February 23, 2012

I was shot in the face.

Writing this post has been lingering on my mind for weeks. I have said many prayers over this specific post. I've been extremely anxious, and all the reasons as for why, aren't exactly clear. I feel led to write about it; It's an incredible story with a powerful message.

But, this is and was REAL.

It's not a fictional story.

It's not invented emotions or phony fears.

It's raw and authentic and has changed my world profoundly.

This narrative goes deeper than the oceans and wider than the sea.

This is my story.

Six years ago today, I was painfully shot in the face.

The 45-caliber bullet teared through the right side of my face.

Gliding along my jaw line, the smoldering hot metal came to rest in the fatty tissue in my cheek.

No exit, only an entry wound.

It was bloody.

It was horrifying.

It was excruciating.

It was a miracle.

The doctors were in awe of this case. "This is the best gun shot wound to the face I've ever seen. It's a miracle you're still standing, let alone breathing."

Family flew long distances to console me and friends gathered to spend long nights in the hospital. I was overwhelmed with cards, flowers, emails, text messages, and love.

Physically I healed, yet mentally and emotionally, I was lost.

The following days, months, and years were difficult.

Ever heard of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder?

How about grief?

 Rapidly the meaningless phrases of handling trauma became my reality.

Being 19, away from home, and handling so much brokenness left me extremely vulnerable.

I did what I thought (and my mom thought) was appropriate. I prayed, wrote in my journal, tried to talk about it with friends, went to counseling, and continued on with my life.

Very quickly I felt very alone in my world.

Relationships were failing, insecurities were growing, and confusion and chaos clouded my vision.

I was angry that everyone else's college experience and lives were "normal". They weren't living with this monster of repeated nightmares, numbness, feeling detached, anger, panic attacks, trouble sleeping, guilt, worry, fear, and stress.

I remember my counselors words, "You have been through a serious traumatic event. It's okay to not be okay."

 Looking back, I didn't recognize it as PTSD. I knew I was hurting, but, I didn't find it acceptable. I didn't understand what happened, what was happening, and what the future had in store. I was determined to build a house in the middle of a tornado; it's just not possible.

Post traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that is triggered by a terrifying event. Symptoms usually include:

1. Reliving the event: flashbacks, nightmares, uncomfortable reactions to certain situations

2. Avoidance: numbness, depression, avoiding people or places that trigger the event, lack of interest in normal activities, feeling detached

3. Arousal: difficulty concentrating, hypervigilance, outbursts of anger or irritability, trouble sleeping, "survivors guilt", dizziness, feeling your heartbeat in your chest.

Symptoms can last for days, months, or years, and can recur with no given reason.

 After researching PTSD for this post I was literally brought to tears. I was BY THE BOOK suffering and didn't ever realize it. There is actually reasons for how I felt.

Do you know how enlightening and wonderful that realization feels?

Every year on this date, I feel different. This year is the first year I can look back and stop trying to be so strong and stop trying to  make sense of every little detail that followed the months after the shooting. The magnitude of what has happened has finally become real. With a restful and hopeful heart I'm able to recognize where I've been and where I'm going. I'm able to understand grief and post trauma disorders and say, I've been there. I'd be foolish to think that my seasons of storms is over, but, as for now my house is a little more prepared.

I'm incredibly thankful for this wake-up call. I'm stronger, wiser, and have a deeper relationship with God. I truly feel that I took this one bullet only to dodge several other.

I've asked my Mom to share her story with you. 

"It's my birthday week, and It's the same week every year that I recall with awe the events that took place six years ago. Those events gave me a new perspective of God's  love and concern for us all, and left me wanting more of HIM. I am forever changed. I still remember those heart-stopping words, "there's been an accident, and Katie...". These are the type of phrases that give breath to a parent's worst nightmares...the words we pray we'll never have to hear...yet I was hearing them.

One chilling, February night, our daughter Katie was struck in the face by a stray bullet while attending a party with some college friends. We were told that a fight broke out, and in the chaos a shot was fired, leaving a young man paralyzed from the neck down. The same bullet that left the first victim motionless, passed through his neck and entered our daughter who was standing behind him. The events of that night left our daughter and many of her friends confused and horrified at what they had witnessed. The thought of my child lying in shock without me there to comfort her, is a thought almost too hard to bare. I've learned that it's best not to entertain the memory of that night too often.

The night of February 24th 2006 was the beginning of much pain and searching for Katie, but it was also the beginning of a mother's answered prayer. The shooting introduced our whole family to the painful realization that we truly have no control over the events on our lives. I've since made friends with this powerful truth, and find it to be both frightening, and liberating.

Since the shooting, I've witnessed profound growth in Katie. Her face is completely healed, and she can comfortably say that "the bullet" was the best thing that ever happened to her, and in many ways set her free. She learned that the experiences that bring us to our knees, are often the very experiences we need to break through the chains of fear. She's allowed the shadows surrounding her self worth to disappear in the light of God's insane love. That love, along with the love of family and many faithful friends has helped Katie heal, and through her pain she's been transformed into a wiser and happier person.

Our entire family has been methodically and lovingly changed through this experience, each gleaning a measure of wisdom specifically designed by THE LOVER OF ALL.

Backing up a bit.....

In the months leading up to Katie going away to school, I had become very concerned about many of the choices she was making. She was young and immature, and I had serious reservations about the wisdom of sending her away to school. I'm aware that most parents share the same reservations, but I found myself plagued by a deep concern for Katie's safety....I believe I now know why.

In order to paint a more complete picture of how my personal faith and trust were strengthened during this time, I feel it's important to mention some note worthy things that occurred leading up to the shooting.

The same day that Katie was shot, I was on my daily walk when I was taken by an overwhelming need to pray for her. I remember asking God to give Katie a wake-up call. My hope was that she would begin to listen to reason, and develop a deep, abiding love for HIM.  I recall pleading, "do whatever it takes to give Katie a heart for You". I reasoned with God that if she understood His love for her, she would grow the strength and wisdom to conquer whatever life may bring.

Little did I know that she would receive a gunshot wound to the face less that 24 hours later...not quite the wake-up call I had in mind. The events that followed my prayer were clearly and creatively scripted, and carried with them a message of love more powerful than I could have ever imagined.

Six years have come and gone, and I can say that I too am thankful for the bullet. I can also say that I'm very thankful that God didn't need to run details of His plan past me for my approval.

I believe there are a multitude of reasons why God allows painful things to happen. I choose to believe that my need to pray on that particular day for a "wake-up call",  was a type of preparation or warning for the sudden impact that was about to take place. I remember when I heard the words "there's been an accident, and Katie...", my heart dropped and my eyes began to well with tears. Then, I recalled my prayer from the day before, and all I can say is that I was overcome with a profound sense of peace and knowing that my prayers for Katie were being answered. I had the peace that passes understanding, and I know it was from HIM.

The thoughtless actions of Katie's shooter became the catalyst of an extremely challenging season of growth for Katie. While writing these words, I'm reminded of many raw emotions that tenderly touched and tested us, as a family.

 I learned some wonderful truths about God that continue to impact my life in many wonderful ways.   I now know that God is capable of turning any tragedy into triumph. I had always heard that God really does listen to our prayers...and now I know it to be true. HE cares deeply about what concerns us. God is all knowing and wise...He knows exactly what we need, and HE has a divine purpose for our lives. GOD IS LOVE.

I would like to add one more prayer to the hundreds of prayers I've prayed for the young man who was first hit by "the bullet". My prayer is that he will be given great healing and peace...forever.

I would also like to offer up a very special prayer for the shooter. It's clear that he lacks the knowledge that he is dearly loved. I pray, for his own good, that God gifts him with whatever it takes for him to develop a deep, and abiding love for HIM.  For with God, all things are possible.


* I've kept the following excerpt, along with Katie's 2005-6 sorority picture safely taped to the inside of my bible for the past five years....lest I forget.


Can I get an AMEN?!


I'd be lying to you if I said the healing is over. I still have moments of PTSD and I will forever carry this with me. However, today is a celebratory day! I'm blessed beyond belief and ever so thankful of this life-changing event. This journey for our family is not over but I'm not afraid if it anymore. I've learned that God has insane love for us. I've learned that a mothers love is richer than all the wealth. I've learned that healing and forgiveness takes time.

This event has deep roots that travel miles underground. I'm excited to continue this journey with the support of my loving husband, family, and friends.

If you know anyone who has been through any sort of trauma encourage them to read this, understand where they are, and seek help.

Let's all learn to pray, trust, and love...furiously.

xoxo, katie

Oh, one more thing. Happy Birthday, Mom.



  1. Katie, thank you for sharing this post. It must have taken an incredible amount of strength to write this. You are a truly inspiring woman.

  2. Katie- You're journey, and your love affair with God is such a beautiful thing to be a witness to. It's a wonderful thing to be sure, that God truly does know what He's doing.
    Go make this day the best day, and know that you're loved.
    mom <
    P.S. I'm so thankful for your precious husband. His unwavering love and devotion to you has proven to be a gift from God as well...delivered at just the perfect time! oxo

  3. Your words are Incredibly POWERFUL!
    Thank you for sharing your story. : )

  4. the power of parents that pray for their children is unreal! thanks for sharing Katie! what an amazing testimony of how much our Papa loves us!

  5. My dear sister,

    When I think about the different feelings this day could have brought us all, I bow my head in humility and deep gratitude to God for orchestrating it in a way that left you with us. The other options are just incomprehensible, and I recognize that the tears streaming down my face could have been for a horrifying alternative. To see you not only survive, but THRIVE, and rise out of it like you have, takes the blessing of witnessing you do life and extends it beyond my greatest dreams. You are truly an inspiration.

    I love this part mom said:

    "She learned that the experiences that bring us to our knees, are often the very experiences we need to break through the chains of fear. She’s allowed the shadows surrounding her self worth to disappear in the light of God’s insane love. That love, along with the love of family and many faithful friends has helped Katie heal, and through her pain she’s been transformed into a wiser and happier person."

    ... You are a teacher to us all, showing us how to allow God's healing love bind up even the deepest of our wounds. Thank you for the example. I learn from you, little sister. ;)

    I love you more than I can ever ever ever say.

    your's forever,

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  7. Katie...on day when I am trying to lay low the pain of my own are an inspiration! You are beautiful soul and educator to us all!!!!

  8. awww thanks Tanya. I'm continually inspired by watching others. I'm so thankful for the support and love you offer! Thank you :] TAKE IT EASY!

  9. What an inspiration you and your family are! It's amazing what blessings come from the trials in life.

  10. Thank you! Every family goes through "stuff" it's just important to love each other. Thanks for reading! xo.

  11. YOU are something else. I'm glad I know you, Tanya. :]

  12. While commenting between mutual friends on Instagram...I came across you.
    I remember you from high school. Not on a personal level, but in passing. I clicked on your blog and read a little about your story. It brought tears to my eyes and spoke to my heart. You're truly an inspiration. I believe things happen for a reason. I believe I needed to hear your story and see your faith so that I could regain mine. I know I'm still healing from the things I've gone through in my life. No matter how old we get. We are still growing and learning. Thank you for being the hope for others who are seeking their faith, again.