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Lea once said to our adult children, “We are going to simplify, simplify, simplify!” We led very busy adult lives. She had been vice president of a national mortgage company, and supervised a large staff. I had operated a number of businesses over the years, sometimes two at a time. We had been homeowners for several decades, accumulating all the “stuff” that goes with it, served our communities through service in organizations such as Lions International, and operated a Victorian-era bed and breakfast. And, we had no idea how prophetic her words would become.

           Former Asher Walton House B&B

Asher G. Walton built our twelve room home as a private residence circa 1868. Possessing many examples of fine European craftsmanship, the hardwoods used throughout the home, and the Bavarian marble fireplaces added warmth and charm to the breakfast, parlor and drawing rooms. Victorian baths featured claw foot tubs. We loved the house, and the business, but took a break to vacation with friends in Prospect Harbor, Maine in 2005.

While returning home from that vacation, a thousand miles away on the East coast, Lea was struck down with necrotizing pancreatitis and spent six months in Hartford Hospital. Three of those months she was in a drug induced coma, and on a ventilator to keep her breathing. She had 32 debriding surgeries to remove dying tissue from her various organs, while her body was being filled with intravenous fluids to weaken the acids that were attacking her body. When she was brought out of the coma she had a hip-to-hip ventral hernia that could not be closed up, was atrophied due to loss of muscle mass, and had to learn to walk again through intensive physical therapy.

Practicing using stepsFriends and family stepped in back home to move much of our household goods into storage so the B&B could be sold to help cover our expenses. Her Mustang convertible was sold, my life’s savings were depleted, and her group life insurance exceeded her lifetime limit and would cover no more expenses. We had to fly home on a commercial airline with her still draining pancreatic fluids through her abdomen, and too weak to take more than a few steps at a time.

Family and friends arranged housing for us in an assisted living facility in a town near our former B&B, the town where our household goods were stored. After a few weeks of recovery, my brother and sister-in-law purchased a home they could rent to us on very liberal terms. I worked part time delivering career consulting via webinars for Lee Hecht Harrison, while Lea’s long term disability income started, as she had reached retirement during her hospital stay.  We gave our family truckloads of furnishings from the B&B that had been stored, and had a couple of garage sales to clear out even more.

Recipes for morecooking.netAbout a year later, we moved into a three bedroom single-story home with a modest lawn. Lea had recovered enough that she tried a little flower pot gardening on the rear deck, and we got to do some babysitting with our infant grandson, which really helped her regain a lot of her mental acuity as her motherly instincts kicked in. During 2008, we decided that a good mental exercise for her would be to publish our recipes as a Christmas gift for our families. She had dozens of recipes that we had used over the years. and still others were developed while we had the B&B.

We started cooking, double-checking accuracy of the recipes, and photographing the results. At first she needed quite a bit of help remembering procedures and processes, but eventually, the Lord strengthened her and opened a door for us to cook for fellowship dinners for 50 or more attending bible study and/or choir practice on Wednesday nights. The church had a nice, though modest, commercial kitchen adjacent to the fellowship hall, designed so that we could prepare and then serve meals through a large pass-through window.

http://morecooking.net

We had already published our recipes at http://morecooking. net for that Christmas in 2008, and now we had the opportunity to scale them up for 50 and 100 portions for large groups and publish those at http://cooking4groups.wordpress.com.  But, b the fall months of 2015 she began to have severe pain in her lower back/hip area, and we had to discontinue cooking for the church. In March of the following year she had a hip replaced, and during physical therapy for that, she began having severe pain in her lower back that made her uncomfortable while simply riding in the car.

Downsizing 2016Meanwhile, the house we were renting had been sold, and the closing/move-in date was approaching. We had decided that we were going to have to move into an apartment which would require less labor, and had arranged to have an estate sale the month before the new owner’s move-in date. The week before the estate sale was scheduled to be held, the auctioneer notified us that he was going to have to cancel, leaving us with very few options with the amount of time we had left!  Discussing our options, we found that less stressful was to donate almost all of our household goods to our church family. We held an open house for them, and let them carry away everything that we hadn’t tagged for use in the apartment or to be stored.

Lea’s pain continued to increase, and she gave up driving. Eventually, she couldn’t even ride in the car without suffering. She had to hold herself steady by grasping tightly onto the handgrip above her seat. Just going to the doctor wore her out, and all unnecessary road trips were from then on avoided. During an exam for her annual physical, the doctor determined that her gall bladder was causing a lot of the pain in the general area of the hip that had been replaced, and sent her to a specialist to see about having it removed.

Danielle, Lea and Chris outside Hartford Hospital, November 14, 2005

The surgeon determined that she could not have abdominal surgery, and that her gall bladder could not be removed, because of the surgeries and subsequent healing that resulted from the necrotizing pancreatitis. He felt that potential peritonitis leading to sepsis and septic shock was just too great. Two additional surgeons we consulted agreed.  So, she was prescribed a gall bladder medication that is rarely used today because of the simplicity of removing the gall bladder endoscopically.  She was told that she would just have to tolerate the pain.

As the medication started to take effect, she noticed that her left hip was hurting in much the same way the right hip had before it was replaced, so we went back to consult with that surgeon. He discovered, through an xray, that it was not her hip that was hurting her, but her lower spine. An subsequent exam revealed that the discs in her back were, in some cases, only 20% of their original thickness, compressing the nerves. She was in constant, debilitating, pain. After a few diagnostic visits to a spine specialist, she was given an ablation treatment to temporarily kill the nerves between some of the lower vertebrae. The treatment reduced her pain by about 70%, and was the greatest relief she had experienced in the past three years.

We are told that the treatment works for up to a year for some patients, but, for others, the nerves grow back more quickly.  We hope for the former, but realize that it is all part of God’s plans, and that he is using us for His purposes. We probably won’t know what those are until we arrive in heaven and have that “ah hah!” moment when it all becomes clear. Meanwhile, we give thanks to God for his provision and guidance, and submit ourselves to be used according to His will.

When we allow the Holy Spirit to enlighten our hearts to know the hope to which He has called us, we become better equipped to encourage our loved ones faith and spiritual growth. The apostle Paul, who, while a prisoner, said, “Rejoice in the Lord always. I will say it again: Rejoice!” (Philippians 4:4 NIV). We submit ourselves to the Lord’s sovereign plan and tender mercies, trusting Him to be faithful. After all, He did it for us: “Simplify, simplify, simplify.”

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July 2016. Eleven years since we were in Hartford Hospital with acute necrotizing pancreatitis! We have truly been blessed beyond any expectations we might have had entering this chapter of our lives. Even though Lea’s medical expenses left us financially devastated, the Lord’s provisions for us has been constant and steady. Along the way we have found a much better relationship with Him, with each other, and with our service in a local church body. We have also had our challenges, of course, and try to use them to continually give our testimony about His truth and grace.

Early Recovery Days

When we were released from Hartford Hospital in January of 2006, we had to fly home on a commercial airline because her lifetime insurance benefits had been exhausted, and there was no hospital back home in Indianapolis that would accept her as a patient. She was still draining clear body fluids from a small hole in her abdomen that required a change of her dressing every few hours along with the application of a protective ointment to the affected area to protect her skin graft. She, of course, couldn’t walk, being only barely able to stand for short periods, so she was very weak, and got exhausted quickly.

We moved, temporarily, into an assisted living facility, since our home and all but one vehicle had to be sold to cover expenses while we were still in the hospital. Lea’s employment had been terminated, disab‎ility income had not yet started, savings were gone, with only her retirement account still in place. I was her full time caregiver, and had taken leave from my position as a career counselor to devote my time to her needs.

We later moved to a very nice house purchased by my brother for us to stay in as long as we needed it. Lea was very feeble, still using a wheelchair, later a walker, to get around. We had been told that her abdominal drainage holes might eventually heal and close up, causing pockets of fluid to accumulate internally. They would have to be drained as needed. Praise God, that didn’t happen! You can read more about our daily experiences in the hospital by following this link.

Broken Hip

Lea misstepped, fell, and broke her right hip in November of 2006 while we were recouping during a visit to our older son’s family in Hawaii. It was five months before she regained enough strenth to be released by the surgeon to fly back home to Indiana. We both had gotten cabin fever, becase she couldn’t get out and do much of anything, as she was still in a wheelchair.

We were able to be involved in some church activities, and some social events, but we were very limited in mobility since, at that time, the Kailua-Kona area was largely not handicapped accessible. A few months later, back in Indiana, she was able to stand well enough to get around using a walker with a seat for periodic rest breaks, then, for a period of time, a cane.

Knee Replacement

But, by early spring of 2007 her right knee had begun deteriorating to the point that she was going to have to return to using the walker for fear of the knee collapsing entirely. We were referred to a surgeon that was willing to accept her special condition and replace her knee. We began preparations in late June, with pre-surgery consultation, an orientation session on what to expect, and lab tests to make sure she was healthy enough to undergo surgery. Her knee was then replaced in mid-July, just two years after her near fatal illness, and she took her first steps on the new knee the next day. She had a rough night or two during the next couple of weeks, some of which was caused by her need for a large brace to give her knee side support until it could recover lost strength.

Move to Texas

In November of 2007, eighteen months after our release from Hartford Hospital, and four months after her knee replacement, Lea was still not able to stand completely upright, tired very quickly, and was emotionally unstable. We moved from Indiana to Texas that month to be close to my younger son and his family, which had just expanded to include their first son. She couldn’t travel far before having to get out of the car to straighten up, stretch and rest.

It took us two full days of traveling in this manner to make the trip, arriving mid morning on the third day. We had rented a three bedroom ranch-style home with a single floor, easy access to the garage, lawn, and a back deck. It was perfect for her continuing recovery. She spent many happy hours there with our grandson, who nurtured her as much as she did him. He gave her purpose again, which was just what she needed.

We were blessed with the arrival of another grandson in 2010, and a third bundle of joy in 2012. The three brothers have been such an important source of joy, rejuvenation and purpose for her that she anxiously awaits the next time she gets to be with them. They give her that sense of importance that is so critical to seeing oneself as valued.

By 2012 she had continued to progress with improvement of her sense of balance and agility. She had many more good days than bad, and had been able to resume driving herself when she felt she wanted to get out of the house for a while. We also began cooking meals for our church’s fellowship dinners on Wednesday evenings. We both like to cook, and had a joke between us that we had to careful to do a good job of food preparation so we didn’t get “Chopped,” a reference to getting cut from TV cooking competition. When we plan our menu, our standing joke is that we have “four hours and $200 to cook a five-course meal for fifty people,” from another TV series we enjoyed watching.

When we first started cooking those church dinners, Lea wasn’t mentally able to handle the stress of the kitchen, so I had to take the lead. But, as the months went on, she began to regain her interest in meal planning and execution, and then improved to the point that she often took the lead right from the meal planning process through the shopping.

It was wonderful to see her recapture her abilities, and put her sparkling personality into the meal preparation. It was also during this time that she began assisting our church’s decorating committee by making beautiful handmade bows for Christmas decorations, flower arrangements for various rooms for each change of the season and “freshening” up the church with new centerpieces and decorative touches. The Lord showered us with blessings well beyond what one might hope for, and we rededicated ourselves to serving Him, and sharing the Good News that God Is Good, All The Time.

Celebrating Fifty Years

In 2014 we celebrated our 50th wedding anniversary with a short ceremony and reception with many friends and family present at the church. Our sons organized the entire event, handling all the details, so that we were free to enjoy socializing and celebrating the love we shared all those years. The description of our love had matured over the years. As I stated in my testimony to the church, recorded live, before Lea’s illness, I had always thought of her in terms of her physical body . . . her physical attractiveness to me. It wasn’t until she was in that coma for so long, and I was tending to her every day, bathing her, washing her hair, reading to her, that I realized that although I did, indeed, love her body, it was her spirit that I had really bonded with all those years. I was merely tending the vessel her spirit lives in. As I looked at her lying helplessly there, kept alive with drugs and machines. “She” was gone. I prayed continuously for her return.

Later in 2014 Lea felt that her right hip was hurting her quite a bit, and returned to using a cane to relieve the pain. We consulted with a hip surgeon who ordered an MRI, and then reported that she needed to have her right hip replaced. Lea asked if she could just get an injection in the hip to reduce the pain and put off, or maybe completely avoid, having to replace the hip. He doubted it would work, but wrote her a script, and told her she could use it any time she wanted to. She put it off for over a year, and the injection worked for about two weeks, but the pain eventually just got to be too much, and she knew that the hip was going to have to be replaced.

Fainting Spells

In mid-December of 2014 Lea passed out while heading to bed for the night, falling backwards like a piece of timber, cracking her skull and creating a palm-size hematoma on the back of her head. X-rays revealed that she had cracked it at the base of the skull just above the spinal column. No treatment was required, as it would heal on its own. It took several weeks for the hematoma to dissipate, and she had some hair loss at the site, but, otherwise, didn’t suffer any pain.

She had four more incidents of that type over the next year, although she didn’t bump her head nearly so hard. The last fall was in Hawaii November 23, 2015 as she was getting out of the swimming pool. She bent over to put her sandals on, and when she stood up, she just kept going backwards. She again smacked the back of her head, causing a hematoma to well up, and again, some hair loss at the site.

We were later told by a physical therapist that she needed to pause for a moment after straightening up, because the blood pressure drops dramatically when you stand up from a sitting or bending position. She hasn’t experienced another fall of that type since then.

Gall Bladder

In the spring of 2015, almost ten years after the onset of the pancreatitis, and eight years after her hip and knee surgery, she had begun to experience persistent pain in her lower right side that might not be associated with the hip joint. She was uncomfortable riding in a car because every bump in the road caused pain in her right side.

She had already given up driving herself, because she felt she needed to hold onto the overhead grab handle to lessen the jolts of pain. Our family doctor scheduled her for a CT Scan and an ultrasound to check her gall bladder. The CT Scan didn’t reveal any problems, but the ultrasound found gallstones.

In June we pursued getting the gall bladder pain resolved. After two or three minutes of examination, the first of three surgeons we consulted told us that she is “very high risk” for any kind of abdominal surgery, and that he would not recommend any procedure unless it is an emergency. After more imaging tests, gentle probing, prodding, feeling, the other two surgeons concurred. Surgery is not advisable.

So, she was given a prescription for a medication that isn’t hardly used today because removal of the gall bladder is so easy, normally. It is a condition that she will have to manage as best she can by taking her medication, and avoiding foods like bread and pasta that swell in the stomach and cause it to squeeze the gall bladder, creating the pain which spikes after a meal.

Her pain became so constant that she couldn’t stand to travel any but the shortest distances, which forced us to give up cooking for the church. After a few more weeks, she hurt so badly all the time, we had to give up traveling to church services.

Hip Replacement

With the gall bladder under better control, it was time to return attention to her hip, which was more uncomfortable now that the gall bladder pain was under better control. In Mid-March 2016 she had a full hip replacement, and was up and walking the next day with assistance. Her recovery from the surgery itself was uneventful, and she went into physical therapy after two weeks of in- home therapy.

She has had a difficult time regaining her balance, still leans a little to the right when she walks, and has periods of pain in the left hip, probably due to putting more weight on it to protect from pain in the right side. Her therapy has been extended a couple of times because she is having some periods of dizziness.

She is still walking with the use of a cane, doesn’t drive because of the discomfort caused by the gall bladder, and often experiences light dizziness. We have been able to attend services a couple of times at a church closer to where we live, and she has been able to sit through a service, although she sometimes has to sit down during the worship music portion. But, we continue working toward improvement and a better quality of life for her, appreciating the continued blessings granted to us during this late chapter in our lives.

We are firm believers in the love our Father has for us, and that He is always at our sides. We know that He will always rescue us from every evil attack, and that He works in all things for the good of those who love Him. We also know that much of our ministry obligation is to simply testify to how He worked so miraculously in giving healing to Lea in the face of disaster after disaster.

Father, bless your name! Glory to You, Father, for the many workings of faith that You delivered through Lea’s illnesses! We ask You to bless those who are reading this message. Minister to their spirit at this very moment to reveal Your love and power as You blessed us in Lea’s recovery. Amen.

Integrity is keeping a commitment even after circumstances have changed. ~ David Jeremiah

This is the right time for me to give a little testimony that, hopefully, will have meaning for you. I recently loss my employment as a content writer due to downsizing, and immediately went into damage control mode. Double checking our debts, liquid and fixed assets, and how long we should be able to “make it” until the Lord opens the next employment door for us.

We had run into dry spells before, where we felt a financial crunch, and had to adjust our budget. I had always abstained from reducing our tithe, because I told myself, “That’s God’s money.” We have conciously been living beyond our means in order to provide Lea with the lifestyle that makes her comfortable. Occasionally we would draw down on our savings to make up for the shortfalls.

Now, with only one more paycheck coming in, I felt I had to take drastic action. One of the things I did to control our situation was to stop the drafts on my checking account for my tithe. We then headed out for a long-planned visit to our oldest son’s home. The night after our arrival, he had a mid-week church function, and asked if we would give a five minute testimony. The audience was made up of young married couples, many with children, who had just finished a series of studies entitled, “The Art of Marriage.”

I gave a very high level explanation of the trials Lea and I went though in Hartford, and one of the revelations God gave me during that test; that there is a difference between the body and the spirit. I had always thought I was in love with Lea as a beautiful woman, and thought of that woman as a beautiful body. But, when she was in a coma for several weeks, I discovered that while her body was there in that hospital bed, and tended to it everyday, Lea wasn’t there. She was gone, and wasn’t back in that body until weeks later. It took the Lord beating me over the head, but I finally got it; It is her spirit that I am in love with, and her body is how I can love on her spirit.

That weekend, while attending services at their church, the pastor spoke on “control,” and how we try to take control instead of trusting in God to care for us. I felt a little twinge of guilt, because I had just stopped my tithes. He then stung me again, because he talked about our tithes being “first fruits,” and that we should give to the church first, so God can do his work, and that he will provide for us. Ouch! He stung me again! He said that we need to be able to trust in the Lord, step back, continue in our faithfulness, and let the Lord have control.

This reminded me of one of my favorite verses in times like this; 1 Samuel 12:24 – “Only fear the LORD and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.” If you’ve read our journal pages here on the site, or listened to our testimony on our church’s website, you already know what great things he did for us in Hartford, and there have been many more blessings since then, as well. Praise God! Amen.

Our pastor, Dr. Ken Baldwin, says, “One of the ways for us to measure commitment is by what it takes to make us quit. There are some things we should never quit. Our commitment to Jesus…to His Church…to His work…to our family and our marriage…to telling others about Him; and, many more. Integrity is being the right person and doing the right things. Never quitting on both of those is true commitment. We each have weaknesses, but God is our strength. Is today the day that we start again to be and do the right things? God has never quit on us. We should keep our commitment to Him.”

The Lord put all these things in front of me just after I stopped the automatic tithe deposits. I got the message! I reinstated the payments, just as it should be, and now wait patiently for the Lord to open the next door.

Lord, you gave your all for me; can I do any less for you, and call myself a committed Christian? Thank you for showing me the error of my ways. Forgive me my shortcomings of commitment and faith. Use me according to your will. In Jesus’ name. Amen!

When Wrong is Deemed Right: Fallacies do not cease because they become fashions. G. K. Chesterton

Proverbs 14.12; 16.25: There’s a way that looks harmless enough; look again—it leads straight to hell.

When a person or a society feels they can change an unchangeable like the institution of marriage, then someone is sorely mistaken. Laws of our land
do declare what adherence is expected from citizens. The Law of God trumps all laws of man. Jesus said He did not come to destroy the Law of God, but rather to fulfill it. And He did fulfill it Perfectly!

No one or no law can undo what God has spoken and created. If we are not going with God, then we are going against Him. That’s not the way to win in life. Turn around in thinking and actions, go with Him, and life becomes not only bearable, but beautiful.

Prayer

Lord, you have told each of us that you will make a way for us to escape the darkness of this world as we walk in The Light of the world. Thank you for the Grace you have showered upon us. Use us to be a light unto the world, according to your will.

In Jesus Name, Amen

It has been a blessing not to have to post updates on Lea’s condition for the past several years. We have been blessed with relatively good health, just enough family activities to keep her feeling useful, and activities at church that helps her feel valued. Now, I’m afraid, some of our activities may be reduced or coming to an end.

Many years ago, before Lea’s hospitalization in Hartford, Connecticut, she was a vice president at Irwin Mortgage Corporation and supervised a staff of about forty persons. She was very well respected by her peers, and was often sought out for advice and guidance by other company officers. At the same time, she and I were operating a bed and breakfast, the Asher Walton House, and I was operating Rail Line Services, a business through which I trained and certified short line railroads.

She was also experiencing infrequent flare-ups of pain in her right side during that time. We had one episode of such intense pain in 1998 it dropped her to the floor in a hotel bathroom. We were on a company retreat in Nashville, had taken the river boat dinner cruise and returned to the hotel for a social hour at the atrium waterfalls, when she hurriedly excused herself to go to the bathroom.

When she didn’t return after too-long, I went to find out what was detaining her. I discovered her passed out on the floor, covered in sweat. She revived quickly, and was about to stand, when a paramedic on duty at the hotel checked her out. There was nothing obviously wrong, so the paramedic let her return to the social, where she was fine the rest of the night. She didn’t know what had happened, other than she had broken out in a heavy sweat.

Six years later, on occasion of our 40th wedding anniversary, our sons hired a limousine to take us into downtown Indianapolis for a nice dinner at St. Elmo Steak House. We shared a bottle of champagne during the forty-five minute ride, and had a delightful time just chatting and catching up. We were looking forward to a great steak dinner preceded by St. Elmo’s world famous shrimp cocktail, with sauce so hot you really have to concentrate on timing your breathing.

During the appetizer course, Lea quickly excused herself and went to the ladies’ room. We guys finished out shrimp cocktails, and had the table cleared in expectation of our steak dinners arriving. Since Lea hadn’t returned to the table yet, we ordered another round of drinks and were just visiting, when our waiter came to the table and asked if he should put the order in for our dinners, or wait longer for Lea to return.

I went to the ladies’ room and called to Lea, to see if she was alright. She didn’t answer, so I called again, a little louder, and this time thought I heard a mumbled reply. I went in to see what was going on, and found her again lying on the floor, broken out in a heavy sweat. I lifted her up into a sitting position, and though seemingly dazed, she became alert pretty quickly.

She didn’t remember passing out, but had some pain in the lower right side of her abdomen. This time she associated drinking alcohol with the episode, and didn’t drink anything for many years afterward. Meanwhile, she had occasional flare-ups of minor pain in the right side of her lower abdomen, and finally mentioned it to our physician, who ordered an ultrasound to check the gall bladder. The results showed some “sludge” in the gall bladder, but not enough to indicate that surgery was needed. He told her, “Some day the pain will get bad enough you’ll come back and ask to have it removed.”

A couple of years later we wound up in Hartford Hospital for six months while she was being treated for acute pancreatitis. She was largely pain-free after being released, although usually uncomfortable due to having to wear the elastic binder to hold everything in. Now, almost ten years after the onset of the pancreatitis, she has had persistent pain in her lower right side for the last eight to nine weeks.

Our family doctor scheduled her for a CT Scan and an ultrasound to check her gall bladder. The CT Scan didn’t reveal any problems, but the ultrasound found gallstones. Our doctor referred us to a surgeon, who met with us, and said to her, “I have just read your file, and am amazed at what you’ve been through. Why didn’t they take out that gall bladder while they had you open?” Of course, we couldn’t answer that, and he didn’t expect us to.

He asked the usual questions about what caused the episode, and Lea replied, “Well, they told us that it could be caused by a scorpion sting, alcohol, or high triglycerides, but, they didn’t really know.” The surgeon added, “And, gallstones.” Lea and I said, in unison, “Gallstones?!” He replied, “Yes, it’s very common.” We were both amazed at this new discovery. Lea then went on to tell him of the tests she had performed a couple of years before getting ill, and that the doctor had only found sludge.

The surgeon stated, “That’s what caused your pancreatitis.” He asked her to get on the examination table so he could examine her surgical wound (ventral hernia) which is covered with only a skin graft. It is quite easy to see the stomach and intestines moving as they go through the digestive process, because the only thing between them and the world is that thin cover of skin. Lea and I both saw his expression of surprise when he first saw her abdomen.

After two or three minutes of examination, he told us that she is “very high risk” for any kind of surgery, and that he would not recommend any procedure if it can be avoided. He has scheduled her for a two-hour imaging test that will create a much more detailed picture of the bladder so next steps can be determined. The test is scheduled for the middle of the month, and we’ll go back to see the surgeon when the results come back.

Meanwhile, we are anticipating that she will be put on a pretty bland diet, so we are doing our research to see what foods to avoid (the good tasting ones) and which she can have (the boring ones). We may ask the doctor to set us up with a nutritionist to help us get on the right path to reducing her pain.

We have been extremely blessed to have had this ten-year chapter of our lives. We have had a great deal of selfless loving from our immediate family, found great friends at our church, and have been blessed with the birth of three grandsons. These have been a tremendous boost for her rehabilitation and general moral. And, now we have a great-granddaughter on the way!

Lea doesn’t complain much about her condition, and bears her burden quite well. She had a pretty sleepless night after learning that surgery is not possible, and that she is likely to have to live with the pain from now on. But, she arose the next morning with a new resolve, and started taking steps to help herself get pain free.

Like the surgeon told her after the examination, “They (the doctors at Hartford) saved your life! Look at you now! You’re up, and getting around! Compared to this, (gall bladder pain) that’s pretty huge!”

Thank you Lord. Bless our care givers. Amen!

It’s hard to believe we are almost ten years after our stay at Hartford Hospital! It will be a decade on July 15, 2015! So much has happened, and we are so happy to be together! We praise the Lord, and give thanks every single day for the blessing of another day together. Every day is special!

Since we returned to Indiana after six months in the hospital, we moved into an assisted living facility, since our home had to be sold while we were still in the hospital. We then moved to a house purchased by my brother for us to stay in as long as necessary. Lea was very feeble, still using a wheelchair, later a walker, to get around. We were told that her abdominal drainage holes might eventually heal and close up, causing pockets of fluid to accumulate internally, and they would have to be drained as needed. Praise God, that didn’t happen!

In 2007, eighteen months after our release from Hartford Hospital, our youngest son and his dear wife arranged to have us relocated to Austin, Texas, to help with the raising of their newborn son. It was a big step for us. Lea was still not able to stand completely upright, was very weak, and emotionally unstable. She couldn’t travel far before having to get out of the car to rest and stretch. It took us two days of travel to make the trip, arriving mid morning on the third day.

When we drove up in front of the house rented for us by our son, the next door neighbors were doing some yard work and greeted us warmly. In the ensuing discussion they invited us to their church, and we gladly accepted. We have now been members of that church for seven years. Lea was still so weak at that time that she couldn’t sit in a pew for more than an hour, and needed help to stand up and sit down. Eventually she was able to sit longer so we could go to adult bible study followed by church, but, recently has begun to slip back into only being able to do church.

We have been cooking for fellowship dinners once or twice a month, and that had been a great boost for her, helping her use her logic skills. But again, she is starting to find it to be more of a challenge lately, so we don’t know how long we’ll be able to continue that ministry. We will continue as long as she finds it more rewarding than challenging.

What has been the biggest boost for her, mentally and physically, is the grandson, and his brothers. We now have three grandsons here in Austin, and we get to sit with them frequently. Those boys have been a God-send! They have brightened her outlook, given her motivation to improve her condition and her physical strength so she could care for them. It has also helped her emotionally as she strives to interact with them at their own level . . . ages six, four, and two. Actually, now that our oldest is starting to read, I’d better state that correctly . . . ages seven (barely), four-and-a-half, and two-and-a-half.

Lea struggles with her blood sugar suddenly during the night, some mornings dropping as low as 30! When that happens, she gets very confused, dizzy, and hot. So far we have been able to get her stabilized, but it is very unsettling, as you might imagine. We have truly been blessed to be here with family, and praise God every day for our shower of blessings, knowing that it is all temporary, and the end of this life draws near. We love what he has worked in our lives, and we work to share the joy of his love, and the wonderful shower of blessings for our family. Praise God, from whom all blessings flow. Amen!

Mobile Is Changing Everything. The first thing many people do when they start their day is check their phone for messages, social network updates, and email. The easy mobile access we enjoy is changing how the business world reaches customers, and how customers find businesses. This presents interesting challenges for businesses, as much of the enterprise technology ecosystem will continue to go mobile to keep up with the growing mobility of the workforce, and increasingly mobile consumer.

Technology is rapidly changing to a “mobile first” mentality as businesses address the changing customer landscape. Since a mobile interaction is frequently the first exposure a person has with a company, it is important to think about the times you had frustrating mobile experiences and make sure customers don’t experience that frustration with your application.
Mobile Search
If a person is searching for a business from their mobile phone, they may be on the go, and have less patience with the limited keyboard and interface of the device than if they were sitting at a desktop. Understanding this basic difference in a user’s perspective on desktop versus mobile is one of the many reasons technology for business is so rapidly advancing. We have already seen the World Wide Web evolve from “the Internet” to Web 2.0, and mobile 2.0 is just around the corner.

The mobile first approach is also forcing business technology to move towards greater scalability, connectivity, and useability. We see this very clearly in social media, where users are flocking from one platform to another that provides expanded space to share specific audio content, upload longer videos, or post new types of content they can share. As technology continues to develop as a result of our individual mobility, ease of use will remain a major focus as will stability and future scalability.

One of the challenges facing business is that many of the attractive widgets and gizmos of the website just won’t work on a mobile device. The mobile screen is too small, and the circumstances of mobile use demands a quick, straight-forward, productive experience from start to finish. You and I no longer have the patience to sit and wait and wait for a web page to load. I have, many times, simply gone to a different provider’s site when I felt I had waited too long for a page to load. Most consumers expect to wait no more than five seconds! If your page doesn’t load quickly, <em>blip!</em>, they’re gone! The easier your mobile app is to use, the more functional its capabilities, the more customers are likely to come back.

Visuals are very important in getting the message across, but the mobile platform will continue to force alteration of theWVRR25 way in which our information is presented to the end user. Visuals can be processed by the mind much faster than text. That’s why we see so many websites loaded up with visual material from photos to graphics and animations. But, we can’t structure a mobile app with all those visuals, because it bogs down the page-loading process, and can cost us return visitors.

The mobile first approach is also forcing business enterprise technology to move towards greater scalability, connectivity, and useability. We see this very clearly in social media, where users are flocking from one platform to another that provides a new place to share specific audio content, upload longer videos, or post new types of content they can share. And, all of this, predominately, on a mobile device!

Now is the time to prepare your business for mobile, or your business can be left behind. But, make sure you’re not just going mobile, but that you’re going mobile with an application that is quick, scalable, stable, and encourages connectivity.

Our children are uniquely created gifts of God, and are living memorials to our influence in their lives.  Parenting is never finished. We have to teach our children, and grandchildren, about Jesus Christ, and then live our lives showing them how to live as believers. The journey of life is filled with tribulation, problems, roadblocks and temptations that challenge our resolve to reach our final destination.

The problems teach us to be a better traveler, and encourage us to share what we learn about making the journey easier with others who are walking the same path.God places some people in our lives to plow and plant, while others water and fertilize. God will grow your faith, give you challenges to help you mature, and will also test your faith. The mark of a true Christian is not that have have been merely saved, but rather, that you share the story of your salvation with others.  For new readers, you can hear my testimony here. You can also read the daily dispatches during Lea’s 6-month hospital stay. This link takes you to the condensed timeline, but you can read the entire dispatch by clicking on the date link to the left of the comments.

Lea and I have had an incredible life journey together, and will celebrate 50 years of marriage next year. I particularly thank God for the last few years, because he gave her back to me after showing what it would be like to live without her. We have been so richly blessed! His provision for us has been remarkable. Both our sons made multiple trips to be with her during her hospitalization, and have assisted us financially well beyond our expectations. He has provided us a loving church family to serve in, and given us both the health we need to be active servants. Even more remarkably, He has given us wonderful grandchildren to love on and share our love of Christ.

The life worth living is rooted in sound teaching. We, as parents and grandparents, are responsible to teach our children, grandchildren, and great-grandchildren about God’s love, His benevolence, and how he works in our lives to shape us into the servants we need to be. We strive to be knowledgeable about His rules and His laws, so we can be the kind of teachers our grandchildren deserve.

I picked up the following story from an email. I didn’t bother to check its validity, because the message is what is really important, and I wanted to share it with you. This is purportedly written by a U.S. Marine.

“As I came out of the supermarket that sunny day, pushing my cart of groceries towards my car, I saw an old man on the lot with the hood of his car up and a lady sitting inside the car, with the door open.

The old man was looking at the engine. I put my groceries away in my car, and continued to watch from about twenty five feet away. I saw a young man in his early twenties with a grocery bag in his arm walking towards the old man, who saw him approaching, and took a few steps towards him.

I saw the older man point to his open hood and say something. The young man put his grocery bag into what looked like a brand new Cadillac. He then turned back to the old man. I heard him say loudly, ‘You shouldn’t even be allowed to drive a car at your age.’ And then with a wave of his hand, he got in his car and peeled rubber out of the parking lot.

I saw the old gentleman pull out his handkerchief, and mop his brow as he went back to his car and again looked at the engine. He then went to his wife and spoke with her; he appeared to tell her it would be okay. I had seen enough, and I approached the old man. He saw me coming, smiled sheepishly, and stood straight, and as I got near him I said, ‘Looks like you’re having a problem.’

He quietly nodded his head. I looked under the hood myself, and knew that whatever the problem was, it was beyond me. I remembered a gas station up the road, and I told him that I would be right back. I drove to the station and went inside. I saw three mechanics working on cars. I approached one of them, and related the problem the old man had with his car. I offered to pay if someone could follow me back down and help him. Two of them offered to go.

The old man had pushed the car under the shade of a tree and appeared to be comforting his wife. When he saw us he straightened up, smiled, and thanked me for my help. As the mechanics diagnosed the problem (overheated engine), I spoke with the old gentleman.

When I shook hands with him earlier, he had noticed my Marine Corps ring and had commented about it, telling me that he had been a Marine too. I nodded and asked the usual question, ‘What outfit did you serve with?’ He said that he served with the first Marine Division at Guadalcanal, Pelieliu, and Okinawa.

He had landed in three of the worst battles, and retired from the Corps after the war was over. As we talked we heard the car engine start and saw the mechanics lower the hood. As they came over to us, the old man reached for his wallet, but I stopped him, and told him I would just put the bill on my AAA card.

He still reached for the wallet and handed each of us a card that I assumed had his name and address on it, and, without looking, I stuck it in my pocket. We all shook hands all around again, and I said my goodbye’s to his wife. I then told the two mechanics that I would follow them back up to the station. Once at the station, I told them that they had interrupted their own jobs to come along with me and help the old man, and I wanted to pay for the help. They refused to charge me.

The men told me then that they were Marine Corps Reserves, and glad to help. Once again we shook hands all around and as I was leaving, one of them told me I should look at the card the old man had given to me. I said I would, and drove off.

I had gone about two blocks, when curiosity got the best of me, and I pulled over and took the card out of my pocket and looked at it. The name of the old gentleman was on the card, printed in gold leaf, and under his name was written: ‘Congressional Medal of Honor Society.’

I sat there motionless, staring at the card and reading it over and over, recalling what I could about the battles the old man was in. I looked up and smiled to no one but myself and marveled that on this day, four Marines had all come together because one of us needed help. He was an old man all right, but it felt good to have stood next to greatness and courage, and an honor to have been in the presence of a Congressional Medal of Honor recipient.

Remember, as we approach another Memorial Day, OLD men like him gave you, and all of us, FREEDOM for America. Thanks to those who served and still serve, and to all of those who supported them, and who continue to support them.”

Amen.

God is good, all the time. He has been particularly good to Lea and me in providing for us in our “recliner” years. Lea’s recovery has continued to progress quite well, with improvement of her sense of balance and agility. She has many more good days than bad, and has been able to resume driving herself when she feels she wants to get out of the house for a while.

She and I are blessed to be able to cook meals for our church fellowship when we gather for mid-week bible study. We both like to cook, so we enjoy watching the competitions on Food Network and Cooking Channel, and have a joke between us that we have to careful to do a good job of food preparation so we don’t get “Chopped,” a reference to getting cut from cooking competition. When we plan our menu, our standing joke is that we have “four hours and $200 to cook a five-course meal for fifty people,” from another competion we enjoy watching.

Cooking for the church has been a great undertaking for us on several levels. When we first started, Lea wasn’t mentally able to handle the stress of the kitchen, so I had to take the lead. But, as the months went on, she began to regain her interest in meal planning and execution, and today has improved to the point that she often takes the lead right from the meal planning process. It has been wonderful for me to see her slowly recapture her abilities, and put her sparkling personality into the meals we prepare.

This improvement was also accompanied by a rekindling of her creative abilities. She has always been stellar at creating flower arrangements. For the ten years we operated a bed and breakfast in our large Victorian home, she was always creating gorgeous flower arrangements for all the rooms in the house, including huge centerpieces for the parlours. She began assisting our church’s decorating committee several months ago, making beautiful handmade bows for Christmas decorations, and flower arrangements for various rooms, including the worship center. Today, she looks forward to each change of the season and “freshening” up the church with new centerpieces and decorative touches.

It has been a source of great joy to see her with our grandsons, ages 2 and 4, as she has cared for them. I believe that they have been the primary reason her thought processes have improved so much. She loves those boys dearly, and longs for their next visit with great anticipation. She just sparkles when they’re together, giving her every ounce of energy to caring for them, and revealing her soul to them with every interaction.

The Lord has showered us with blessings well beyond what one might hope for, and we daily rededicate ourselves to serving Him, and sharing the Good News that God Is Good, All The Time.

 

ABOUT HARTFORD LETTERS

Experience the Miraculous Healing and Recovery of Lea Vaughn, and the incredible spiritual journey of her husband during 180 days in Hartford Hospital. Read his original daily emails in "Hartford Letters" above. ____________________________

In “Prayer,” above:

For Dave
Praise: Lea
For Bill and Jane
For Megan
For Charlotte
For Marnita
Praise: Gary
Praise: fellowship
For Herb
Praise: Joe
For Lea
For Unnamed

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