Thursday, August 29, 2013

Why WE Love Dakota…Jenell

Where to even start with Jenell?! Jenell reached out to me on my blog a little over a year ago and has been such a HUGE support to me and my family and one of Dakota’s BIGGEST cheerleaders ever since!! It is not an uncommon thing to see her sweet name with a sweet or inspiring comment under my blog posts or to see her name in my email inbox with a sweet quote, scripture, or thought that she just wanted to share with me! It seems as if she is ALWAYS thinking of others and how to lift and help them along their difficult journey even though hers I’m sure is just as rocky!

Without ever even meeting us she wanted so badly to do something big for us. She wanted to organize a race to raise money for us but that didn’t work out…but if you come to know Jenell she cannot be stopped! ;) Instead she signed her and her cute family up for a race and ran it FOR Dakota. She shared Dakota’s story with her friends and family and got people to donate per mile they ran!! She truly has a heart of gold and goes above and beyond what is required of her for the good of others!


On the last anniversary of Dakota’s accident she sent me the most special gift I have ever received…a poem that put everything into perspective for me (about angel Dakota) and a sweet necklace to represent Dakota and who he is! I wrote about it here.

When I think about people who emulate Christ in their lives I most definitely think about Jenell!! What has taken me some very hard trials with a lot of sleepless nights and pillows wet with tears to learn, seems to come so natural to her!

(The one and only time she got to meet Dakota…she was SO excited to get to hold him! It meant so much to me!)

As you read what she has written you can see for yourself! Here is what she had to say about Dakota:

Hi, my name is Jenell and I am wife to a wonderful husband, and mother to 5 incredible children who hold my heart in their hands, every single day. I am also proof of the fact that Dakota’s incredible influence, can and does span the test of time and distance. You see, it wasn’t until a little over a year ago that I even learned of this sweet family, and it has only been through Tessie’s blog, emails and texting that I have become very close to them, and have been forever affected by this giant of a spirit, clothed in a little boy’s body. I am very honored that Tessie asked me to share some of my personal thoughts and feelings about Dakota…my littlest hero!


I distinctly remember the day that I just ‘happened’ upon Tessie’s blog, and saw this picture…such a perfectly, beautiful family! I had no idea what “The Friedli Family” blog held, but as I looked into those amazingly, blue eyes of this precious, little boy gazing back at me, I felt utterly compelled to read more about him. I started at the beginning of this courageous family’s life-changing ordeal, and I read. I can’t explain how or why I had this immediate bond and love for the Friedli family, but I feel very strongly that in life…there are no coincidences.

I wrote the following post on my personal blog, and wanted to share it…
Anyone close to me has heard me talk about this precious, little boy.  If you know me at all, you know that I have a special place in my heart for him.

Even I don't completely understand why this little guy has had such a strong pull on my heart, but I wanted to share some of my thoughts and feelings as I learn from this most amazing, little boy. 

I have some personal 'life experiences' that would tie my heartstrings to Dakota and his family:
· I have had the horrific experience of finding my one-year-old daughter in the bathtub, lifeless and unresponsive. I understand that overwhelming fear of the possibility that this child, whom you love more than life itself, may no longer be with you here on this earth;
· My youngest daughter, Kate, is 2 years old, the same age as Dakota at the time of his accident;
· When I was 16-years-old, my older sister, Alexis (18), suffered and eventually died of a traumatic brain injury (TBI);
· My own, sweet, blond-haired, blue-eyed, little boy is not much older than Dakota.

I am sure these are all factors, but you really don’t need any ‘link’ to love this little guy! I fell in love with that cute mug from the moment I saw him, but as I follow this sweet, family’s journey, I have developed a greater love and respect for each of them, and the important role each of them plays in Heavenly Father’s plan. I also have a deeper understanding of our Heavenly Father’s love for each of us and that His plan is perfect, not easy, but perfect. I love and admire this family, and know I am a better person because of the things I have learned and continue to learn from them.

Through Dakota and his loving parents, I have witnessed powerful examples of faith and trust in a loving Heavenly Father, followed lessons of hope and courage, and have a newfound love for their ‘family motto’ that life really doesn’t have to be perfect to be wonderful!

I have also been taught more fully the meaning of ‘true gratitude’. True gratitude requires and active responsibility, not just a passive recognition. True gratitude not only makes us appreciate what we have but draws us closer to our most compassionate selves, allowing the stories of others’ challenges to extend beyond a thankful acknowledgement for our lack of such challenges and forcing us to analyze our own stories. How can I learn the same lessons? How can I relate? How can I better help those around me in dealing with their pain?

I have read on Tessie’s blog of the long months that they didn’t see one of those amazing smiles, or hear the sweet sound of his laughter. Not only do I try harder to listen to and relish the sound of my own children laughing, or replay in my mind my baby girl’s adorable, little lisp, you know, the small and simple things, but I feel such sincere joy for Zach and Tessie when I see pictures of Dakota’s sweet smile, or watch a video clip of his cute, little laugh. I know those moments are priceless for them after living without those small and precious moments for a time, things that most of us take for granted…true gratitude.

I sent Tessie a poem 2 years after Dakota’s accident; It is a conversation between a brave, little soul who was asking God why bad things happened that caused people to suffer. God explained, ”The suffering soul unlocks the love in people's hearts much like the sun and rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this- it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer- to unlock this love- to create this miracle for the good of all humanity."

Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied, "I am brave; let me go! I would like to go into the world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people's hearts! I want to create that miracle!”

The bravest, little soul I know!

Sweet Dakota,

I am so grateful for this opportunity to tell you Happy Birthday, and send you my love, sweet, little friend! Even though I live 200+ miles away, please know I will always be cheering for your successes and praying for your happiness. You make this world brighter with your light and love, and remind everyone around you, what it feels like to be just a little closer to Heaven. You are a master teacher of all that is good, and I will do my best at taking notes, because I draw closer to our Savior when I follow your perfect example. I am better for knowing you, Dakota…thank you for being you!

Love and {{hugs}},


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