Soul Strength

-Written by Anna-

Knowing that transition will be hard makes it easier…right?

As a Missionary and Pastor’s Kid, I have spent my life transitioning. In fact I think I have almost prided myself on the fact that while I have never enjoyed it, I have learned the ‘tools’ that I need to transition well.

The last seven weeks have humbled me!

All week I had braced myself for this next transition, our fourth in just under seven weeks. We had done this before and I knew what to expect this time. I knew it was going to be rough and I sought to prepare myself for it. And even as the day of the move came I kept moving forward fairly well.

I kept moving forward as the time for the arrival of the ambulance changed three times.

I kept moving forward as I watched Mom struggle through her nausea and pain.

I kept moving forward as we said goodbye to all the therapists and nurses that we had come to love.

I kept moving forward as we packed up again and unpacked in a new place.

I kept moving forward as I was informed that no accommodations were made for family to stay the night so I would be sleeping in a non-reclining chair (didn’t want to leave her alone the first night).

I kept moving forward as Mom’s headache reached a ten (pain level) but the pharmacy had not delivered her medications yet so there was nothing to do but watch and wait.

I kept moving forward as we met all new people, learned new rules and systems.

I kept moving forward until I couldn’t move forward anymore. And about 2am, sitting on my chair watching my Mom trying so hard to sleep in spite of the pain, I cried out to the Lord like I hadn’t since our initial crisis the day of and after the stroke. The tears fell like they hadn’t in awhile. And the night felt dark. But a dear friend had reminded me earlier in this journey that every night ends with a sunrise and every sunrise reminds us that Christ has defeated darkness (my summary of a passage in A Life Together by Bonhoeffer). And its true! The sun came up! Our situation had not changed but His mercies were new. When I couldn’t move forward anymore He had carried us through our night! Just like He has carried us through every night of the last seven weeks and just like He carried us even when we took it all for granted.

Strength is something that we are praying for every day, for ourselves and of course for Mom. But at this moment none of us have much of it. We feel carried by the Lord Himself and the prayers of His people. As I read a verse that a friend had given to us my eyes were drawn to an earlier verse in the chapter that really ministered to my weary soul.

On the day I called, you answered me;

my strength of soul you increased.(Psalm 138:3)

When we call, He answers! What an amazing God we serve! And not only that He can increase the strength of my soul! The Bible doesn’t talk a lot about physical strength. God’s glory is actually best seen in our weakest moments (Mom is teaching us that every day!). But while He doesn’t promise us physical strength, He does promise us strength of soul! So that has become my new prayer for all of us! Thank you for your continued love and prayers! Even though the transition is hard we are getting settled in and she is in a good place and receiving good care!

An Ode to Nurses

-a poem by Stan Key

Just when it seemed we were under a curse

The Lord came to visit disguised as a nurse!

The touch of her hand and the smile on her face

Gave hope in the night, like a channel of grace.

My story is one that so many could tell, 

For those who have suffered will know it quite well.  

When sickness or surgery put them in bed

And dark thoughts and hopelessness filled them with dread,

They too learned how nurses, like angels of light

Brought faith and brought courage to get through the night.

Now that Katy and I have joined sufferer’s ranks,

We want to find ways to give nurses our thanks.

When life is a lark and the skies are all blue

The role of a nurse has no meaning to you.

You may even question why those who are sane

Would choose a career that has nothing to gain.

For nurses are those who are given the task

No one in their right mind ever would ask! 

Bed pans and vomit, foul smells in the air,

Contagious diseases that lurk everywhere.

And when they are tending to someone whose bleeding

Their beeper goes off for another whose needing 

Their expert attention; unless they are fast

The down-the-hall patient surely won’t last.

For six weeks my wife has been stuck in a bed,

Paralysis, nausea, pains in the head.

It seemed we’d been given a difficult cup,

And sometimes we both felt like just giving up.  

But just when it seemed things could not be more worse, 

The door would swing open and in walked a nurse!

Whatever the issue, whatever the need,

She’d gracefully smile and accomplish the deed.  

Thank God for nurses who answered the call,

To meet needs of others no matter how small.

My song is intended to honor and praise,

The ones who serve others for all of their days.

________

Update:

Although there were delays and Mom wasn’t feeling well, the Lord sustained her through three therapies and a move! One nurse and two therapists even asked if they could come visit her at Brookdale (the new facility). Everyone waved her goodbye and were sad to see her go! Thank you to so many who prayed us through this transition! Please pray for a good first night and day as we all transition to this new normal. We are thankful for the way each one of you has carried us through each part of this journey.

Good Days and a Move

-Written by Anna-

We have had three ‘good’ days! Mom never feels well but the nausea and pain have been manageable and she has been able to push through her therapies like a champ. She has impressed all the therapists and amazed us this week! Some of our Ebenezers this week:

  • She sat up with minimal support for forty minutes
  • She walked/shuffled the length of the parallel bars (with support)three times
  • She continues to improve in her swallowing and is able to eat faster and easier

We all responded “Wow” to Dad’s text this morning reporting some of her accomplishments. He reminded us in his clever way that ‘wow’ turned upside down spells ‘mom.’ It made us all smile! It is true, she amazes us every day.

In all likelihood we are moving to another facility tomorrow. Still a couple of hoops to go through but if all goes according to plan the ambulance will come for Mom at 3 pm. While we are sad to leave the familiar and all the great nurses and therapists here we are so grateful for the gift we have been given in the unexpected extra week and a half here. Mom is apprehensive about the move (I can certainly understand the anxiety!) but we have heard from several that this is a good facility and we are thankful that a bed is still open and for this option for our next step.

Some ways you can pray:

  • Pray that Mom would continue to take steps forward
  • Pray for relief from severe headaches she has been having at night
  • Pray for peace as we transition
  • Pray for Dad and me as we figure out a new place and a new routine.

Thank you for your love and prayers! We have been honored to read your requests and pray for some of you! What a gift to look outside of our own situation and feelings and lift others to Jesus!

Prayer Requests and a Sneak Peek

I know we have been a little more silent these days. The reality is that there is not much to report or update. Our days and nights blur together. And the snowstorm this week slowed things down. The second part of this week we took some steps backward which was discouraging when the steps forward have felt rather small. But this weekend we have stabilized again for which we are grateful! The nausea has been manageable and we are seeing her develop more upper body and core strength. She is holding her head up so much better and is able to pull herself to one side of the bed, etc. She feels less fragile to me and that is a gift. She was so beat up from surgeries and so many tubes, etc. I felt nervous even straightening her pillows. I can now help turn her in bed and even help her put on a sweater, etc.

Ways you can continue to pray:

  • You can continue to pray for wisdom with her medicines and for strength for her therapies
  • Pray that we would know how to walk through these days and be a strength to Mom and be a testimony to those around us
  • Continue to pray for her nausea and for good rest at night
  • Pray for Mom as she continues to process and grieve her new reality
  • Pray for Dad and me as we figure out a new schedule as Elisabeth flew home today. (What a blessing my sisters have been and my wonderful brothers-in-law who have helped to make it possible for them to be here)
  • Pray for the Lord’s timing in our move to the next facility. We still have not heard from insurance but we are thankful that we were able to weather out the snowstorm at Cardinal Hill.

While staying with Mom last night, her nurse paid me a very high compliment, she said it was obvious that I was Mom’s daughter. She could see the resemblance. I quickly told her that I wanted to not just LOOK like her but BE like her. She had paid me a higher compliment than she even realized. I told her my prayer is that I could learn to trust Jesus no matter what and live in truth like my Mom. Even though these are the hardest days we have ever lived through I wish you all had the privilege of being at her side like we do.

Here is a sneak peek:

  • She affirms and loves on each nurse, nurses aide, therapist, case worker and doctor.
  • When she does something well in therapy she will give a high five to the therapist and then always lift her good hand to the sky. She is acknowledging and thanking Jesus for helping her but it always makes me smile as it looks like she is high-fiving Jesus!
  • Today in a real desire to do something ‘normal’ she asked to write a thank you note. I held the card steady for her and she wrote away. Afterwards Elisabeth and I read it to make sure it made sense, etc. It not only made sense, she quoted Scripture and spoke clearly from the heart. She is amazing!

She has taught us all not to take anything for granted and to thank Jesus for everything.

We know may of you are walking through your own journeys. And we would be honored to pray for you as well. My Mom would have thought to do this earlier but we are a bit slower. If there are ways we can be praying for you all please send us a note to the email address (journeywithkaty@gmail.com)The reality is that Mom prays for many of you already. And we would be honored to carry you as you have and are faithfully carrying us.

Delays, snow storms, and encouragements

I keep thinking we will hear from insurance and I can send out a full report. But every day an ambulance is ordered and even rescheduled multiple times only to never hear from the insurance and eventually be canceled. Our poor case manager and my dad have spent countless hours working to find an answer but here we are still waiting a week after our appeal was sent. However, we trust that the Lord is in even this frustrating delay and are grateful to be receiving good care while we wait. The stress of such a big move and the unknown has been hard on Mom but she continues to trust the Lord in this area as well.
We have had some small reprieves from nausea but it continues to be our main battle and prayer request. We have been trying different things and decreasing some meds that may have nausea as a side effect. Would you pray for protection for her as we seek to find the right balance of blood pressure, anti-seizure, pain and nausea meds and for wisdom for the doctors and nurses as they care for her. Pray for no physical set backs of any kind! It’s amazing the progress she makes in therapy when she is not feeling miserable. We would love for the Lord to have mercy and grant her some real relief!
KY is preparing to be hit by a fairly major winter storm.  Would you pray that we would not have to move in the midst of it? Would you pray for safety and wisdom as we drive back and forth?

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A verse that has been ministering to us is 2 Tim. 4:17: “The Lord stood by my side and gave me strength, so that through me the message might be fully proclaimed…”  Just like the Lord did for Paul in his final days in a prison cell, Jesus stands at Mom’s side even when she can’t stand on her own and He alone gives her the strength to do the impossible each and every day. And He does this not so that anyone thinks more highly of her but so that through her the Gospel can be fully proclaimed. The message of the cross and the power of God is maybe best proclaimed from a prison cell or a hospital bed.

Thank you for your continued prayers for us on this long journey.

The Thorn and The Veil

By Elisabeth Lind

Yesterday I got the privilege to spend the day with my Mom again! And I think I can say, for maybe the first time, it was an all together good day! She had some relief from the constant companion of nausea…and this made all the difference! We praise God!End of the Spear.jpg

After dinner she and I began to talk about Steve Saint – son of Nate Saint, a famous missionary pilot. When Steve was a young boy, his father and four other missionaries were killed by Waodoni Indians in an effort to reach this group with the Gospel. Steve devoted the rest of his life to reaching indigenous tribes and has continued to work with the Waodoni, even specifically with the man who killed his father who he has adopted into his family! If you don’t know the story, add “End of the Spear” to your 2016 book list!

In June 2012 Steve was seriously injured and partially paralyzed from the neck down. He had to relearn how to swallow, how to walk, how to use every part of his body. He even had surgery on his head to relieve pressure on his spine. His journey is remarkably similar to Mom’s! Mom and I sat and watched a few videos documenting his journey of healing and we cried many tears. There is true fellowship between those who have suffered. My Mom spoke to me afterwards and said, “when you’re suffering, the people who minister to you and the people you want with you are those who have suffered themselves – starting with Jesus himself!”

Two videos particularly stood out to us. These will not only give you a remarkable glimpse into my Mom’s experience, but will GREATLY minister TRUTH to you!

Through his pain and new perspective, Steve (and my Mom) remind us of the power of gratitude: gratitude for Christ’s suffering, His salvation, small bodily improvements… Gratitude for LIFE. They also remind us that suffering – if we embrace it – can usher us into a new and holy place of intimacy with Jesus. Just as the poem states: “I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace, He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.” 

Throughout this journey there have been many moments where Mom’s suffering has been used to pin back the veil! This Sunday was one of them.

image6.JPGimage4.JPGOn Sunday some dear friends of our family came down to visit Mom. Michael and Rachel Thompson are the founders of OneWay Ministries and the ministry of Prayercast that I have the privilege of working with. They are also incredible musicians and worship leaders! My Mom has always been greatly ministered to by their music. On Sunday we were ushered in a special way into His presence through these dear friends. The veil was pulled back for a moment as we wheeled Mom out of her room for one of the first times (outside of therapy) and spent about an hour worshipping together. I couldn’t take my eyes off of her as she closed her eyes – tears streaming down her face – she was LOST in wonder, love, and praise! You don’t know the presence of God until you have church in a hospital!

Thank you Lord for the thorn that pulls back the veil.

_______________

The Thorn

by Martha Snell Nicholson

I stood a mendicant of God before His royal throne
And begged him for one priceless gift, which I could call my own.
I took the gift from out His hand, but as I would depart
I cried, “But Lord this is a thorn and it has pierced my heart.
This is a strange, a hurtful gift, which Thou hast given me.”
He said, “My child, I give good gifts and gave My best to thee.”
I took it home and though at first the cruel thorn hurt sore,
As long years passed I learned at last to love it more and more.
I learned He never gives a thorn without this added grace,
He takes the thorn to pin aside the veil which hides His face.

 

This Little Piggy

By Stan Key

I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. (Psalm 139:14).

It may sound incredibly trite but I am going to say it anyway: the human body is truly amazing. To write such words is to state the obvious; a waste of time for both writer and reader, right? I suppose I could say the same thing about a sunrise, a snowflake, a dandelion, or the Milky Way.  There is a lot of “amazing” stuff out there. But watching Katy’s body respond to the terrible stroke she suffered one month ago has given me a whole new respect for the miracle our bodies truly are.  When they are working well, we take them for granted and easily get bored by thinking about the routine functions they perform.  But when disease or traumatic injury strikes so that the body no longer functions as it normally does, we have the privilege of pausing to meditate on the amazing gift God has given to each one of us. Consider:

Swallowing.  We do it hundreds of times a day and never stop to consider what a complex function this is involving saliva, chewing, tongue, gag reflex, determining which pipe the food goes down, and the amazingly complex wave-like muscle contractions that move food down the esophagus toward the stomach (peristalsis).  When just one of those elements is not working correctly, you simply can’t swallow. When Katy regained the ability to sip a milk shake, we danced for joy!

Wiggling your toes.  Last week the physical therapist said to Katy, “OK, now look at the toes on your left foot and tell them to move.”  Katy dutifully obeyed, staring hard at her limp foot.  “I am, I am!” she said with tears in her eyes. But nothing moved.  Again I had the privilege of pondering the miracle of engineering that our bodies are and to think of the hundreds and thousands of signals and impulses traveling over miles of nerves and muscles to enable our bodies to perform the myriad of functions they do every day. I’ll never play “This Little Piggy Goes to Market” with my grandchildren the same way again!

Electrolytes.  Before Katy’s crisis I didn’t even know we had them!  And yet without them our bodies are unable to send the electrical impulses that make life possible. When Katy’s electrolytes were out of balance, nothing worked quite the way it was supposed to. Indeed, her life was in danger.

Peripheral vision. Katy’s right brain injury makes looking left very hard to do. The doctors call it “left side neglect”. She simply does not see things that are toward the left side of her field of vision unless she is told to consciously make the effort to do so. Katy’s humor showed itself again when she grinned lopsidedly at her physical therapist and said snidely, “I’ve never wanted to look to the Left anyway!”  

Balance and equilibrium.  Stroke patients find it hard to sit up straight and often can be seen leaning to one side or the other. Think about this.  What keeps any of us vertical or able to maintain our balance?  Why don’t we all tilt right and feel the nausea and dizziness that Katy does?

You get the idea.  Things that our bodies do routinely we often take for granted and fail to recognize the miracle of grace that they represent.  The irreducible complexity of our amazing bodies should cause all of us to daily fall on our faces and worship the One who created us! Meditating on Katy’s physical challenges, I’ve found myself thinking a lot about those atheists and evolutionists who pretend that these bodies are simply the result of random processes over long periods of time.  Really?  It takes a lot of faith to be an atheist!

Prayer:  Father God, today as I wiggle my toes, swallow my food, and stand erect, help me to worship you in humble gratitude for the wonders you have so lavishly bestowed.  For those today who are struggling with disease and physical maladies, we pray that you would send your grace to heal them and restore them to health. Specifically, we ask you to touch Katy, as you touched the sick when you walked among us.  Raise her up and let her body perform once again as you so beautifully designed it to do! In Jesus’ Name.  Amen.

_______

P.S. We have not yet heard final word on insurance and discharge dates. We will know tomorrow and will try keep you posted as it all unfolds. Please keep praying with us for an extension at Cardinal Hill! None of us, including Katy, feel ready for a move to another facility tomorrow. But we trust the Lord for His perfect timing.