Encouragement · Family · Hope · wounded healer

Seen through her baby’s eyes

I’m Dawn.

The mother in this story is me. Our little family was boxed-in by a fire in our car.

We skidded across the access road off the Interstate and rolled the car three times.

Three of us survived. My seven-year-old son, Ryan, was burned alive, to death.

I realized last night that I haven’t told you very much about our baby boy, Tyler, who was freed from the flames along with Ron, and me. (We three were burned over 25% of our bodies).

This was–no-contest–the worst experience of my life.

Everything in me died on a slab that day, but my breathing wouldn’t quit.

I only wanted one thing . . . to be with my Ry-Ry immediately.

About Tyler.

My 2-year-old gave me the best Gifts of my life. (He’s a sophomore at Auburn now).

He gave his gift every morning of every month of every year after “the accident.”

 

He saw me beyond his own pain. He saw beneath my scars.

He saw the heart of a mother who didn’t deserve to be called “mother” anymore.

For him, nothing had changed.

We were still Team Tyler!

And every morning he pushed my bedroom door open, he saw the one thing he needed most. Mommy-Me! I was all he needed.

I was haunted by my consummate failure at the ‘’scene,’’ Tyler wasn’t.

I was more than my scars.

That’s what he taught me again and again, and he hardly knew how to talk.

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Forget words he knew me ‘by heart.’

I was all-mother, not his ‘scarred’ mother.

I was the mother who knew just what he needed, and when.

He showed me I still had the Goods.

He never once bailed on me while I was bailing on myself every day.

How can a 2-year-old do that?

I think about the ”Little Prince” and what he said, “

It is only with the heart that one can see rightly.

What is essential is invisible to the eye.”

Tyler saw me rightly and I grew into his vision of me.

He took me every day by the hand into the kitchen for breakfast.

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Tyler

He led me to the window to show me, in a loving way, that Life goes on.

It didn’t matter to him if I was ready to see it or not. God only knows how saw my strength. God only knows how he knew me.

Tyler will always be God’s best Gift to me!

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me and tyler

dawn

BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @dawnraymondhirn)

Encouragement · Hope · wounded healer

It just didn’t matter anymore

Everybody knows Brody won’t take off his shirt.Brody2 CC

He won’t swim when all his friends are swimming because when he was a little boy he was horribly burned.

It was his chest that was seriously mangled.

He finally realized he can’t escape his scars unless he wore a shirt 24/7!

He could hide his scars under a shirt!

But what does Brody do when everyone goes shirtless?

Brody at hose CC

A few weeks ago I met Brody face-to-face at our “Catching Courage” event in Florida for burn survivors and firefighters.

To say he was in a league of his own would be an understatement.

He had something.

Don’t ask me what it was except to remind us that “The Lord works in mysterious ways!”

Brody is a wonder boy straight from the Heart of God. 

Ask anyone who knows him!

Brody is his own highlight reel on ESPN!

I could tell you BrodyStories all night, but let me just answer the earlier question about when things suddenly go shirtless.

Brody CC

Oh, I forgot to tell you about the dolphins.

We were in the dolphin pool at “Theater by the Sea,” during Catching Courage.

Brody, hanging back, looked at the other burn kids in the dolphin pool and you could see his brain working, you could feel his internal struggle.

He hesitated.

Then looked at the kids again and suddenly he stripped his shirt off.

He made a decision.

And with a big dose of courage, he ran into the water to swim with the dolphins!

The scars didn’t matter, and the insecurity was gone.

We all cheered him!

The Gift he gave us was his whole self!

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Hey Brody! You light my fire!

Dawn

 

BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @dawnraymondhirn)

Encouragement · Hope · Relationship

New Kids in Town

There’s a new breed of “hero” in the country.

I’m pretty sure you’ve seen a few but you didn’t know what you were looking for.

Wait.

I’m getting ahead of myself.

 

First, I want to talk about the heroes that have flown in and out of your life.USA womens soccer 2019

Think back to Superman, or George Lucas, astronauts or police officers?

How ’bout our World Champion USA soccer team?   

So who and what is this new breed of heroes I’m talking about?

These heroes are “Pediatric Burn Survivors”!

They survived the fire that was consuming them and they are surviving the emotional handicap of growing up scared.  

But how are these ‘child burn survivors’ heroes?

For one thing,  most face multiple surgeries, over multiple years since every growth spurt requires “skin-release’ surgery so they can keep growing. 

Next, they take their scars to school with them and are then ridiculed.

Many are bullied or laughed at.

One child I know was tagged with  a new name–“Freddy Kruger.”

I want you to take that in and feel the shame that lingers. (And we thought the sky was falling when we had a ‘zit’ on our forehead.) 

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Catching Courage ’19 Pediatric Burn Survivors

These young burn survivors are heroes because daily they walk into school never knowing who would hurt them with words or everything going on behind their back.

Think about the everyday insecurities of ‘growing up’, especially in puberty.

Then, on top of their fears, add physical deformities.

Be mindful that most of their peers will never understand. Not even me–an adult burn survivor–even I don’t understand.

It’s all so unfair.

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CC ’19-Brody and Kaleigh
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CC ’19–Alex
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CC ’19–Lovely
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CC ’19–Future Firefighter Brantson

These kids are the new breed of “heroes.”

dawn

BTW-If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @dawnraymondhirn

 

 

 

Encouragement · Hope · Relationship

Who rescues the rescuers?

How does Ryan Shines help support our Firefighters?

We’re building a community at Ryan Shines that recognizes that Firefighters are stronger when they face their daily internal reality together and head-on.

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We want this community of trust to be available to every Career&Volunteer&Retired Firefighter in America.

We want to show them that Firefighters don’t ever have to live or die alone.

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So we will join their band of brothers and sisters from across the state to form a support network for the mental and physical health of their fellow Firefighters by providing trained assistance through a  “Firefighter Peer Support” Team.

Let me tell you the story about a Fire Chief in Alabama. His name is Mark Sealy and he oversees 24 fire stations in Mobile.

mark sealy

His best friend, a fellow Firefighter, suffered and died from PTSD.

All he knew was to self-medicate.

That’s the day when the Chief really ‘got it.’

His friend had survived every emergency that Firefighters face but his ‘internal Civil War’ took him out.

So, Mark not only knows everything first hand about firefighting but he has also been at the center of personal tragedy himself.

And he’s so open and eager that our common dream of ‘Peer Support’ take root and grow.

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In other words,  we ‘drank the kool-aid.’

I wish I could clone him and send him to every fire station in the country.

This is what we are developing in our own circle of influence.

We have created our first of many statewide Support Teams called “Alabama Firefighter Peer Support” at Ryan Shines.

Now, I am not fluent in ‘Firefighter,’ but I do understand personal trauma and the aftermath (PTSD), and the importance of finding friends you can trust.

You’ll find men and women with whom you can speak in a kind of  ‘shorthand’ because they intimately know the words and the feelings that have been burned into their brain since their first fire. 

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Ryan

Every day I wish Ryan was here. But when I look at all we’re doing together, he is no less than the engine driving us, and his is the Shining that lights our way.

 

dawn

BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @dawnraymondhirn)

education · Hope

The Gift Firefighters give ordinary people every day

Do you know any firefighters personally?

I do.pktsxzhqcerykzsohqswg-e1563280056635.jpg

I’ve spent the last six months with over 500 Firefighters.

As we have learned at Ryan Shines fighting fires could cost them their life, or their health, their family, their security, or their future.

Whatever else it is, it is risk, pure and simple.

Firefighters risking their lives.

Do you remember this? 

“There is no greater Love than to sacrifice ourselves for others’’(John 15:13). That single sentence should be carved on the front of every Fire Station in every city. 

RIO CHRIST

Some say that “sacrifice” is weak.

But think about your parents’ sacrifices for you.

It was a sign of strength. It is the opposite of self-centered.

It is ‘sacrificial generosity.’

Most Firefighters would tell you: “It’s never about us!

It’s about the ones we are rescuing.”

And that is the way they live their lives. 

One Firefighter said, “I was born for this! To risk my life for others. For strangers.” 

 And then they’ll tell you they’ve never met a stranger.

ff-firestation

 

There is a Brotherhood among these Firefighters, and everybody they rescue joins their Station House of Courage.

dawn

BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @dawnraymondhirn)

 

Encouragement · Faith · Hope

The First American Dream(1630)

“We shall be a City on a Hill; the eyes of the people of the world are on us. We must delight in each other, and make our neighbor’s condition our own. 

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“We must rejoice together, cry together, work and suffer together; always having the Promise of Independence in our sights.” —John Winthrop, “The First American Dream”

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We’re on the cusp of 2020 and members of that same holy dream.

We are citizens of the City on a Hill.

This original dream lifts us up beyond ourselves so that we stand on the shoulders of our first American heroes(our first families) and catch their Spirit of Freedom. 

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My nieces on Lake Martin!
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Trenton, Luke, Jake & Tyler-Lake Martin

Let’s celebrate the 4th and our Independence!

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dawn

Encouragement · Hope · Relationship

Hero-to-Hero

In 2018, we expanded our ‘Blessings umbrella’ to include Firefighters.

I had no idea how much our Firefighters go through emotionally and physically. Even sacrificially.

All I really knew is that they like to fish.

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Heroes&Hooks/Catching Courage Bass Fishing Tournament 2019

So, we created a fishing event called “Catching Courage,” including both Burn Survivors and Firefighters at the same event.

Part of our mission at Ryan Shines Burn Foundation is to get both groups together at one place for bonding, healing, and serious fun!

We are creating a safe place where our Survivors and Firefighters can be together, fish together, and reconnect after the fire.

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Catching Courage 2018 – Survivors & Firefighters

That’s why our mission is so rare.

I wish you could see both groups enjoying each other and asking each other real life-questions.

We didn’t know what to expect.

I thought the kids might be shy but they talked with each other on the same level: Hero-to-Hero!

This year, we continue honoring both groups in a Saltwater Fishing Tournament (“Catching Courage”).

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It will involve multi-state Firefighters and it will be hosted by our ‘First Mates,’ our youth Burn Survivors.

Our hope is that every youth Burn Survivor and Firefighter leaves for home with a full heart; encouraged and more courageous as they learn to tell their story and catch everyday courage from each other.

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Catching Courage 2018  Islamorada, FL

dawn

PS- Next time, I’d like for us to talk about ‘the sacrifices our Firefighters make.’

BTW-(If this is something that you would like to support, please visit us at www.ryanshines.com or follow us on FB and IG @dawnraymondhirn)