Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Discouraging Days

For the past 3 months since we have been home, Britten has been so cheerful, with such an upbeat positive attitude.  He has had a few days of discouragement, but has been able to stay focused and happy.  The past 2 weeks have been extremely difficult for him as his friends are headed back to College and involved with their studies, work and social life.  Some friends are engaged to be married and excited for their future.

Britten is starting to question his future.  "Will I ever be able to go back to College?"  Britten's studies are relearning to read and write in the simplest form.  As tears are running down his face, he says, "I know my eyes will get better some day, but I don't know if it will be 1 year, 2 years, 8 years, or even 20 years. I won't be able to be a dentist until my eyes get better."  Other questions are consuming his thoughts like, "Will I ever be able to drive a car again?  What will I do for work?  Will I ever be able to work and make a living for my family?  What girl will want to marry me?"

My heart cries,  because these are very legitimate questions.
I try to reassure Britten that Heavenly Father has been with him every step of the way, everyday.  He will not abandon you now.  He will help you know what you can do and he will allow opportunities to open up for you so you can have a happy, successful life.  Sometimes things don't turn out how we plan, but if we have faith and rely on our Savior, he will help us everyday.  We just need to concentrate on one day at a time.
I asked Britt, "are you progressing each day?"  He replied, "Yes, I'm doing amazing!"  I then  tried to assure him that we just need to concentrate on, one day at a time.  It's like President Monson said, "Life by the yard is hard, but by an inch...it is a cinch!"  Britten agreed and smiled that he can do that!

Probably one of the most frustrating things for him, is knowing how his personality traits were before the accident, and how his brain injury has altered some of that.  One of Britten's best attributes that has blessed his life as well as our family's, is that he is a peacemaker.  He has had the patience of Job and this has blessed him to stay calm, not get irritable with others (especially his brothers), to not speak unkind words in any situation.  He never raised his voice at us, even when he was upset and showed up most respect for us.  The song, "I'm try to be like Jesus" was Britten in every way.

Now, due to the injury, he gets frustrated with himself, because certain things can agitate him.  He doesn't let out his frustrations very often, but will let them build inside until he finally lets it out.  He will say, "I don't want to be this person.  I want to be the person I was before.  I would never get mad.  I don't like it when I get mad over little things.  I just want to be the person, I was before."

 I also feel bad, because many aspects of his life have changed, and yet...He is still the same person.  He is still that same kind, loving, compassionate, patient person.
  I have been amazed at how well Britten has been able to contain his frustrations and emotions.  I tell him, "he is probably more normal now, like me and many others, that speak too quick and regret it or get mad easily, when the situation really doesn't matter."   

While we were in the hospitals I posted the quote above Britten's bed, "The future is as bright as your faith".  I looked at it several times a day. When days were so discouraging and hard, I wondered, how can we do this,  I would look up....and see..."The future is as bright as your faith."  Along with all the encouraging words from family and friends (old and new), that is what got us through the day. 

I think it is now time for this quote to hang in Britten's room, to encourage him to: "Be of Good Cheer, The Future is as Bright as Your Faith".  
Thank You President Monson for your profound words of encouragement that have gotten us through, even the darkest days.

On occasion I have read to Britten his own words sent home on Oct. 31, 2011.
There have to be challenges and trials in our lives, to make us rise just a little higher and do just a little better.  It is those challenges and trials that shape who we are, and depending on how we react to them, we can become even better and stronger and more prepared.
There is a famous quote that says, " Just as a Gem cannot be polished without friction, a man cannot be perfected without trials." 
Challenges and trials are a part of this life.  We agreed that they would be a part when we accepted Christ's plan.  I don't believe that God makes things happen to us, but allows them to happen, because He knows that it is through those challenges and trials that we will become better, and that we can become the best we can.
Because of my trials....I'm becoming a better missionary and I'm more prepared for life after. 

 love,  Elder Schenk

Yes, Britten Schenk, You are prepared for life!  You will overcome your challenges and trials with your determination and great faith.    You continue to inspire your family and everyone you come in contact with!  We love you.

Carol Mikita did a short story on Britten if you would like to visit the website.  It is on:  mormon times.   Dated Sept. 2, 2012


  1. wow this was an amazing post. thank you so much for sharing. i'm currently studying TBI's and the affects on the individual and the family as well. It's crazy the kinds of affects it has, such as the change in personality..who would have thought. I love your quotes from President Monson. It has helped my family during our trying times as well. Thank you for continuing to post about Britten and his condition. We will continue to think and pray for you.

  2. He has touched so many lives...remember your influence for good, and don't be discouraged by the little things. Eternity only needs things of eternal nature. You have the best support group ever, your awesome family! Your Mom is your best advocate, and will be there as you grow stronger each day. One day looking back you'll be amazed as the rest of us have been amazed at how blessed you've been, how far you've come, and why it happened.

  3. Hoje encontrei seu blog e li todos os posts em 1 hora e meia... muito emocionante, parabéns pela força que vocês têm e pela linda família que são. Sou do Rio de Janeiro, nunca os vi, mas amo vocês. Britten você vai se recuperar completamente e formará uma linda família.
    Com amor.

  4. O this is the part I hate! I'm so sorry for what you are going through Britten! I've been following your blog since day one. My husband was in his first year as a medical resident when he suffered a very severe stroke. We were not married at the time. We married nine months later, he had a very uncertain future even then. The Lord however, prepared a way for us to be married-- I felt totally peaceful even though I knew things would be tough. Almost five years later my hubby is almost totally recovered but has not secured a job yet. We've gone through a lot of time of doubt and fear about his future and his career--- but we're making it and I know we'll be OK. Things will take time Britten but I know the Lord has prepared a bright future for you-- and a great wife ;) Feel free to visit our blog for more on our recovery http://willsrecovery.blogspot.com

  5. Steve, Karla & Britten,
    I just wanted to thank you so much for the blight and all of the uplifting posts. It really brightens my day, and Britten is such a strong person to go through this trial with the smile on his face. Britten the Lord is preparing a special young lady for you and whoever she is, she will be extremely lucky girl to have a great guy like you! You are and always have been a very extraordinary man. Keep you head up. I know the Lord has great blessings instore for you.
    Lacee Kimball Clinger

  6. Britten, When I read these posts I am always amazed with the strength of you and your family. The fact that my daughter is currently serving a mission and the fact that your accident occurred on her birthday, led me to feel a special connection to your story and I have followed your blog from the beginning. I have been so inspired and uplifted by each of the posts. You and your family continues to be in my prayers.

    Just over 30 years ago, my older brother received a TBI in a terrible auto accident. He was 18 and the doctors told my parents to put him in an institution because he would never be funtctional. They didn't. He had to learn to read and write and walk and dress and feed himself all over again. He suffered some of these same fears as he saw his friends moving forward with their lives. But, people who know him now would never imagine what he went through. He has been a successful business owner and real estate agent. He is married to a wonderful woman and serves in a branch presidency. He has raised three wonderful kids and recently became a grandfather. And, life is good!

    I know that as you rely on the Lord and focus on His plan, you will be able to have a good life. Continue to place your trust in Him and all will be well.

    PS - Any girl who wouldn't want to be with such an amazing young man isn't worth it! There is someone special out there for you Britten. And, you will find your own way and it will be right for you. Just hang in there!

  7. Britten,
    I don't even know you, but have been following this blog. You are awesome!! You are amazing!! Please don't ever give up. I am sure it is hard, but you have come so far. You are a hero to many!! Just like Pres. Monson and your Mom have said "Your Future Is As Bright As Your Faith!! Keep the FATIH!!

    Praying for you,

  8. Dear Britten and family,
    You have been on my mind constantly since I read your last post. You don't know me, but I have been following your blog since the accident. There is so much I would like to share with you, but it is too much for comments on your blog. So let me just say that I know Heavenly Father has a plan for you and it is a better plan than any of us could design for you. He's known you from the beginning. He knows your heart, your concerns, your pain and he also knows what you need in order to become the best you. Trust in Him and He will make sure everything turns out right.

    Now just a word to your family. It must be so hard to watch Britten struggle. I went through cancer a few years ago and most of the time I had a pretty good attitude and was upbeat, but sometimes I got down. During those down times, my family really struggled because they were afraid I was going to give up. Everybody needs those times that they let out their emotions and fears. Even the prophet Joseph Smith had those times. Please know that Britten will be okay and that the down times are normal and necessary.

    I think all of you are amazing and I have no doubts you will come out of this on top!


  9. Dear Britten and family,
    I have been following your blog, I pray for you since March 2012. You have touched my life with your courage, your strength and your faith. I believe in miracles. I know Lord knows you and takes care of you.Get up and get down are normal and it is necessary too. It is part of life. Only continue trusting Him and everything will be good!
    Brazilian Hugs for you!

  10. I have written before and expressed my hope for Britten and his future but hope you won't mind if I chime in again. Having myself suffered a THI I know a little about what Britten is going through and the mental pain that comes with the unknown. I can assure you that the fear of the unknown is far greater than the physical pain that comes with recovery. The last thing I wanted to hear was someone telling me it was going to be okay. I knew they wanted it to be okay, that I wanted it to be okay, but neither of us had a crystal ball to know what "okay" actually was going to be. I prayed that things would return to normal, but not knowing what the Lord would correct and what would remain the same. That was the hardest part and it was when I felt most discouraged. But the change in me came when I prayed that through the atonement the Lord would ease my mental anguish. When I gave my worry and anguish to him, peace always came, my burden was always lightened, and my hope always renewed. He will never correct everything we want corrected, but He will ALWAYS lighten our burden when we place our pain on the altar and give it to Him. Some of my hopes were taken, some of my dreams unrealized and goals not met, but what the Lord replaced them with, far surpassed my expectations. My life has been full and richer when I let the Lord take my burdens upon Him. He suffered for our sins but during the atonement, He also suffered our pain. He can take away the sting if we let Him. If you ever want to chat, my email is plumbpainting@aol.com Mike

  11. This morning as I walked past my daughter's bridal portrait, I thought about Britten's comment "What girl will want to marry me?". When we found out about our daughter's neurological disorders when she was 4 years old, I had those same thoughts about her. But I had the faith to believe that Heavenly Father would find some kind, patient, understanding young man who would look past those diabilities and see the funny, warm, loving, witty and worthy young woman she has always been. That young man showed up at BYU Idaho after serving his mission and married her in the Salt Lake Temple in April. Your bride is out there worrying about the acne on her forehead or her bad hair day or her 20 extra pounds and thinking the same thing: Who would want to marry me? I have a feeling that with Britten's courage and compassion, she doesn't need to worry either. Open hearts tend to draw other open hearts.

  12. I just recently came upon your story, Britten, and wanted to share something with you. My son suffered a brain bleed two days after his premature birth. He is now 23 years old and a student at USU. I have learned and studied much about the brain in my quest to help him be all he can be. When he was 16 yrs. he asked me to make an appointment for him at Shriners hospital in SLC. He wanted to hear that something more could be done for his left sided cerebral palsy. The doctor was kind, but told him he should count his blessings and accept his current condition which wasn't so bad. (Yes, he had many, many priesthood blessings throughout his life and is truly a miracle in his functioning.) But he cried in despair when the doctor left the room. He wanted more. A year later he was promised in a blessing that his capacities would be enlarged. How would that happen? we wondered. Would the Lord just suddenly bless him? I believe (as Elder Oaks shared in his 2010 conference talk on blessings) that we have to actively do all we can and try every method known to help ourselves and then the Lord will bless us accordingly. This has happened for my son. I wanted to share with you this link
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=t3TQopnNXBU and encourage you to watch it. Neuroplasticity is an amazing phenomenon. I feel it is a further manifestation of the power of God. I am reading Dr. Doidge's book right now -- The Brain that Changes Itself -- and am learning more and more about how to do our part to help our son so the Lord can bless him and us accordingly. These is always hope, and there is always growth. Isn't that part of the plan? Britten, I believe you can attend school again and do all the things you've dreamed of!

    Melanie Herrmann, Smithfield, Utah