Ninety days in Intensive Care! But, we can see light at the end of the tunnel! Each day seems to hold renewed promise as Lea’s condition improves. She is still in critical condition, of course, but it seems likely that she will continue her progress toward regaining control of her systems. Her mental alertness is very good most times, and her memory is sharp as a tack, with just one little lapse of about 90 days. Her physical control is slowly beginning to return, but there is going to be a course of several months of physical rehabilitation ahead.

She is scheduled to have the skin graft done on her abdomen next Thursday, in the Operating Room. Skin will be taken from one or both thighs to place enough skin on the healing tissue in her abdomen to close it up. The good news is that the wound is much smaller than it was originally. It still is the full width, of course, but, as the swelling has subsided, the height has been reduced by about 50%.

The feeding tube, in one nostril, delivers her liquid food to the small intestines, while the solid food she is beginning to consume, goes to her stomach. It is hoped that she will get her stomach working properly, regain her appetite, and be able to get enough calories through what she eats to be able to get off the feeding tube within a couple of weeks. The tube in the other nostril that goes to the stomach will remain in place for some time, just in case access to the stomach is needed for some reason.

Just after ten thirty this morning, her daytime nurse Chris, with help from Adam and Danielle transferred her to a cardiac recliner, where she rested comfortably for some time. She had come off the ventilator at 6:00 a.m. and had her speaking valve attached so she could visit with those stopping by to see her. At mid- Day, Chris and Danielle packed her up with portable oxygen and EKG monitor, put a couple of blankets on her lap, and took her off the floor and into the outdoors!

We toured the garden area in front of the hospital entrance, which includes many pretty flowers, bushes and shrubs along the brick pathways. There are also nice seating areas in the Meditation Garden, which is where the attached photo was taken. Chris is checking the EKG monitor in the photo, while Danielle squints to see what’s ahead. Oh, it was glorious to see God’s wondrous workings for Lea on her first trip into the outdoors in three months! A crisp fall day, with gusts of cool wind to blow her hair, and warm sunshine to stream down upon her lovely face. Gray squirrels frolicked nearby in the lawn between the trees, and fallen leaves fluttered and tumbled by as well-wishers waved from across the street.

She was able to see the hospital for the first time, and get an idea of the expansiveness of the facility. She has heard her visitors talk about some of the nearby restaurants, and was able to see that they are just a short walk from the hospital’s entrance. We snapped photos of her with Chris and Danielle for the scrapbook, and they snapped one of us in front of the hospital. It was an occasion made possible by God’s love for His children, and His response to the prayers you have given us. Thank you, and praise God!

I don’t know that my faith has been changed by this terrible ordeal, but I have come to feel that true faith is our acceptance of helplessness in the face of God’s ability to do what He chooses, when He chooses. Sometimes He chooses not to heal, or at least, not when we ask for it. We need to believe that all things happen for a reason; that they are part of The Plan, and pray for understanding and guidance.

It continues to amaze he how God has worked in the lives of others through Lea’s illness. The miracles He has brought about in the last three months humble me, and I am awed by the power of prayer and the power of Christian love. The miracles have been not only in Lea’s healing, but also in the meaning others have discovered in her day-to- Day trials to survive this affliction.

I know that Lea is not out of the woods yet. She is still in critical condition. She is on the cusp of full mental recovery, and is only just beginning physical recovery. She is very fragile, and could be taken from me at any moment. Yet, I understand now that we must continue our faith during the trials He gives us, and that He gives us the strength to bear the load He gives us to carry.

While my perception of faith hasn’t changed, my faith has deepened, and my awareness has been altered. I can’t remember a time when I didn’t have a dialogue with God going on, but nothing as intense as I have experienced in recent months. I have always trusted God, but didn’t realize I had allowed myself to place a limit on how much I was willing to trust in Him. When the low times in Lea’s recovery let me focus more on my own misery than the lessons He is leading me through, I realize that I am limiting how much I am willing to trust Him.

I don’t know that my faith has grown any stronger in the past few months. I accepted Christ as a youth, and He has been a constant companion over the years. He has always been there in times of trouble, and in times of joy. But, I think my faith has taken on a different, more proactive, perspective. I certainly am more vocal about my love of God than ever before. This has helped me through a time of discovery I was lead through a few weeks ago.

I received a letter that was a real test of my faith, and forced me to do some sincere soul searching. The letter was from a person who suggested I consider whether I was asking Lea to stay here with me in this life, when she would rather go to her reward in heaven. But, once I got over the initial reaction of anger a few days later, and the question played on my mind, I thought about it, meditated, read my study bible and prayed for insight.

As I did so, I began to realize that I didn’t have the power to make Lea stay here against her will. Only God can make the decision whether she goes or stays. Once I arrived at that understanding, I was given a peace that abides in my soul and comforts me. Glory to God!

As I’ve struggled through the challenges of these several weeks, I also came to realize that I didn’t have to step back from my ailing soul mate I love so much, and in despair just say, “The Lord’s Will be done,” without any hope of intercession or being able to affect how The Plan might be modified. I find it hard to believe that a God that would create the ever-changing beauty of this world would just simply create an unchangeable plan and sit back and watch it unfold. It would be like watching a television rerun!

I think God has an overall plan, but that He is active in the day-to- Day lives and battles of His children. That He is constantly at work in our lives, and that He can be approached to intercede on our behalf. That’s what makes the power of prayer such an awesome force! We are His flock, and He tends to our needs.

I am one of His children, and I can approach my Father and reason with Him. I’m allowed to plead with Him for my desires as well. And, although I may be required to drink from the cup of my spouse’s death one of these days, I am allowed to ask for more time before taking that drink. I may not be granted that additional time, but I am allowed to ask for it.

We have to leave room in our lives, and in our faith, for the mystery of how God works. We need to pray, knowing that God will answer prayer in the manner that best serves His plan. It may not be what we pray for, or what we want. But, many times, we see the purpose as we look back at events, and can see how they worked to achieve good in the lives of many others.

It will be interesting to see how this incident will be viewed in the years ahead. We don’t know how it is going to play out, of course, but we can be certain that there have been some wonderful miracles worked during this time of so many natural disasters in our world. We must not forget that our faith in times of trial is the ultimate test of how well we have followed God’s command to trust in Him.