5/4/16 (Scott) 

From Cinnamon –

We just found out that there is a liver available for Scott (Autumn’s father)! My heart is breaking for the mom who is making these choices right now, so please pray for her! The team still feels like it is a go, even thought Scott was feeling bad last night. They are planning for a 5AM start time tomorrow so that he can have a few more doses of antibiotics before surgery. His white count is good, and he’s feeling better, so they think they may be covering any infection. The team basically told him that this is an amazingly, perfect fit for him! Thanks in advance for all the prayers!

Denver Area, May 1st: Celebration Dessert 

Hello friends in Colorado. Please join us as we celebrate the gift of life at the one year anniversary of the accident. We will remember the miracles God has done and Autumn will share some God lessons she has learned along the way. Elijah and the Lowry family will also be there to celebrate with us!  
Scott and Chris will give an update on the transplant surgery that is fast approaching and we will pray for them as well. It will be a great time to share prayers and praise together. We have much to celebrate!

  • When: May 1st, 2016 6:30 PM – 8:30 PM
  • Where: The Ridge Church, 11850 Upham Street, Broomfield CO, 80020

Fundraiser on 5/6/16

Hello, everyone!

Several things have been posted recently about Scott Schwinn’s upcoming liver transplant –surgery is scheduled for May 17th, and a GoFundMe page has been set up to aid Scott and Christopher’s (his donor!) families throughout the months of recovery.

In addition to that, another event has come up that I wanted to bring to your attention –especially for those who perhaps are not able to attend the Testimony and Praise time on May 7th. This would be another great opportunity to connect with us in person!

Come join us on May 6th for. . .

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This event will be similar to the dance fundraiser that was held for Autumn and Elijah last summer –a fun evening for the whole family with light refreshments, square dancing, and fun crafts for sale! All proceeds will go to Autumn’s family.

Just a quick recap:

  • When: May 6th, 6:30-10 PM
  • Where: Calvary Chapel Cheyenne, 9209 Ridge Road, Cheyenne WY 82009
  • Please RSVP to: kairaprairiefrogs@gmail.com

(This Event is separate from the Testimony and Thanksgiving time that is scheduled for May 7th in Cheyenne, WY–for more information on that event, please click here )

Once again –I look forward to seeing/meeting you all!

His,
Haley

4/10/16 (Autumn)

An update from Scott, Autumn’s dad, to fill us in on what progress and difficulties the past months have held for their family. Thank you in advance for continuing to pray with us, and watch the faithfulness of God unfold:

“I know we have been long overdue for an update on Autumn so I finally got a chance to sit down to describe the latest in her recovery.  We have gone through the shock and intensive care stage.  We also moved through the long inpatient and outpatient phase of recovery and now we are entering what I call the slow and steady stage of recovery.  Its harder to see improvement because it has now slowed down considerably.  With that being said, she has been doing well at home in this new stage.  I would say that she functions quite well but there are “silent” hurdles that you can’t really see because they are all brain response functions and the deficiencies don’t show themselves until they come up in everyday life.  There are still moments of surprise when her quick wit comes out but there are also quiet times of heartache for the problems that arise.  Things you know she should be able to recall or handle from a logical standpoint just are not always there yet.  In some respects she is the Autumn we always knew but there are many times we are still adjusting to the new normal.

I remember way back at week two or three we said that Autumn and Elijah were completely in God’s hands and He was going to recover them at his pace and to His completion.  Its a scary thought to give away some pieces of your child that may never come back.  When you open yourself to truly accepting God’s plan there are many normal desires that get stripped away.  You lay open and empty before Him.  Its a very vulnerable position but the most powerful place a person can be before God!  If there is one prominent issue that clouds our view of God and His work – it’s our agenda.  When he brings you to a point of brokenness thats where He does His best work.

We have seen God take our precious girl on a journey no one wants to be a part of.  As we continue to learn and heal its so very good to declare His goodness and healing in our lives.  I still kiss her every night and I can’t help but think that she really shouldn’t be here… but praise God he has rescued her and Elijah from the pit of despair!

Autumn also still struggles with her eyesight.  The doctors said if her optic nerve was going to heal it would have shown improvement already.  We are doing some therapy which seems to be opening her field of vision some.  She has major double vision issues and if we can get her bad eye to track better she can improve her vision some.  We are considering surgery which would allow that frozen eye to move more and minimize her double vision issues.  She has a great attitude for all of her therapies but this eye issue has worn on her quite a bit.  Would you please continue to pray with us that there would be a positive resolution to this ongoing issue?

Autumn has been involved in other activities that have helped her grow.  She was responsible for team policy judge orientation at the recent Rocky Mountain Classic speech and debate tourney in Denver.  As many of you know she was quite involved as a student and now she is taking on some teaching roles which she has thoroughly enjoyed.  She enjoyed seeing Elijah that day and it was great to stimulate her mind with such good memories.  It was also special that at the awards ceremony to conclude the event, she was brought up on the stage to a roaring standing ovation from her peers.

Autumn is also pushing herself by taking one online college level class this spring.  The class is journalism which she loves and she is doing quite well.  It takes a long time to study and take notes, but she reviews her material just about every day and she is currently holding a “A” in the class.  Its pretty cool to see her succeed at schoolwork after all that she has been through.

I also want to thank all of you for praying and supporting us through this tough journey.    I remember that there were people praying for the parents that they would stay united and close throughout the tough recovery process.  I want to thank you for this as well.  The amount of stress and emotional turmoil has been quite hard on me and Cinnamon.  We have faced an unbelievable amount of attacks from the enemy but I am pleased to say that God is working to keep drawing us together.  This is real life and God is the author of our faith.  He is enough to carry us through any trial.

I need to say that Cinnamon is the toughest person I have ever met!  The way she stepped up and cared for her girl as I struggled to keep up with work and deal with other health issues… she has been a gift from God.  The outpouring of love and caregiving support she gave to Autumn would be natural for any mother… but let me tell you this is no ordinary mother!  The main caregiving role in a situation as intense as this would tear apart the average person.  But she has been so strong and I have been truly amazed to see her sacrifice in so many ways and I am so proud of her.

As we come up on the year anniversary of the accident (May 8),  we are so very thankful for God’s goodness to Autumn and our whole family.  We are eternally grateful for the support and prayers we received from people all over the world.  In a way you have shared this journey with us and it is our hope that God has been honored and lives have been changed because of what God has done.  I’m still not sure why he chose us, but clearly His plan has pushed us to where we would never go ourselves!  And in our pretty comfortable, first world amenities sometimes you need perspective!

I wanted to make you aware of another journey our family has been on so you can continue to pray.  My health has been declining and I am facing a liver transplant on May 17 if not earlier.  I have a bile duct disease that shuts down my ducts and over the years has caused a lot of pain and strain on my liver.  I’ve had numerous septic infections and have been struggling with this for many years.  I have a live donor approved to give me part of his liver and then both halves will regrow in roughly two months.  It’s pretty incredible how God created the liver to regenerate and through this process I can get healthy again.  Would you please pray for me and my family as we face this new challenge?

Autumn also created a powerful video which interviews my children and their reaction to my health situation.  Its not quite done but stay tuned and we will post it next weekend.

Summary by Autumn…

“This may be a long update, but truly we are at a loss for words on how to fully declare what the Lord has done in our lives. He deserves every amount of praise we can give and He makes us excited and hopeful for what He holds next in our future.”

— Scott & Autumn

4/9/16 (Elijah)

Hello, everyone!

Here is an update from Brenna on how Elijah & family have fared in these past months.  Thank you so much for all of the ways you have continued to reach out in support and prayer, even though the blog/facebook page have been relatively quiet. We are so grateful for you. Enjoy the update!

— Haley

 

“Long overdue for an update on Elijah, I have been getting many questions texts and emails so it is time!  Thank you for continuing to pray and be concerned!              

We sang a song in church recently about God being in the storm.  Yesterday marks 11 months from the day that changed our lives.  My mind often travels back to how our storm began that Friday evening, May 8th. From May 10th until October 2016, our kitchen window bore the words “We will praise Him in the storm”.  The storm was literal and figurative; physical and spiritual. Now it seems we see the black clouds of the storm in our rear view mirror. The aftermath is still very evident in the marks on Elijah’s body and the recovery he has to make.  It is also evident in each of us as we strive to embrace life the way it is and make the best of it as the gift that it truly is.  

It is curious to me that I can hardly remember the severity of the storm even if I sit quiet and reflect back to all of those seemingly endless ICU/LTAC days and the panic we felt as we cried out for God to calm our storm.  But as time separates us from that day, I pray that we will all have the faith and focus to seek God with the same fervor and need in our everydays.  As life seems more do-able and we can appear to have more control over our days and choices, I pray that we never forget the One who paid our debt and delivered us, carried us and protected us through the storm.  The storm caused a wreck or the wreck caused a storm.  Either way our lives are in His hands- He is in control.  The Lord truly was our only hope and anchor in the storm (Hebrews 6:19)

Elijah is very content and I could safely say that he never complains. In October 2015, when he arrived home, he told me that his job was to pick up the pieces.  After the visit to the orthopedic doctor in January 2016- viewing the x-rays of still very fractured femurs with rods through the centers, I asked Elijah, “What will your life be like with such fractured femurs?”  He replied, “My life will be whatever I make out of it.”  He speaks truth.  He chooses joy and contentment over anger and bitterness.   It is clear that Elijah’s perception of all things is much different from ours as he was “asleep” for much of the time that we were feverishly praying.  He feels much the same mentally and emotionally and mainly just woke up to a body that seemingly was not working.  He has said that God protected them in the accident and he does not fear the future but knows that God will continue to watch over them.  He does not pity himself but told me that he feels sad for what has happened to Autumn.

I am just now seeing a glimpse of our family relationships being restored.  Siblings have missed the old Elijah and struggled to recover from so much time away from mom and dad.  In a sense, we have had a different birth order for this time of recovery.  We try not to compare the “new” Elijah with the former one and let him be who he is, but at times it is just hard – so we reflect back on how far he has come. We know at the end of the day, no matter the challenges, that things could be worse.  We saw far more stories of suffering at each of the hospitals than we have had to endure and praise God for miraculous amazing recovery.  When Elijah arrived home, he was mostly wheelchair bound and could not even get out of bed alone- it took 2 hours to get him ready in the morning and 2 hours to get him ready for bed at night.  It took him almost 4 months to learn to get out of a chair – so if you see him rise from a sitting position unassisted now, you can be in awe of the struggle it took him to get to that point!! Now he does all of his self care: in and out of bed, bathroom, shower, dressing, grooming etc.  He only still needs assistance with socks because of his limited hand strength in his left hand. Praise God his hand is recovering the ulnar nerve sensation and motor function in the pinky and ring finger, though.   Since January we have been speech/language, cognitive, physical and occupational therapy.  Since I (mom) am with him most- I am mostly responsible for all of the areas, but siblings, Dad, grandparents and friends have all been very helpful.  Here is a summary to hopefully cover the main questions I am frequently asked:

  • Physically:
    He had some chronic pain in his right foot and right hip that was quite severe as he was learning to walk last fall.  Actually, some days the pain was limiting his progress.  Even as recently as January the orthopedic doctor grabbed onto his feet and predicted he would “always have pain in his feet all of his life”.  Now, Praise God he is a 0-1 for pain on a scale of 1-10(only his two right toe joints- for awhile he was at an 8) and his hip pain is gone as we have strengthened his glutes and hip flexors TFL).   He wears a carbon fiber insert (football players use them for turf toe) and a toe straightener to help his right foot.  This has helped him tremendously as he relearned the motor pattern for walking and continues to develop the strength to walk heel/toe.  His femurs are mostly healed with only a small spot where the bone has not completely surrounded the titanium rod in his left leg.  We are praying God will finish that healing.  Interestingly his left leg is much more shattered but his right leg has always been weaker.  He can now walk stairs with just a handrail (up) and a cane (down) and is able to climb up to the top of a parking garage.  He can walk 2 miles, leg press 180# and on the elliptical trainer he is able to run for 20 minutes at high intensity intervals – in November, when he started, he struggled to get to 3 minutes and was leg pressing 40#!  He has gained a total of almost 30 pounds from his low of 125# in July but is still about 10 pounds less than before the accident.  He would be a gym rat and enjoys working out once a week with Haley’s dad, Todd, who trains him hard with balance and core strength.  He also has benefitted from the generosity of Robert, a personal trainer who has been meeting Elijah at LCCC pool once a week to work on strength and balance – this has been an amazing opportunity.  Elijah’s next big goal is to run by the end of May.  Another big improvement besides walking, is that he can push using the palms of his hands.  This was so painful that he was not able to really use his hands in that manner until January.  Now he can do modified incline push ups! (he can’t put that weight on his toes).
  • Cognitive/Language/Reading/Writing:
    As the grey matter of Elijah’s brain was not damaged from the fat emboli (just the message carrying white matter) he still retains an amazing amount of memory/knowledge of life before the accident.  Once in awhile there may be a disruption in the timeline of events he recalls.  In his words, “I feel like I know, but I don’t know” so he often confirms his thoughts with my recollection of past events.  His short term memory is also very sharp- in fact I rely on him!  His attention span is markedly improved and despite visual field deficits, he is reading everyday.   His visual perception is still recovering and reading is significantly easier now.  We are still not quite sure if he has some visual field loss (hemianopsia) – that’s on the schedule for May. He is currently reading Robert Heinlein’s Starship Troopers and this week he has been studying human anatomy and physiology.  In July/Aug his handwriting was one “letter” on top of the other.  He can write left to right across the page now but still finds writing very laborious (in fact it is such a challenge that we say each word he writes is a set – like a set at the gym) so we are working on fine motor control/motor planning and sequencing.  In conversation he is much more able to initiate than when we came home.  He would barely initiate anything in October – there was so much energy spent on physical recovery that having the energy to initiate a thought or conversation was just too difficult.  While he is not yet where he was, he is much farther down the road than when we came home.  It takes less energy for him to balance and walk so he is able to allocate his neurons to make way for language and thought. Think about the development of little people as they master physical movement before they have language and executive function (reasoning, planning, decision making) and that is exactly the pattern for Elijah’s recovery.  It is remarkable to witness.  It is wonderful to hear the inflection returning to his voice and he is beginning to sound more like himself in conversation and reading aloud.  I know he is coming back when I hear him playing devil’s advocate with his sister!   He also was very blessed to be on the scenes for TeenPact Wyoming 2016 – a class he was very involved in through the years.  This week spurred on much neural and language recovery and he was able to visit the legislature where he interned a year ago.  We saw similar neural recovery and stimulation when he spent a day at the Rocky Mountain Classic debate tournament.  The RMC (Speech & Debate) tournament was one of his last big memories before the accident and it was great for him to see former competitors and teammates, watch speeches and debate rounds and even have a chance to judge.
  • “Does Elijah still see Autumn?”
    Yes, they are still in contact and support each other and we have visited as families.  They both have miraculously traveled a long road and have a long journey ahead…sufficiently empowered by the grace of a kind a loving Heavenly Father.

 

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Autumn and Elijah, March 2016 RMC – Denver

 

 

  • What does “A day in the life of Elijah” look like?
    A day in the life of Elijah involve all activities that in the past would be labeled school and now are labeled therapy- except vision exercises.  He gets himself ready and helps with chores, and after prayer and Bible he helps Ezekiel with some of his subjects and pursues his own plan for the morning. He participates in History and Worldview discussions with the rest of the family and has been memorizing quite a few articles, sections and clauses of the Constitution and the Founders quotes.  The afternoons involve some other activities- either social or physical – with 2 hour gym sessions.
  • “Is Elijah the same?”
    In some ways no. Not yet.  But a friend wisely prayed he would be better than he was.  While his basic personality is there, he still has much more brain recovery and sometimes the cognitive/emotional/social improvements are less dramatic than the physical ones but they are still coming and we are still believing. Elijah asked what I say when people ask that question and he said, “I’m not the same, I’m Elijah 2.0” and he definitely has been rebooted or reborn, whichever way you look at it!

Friends and family have had to adjust their perception of who Elijah is and I thank God that he has some great friends, faithfully sticking with him throughout his whole recovery.  Games with the guys, editing scenes from Reflection, out of town friends for the weekends, Bible studies, dances, bowling and movies all provide an added joy for him.”

— Brenna, for all

 

Save the Date!

Hello, faithful friends.

The one-year anniversary of Autumn and Elijah’s accident (May 8th) is fast approaching; what a year it’s been! Full of many miracles and lots of faith-stretching. Autumn and Elijah’s friends and families are planning a very special event to commemorate this one-year victory, and you all (yes, YOU) are invited to join us!
  • What: A celebration to build an altar of praise, celebrating God’s faithfulness and amazing grace.
  • When: May 7th, 2016. Noon – (undetermined)
  • Where: Calvary Chapel of Cheyenne: 9209 Ridge Road, Cheyenne WY, 82009
  • We will have food, fellowship and praise. More details to follow.
We want to meet and build that altar of praise with the rocks of remembrance, yet again, celebrating God’s faithfulness and amazing grace. We want you all to be a part of this celebration; EVERYONE who knows Elijah and Autumn, and their families, even if you’ve only met them through the blog.

All of us, as ‘the  extended family’, have been touched and changed by what happened on May 8th, 2015 and the following weeks and months. Please come share your testimony of God’s faithfulness, and join us in praising Him!  We can’t tell you how excited we are at the opportunity to connect with so many of you face-to-face, who have been such selfless pillars of prayer and encouragement to our community over the past year. See you on May 7th!

Please RSVP to Ruby Johnson at:

christinachella@gmail.com

or text / call: 848-228-9377

His,
Haley