Sunday, September 27, 2015

In Memory of Brookie

Before I begin, I'll give you a warning... this is probably going to be the longest post I'll ever write. I thought about splitting it up into several posts, but decided against it. These last several days have been some of the hardest of my life to be honest. Yet, God was there, by our sides through it all. I've seen God work in mighty ways and provide strength that I never thought was possible. This post is going to be set up like a journal. I realize not everyone will want to read it all, but I have to write it. If you do read it, I hope you'll see for yourself that God is good, all the time. He is so, so good. 

Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid. -John 14:27

Our church's week long revival meetings were starting, and the air was full of excitement for what the week would hold. After potluck, we invited the youth over to our house to play some volleyball. Our church is fairly small and all of the youth are cousins. We grew up together, we had family get togethers, we went to church together, and the result is that we are almost as close as siblings. Almost all of the cousins are youth-age. There are a couple younger children though. Kedron and Brooklyn - two siblings that were born much after their other siblings, were less than a year apart, and were as close as two peas in a pod.

Every time we had volleyball, Kedron and Brooklyn would beg to go with us. We always let them come, and usually we only let them play one game - and the rest of the time they had to entertain themselves. This Sunday, Kaitlyn didn't have room to take Kedron and Brooklyn with her. My mom saw that they were both sad about it and invited them to ride with us. It was just my parents, Kedron, Brooklyn, and I as we rode home. We talked about getting pictures in a sunflower field that we passed and about a house that their family was thinking about moving to. At volleyball, we ended up letting Kedron and Brooklyn play every game. As we sat in lawn chairs resting, Brooklyn grabbed a bowl of party mix and took it around to everyone. We teased her that she was the "snack bearer" - a title that she gladly accepted. As we gathered for dinner before heading back to church, my dad asked Brooklyn to lead us in prayer with her favorite song:

God is great, and God is good. And we thank Him for our food. By His hands, we all are fed, give us Lord, our daily bread. Amen. 

In the car ride back, Kedron and Brooklyn figured out how to get the car headphones to work. Kedron wanted to listen to a football game on the radio, and Brooklyn would try to sneak her arm up to change the station to a Christian music station, looking over at me with her contagious smile and giggling as Kedron would catch her and try to change it back.

That night as we sat in church, she noticed another little girl sitting by herself a couple rows ahead of us. She quickly grabbed her things and ran up to that bench, sitting by the girl as if they'd been friends forever. That's the way Brooklyn was - never knew a stranger, always willing to help, giggling with happiness and joy.

Brooklyn serving the volleyball on Sunday 

We were pulling into the driveway after the second night of revival meetings. The service had went well - the message was good and the fellowship afterwards was even better. We stayed late talking, and I drove my parents home in the darkness of night. My mom's phone rang, and I could hear my aunt's distorted voice on the other end. She had been crying.

There was an accident.

Another aunt and her two daughters had been involved in a car accident. Brooklyn, the youngest, had been badly hurt and was going to be life lined. As I parked the car, I pulled out my phone to begin calling people. My brother's number came up first. Mom's phone rang again, and my aunt said we needed to get back to the scene of the accident. Brooklyn was having trouble breathing, and they might need my dad (an anesthesiologist) to help intubate her. As we dove back into the car, my brother answered.

I could hardly talk, but I managed to tell him that Brooklyn was badly hurt and asked him to call our sister. This time my dad was in the driver's seat with the flashers on. My mom and I hung on for dear life and prayed that we'd make the 25 minute drive safely as the car began smoking from being pushed to its max. But we can replace the car, and every second counts - we made it in under 10 minutes - and my dad was out of the car almost before it stopped, sprinting over to a group of ambulances.

By this point, I was shaking uncontrollably. The evening air was cool and I didn't have a jacket, but I think it was more because of the fear than anything. As my mom and I walked up to a group of sheriffs and EMTs, we overheard that Brooklyn was in the ambulance. A helicopter was waiting a few yards away. The first person I saw was my uncle, Brooklyn's father. He'd come upon the accident a few seconds after it happened. A large truck had blew a stop sign, t-boning my aunt's car and sending it spinning into a nearby field.

Neighbors had seen the flashing lights of the van spinning after being hit and had come to help. This is deep in Amish and Mennonite country and many of them were running around the scene helping out wherever they could. Another aunt and some of my cousins came over. I hugged my grandparents tight. We all had tears in our eyes. Sharla and Kaitlyn had already been taken to the hospital - neither one in serious condition.

Finally, the doors of the ambulance opened. I caught a glimpse of her - my 9 year old little cousin - just moments before so happy and full of life. There were large gashes on her face...I looked away, tears filling my eyes again as they hurried her to the helicopter. My cousins, grandparents, and mother formed a group hug and an Amish man came up and began praying the words that we couldn't manage to choke out. As he finished, the helicopter took off and more family gathered into the group hug.

My two uncles were there, and my dad. We went around the circle praying, ending with Brooklyn's 10 year old brother (and best friend)'s desperate prayer to help his sister. As we prepared to leave the scene and travel to various hospitals, there were no dry eyes. Yet, through God's grace and power, there was no longer the shaking fear that gripped us at first. There was a peace, that no one could explain or comprehend. It just was.

God's grace would sustain us, through whatever we had to face.

This picture was taken 2 weeks ago at another cousin's wedding. This is Brooklyn's family - her parents Mark and Sharla, brother Justin and his wife Michelle and their baby Ellie, brother Colten, sister Kaitlyn, and brother Kedron. 

11:30 pm
My parents and I took Kedron back to his house to gather some clothes. Kedron fed the dog, and sat for awhile with her in his arms, hugging and petting her. We finally left for the hospital where his mom and Kaitlyn were. As we arrived, the waiting room was filled with cousins, aunts, and even the visiting minister. Kaitlyn was already being discharged, and Sharla was waiting on results from x-rays and CAT scans. Kedron went back to see Kaitlyn and the life line team returned. Kedron and Kaitlyn were able to get pictures with the team and see the inside of the helicopter.

We were finally able to go back and see Sharla. She had a broken collar bone, and were waiting on more results. She was in a lot of pain, but seemed to be doing well - considering all she'd been through. We decided to go on home with Kedron to get some sleep while waiting to hear word about Brooklyn.

1:45 am
We stopped at McDonald's for a snack before heading home and my dad received a call. My uncle was on his way back to the hospital that Sharla and Kaitlyn were at, and Kedron needed to be there. We made a u-turn and headed back to the hospital. We sat in the parking lot waiting for my uncles to get back. We tried to talk about different things with Kedron, to keep his mind off it....

3:00 am
They finally got back, and we made our way to the chapel room, with heavy hearts - not wanting to hear what we already knew in our hearts. I sat down as the rest of the family made their way in... last of all Sharla, who had just been discharged. Things were a blur as Mark explained that Brooklyn hadn't made it...she'd passed away in surgery...and then as the sobs subsided, two phone calls to Brooklyn's oldest brothers who live out of state. And more gut-wrenching sobbing. It seemed like the tears would never stop, and surely this was all just a horrible, awful nightmare. Before we left that room, we prayed again. And we left the room with heavy hearts.

I woke up after four fitful hours of sleep, and began crying all over again. I got up and started helping my mom clean for guests that would probably stay at our house for the funeral. My brother and sister were on their way home from college. They arrived that afternoon and we headed over to Mark and Sharla's. Sharla told her story from the last night - she and Kaitlyn had been looking the other direction - at a beautiful blue light that they had never seen before. Just like that, the crash happened and their car was spinning out of control. After seeing the damage to Brooklyn's brain, the doctors thought she probably died at the scene - she didn't suffer. As we drove past the scene of the accident over the next few nights, there was no blue light....we don't know, but maybe it was an angel coming to take sweet Brooklyn to heaven.

The next few days were filled with sadness, yet some happiness began to emerge. Happy memories of Brooklyn's life. Memories of her dedication to prayer, of her cheerfully giving spirit. Memories of her contagious smile and giggle. Word was coming back to us of thousands of people praying, from many, many states. We thought of how happy she is in heaven right now. Memories of her first time to visit a beach earlier this summer, and how she bounced along the shore line exclaiming "This is so interesting to me, I've never been to a beach before - this is so interesting to me!" and imagining her doing the same in heaven.

We found hundreds of silly band bracelets that she'd made with Kedron and decided to pass them out at her viewing. We decided to wear her favorite color - pink.

Brooklyn's viewing started at 2:00 pm. Hundreds upon hundreds of people came. Family from other states, some of Brooklyn's best friends, and so many that had only met her once or not at all. People who were impacted in some way by her death. People that wanted to show their love and support to the family.

Throughout the afternoon and evening, Brooklyn's family held up incredibly well. It was almost as if they were the ones doing the comforting to those who came to support them. One of my friends posted this observation on Facebook, and I couldn't have worded it better.

The little girl who made this bracelet, along with many others had no idea she was making them for her family to give away at her funeral. As my family waited our turn to pay respects to this lovely family I observed. I observed a mother, father and siblings stand in this line comforting people. Hundreds, probably reaching thousands by the end of the day. With every hug and person that fell to pieces, this family remained strong, choking back their own tears to comfort droves of people all day long. Listening to sad music and watching pictures on a slide show of her full of life while her lifeless body lay next to them. The grief was unbearable. Yet Gods grace is sufficient and He perfectly provided for them during this time. I do not know how a person could get through this kind of grief if they don't have Jesus. Knowing where their hope lies. Keep this family uplifted in your prayers because hard days are yet to come. 

The day of Brooklyn's final earthly resting place had come. The church was filled to the brim with people, friends, and family. As we gave our final earthly goodbyes, a theme emerged victorious - we have hope. We will see Brooklyn again. Even as we speak, she's in heaven praising Jesus. Like King David's son with Bathsheba - she cannot return to us, but one day, we will go to her. She's happier now than she ever was on earth. Her smile is bigger, her giggle louder. And we have hope, because of Jesus. 

There are still hard days ahead. Especially for Brookie's family, as they attempt to return to "normal" life. As the people slowly leave, and the prayers begin to slow. Please continue to pray for them. <3

all of Brooklyn's cousins - wearing pink, her favorite color

Monday, September 21, 2015

Keep thy Heart

Keep thy heart with all diligence; for out of it are the issues of life. Prov 4:23

Have you ever thought about the heart? Our literal, physical organ? How amazing that such a little thing can keep our entire body alive! If one little thing goes wrong in the heart - one small artery blocked, a tiny hole develops, etc - then everything else stops.

It's that way in our spiritual being as well. We have a "heart" that keeps our souls alive. And if we don't take care of it, we'll end up dying spiritually as well. Except a spiritual death is so much worse than a physical one.

Protect your heart, ladies (and fellows).
Because you only have one life, one chance.
You'll never make it on your own,
So ask God for His help.
He'll lead you every step of the way.

Friday, September 18, 2015


it's a late summer night, Love

I stare at the fire
                   before me
the flames dance and pull me
into their mesmerizing beauty
so invitingly warm
I reach toward the flickering light
breathing in the sweet smokiness

forgetting how it burns
forgetting how it blinds

it reminds me of you, Love

how I keep falling
even though you never notice
even though you never need me
forgetting how you burn me
forgetting how you blind me

you're so beautiful, Love

your eyes enchant me
                   with their glistening sunlight
your soul is sweet
and pure and kind
the light within you pulls out
                   the best in me

I wish you could see me, Love
I wish that for once I could be
the fire before you
                   because I would never burn you, Love
I would never, never burn you

Overflowing 1

So I think I'm going to start a "series" of sorts. Just writing little stories about things I'm thankful for. <3 Here's the first one!

Last year during my internship and master's program, SLU set up a mentoring program for the interns to connect with an established dietitian and get some advice from a person that wasn't a preceptor, professor, or otherwise giving us a grade at some point. lol

Anyway, this lovely lady was my mentor. We met several times and went to different dietetic meetings as well as had a few different ethnic meals at various new restaurants. I enjoyed getting to know her so much, and she gave me more than just professional advice.

She is a Quaker, and while they have a few differences from my church, they are very similar in many ways. She encouraged my faith and challenged me in so many ways. This was such a huge blessing to me, because the closest similar church was over an hour drive and even that church was Mennonite (which has several differences from Dunkard Brethren).

Today, I'm so grateful that she was my mentor this past year.

Sunday, September 13, 2015

A Long Story of Grace

Whisper it in the breeze. 
Shout it from the mountain tops. 
Write it on your heart. 
Hold it close and never forget it. 
Because our God saves. 
Our God works miracles. 
He cares about me and you, small and frail as we are. 
He will never forsake us. 
His mercies are new every morning, and His grace never fails. 

Let me tell you a story. 
It's a real story. 
A story I never want to forget. 
A story I will forever be grateful for. 
A story of God's guidance and grace. 

I had no idea what I wanted to be when I grew up. Many things had interested me, but nothing had seemed "just right." Until one night when I happened to attend a community meeting where a dietitian was speaking. I was interested in the medical field. I was interested in education. I was interested in health and nutrition. I had always loved cooking. All the pieces fell together in that short hour, and before the night was over, I set up a meeting with the dietitian to talk about her job. I just happened to take the personality project in 4-H that year, and it just happened to be about discovering a future career. I decided to interview 3 people in different careers I was interested in - scrub tech (medical), high school teacher (education), and a dietitian (both). Both the scrub tech and the teacher strongly discouraged me from entering those fields. And guess what? The dietitian had nothing but good to say about her job. Everything she described was something that interested me. After those interviews, there was no doubt in my mind as to what I wanted to be. 

Fast forward a few years - I applied to 2 schools with dietetics programs. I didn't know much about either one. After a couple campus visits (one that went extremely well and one that went extremely poorly), numerous recommendations from friends (all saying to attend Purdue, and never Ball State), and a significant scholarship - the decision was made. I have to say that attending Purdue was exactly what I needed at that point in my life. I did so much growing - socially, emotionally, and even spiritually. I was incredibly blessed in the fact that I never had a negative experience with atheistic professors - in fact, I was surprised that several of my professors in the sciences even hinted at a higher power. The friends that I made were serious about their studies and I was never so much as asked to attend any questionable parties. This may have been partly due to the fact that I never lived on campus, and I went home to attend church almost every weekend. 

Time to apply to internships. Dietetic internships are extremely competitive and probably only a third of applicants get a match. I applied to 3 that really interested me, and at the last minute decided to apply to Saint Louis University based solely on the fact that it was a combined master's degree and internship in 1 year (most take at least 2 years). I got a phone interview, and learned so many amazing things, that I switched SLU from my last choice to my second choice. When match day came - I received a match to SLU. This was one of the most intense years of my life, but it was also honestly one of the best. God provided me with one of the best friendships I ever could have asked for, a safe place to live, and somehow I made it through the year without missing a single day due to illness or any other catastrophe. Somehow (I'm still not completely sure how) I was able to finish all the requirements on time - including my research which was very behind schedule to begin with. I know that my first choice of internship would not have been nearly as good as SLU was - I had 24 different rotations with 16 different preceptors in sites all across St Louis. SLU also has a very strong sustainability program where I learned so much about gardening, composting, and all that "green" stuff. 

About 5 or 6 years ago, when I first became interested in dietetics, my grandmother noticed that her grocery store had dietitians to help customers. I became fascinated with this, and my grandmother sent me every newspaper article, magazine clipping, and brochure that these dietitians created over the years. Every time I visit her, I have to go to her grocery store. It's an amazing store, with so much more variety and fun things than any of my grocery stores have. I've wanted to work there ever since. In early June, I saw a full time job posting at this grocery store for a dietitian. I applied that evening and the posting was taken down almost immediately. I waited 3 weeks and figured they had filled the position. Four weeks later, I decided to email the store director, just to make sure. She was on vacation, but she responded to my email right away. I had already planned to be in Iowa to help my grandmother that next week so I offered to meet the director for an interview. She just happened to be back from her vacation on the only day that I could meet, and I had an interview. The interview went very well, but she couldn't promise me the job - since I wasn't a dietitian yet and wouldn't be until at least the end of August. She told me to call her when I passed my exam. 

The race was on to finish my research on time. I couldn't take the exam until all requirements for both the internship and master's degree were finished. After agonizing weeks of collecting data and wondering when I would have enough, I met with my statistician and we ran the stats - I had significance! He gave me the okay to write up my results and that evening I finished writing my paper. Somehow, edits by my committee members went very quickly and they approved me to defend my research. I finally had all my requirements completed and just had to wait for paperwork to go through saying that I could take my boards. Thankfully, that paperwork went through in record time and I was approved to take the exam within a week. During this time, I had been developing worse and worse gallbladder symptoms and it was becoming obvious that I needed to have surgery. We scheduled the surgery for the earliest possible date, and I was able to schedule the exam exactly 1 week later. The surgery went very smoothly, and that weekend I served in my cousin's wedding. Then 2 days later, I took my exam - feeling slightly unprepared. By the grace of God, I passed! The next morning I called the grocery store....wondering if the job would still be there. Somehow, it was, and I was offered the position. 

I marvel at all of the little details. How everything has "somehow" worked together to bring me to this point. How I "happened" to discover dietetics. How I "happened" to end up at the perfect school for me. How I "happened" to apply to this internship, and then how I "happened" to get a match. How I "happened" to finish everything in time. How I "happened" to see the job posting and then email the director. How I "happened" to be in Iowa at exactly the right time for an interview, and the position hadn't been filled yet. How I "happened" to pass my exam on my first try. I could go on and on. When I look back, I can see His hand. Silently guiding my life. Pushing me towards His plan, even if it wasn't always my plan. Even if I didn't always feel prepared. He knew exactly what I needed, and when I needed it. 

How can I not trust Him? 
How can I not be overwhelmed by His love? 

Friday, September 11, 2015

What's Going On

I know I've been quiet lately, so I thought I'd update you all on what's been happening the last month!

I finished my internship
I finished my Master's degree
I had gallbladder surgery
My cousin got married (and I helped serve)
I took the national registration exam, and passed!
(see above picture)
I am officially a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist
I submitted all my proof to the licensure board
I accepted a job offer, from my dream job

I praised God. Again, and again, and again, and again.
Because His mercies never fail.
And I am beyond excited to see where He leads me next.

Lorraine Lorenz, MS, RDN
(that never gets old ;) )