Welcome Note

Thank you for visiting Kaitlin's blog. Please use this site for the latest updates, information on ways to help, and thoughts from John and Katilin as well as the Rice and Wanberg Families. We will be actively making updates to keep everyone up to speed and communicate as effectively as possible. You can also subscribe so you will never miss a new post.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

"What is your life? For you are a mist..."

On June 1, one year after our wedding day, John and I renewed our vows. 

To some this may sound strange.  Normally vow renewals happen 10, 20, 50 years after a marriage…but looking back on the craziness of our first year, we felt that repeating the promises we made to each other on the day of our wedding was fitting. 

And so, gathered in our backyard with a few close family and friends, we re-stated our commitment to one another:

I John take you Kaitlin to be my lawfully wedded wife
You are my best friend, and it is my delight to marry you today.
I promise to love you steadily when things get hard, and that my commitment today will not be swayed by future circumstances or feelings.
I promise to laugh with you, to cry with you, and to be faithful to you until we are parted by death; to put your needs ahead of my own, and to treat you with tenderness and respect.
I promise to do my best to love you and lead you as Jesus has done for the Church, to show you grace as he has shown me grace, and to seek your good even though it may cause me harm.
I promise to allow God to use you in my life as He grows me into a man, strong and courageous, who walks humbly with the Lord.
And so throughout life, no matter what may lie ahead of us, I pledge to you my life as a loving and faithful husband.

I Kaitlin take you John to be my lawfully wedded wife
You are my best friend, and it is my delight to marry you today.
I promise to love you steadily when things get hard, and that my commitment today will not be swayed.
I promise to laugh with you, to cry with you, and to be faithful to you until we are parted by death; to put your needs ahead of my own, and to treat you with honor and respect.
I promise to do my best to love you and submit to you as the Church submits to the headship of Christ, to show you grace as he has shown me grace, and to seek your good in all things regardless of my circumstances or feelings.
I promise to allow God to use you in my life as He grows me into a woman of noble character, adorned with good works.
And so, no matter what may lie ahead of us, I pledge to you my life as an obedient and faithful wife.

When we said these vows originally, we had no idea what our “future circumstances” would look like.  In the bliss of our wedding day, we were not thinking of the hardships that we would face just three months down the road…not considering the fact that many of the hopes and dreams for our future together would be dramatically shifted while we were still just newlyweds. 

We wanted to travel freely and easily. We wanted to live a fast-paced life.  We wanted to be the perfect, beautiful, happy family that had it all together. 

But that’s not what tomorrow brought. 

Although our life is not even close to what we though laid ahead of us when said our vows, we have been continually reminded this year hat the Lord has a plan…that He wills certain things to happen or not happen, and He uses these circumstances to mold and shape us into disciples who bring glory to Him. 

We are reminded that our lives are a “mist”…our marriage is a “mist”.  If we are not rooted in Christ, all of this is worthless.

Our vows are even more beautiful to me today than they were on the day of our wedding.  They have context.  They have experienced fire.  They are deeper…more real…more raw. 

The Lord has been good and faithful in producing beauty from our “tomorrow”; and I have no doubt that He will continue to lead our marriage according to His perfect will for as many days as He gives us together.

“…yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will do this or that.’”  James 4:14-15

A huge thanks to Leah McEachern Photography. http://leahmceachernphotography.com/

Friday, July 18, 2014


I spent much of today pruning my garden and meditating on what it says about “pruning” in the Bible.   Although it sounds silly…I tried to put myself in the perspective of the plant being pruned. 

If I saw some crazy lady in a wheelchair with her gardening gloves and shears coming for me, I would be scared and confused.  Why is she cutting parts of me off?  Why do they need to be removed?  I feel fine! Look, I have other buds and flowers blooming!!  Although I’m sure it isn’t, I wondered if having branches and old buds cut off is “painful” for a plant. Ouch, don’t cut there!  I liked that limb!  

For the record…I have never denied being a crazy lady in a wheelchair…and I suppose “thinking like a plant” ups the craziness even more J  But this whole experience really made me think.  Where is the LORD pruning my life?  What is the purpose and the product of this pruning? The thoughts that came were beautiful…

I went back to Camp Barnabas this summer as a leader with the Greenwood Community Church youth group trip.  Although I went to camp as a volunteer in high school, I had never been in a wheelchair.  For those who don’t know…Camp Barnabas is a camp devoted to campers that have disabilities.  Each camper is paired up with a volunteer counselor (like the ones we took from GCC) who becomes their caretaker and their friend for the week.

At camp, I was given the opportunity to speak at a wrap-up.  Wrap-up is what we do every night before bed at camp.  The entire camp is present and hears a quick 5-7 minute talk on whatever topic the speaker chooses. The LORD put on my heart to talk about heaven. 

After I spoke…one of the cabin staff came over and asked me if I would go and talk with a camper.  I think Watson is about 8 years old and he has cerebral palsy.  Apparently during my talk he started crying and refused to move his wheelchair.  He does not communicate verbally but knows what is going on around him. 

When I wheeled up, Watson was crying and looking all around and his counselor (a 16 year old boy volunteer) was just weeping and hugging him.  He kept saying, “I wish I could make this go away…I wish I could make this better for you”. 

I had no idea what I was supposed to say to make things better for Watson.  I touched his little hand and told him that he was special, beautiful, cherished, and purposefully created.

He continued to cry and look around the room. 

I told him that whether or not he knew it, he was changing lives…even in that moment.  Watson’s counselor will be forever changed from having known him. 

Still, Watson continued to cry and look around frantically. 

I touched his hand again and told him one last thing, “ I cannot wait to talk with you and dance with you in heaven…”

In that moment Watson made direct eye contact with me, stopped crying, and started beaming.  His tears turned to smiles in an instant, and at that he drove his wheelchair away. 

What fruit is that!!

The LORD prunes our lives that they may bear MORE fruit.  I think of my experiences this summer and cannot deny that the pruning the LORD has done in my life this past year has truly led to the production of a vast array of fruit.

Recognizing what parts of our life are already bearing fruit, the LORD prunes them so that they mare produce more.  I knew that I already had a gift when it came to working with kids.  When I was injured, I wondered if my ability to work with kids would be negatively impacted. But maybe the accident was just pruning. Maybe that branch of working with kids was pruned so that it could bear more fruit…a different kind of fruit. 

Wheeling up to Watson was different than walking up to Watson.  Wheeling up to anyone with a disability is different than walking up to them.  What fruit has the LORD already produced from that!? And what fruit will He continue to produce from it!?!

Whatever changes happen in my life, I have complete faith in my vinedresser.  Changes may indicate the pruning process, but I have to believe that the LORD is removing those vines that do not bear fruit, and pruning those that do so that MORE FRUIT may be harvested.  Praise Him for His infinite wisdom and scope of understanding; and for His vision to produce a vibrantly beautiful garden from all of our lives.  

1 “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit he takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, that it may bear more fruit.  John 15:1-2

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Better late than never...thoughts from the end of the school year

Friends and family,

I have felt so convicted over the past few weeks about not blogging.  The Lord is doing incredible things through the story He is writing with my life, and it is selfish of me not to share them.  I have a lots of things I want to blog about in the next month or so including:  the remodel of our home, our vow-renewal, our trip to Camp Barnabas, my re-evaluation at Craig hospital, my trip to Florida to visit family, and other thoughts that the Lord has put on my heart as I transition from "recovering" to "real-life living". 

All of the above ideas are in the works in my brain; but below is a blog that I wrote towards the end of the school year.  I never posted it…but I figured “better late than never”!  So here it is.  Thank you for being patient with me.  Look for more frequent posts in the coming weeks!

Before I get inside the building at my job in the morning, I have done an hour or so of necessary bodily preparations, dressed myself in my chair, gathered my supplies for the day, completed five chair transfers, broken my chair down into five pieces and loaded it into my car, pulled those pieces back out of my car and reassembled them, and wheeled up a hill and ramp into the chaos that is high school.  My arms hurt, my shoulders are tired, my hands are covered in grease and dirt from my wheelchair...and yes, I'm finally ready to start my five hours with my 95 fourteen year olds.  These are the first three hours of my day, and the physical pulls on my body only continue.

Struggle is a common theme on this blog. And not only here...I'd say it's a common theme in life in general.  Whether in our life or in the lives of those around us, it seems there is always something difficult...and naturally, we don't like it. 

 Our natural desire is to be comfortable...and believe me, comfort is one of my greatest idols. I assume that all comfortable things are good, and I seek those things above God and His will for my life.  But these past six months have been different. My life is full of physical discomfort and struggle from the moment I get out of bed until I close my eyes at night. I am fully drained, yet somehow still full.

When i think about it, I am floored by the way The Lord has used struggle and hardship to change and grow me over the past six months.  It has been painful and very uncomfortable, but I am not who I was on September 1.  I am deeper. I am more thoughtful. I am wiser. I am more subtly vibrant.  I am more compassionate.  More importantly, I am more insanely captivated by The Lord and his power and workings.  

The path I am on now is so dramatically different than anything I ever would have chosen or written for my own life.  I would never have "chosen" to be paralyzed. I would never have "chosen" to have my husband diagnosed with diabetes.  And all this just three months after our wedding? No way...not even on my radar. 

These things are struggles, and I don't think I know anyone that chooses them for their own life.  Never did I ever think that The Lord would shape my heart in such a way that I could view these struggles and hardships as something good...something ordained by God.

But in all reality, The Lord chooses hardship for our lives.  The bible instructs us to view affliction as God desiring to have us as his own...to not cut us off. We are called to praise him for his patience in refining us instead of giving us the wrath we deserve....even if it hurts.  

In my mind, the struggles in my life now show me that The Lord is writing my story...that He is dictating my path. I am living a life that I would never have written for myself...but in my heart I know that it is better than what I would have written.  

Is it difficult? Yes. Do I always enjoy it? No. But it is an adventure. An adventure that The Lord has chosen for me.  He is undoubtedly the author of my crazy life...and I have come to the point where I would rather live a difficult life with him at the helm than an easy life with me as the captain. 

My suffering and discomfort is from The Lord. He is my rock to lean on, and I use Him. I couldn't do this life if I didn't. My strong arms, calloused hands, and quickly shrinking legs are His. Through the daily struggles they remind me that He is King over my life, and though I am fully tired, that thought makes me fully full. 

"For my own name's sake I delay my wrath; for the sake of my praise I hold it back from you, so as to not cut you off. See I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.  For my own sake, for my own sake, I do this. How can I let myself be defamed? I will not yield my glory to another." Isaiah 48:9-11


Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Thump... thump.  Thump... thump.  This morning as my alarm buzzed after a third round of snoozing, I came to my senses quickly when I heard a strange thumping sound.

"What is that?"

Kaitlin just mumbled groggily - typical.  Waking up in the morning is not a particular talent of hers.  Like a dutiful husband, I hopped out of bed to go explore the strange noise without bothering to put on pants.  Step, step... my bare feet plod down the six stairs, through the construction-zone that is our half formed kitchen - and gingerly I stand on my tip toes to look out the tiny window on our back door.

Wind. Well, that and the bookshelf-like "candy rock garden" that I took out from our entry way the other day (dubbed "candy rock garden" because this little half wall was filled with white rock as some sort of decorative flair - we filled it with candy because we thought it was ugly... and hilarious).  I had set this 1950's antique on the back porch, and the wind was gusting strong enough to tip it over into the wall, making the gentle thumping sound I had heard upstairs. 

Oh well, time for another day.  It feels good to say that.  For so long, Kaitlin and I have been living in a state of constant change.  We have moved ourselves and family members into and out of our house almost a dozen times in the past year, and we crave normality and routine.  During the past month, we took out our old kitchen, which is gradually being reconstructed into a more open, handicapped accessible area.  In the midst of this latest project, we are tired.  We are ready to be done, ready to have a home, ready to be "normal."  There are certain aspects of our life from which we will never get a break - but luckily construction is not one of them. 

I head back upstairs, test my blood sugar, and give myself a shot - that is new.  Then I help Kaitlin swing her legs out of bed and she transfers herself into her chair - that is new.  We walk-and-roll over to our lovely bathroom (also new), that was paid for by the kindness of our loving community, and begin the day.  

Even though so much has changed for us, I don't think we are alone in feeling like we don't truly have a "place" here.  Over the past month so many friends and family have been going through difficult, heavy stuff.  It seems like it never ends.  Kaitlin said to me the other day - "I just want a break from being paralyzed..." but there is no rest. 

After my shower I sat looking out the back window at the blustering flurries in our backyard, reading my Bible.  In Matthew 11:28 Jesus says "come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest."  That is all I want... rest.  But it can't just stop there, with some coffee-cup Christian-ese statement about coming to Jesus.  Later on, Jesus goes on to say "I tell you, something greater than the temple is here.  And if you had known what this means, I desire mercy, and not sacrifice, you would not have condemned the guiltless.  For the Son of Man is Lord of the Sabbath."  In this moment, when I need rest - it comes from an acknowledgement of authority, not from the reduction of my to-do list.  God controls my life.  I do not need to perform well for him, because I am forgiven through Jesus, and through his sacrifice God delights in me, regardless of my "success" in life. 

Perhaps we don't feel like we are home because we will never feel that way on this earth.  There is always another thing to do, something new to accomplish, and plenty of reasons why our lives feel out of control.  This week I am working to understand what it means to heed God's authority... and for his grace and mercy to provide me rest. 

 - John

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Back to Work! {A post by Kait}

Many of you know that I went back to work last week. Being in the classroom with my kids again is a huge blessing. They are some of the sweetest and most understanding people I have ever met, and they are only 14! I teach 3 periods per day instead of the 5 that I was teaching at the beginning of the year, and I don’t need to arrive at work until about 10am which has made my mornings manageable. 

Through returning to work, the Lord has continued to teach me more and more about the incredible scope of His wisdom and knowledge. It seems He has been orchestrating my work situation for almost a year, working to open and close doors and to lead me where He wants me. Whenever I’ve been confused or frustrated or nervous about work, He has been in control. He has led me here, and I am consistently getting glimpses of the fact that his purpose and plan is unimaginably greater than my own understanding.

I am blessed to be back at work, and I look forward to the Lord’s creativity being revealed as I continue to pursue this career.  Thank you for all of your love, prayers, and support.


Monday, January 20, 2014

Fundraiser FULL!

Thank you all so very much for your reservations & willingness to join us for such a special evening benefiting John & Kaitlin. I am so excited to announce that our reservations are completely full!

Once again, stay tuned for this fundraiser again in another couple of months!

All my love,

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Only 5 seats left!

Friends & Family-
If you'd still like a spot at the Amerigo fundraiser on Sunday, January 26th--e-mail me as soon as possible!
I have 4 seats open for the 5-7 seating and 1 seat open for the 7:30-9 seating. $50 a plate (not including tax). ALL proceeds go to John & Kaitlin directly!
I am once again amazed at how quickly we have filled up the reservations. We are literally surrounded by the most generous people in the world. THANK YOU!
All my love-