Abby’s Thoughts

  1. A Bear in the Bathroom: Sacrifice Brings Blessings

    Soooo… we went CAMPING last weekend!  I know, not a big deal… for most people.  But for us, well…(for me, I should say)… this is no easy task.

    I used to LOVE camping!  Real live, sleep in a tent, cook over a fire, no showers, hike to the potty (or go in the woods,) you get my point, CAMPING! But since my injury 20 years ago, the most legit kind of camping I’ve done is in a trailer…with a bed…and most importantly, a bathroom.

    We’ve talked about going a number of times, but there are a few things we have to consider logistically. First, it’s difficult for me to maneuver and get comfortable even in a regular bed, let alone on the ground in a sleeping bag, or even on an air mattress or a cot.

    Secondly, because of the injury (and without giving you too much information; TMI!) I have to get up to use the bathroom at least once and sometimes 3 or 4 times in the night!  At home, or our cabin, or at my parent’s house, or a hotel, etc., this isn’t a big deal and I’m used to it.  I’m a big girl now and can go all by myself! Ha Ha! Camping, on the other hand, is a completely different story.

    Now for most of you, needing to get up in the night while camping and use the bathroom isn’t all that difficult because you could get up and walk to the nearest bathroom. Convenient? Not so much. Doable? Yes.  But for those of us with physical disabilities, (some more than others,) this task can prove to be a lengthy production.

    Let me describe what this process looks like for me.

    I have to wake up my husband, which I really don’t want to do because who likes to be awakened in the night? It’s kind of like having a newborn baby! Very unrestful sleep. He then has to help me sit up, put my shoes on, and then carefully help me walk in the dark with just a flashlight to light the way. Let me just say, THIS ISN’T FUN FOR EITHER OF US!! And if this happens more than once? Yeah…You get the picture!

    Alright, now that you understand what camping looks like for us, let me return to my story.

    For the past few weeks, our kids have asked if we could go camping, since they’ve never really experienced it, except for our oldest boy who has done many scouting overnighters and scout camps. The girls sleeping in the tent in the backyard doesn’t count! So we discussed the options of how we could make it work and have an enjoyable experience. One option was to just have Cole take the kids and I would stay home. That would be the easiest and most enjoyable for all, but then it’s not really a FAMILY thing. And that’s the whole point; going as a FAMILY. I really don’t want to miss out on these “memory making” times. What fun would that be?

    As I mentioned before, sleeping on the ground is difficult, especially getting up from the ground, so we borrowed a cot from my sister just to try it out and see if it was a little easier for me. I wasn’t going to let a little discomfort stop me! We made our plan and our menu, which was very simple, and headed for the hills!

    We chose to see what camping sites were available up the canyon out of Huntsville, about a 45 minute drive, not too far. As we passed each campground, the signs said, “Campground Full.” Every. Single. One. Ugh. We really wanted to stay closer to home. Either we turn around and go try a completely different area, or we continue to the top to the Monte Cristo Campground in the Cache National Forest. According to the forest ranger guy we talked to, it was 20 degrees cooler (elevation 9,000 feet) and lots of mosquitos, but it had lots of open spots. After careful deliberation, the vote was unanimous! Go to the top!

    Not knowing what to expect, we were pleasantly surprised to find a beautiful campground, with paved roads, nice tables, well-kept fire pits, and an absolutely gorgeous view! Not only that, but would you believe…are you ready for this? FLUSHING TOILETS!!! You see? When things don’t go exactly as planned, there are unexpected blessings! And there weren’t a lot of mosquitos, either. Just flies. That bite. Yay.

    We found the perfect spot. However, it was a little bit of a jaunt to the closest restrooms. Do you get the idea yet that this is a concern to me? Yet, with the paved roads, we could hop in the car and drive to it without disturbing the other people in the night with the noise that a gravel road would make.IMG_20160721_232404

    The tents were set up, bug spray applied, a fire started, hot dogs roasted, marshmallows toasted, s’mores devoured, sticks widdled, and nature walks enjoyed.  Chipmunks and squirrels entertained us and flies annoyed us. And other than a very restless, cold, uncomfortable night for me, we only had one- HALLELUJIA!- adventurous excursion to the restroom at 3 am, which included hearing a very strange bear-like sound just as the toilet flushed. Good thing we were already in the bathroom, if you know what I mean! We flushed again, and sure enough, it was the pipes groaning! Whew!!

    I spent the rest of the night in the car. It was warmer and more comfortable for me, and that’s ok. Sleeping in the tent or not, I was with the people I love. We made memories. Maybe not all good ones, but those are sometimes the funniest ones!

    Why did I share this story? I just wonder how willing we are to get out of our own comfort zone in order to bless the lives around us. What are weIMG_20160720_223140 willing to sacrifice or give up to help others find joy? Is camping fun for me now? Not really. But I thoroughly enjoyed watching my kids having a great time, experiencing something new, and finding joy in the simplicities of life.  And that’s what life is all about.IMG_20160721_233200



    Sacrifice brings blessings.




  2. Let’s Celebrate!

    Today is June 21st, 2016.

    On this day in 1946, my dad was born.

    On this day in 1950, Cole’s maternal grandparents were married.

    On this day in 1982, Cole’s little sister was born.

    And on this day in 1996… 20 years ago… on my dad’s 50th birthday, Cole and I experienced the accident that broke my neck and changed our lives, and the lives of our families, forever.

    You remember that Sesame Street song that says, “One of these things is not like the others….”? Well, this list is a bit like that! In fact, in addition to all of the reasons we celebrate on this day, once in a while this date falls on Father’s day, as well. That was the case just last year.

    We were at our cabin that weekend with Cole’s parents and family and also invited my parents up on that Sunday to celebrate my dad’s birthday and Father’s day with us. When I woke up that day, just like every year for the past 20 years including today, I cried. Anniversaries of certain events in our lives trigger different emotions, depending on what it’s an anniversary of, as I’m sure many of you have experienced. So I got the tears out of my system for the day, and told my kids we were going to focus only on all of the happy things that we celebrate on that day; Grandpa’s birthday, Aunt Mindi’s birthday, etc. And of course, Father’s Day!

    As the day progressed, we talked and laughed and celebrated all of the positive, happy things that day represented. Even though we did our best to ignore the “other thing” that happened on this day, inevitably it was brought up. Then my sweet Karly (one of the twins), only 10 years old at the time, but wise beyond her years said, “Mom, we are going to call this a ‘Celebration of Our Lives’ day, because if you weren’t here, we wouldn’t be here, either!” I really thought I had met my quota for shedding tears that morning, but apparently there is a different supply for tears of joy!

    Her words melted my heart and taught me a lesson I’ll never forget. Even though I already knew this principle and share it when I speak, suddenly it had new meaning to me. Not only should we look for the positive things in our lives and be grateful for them, but we should CELEBRATE those things!

    Celebrate whatever it is that makes you happy.

    Celebrate each and every day you’re alive.

    Celebrate each step you take.

    Celebrate each breath you take.

    Celebrate the people that are there to love you and lift you and support you when life seems unbearable.

    Celebrate not only the “ups”, but the “downs”, as well, because of the strength you gain for getting through them.

    Celebrate who you are and the many gifts you can share with the world.

    CELEBRATE YOUR LIFE!!!  It’s the only one you have.

    So today, I celebrate. And even though we celebrated my dad’s birthday a few days early so everyone could be there, HAPPY BIRTHDAY TODAY, DAD!!

    And Happy Birthday, Mindi!

    And even though Cole’s Grandpa passed away quite a few years ago, I’m sure his Grandma celebrates her 66th anniversary with him today in her own special way.

    And HAPPY “CELEBRATION OF YOUR LIVES” DAY to my children!!! I love each one of them and celebrate the miracles that they are!

    And to my husband, my rock, my best friend- I celebrate HIM today! His character, his commitment, his strength, and his integrity to stay with me through it all and marry me anyway, even though I was broken. I love him…and he loves me. That truly is reason to CELEBRATE!

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  3. There are no “Coincidences”

    Back in April, I had the opportunity to do an assembly for the children and staff at South Rich Elementary School in Randolph, Utah. Randolph is just north of Woodruff, and just about 15 minutes south of that is where our accident took place that fateful day almost 20 years ago. One of the first paramedics to the scene of our accident was a man by the name of Kerry Stacey who lives there in Woodruff.

    We have lots of connections to that area, one of which is that the superintendent of the schools there, Mr. Dale Lamborn, was actually my high school principal and a friend of the family. He was there to introduce me at the assembly and listen to my presentation.

    When I do assemblies for schools, I share some of what I call my “stupid human tricks”, which are just things that my body can do as a result of my spinal cord injury.  I like to show the kids that it’s ok to have things about them that make them different and unique, even if it’s something they’re embarrassed about,  like scars, or a hand that flutters really fast when triggered just right, so I call up a volunteer to help me hold my arm up to show them this awesome trick I can do.  This time wasn’t any different, except something happened that I wasn’t expecting.  I asked for a volunteer,  which always results in multiple hands being raised,  along with the “Oh, me, me! Pick me!” sounds as they reach their arms up as high as they can,  shaking their hands and wiggling their little fingers for emphasis.

    As I looked around to decide who to choose, the cutest little blonde -haired girl  stood out from the crowd, as she had a bright, colorful bandage on her head. I called her up and asked her name. It was Cody. Then I told her how much I loved her fancy Band-aid! She smiled and said, “Thank you,” and then I proceeded to have her assist me with my trick by holding my right arm up as high as she could so everyone could see. (My right arm/hand don’t work well from the injury.)  As I mentioned before, the trick is that when I trigger it just right, my fingers flutter really quickly. She did a super job, and I showed them my hand fluttering trick, which the kids just love! It’s a little freaky!


    The audience gave her a big round of applause and I sent her back to her seat. When I finished my presentation, Mr. Lamborn had me stay there on the stage and asked if I had any idea who the little girl is that I had chosen to be my helper for my trick. I thought for a moment, but really had no idea. He asked Cody to come back up and told me she is the grand-daughter of Carey Stacy, the paramedic I mentioned at the beginning.  I was overwhelmed with emotion! What are the chances that I would randomly choose her out of all of those children! Some might say it was just a coincidence, but I’ve experienced far too many of these so called “coincidences” and believe they are much more than that!

    Now, this story doesn’t end here. In fact, I started writing this post just a couple of days after it happened, but never quite finished it. Then just this past Sunday evening, I was speaking at a devotional in Bern, ID.  Just a few minutes before it began, this man that I hadn’t seen in maybe 10 years (yet, I immediately recognized) walked up to the stand where I was sitting, waiting for the meeting to begin. As he approached, my eyes welled up with tears and I stood up. We embraced, and through the tears I expressed my joy to see him there! This is Kerry Stacey. He and his wife were invited to come by their daughter that lives there.


    You see? There are no coincidences. I know things happen for a reason, and that God’s hand is in even the smallest details of our lives.

  4. Happiness is…

    What is happiness? What makes you happy? As Christmas approaches, I am reminded again of the source of true happiness.  It isn’t the decorations, or the ability to find the best gifts at the best prices.  And it really has nothing to do with how much money we have or don’t have. It really has everything to do with Him whose birth we celebrate.

    Now, I fully understand there are those of you who may read this who are not Christian, and I respect that.  So I hope you respect my beliefs, as well.  I am often asked how I can be so optimistic and happy all of the time, especially after having been through some really hard things. Well, first, let me clarify that I’m not that way every minute of every day.  I’m human and I’m realistic. I have good days and bad days, just like everyone else.  But I also choose not to dwell on the bad things, the negativity, and the discouragement and frustration that goes along with having a physical disability.  And when those moments come (and they come daily in small ways), I rely on my faith in Jesus Christ to get me through the hard times.  That faith gives me the lift I need, knowing that He suffered unbearable pain for me. Knowing that He felt every sorrow, grief, frustration, disappointment, sadness, and every other human emotion that I feel so that I know He understands what I’m going through.  Think about it.  Have you ever tried to express your feelings to someone who has never been through what you are going through?  Don’t we all have times when we think, “No one understands”?  Those are the times that I personally know who to call on.  My Savior.  He knows. He gets it. He gets me. He’s been there, done that.  And I know that’s when He wraps His loving arms around me, and you, and all of us and lets us know that “this, too, shall pass.”

    This is why I can say that I am truly happy.  He loves us all, no matter what we’ve done or haven’t done, and especially in our darkest hours.

    I hope we all take a moment this Christmas season to reflect on what truly matters in this crazy life, and find the source of our greatest joy and true happiness.

    Be real. Be happy.