Surgery Over

The surgery is over! Praise God. She came through and there were no major setbacks as far as we know. She will be in the recovery room for a couple of hours (longer than expected). No one has seen her yet. This is hard. It was in the recovery room, 11 weeks ago, that she had her stroke and brain swelling that put her life in danger.

Pray for these hours following the surgery…

  • Pray for peace for Mom as she wakes
  • Pray for no infection, no clots
  • Pray for good and attentive nurses
  • Pray for full healing and no nausea as she awakes
  • Pray for no cognitive or physical setbacks
  • Pray for no seizures in the next week as she is at risk

We praise God for a few signs of His presence…

  • Everyone, including Mom, felt the prayers of all you saints! THANK YOU!
  • Mom “ran into” Treena right before the surgery (our Neuro ICU nurse that was SUCH a blessing to us in the darkest days)
  • Her anesthesiologist for the surgery was a close family friend. This brought such peace to Mom and to all of us!
  • My Mom’s brother, who is a doctor, was able to be there in the hospital today…also bringing such peace to Mom and the family.

We don’t have much of an update on her, since no one has seen her yet. So please keep praying. These are crucial hours as she wakes and recovers. But we PRAISE God that she is through the surgery.

 

Trusting Anyway

-Written by Anna-

All of my life I have watched my Mom face her fears and not run from them! If you know her, you will know that one of her biggest fears is flying. In fact on a particularly difficult day in the midst of this journey, she cracked a half smile at me and said, “It could be worse, I could be on a plane right now!” Yet not once has it stopped her from traveling to Africa multiple times with my Dad and coming to visit me in Germany, etc. She has never let those fears stop her from following Jesus and I often think of her when trying to face into my own fears! What a gift she has given her daughters! God could have delivered her of that fear years ago (in fact we have asked Him to do just that over and over!) but instead of using that as an excuse to not get on those planes she continually steps out and trusts Him anyway! This has become almost a new catch phrase for me. Trusting anyway!

I don’t understand, I don’t see the whole picture, I wish there was another way, I wish He would instantly deliver her from all the suffering and fears, and YET I/we trust Him anyway!

I want to face into those fears,not running away but instead leaning hard on Jesus as we face tomorrow and the days after.

Mom is fearful about surgery tomorrow. The honest truth is we all are. We went in for surgery eleven weeks ago tomorrow and our lives were forever altered. And yet once again I am watching my Mother face into those fears! I pray hourly sometimes that Jesus would set her free of all anxiety and fear and so far He has not chosen to do so and YET He is here and she is trusting anyway! She is not running from it or letting it take her under. She is taking those fears and anxieties to Jesus and trusting anyway!

A long time family friend sent Mom the words to the Charles Wesley hymn, ‘Jesus, Lover of my Soul.’ The words are so good and feel so appropriate for us this week. I thought I would share them with you! I particularly love the line: “Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.” Mom’s brain is quite literally defenseless without the bone flap and we are so thankful that Jesus has covered her head through these days!

Thank you for your continued prayers for us and particularly for surgery tomorrow. We will update you as soon as we are able.

Jesus, Lover of my Soul

1.Jesus, lover of my soul, let me to Thy bosom fly,

While the nearer waters roll, while the tempest still is high.

Hide me, O my Savior, hide, till the storm of life is past;

Safe into the haven guide; O receive my soul at last.

2.Other refuge have I none, hangs my helpless soul on Thee;

Leave, ah! leave me not alone, still support and comfort me.

All my trust on Thee is stayed, all my help from Thee I bring;

Cover my defenseless head with the shadow of Thy wing.

3.Wilt Thou not regard my call? Wilt Thou not accept my prayer?

Lo! I sink, I faint, I fall—Lo! on Thee I cast my care;

Reach me out Thy gracious hand! While I of Thy strength receive,

Hoping against hope I stand, dying, and behold, I live.

4.Thou, O Christ, art all I want, more than all in Thee I find;

Raise the fallen, cheer the faint, heal the sick, and lead the blind.

Just and holy is Thy Name, I am all unrighteousness;

False and full of sin I am; Thou art full of truth and grace.

5.Plenteous grace with Thee is found, grace to cover all my sin;

Let the healing streams abound; make and keep me pure within.

Thou of life the fountain art, freely let me take of Thee;

Spring Thou up within my heart; rise to all eternity.

My God, My God, Why….?

Written by: Stan Key

Today (Wednesday, February 24), I just feel blessed…. and I’m wondering why. Katy is still stuck in a rehab facility with no date of discharge yet on the calendar. She can’t walk or move her left arm and still struggles with nausea and pain. We face another surgery on Monday when the skull bone that was removed ten weeks ago will be replaced. The future is filled with unknowns and many decisions related to my ministry remain in limbo. And yet, in spite of all this, today I just feel blessed, truly blessed.

My God, my God, why?

Typically, when this question is asked, it relates to the existential suffering of someone who is pondering the imponderable question of why bad things happen to good people. For me, at least today, my question is different, but just as deep… maybe deeper. Why do good things happen to rascals like me?

To be honest, there have been numerous occasions during the past ten weeks when I have looked up to a seemingly silent heaven and groaned, “My God, my God, why did this happen? Why is my wife paralyzed? Why does this insanity drag on day after day after day? Why are you not answering our prayers? Why have you abandoned us? Why? Why? Why?” I confess there were two occasions, when I left Katy’s room late at night to drive home; I got in my car, shut the door, and literally screamed as loud as I could. “Why?”

But today the question that mystifies me and has me completely stumped is very different. I’m utterly baffled by the incomprehensible goodness of God lavished upon someone like me. My God, my God, why have you blessed me so much? Thinking back over my day, I’m trying to figure out what caused this question to arise in the first place:

  • Maybe it was during my morning devotions when God spoke to my heart from his Word: “Do not be afraid and do not be dismayed, for the Lord God is with you. He will not leave you or forsake you, until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished.” (I Chron. 28:20).
  • Maybe it was the phone-text from Anna, doing the early shift with Katy, stating simply: “Mom is doing well today.”
  • Maybe it was the joy I felt this morning over three adult daughters who love the Lord with all their hearts and are walking in truth.
  • Maybe it was the email we received from a dear friend in New York who shared tender words of love and comfort that touched us deeply.
  • Maybe it was watching the nurses and therapists who take care of Katy. Oh how they love her and tenderly talk to her, encourage her, change her bed, prepare her meds, and gently prop Wilson up on pillows.
  • Maybe it was the visitors who came today who showed such grace and sensitivity and then honored us by sharing some of their burdens with us. Katy’s load is lightened when she can take on the burden of someone else!
  • Maybe it was paying the bills that came in the mail today and realizing that we had more than enough. Like the jar of oil that never ran dry (I Kings 17:8-16), God is faithfully and miraculously providing for our needs.
  • Maybe it was the fact that last night I was able to lead the Bible study group at FAS. An email this morning indicated it “struck home” for one of the attenders.
  • Maybe it was the joy that comes in finishing my work on another issue of The High Calling magazine and feeling God’s pleasure in what was done.

My God, my God, why have you been so good to me? No, I still don’t understand suffering and pain. But when I think clearly, the mystery of God’s grace and goodness is the most baffling question of all!

Dependence

*Written by Liz Lind

Probably 90% of those who are following this blog have been impacted by Mom’s life in some way before the stroke. And for most of you, that impact came in a lonely moment. Mom has always had a heart for the lonely. In fact, it seems her mission in life is to find the lonely and surround them with love and family. That is the essence of the heart of God. In Psalm 68 it says that He is “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows” and that He “sets the lonely in families.” My Mom has always understood that.

We were not made to do life alone.

Yesterday Mom made the daily difficult journey from her bed to a wheelchair. Though she is getting stronger, this is the hardest part of her day. Just getting into a wheelchair, on a hard day, can take multiple people on all sides of her. As we took her into the bathroom to brush her teeth, tears began to well up in her eyes. She looked at her Occupational Therapist (who was brushing her hair) and said, “I can’t believe how much we need each other. We were made to need each other. I can’t do a single thing alone.”

Though this is a painfully hard reality, it is a beautiful picture of how God meant it to be. We were never meant to do life alone! In fact, we can’t. We are brought into the world because someone else is willing to bear us. We are kept safe and raised by someone else. We are even brought to Jesus (almost always) through someone else. God designed the world in such a way that we are not independent but dependent.

We forget this. Mom is our illustration.

We are all just as dependent on each other and certainly on Jesus. Mom doesn’t have the luxury of forgetting like we do. She is reminded each morning.

If you do a word study in the Bible on how many times God talks about orphans, widows, and refugees (foreigners, aliens), you will be amazed.

  • “Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress…” James 1:27
  • “A father to the fatherless, a defender of widows, is God in his holy dwelling. God sets the lonely in families…” (Ps. 68:4-6)
  • “The Lord watches over the foreigner and sustains the fatherless and the widow…” (Ps. 146:9)
  • and on and on and on….

Why does he focus so much on these groups of people? Because by nature of their circumstances, they are ALONE. And God designed the world in such a way that “it is not good for man to be alone.”

Because of my Mom’s current dependence, we are seeing this reality in a new way. We can rarely ever leave Mom “alone.” We take shifts and tag team. Yet times come where we must leave her. And times come in all our lives where loneliness is inescapable. The world does not work in the way God designed. Yet even in this, God has made it possible for us to never be alone! Right before He left the world He promised us, “I will not leave you as orphans; I will come to you” (Jn. 14:18). His very presence makes it impossible for us to EVER be alone. What an incredible comfort.

Today, I challenge you to do three things:

  • Take time to remember your own dependence on God and others.
  • Thank someone who has walked with you, held you, and carried you in moments where you couldn’t do life alone.
  • And ask Jesus to lead you to one lonely person this week. Be His hands and feet in a lonely world.

Thank you to each one of you who have surrounded us in our time of need. We have NOT been left alone! His presence has been with us and the Body of Christ has been around us. Thank you!

As we head into Mom’s surgery on Monday, we feel apprehension and fear. But praise God, even though we can’t go into that surgery room with Mom, Jesus goes with her. Praise God for His presence WITH us and your presence all around us!

 

 

A Call to Prayer

 

Below please find a letter written by Katy’s sister, Beth Coppedge, calling any who wish to join us in 3 days of prayer not just for Katy but for our nation and the world. Thank you for the many prayers you have already prayed! May Jesus use those prayers in ways we can’t even begin to imagine now!
_________________________
Since mid-December we, as a family, have been reeling from the shock of a life-changing trauma. My younger sister, Katy, underwent surgery and had a massive stroke that has paralyzed her on the left side. Our grief and the constant care has redefined the reality for all of us in the extended circle. After this occurred, one of my dearest friends, a missionary in Medellin, Colombia, who herself has suffered a stroke, said, “Beth this is a battle in the heavenlies. We have to call for fasting and prayer.” I heard her, but was overwhelmed and I didn’t do anything. Everyday for a week she texted or called me saying, “Beth, have you called for prayer yet?”  I finally texted the prayer coordinator for Titus Women and as we talked and prayed she said, “Beth, I think Jesus wants us to pray for 3 days, not just for Katy, but for our lost nation and God’s brokenhearted world.”

Just as our family is grieving the pain, the paralysis, the suffering, the wounds and the scars of my sister, so Jesus grieves over us, and also over the paralysis of our backslidden country and the nations of the world – His world – His children – His family. He grieves over us as we grieve over Katy, only much, much more.

I remember reading in the book, The Awakening, by Friedrich Zuendel about a revival that occurred in the Black Forest region of Germany. A young woman in the community was possessed by the evil one. Her pastor and two faithful prayers stood back to back for her spiritual release. It was a long struggle that finally resulted in spiritual victory and total freedom for the girl through Jesus. This was amazing enough, but even more awesome was that all of the prayer released in the heavenlies on her behalf resulted in a real work of the Holy Spirit. God broke through in the lives of townspeople and parishoners who came under such deep conviction for their sin that the pastors and the prayers were kept busy day and night praying with people who wanted to get right with God. God used the protracted prayers for the girl to bring revival to that part of Germany.

The thought came to me that maybe God was longing to use what began as a call to prayer for the healing touch of a very sick sister, to extend to a unifying of our hearts in prayer not only my sister, but for all of our loved ones that don’t know Jesus and all of the sin-sick in our family, our nation, and in the world.

We need Jesus. Let me say it again. We need Jesus. We invite you to join us for 3 days of seeking Jesus together for God’s paralyzed and dying world. We are coming together for prayer and some form of fasting and self-denial are this next week, for three days, February 16-18.

Blessings,
Beth

Giving Thanks: Debt, Duty or Delight?

-Written by Stan-

Entering the third month of Katy’s health battles, I realize that my typical daily schedule has become a rather mindless routine where one day blurs into the next. I wake each morning and say goodbye to Anna who drives the 20 miles into Lexington to be with Katy. I go to my office at FAS for a few hours where my agenda normally has three items: 1) handle the urgent issues, 2) delay or delegate the less urgent, and 3) pray for grace to accept the unfinished reality of everything else. Mid-afternoon I then drive in to be with Katy so that Anna can come home. Normally, I remain at Katy’s side until she goes to sleep around 10:00 at night. The next morning we get up and do it all again. Sometimes, just to bring excitement into our lives, we reverse the order and I do the morning shift and Anna takes the evening. With no target date for Katy’s return home yet on the calendar, we just keep doing what we do… day after day.

As you can see, these routines have become, well, routine. They define our lives. This is not a bad thing, not at all. We actually find joy in the journey. It’s just… routine. It’s what we do.

On Sunday morning as I was driving in early to be with Katy, I was talking to the Lord about all this when it seemed the Spirit whispered, “But are you thankful?” This wasn’t the first time this question had crossed my mind. Am I thankful? The answer came quickly, almost automatically. “Yes, Lord, of course I’m thankful. I can think of many reasons I have to feel gratitude. Oh, I guess I don’t feel the emotion very often nor express it… but I’m thankful.” Then the reality hit! I didn’t need an audible voice from heaven to tell me the question God was asking: If you don’t feel it or express it, is it gratitude? You may be cognitively aware of certain facts but is that what it means to be thankful?

Touché.

So on Sunday afternoon (Valentine’s Day), sitting beside my sweetheart, I began to count my blessings and give thanks. I began to express it and to feel it. The attitude of gratitude is so wonderful that I want to share the list with you. I’m thankful for:

  1. Katy. Her life was spared and her memory and personality are intact. Though slow, her progress toward recovery is real and her future is as bright as the promises of God! Being her husband and doing life together is the greatest blessing I’ve ever known.
  2. Anna, Sarah and Elisabeth. Anna has taken a temporary home assignment from her teaching position at Black Forest Academy (Germany) so that she can help with Katy’s situation here. Sarah and Elisabeth and their families have sacrificially travelled back and forth numerous times. What blessings!
  3. Friends. The visits, cards, flowers, and phone calls have reconnected us with people who span the course of our lives: from Madison Heights to Crab Orchard to Fox River Grove to Paris to Wilmore. Especially I’m grateful for our church family in Albany, New York! Though we’ve been gone three years, the connections are deep and rich.
  4. Gifts. The typical gifts (flowers, meals, cards, etc.) have brought beauty and comfort and lightened the load during these challenging days. Other gifts have ministered to us because of how unique and thoughtful they were: digital picture frame, pajamas, travel mugs, an I-Pad, cleaning the house, gift cards for gas and local restaurants, a soft blanket, hotel reservations across from the hospital while Katy was in ICU, an eatable bouquet, a customized worship CD made by our favorite musicians, Valentine cookies to be distributed to the nursing staff, etc.
  5. Monetary gifts. We have been overwhelmed by the generous gifts people have given. As the bills begin to pile up, what a blessing it is to be able to have the money to write the checks!
  6. Medical insurance. Last October, before any of this happened, I had to choose a medical plan from the three options our company was offering. Would I go with the cheap, the medium, or the premium? Our choice in previous years had been the middle option but because of my heart attack last May and the commensurate heavy expenses that we incurred with that plan, Katy and I reconsidered what we would do. Breathing a prayer and swallowing hard, we opted for the more expensive premium plan, which took effect in November. In December, when the surgeries and stroke occurred, we had the best coverage we could have!
  7. The blog. Though we might debate the possibility of true “community” occurring in cyber-space, I want to testify to how meaningful the “Journey with Katy” blog has been for all of us. The fact that so many are still following our journey and carrying us in prayer nine weeks later is truly something for which we are grateful! Over 600 people have signed up to follow the blog and even more visit the blog. Many testify to how meaningful the blog has been for them. And we find great joy in reading the responses and interactions that people send in reply. I think “The Milk Shake Challenge” will remain one of our favorite family memories for the rest of our lives!
  8. The ways of God. The Scriptures teach us that “the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives” (Heb. 12:6). Though unpleasant, the rewards of the Father’s discipline are very real. Let me name just one lesson God is teaching me: He works when I don’t. Perhaps you will respond with a “Duh!” but for thick-headed me this has not come easily. While I sit in a hospital room holding Katy’s hand, God is at work in amazing ways: in our own hearts, through the blog, through new ministries being created at FAS, etc.

So today, I want to prove my gratitude by both feeling it and expressing it. It is a debt that I owe and a duty I feel obliged to perform. But far more than that, it is a joyful delight.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thess. 5:16-18).

Update

Thank you so much for your prayers for us! We sensed them. We had several curve balls thrown our way that were stressful but the Lord fought for us and we saw His hand throughout the days. Thank you for lifting us up!

Quick update: The appointment with the neurosurgeon went well and surgery is scheduled for Feb. 29. This will give Mom two more weeks to gain some strength but still not wait too long. We are very thankful to now be under the care of a neurologist. He was very kind and took his time with us and was careful to get all the details, etc. While there are no easy answers or time tables we are thankful to be under his care and thankful to have someone monitoring her progress, etc. I was especially grateful to have a neurologist look over her current medications and make some changes that we felt good about.

Thank you for your prayers for Mom, she had minimal pain and nausea the last two days. Praise the Lord! Both are back today (but still manageable) but we were thankful for the reprieve for these appointments. She did all three therapies and then the appointments both days so needless to say she is exhausted today! She is napping as I type. The realities of our new ‘normal’ are at times overwhelming and I think we are all processing a lot of the information given but thankful to have both appointments behind us. And even more grateful to feel good about both doctors and to have Mom under their care.

Thank you again for your continued prayers!