step of the way and his faith is unwavering-he and his wife just had a baby girl, which is a miracle and joyous event. The event of a lifetime for them came with some complications. The baby had to be delivered at 24 weeks because of the mothers deteriorating health due to cystic fibrous. He blogs constantly about his girls and not as a victim but as a man of faith, focusing on the good. He has touched hundreds with his blog. Please keep Nathan, Tricia and baby Gwyneth in your thoughts and prayers as so many are storming heaven with prayers right now.
This song really made me think of them during their time of need- not because I feel sorry for them but that they inspire me with their strength and living their lives for Jesus! I have listed the website on the right-side of my blog or you can click on Nathan-please visit! So here is the song with the lesson- "Bring the Rain"... Keep Imagining!

Sunday, January 13, 2008

In a Holding Pattern and Feeling Defeated

I haven't wrote much about our life now and how we are dealing with being a family with a "wounded solider"? Where are we in the process? How does this still affect us on a daily basis? What could still happen? Have we been forgotten and do we have all the information and resources available? Is the system for wounded warriors working any better? These are all such emotional topics for me to tackle especially when I don't even know what questions to ask anymore nor who even to ask.
What I do know (or think I know?)---Rodney's situation is this: he is still on Medhold-which means he is still being treated by doctor's for his injuries or symptoms due to the mortar attack, as of today we are at least looking until June 2008. There are many issues still unresolved. He hasn't been released nor has he been rated for his injuries for any sort of disability from the military or VA. He is still considered on active duty with orders from the federal govt. so he is being paid by the Department of Defense. While he is on Medhold he can't be promoted. He can't go back to his civilian job which actually pays more. (there are actually a lot of can't do's) He is part of the Kansas National Guard but not to the point where they have any say over what happens to him in the system-he is commanded by the unit that handles medhold out of Ft. Robinson, in Arkansas where he spent 3 days in Dec. 2006. He works at the armoury close to home but they aren't in charge of him really either. So essentially we as a family of a wounded solider are out here in limbo. He is supposed to be a part of programs like AW2 (wounded warrior)but that hasn't happened. We were told that we qualified last summer??After countless phone calls and emails no response. We have been ignored and avoided more often than not...It is emotionally exhausting as well as confusing. Sometimes I think parts of the system think we will give up since it is so time consuming and so difficult to navigate thru. I am sure many do give up.
Soooo what happens when we need answers to a question or for that matter any kind of assistance. Well we start asking and calling whomever will listen. We get forgotten or passed over a lot. We have been promised many times results or actions that didn't happen. I have said so many times to people I just wish people would do their JOBS! I am so pessimistic about when someone offers help or advice and I hate being like that. It is now to the point that I really don't want anything to do with the Army. I will admit I am so distrustful. At one point I wanted to make a difference-to somehow fix the system. I don't think that is even possible most days. I just don't understand-why does it all have to be so hard! We have never been sent to a support group for wounded warrior families nor do we know if one even exists.We don't have a peer group or others to turn to to say hey what did you do??? We are struggling as a couple but do not really know where to turn other than the private sector for counseling but that doesn't always take in the 'military factor's of our unique situation. I know Rodney is a solider and he did what he did because he is patriotic. I have stood by him through this 24/7 and am very proud of his sacrifices but I believe we deserve more as a family-not recognition, nor parades or ceremonies-we deserve a system that takes care of our needs that are based on the sacrifices he made as well as the other four of us. We deserve to know what is going on. We deserve the emotional support in so many ways. We deserve fair disability pay. We have had so many groups, organizations, and individuals step up throughout this last 15 months-and we wouldn't have made it without them.We are so thankful, grateful and humbled. These organizations are taxed though-there are so many others seeking their help. We have pretty much exhausted our resources. We have exhausted ourselves. Our family is starting to sink, to drown and to suffer with no where to turn. I don't understand how the military can continue to stand back and watch the families of the wounded destroyed.

But it is happening to us...we are losing the battle...we are growing apart so I ask for help from Rodney's case manager whom is in Arkansas. The topic is private but I will say it is something that took me a lot of courage to call about. Rodney didn't want the help but I know it was needed. She was the one I turned to for the first time about a very important family matter-she basically said the Army couldn't help-we were on our own. So what now??? I have no idea other than praying (which never hurts :))-and getting on with my life without the Army as much as I can?? It hurts too bad to be constantly disappointed in system that is supposed to be there. At least that is how I feel? Army Strong...Not so sure!
Sorry to be do negative but I needed to get it out and let you all know what the system looks like and how there is so much room for improvement.
I suppose this all sounds like ranting and raving-maybe even selfish and ungrateful.
If that is the impression-you have not been in my shoes-and I wouldn't want you to have to be. If you are then you do know and I would love to hear from you.
I really need to know we are not alone-I am not alone as the only national guard wife of a wounded solider on medhold!
So our holding pattern continues but I hope every day to be able to take control of my own life in some way so as not to be defeated. I will admit sometimes I don't want any part of this all anymore.All I know is I am so tired of spinning my wheels and getting no where. I guess for today I do give up...Hopefully tommorow I will feel differently and feel up to fighting the fight for us!

I will try to Keep Imagining and praying (please do the same for all of us in this situation)Thanks for listening!

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bragging Rights...

I wanted to take a moment to brag..on my kids, to say how proud I am of them and the people they are. All three of my children are their own people which is how I have been trying to raise them- I know I am not the only parent who doesn't always see the best side of their tween, or teenagers-but what I am so proud of is when you hear that others think they are awesome, responsible, have important things to contribute and are so darned smart!!! Today I received Connor's report card in the mail-I wasn't sure what to expect since he does struggle at times-I open it up and along with proof of his hard work with good grades I got a prize- A sticker that says "Honor Roll Student! I was beaming as was he as I gushed about how proud I was and hugged him-then he was like later mom and off to his friends house-but we had our moment and he knows how I feel even if he acts like most of the time it doesn't matter how I feel-I know better! I am also proud of the girls accomplishments-Carley fought for that first High School semester 4.0 and she got it-whewww!That would've been the first B as a semester grade she ever received. She almost didn't make it because of having 89 percent in one class-but she made it up in her final. Way to go Carley! Keep following your dream and relying not only on your brain but your heart too! Taylor finished her 1st semester at college up with grades she worked really hard for-she didn't do as well as she wanted, I am still proud of her most definitely-going away to college is an adjustment and time management skills are still being learned. She adores college and I see her growing in so many ways and becoming so much wiser. Congrats to my baby girl!
So bragging done for the day on my 3 amazing off-spring!
"Keep Imagining!

Saturday, January 5, 2008

Thursday, January 3, 2008

2007-In the Rearview Mirror!

I am finally posting-Yeah! We had a great Christmas holiday with lots of family time , food and some plain and simple down time-I really need to get all my Christmas decorations put away!!! I have been thinking about how to approach the 2007 in review post-since I can be kinda long winded-so I figure I will JUST DO IT! So without further ado-the year like no other-2007 in review!

January 2007:Lots of adjusting starting this 1st month of 2007 as well as a great deal of searching for answers to our many questions about having a wounded soldier. I can't even begin to tell you the number of hours I spent on the Internet and on the phone trying to find out information that I still hope will be in one place at some point instead of so many different agencies etc.. We were getting adjusted to living as a family again and starting to heal. January brought KS Spectacular dance competition for Taylor dance team as well as her solo. She did awesome as did the entire team. One of those last times since she was a senior.

February 2007: Rodney and I were so blessed to be a part of a couples retreat offered to military personnel. It was an amazing opportunity to meet other couples and to reconnect with each other. Our rooms didn't even have TVs which was so couples would spend time talking and connecting :) It was at a beautiful rustic resort near Dallas. TX. We made some lifetime memories, learned so much and were treated so very special by staff. We were lucky enough to spend Valentine's Day there and had a dinner and dance. What made it all more amazing is it didn't cost us a penny! I have the link on my blog-not sure if they are booking new retreats yet or not. We would go again in a heartbeat if we had the chance! Rodney and I celebrated our 10th anniversary on the 22nd.

March 2007: This month was a special month because Rodney was awarded his Purple Heart in a Ceremony in Topeka by the Adj. General of the State-Todd Bunting. Rodney and Staff Sgt. Ernie Gonzales were both injured in the same mortar attack and both from the 714th. It was a nice event in which we had many family and friends in attendance. Taylor finished up her High School dancing career with their Spring Show.
Carley and I did the slide show for it as usual-it was very bitter-sweet this year-I have watched and enjoyed Taylor's dancing for 15 years and now she is done, she decided not to dance in college for health reasons (knee injuries) and the time in entails-she is tired. I will miss watching her so much!

April 2007: This month was a lot of preparation for our trip to Florida. We were given a trip to Orlando by Wounded Warriors and a Florida Bowling/family Center had a fundraiser for us. It was an awesome trip. The second time for the kids and I. We went to Animal Kingdom, MGM, Disney Boardwalk, Downtown Disney,Cocoa Beach, and Sea World. We also spent one day just hanging out at the pool of the beautiful resort where our condo was located. It was a trip of a lifetime for us! We stuffed a lot into 7 days and still didn't make it to all the parks-guess we will have to go back :) Thank you to all who made it possible!

May 2007: A busy month with Rodney's knee surgery, Connor's tenth b-day,Taylor's 18th b-day and graduation from High School on the same day and Carley graduating from 8th grade-whew! The month flew by... Taylor did decide on attending college!

June 2007: Kids are out of school for the summer. Carley had her entire summer planned with not much downtime-church camp,mission trip, babysitting, drivers ed and band camp Taylor worked again as a lifeguard and swim Lesson instructor. Connor is playing baseball on a competition team so we have games at least 2 nights a week plus practice 1 or 2 nights. He also took swim lessons-he is a fish like Taylor.

July 2007: Rodney, Connor and I Take off for a road trip to see Rodney's roommate from Iraq who is home. Our van broke down on the way, luckily not to far out and my parents saved the day and we went on. It was nice to put a face to a name and Chris and his family were so nice! I finally after 9 months heard what happened during the mortar attack and what exactly happened to Rodney that day. I never knew anymore than what Rodney thought he remembered-which wasn't very accurate. so we got Chris's rendition and that started putting together some of the pieces to the puzzle. This was huge for us!

August 2007: Taylor moves to college! A pretty emotional event but one I think we were pretty prepared for. I will always remember riding with her in her car listening to the CD I made her-the first song was by Carrie Underwood I think it is called "Remember Me"-as the song was playing I handed Taylor a $50 bill, a map and a bible-she was crying so hard-it was a priceless moment-because my daughter is not very sentimental-I hope you all know the song I am talking about. Connor and Carley started school-5th grade and freshman in H. S. so they were both at new schools.
The 714th came home from Iraq!!!!!! We went the the homecoming and I got to briefly meet so many of the soldiers. It is an awesome feeling to know they are all home-except that in the last couple weeks we lost two men-the last 2 weeks and we had causalities. Say a pray for Courtney Finch's family and Travis Bachman's family. It hit the entire unit really hard!

September 2007: We had Rodney's best army buddy down for a visit=so we had some more closure after hearing Darby's rendition. We had also been blessed to have spent some time with Doc Edwards and his wife Judy after the unit returned home. Doc was the medic who Rodney says saved his life!

October 2007: Time for the one year anniversary of Rodney being wounded-we celebrated instead of mourned. We finally got a new vehicle to replace the blown up van! A silver 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara-we like it a lot!

November 2007: Rodney turned 44 and Carley turned 15. It was one of the more difficult months emotionally. We find out Rodney will be on medhold for another 6 months at least. We attend a 714th event and I get to meet more soldiers and families. Many of them are struggling with issues after returning home.

December 2007: Tracy has another b-day and the holidays are upon us. We received so many blessings throughout this month from amazing giving "Santa's". We can't even begin to name all the organizations and individuals that helped us survive this year of ups and downs-thank you to each and every one-we are forever grateful and hope to give back in some capacity in the near future to the brave soldiers and their families. Thanks for sharing our Journey!
OK that is what it looked like as much as I can remember off the top of my head-I am sure I missed something or someone-but hopefully I will get a chance to get into more detail on some of the retreats and events that happened at a later date. Happy New Year to all!
Keep Imagining!