a backstory of hope

i have a treat for you today.

one of the things i’d love for this blog to be is a place that shares stories. over the last several months i’ve had different ideas rolling around. when i met this precious couple it was solidified. i’m hoping to feature stories that i know will touch your heart just like this one touched mine.

i knew i was meeting these sweeties to take images to use as an announcement for their family that they were persuing adoption. what i didn’t know was their backstory. it was one hundred degrees ( no really) as i she began to share with me as i visually prepped for a shot….i stood there teary, speechless and honored to be chosen to tell a little of their story through photography. backstory testimonies are so good aren’t they?  when you hear the story behind the scar. when you see the face of one who looked in the face of the unknown and chose bravery you can’t help be to be forever changed.

listen as she shares ~~~~

Even as adults there are many experiences in life that mold us into the people we are today – good ones, not so good ones, and really not so good ones.   One such experience occurred for me on Thanksgiving Day nearly 3 years ago.  My day was spent surrounded by family and friends, enjoying each other’s company, watching football, and of course indulging in WAY to much food.  Unfortunately my husband wasn’t able to join us this holiday.  His work as a police officer often required him to miss out on family functions.  After a wonderful day my brother and I began the 2 hour trek home.  As he drove I browsed the sale ads preparing for our Black Friday excursion.  About an hour into the drive my phone rang; it was my father-in-law.  I was immediately greeted by questions on the other end.  He was watching the news and just saw where a Nitro Police Officer, the department where my husband was a patrol officer, was struck by a vehicle.  No, sooner did I spit out that I hadn’t heard anything than another call came in.  It was the police department’s communications director calling to tell me my husband had been in an accident.  I wasn’t given many details but knew from the lack of information and distress in his voice that it was serious.  The next call received was from the surgeon seeking permission to perform emergency surgery.  Of course my first questions 1) were what you are operating on and 2) how serious is his condition.  I was instructed to get there safely but quickly – so I had my answer on the gravity of the situation.


I arrived at the hospital and was surrounded by family, friends, first responders and even complete strangers all there in support of our family.  With him being injured in the line of duty our faces were instantly plastered on the local news and printed on the front page of the paper (that will teach you to make your Facebook page private)!  Joking aside we were grateful for the AMAZING out pouring of support.  He pulled through the emergency craniotomy and spent the next week in ICU fighting for his life on and off a ventilator.  By day 9 he had become more stable and we were better able to assess the totality of his injuries and begin making decisions planning for the long road of recovery lying ahead of us.  The injuries were too numerous to count – He had sustained a Traumatic Brain Injury, left eye injury, serious injuries to three of his four limbs – the list goes on and on.  I knew my future would forever be different and a new normal would be required.


I was prepared to accept any outcome however we were fully committed to ensuring that he had the best chance at a full recovery possible.  This commitment is what leads us to Atlanta for the first time!
Day 13 we were transferred to the Shepherd Center located in the Buckhead area.  For those of you not familiar with this facility let me start by saying it is ranked among the nation’s top 10 rehabilitation hospitals.  The center focuses on rehabilitating individuals who suffered a brain and/or spine injury.  I won’t take you through our daily regime nevertheless we spent the next 4 months relearning how to eat, read, write, walk, and many of the other common functions us, as adults, learned to do many moons ago.  He underwent several surgeries.  This phase of the recovery process gave new meaning to the saying “life is a rollercoaster”. The strides he made during this period astounded everyone involved in the rehab process.  Four months after arriving in Atlanta it was time to head back to West Virginia and continue on with the next phase of developing our new normal.


Upon returning home my husband spent each day pushing his self to gain more functionality than he had the day before.  In a matter of months we realized West Virginia was no longer the best place for us.  We loved the home we had purchased as newlyweds, our families were within an hour radius of our home, and we were both active in our community.  Unfortunately we didn’t have the specialized medical care in WV that we had been accustomed to in Atlanta.  Additionally, the retraining options were limited without moving to a larger area.  Within a month of making this decision our house was on the market, all of our belonging were packed safely (as safely as they can be with a moving company), and we were headed south back to Atlanta to embrace yet another chapter of this new normal.


Since moving he has continued to receive treatment with the core team that has been established over the past 2.5 years.  He has surpassed any and all expectations!  He completed coursework and is now a Certified Polygraph Examiner.  In December he will graduate with his Bachelors in Criminal Justice.  As an outsider speaking with him today you would have little indication that he experienced such trauma.


This encounter has greatly transformed my outlook on life and has taught me the following valuable lessons.  First, life changes quickly.  It is easy to get stuck on auto pilot, going through the motions yet not truly living life.  Though all of us are guilty of this, with our new outlook we try to make the most of any situation seizing each opportunity that comes our way.  The timing will never be perfect so rather than waiting for the right moment, we now make the moment right.  Lastly, we can do all things through Christ which strengthens us.  Life is rarely as easy as we wished it was.  When life takes you on its rollercoaster, throw your hands in the air, enjoy the ride, and embrace the new normal.


So, how does this experience lead us to where we are today preparing to expand our family via adoption? We both love children and for many years have dreamt of starting our family together.  I knew from the age of 16 when I did my first mission trip that I wanted to adopt.  We had envisioned having biological children first and then expanding our future family via adoption.  God clearly had a much better plan for us!  After numerous failed fertility treatments we decided to more seriously explore adoption.  When we initially started the process we quickly realized the timing wasn’t right.  After taking a year to reflect, we truly believe the treatments were unsuccessful because God was calling us to grow our family through the precious gift of adoption.  We are over the moon excited we welcome our precious bundle of joy and become mommy and daddy!




thank you so much for sharing your heart! i can’t wait to see the next chapter in your story!!

September 16, 2014 - 9:38 am

Peggy - Oh Paige, thank you so very much for sharing with us! Truly a case of beauty out of the ashes and such an incredible testimony! Their story leaves me teary eyed and smiling all at the same time.

September 16, 2014 - 10:17 am

Matt Ritchie - Great story Paige! Powerful and encouraging. I also like the location.

September 16, 2014 - 10:45 am

jodi - Paige, thank you so much for sharing and thank you to this lovely couple for sharing this powerful story. I wish them all the best in their new chapter in life.
Thank you to them for the eye opener that you never know when your life could change and in what way, but whatever it may be; god has a plan for you.

Thank you so much paige….take care,

September 16, 2014 - 10:53 am

Teresa H, Fields - Thank you for sharing. Life’s stories help us all to keep life in perspective and not take our time for granted. Praying the missing piece or pieces come quickly for such an astounding couple. Praise Jesus!

September 16, 2014 - 11:06 am

Yolanda McLean - Oh, thank you for sharing this story. Please keep us posted. Thank you also for sharing your story. Sharing gives us the privilege of praying for you and for those you share with us.

September 16, 2014 - 1:11 pm

chrissi - oh paige, tears again. the best kind of tears♥

September 16, 2014 - 2:00 pm

Allison - What a small world…I am from a town about 20 minutes from Nitro, WV and I vividly remember when this tragedy occured. The community really came together in love and support of this family and I’m SO happy to see them doing well and growing in love! I really enjoy your blog Paige and have looked up to you so much! I think you and your family are WONDERFUL! Keep it up Knudsen! 🙂

September 16, 2014 - 4:13 pm

Hannah Avery - What an amazing story! Thanks for sharing!

September 16, 2014 - 5:14 pm

Carol D. - I am overwhelmed by their story…and the photo of her holding the world make me burst into tears….what a powerful story! And yes, many years ago when we lived in ATL, I visited Shepherd because I hired someone who was rehabbing there and it was a place where hope was born…..thank you for sharing this story

September 16, 2014 - 8:47 pm

Breanna - This is so beautiful! Thank you for sharing. I understand this all too well. I worked as a social worker with people who had sustained a TBI, as well as my dad. Bless this family, and their adaption process. This woman is amazing, and her courage is deep.

September 16, 2014 - 9:09 pm

Mitchell - Thanks for sharing. so glad I got to read this. he talked me into joining the navy and we went in together on the buddy program but got separated when I had to stay behind for a back x-ray. if you see this tell him I said hey!! Much love!

September 17, 2014 - 10:07 am

JuliaW - Beautiful story!

September 17, 2014 - 10:53 am

Terri - I can say, first hand, this couple is as strong and amazing as this article states. Thankful and Blessed to call them Friends/Family. Very excited for the new bundle of joy. This child will have the most amazing parents. We love you guys!!!!

September 17, 2014 - 12:46 pm

Curtis & Sherrie Chipley - Paige thank you for sharing this incredible love story… love story of two people who were on a journey to start their family, and a journey that GOD in his infinite wisdom intervened and took them down a different path….one that would not only bless this wonderful couple but would also Glorify HIM ….. in today’s world we need more of these beautiful stories…. to uplift us, to make us GRATEFUL for the families that we have and to allow us to reflect on just how BLESSED we are…. Blessings to you Paige for sharing this and Blessings to this wonderful couple…. Curtis & Sherrie.

September 19, 2014 - 8:00 am

christina - Hi Paige – I’m curious about picture #8. What lens did you use (50mm?)? What was the F-Stop? What was the shutter speed?

September 19, 2014 - 10:46 am

Alecia - What a beautiful story…thank you soooo much for sharing! Praying for their bundle of joy to join them SOON!!!

October 2, 2015 - 2:51 pm

leaving on a jet plane, pups & a special code for you » simple thoughts from Paige Knudsen Photography - […] a very special little man’s first birthday. a little peek at the backstory can be found here…and i’ll share more about the current chapter when i […]

October 7, 2015 - 9:09 am

a beautiful story of love through adoption (&HLHS) » simple thoughts from Paige Knudsen Photography - […] to share a little about gabriel. if you missed their backstory of hope, you simply MUST start here. ya’ll i’m telling you, ellen or oprah or lifetime needs to get ahold of this precious […]

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