“Yet not my will, but Yours, be done”

-Written by Katy (edited by Elisabeth)

(Update on Stan: Thank you so much for those who have been praying! Though there were some unexpected delays the radiation treatments  are now over and the side effects are subsiding. Thank you for your prayers!)

There is pain and tension in me when I remember the life of freedom I had before the stroke and the losses since. Some ask what it’s like for me now. Here are some things I miss from life before stroke:

I miss…

  1. driving
  2. putting things away, doing dishes, cleaning, grocery shopping, or any kind of shopping
  3. enjoying a meal without having to be totally focused on chewing and swallowing, so as not to choke
  4. sleeping on my side
  5. showering alone
  6. doors in the bathroom (we had to remove doors to allow for wheelchair access)
  7. spontaneity
  8. traveling with Stan
  9. my arm and leg (nicknamed Wilson and Wilma). I not only have limited mobility on the left side but I also have limited feeling, this means I often don’t know where my arm and leg even are! I have been tempted to get red and white striped leggings to wear as we are often saying “where’s Wilson, where’s Wilma?!” In retrospect – a better name would have been Waldo!
  10. my church family at LCC in Albany
  11. the Adirondacks this time of year
  12. my life before
  13. going out to eat, to church, or paying visits, even to my father across the street, without the hassle of wheelchairs, ramps, access…..
  14. modesty and privacy
  15. typing
  16. painting my nails
  17. sandals and dressier shoes (I now only wear sneakers due to the need for ankle support as I learn to walk again)
  18. slipping discreetly in and out of places
  19. a complete sense of time and space. Since the stroke I have struggled to remember certain things, like what day of the week it is!
  20. life without taking medications three times a day
  21. holding a book or magazine and turning pages without dropping whatever I’m trying to read. (Yes, I do know I can read online or listen to recordings)
  22. carrying my Purse
  23. feeling good and living pain free
  24. feeling a kiss on my left cheek
  25. holding and carrying my grandchildren
  26. I miss normal!

This recovery has been a long grieving process in which I have repeatedly cycled through stages of grief: denial, shock, anger, bargaining, depression, acceptance. While they don’t come neatly in order or well defined, it does help to see that these emotions are normal when dealing with any loss.

Acceptance is the one I have returned to the most. Just when I think I’ve accepted this “new normal” another loss comes along, a wave of grief, an unanswered prayer, an unmet need, transition of care, or adjustment of some kind… And then once again I find myself seeking acceptance in my heart. Our lives have been so completely turned upside down by my stroke that it’s very difficult to see any gains in the midst of losses for what God has chosen to allow. Yet I long to accept what God has allowed, and to go even beyond acceptance to the attitude expressed in the writing below – welcoming God’s plan however it unfolds. He’s the scriptwriter, whether I like the script or not. I often find myself quoting The Serenity Prayer:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change

Courage to change the things I can

And wisdom to know the difference 

I struggle to come to peace with and accept my “new normal” – dependence. Its not easy for me to come to terms with this experience being God’s will for me. In living out these losses, its easy to forget His character of compassion, feeling as though He has forsaken me. I have drawn comfort from Lamentation 3:32-33 in helping me come to peace with the tension between what God causes and what He allows:

Though he brings grief, he will show compassion, so great is his unfailing love. For he does not willingly bring affliction or grief to anyone.

It’s difficult to embrace His will when it’s painful. But, in the end, I realize that He had the power to stop this stroke and still has the power to heal. I must surrender at a deeper level to what He has permitted and what His will is for me now. Can I accept it and still firmly believe He is a God of compassion and mercy, who never leaves me or forsakes me?

The following poem written by Madame Guyon has ministered to me as I wrestle with these questions. Her ‘cage’ was a prison cell, mine is a wheelchair but her words have helped me in coming to a place of deeper surrender. A place where I can say the words that Jesus said in the garden “Not my will, but Yours, be done.” I am believing that the Lord can give me the serenity to accept His will “and in His mighty will to find, The joy, the freedom, of the mind” as the poem says so beautifully.

A little bird I am,
Shut from the fields of air;
And in my cage I sit and sing
To Him who placed me there;
Well pleased a prisoner to be
Because, my God, it pleases Thee.

Naught have I else to do;
I sing the whole day long;
And He whom most I love to please,
Doth listen to my song: 
He caught and he bound my wandering wing,
But still He bends to hear me sing. 

My cage confines me round;
Abroad I cannot fly;
But though my wing is closely bound,
My heart’s at liberty;
My prison walls cannot control
The flight, the freedom of the soul.

Oh!  It is good to soar
These bolts and bars above,
To Him whose purpose I adore,
Whose providence I love;
And in His mighty will to find
The joy, the freedom, of the mind.

 

 

Open my eyes that I may see…

Written by: Elisabeth Lind

Josiah was born over 2 months ago and he is an enormous blessing and bright spot in our lives! Yet, it has not been easy. From day one he has struggled to eat and has battled to gain weight and stay hydrated. We have tried lip and tongue tie revisions, chiropractics for some issues in birth, medication for acid reflux, etc… In the midst of this daily battle that has me exhausted, my Dad is currently undergoing radiation and my Mom continues to battle through the daily struggle of a post-stroke life. Ben, Josiah and I were able to be in Kentucky to help and encourage my parents over some of these difficult weeks. As soon as we arrived it felt as though all hell had broken loose. Spiritual warfare is a real thing. Josiah continued to go downhill upon our arrival. He was teetering on dehydration and I was a mess! My Mom got a virus and felt awful! My Dad was facing radiation and then computers were down and his treatments continually got delayed or canceled each day! And, to top it all off, we had a massive sewage leak in the basement that was such a big issue we had to limit bathroom and water use for multiple days! I found myself giving in to the temptation to only see the difficulties and hassles…to allow Satan to blind my eyes to any goodness. I began to wonder if Jesus was there for us at all! And then He gently removed my blinders, convicted me, and reminded me of his MANY blessings and expressions of himself even in these difficult days. I want to chronicle them here to remind myself! And to thank those who have been expressions of Jesus to us in these days!

  1. Mom and Dad have been blessed with beautiful friends and incredible caregivers. I wanted to take a picture of each one but missed my opportunities. Some of these caregivers are hired and some just volunteer and stop by…but ALL of them love Mom so gently and sweetly and care for them regularly! Whether its helping pick up medications, running errands, taking her to therapy, helping around the house, or even cooking with Mom or providing meals…each one is an ENORMOUS blessing and breath of fresh air! Last week, friends even came to our rescue to clean and mend a sewage leak!
  2. I was blessed by two college friends who dropped much of their life for a couple days to offer their hands to hold a baby while I helped my Mom and took care of the house here. Praise God for extra hands!img_2689
  3. In the midst of all the chaos, we were able to carve out a short moment for a dedication service for Josiah. Nine months ago, I honestly didn’t think my Mom or Papa would still be here on earth to even meet Josiah! And here we are, dedicating him to the Lord together! Though it was a short moment, as Papa is very weak, Mom was under the weather, and Josiah is a handful…it happened…and I praise God for that gift to my Mommy heart.
  4. On a little but significant scale, we were able to arrange and organize Mom’s “little corner” in the Living Room to be much more functional for her with a new basket dresser and swivel tray! This encouraged us!img_2726
  5. While Ben and I were there, we were able to cross paths with extended family that we rarely get to see!
  6. God opened the door for Ben to work from Lexington for a few days to make this trip possible at all!

     

“Every good and perfect gift comes from above.” Thank you Lord for expressing your love to us in these tangible ways!

 

*Thank you all for your prayers for Dad. Because of delays and cancellations, his treatments have continued through this week. Thanks for your continued prayers.

 

A Bump In the Road

 

Written by: Stan & Katy

Have you ever felt like when it rains, it pours? That trials seem to sometimes come all at once? Though we know that the rain falls on the just and the unjust, at times it can feel like there is a target on your back. We know from Scripture that Job and Jeremiah felt this way. Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him (Job 13:15). He has made me desolate, he has bent his bow and set me as a target for his arrow (Lam 3:11-12). This year we have felt like we have been caught in a downpour. Stan’s heart attack, losing Stan’s Mom, Katy’s stroke and surgeries and now…prostate cancer.

Tomorrow morning (Tuesday, September 6), Stan begins five days of radiation treatment (cyber knife) for prostate cancer.  Because of a rising PSA and his family history, the diagnosis wasn’t really a surprise and the prognosis is good, but still… did we really need this? Did we really need to add cancer to the list?

To be honest, we are facing this new development with minimal anxiety or dread. After all we’ve been through, this feels more like an annoying bump in the road. Though some have commented on what they perceive to be our “godly” response, for us, it feels more like numbness, or perhaps even cynical stoicism.

When messengers came to Job one after another telling him of the loss of his servants, the capture of his livestock, and the death of his children, Job’s response to the unrelenting kaboom, kaboom, kaboom of calamity was truly heroic.

Job arose and tore his robe and shaved his head and fell on the ground and worshipped. And he said, ‘Naked I came from my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return. The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.’ In all this Job did not sin or charge God with wrong.” (Job. 1:20-22).

To state the obvious: we are not Job and our sufferings are minor compared to his. He was a giant of the faith. We are not. And though we may be a bit numb, we do pray that our response will continue to be like Job’s. We pray that the Lord will give us strength to continue holding on in this downpour. In a hurricane, the point is to find something solid and just hold on for dear life! Persevering stick-to-it-iveness is the point. Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful (Hebrews 10:23).

Joy will come in the morning.

We can declare that even in the storm, All is Well.

Thank you for being our family of faith. In light of all we’ve been through together we wanted you to know what Stan faces this week and humbly ask for your prayers yet again!

We can’t even begin to enumerate the countless ways your love and prayers have made the difference during this journey we are on. A French worship song states it succinctly: La vie est dure mais Dieu est bon (Life is hard but God is good). That about sums it up!

 

*This song and message have really ministered to our family at this time of suffering. Hope it also is a blessing to you!

All is Well

-Written by Katy (edited by Anna)

As Stan was helping me dress the other morning, I turned to him and said, “We have tried to imagine that time in our lives when we could be disabled and dependent on each other, but never could we have imagined it happening so soon, so early.” We thought maybe in our eighties, but never in our early sixties.  I realized that a very large fear, the fear of a disabled and dependent lifestyle, had become a reality for us. And after hearing from others who honestly shared with me, we are not alone in this fear. It has led me to realize that our greatest fear has become reality. Has the affect on our lives been drastic? Yes! But are we okay? Yes!

On the morning of my lung surgery last December, I woke with the Christmas song All is Well on my heart and in my mind. I remember wondering if I would still be singing it by the end of the day. Needless to say I was not singing at the end of the day as all was not well. Yet I can say that throughout this post surgery/post stroke journey ultimately all has been well – just as mother can tell an inconsolable child that everything is going to be ok, not knowing the future herself. I would like the message of this journey to be one of hope for all those who share this fear, even if healing this side of heaven is not complete for me or for you.

The hope I can share is because God has been present through this entire journey. If He is there and His grace and provision, as promised, are sufficient for us, they will be for you as well. We have no reason to believe otherwise. He has no favorites and yet He has provided for us as if we were.

Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take;

The clouds you so much dread

Are big with mercy and shall break

In blessings on your head.

These words were written by hymn writer, William Cowper, who suffered from depression all his life. Actually, I don’t believe he could have written these words without knowing true suffering. It is not ‘all good’, as some like to say. But God brings good out of all things, for those who look to Him, and put their trust in Him again. If you, like me, find yourself disabled and dependent before your time, you will be amazed by His loving provision for you, as I have been for me. This is not to say I like being in this place of need at 63.  I don’t like depending on others and having to schedule people to come and care for me each day. And yet He has made a way for me, step by painful step, and I am better for it.  And while He has brought good out of it, the good does not neutralize or diminish the bad. The bad is still bad. The pain is still pain, but it’s not in vain, and I can live with that! I can declare that All Is Well, the same way that a man who lost his family to the waves of the sea on a transatlantic cruise could write these words:

Whatever my lot,

Thou hast taught me to say,

It is well, with my soul.

And it is! It is well with my soul when I am in right relationship with Him. And like Job, not charging Him with wrong-doing, but recognizing His love and mercy even when I can’t feel it or understand it! I don’t need to fear because He is with me and because of that All is Well.

All is Well

It is Well