Saturday, January 30, 2016

Gratefulness and Heartache Collide

Rita Ora's soundtrack "Grateful" is a perfect description of what seems to be Jacoby's thoughts and feelings right now.  Honestly, I'm sure many of you can completely relate with the chorus of this song.  

I'm grateful for the storm, made me appreciate the sun...
I'm grateful for the wrong ones, made me appreciate the right ones.
I'm grateful for the pain... everything that made me brake,
I'm thankful for all my scars... cause they only made my heart...
Grateful, grateful, grateful!"

For those of you who told me that her senior year would be a vapor, that is a gross understatement.  We are now on the final stretch and college is no longer a foreign word that only old people use.  
Our last journey together was right before Jacoby's 3rd Annual Run.  I had  asked you to show up to lend your legs for a good cause, and show up you did! The Pacific Northwest was true to its reputation; we all ran the entire race in the rain. ( Not to mention that my ENTIRE extended family spent at least 1 t 2 hours in the hot tub just to "unthaw" after the race!).  There's no way to really describe how much it meant to Jacoby and our family to see everyone out in the "not so fun"  elements.  But it gets better.  We were also able to recognize Logan Lewis, an extremely brave 14 year old boy, fighting Neuroblastoma.  Both Jacoby and Logan stood out that day as the heroes they truly are.  Life-changing impact is always made when people surround one another in love and support.  That day was wet and cold, but absolutely beautiful. Thank you so much!

No sooner had we tucked the race madness away for another year,  that Christmas came flying around the corner.  And we were READY to celebrate!  Knowing this was Kaleb and Jacoby's senior year, I wanted everything perfect.  I desperately wanted their gifts from us to reflect our hearts; pretty sure now that's quite impossible, but we tried.  Nights were spent playing the addictive game of Mexican Train, light saber wars, and ingesting pounds upon pounds of sugar, but hey... no calories count at Christmas, right?

5...4...3...2...1....HAPPY NEW YEAR... BRING ON 2016! And just like that,  Jacoby was starting a new semester and talking about the beginning of gymnastics season.  Some people live for the opening of elk, deer, or duck season, but not's gymnastic competition season! She loves getting hyped through the younger girls she helps coach at Roach Gymnastics and her older teammates getting ready at practice.  One VERY special treat she had this season was watching her best friend, Mary Jacobson, compete for Oregon State.  This precious child who used to jump on the trampoline with Jacoby, compete with their pigtails flying, was now competing on TV for a D1 university.  (Honestly, we always knew somehow she would...You go, girl!). 

Jacoby still finds so much joy being part of her youth group and helping at AWANAS .  The kids love her AND her cool wheelchair! (Ignorance is bliss, my friends!). And who could forget choir at school.  She and Alex are both in different choirs and without fail, they make their mom cry EVERY single concert... music rocks!  

And now for the heartaches.  I left them for last, hoping that you'll remember to send up a prayer for Jacoby.  As we all know, part of the excitement of being a senior is getting to relish in the fact that you will soon be leaving for a whole new world of freedom: such as college, a job, whatever it may be.  As Jacoby is definitely planning on going to college, it won't be what she had dreamed of and it won't look like her twin brother's experience.  As her mother, I have done what moms do, by reassuring her it will still be wonderful and full of opportunities for her.  But, I know what she REALLY means.  It literally breaks my heart that I  can't give her what she truly wants; I know any parent would understand this grief.  We are not alone, many of you have experienced life situations which were anything BUT what you wanted, but had to find the positive side of what was laid before you. Also, one of her exercise therapists , Ashan, is leaving Vertical Therapy for a dream job opportunity.  She is so happy for him, but devastated over the loss of a great trainer and a great friend.  
So if you have a moment, send up a prayer for her; this momma would appreciate it more than you will ever know.  

With all this being said, it made me think about a conversation in "Lord of the Rings" between Gandalf and Frodo.  

Frodo: I wish the ring had never come to me; I wish none of this had ever happened. 

Gandalf: So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide.  All you have to decide is what you are going to DO with the time that is given to you.  

Heading into a busy spring, Jacoby's mindset remains the same; to trust God fully with his plan for her life even with the difficult and new transitions on the horizon.  After all,  how we RESPOND to life's challenges is truly all we have control over anyway, right?  So... BRING IT ON!

" My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is perfected in weakness."-- 
2 Corinthians 12:9

Thursday, November 12, 2015

Beautiful Life

"I am only one, but I am one.  I cannot do everything, but I can do something.  And I will not let what I cannot do interfere with what I can do." -- Edward Everett Hale
Please join us this Saturday for the "3rd Annual Run for Miles" 5K and Half Marathon and #LoganStrong Raffle.

Race info: 

Support Logan Lewis in his fight against Neuroblastoma: 

Here's a little slideshow Jacoby put together: Beautiful Life 

Indeed, it IS a beautiful life...

Friday, October 16, 2015

Did you say... "Senior"?

Gimli says it best in Lord of the Rings,

"Certainty of death, small chance of success... WHAT ARE WE WAITING FOR?"

That, my friends, is the Miles Family motto we choose to live by each and every day. (Is our craziness starting to make sense now?) So with a motto like that... you can probably guess that coming up on our 3 year "marker" since Jacoby's accident, we STILL have hope, we STILL find purpose in the midst of the pain, and we STILL BELIEVE!

Let's just go ahead and do the "mature thing" here and get "the update" out in the open. As most of you know, JACOBY IS A SENIOR THIS YEAR... and there is absolutely nothing I can do about it.  (Gulp) And to make matters worse... so is her twin brother, Kaleb. (Chocolate, please!) The school was ever so faithful to send home the dreaded "graduation packet" one month after school started. Do they have zero idea how much we as mothers suffer already? For Pete's sake, they could have waited for at least two months. But no, we are forced to look at their cap and gown orders, their senior rings and graduation announcements now! By the way, did I mention I'm having a hard time with this?

Long story short, Jacoby has been a delightful child to raise. For the past 18 years, she has been the oldest child of 6, so you know what that means.  She plays by the rules, is extremely bossy and is the epitome of responsible.  So you can only imagine how the collage searching/choosing is "going down". She has been researching college deadlines, requirements and scholarships for quite some time now. (I know what you're thinking, I didn't either!) This is what Type A people do, my friends. She knows the official date of "early bird registration"... whatever that means, and she intends to take advantage of the benefits.  Someday I'll understand... maybe.

Unless plans change, SPU (Seattle Pacific University) is where Jacoby is headed in less than a year.  Oddly enough, she learned how to walk on SPU grounds, she learned how to talk on SPU grounds and she watched her very young parents graduate from college on SPU grounds.  Her roots run deep there and I get emotional every time I think about it.  Many people have asked if she will be staying on campus or living with us at home and commuting to the city.  My answer to this question is... we don't know yet.  We have left the decision completely up to her.  In all honesty, this decision scares all of us to death.  It’s hard enough when the time comes to drive away when you know they can make their way around campus, but the thought of not knowing if she is getting fed, teeth brushed, hair washed and properly cared for leaves an even deeper twinge in this momma's heart.  Even with all the uncertainties floating through our heads, we do know one thing for certain... The Lord will show her EXACTLY what He wants her to do and He'll give us the strength to support her in that decision. 

Still to this day, Jacoby has not been hospitalized once since her injury, (which was almost 3 years ago) and has not experienced even one AD episode (otherwise known as "Autonomic Dysreflexia": a dangerous medical condition well understood by individuals who struggle with spinal cord injuries.) We couldn't be more thankful to NOT know the emergency room's staff by name.  Unfortunately, Jacoby does experience extreme nerve pain on a pretty regular basis, but we have found it can be helped immensely with a steady "diet" of good rest and exercise. (Sounds like the rest of us.) Jacoby tries to get in 8 hours as much as she can manage. (This is where it doesn't pay to be a "Type A") Jacoby likes "A's" in school, and will give up sleep to get them. I know many of you reading this have children just like this "get it".

Honest to goodness, Jacoby couldn't ask for better exercise therapy than what she receives from Vertical Therapy. They come to our home 3 days a week and provide fantastic service. VT (Vertical Therapy) has been part of Jacoby's journey since the very beginning and now just blend in as part of the family.  They have seen her at her lowest points (and ours for that matter) and have been a part of each new mountain climbed.  Chris and Ashan are more than trainers to her; they are her friends. 
Jacoby has been able to maintain her amazing flexibility through therapy, and has improved her balance and triceps strength.  This is huge because she really had no triceps movement at all when she started.  Long story short, improvements are always happening here in the "Miles Training Room."


Fortunately, Jacoby's mental, emotional and spiritual health are all intricately connected and she is growing stronger by "leaps and bounds" in these categories every year.  I know this seems confusing but maybe the verse she lives by will help explain:

"Love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul and with all your mind."--Matthew 22:37

Jacoby's faith in God IS her rock, her peace and her reason for living, PERIOD.  Since the accident, she has always believed God will use her pain for good. That there is a reason for everything... and she will trust in His "reasons" no matter what! Some days, the tears flow and it's hard... really hard.  But her conviction remains that not one tear is wasted or overlooked, it all matters and has purpose. Now THAT'S beautiful...

Last, but most certainly not least, is Jacoby's annual run! In just under a month, on November 14, we will be standing (frozen) at the starting line for the 3rd annual "Run for Miles" 5K and Half-Marathon! (And yes... for those of you already worried about the weather, it will be ARTIC temps so make sure you run fast!) We have chosen to hold this inspiring event during the time she was injured because it adds meaning to the race and to our family.  Because after all, even in the harshest of circumstances, beauty finds its way and WINS... if you look for it. Our vision for this race started with the face of our daughter, Jacoby, but will end with many.
Please come and lend your legs to those who can't... it will be worth EVERY minute!

P.S. Thank you... thank you... thank you our precious friends and family for EVERYTHING; we could not go through this crazy thing called "life" without you.  The angel, Clarence, in "It's a Wonderful Life" says it best,

“Remember, no man is a failure who has friends."

Let's continue to DO THIS THING... together!



Wednesday, July 15, 2015


I’m guessing the Good Lord grew weary of hearing us complain about the Great Northwest's lack of sun and sent in "melting" temperatures.  Yes, the high temps have been with us for the last several weeks now and even though we are dripping... we are melting and happy. 
It's crazy; Jacoby and hot weather have a "love/hate" relationship.  Due to her injury, she spends most of her days feeling like she's a character in "FROZEN"; therefore, just like Olaf... she dreams of HEAT.  She visualizes herself... sitting with the  warm sun hitting her face ... and tells me this amazing place she is visualizing is Hawaii; now, isn't she clever?
Trust me, she knows how to "work it" with this ol momma of hers.  Someday, right?

OK, back to reality!

Basically, hot days make her extremely happy... almost ecstatic... BUT, ONLY for a couple of hours, only to leave her absolutely frantic to cool down her core body temperature. Of course, the key is to MODERATE the amount of time in the sun, but we have never been really familiar with the term of "moderation" in this family.  It isn't easy teaching an old dog new tricks you know, but hey... we're going to keep doing our best!  Overall, Jacoby is LOVIN’ the Cali temps... KEEP IT COMIN', LORD!

As always, some things never change.  Jacoby finished her last day of being a "junior" making her mother cry.  I opened her binder only to find personal letters written to EACH one of her teachers: letters that expressed her appreciation for their unique characteristics, teaching style and memories they had left in her heart forever from this past year. 
Seriously? She wrote letters to her teachers? 
Somehow this moment made me realize just how different her experience, perspective and maturity differed from my own at the age of 17.  What a hardship and yet what a blessing to think beyond yourself at such a young age. 
Teachers names started racing through my head I had never thanked...never acknowledged... never relayed that, because of their dedication, my horizons were broadened... my heart forever changed.
But she won’t suffer these regrets; she is alert and her senses are always "in tune" with her surroundings and with those who change the world.  It poses the question... just who is in the better situation?  Many would disagree with me, but my soul tells me her.  Compromised physically... yes, but mentally... stronger than the iron that supports the Pentagon or the Empire State Building.  Her God is her Healer, her Provider and the Author of her Faith; He is the Anchor of her soul.  She isn't afraid to trust Him because she KNOWS Him.  Faith and Hope are her constant companions; sounds like a place most of us would like to "set up camp" mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. Something to think about.

Our first family road trip of the summer was to "Regional Soccer Headquarters USA"...aka...Boise, Idaho. Yes, we were "melting" there too, but when you're surrounded by family, food, and fabulous soccer...WHO CARES!
Morgan’s team made it to Regionals, and so we figured we couldn't go wrong; it would be soccer or socializing with family and friends, “win-win” either way!
If we weren't at soccer games, we were taking over the waters and boat launches of Boise with the masses of children we bring together when our extended families meet. 
Jacoby was much more daring this summer and didn't hesitate to go out on Uncle Victor's boat for rides.  I haven't figured out if she truly loves the boat rides or just the opportunity to get away from all the young cousins that swarm around her asking for rides on her chair. Probably a little of both.
I must admit, listening to Jacoby's responses to the swarm of our darling nieces and nephews always makes my day.  They say things such as:
"I wish I could ride around in a cool chair all day long like you!"
Jacoby: "yup"!
But here is my favorite:
"Jacoby, don't you get tired of sitting all day? When are you going to start walking again?"
Jacoby: “I don't know...whenever God wants me to..."
Kids: “Well, I still think you should just get up and start walking."

Once again, why do YOU think she goes on the boat rides? Lol

Thank God for these children... for humor...for summer!

Ps. Jacoby has decided where she wants to go for college... SEATTLE PACIFIC UNIVERSITY, baby! (AKA... SPU!)  Old stomping grounds of her papa and mama... couldn't be happier! GO FALCONS!!!

Friday, May 29, 2015

"Back of the Pack"

Runners.....TAKE YOUR MARK.....Ready......Set.........GO!!!

Thousands of anxious runners began their 8K race through the streets of University Village just a few short weeks ago.  "Beat the Bridge" is a well established race which funds research on Juvenile Diabetes.  It was our privilege to run the race this year for many reasons.  Mer Udovich, one of the young girls on Morgan's soccer team, who is also precious to our family, was diagnosed with Juvenile diabetes.  Nothing like adding purpose to a race by knowing someone personally that it will benefit! 
I have run this race many, many times, but this year it was different; it was better.  This was Jacoby's first OFFICIAL race, besides her own.  She knew it would be challenging because it was cold, but she was so excited to be there for Mere and to show her support for people who live with diabetes.  
As Jacoby and I waited to start, until there was space for the wheelchair to "edge in", I surveyed the runners.  The scene was all too familiar to me...runners frantically checking to see if heart rate monitors were ready to go, music being set, watches being re-checked and runners darting in and out of one another to find an open spot.  
Jacoby and I were some of the last ones to step over the starting line; no point in fighting the crowd.  As her chair rolled over the starting tracker, that "competitive gymnast" resurfaced. SHE WAS IN A COMPETITION; we were going to DO THE THING!   Emotions ran high,  but I decided right away I could either run or cry, but I didn't have enough air to do both.  
Jacoby was readily looking for divots in the road and wheeling toward the smoothest areas.  BLESSED CHILD! In all the years I had ran this race, NEVER did I have to pay attention to the condition of the roads and sidewalks.  But, we were having a MARVELOUS time, just she and I.  Running as fast as we could ....when we could, and slowing down when the pavement demanded it.  We had to get to the bridge before it went up, and it was in our blood to BEAT THIS BRIDGE!

As we ran together, I had a whole new experience; the "Back of the Pack" Experience.  No longer did I pass people and try not to breathe hard....because the people we were running beside were breathing JUST AS HARD as we were, maybe harder. Frankly, it was awesome! We were all giving each other the "I got your back" glance and nods; we had become a family in the back.  We obviously all had our unique "hang ups" , but it created an atmosphere of "realness" I had never experienced in a race.  We were at Mile 3 and we had not even glanced at a watch once! 
We smiled at the people taking the time to cheer us on.  We noticed a precious little girl who had opened her window and was wavering at the runners that morning; we saw her little hand and waved back wildly at her.  She was absolutely thrilled we had seen her and reciprocated an equally "wild wave" and smile.  Tears burned my eyes as I realized we would have NEVER appreciated that precious little child had we not been in the circumstances we are in now.  Our "problem" was turning into an opportunity to see life from a different angle.  Perhaps we all need to view our problems differently.....a challenge to opportunity to succeed. 

p.s. We DID beat the bridge.....BARELY!

Tuesday, April 21, 2015


Our Dearest Blog Friends!

I have been dreaming of writing this entry for 2 years!!! I have cried for it, yearned for it and prayed God would bless Jacoby with it.

YOU GUESSED IT! JACOBY HAS NEW MOVEMENT!!! After 2 years of waiting, Jacoby made the discovery in the living room.
"Hey Mom and Dad... I'm not sure if it's a muscle spasm or not, but I'm able to lift my right wrist; I think it's moving!"
Let's just say time stopped.  She had our IMMEDIATE attention, which is a hard commodity to attain in the Miles home.  Jason and I both watched in disbelief and amazement as her once lifeless wrist started to lift weakly.  Could it really be... movement?
 Jason said,
"Lift your wrist again, Jacoby!"  Her wrist began to lift... slowly, but definitely  lifting!

Once again, we found ourselves standing in a moment where common words seemed completely  inadequate to express what our hearts where aching to release.  Such complete nonsense to someone else, could be "a Parting of the Red Sea" moment for another person.  You see, when that brain signal found a pathway down Jacoby's arm, new hope found a pathway back into our hearts. 

Jacoby sharing her "good news" with her gym sisters!

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Miracle Countdown Finale!

December 19th--Miracle 19

They were happening each and every day.....hour by by day....moment by moment. We had seen the drywalling and the truckload of supplies delivered at the exact moment needed, but it didn't end here. 
A willing plumber from the gymnastics community had volunteered to install ALL the plumbing; he worked a full time job throughout the day, and worked throughout the night to finish our home.
Not to mention the carpet "angel" who just HAPPENED to come by the house the DAY they needed the carpet torn out. Yes, the volunteers here at the house could have figured it out, but to have someone who knew exactly what they were doing would trump all efforts! 
We heard he "stole the show"!  He ripped out the carpet and laid new carpet in half a day...any questions?
Finally, who could forget the man who "just followed the light"! 
It was late into the night; the men were working around the clock to get this home finished. Sleep would come in a week. Bright lights had been set up around the building sight so the men could see and keep working. A man walked up to the house and asked the men working if he could help. He told them he had been out walking and had seen the light; he needed to follow the light.  As you could only guess, the builders had just come to a point where they needed another man to help lift an extremely heavy beam, but who would be able to help in the middle of the night? The man needing to follow the light, of course! 
I know these stories and STILL ...I cry EVERY time!
Thank you, Lord, for the miracle of willing workers who listen to the "still small voice" to go and help...
Thank you for the man who followed the light....

December 20th -- 25th "The Miracle of All Miracles".......

It was Christmas Eve and I was shaking inside uncontrollably.  The feeling I had could not be compared to anything I had ever experienced before. We had finally been given clearance to check out of Children's Hospital; we would be walking out the hospital doors and driving toward our hometown of Puyallup by 3:00pm.  Glory! Glory! Glory! 
It had come at last...the day we had all dreamed of since the accident; WE WERE GOING HOME! It didn't matter what Jacoby could or couldn't do anymore, because there were principles that whispered something much deeper to our hearts. No matter what...we were going to be ok....we were going to live our lives to the fullest...we STILL had joy and we would keep the faith. 
My only regret was not taking a picture of Jacoby's face the moment we pulled out of the hospital drive. She had a smile from ear to ear....the "commander" was heading back to her "commanding post"! My administrative assistant had been gone and we ALL missed her. 
As we merged onto I5, I glanced back at her.  Jacoby's not a girl of many words, but the look she gave Jason and I  shouted a THOUSAND words at that moment! 
(Here came the tears, my ever-present, faithful companions. ) I wanted to open the window and shout at the top of my lungs.....just shout to the world we were going home; come hell or high waters, we were going home!
There is something amazing and beautiful about the human spirit. God made us to WANT to fight and pull through an obstacle; he made us WANT to pull through adversity.  I knew the challenge would be....NOT to grow weary if He chose a different path for Jacoby than we would chose. I silently prayed He would help me to keep His perspective on this journey. Jacoby was His child, I could trust Him with this precious treasure. 
As we pulled into our hometown of Puyallup, my heart automatically started racing again. I felt as if it was going to explode right through my jacket! 
We had not seen our home since they started the new addition; they were finished and eagerly waiting for us. Tears began to roll down my cheeks heart was overflowing with gratefulness and love toward ALL the people who had given to our family...given through their time, encouragement and resources since the accident. 
How could we ever repay this community....these people.....these friends for what they had done for Jacoby? 
How could we ever thank them enough for the sacrifices made on our behalf? 
I couldn't help but to look over my shoulder at the last month of miracles God had displayed right in front of our eyes. We would never be the same people again; there was no going back. 
There it the star of Bethlehem....our road....our neighborhood. The lump in my throat was growing and my eyes were hot with tears. O how I loved this road...O how I loved the neighborhood kiddos that ring my doorbell 50 times a day!

And then my heart felt as if it quit beating. There in front of my eyes was the most beautiful sight I had ever seen. 
All I could see were people everywhere; precious people we knew and shared life with and precious people we didnt recognize. They lined the streets like a breathtaking Christmas garland. They were clapping and cheering as we pulled up to the front of the house. 
Instantly, I thought of all the times we had watched Extreme Home Makeover together as a family. Each week, we would gather in the living room on Sunday evenings and cry (Jason included) over the amazing stories of peoples lives being changed because of others generosity and care. In fact, we always wanted to be a part of a team that helped with a home renovation for someone that desperately needed it. 
Through my tears, I said, 
"Jason, we ARE living out what we always wanted to do...we're just the ones in desperate need." 
Both of us were bursting with emotion and thankfulness; life is never the way you think it will be. Somehow, it's better.
Meanwhile, as we unhooked Jacoby out of the van, the smiling faces of the angels that showed up that day will forever be imprinted in my mind. 
They lead us in to the most beautiful "act of love" we had ever seen.  A home with a foundation built on miracles, prayers and sacrificial giving. A home with hallways as wide as the Texas skies, a home where Jacoby could start a new chapter.
That day...that moment....was one of those memories that will never be able to be replicated in our hearts.  We had just witnessed a month of MIRACLES....a month of service and sacrifice...a month of pure, uncontrollable LOVE!

As I close up this year with our "Countdown of Miracles" the human language, once again, falls short of the words I want to say, but have no way of expressing. They are "words of the heart"....expressed through miracles we personally breathe and live out each and every day. 

Thank you, thank you, thank you, Lord....for ALL the amazing people you worked through to create miracle, after miracle, after miracle.  Thank you for giving us the biggest miracle of all...JESUS....who gives us the hope to know this tragic accident was a gift; Jacoby WILL walk again!!!