The Dark Side of a Journey

DiAnnMills @DiAnnMills

Today’s Guest Blog Post is written by Brandon Guindon @BrandonGuindon

I write this letter to you after being on the other side of a great yet difficult journey. I write after sitting on the southern facing side of a mountain where the sun shines best.  This letter comes from someone that navigated the treacherous path of deep hurt, pain, and fear. I write this as a pastor, husband, and father that cares deeply about you, even though we may have never met.  I understand the deepest darkest parts of a jagged mountain. Yet, in spite of the terrifying times, I made it. I can only hope this letter brings comfort as if someone was sitting on a log beside you saying, I hear you.

I know you are hurting and when you are ready, just know you can do it. You can get to the south side of this rugged nasty old mountain.

On October 28th, 2016, my wife Amber and I headed to watch our girls play softball. Fall tournaments were in full swing, and Emma our oldest would be pitching to our younger daughter Olivia. Since they were 8 and 6 years old the two have played fastpitch softball. This particular morning was filled with excitement because both girls would have college coaches at the tournament to watch them play.

Driving to the park my wife’s cell phone rang and it was a police officer. When that memory flashes to my mind I can still hear two things; the terror in Amber’s voice and the sirens blaring through the speaker of Amber’s cell phone. Amber hung up and said, “the girls were in an accident”.

Walking through the doors of the E.R. I remember a woman taking my hand and leading us back to a family grieving room, where she began to explain the severity of the accident. Words like T-boned, crushed, fractures, and blood on the brain poured from her mouth while I was trying to slow my heart and mind from the hurricane of emotions. I vomited.

The next 21 days Olivia, our 14 year old, would lay in a coma leaving us to wonder if she would live. Machines beeped, alarms rang, and health care providers swirled around her. Prayers seemed to bounce off the ceiling. She suffered 16 skull fractures, a double compound fractured jaw, broken sternum, and a brain bleed. Survival was doubtful.

Our oldest daughter Emma suffered severe lacerations, a terrible concussion, and worst of all the horror of remembering every second of the wreck. She spent 5 days in the hospital but was released to go home and begin her own journey of rehab. It felt as though I was lost in darkness.

Day 22 arrived and Olivia remained alive, slowly waking from the coma. We moved to a pediatric neuro facility where rehabilitation would begin. My soul found a level of agony I had no idea existed. The gut-wrenching pain of watching Olivia relearn to walk, talk, eat, tie her shoes was brutal. Even though we celebrated her surviving the wreck, hourly we helped her slog through the pain of her rehab.

So why do I write this letter? To rekindle a story of hurting parents, loss, and the results of a broken world? No. I write this to you saying, I hear you. Maybe not in the physical sense, but in a spiritual sense. More importantly, I know God hears you.

Much in this life is a mystery.  Why some face deep loss and others do not. Our girls’ story is one of survival and healing miracles. Olivia spent 87 days in the hospital, overcoming the odds and experiencing miraculous healing. Today both girls are back playing softball at a collegiate level and sharing their testimony of life on the dark side of the mountain.

Yet, I know not all stories end that way. I have had the chance to sit and listen to many that end with loss and no celebration of a college scholarship. What I can share with you is what I learned along the way. Maybe my journey will help you navigate the path differently or help avoid some of the pitfalls I found myself in.  I want to encourage you to consider these lessons learned:

  1. You cannot do this alone. Allow people into your circle even when it seems scary or difficult. Both Amber and I wanted to isolate in the most painful times. Yet people rallied around us. Spiritual strength is always found when we are dependent not independent. Trusting God leads us to greater dependence on Him and others.
  2. Take care of yourself. One of the nurse practitioners reminded me several times that the trauma we were navigating was a marathon. We needed to sleep, eat right, and exercise. Make sure to take care of your physical health so you are in the best condition to uphold your mental and spiritual health.
  3. Seek professional help. Seeing a counselor helped all of us greatly. Yes, I had close friends but in some cases, our family needed professional help navigating this new world and the residual effects of our trauma.
  4. Celebrate the wins. Find the little things God is doing and small victories along the way. Amber and I agreed early on that each day we would find one thing better than the day before. As small as it seems, this helped greatly. Find those small wins and celebrate them.

Whether you are in the middle of some horrible trauma or the memories of something 20 years ago that seem to never go away. I hear you. God hears you.

IF you find yourself sitting in the dark on some terrifying path, not wanting to go any further or flat on your back from exhaustion, I am telling you to stand up. You can do this. The sun is shining on the other side of the mountain, so start putting one foot in front of the other.



Brandon Guindon is the lead pastor of Real Life Ministries Texas, a non-denominational Christian church in Tomball, Texas, 30 miles north of Houston.

Brandon has over 20 years’ experience leading churches worldwide to become healthy and effective in making disciples of Jesus Christ. He has been an executive team member at Real Life Ministries in Post Falls, ID and at The MET Church in Houston, TX. He has authored and co-authored several publications on biblical discipleship, including the Real Life Discipleship Training Manual, Stay the Course, and Disciple Making Culture.

Brandon holds a Bachelor of Science in Health Science from Linfield College and an M.A. in Church Leadership and New Testament Theology from Hope International University. He sits on the Board of Directors for the Relational Discipleship Network. Brandon is a bow hunter and avid outdoorsman. He and his wife, Amber, have four children, Emma, Olivia, Grady and Garrett.