Wednesday, May 23, 2012


“A smile starts on the lips, A grin spreads to the eyes, A chuckle comes from the belly; But a good laugh bursts forth from the soul, Overflows, and bubbles all around.”
Carolyn Birmingham -

There is no better sound in the world than hearing someone you love, let out a deep, full belly laugh.  I don't think there is much more in this world that gives me joy than to hear this type of laughter out of one of my kids or my husband.  It shows their happiness and enjoyment, which in turn, makes me happy.

It's been a really long time since I've heard Allen's true, full, belly laugh.  It's been so long in fact that I think I may have forgotten what it sounded like.  However, the last couple of months, I've been noticing it creeping back in to our lives.  At first, it really caught me off guard.  It sounded almost foreign to my ears.  I listened and relished the sound.

Today we had a neighborhood block picnic at our house.  It was the annual HOA meeting so we volunteered to have it at our house so that everyone could see the house and the kids could enjoy the pool.      It was a beautiful day for it and I think most of the neighbors were here.  We had our meeting, ate, played, showed them the house and just got to know everyone.  It was really a great time.  As people were starting to leave, I noticed a group of the men in the garage with Allen checking out the project truck.  He was so excited showing them the truck and the progress they have made.  It is so amazing to see him putting himself out there again, to engage in conversations, to interact with people and even more amazing that they are people he really doesn't know that well.  This is a huge thing for him.  But, even better than all of that, is hearing him laugh.  That true, deep, joyful laugh that has been missing for a very long time.  I heard it many times throughout the afternoon today, and each time I took note.  I relish the sound each time I hear it.  It stands out to me.  It reminds me of where we've been and how far we've come.  I hope that this is something that I will cherish the rest of my life.  We tend to take so much for granted in this world, and I hope that this is something that I never will.

As I sit and think about the sound of Allen's laugh, I find myself wondering if this is the way his laugh has always sounded, or if it truly has changed.  It sounds so foreign to me, but I am not sure if that's because it has changed like most everything else about him, or if it's just been so long since I've truly heard it that it sounds so new again.  At first, I thought it had changed.  However, after thinking about it, I'm not convinced it has.  I've written before about his voice changing so it very well could be that the sound of his laugh has changed just as his voice did.   I'm leaning more towards the fact that it has just been too long since I've heard it that I notice it again.  Absence does make the heart grow fonder!  Either way, I'll take it and cherish it as often as I can get it!

Even Now.........Gina 

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Friends, Healing, and a '57 Chevy

Allen, Stacy King, and Bill King with the '57 Chevy
Bill King, Makale, Allen, and Dreyson 

     One of the greatest blessings we have received since joining the world of wounded warriors are all of the amazing friendships we have developed that we never would have had the opportunity for before.  So many astounding people have crossed our path since Allen's injury, and many we are able to now call our friends!  One such couple is Bill and Stacy King.  We had the honor of meeting Bill and Stacy back in August 2011, after they had helped all week long on the build for our house.

     Bill and Stacy are extremely generous, loving, and just overall "good people."  They have a moving personal story as well and we are honored to be able to call them our friends.  The first time we met them was just a couple of weeks after the build.  Allen and Bill had the chance to sit down for a conversation and soon discovered their combined love for 57 Chevy pick ups.  Allen had expressed to Bill that his dream was to get a project vehicle to restore with the boys and an old Chevy Pickup would be his dream.  Bill shared with Allen that he actually had 57 Chevy that he had restored and was his first vehicle.  He later asked me if he could get that truck back would it be ok for him to give it to Allen and the boys to restore.  I said that would be great but we by all means didn't expect them to just give us a vehicle.  Bill expressed his interest in being able to do this for all of us and that he would be in touch but it probably wouldn't happen until the spring.

Dreyson trying out the driver's seat
     As it turns out, Bill was not able to get his old truck back.  However, he and his beautiful wife Stacy, were determined to find the perfect truck for Allen and the boys.  This started their journey of traveling around the country in search of the perfect project.  Bill later shared it with me that it was something he felt was meant to be and was happy to be able to give this to Allen, Makale, and Dreyson.  Read more about Bill and Stacy's journey at

1957 Chevy 3100 Pickup in Infantry Blue
     Beginning in late February, first part of March, we started getting emails and phone calls from Bill.  He and Stacy were on the hunt for the perfect project.  They were traveling everywhere!!  One day they were in Spring Hill, Kansas, the next Southern Illinois with plans to go on to Tennessee the following weekend.  We couldn't believe it.  I watched Allen with each communication from Bill and knew how much this meant to him.  Since getting PTSD, Allen doesn't get excited about too many things.  However, this was one of those rare things that was changing him.  He was opening up and showing some spunk!  He was really excited about getting a vehicle to work on with the boys.

Taking out the radiator

Soon, his dream came true when Bill and Stacy came up the driveway pulling a trailer and a 1957 Chevy!  We were all ecstatic and the fact that it was "infantry" blue made it even better!  (We have since found out it is more of a turquoise blue, but it's close enough.)  Our friendship has grown so much with the King's through this journey, it is really quite indescribable.  All I can really say is it was all definitely part of the plan for our lives and was truly meant to be for so many reasons.

A couple of weeks after they dropped off the truck, Bill and Stacy came back for the weekend.  Bill and Allen worked on the truck while Stacy and I ran parts for them and just hung out together.  We all had such a great time and our friendship blossomed even more.  I think that it has been such a joy for all of us throughout this whole process.  Healing has happened all the way around and the truck is on it's way to "healing" as well!

I am excited to see the process as it all unfolds.  I will do my best to update here the progress with the truck as well as all involved.  We are looking forward to Bill and Stacy visiting again in a couple of weeks and we will see how the truck changes then.

Oh, and by the way, every project vehicle like this gets a name and Allen has proudly decided to call this truck the "King!"  Thank you Bill and Stacy for your friendship as well as all you have done for our family.  You guys hold a very special place in all of our hearts!!

Even Now.........Gina