Beating the Odds

kissed by a rose

If you didn’t get to attend our wedding reception, there are some things you probably don’t know about my wife.

When Tonnette was 19, on her way to Ricks College, the Volkswagon Beetle she was traveling in hit a herd of antelope. A boy was thrown from the car and died. Tonnette was knocked unconscious, her neck was twisted, and she stopped breathing. Her two girlfriends found the boy dead, and they thought Tonnette was also dead, and they went walking to find help. They stopped a truck driver, who in turn called for emergency help.

The medic who first responded saw Tonnette’s head slumped over a door frame. When he lifted her head, he heard her suck in a breath of air. Her brain was traumatized, but there was still hope for her. She had a gash in each arm, proximal to the triceps muscles, but these were not serious. A hospital physician suspected she might have a crushed spleen, or internal bleeding. He made a long cut from her sternum to her abdomen to investigate, and found that her internal organs were fine, and there was no internal bleeding.

Tonnette was in a coma for 9 months, at various hospitals, and rehabilitation facilities. A physiatrist who examined her suggested that she would probably live the remainder of her life in care institutions, since it did not appear she would ever be able to take care of herself.

Her traumatic brain injury was indeed a handicap, but not in the way people thought. Tonnette slowly regained consciousness; she had to re-learn how speak, how to eat, how to walk, how to shower and dress herself. It was miraculous, yes, but some miracles take a long time. This miracle happened with the faith, prayers, and support of her parents. It took lots of hard work with nurses, therapists, and many other caring people along the way. And it took the mercy of God, looking forward to the day when a truck driver would see Tonnette in a different way than other men had.

Tonnette continued living with her parents, and graduated from Boise State University. She became a teaching assistant with Head Start. Her four younger brothers served as missionaries for the LDS Church, got married, and had children.

Tonnette and I met through eHarmony, an online introduction service. I was living on a truck, doing most of my socializing through a Mac laptop computer. Our first meeting happened in 2005, near the Boise Flying J truck stop. I invited her to meet me face-to face for dinner, at the Mongo Grill. Wasn’t much pleased with their food or service, but Tonnette seemed to enjoy it. She walked slowly with the help of a hemi-walker, because of hypertonicity in her legs.

I was not exactly charmed with her looks, but I was impressed with her positive, encouraging remarks about almost everything. Despite her optimism, I did not feel we could be a successful couple, because I lived on a truck, I couldn’t attend church regularly, and I couldn’t see her regularly. She asked to see my truck, but it was obvious she could never climb into it.

For a couple years, every sunday, Tonnette would email me the sunday school and priesthood lessons, so I could read them when I was parked for a rest.

During lunch at a Boise IHOP restaurant, Tonnette was getting a little less hopeful about our future together. She didn’t think we could be more than friends. Her father had been asking her, “Where are you going with this?” Seeing his daughter meet a truck driver a few times a year when he happened to drive through Boise, didn’t seem like a very healthy relationship.

I often asked myself the same question. “Where was I going with this?” The answer in hindsight was, Wherever God wanted me to go.

He offered me an attitude adjustment, and slowly I accepted it. I quit driving trucks, started attending church regularly, and in the summer of 2012 I moved to Boise. After several months, I found a stable job with health benefits.

In 2013 Tonnette and I were married in the Boise Temple. In 2014 we visited an OB/GYN (female doctor) who told us that the chances of getting pregnant with Tonnette’s eggs were about zero. She clarified this later, saying the chance was less than 1%, because Tonnette was too old. Tonnette was devastated. She assumed she could easily become pregnant as long as she had a menstrual cycle.

We assumed we could never be parents, and tried to quit thinking  about it.

On my birthday, the 12th of February 2015, a home pregnancy test showed Tonnette was pregnant. She was astounded. The next day, her primary care physician confirmed it.

Genesis 18:14 “Is anything too hard for the Lord?”



A favorite saying of mine often attributed to St. Francis of Assisi reads, “Preach the gospel at all times and if necessary, use words.” Implicit in this saying is the understanding that often the most powerful sermons are unspoken.