Faith · Family · healing-over-pain · Hope · Motherhood

“Girl, you’ve gotta carry that weight a long time!”

This is the story of a mother and son.

It is a hard-luck love story between Monica and her ten-year-old, Lucas.

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Lucas

The whole family was gathered around the table for Christmas dinner.

Each person had their own pan over a fondue burner.

What happened was the fuel was running low, so Lucas’ grandmother got up to go into the kitchen to refill the gas.

When she removed the lid to pour more fuel into the pan, a flame shot across and consumed Lucas from his face down to his belly button.

“I was still at the table,” Monica said, “and had no idea that Lucas was burning.

The kitchen caught fire and when I turned, all I could see was my little boy on fire.

I froze.

His dad ripped his clothes off, put out the fire, carried Lucas to the car, and we raced to the hospital.

I was amazingly calm on the outside but my heart was breaking.”

Like always, Christmas is here again, and Monica has felt it slithering toward her since September.

Talk about carrying so much weight for such a long time!

Every year is always heavy.

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It breaks the most resilient spirit.

 

 

Lucas has had nine surgeries, with more to come.

Monica was in there for the first one and it was unbearable.

Whenever Lucas is in the hospital he does the same thing.

He shines a light of reassurance to mom and lets her know he’s “doing well.”

He continually gives her the gift of his own strength so she won’t be afraid.

In the past two months, Monica has found the courage to say to herself: “THIS IS HARD!”

But she knew that things have been so hard for Lucas, that she didn’t deserve to admit that things were hard for her, too.

Her vulnerability is unfolding, and she has discovered a deeper love than she’s ever known.

For Lucas.Bs-Lucas2

Lucas is fourteen now and in high school.

His faith in God is contagious.

He is so bright in his classes.

He’s on the wrestling team.

Last week he won Gold in the Elite division.

He removes his shirt bearing the scars on his chest, and he is not the least bit self-conscious.

They are his medals, too.

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Mom & son(Monica & Lucas)

 

dawn

Encouragement · Faith · healing-over-pain · wounded healer

Rising from the ashes

“My name is Lisa Beckwith. I was burned On November 9, 2017.

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Lisa

It was a beautiful fall evening and my family and I were outside enjoying a nice fire in our fire pit.

After a while, my husband and teenage daughter and son went in for the night.

I loved the quiet privacy.

When I decided to turn-in for the night, I stood up out of my chair and stepped on the left corner of my robe and fell into the fire pit.

My chin hit the steel ring and my hands broke my fall in the hot coals.

With unexpected strength, I pushed myself out of the pit.

I ran to the bathroom, splashed cold water over my face and grabbed a towel.

I honestly didn’t think that I had been badly burned. When I looked in the mirror, I was horrified.

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My son and daughter heard the commotion and ran into the bathroom to see what was going on.

They were horrified, too, seeing skin hanging from my face and hands.

They called my husband, who was already asleep.

He came running and, in minutes, had me bandaged and on our way to the hospital.

Upon arriving, the hospital determined I needed to be at a facility that was highly skilled at treating burn victims.

So I was admitted to Vanderbilt University Medical Center and into the Burn Center.

 

I was burned badly on the right side of my face and both hands.bs-lisa 2

A good amount of hair was burned as well.

Ironically, the robe I was wearing that night ended-up saving the rest of my body.

They skin-grafted both hands.

Then, in a few months, I had a second graft surgery on my left hand.

I have some limitations to what I can do with my hands.

I always will, but I am grateful the limitations are minimal.

My scars are deep, but wearing compression gloves helps me do everyday tasks.

Overall, my healing was miraculous.

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What I didn’t expect was the strength it takes to heal emotionally.

But I have a strong faith and that’s the main reason why I’m making such progress in my healing process.

I certainly have my share of bad days.

I allow myself to have them, but I refuse to focus on them.

I encourage people to find the good that is in everything. 

And, trust me, I mean EVERYTHING.”

dawn

healing-over-pain · Hope

GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!

Meet Brad, a burn-surviving firefighter, and our hero.

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Brad

He has been with the Birmingham Fire Department for 15 years. 

In November 2011, the Company was sitting around the Fire Station when the call came.

“It was a one-story fire in the back-right section of the house.

We were first at the scene.

The fire had blown-out the back windows.

The front door was locked so we forced it.

We were blinded by the soupy black smoke.

We couldn’t see any fire so we pushed on.

We were hit in the face by a severe change in temperature.ff-brad 4

 

The only thing stronger than the smoke was our Officer screaming: ‘GET OUT! GET OUT! GET OUT!’

Then, everything went from black to bright orange.”

Brad had lost his bearings and he was on fire!

His pain multiplied to the nth degree!

He decided if he was going to get out, he’d have to stand-up and walk-out.

Suddenly, he saw a bright burning orange force and knew it was a window.

“I shattered it with my arm.”

When he rolled out into the front yard and still-on-fire, two brother-firefighters extinguished him.

Brad was transported to the Burn Center, where he was treated for weeks for his 25% burns, surgeries, and rehab.Screen Shot 2019-11-20 at 1.48.07 PM

I’ve told you everything he told me, but I haven’t come to the point. 

The real message is this: Brad went back!

Knowing what could happen again, Brad re-established himself in the line of fire.

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I suppose it’s a bit like when your house on the banks of the river floods, and you respond by rebuilding on the same land because it is where you were planted.

It is bedrock.

Your touchstone!

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Brad-Catching Courage ’18

What we’re still seeing from Brad is a Primal Courage written across his heart in indelible ink!

dawn

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Family · healing-over-pain · Hope · Relationship

Joe is a Superstar!

Joe Kinan was the most severely injured of the crowd who were burned in the fire at “The Station” nightclub in West Warwick, RI, on Feb. 20, 2003.

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Joe Kinan

The fire killed 100 people and injured more than 200.

For the past 16 years, Joe has been on a rugged journey of recovery, having had 148 surgeries.

Joe not only had to fight his way back from injuries that should have killed him, but he also developed a paralyzing fear of fire.

“I try to look at it and face up to it but it’s tough,” he told PEOPLE magazine: “Even if it’s just a candle with a one-inch flame, it’s like the size of a tree to me.”

Before the fire, Joe worked as much as possible—two or three jobs at a time.

He was also an amateur bodybuilder, spending hours working out and loving the “mental clarity that it brought.”

When the fire started, he immediately tried to get himself and his friend out the door.

She did not survive.

“I kept thinking about my daughter. I didn’t want her to not have a dad.”

Joe’s fitness as a bodybuilder helped him survive the fire, but his deeper source of strength came from his mental fitness.

At the 2007 World Burn Congress in Vancouver, Canada, Joe met Carrie Pratt, a fellow burn survivor, and they became close friends.

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Joe & Carrie Kinan

Three years later, Joe and Carrie began dating and eventually married in 2017.

In recent years, Joe received a hand transplant.

After lengthy rehab, he can now use a chef’s knife again (getting back to his love of cooking) and make his own cup of coffee in the morning.

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Kinan’s & me

Last summer Joe had several rejection episodes that caused him to lose all his fingernails and develop neuropathy in his hand.

Joe has learned a lot about the process of healing on his journey to recovery.

“Something I keep saying to myself is ‘’You end up a patient—now you have to be patient.”

Joe has started a real estate company flipping houses and likes to stay as physically fit as possible.

One more thing.

Another miracle.

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A baby girl.

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Who is almost 6!

dawn

(I acknowledge my debt to the “Phoenix Society’s World Burn Congress” in the writing of this blog)

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)

Faith · Grief · Hope

Firefighters rush into the burning Towers (d.343)

 At 8:45 A.M. on September 11, 2001, an airplane slammed into the North Tower of the World Trade Center.

9:11 ff going in

I thought it was a horrible piece of flying since three airports were in close proximity.

But, then, twenty minutes later, most of us saw for ourselves a second airplane slamming into the South Tower, and exploded like a ball of fire.

This was no accident.

It was a deliberate act of aggression.

Thirty-five minutes later a third plane crashed into the Pentagon leaving a gaping hole in its side.

The fourth plane crashed in a field in Shanksville, Pennsylvania.

As for the death count, 2996 men and women died in the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

Firefighters Todd Heaney and Frankie DiLeo, of Engine 209, c

And the World Trade Center was gone for good.

Americans of sixty national backgrounds were in the towers.

But as horrific as that was, the terrorists struck every one of us. 

Firefighters Raise A U.S. Flag At The Site Of The World Trade Center

This morning, my dear friends, I am crying again, while at the same time, my heart swells with respect and deep gratitude for the New York City Fire Departments(FDNY).

Ten House(fire station next door) arrived first and rushed into the Towers.

Two-hundred-fourteen fire vehicles (44 units) responded.

Over the past 6 months, I have met more than 600 firefighters throughout Alabama, Texas, and Florida.

I look into their eyes and every time I see the same single-minded commitment as the brave ones in New York. 

We stand and raise our voices to shout our praise to them, to sing our love to them, to honor their sacrifices, and to continue the sweet melodies of their lives.

We proclaim the land where they died a sacred place, where they showed us a degree of vulnerability far beyond our imagination.

Living well and loving courageously is our best revenge. 

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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)

 

Faith · healing-over-pain · Hope · Relationship

“All I did was pray in the ambulance.”

I’m going to tell you a story, but the star of our story is way bigger than a simple story.

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Jadah at Camp Conquest ’18

She’s a capital “S” Story!

Jadah is the girl, and she is God’s ‘S’tory!

The secret word here is one of the best words ever:  MIRACLE!

Jadah was burned over much of her body.

She and her cousins woke up early and went out back to re-light the bonfire of the night before.

One of her cousins opened a can of gas to help the fire along.

Suddenly, the fire backed-up into the can, he dropped it and it exploded on Jadah!

She ran into the house on fire and somebody called 911.

The hospital was 45 miles away, and it took that long for the ambulance to arrive.

Jadah sat her burning body down in a chair to wait.

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Jadah & Cpt. Cheeney Catching Courage ’18

There was so much pain she began to think she wouldn’t make it.

“All I did was to pray in the ambulance,” she told me.

Jadah said, ”It was so rough fighting in the hospital.

All the medicine they shot in me made me feel really weird and not myself.

I remember the pain.

Nothing could reach it.

It was all over me, and it was so horrible and so hard!

But it also really made me fight.

And even while I was fighting I realized God was busy working on me, too, inside and out!”

CC Jadah fish

Spoiler alert! Here comes the MIRACLE!

“I was miracle-healed!” (I couldn’t believe what I was hearing!)

She began to cry and said it again: “I was miracle-healed. God took most of my scars away!

God was giving me a second chance.”

Finally, she said, “I want to thank the firefighters, the paramedics, and the police officers.

They are all heroes!

My dad is a firefighter, and I know it hurt him almost as much as me!”

There was so much Courage sitting across from me.

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Jadah’s new friend  Catching Courage ’18

But more than anything, her deep gratitude.

dawn

#catchingcourage #ryanshines

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Faith · Hope

Hearts and Minds working together

Once upon a time, in the days just after receiving God’s Original Blessing, it hit me that my Blessing wasn’t mostly for me to keep in a mid-sized Safety Deposit Box.

It wasn’t mine to hide or hoard.

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Ryan

So, I freed my mind to move around wherever it wants to explore.

It went directly to my heart. Pretty awesome combo, ‘hearts and minds’ working together side-by-side!

Everywhere they went I followed with no idea where we were going.

But at every turn, I kept seeing children.

Children that had been burned, but had survived.

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I suddenly KNEW my Blessing was for these courageous burn survivors and our uniformed heroes who ran into burning buildings to search and rescue.

My dream was beginning to multiply like rabbits. 

My next brainstorm was The Foundation.

We named it after our seven-year-old boy, Ryan, who was killed in our burning car.

Here was a deeper dimension to my Blessing: ”Ryan Shines Burn Foundation.”

And our mission is to advise and help pediatric burn survivors with scholarships for their education and for attending Burn Camp; and to nurture the hearts and minds of Firefighters across the country.

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photo by Janelle Anderson

Thank you for helping Ryan shine on and on…

dawn

Next week, I’ll share another lovely part of my Blessing.

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)