The Dickamore Family

since 2006

Homepage for Dustin, Ashley, Cole & Haley.   Updates on their life, Dustin's health, the kids' adventures and anything else that's going on in their world.

Baby Wyatt

Written by my dad:

Wyatt Reynolds Dickamore arrived at 11pm on August 13, 2015.  As with every important event in life, there are so many layers and dimensions beyond the simple statement of fact.  For the Reynolds and Dickamore families, the past few years have been turbulent and grueling.  The birth of sweet little Wyatt represents the pure joy that comes from persevering through challenges, as the bitter makes the sweet even more sweet.

{Click on picture to view slide show}

I wish every day could be like August 13, with prayers answered and miracles received.  Our daughters have had five children now, and awaiting the first four brought a gentle anxiety about mother and child being healthy and safe.  This day was different, as the experience of tragedies carries the realization that prayers are not always answered with the outcomes we want.  Our prayers for Ashley and Wyatt carried a new degree of intensity and humility, and a new degree of gratitude when all is well.

We are so grateful for miracles.  We are grateful that Dustin has not only survived but thrived over the past two years.  He is a remarkable son, husband, and father.  Words cannot express the miracle of Dustin looking into Wyatt’s eyes. 

We miss Kaycee, not only every day but every minute.  We know she was with Wyatt until the moment he was born, and we know she continues to watch over Andrew, Jack, and Laney.

We now have seven grandchildren.  Each brings a unique and precious spirit into a flawed and often chaotic world.  Each will experience the highest of highs and lowest of lows, and our most important responsibility is to help them prepare and to provide a safe harbor of love and support that they know is always there.  The forces in this world are so powerful that every child must have the tools and weapons they need to fight for their character and spiritual strength.

There are countless studies of human behavior, with theories of nature versus nurture, personality disorders, highly sensitive versus less sensitive, introverted versus extroverted, personalities susceptible to addictions, etc.  No matter what you choose to believe, there is no denying that a strong family support system makes a significant difference in every case.  Even children with the most extreme problems are strengthened by that support and love.

My own theory is that life does damage to every person, and the key difference is finding your own healthy coping tools that allow a person to become stronger through adversity.  Spiritual conviction and prayer result in faith and hope when they are needed most.  Drawing strength from family and good friends is essential.  Developing healthy interests that require dedication and intensity sharpen the mind and absorb time that could otherwise go to harmful isolation and self-medication.

What I know is that little Wyatt will be loved unconditionally, not only every day of his life but eternally.  His parents and both the Dickamore and the Reynolds families will always be his protectors and advocates.  He will be taught the right things, and he will have every opportunity to have his own unique and powerful impact.  This is a very lucky little boy, and we are grateful beyond words that he has come to us at this time.  Raising a child is a sobering and awesome responsibility, but it also brings the moments that define the purpose of this life.  The sweet is infinitely stronger than the bitter.

The Wait

“Everywhere in nature we are taught the lessons of patience and waiting. We want things a long time before we get them, and the fact that we wanted them a long time makes them all the more precious when they come. In nature we have our seedtime and harvest; and if children were taught that the desires that they sow may be reaped by and by through patience and labor, they will learn to appreciate whenever a long-looked-for goal has been reached. Nature resists us and keeps admonishing us to wait; indeed we are compelled to wait.” -Joseph F. Smith

The lessons I have learned during “the wait” have proven to be as significant as the things I have learned when the goal/blessing/miracle was achieved.

I've thought about this a lot as it took so long (and a lot of heartache) to get our Coley here. And now here I sit, about ready to have our third baby.  My first real heartbreak now a distant memory - a memory so foggy and pale in comparison to later trials that I can barely remember the sting of the pain.

During “the wait” for Cole, I learned:

-That life can still be beautiful - even when the final picture doesn't look at all like the one I had planned to paint. A lesson that would sustain me later when red paint was splattered on my almost perfect painting. And then again, after I got kind of used to the red, when black was suddenly sprayed onto my colorful canvas.

-That I can put all my effort toward something, but it is all ultimately in God's hands. I tried absolutely EVERYTHING (including artificial insemination) to get Coley here, but God knew better than I did.  I watch Cole and my sister's son, Jack, run around as the very best of friends and I know with my whole heart that it is no coincidence they were sent together.  I can almost see them promising before they came that they would always be there for each other. And just watching them together makes me thankful for the wait and heartache I endured.

-That my Heavenly Father always has our best interest at heart. Whether that is something that will manifest itself to me in this life or not.

I've often compared my wait for Cole to the lions and bears that were sent to David to prepare him for Goliath.  My wait, the pain of my miscarriages and the heart wrenching desire to hold my own baby in my arms were my metaphorical lions and bears, working together to prepare me to face my Goliath - as well as other battles that would cross my path.

- Because of the lessons of my wait for Cole, I know that my Heavenly Father will provide the necessary things for me to successfully (or at least try to) navigate this life.  Sometimes those tools are not pleasant to learn, but always they are vital in my survival.  I get to choose whether or not to take full advantage of those lessons planted in my heart during the waiting period.

I can only hope with all of my heart that the skills, tools, and weapons I have been given will sustain me through my current and future battles. But I do know that I will strive with everything in me to learn all that He wants for me to learn, to take full advantage of the lessons provided to me while I faced lions, bears and seemingly unbeatable giants. I know that is the only way I will survive.

For 22 months now, we have been in a wait. A wait that is far more active than just “staying where one is until something else happens” - as waiting is defined.  In waiting we work, we try, we fight, and most importantly we trust. We trust that when the time is right, our wait will be over.

Just today, in Dr. Patel's office, Dust was told he would need to wait for at least another nine months for his next surgery. Disappointing, sure. But we have learned to treasure the gifts that “the wait” brings.

One of those gifts - that Dustin actually read 5 of the 6 letters on the 20/15 line on the eye chart!  A miracle that strikes right to my heart when I think of the days that Dustin's mood solely depended on how blurry or dark and dim his vision was. The days where we trusted that things would get better, but couldn't completely ignore the possibility that it all could be taken away again like the flip of a switch. To us, almost 20/15 vision is yet another miraculous droplet of sunshine to make the wait manageable.  

For some things, we will be aching a long time for the day that the wait is over. I cannot imagine the joy I will feel on that day when I no longer have to wait to hug my sister tight to my chest and understand why she had to leave so soon. I cannot imagine the peace and gratitude that understanding will bring.  The wait for the day when I hear her laugh and see her beautiful smile will be sometimes almost too much to bear, but that pain will be nothing in comparison to the happiness and love that will encompass me on that glorious day.

I know with all of my heart that the ultimate realization of all of our dreams will surely be worth “the wait.”

The Envelope

Last night as Dust and I were about to climb into bed, something sitting quietly among the sheets caught his eye.

"Where did you find this?!" He exclaimed as he scooped a white envelope into his hand.

"I didn't!" Disbelief filled my voice as I snatched it from his grasp to see for myself.  I turned it over in my hands.  I simply could not believe my eyes.

I flashed back to the few days after Dustin's accident.  I was frantic to find this exact envelope to verify the only words that had us all clinging to the hope that Dustin would see again.

"What if it didn't say what I remembered it saying?!" I cried.

My mom and I had torn the house apart, searching for the contents of this envelope.  Even Dustin's sister Stacie had come over to look for it after we had failed to turn it up. 


When nobody find it ANYWHERE, I texted Dustin's dad Kirk in a panic to see if there was any way he could quickly get his hands on it.

Kirk emailed Bishop Davies from the Presiding Bishopric of the church (who he knows through work) to see if he could email Kirk a copy ASAP.

The next day, Bishop Davies showed up to the hospital waiting room with a copy of it in hand.  I graciously received it and opened it as quickly as my shaking fingers would move, scanning every line until I came to THE sentence.  The sentence our Heavenly Father had given to Dust for this moment in time.  The sentence that had me holding on to every bit of hope in the world.  The sentence that had Dust holding on. The sentence that had everyone we loved clinging to the possibility of a positive outcome.

The events that followed are a hugely important part of Dustin's story.  As I read over the contents of this envelope, I realize that the day Dustin's vision returned might not have played out the way it did if we had just found this envelope immediately.  I'm not saying that Dustin wouldn't have been healed.  But the day that Dustin was healed had many sacred and spiritual moments that were brought together by the presence of this man of God who carried in his hands a similar envelope with a copy of the words I've read countless times since that day.

After speaking with Kirk for a minute, Bishop Davies asked if he could see Dust.  As he approached Dustin's bedside, we could feel the strength of the spirit surrounding this good man.  Dustin quickly asked him for a blessing.  Bishop Davies paused for a moment and asked if he could fast for a day and come back in the morning to give him a blessing.

That night, Dust was blessed to be able to receive another powerful blessing from another great man. Our stake president.

The next day, most members of our families gathered for this promised blessing.  Bishop Davies pronounced a sweet blessing upon Dustin and we had much hope that he would see again. At some point.  The blessing was laced with words about the beautiful world that God created for us and how The Lord desired for Dustin to be able to see these things.  

After he closed his blessing, Dustin's sister Stacie suggested we have a family prayer.  We all knelt around Dustin's bed and with broken hearts we offered up all we had.  United in faith and love for Dustin, we pleaded for Heavenly Father to heal our Dust.  The spirit permeated the room in a way I had never before experienced.

Two hours later we were given the greatest miracle and gift my eyes have ever seen.   The way the entire day played out was simply magical.  As if our Heavenly Father sat down and wrote exactly how he wanted this to happen to give us the most lessons and the biggest benefit.

As part of His plan, the original envelope needed to be lost so this good man could come and bring everyone together for one of the most sacred experiences of our lives.  You'll never convince me that this was coincidence.

Lost.  For 15 months.

Well, last night we had our family home evening on gifts.  We talked about how Jesus was the very first Christmas gift ever given.  How the wise men brought precious gifts, full of meaning and symbolism to our Savior.  We talked about the many amazing gifts Jesus gives us all the time.  And what we can give to Him.  We talked about giving gifts to others in a way that they can feel Jesus' love through us.

Then after tucking the kids into bed, we go into our bedroom to find one of the greatest gifts we were given to help us survive this life and the trials we would face.  A sweet, heavenly gift that gave us light in our darkness.  It has been there to lift us up when we get scared and to assure us that this was all a part of our plan.

Just lying there.  On our bed.  With scribble marks as evidence of the munchkin who found it and placed it there unknowingly.

Resting in a place we'd be sure to find it, as a reminder of the gifts we were given over the course of a few days and beyond that, this whole last year and a half.  As proof to us of our Heavenly Father's love for us, His plan for us, His hand in every part of our lives.

There, below his pillow, a gift full of symbolism and love that would speak right to our hearts.

Dustin's original patriarchal blessing.  

There couldn't be a more perfect Christmas gift for us this season.

"Some may count this as simply a nice coincidence, but I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are real and that they do not occur randomly or merely by coincidence... and it is often the Lord's timing that enables us to recognize and treasure these important blessings."  Elder David A. Bednar.

As a side note, and because I have been slacking on writing, everyone is doing great around here. Our house is almost done and we are nervous and excited all at once to make our move.  We love you all and hope you have a very merry Christmas!

Operation: Get Your Nose Back

A week ago today, Dust went into yet another surgery.  His doctor spent seven hours reconstructing his nose, using cartilage from his rib.  Everyone told us this was going to be a really painful surgery, so we were expecting to have to hunker down and deal with the aftermath, as we have done before.

This time was different in a lot of ways.  The anxiety and stress that has so often filled every corner of the waiting room during Dustin's surgeries had dissipated.  We felt much relief knowing there was virtually no risk to his vision this time around.  Shawna and I even found time for some waiting room selfies - only to discover that we had both worn the exact same outfits during Dustin's April surgery.  How embarrassing!  Ha.

I remember after Dustin's last surgery and terrible recovery thinking, "There is just no way we can go through this again.  Over.  And over.  And over."  I begged for another miracle to happen in an instant, like it did when Dustin was healed from the blind.  It happened before!  Why not again?  It seemed like a great plan to me!  And while I was pleading with The Lord, the answer would come to my heart, "You are making this harder than it has to be.  Put your trust in The Lord and He will guide you.  He will show you how to do this."  

Over the course of a few months, I learned to really put things in The Lord's hands and let Him decide what was best for us.  I slowly stopped waking up every morning, hoping some miraculous healing had happened in the night.  I knew, as I do now, that Dust would be brought to full health and strength, but I gave it over to our Heavenly Father to decide the timing.  I still couldn't help but cringe, knowing that Dust would have to endure at least four more surgeries and all that follows each one.  But my mind would often go back to one of my favorite Richard G. Scott talks about enduring adversity:

"To exercise faith is to trust that the Lord knows what He is doing with you and that He can accomplish it for your eternal good even though you cannot understand how He can possibly do it....  When you pass through trials for His purposes, as you trust Him, exercise faith in Him, He will help you....  If all matters were immediately resolved at your first petition, you could not grow. Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly. They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love."

I have watched Dust submit his whole will to our Heavenly Father's.  It's harder for me than it is for him.  In my mind, I think, "There must be SOMETHING I can do."  But when we both put our trust in Him and try not to create our own agenda, the world around us is a much happier, more peaceful place.

That last line in that quote has entered my mind numerous times this last week as I compared this surgery to the last and even more drastically to the 18-hour surgery.  

Dr. Gociman came to speak to us post-op.  Everything went well.  He had to carve four pieces of cartilage to get his nose stable.  And though the longer surgery would mean a harder recovery, we were thankful that Dust would soon be able to get down and wrestle with Cole without worrying that his nose was too fragile and might break easily.

After some time in the recovery area, the nurse came to get me and Shawna, "He's still very sleepy... Buuuuut he says he is going home today," she laughed with a confused look on her face.

They strongly encouraged him to stay one night after such a long surgery.  Bending to his will, they told him he would need to do three things before they would let him leave.  He would need to eat something, get up and walk around, and use the restroom.  As they transferred him to the discharge area, the nurse whispered, "We have a room ready for him if, at any time, he decides he wants to spend the night."

A few popsicles, graham crackers and one walk to the restroom later, we were out the door.  When they brought the wheelchair to take him to the car, he said, "I don't need that.  I can walk." Hospital policy.  He reluctantly rode to the car in the wheelchair.

He spent a few days down in the dumps.  Post-op is no fun.  He hates the way the pain meds make him feel.  His doctor gave him a little pouch to carry around (like a purse) that fed local anesthetic right to his rib for the worst of the pain.  By Monday, the pain pills were in the garbage and he was at the house trying to do what he could to help his dad, his cousin, and brother-in-law do electrical.  

Tuesday he was pretty worn out.  On Wednesday, he met with Dr. Gociman to get his stint and stitches removed.  And... Da... Da... Da... Da!!!

When the doctor peeled off his stint, I immediately saw my old Duster!  It looks so amazing!  Pictures don't even do it justice!  He looked in the mirror and immediately I could see that he was happy with the result.  I tried to hide my tears as we walked out of the hospital, arm in arm.  I could not, however, hide my excitement.  The rest of the day, his smile came freely.  And that, my friends, makes a wife feel good.

I was hoping to get a little more QT with Dust this time around, but wouldn't you just know that after his appointment he wanted to hurry home so he could get to work.  After work, it was home for some quick dinner and straight to the lot.  Back to business as usual around here.

He'll have to be real careful with it for six weeks, but all is well.  I can't help but think about that talk and be thankful for the strength and healing our Savior and Heavenly Father so often cast in Dustin's direction, as well as the mercy we have been shown.  We are thankful for all of the thoughts and prayers that have been sent heavenward for us.  It truly is amazing to me the things that are possible with God as our guide.  I am sure there is more difficulty ahead, but I am thankful that we have been given a break through this one.

End of Summer Update

Boy! Summer has gotten away from me!  Cole has stopped napping so I have no time to think, let alone sit down and write!  But, also, I have been tired and really in a recovery phase.  Sometimes all you can do is the bare minimum and not expect a whole lot more out of yourself!  Nevertheless, I thought it might be time for an update, seeing as we have some things coming up.

Dustin is headed in for yet another surgery this next week.  Yippee.  We have switched to a new Ocular Plastics doctor who has us feeling much more comfortable.

"I know your orbits like the back of my hand," he told us before he laid out a methodical plan for the future.  He had met with Dusts plastics doctor (who we have really come to love and trust) for four hours, discussing his case, looking over everything and studying his scans.  We breathed a sigh of relief knowing that we now have a very clear series of events where there were many unknowns. 

Unfortunately, that series of events involves, at minimum, four more surgeries.  They say the nose should be the worst of it all (although I know that they still have to do to the right eye what they did to the left in the last surgery and I know how terrible that recovery was).

This next surgery will be to build up Dustin's nose using cartilage from his rib.  In order to graft cartilage from Dust's rib, they will have to take the cartilage portion of the rib bone, which will be really painful.  If his nose doesn't buckle under the weight of the cartilage, the surgery should only be an hour and a half and he'll feel like he got punched in the nose really hard for a few weeks.  If it does collapse, things get more complicated and it turns into five to six hour surgery.

Dust scheduled the surgery for a Thursday, hoping to be back to work by Monday or Tuesday.  The doctor's secretary laughed, admitting that might be a little optimistic, but he is a determined son of a gun!

The three surgeries that follow will be on his eyes.  One to try to release the scar tissue inside the orbit of his right eye, place more plates and pull it forward.  The next to adjust the muscles on both eyes to straighten them out.  And the last to open his right eyelid.

Dust has spent most of the summer with his dad working on our house, with only a few breaks for some family time.  Those two are at it almost every single night after work until well after dark and Saturdays from sun up to sun down.


Most days, Dust comes running into the house - "I have to go! My dad is already down there!"  He changes into construction clothes and I try to hurry and feed him before he blows back out the door.  Me and the kids pack up in the car and go down for a visit before it's time for baths and bed.  

The other day Dust spent a few extra minutes with us for dinner and when he went downstairs to change, Cole said, "That was fun playing with dad, mom!"  We sure miss him, but it is so neat to see him fulfilling some of his most deep-seated dreams - dreams that, for a moment, he thought would be impossible to even attempt.  It's also so fun for me to see him not let anything hold him back.  I am just so proud of him and the fire he has inside of him.  Oh, I love him.  

I have noticed that yearly occurrences, such as anniversaries, holidays, birthdays bring a myriad of emotions and lots of looking back.  During the Fourth of July parade, I flashed back to my newborn Haley in my arms and Cole happily riding around on Dust's shoulders.  On Dustin's birthday, I couldn't help but feel immense sadness over the heartache and painful growth his 28th year has brought us.  But I also felt a deep and burning gratitude for the blessings, miracles and narrowly missed tragedies, and amazement over all that can happen in one short year.  


28 was a year we will never, ever forget - a year full of the lowest of lows and the highest of highs.  I'm proud to say that together with our amazing families, our sweet friends, our Savior, our Father in Heaven and the companionship of the Holy Ghost- we survived a life-altering 28th year.

Our anniversary, this last week, has had me reflecting on how effortless it was to fall in love with my Duster.  I thought about the many, MANY things we have experienced since we started dating eleven years ago - lots of mountains (good and bad) that have changed us indefinitely.  There is, however, one thing that never seems to change.  No matter what we are going through, the touch of his hand has a way of making my heart feel calm.  It doesn't matter the weather, nor the strength of the storm, with my hand in his everything feels right.  I have loved living this crazy, adventurous life by his side.  

On the Road Again!

I haven't really been wanting to post about the whole driving saga before now.  Everything has just been so up in the air until Friday; it was hard to know what exactly to write.

Let me start from the last surgery.  Part of the purpose for the surgery on April 8th was to bring Dustin's eye forward so that he might be able to gain the peripheral vision he would need to drive.  You need at least 20/40 and 60 degrees of vision in one eye to be able to drive.  I'll give you the quick(er) version of the roller coaster of the last three months (every up and down might give you motion sickness, so I'll narrow it down a bit).

April 6th & 7th: Two powerful preparatory blessings (by Dust's Dad and cousin Cody) full of promises of many more miracles, protection from guiding guardian angels, "an unusual calm" and success of surgery.  "Nothing will be harmed."  "You will be able to drive."

April 8th: Surgery

April 9th -11th:  Post-surgery anxieties and physical trauma (How much can he see? Did his optic nerve withstand the aggressive nature of dissection, "tugging and pulling" and placement of more plates?)

April 12th:  Swelling has gone down enough that Dustin is able to open his eye on his own and he realizes that his vision is tilted to the left and obstructed by two black holes.

You can read about that day here.

April 15th:  Orbital Plastic Surgeon tells Dust she was mistaken - you don't need 60 degrees to drive, you need 120 and he's not even to 60.  This was a huge blow.  Dustin found himself honestly pretty depressed at the prospect of not being able to drive.  We both knew that he would drive again one day but we had no idea when that day would come.

I kept reflecting on this talk by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland.  I remind myself, "There may come after the fact some competing doubts and some confusion, but they will pale when you measure them against the real thing.  Remember the real thing. Remember how urgently you have needed help in earlier times and that you got it."  

The doctor also wanted to jump right back in and do the same surgery on the right eye (which we had wanted her to do during the last surgery).  Our Plastics doctor nixed that idea.  We would wait until Dust had healed from this surgery to go back in.

April 28th:  Dust starts going back to work.  The tilt and the black holes are gone!  Hallelujah! But Dust is frustrated because he doesn't feel like he gained any peripheral from the last surgery.  We are both really pretty depressed at this point, thinking about how hard it will be for Dust to build a house with one eye and to not have the freedom that comes with driving.  It didn't help to have another surgery added to the not so distant to-do list.

It was at this time that I began reading "The Heroes from the Book of Mormon".   In it, Neal Maxwell talks about Nephi and how all of his experiences, all of his trials, all of his missions and tasks were training him to be this amazing man of God.

He had to travel around 250 miles each way TWICE before he was able to get the plates from Laban.  In the heat of the desert!

His brothers tried to kill him twice as well!

God asked him to build a ship and Nephi asked him where he would find ore to molten.

He said, "If it so be that the children of men keep the commandments of God, He doth nourish them and strengthen them and provide means whereby they can accomplish the thing which he has commanded them."

I reflected on the previous seven months... Watching Dust get up to walk for the first time as a blind man.  Feeling his inner strength as he began to lift weights and strengthen his weakened body with very little blurry, dark, light sensitive vision.  Sitting by his side over and over again as he lay in a hospital bed clenching his teeth, suffering excruciating pain with hardly a complaint.

There are moments, almost daily, where it is so very clear to me that he is being built.  That he is being shaped and molded through a refiners fire.

Dust decides he hasn't given up.  He starts trying to get a definitive answer on the driving.

We call the DMV several times, with varying answers.  We schedule the six month check-up with Dustin's Neuro-Opthalmologist and plan to discuss the driving issue with her.

May 23rd:  I wake up to an extremely swollen Dust.  He goes to work anyway and by the time I pick him up, the swelling around his left eye is huge and is really hard.  I panic and take him to the Moran Eye Center.  He's calm as a cucumber, singing to himself in the stairwell and even told one of the residents, "I'm great!  How are you?" - when she asked how he was doing.  

"You're great???"  She laughed curiously.  

"Well, er... you know.  I'm good."  

The doctors are not sure but it seems like an infection.  Antibiotics.

May 26th: Swelling increases again.

 May 29th:  Dust tosses and turns all night long, knowing that tomorrow the Neuro-Opthalmologist will either confirm what the Orbital Plastic Surgeon told us earlier.  OR she might tell us there is some hope, somehow.  I was preparing both of us for the blow of a definitive no.  But I was PRAYING that they would at least give Dust the opportunity to have a driving evaluation.  He is just so capable!  He would never drive and put himself or others at risk if he didn't feel like he could do it safely.

May 30th:  After a month of serious sadness, the Neuro-Opthalmologist pulls out a chart to show Dust that it is, in fact, 60 degrees and not 120 degrees.

His clarity was at 20/25, but he was 5 degrees short on his peripheral, testing at 55.  He was so close that she recommended he have a driving evaluation.  If he passed the driving evaluation, she would submit it to a medical advisory board to decide.  If they granted him the opportunity to drive again, his license would probably come with some restrictions (no night driving, no driving on the freeway), but he MIGHT have a shot.

Before we leave, she begins to look back at the field of vision tests from the previous eight months, exclaiming as each one pulls up how unbelievable it is that he continues to improve with each test.  (Optic nerve damage is generally permanent.  They are never supposed to regenerate.)

We had the amazing opportunity immediately after this doctor appointment to meet with the good men who gave Dust the blessing just an hour and a half before his vision came back.  What a special opportunity for us.  I'm not sure that I've ever before met a man who radiated such light and goodness.

President Porter, me, Dust, Bishop Davies, Shawna, Kirk

President Porter, me, Dust, Bishop Davies, Shawna, Kirk

June 4th:  Shawna gets set apart for her new calling by two Apostles of God.  With his hands on her head, Elder D. Todd Christofferson sets Shawna apart and blesses her in her new duties.  He continues to bless each one of her children, each one of their spouses, as well as each one of her grandchildren.  Then he blesses Dustin specifically.  This was a very sacred and special event so I won't repeat all the details, but he does bless Dustin that he will continue to heal and gain all the means that he will need to be able to provide for his family.

June 5th:  A day of testing at a private Drivers Ed company.  He passes every test with flying colors!!!  I smile as I look at the words printed on his results page, "Very Low Risk".

June 6th:  Dust calls me with excitement in his voice.  He is going to start digging our house tonight!  I felt so proud that he was not going to let anything hold him back.  He was going to keep moving forward with the things that lie in his power.

June 12th:  A much anticipated day.  The driving test.  In a car.  I think this driving test looked a little different than the one he took thirteen years ago.  He slid into that drivers seat with such a calm confidence.  No 16-year old nerves to be found anywhere.  They drove for over an hour.  I was not surprised to be high-fiving him once again at the end of the evaluation.

June 18th:  We waited anxiously for the evaluator to communicate with the doctor and finally got the glowing review to take in to the DMV to submit to the medical advisory board.  I don't know what they said, but two of the DMV workers really seemed to dash Dustin's hopes, despite the favorable recommendation from several professionals.  He left feeling uncertain about his driving fate.  They told him that the medical advisory board meets only once a month and he would be on their agenda - whenever that would be.

Someone from the medical advisory board called Dust later that same day with a determination to resolve the issue.  She wanted to get it figured out ASAP so we didn't have to be in limbo any longer.

June 19th:  A phone call reveals that the head of the medical advisory board wants Dust to take another field of vision test.  If he doesn't have 60 degrees of vision, he will not be getting his license.

We pray for the enabling power of the atonement to strengthen Dust's body - that The Lord might grant him five more degrees of vision.  Following Nephi's example, when he was tied up by his brothers in the wilderness, Dust asked for the strength within his body to break the bands with which he was bound.  I felt so incredibly calm.  I did not know what would happen, but I knew it would be the right thing.

June 20th:  Dust walks out of his field of vision test with a big smile on his face.  He had gained SIX degrees of vision, resting at 61 degrees of peripheral vision!!!  Count us down for ANOTHER serious miracle!

Dust immediately calls the medical advisory board.  They tell him they want him to have another driving evaluation from a DMV evaluator.

June 29th:  Dust heads into the DMV at 9:30 am, in a downpour, for his driving test.  He spends a half hour taking the written test and goes out in the pouring rain to prove his obvious skill behind the wheel.  As they make their way out the door, our sweet Cole stands on his chair and yells, "You can do it daddy!  I know you can!" to the amusement of everyone in the building.

Inside the DMV, I feed the kids Kneaders pancakes on the second to last row of hard chairs while they entertain the twenty people sitting around us waiting for their number to be called.

We go into the little foyer between two sets of doors, so the kids can run around without bugging anyone and run right into Dustin and the instructor.  He grabs my hand as they pass through and they go straight back to her office.

Not five minutes later, I am kneeling on the ground with the kids as I look up to watch Dust push the door open.  And there he stands with a huge smile on his face, his drivers license in hand.  "Well, I got my license back!"

"Yay!!!  Daddy!"  I threw my fists up in the air!  I was so happy.

Pausing for effect, he followed up his good news with even better news, "And I have NO RESTRICTIONS!!!"

This, I hadn't dared to hope for.  I ran to him, threw my arms around his neck and jumped into his arms.  I have to tell you, I haven't seen him smile so big in a long time!

I spent the rest of the day in happy tears, thanking our Father in Heaven for the many tender mercies He has given to us.

I don't think either of us could have been happier as Dust pulled away, behind the wheel of my dad's truck.

Today, June 30th:  This morning, I smiled as I lay in bed, listening to him fire up the truck to drive himself to work for the first time in nine months.  I think back to the darkness of September 21st and how infinite it seemed.  If someone had told me that my sweet husband would be building his own house and driving by the end of June, I'm not sure anyone would have believed them!

And I tell you what, if you want to feel good... just call Dust.  The happiness in his voice from his regained freedom says it all.


It has crossed my mind several times over the last nine months that I may just be the lucky wife of a real life superhero.

***As a side note, can I just say that it's not quite as much fun as it appears to be in the movies!

Back in November, when Dust and I were being interviewed for a local news station, the reporter asked me, "Before the accident, did you think Dustin was invincible?"

"Did I think Dustin was invincible before?" I quizzically furrowed my brow and tilted my head.  "I still do!"  I exclaimed confidently.  "His head was crushed by a thousand pound ranger and look at him just two months later!"

Over the last ten years, I have watched Dustin beat and overcome challenges and obstacles of every kind.

Ten years ago, Dust got really sick with pancreatitis while serving a mission for our church.  After eleven days in a hospital in Brazil without a diagnosis (or even being able to keep jello down), Dust finally boarded a plane to come home at 128 lbs.  Just for reference, he currently weighs 206.

The day they sent him home, I breathed a huge sigh of relief... Until I saw him.  He was skin and bones, so withered away he could hardly even walk.  He didn't even look like himself. My heart was broken.  Completely broken.  But I loved him more in that moment than I ever would have thought possible.  

This was the first time I heard of the promises from Dustin's patriarchal blessing and watched them come to fruition.  Within a year, he had no remaining issues from the illness that very easily could have killed him.

I have been reading the book "The Heroes from the Book of Mormon".  I find myself amazed over and over again at how many qualities and attributes my good, strong husband has in common with these amazing men of God.

Many of them were men large in stature, and highly favored of The Lord.  They all listened to the Holy Ghost, continually worked to "put off the natural man" and they all became saints through our Savior Jesus Christ.

They were "meek, humble, submissive, patient, full of love, willing to submit to all things which The Lord sees fit to inflict upon him, even as a child doth submit to his father." They possessed faith, hope, charity, patience.

They were courageous, strong (physically and mentally), determined, faithful, and good to the core.

I look at Dustin in wonder and amazement as he possesses many of the qualities that make a man great.  With a calm confidence in The Lord, he truly trusts that He and our Father in Heaven know what they are doing with him.

I have seen Dustin in true depths.  I have seen him totally beaten down.  But over and over again, I have watched him pick himself up off the ground - bloody, broken, and bruised and walk himself toward the only one who has the power to heal.

I watch him show character and courage in the face of monsters that have the power to defeat any man.

I watch doctors tell Dustin that this is the way it is and not to hope for improvement.  And then I watch him improve.   I watch them tell him of insurmountable obstacles.  And then I watch him soar over them.  I watch him look at the things he shouldn't be able to do.  And then I watch him find a way to do them anyway. I watch him day after day steel up his shoulders and keep pushing forward, onward, upward.

Now, don't get me wrong... He is not perfect.  And neither were these amazing Book of Mormon heroes.  They were, however, good men, with good hearts who loved The Lord, honored their God-given abilities and desired to serve our Heavenly Father.

I understand that the Book of Mormon heroes were prophets and Dustin is not.  But I also understand that we know of these men so that we can try to emulate them - so that we may know that we are also capable of such greatness.

Each and every hero had major challenges and obstacles to overcome.  Each of them did everything that lie within their power and then trusted and relied on our Savior to give them unique and extraordinary strength that would ultimately put them in a class of superheroes.

I love this good man.  I feel honored to call him mine.  I hope that one day our kids know how lucky they are to have a real life superhero as their daddy.  

Happy Father's Day, my love!  Everything that I adore about my own dad and love about yours,  I see inside you.  

Dustin Father's Day.jpg

Happy Father's Day to our amazing, strong, honorable dads, who love us with their whole hearts and never, ever pass up an opportunity to be the rock that we lean on.  We are so blessed to call them ours.  No doubt about it, we come from strong and sturdy stock.

Back in the Saddle... Again

It has been far too long since I have posted an update.

We are finally out of the post surgery heartache and struggle and settling into our newest temporary normal.

Cole's resilience just amazes me.  He has been going to bed all by himself and staying asleep all night long for about a week and a half now.  Once in a while he will wake up and want to be tucked back in, but he's not in a terrified panic anymore.  And he couldn't be more proud of himself!  Every morning he exclaims, "I sleeped all by myself!!!"  

Right when Cole was having his hardest time, Dust had the inspired idea to have Aunt Annette teach Cole horse riding lessons.  We watched his paralyzing fear of bedtime slowly melt away as he became more and more comfortable in his riding lessons.  

His first lesson was filled with tears and frantic begging to get off.  With Dust and I on each side holding on to him and Annette and Bruce helping with his more experienced cousin riding along side him, he made it through that lesson.  During his last lesson, we were all so proud to see him hop right on that horse and tell everyone "watch me!"  I'm so proud of him and who he is.  

Haley's skinny little bum is walking around like a maniac!  She has learned that she can survive on one word:


With raised eyebrows, a smile and a tilt of the head, she points to the fridge, outside, a book, a drink.  And she generally gets whatever "that" is!  Yep.  We are suckers for that sweet little thing!  Also.... if she doesn't get "that" immediately, the high pitched scream she emits is enough to make you jump right out of your chair and give her whatever she wants.  Yep.  We are in trouble!

I can always tell when Dust is starting to feel more like himself - he wants to go, go, go and work, work, work!

Cole told me the other day, "My daddy is a GOOOOOOD worker!  He can fix all of things.  He can fix the basketball hoop, he can fix this, he can fix that and that.  Yep.  He can fix all of things!"

Dust insisted on heading up to his very favorite place... the Hale family ranch for the big work weekend.  It is something he NEVER misses.  I thought he should maybe take it easy this year, but I wanted to get him to his "happy place".  So, up we went!  And wouldn't you know it, he was out there working all day long with the rest of them!  I think he was a little bummed to not be handling the chainsaw up on the mountain, but he found other things to be productive and busy and helpful.

On Sunday we headed over to the cabin with my family.  My brother and his little fam were in town.

Needless to say, going to the ranch and the cabin all worked together to create Cole's dream weekend!

We came home on Monday and the men loaded a U-Haul full of stuff to finally get my brother completely moved to Arizona.

After they got back from the storage unit, I went into the garage to find Dust leaning against the car all red-faced and sweaty, drinking a Gatorade.  I couldn't help but to smile.  Little things like seeing him worn out from working so hard are things I never even noticed, let alone thought I'd miss.  

And I, I am just as happy as I could be knowing that all of my people are happy.  It's a good feeling.  That's for sure.

We had a really great holiday weekend with so many people that we love so much.  Tin foil dinners, Red Baron shakes, playing with cousins, s'mores, swing-sets and four-wheelers, beautiful weather, and a whole lot of smiles.  That about sums it up!

Streams of Light

The other day I was driving on the freeway out to Kaysville to take Dust to work.  My eye was drawn upward, to the fencing on the overpass I was about to pass under.  Someone had arranged several plastic blue cups to spell out three words.  Three simple words, carefully placed together with purpose - seemingly just for me and my gloomy mood.


"You are alive," I repeated in my mind, squinting my eyes and furrowing my brow as I pondered on the thought for a second.  You are alive.

"You are right!  We are alive!" I exclaimed out loud as I hit my steering wheel with my hand.  

This last week has gotten better for all of us.  Our hearts are a little lighter, our smiles a little more free.  In fact, I received a few Mother's Day presents that were better than any physical gift anyone could give me.  I heard Dust belly laugh.  A few times!  There are not many things that can make my whole soul feel good like a carefree laugh from this man I love so much.  I watched him smile and enjoy the day with a light and happy countenance.

Together we watched Coley tell story after story with such excitement that his eyes would widen as his voice grew louder and louder.  We laughed at our brother in law as Instagram's newest #inexperiencedhashtagger. (It's #selfie not #selfish, just in case you were wondering).  We learned Haley knows what a dog is and might think she is one! (Lots of tongue wagging, panting, and barking from that silly little thing!)  We saw Cole, all red-faced and squealing as he and his cousin Jack ran from the biggest kid of all, their "Unca Er".  

I listened to my sweet husband express profound gratitude to his Father in Heaven that he gets to watch our funny little Haley take her first steps, that he gets to wrestle and play with his sweet Cole, that The Lord was willing to show him such mercy and love.

It was a really sweet Mother's Day for me.  I couldn't help but to be so very thankful for the things we have, the things Dust can do, the things he is able to see.  I wrapped my arms around his big, strong body, and just let myself feel happy in his arms, grateful that he is still here.  I can touch him.  I can see him.  I can talk to him.  And he can do the same right back.  Sometimes - especially when things get really hard - I forget to be grateful for all of the amazing blessings we do have.  I forget to be grateful for the lessons learned in the midst of the struggle.

Last night, we grabbed the kids and headed into the garage to load up in the car to go get some dinner.  Inside the garage, I could hear the rain pouring down outside.  I reached up, pushing the button to open the garage door.  

As the door slowly opened, I was surprised to see the most beautiful streams of light reaching through the surrounding storm.  It literally stole my breath for a minute.  I couldn't believe what a difference the sun makes!

Just a few days earlier, dark, heavy clouds layered thick through the sky.  The absence of light making the same rain threatening and scary.

In the middle of that gloomy storm, I headed out for a run.  I stepped off the porch and winced as the rain hit my face.  I wondered if I should just stay home, but crinkled my nose and decided to put my ear muffs on and brave the weather.  

Let me tell you a little secret that I learned that day - there is something so freeing about running in the rain!  I can't quite put my finger on what makes it so different.  It just feels so good to let go - to let the rain soak into your hair, dampen your clothes and drip down your face.  

With a few blocks left to go, as if it were hand-picked for this point in my run, the most perfect song came reaching through my headphones.

"It's all alright," the singer triumphantly echoed my thoughts.  "I guess it's all alright.  I've got nothing left inside of my chest, but it's all alright."

I threw my arms out, my head back and opened my chest to the raging sky.  Letting go of control over what I want, I embraced the storm.  Pulling the cool, damp air deep into my lungs, I thought to myself - it is alright!  Right now.  Just the way it is.  It might be pouring rain and I might be soaking wet, but it is alright.  

I do, however, love the days where the sun comes bursting through the clouds in the middle of the storm to help me realize how truly beautiful the rain can be.  I am thankful for the rays that are so often cast in our direction.


Just wanted to give a quick update on our little fam.

I never posted on here that Dust's vision isn't tilted anymore!  Hallelujah!  His vision still isn't as good as it was before the surgery, but his eye is still VERY injured and it does seem to be improving.

The eye he just had surgery on won't look left and the doctor thinks the plate she put in is restricting the movement so she wants to go back in and move it or take it out.  She would like to go back in sooner than later, but our other doctor (who we love and has been with us from the beginning) doesn't want to go back in earlier than 3 months post surgery.

Dust is back to work and back to working out.  Both of which seem to make him feel good.  He is frustrated with the lack of independence that comes with being unable to drive.

We have really been working with Cole to help make him feel extra secure and give him more attention.  It seems to be helping quite a bit.  He is not panicking as much, and he seems to be getting happier and happier.  Sweet kid.

I am no longer sleeping on his floor but one of us does lay with him until he falls asleep.  He has gone a few nights (not in a row) without waking up in the night and that is HEAVEN!  We've been trying melatonin and it seems to help him fall asleep, but doesn't seem to help him stay asleep.

Sweet Haley is recovering from an ear infection and a nasty virus.  She is getting so fun now that she's starting to walk, liking to read books and finally letting me rock her before bed.

She has the funniest little personality!  She definitely knows what she wants when she wants it!!! Love that girl.

I have been kind of in a crazy space since this last surgery.  I had talked myself into thinking that if I did EVERYTHING in my power to learn all that I needed to learn and in essence speed things along, this trial would get over with more quickly.  I became frantic as I listened to conference talks and studied and prayed constantly.  It's all I would think about, it's all I would talk about!  Really, once I reached the tipping point, it was a quick descent into crazy.  Without even realizing it was happening, I found myself koo-koo for cocoa puffs!

I just wanted to do everything that I had control over to prevent all of these people that I love from having any more pain.

Those are all things that are good to do and things I will continue to do, but maybe in a less obsessive manner.

I mean, really though, it was a good plan, right?  If trials are to help us learn, to help us become what our Father in Heaven desires for us to be... Let's speed this thing up!  I can learn more quickly, I can become more quickly!  I can do those things! 

As a sweet man in our ward bore his testimony on Sunday, he spoke of the woman who touched the hem of the Savior's garment and was healed.  He said he was continually searching for how he could touch the hem of the Savior's garment and be healed.

I think everyone who suffers tries to find the way to free themselves from the pains and heartache they suffer.  We know it is only through our Savior, we certainly have the faith for complete healing, so there has to be a reason for the continuation of such madness.  Learning and becoming.

Obsessed and frantic, my learning was certainly growing, but who I was becoming was unraveling.  Trying harder, doing more.  Faster and faster and faster.  Around and around and around.

Sheesh!  No wonder Cole was stressed out!  Poor kid!

As it turns out, trusting in The Lord and His timeline is hard.  Taking things into my own hands was the only logical solution.  Not quite how it works.  But I had to try, right?

With some help, I have started to take some deeeeep breaths.  I have decided to let go of control over Dustin's healing.  I have decided to live in today - not in what I hope to happen and still believe with my full heart will happen in the future, not in fear of the hardships that lie ahead on this road we are traveling.  I have decided to completely and fully trust a loving Father in Heaven.  To let His will be done.  Not my will, in my limited understanding.

"Your Father in Heaven and His Beloved Son love you perfectly.  They would not require you to experience a moment more of difficulty than is absolutely needed for your personal benefit or for that of those you love."

I remember when Dust and I had only been married a few years, we went to Maui with my family.  Playing in the waves of the ocean, without a care in the world, we spotted a huge dark shadow in the water.  A few years earlier, there had been a 10-foot tiger shark, just where we were swimming.  In a panic, my sister, brother, and I screamed and frantically scrambled through the water toward the shore.  

Over our shrill screams, I could hear Dust's a low, slow, calm voice.  "It's ok.  Don't freak out.  It's ok.  It's ok," he was saying as he slowly backed toward the shore

Just as we were about to break from the water and hit dry land, a giant turtle popped it's head out of the lurking darkness.

In that same calm manner, he has told me over and over again, "It will be ok.  Just be calm.  Everything will work out."  That's not to say, the reality of this hasn't been hard for him, but he really, truly trusts in The Lord.  He really, truly trusts in our Father in Heaven.  And he doesn't think any frantic attempts to get to the shore quicker will change what they have planned.

So.  Today.  Dust was able to go to the gym.  I snuggled my babies in bed watching Sherriff Callie.  I hurried to say my morning prayers as I made pancakes for Haley and Cole and eggs for Dustin.  We took daddy to work.  On a walk with Gramps, Cole found lots of places to hide, told the budding flowers that he thinks they're 'heading in the right direction!" and sang about everything he was doing.  It's always a good day when Cole's life becomes a musical again.  

Haley took a nice long nap while mom and Cole played make believe in every corner of the backyard.  I laid with Cole and tried to be patient as he talked himself to sleep.  I read a few scriptures as I finally had a moment to myself (for the peace it brings to my soul, not out of obsessive thinking).    

And tonight we were going to have Crock Pot Italian Chicken, but I left the crock pot on warm from last time, so I will figure something else out and then we will go get Dust and Cole ready for their first Father's and Son's camp out this weekend.  And I might actually attempt to get a run in!

Today, at least, is a good day.  For the first time in months, my mind is quiet.  And it feels so good.

My goal for the week is to not talk about or think about the hard and the sad things ahead and what I could do to fix it, to not even think about the good that is so close I can taste it and to just enjoy Cole today, Haley today, Dustin today, myself today.  Even mourning the things that are happening today.  Facing, mourning, enjoying the way we are today.  Nothing more, nothing less.


It's been a little bit since I have had #1  - the time, and #2 - the energy to write on the blog.

I'm not going to lie, we have been having a pretty rough go around here since the surgery.  We have all felt the weight of this trial knock us down over and over again.  Each one of us struggles to get back up only to get knocked down again.

Cole, especially, has been having a really hard time since this last surgery.  The stress and sadness surrounding him is just too much for him to handle. Our normally adventurous (albeit highly imaginative) boy has been sad, scared to be alone, in constant need of security and safety.  It literally tears my heart open to see him struggle like this.

If Dustin is out of his sight, he immediately needs his daddy.  If he is hurt, sad, or scared he needs both of us touching him.  He won't even think about sleeping in his room alone.

After a few nights of waking several times in a panic, I decided that Dust needed sleep and I took up sleeping quarters close enough to Cole's bed to be able to touch him each time he wakes or hold him if it escalates.

Last night reached a really low point for all of us.  Tears pouring down my face, I watched my sweet husband rock our struggling three year as he woke from his sleep in a panic attack at 12:30 am.  There haven't been too many times (I could probably count them on two hands) that I have come so very close to hitting a breaking point, but last night was one of them.  I just didn't feel like I could take any more.

After an hour of trying to calm him, a priesthood blessing by his dad, talking to the on-call pediatrician (Cole was screaming that his belly hurt), a band aide, some Advil and benedryl, some DoTerra Oils and a tummy rub Cole was well on his way to dreamland and I fell apart.  Ok, I fell apart several times during the episode, but after he was asleep, I lost it.

I sat on Cole's bed feeling so heartbroken that such a sweet little boy should have to deal with such a hard situation when he doesn't have any real way to process it and deal with it.  Just as his dad was getting better and life was feeling secure again, his dad suffers another "owie on his eyes" and Cole's world is flipped on it's head again.  That just can't possibly make any sense to a three year old!

Dust pulled me to him and told me again that it's all going to be ok.  It's all going to be worth it.

I asked him for a blessing.  The blessing he gave me was both powerful and sweet.  It assured me of a Father in Heaven and a Savior who know me and love me, who love my sweet Cole, my little Hale-Storm and my amazing husband and who are guiding our path.  It brought immediate peace to my heart and calm to my soul.

About an hour after Cole fell asleep, Haley woke up crying and wouldn't fall back to sleep!  Agh.  Our poor kids!  We are all going to be alright, but things are pretty hard right now.

It's so hard to think that we have so many possible surgeries ahead.  I hate the thought of seeing Dustin suffer more, Cole suffer more, Haley suffer more , our families suffer more.  It feels like the hard part will never end!!!  I sometimes wonder how much a person can take.  We are sure testing the limits.

After a hard and long doctor appointment on Wednesday, Dustin was as low as I'd ever seen him.  He had just been on the upswing after a bad couple of days.

After wracking my mind, trying desperately to find a way to help him over the hurdles he is facing, to no avail, we decided to go to the temple.

Praying fervently for help in this fight that we face - for healing in our souls, we walked hand-in-hand to the house of The Lord.  We had a really neat experience and left feeling refreshed and firm in our confidence in our Heavenly Father.  Excitement had replaced the fear in our hearts.

But then watching poor Cole struggle all afternoon and then last night brought more sorrow and pain.  It just really, truly is a refiner's fire.  I have never in my life experienced such depths as I have these past seven months watching the people I love suffer.  It's torture.  I'd much rather take the pain myself, no matter how excruciating.

We continuously beg and hope for reprieve.  But no matter what, we are firm in our resolve to serve our Father in Heaven and our Savior, to be who they want us to be.  We love them.  We trust that they know what's best for us, even when, at times, it seems like insanity to us.

Things will all work out.  They always do, especially when we rely on The Lord to guide us.  I'm convinced that a year from now, I will be happily laying on a beach somewhere with a smoothie in my hand as my babies and their dad build a huge sandcastle.  I will, however, take it sooner if its being offered!

Sorry for the depressing post.  I don't normally like to do that (which is why I haven't posted in a while).

This Easter

For me, this Easter is different than any other I've experienced.  Because of the extremity of this last year, I have been blessed to learn so much about our Savior - who He was,  who He is to me, what He suffered, why He suffered.

The scriptures talk a lot about how it felt to be a witness of the resurrected Lord.  And though Jesus had told them of that beautiful, world changing miracle which would occur three days after His crucifixion, the New Testament goes into great detail of their astonishment and inability to comprehend that what had been promised had really, truly, actually happened.

With all of those accounts from Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John - How desperately I wish I could read it from our Savior's point of view.

How glorious it must have felt to emerge from the tomb, free from the suffering that had just enveloped Him.  Three days after having suffered the excruciating torment of every physical pain, the deep anguish of every emotional pain, the terrible loneliness of every spiritual pain.  How did He feel?  What joy must have filled His heart to know that His mountain of a mission was done?  How did it feel to stand outside the tomb in the quiet of an early spring morning, knowing that He had suffered all that was asked of Him and triumphantly rose again as promised?  How sweet did the sun feel on His face as He undoubtedly knelt to glorify His Father?

And though He knew of the glorious things to come in a few short days, in the midst of what would be the greatest sacrifice known to man, even the Son of God cried out "O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt."

Able to see clearly the details of the specific plan God had for Him and the immense purpose and responsibility placed upon His shoulders, even Jesus himself asked if it might be possible that there be another way.  Then as He knelt to pray again, He valiantly agreed to do what He knew had to be done, "O my Father, if this cup may not pass away from me, except I drink it, thy will be done."

In the depths of His pain, struggling to see the glorious things He knew were ahead, Jesus bravely and beautifully put all of His trust in God - knowing this day would bring unimaginable suffering.  He trusted that His suffering would be worth it.

How I would have loved to have been there to see Him step out of the tomb - even to just watch from a distance.  To see the beauty of the spring after such a dark, cold winter.  To see the look on His face, hear the thoughts in His mind.

How thankful I am for the promise that Easter morning brings to me, to Dust.  That if we follow our Savior's example to put our heads down and patiently submit to our Heavenly Father's plan for us, no matter how difficult -  we have the promise of a beautiful spring ahead.

He knows us, He loves us.  He is able to see the beginning and the end, at the same time.  While our suffering is only a fraction of a percent of the suffering Jesus faced, our Heavenly Father can see that through our own small Gethsemane's, we will be enabled to do and be all that He desires for us.

As Dust and I struggle in the dark of our night, kneeling to beg our Father in Heaven to let our cup pass from us, we try to focus our eyes on the beautiful spring ahead.  We try to not take this test for granted, to learn the lessons specifically designed for us - that only through them we will be able to reach the maximum of our potential. 

I cannot possibly express the love I have for our Savior.  I am so very grateful that He selflessly gave all that He had to give for me, for my sweet husband, for our beautiful kids.  I am grateful to know that because He was willing to suffer, we are all able to conquer our Gethsemane's with His help.

Post-Op Progress

I'm sorry it has taken me this long to update how Dust is doing since his surgery.

Everything is just so dramatic, and to be honest - we are tired of all the drama.  This roller-coaster is starting to give us motion sickness!

The surgery was about five and a half hours. They first fixed Dustin's trach scar because it had a lot of scar tissue tethering it to his throat. Then they went in and dissected all around his left eye and tried to clean up all the scar tissue to release his eye so they could pull it forward. They went clear back, right next to the optic nerve and were able to pull it forward a few millimeters.  In fact, one of the doctors told us, "I've never been that far into the back of the orbit."  Gulp.  They wanted to be able to pull it out more but it just wouldn't.  They said they really tugged on the eye.  Gulp.  Gulp.

They put a plate next to his nose to try to prevent scar tissue from forming and obstructing movement of his eye.  And they put another plate under that eye.

They came out of surgery not totally thrilled with what they were able to do.  They weren't able to do anything with pulling his eyelids closer together because the tendon is too flimsy.  They were afraid it would do more damage to mess with it.  

We all kind of felt down about it.  But Dust's sister Stacie said it so well when she said that she thought, "No, they did exactly what they were supposed to do."

They didn't end up doing anything to Dustin's right eye, but have now decided they want to go in and do exactly what they did to the left to the right...  Soon.  Awesome.

Prepare, anxious waiting, severe pain, swelling, missing work, missing kids, sleepless nights.  Rinse. Repeat.

For days we knew that Dust could still see after this surgery, but we didn't know how much.  He was in a lot of pain and on a lot of meds.  He would only say that he could kind of see, but he never seemed worried about it.  I don't think anybody wanted to push the subject and make him worry so we just left it alone.

We came home from the hospital on Friday.  The kids were so glad to have their daddy home.  Cole and Haley have been all over Dust.  They really missed him while he was away.  It was funny - I'm not sure Haley recognized Dust in his hospital bed, because she was kind of scared at the hospital.  But from the moment he got home, she just couldn't get enough of him.  

On Saturday, he was able to open his eye on his own.  Early in the day he told me that everything looked really tilted to the left.  I thought it was strange, but tried not to worry.

Then while he was in the shower he told me there were two black holes in his vision.  That's when I got nervous.  That could mean more damage to the optic nerve.

He didn't want me to tell anyone.  Our lives have already been so dramatic, I think he just wanted to lay low and not draw anymore attention to himself.

Whelp, there we went again.  Another test of faith.  He stayed very calm and got on his knees while I called the doctor.

The resident on-call said, "Well, you knew it was a risk.  You were operating with an already tentative nerve."

..... Then come the pokes from the adversary.

"Maybe we shouldn't have done the surgery."

"Were we being greedy by wanting more vision?"

"Was everything that we experienced real or was it in our heads?"

"Has it all just been dumb luck?  And now we have really pushed that luck?"

"Are we just supposed to sit and wait with faith for another miracle?"

To which Dustin told me, " No.  We will do all that we can do and The Lord will do the rest."

This scare really caused us to take step back and check if we knew what we knew that we knew. (If that makes any sense).  This paragraph from an Elder Holland talk kept replaying in my head.

"Like Moses in his vision, there may come after the fact some competing doubts and some confusion, but they will pale when you measure them against the real thing. Remember the real thing. Remember how urgently you have needed help in earlier times and that you got it. The Red Sea will open to the honest seeker of revelation. The adversary does have power to hedge up the way, to marshal Pharaoh’s forces and dog our escape right to the water’s edge, but he can’t produce the real thing. He cannot conquer if we will it otherwise. “Exerting all [our] powers to call upon God,” the light will again come, the darkness will again retreat, the safety will again be sure. That is lesson number one about crossing the Red Sea, your Red Seas, by the spirit of revelation."

(Great, great, great speech by the way)

We had prayed so hard for months about this surgery.  We never felt directed away from it.  We felt like this was a good step toward Dustin's recovery.  And we had decided we were going to be "agents who act, not objects to be acted upon."

It was a scary leap into the dark to go into this surgery.  Wolves on every side, the sound of rushing rapids below the cliff we were standing on.  But when we stopped to listen, we could hear a still small voice telling us to jump and He would catch us.  Totally terrifying.  Somewhat against logical reasoning, but more real than even the rapids below.

"Trust in The Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy path." (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

And though our experiences fade a little with time, there is no denying all that has happened.  All I have to do is read my journal and the reality of what we have felt, seen and experienced comes rushing back.  How I wish we could feel the strength and the power of that miraculous moment  and all of our beautiful personal spiritual experiences all the time!

It was going to be ok.  It was all going to be ok.

So, we decided to call Dustin's dad (who brought a close family friend) for a blessing and headed up to the Moran Eye Center.

They quickly found that the black holes were just blood inside the eye that will resolve over time, like a bruise.

The tilt could be from the swelling or it could be from damage to the Fourth Cranial Nerve.  They were back there right by it in the surgery.

There is a test to measure the function of the Optic Nerve and Dustin tested the same as he did before the surgery.  Whew!

He tested 20/100, but we have to coat his eye in ointment that is pretty much like smearing vaseline on your eye.   So I can see why he can't really read the eye chart.

We went home knowing this but not much more.

When we got home, I asked Dust how he was able to stay so calm.  "What's done is done.  And if damage was done, we will deal with it.  But I think it will all resolve.  Either way it will all be ok."

I got a phone call from the doctor on Monday and we went to a post-op appointment on Tuesday.

She told us that if it is damage to the Fourth Cranial Nerve, unlike the Optic Nerve, it can heal over time - or there can be surgery done to fix it.

His eye is not moving very much so they put him on steroids to try to make the swelling go down so it can get moving and won't get stuck in scar tissue again.

During this appointment they decided to go back in soon to try to put the right eye into place.

Dust's right eye is turned in toward his nose.  His eyelid wasn't functioning before and over the last few months has started to.

They thought that the right eye was turned in because the outer muscle was either dead or paralyzed.  During this last surgery they discovered it was neither.  The inner muscle near his nose is actually scarred down, tethering his eye inward.  We are hopeful the next surgery will fix that.

He tested 20/50 at that appointment on Tuesday.

Sometimes I wish I could fast forward through all the nitty gritty heartbreaking details.  Go straight from the day his vision returned to the day of full health and strength.  Wouldn't that be nice?

This road is a lot harder and a lot longer than either of us ever could have imagined.  But we truly are learning things we could never learn in any other way.

The black holes in Dust's vision are mostly gone now and he thinks the tilt might be getting better, but it's hard to tell because he doesn't have anything to reference it off of.

His eye looks to me to be in a much better position and in the CT scan he had on Monday, it is much more forward.  It will probably drop back a little once the swelling goes down, but so far so good.

Since we got home from the hospital, Dust has been enjoying morning snuggles with our little munchkins and spending lots of time together as a family.  

Dust has been wanting to get out of the house the past few days so we have been running errands, trying to get bids for our house plans.  That has been something really fun to focus on.

He is doing better every day, which means we are all doing better every day.

Sorry if this post is all over the place.  That's kind of where my head is these days.

Be Still

Dustin's sister Stacie gave him a cd that he asks me to turn on every time his pain is really severe. I have found him several times, lying back silently in his bed listening to it over the last six months.  He asks me to skip the first song and go straight to the second.  His breathing slows as he settles his restless thoughts and restless mind.

A few weeks ago, my mom sat in sacrament meeting and listened to an instrumental duet of this same song.  She came home and asked me if I had ever read the words, without singing them.

For the last week, I have repeated phrases from this song in my mind every time fear, heartache, frustration, or despair start to creep their way in.

Be still, my soul: The Lord is on thy side;

With patience bear thy cross of grief or pain.

Leave to thy God to order and provide;

In ev'ry change he faithful will remain.

Be still, my soul: Thy best, thy heav'nly Friend

Thru thorny ways leads to a joyful end.


Be still, my soul: Thy God doth undertake

To guide the future as he has the past.

Thy hope, thy confidence let nothing shake;

All now mysterious shall be bright at last.

Be still, my soul: The waves and winds still know

His voice who ruled them while he dwelt below.


Be still, my soul: The hour is hast'ning on

When we shall be forever with the Lord,

When disappointment, grief, and fear are gone,

Sorrow forgot, love's purest joys restored.

Be still, my soul: When change and tears are past,

All safe and blessed we shall meet at last.

Things always get better.  They do.  No matter how hard they can be, they always get better.

Surgery Date

April has always been good us.  In fact many of our most pivotal positive life changing events have come through April.

In April 2003 as seniors in high school Dustin I began to fall in love.  It was the month of our first date, our first kiss.  It was the month our nervous hands first anxiously joined together, completely unaware that these were the hands we would hold to forever.  These were the hands we would cling to through all the good and hard that life has to offer.

For many reasons, April 8th, specifically, has brought some of our most beautiful moments.

On the evening of April 7th of 2006, Dustin asked me to join him for a nice dinner and a walk around temple square in Salt Lake.  Oh yes, I was absolutely sure a proposal was on its way that night.

Looking deep into my eyes and whispering sweet nothing's..... Dustin faked me out over and over again.  After about an hour a security guard kindly asked us to make our way out of temple square as it was getting ready to close.  Dustin couldn't help but chuckle at the disappointment written all over my face.  Boy, did he think he was hilarious!

And the next day, hands shaking and his heart literally pounding so hard that even I could feel it, Dustin slipped a ring on my finger and asked me to be his wife.

Last year, April 8th brought us our beautiful Haley Jean.  Just like her hilarious dad, she faked us out several times before choosing April 8th as the day we would celebrate this sweet girl forever. Her great-grandma Mary Jean couldn't have been more thrilled that she decided to come on her 86th birthday!

For the last few weeks we have been praying that Heavenly Father would guide Dust's doctors to choose the perfect day for Dustin's next surgery.  We pray for a day where the doctors will be on their game, where they will be prepared and ready.  We pray for the day where Dustin's body will be ready to accept the next changes.

We pray that, above all things, Heavenly Father's will can be done concerning us at this time.  We trust Him and His plan for us, whatever that might be.

The day that was chosen did not surprise me.  

I'm not going to lie - at first it made me really sad that Dust will spend Haley's first birthday on the operating table and we will spend it in a hospital waiting room.  My heart aches to think that around the time Haley should be digging in to her first birthday cake, I will be struggling against helplessness - wishing that somehow I can take his pain away.

After a quick prayer and a desire to have a positive mental attitude, I decided to try to look at this from a different perspective.  We could dwell on the things that send pangs of fear and sadness to our hearts or we could focus on the things that will lift and encourage us.

I realized that though April 8th of 2014 will be hard, it will be a day we look back on as another pivotal positive life changing day in our lives.  This day will bring with it another huge step toward Dustin's healing.

In a planned six hour surgery, two surgeons will go in to do more reconstruction on Dustin's  face. This time they will be focusing all of the surgery on and around Dustin's eyes.

Obviously, there are risks involved with a surgery like this.  Of course it is scary.  Of course we are scared.  But we know that this is a necessary step.  Probably just as necessary spiritually as physically.  We are now preparing ourselves to assert our faith and confidence in The Lord once again and hold fast to the promises He has made us.

Dustin for one is ready.  More than ready.  He just wants to get it over with.  And I... I will suck it up and be ready.  Whether I like it or not.

Although I am not looking forward to the aftermath of another surgery, both of us are ready for life to move forward.

We trust that The Lord will guide our path.  We believe George Q. Cannon with our whole hearts when he said, "The truth remains that we are the children of God, and that He has actually given His angels—invisible beings of power and might—charge concerning us, and they watch over us and have us in their keeping."  We constantly pray for those angels to surround us, to guide us, to guide Dustin's surgeons. 

April 8th of 2014 will be hard day.  It will be a hard day, but it will be a good day.

"Trust in The Lord with all thine heart and lean not unto thine own understanding.  In all thy ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct thy paths." (Proverbs 3: 5-6)

Coley's 3rd Birthday

Coley's 3rd birthday in pictures.  No words are needed.  This kids' face says it all.

I think it's pretty safe to say that Cole had a pretty great birthday.  We are so blessed to have this fiery, smart, sweet boy who carries around so much joy.  He is one in a million. 

Dust might have been so happy about all the things he gets to do and see with his son that he totally spoiled him with all of those things.  I didn't see any complaining from Cole!  He was all smiles, all weekend long!