moving forward

navigating through the life that was and moving into the life that is

A year in retrospect…the fourth quarter

on February 1, 2013

The events, challenges, heartache, self discovery, blessings, and fun that occurred in this quarter of the year were tremendous. My words could never adequately express what I experienced during this period of my life. Therefore, in some places I will just caption pictures and in others I will write.


October

In this month, I truly began fighting. This is not to say that I wasn’t fighting before this month. However, this month it all began to make sense.

I ran another 5K and had a great time. It was my first time participating in a run at night and I had the blessing of running it with my cousin Rene. She was so encouraging and supportive.

Oct7

We went to Disney on Ice for a second time!Oct13 I decided to finally start CrossFit again and haven’t looked back! I love it. It is ridiculously hard and challenging but I adore it. I love the people that I train with and always look forward to it. Oct14

Next my cousin Dena came into town from Michigan and we had an absolute blast!Oct20

On October 27th, the incredibly blessed Mary Anne Morgan took my family pictures again. We were able to take them on her farm which was beautiful. Alana was a natural, Cameron was a nightmare and refused to smile, and I was exhausted, yet somehow through her magic behind the lens, Mary Anne got these shots!1 AJ2A5752_copy 2 8

The next few speak for themselves! 🙂 oct30oct30x oct31

Another historic thing happened this month…I dressed up for Halloween. Yes as an adult I have dressed up before, but I have to be forced usually. Well Glen LOVED Halloween and our last Halloween together I did not dress up. So this year, in his honor, I dressed up. Silly I know, but it was a great time.

halloween3


November

After a year of waiting, November 5th arrived. One year from the day that my life changed forever. I did not feel strong to write that day so I looked back on the blog to that time of year and reposted this blog from my dad four days after the accident happened. The Power of Friends–

The power of friends

November 9, 2011

Crisis tends to isolate and crystallize our thoughts sometimes. I have been made so aware of the healing power of friends, family and prayer.

It is often said that the measure of a person can be found in the kind of friends they keep. Sandra and Glen must be very good people then.

I can’t help but be struck by not only the sheer number of friends that Sandra and Glen have, but the quality and depth of character of those friends. Not only have so many friends been there to visit (some come everyday), but their acts of generosity and kindness are almost overwhelming. They have given serious thought to what the family might need and have responded with food, clothing and acts of service.

I hope those friends realize how important their presence has been to the families. It gets us by each day and only leaves a little time alone each night to have to think about the reality of the situation. Family is family and you know they’ll always be there but it is the friends that have made all the difference.

And I just told myself to keep breathing. And I cried. And cried. And laughed as we shared stories about Glen. We talked about some of those first days after the accident that I can’t remember and I began to understand what it was really like for all of you. I wrote this to all of you that day:

There are so many thoughts and feelings I want to share. And eventually I will. The thing that has hit me the hardest today is that last year from today until Nov 21st, for 16 days, I have no memories. None. It’s like these days didn’t even happen for me last year and during this time my friends and family were going through the HARDEST time in their lives. I believe fully it was God’s mercy that allowed me not to be aware of what was occurring around me. I looked back on the blog and read what it was like for all of you and truthfully I just can not even imagine. But the hope you all shared, the love that was witnessed, and the faith to believe…these are the stories that I never tire of hearing and that changed the lives of the people who saw and were a part of them. One post that rings as true today as it did then was my father’s post from November 9th, 2011. I am so unbelievably blessed to be surrounded by the friends I am and you all are what make the difference each and every day!

The song I listened to a million times that day:

All the signs of life
They’re all around me with every heartbeat
I feel so alive,
I am joy and sadness,
Peace and madness.

If only I can fight just a little longer
I know it’s gonna make me stronger

Oh and these are the times when doubt’s tryin’ to creep in
And I need a reason that’s larger than life when hope seems hard to find
If only I can fight just a little longer
I know it’s gonna make me stronger

Prior to this week, I was approached by someone in the church to ask if I would like to share my testimony through a chalkboard testimony during our Night of Worship on November, 9th. We were currently in the I Pray series, learning how to pray, how to surrender your fears, insecurities, pride and how to not get “stuck” in our circumstances in life.

We had been doing everything on chalkboards during this series, hence the chalkboard testimonies. On one side of the chalkboard, you write something you have experienced or been through in your life. On the other side, you write something about how God has been a part of the transformation and healing that has occurred. The church was doing an original song entitled Greater than Life. Each one of the participants chose a song lyric to write on their chalkboard and on the other side was a statement about any part of our life that was challenging. I agreed to do it and then was immediately terrified. However, I continued to pray and dig down deep about the what words I wanted to say. After some deep reflection and prayer, here is what I decided to have my board to say:

IMG_1618 IMG_1619I will forever remember the feelings in my heart of freedom, healing, and redemption as I walked across the stage and shared my testimony. Every time I hear the song, I hear the moment that I began walking onto the stage and I breathe a sigh of relief. Here is a video of that night.

Some time during the night, you were able to go up front and surrender something that you wanted to conquer and were ready to let go of its grip on your life. With great nervousness, I went up and I wrote simply, “ANXIETY”. The battle had become fierce and I no longer wanted to fight it, I wanted to surrender it, to conquer it. I will come back to this later.

nov10The next morning was the day that we chose to celebrate my birthday. I had no memory of my birthday from the year before when I turned 30, so although I was technically turning 31, to me it felt like 30, so my brother got me this cake!

My mom was able to make the trip to help me celebrate and it was so amazing to have her strength here as I faced some very challenging days. nov11

All of these events took place in a 5 day span which I was surrounded by family, friends, and pure love.

I remember celebrating Thanksgiving in the hospital the year before. I am so grateful for the number of people who came two days after Glen’s death and gave up their traditional Thanksgiving to come spend it at the hospital with me in my confusion, pain, shock and grief. When I saw that the one year anniversary of Glen’s death was going to be on Thanksgiving this year, I decided that I did not want to be home doing what I had always done in the past. So with my mom, dad, brother, Aunt Margot, and the kids, we traveled to Walt Disney. It was a trip of epic proportions!! We visited the Magic Kingdom, Epcot, Animal Kingdom and Hollywood studios. Here are a few shots of the 700 I took. 😛

nov26 nov18 nov22 nov21x nov21 nov24 disney nov23


December

On to December…anyone as exhausted from reading this as I am from writing this? 🙂 This month a few more “firsts” happened. dec3On December 2nd, was the one year anniversary of being released from the hospital. It was the day of Glen’s two visitations. I did not seek to relive these days, but it is a impossibility to not acknowledge them and I wanted to acknowledge them. The year before, these two days were exhausting and surreal and this year although the pain was still there, I could see healing in giant ways. The next day was the day of his funeral the year before. I desired to relive this day, to be surrounded by so much love, to share the man that Glen was with everyone and to do well at honoring his name. Here is a rundown of the day including what I said. The Day of the Funeral. Reading it now still makes me cry and oddly enough it makes me smile. A big and beautiful “Glen Walker smile”! 🙂 He made my life so much more amazing than it had ever been without him and there is no way to be sad about that fact.

dec3xIn classic fashion, as it has been over the course of this year, on that day, I went and pushed myself in my work out. Not to avoid what was happening, but to work through it and to push through the emotions and the overwhelming sadness. On this day, I did wall walks for the first time and did a headstand against the wall for the first time! Forward Motion! Always. One more step each day.

On December 8th, we attended the Father Christmas Cup again this year. christmas

From the website – “The Father Christmas Cup is held each year around Christmas time to help local families who have lost a parent this year.” We were one of the recipients last year so we were able to be there to support the families that the benefit was honoring this year.

christmas3

Uncle Mike, Glen’s brother, among several of Glen’s friends, played in the event. The kids were very proud. christmas2

Here they are waving to Uncle Mike as he was playing. Precious.

christmas4

The month was crazy busy as December usually is and my mom and dad were able to make it down for another visit to spend it with us. dec2 The kids were very excited.

It was a wonderful season and a wonderful day.

DSC_0159 DSC_0174 DSC_0175 DSC_0191 DSC_0197 DSC_0214


And 2012 was over. After a year of intense highs and lows, learning and relearning, grief and healing, I was VERY ready for a new year to begin. In December, I prepared to come off of another medicine that I had been taking for many months. In this new year, I have been free of this medicine and my mind has been free and awake.

The first week in January, I wrote this in church.

I can honestly say for the first time in a year that I feel I am on level ground. The depression has been bumpy, the grief has been undulating and add the learning to live as a TBI survivor to that and my map through the last year has been mountainous, uneven terrain.

There have been so many days, moments, where I have wanted to blame someone else, some circumstance, some change. When in reality, God said to me one morning, “stop getting in your own way, Sandra.” And I promise you I looked up to the air and said “what?” Getting in my own way? How does that even happen? How can I be two places at one time?

And moment by moment since that day He has been showing me all the ways I was getting in my own way. Now, I am able to look at a situation and remind myself, “Sandra, don’t get in your own way. Don’t get in your own way.”

The series in church right now is “I Need a Breakthru.”

The anatomy of a Breakthrough:

1) Always More – You have not tapped out your own growth. There is more in me.

2) Always Forget – Forget what has been. What is behind. Don’t let your past define you.

3) Always Forward – Strain towards what is ahead

I can see how I had been working on all of these things throughout the last year, but when someone puts them to words, it just further reassures your efforts. I have been working on these. I have been fighting and I have been free of the debilitating anxiety for 32 days and free of the medicine for 31. I know this is a risk. I know that being this transparent may be strange to some of you, but I also know and believe in the redemptive power of the Lord. Remember when I talked about what I wrote on the chalkboard in November at the Night of Worship? ANXIETY. When I wrote that, He already had my deliverance planned. He is able to break every chain. I was able to make a Breakthru.

Sandra Family 2


9 responses to “A year in retrospect…the fourth quarter

  1. Carolyn Hirst-Loucks says:

    You are inspirational.

  2. Jill Contarino says:

    Hi Sandra,

    I’m sure you do not remember me but I met you once when I played Flag Football with Glen with Atlanta Club Sports. I know Glen and Michael very well as we played football together for many years.I was also at the funeral but did not feel it was appropriate at the time to come speak to you.

    I have never commented before but just wanted to let you know that you are truly amazing and I have loved reading your posts and how you have turned this unthinkable tragedy into something no short of a miracle. Your faith is unyielding and I for one have become a better person from just reading everything you have gone through and accomplished.

    Sincererly,

    Jill Contarino

    • sandraglen says:

      Jill,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I do remember meeting you. I am glad that you have been able to see Glen’s and God’s love through my journey. It has been a very difficult journey and I really appreciate you following me through it and your encouragement is so wonderful!
      Sandra

  3. tonia says:

    Never EVER tired of reading what you write, you are my ROCK, thru you I have learned SO much. The power of friendship?? You give me that. An undying passion for Christ,you have shown me that. I am always SO amazed at how VERY strong you are…..I love you more than words can say!! Your strength is far beyond amazing and will always live as a testament to Glen and his beautiful love for you & the kids, keep it going girlfriend!! Love you!!!

  4. Aunt Cathy says:

    Sandy, I read and reread what you write. As many say – you are an inspiration. Your words have touched the life of many people and encouraged them to seek the Lord’s strength. God Bless you my dear. Love you much!!!!!

  5. Jeremy Draper says:

    So glad to have met you Sandra. I love your family, you guys are so awesome. I love your attitude and outlook. What an incredible testimony to live life abundantly and not be held back. I love the encouragement to be positive, to make the best out of every opportunity in life. Thank you so much for the inspiration, the friendship, the guidance, and the influence. I am a better person for knowing you. I am so excited to see what God has in store.
    Also, I absolutely love the “Happy 30th, 2.0” Uncle Tom is my Hero!

  6. Carisa Griffin says:

    Sandra, we don’t know each other personally, but I first knew about you through my close friend Trisha (Crowley) Connor, who went to school with Glen, and told me about your accident when it happened. I prayed for you and your family daily and would get updates through her. Then months later,sitting in church, a video came on, and here you were on screen sharing your journey story. I sat there with tears streaming down my face and praising God at the same time. You are truly inspiring! Your words were exactly what I needed to hear to share with a friend who was struggling spiritually. Fast forward a few months later and I see that you are on the Facebook group: 12Stone Creative Arts team. I was helping with At the Movies one night and Kyle had mentioned you and I asked how you were and lifted up some more prayers. I wanted to say I am still praying for you and your family and will continue to do so. God is truly amazing!

    • sandraglen says:

      I just got chills all over when reading this! Thank you so much for supporting my family through prayer and I know it has made a huge difference in all of our lives to see such love. I’m so glad that you have found ways to be encouraged and uplift others! God is so so good!

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