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2022 A Year of Daunting Challenges

What a year 2022 was! Yet, it is just a continuation of the personal traumas Lea has struggled with since her initial illness in 2005. In the previous post, I mentioned that we had moved back to our hometown to be closer to her siblings, with the expectation that Lea would be able to interact with her family a lot more frequently than in all the years we lived “away.” What we didn’t factor in was that her siblings had gotten as old and feeble as we were. Visits were few and far between. Couple this with Lea’s ongoing clinical depression, and feeling that she was always too tired to get out of bed, our move “back home” didn’t quite pan out to be all we expected.

In fact, all the previous year she seemed to struggle with worsening general health. She experienced lightheadedness, ongoing fatigue, and wanted to sleep most of the time. It took special effort to get her interested in getting out of bed to do something . . . anything, really. She even lost interest in her longtime hobby, quilting, for which she had an ongoing passion. She started losing her memory, exhibited neuropathy in her hands, and became incontinent. We even traveled, with great difficulty, to my son’s home in Hawaii for a Christmas fortnight. She, however, was in bed nearly the entire time, without enough energy to get out of bed.

By February 2022, I asked her endocrinologist to examine her overall medicine schedule to see if there were any conflicts or side effects that could be worsening Lea’s condition. After some time reviewing the list, the doctor recommended dropping several vitamin supplements, stating that too many vitamins can be as harmful as not getting enough. So, I began weaning her off the supplements. Her overall condition, however, didn’t seem to improve over the next few weeks. Her confusion and memory worsened somewhat, to the point that she forgot very basic things, like how to take a photo or make a call with her phone.

She was no longer able to keep her balance by using a cane for support and began using a rollator walker, which has brakes and a seat with a storage compartment. Still, even with the rollator to help with her balance, she fell probably 40 times during a twelve-month period. Most of the time I was able to catch her because I would walk beside her with a grip on her gait belt or garment. Even so, I would estimate that she fell to the floor a dozen or more times during that year, mostly by falling backward into a wall, after standing and sliding down to the floor. A few times, when there wasn’t a wall behind her, she fell on her buttocks or back.

On March 5th, early morning, I got her out of bed, to go to the bathroom, got her freshened up, into clean pajamas, and back to bed. This was my general routine on mornings when I was going to the grocery store to pick up my grocery order. The store is less than 5 minutes away, and I have very rarely spent more than a very few minutes waiting for my order. So, I was usually back home within 15-20 minutes, as was the case in this instance. This time, however, was different.

Before unloading the groceries, I rushed to her bedroom just to check on her and found her, in pajamas, laying on her back on the floor between the closet and her bed, the rollator folded up on the floor nearby, and some clean clothing scattered around on the floor. She was sobbing, held her arms out to me, and said, “Help me up! I fell!” I knelt down over her, and asked, “Can you bend your legs up at the knees to help me stand you up?” She said, “I can’t feel my legs.” I told her to lay back and rest covered her with a blanket from the bed next to her, and dialed 911.

She had decided, after I left to go to the grocery store, to get up and dress. She hadn’t been able to do that for months but decided she could that morning. She got out of bed and walked in her rollator over to the closet, a distance of perhaps 8 feet, reached up to retrieve some clean clothing from an overhead shelf in the closet, got lightheaded, fainted to her right, and fell backward into a chest of drawers at the end of the closet. Her head collided with the metal handle on the third drawer down, breaking the handle into several pieces and cracking the wooden front panel of the drawer. The force of the fall created a deep palm-sized hematoma on the back of her head. A hematoma is a bad bruise that happens when an injury causes blood to collect and pool under the skin. When Emergency Medical Services arrived I told them that she would need a cervical collar and a backboard. After they ascertained that was indeed what was needed, she was quickly transported to the local hospital.

While in the Hannibal MO Hospital emergency room, the hematoma continued to enlarge, and over the next few hours we observed that her arms folded over her chest and her hands bent inward at the wrist. She was in and out of consciousness throughout the day, and they were controlling her pain with successively heavier doses of sedatives through her IV. That evening the ER physician said that it had been determined that her condition was severe enough that an airlift would be too risky with the present weather conditions, so a call had gone out to find an EMS crew to transport her to University Hospital in Columbia by ambulance. That transfer began mid-afternoon.

Upon arrival she was taken to the Emergency Room and placed in the Neurosciences Intensive Care Unit, after X-rays were completed, it was determined that she had fractured three of the vertebrae in her neck and that the hematoma was draining into the spinal column, causing paralysis. The attending surgeon recommended immediate surgery to give her a chance to recover the use of her limbs. The surgery started at about midnight and was completed a little after three o’clock the next morning. She was placed in a rigid chin-to-waist brace that kept her head from moving.

She remained in University Hospital for several days before being transferred to an acute nursing facility, where she received rehabilitative therapy to regain the use of her limbs, reduction of the resulting neuropathy in her hands, and speech therapy to relieve symptoms of dementia and other cognitive skill losses. She was in that facility for three months before being released into a home health visiting nurse-and-therapists program. At this point, she had recovered about 80% use of her right leg and 30% of her left. She was confined to a wheelchair and incontinent. The trauma to her physical and mental systems was substantial.

The home health nurse and therapists were top-notch and soon had Lea making progress in all areas. But then, in early July, she contracted a UTI and became very ill. Once again she had to be taken to the emergency room and then admitted for treatment. After a three-day stay, she was discharged, but not released to go home. The attending physician said that she had to go back into acute nursing because I wouldn’t be able to properly care for her during this recovery.

The hospital’s social worker contacted the nursing facilities in Hannibal, and none would take her due to the complexity of the problems she was battling. She needed acute nursing. One nursing home in Louisiana, Missouri accepted her, on condition that she go into isolation for 6 days because she had not received the 4th Covid booster shot. I drove her the thirty miles on a Friday afternoon to get her settled for what became an extended stay with daily physical and speech therapy.

As her strength improved, I was able to check her out of the nursing home to take her to lunch occasionally. After a four-week stay, the staff informed me that she had improved to the point that she no longer qualified for acute nursing assistance, but that no nursing home in the Hannibal area had an opening for her. Since she was being released, they contacted an area home health agency to give me assistance in caring for her at home.

The home care we received included a weekly visit by an RN to check her vitals and check for any needs we might have, a physical therapist who visited twice a week to help Lea improve her confidence and physical strength, and an occupational therapist who assisted Lea in her bath twice a week. The team we were assigned was excellent. Lea, however, suffered from incontinence and a constant bloated feeling.

After a few more doctor visits, and no solution in sight, we got a referral to a urologist who tested her rigorously, and recommended a Foley catheter for 30 days to see if evacuating the bladder regularly would relieve her discomfort. It did, but it also caused UTIs, even though we worked very carefully to avoid them. By October, the repeated UTIs were determined to be caused by the catheter itself, and a suprapubic catheter was surgically installed. It goes through the abdomen wall directly into the bladder, eliminating the previous pathway for infection.

She began to improve right away, and by the following January, she no longer had any pain in her abdomen. She still had very little control of her left leg and only partial use of her right leg. She is in a wheelchair when she isn’t in bed and has not regained the passion she had for her former hobby. She was always a talented crafter of various skills, so we are working to help her regain those interests.

As we enter 2023, we continue to be grateful and thankful that we are still together after 59 years of marriage, and still able to be mostly independent. I am glad that I’ve been granted the health to be able to take care of her and provide for her needs. What God has in store for us in the future we can only surmise. But, we are at peace with what may come. We know that no one gets out of this life alive, and we know that in the end, when our journey here is done, we will be at Home with Him. Amen.

Lea has developed gallstones that cause her to be uncomfortable with abdominal pain ranging from minor to miserable practically all the time. Gallstones are clumps of hard matter that develop in the gallbladder or bile duct when certain substances harden. The gallbladder is a small sac located on the right-hand side of the body, on the underside of the liver. It is often today removed through a simple laparoscopic surgery (cholecystectomy) which removes the gallbladder through small incisions in the abdomen.

Graphic of gallbladder with stones

That surgery is not possible for Lea, because of the previous procedures performed during her acute necrotizing pancreatitis attack and recovery in Hartford in 2005-2006. The surgeons had initially given her only a fifteen percent chance of survival, and had enough complications to deal with in rescuing her major organs, they didn’t remove her gallbladder.

She has an eleven inch arched opening in the abdomen resulting from that initial surgery. In her case, the surgeons made an incision almost  from hip to hip just below the ribs, and were not able to close it due to severe swelling. They had to let the wound heal from the inside out.

They removed skin from her thigh and stretched it over the bowels, stapling the graft to the upper and lower edges of the incision. She has had to wear an elastic wrap over her abdomen to keep her bowels from spilling out for the past thirteen  years, removing it only to bathe. So, she has the constant pressure of the elastic wrap on her abdomen, and then when she has a meal, bread or pastry tends to swell as it absorbs liquids, squeezing the gallbladder. That can force a stone into the bile duct, which could trigger another pancreatitis attack the doctors have said she probably wouldn’t survive.


We had consulted with several surgeons in recent years to inquire about getting the gallbladder removed, and they had each told us that they wouldn’t consider doing any surgical procedure except in emergency because it would be life threatening. The skin graft had grown attached to the bowels it covered, and trying to remove it to get to the gallbladder would likely tear holes in the bowels, exposing them to potential infection.Skin graft over the ventral hernia

In late 2018, our primary care physician,  Doctor Tony Aventa, referred us to a reconstructive surgeon with whom he had discussed her as a unique case. The doctors confirmed that she needs to undergo this procedure to avoid another pancreatitis attack.

We arranged a meeting in early 2019 to consult with the recommended surgeon, and found that he had already read through her case files, and also had discussed a possible procedure with a reconstructive plastic surgeon who specializes in difficult cases other surgeons shy away from for various reasons (mostly liability, I think). So, we later consulted with the plastic surgeon, and found that he, too, was willing, even excited, to do her gallbladder removal.

Because of her previous surgery, this would be five-or more hours of surgery to remove her skin graft, repair bowels that the graft is attached to, then lift the liver to access and remove the gall bladder. They said that they would reserve the surgical suite for the entire day in case there were unexpected complications. They would also require a highly qualified anesthesiologist due to the length of time she would be sedated, and highly skilled surgical nurses to assist with the many details of this precision surgery.

It is also possible that they may be able at that time to close up her ventral hernia, perhaps completely, by drilling into the lower rib bones, threading special cords through the holes, suturing to and pulling the muscle wall back up into, or near, their proper position. Following the surgery, there would be a two month, or more, recovery period, including extensive physical therapy to stretch and awaken the stomach muscles so she can stand erect again.


However, after much soul searching and prayer, she doesn’t feel that she is emotionally able to consider another major surgery, and doesn’t feel that she has the physical stamina to survive the follow-on physical therapy.  So, while we were dealing with all the angst of that decision-making process, we were notified of a significant increase in rent when our apartment lease expires in April. The renewal rate  is higher than we can afford for another year, so we began searching for alternatives.

We applied for financial/housing assistance through Travis County, but found that our social security income exceeds the county’s cutoff. They can only consider gross income, and can’t adjust for our extensive medical expenses. We also hired an apartment hunter to find us affordable housing in the Central Texas area so we could continue getting treatment by her current doctors, but, none became available for which we could qualify.

So, without the possibility of financial assistance, we have decided to move “back home” to Missouri when our lease expires. Lea still has a lot of family in our hometown area who can help me with caring for her, which will give me some time to pursue some personal interests. We have agreed to lease an affordable two bedroom, single bath,  apartment back home that is a little smaller than what we have presently. So, we’re downsizing again.

This is not a move that I, personally, am looking forward to making, considering that we have to find new doctors. But, it is what she wants, so that she can be with her family. She left home with me when we married fifty-five years ago, and we have always lived away from them. She has decided that she wants to go “back home,” and I feel that I owe her that after all she has been through. Even though we will be leaving our medical professionals, and relocating where medical services of the same quality are not as available, I feel that I am being led to make this move.

I think it likely the Lord has found another use for us there. He will have His hand in all that we do, and the decisions we make.  I have prayed much, and realize that this is probably our final chapter, and this is what my Lord wants me to do with it.  I get this feeling that He is making me “buck up,” face the future, and pass through this door He has opened. And, through that open door is all of our friends and family beckoning us to “come back home.” That is a heartwarming sight! Turn the page. New chapter.

I’m very happy to relate a glimpse of hope for reducing the amount of pain Lea has suffered through for the past several years. Our long time primary physician has tended to Lea’s medical needs, and has seen her discomfort continue to increase as the scar tissue surrounding her ventral hernia has thickened and made her breathing more difficult.

In the last three or four years the scar tissue has begun to calcify and become increasingly less flexible, making it hard for her to take a deep breath. The ventral hernia is covered only by a skin graft, requiring that she wear an elastic binder 24 x 7 to protect and support the area. Since it has to wrap all the way around her body, it holds in body heat and is hot and uncomfortable.

Complicating the abdominal pain she experiences from the hernia is the recent appearance of gall stones. We knew she had sludge in her gall bladder before we went to vacation in Maine. in 2005. In fact, our primary physician had run some tests on her abdomen due to frequent abdominal discomfort, and said, “Some day your gall bladder will get bad enough you’ll ask me to take it out. But, for now, it isn’t necessary.” A few months later she spent six months in Hartford CT hospital with acute necrotizing pancreatitis, and given a 15% chance of survival.

Over the past two years we have consulted a few Austin surgeons to see if there was any way to remove her gall bladder, but to no avail. The remarks we got were, “Only as a last resort,” and, “Only in an emergency.” Meanwhile, her pain and discomfort continued to increase. She was prescribed meds for the pain and for the chronically ill depression. She no longer has bouts of pain; it is constant debilitating pain, and she struggles to be active.

Our family doctor recently referred us to a surgeon of his acquaintance who specializes in difficult, sometimes leading edge, high risk, surgeries that most other surgeons won’t consider. We soon met with him, and he told us that he felt optimistic that Lea could get some relief from reconstructive surgery. As he examined her abdomen, he gently pinched and lifted the skin graft to confirm that there were spots where it was not latched to the bowels.

Completing his examination, he stated that he is proposing a 5+ hour reconstructive surgery that would include removing the skin graft to expose the bowels so they could expose the gall bladder so it can be removed. He estimated that would take about three hours, with skin graft removal taking up the first two hours. Then the reconstructive surgery to reattach the bottom edge of her ventral hernia to the lower ribs would take another two or more hours. It is that lower part that contains her erectile muscles, so the reattachment will require a couple months of physical therapy to get those back into use.

All of his proposal hinges on the agreement of a particular plastic surgeon he would want to assist with the surgery. He stated that this particular plastic surgeon does excellent work on reconstructions, and that he is likely to see this surgery as one he would be interested in undertaking. He cautioned that this would be a high risk, major surgery, with Lea under anesthesia the entire time, and that they would reserve the surgical suite for the entire day in case they need extra time to complete the procedure.

With our approval, he set up a consultation with this second surgeon later this month. And, with that, we got a glimpse of hope, a little lifting of the spirit, and a cautious feeling of some pending relief. We know this is all part of God’s plan for our lives, and we pray for strength, patience, and peace that His plan for us will enter the next chapter. Life with Him is a page turner!

Apartment living has been quite a change for us after owning our own homes for decades. The last was the beautiful Italianate style house bed & breakfast we operated in Atlanta, Indiana. We took great pride in that 1868 house which had 12 rooms, including a men’s parlour and a ladies’ parlour separated by huge pocket doors. It had, at one time, a marble lined dining room, and three-tone woodworking with striking hand worked  craftsmanship throughout.

I had crafted multiple leaded stained glass panels to brighten every room, with custom etched glass transoms, and crafted new woodwork where replacements needed to be made. Lea made an outstanding effort to collect and, when needed, repair or refurbish antiques from the Victorian era to decorate with appropriate period pieces.

After her recovery from acute pancreatitis and release from the hospital, we first moved back to Indiana, into assisted living quarters for a time, and then nearby into a very nice house we rented from my brother and sister-in-law, who purchased it for our comfort and convenience. From there we moved to Texas to be near our newborn grandson and his family to help in Lea’s recovery and nurture a sense of purpose for her.

We were blessed with three grandsons in the following years, and had the additional blessing of having both granddaughters live with us for a time. All of these were blessings in and of themselves, but our food ministry for our church was key to helping Lea get her cognitive skills honed up and sharpened again. And, that led to development of additional recipes and meals for our online cookbook, VaughnKitchens,

This past year, 2018, was highlighted by the grandsons playing flag football and soccer in league team competition. Each was on a separate team, and Lea really enjoyed getting out to watch the boys play. She always made sure to be there with fruit or cheese snacks and drinks when they were between games or watching their brothers play.

Of course, we had medical issues, too. She had to have ablation procedures in her lower back twice a year, and in her neck each spring. Worse than the back pain, however, was the pain from gallstones, which were inoperable. We had been to three surgeons to explore any possible way to remove her gall bladder, but, with no success. Her intestines had attached to the skin graft over her ventral hernia, and none of the surgeons was willing to take a chance on it, unless it was an emergency.

We received an early Christmas gift from my brother, who lives in Hawaii. He sent us an Amazon Echo Show, a smart speaker that is designed around Amazon’s virtual assistant Alexa. It features a 7-inch touchscreen display for video calls, which was delivered just in time for us to sit in on gift opening Christmas morning at my son’s home, five thousand miles away.

It also came in very handy for staying in daily touch with my mother, who had C.O.P.D., and lived about five hours from us. It was essential early in 2019 when she went into hospice and we were unable to travel due to medical problems. We were able to be virtually present in her room as much as we wanted, and chat with siblings and other family members and friends visiting in her room.

So, we put the wraps on 2018, grateful for the continuous shower of blessings the Lord provides us, grateful for the opportunities we are able to minister or give our testimony. Our devotion to each other has grown even stronger this year as we come to rely on each other for more daily support and assistance. We pray for God’s guidance in all that we do, and trust in Him for wisdom and discernment in each challenge He places before us.





In late 2016 and early 2017, Lea and I were able to spend several weeks with our loved ones in Kailua-Kona, on the Big Island of Hawaii. We attended Christmas Eve candlelight service at Living Stones Church on Ali’i Drive, right on the coast of the island, with the ocean setting up its constant cacophony of rhythms as the waves crashed against the rugged lava reefs on three sides of the church’s peninsula lawn.

We attended the sunset service, which started with the singing of hymns and carols, and as the sun began to set, a young lady performed a touching flag dance on the mauka side of the stage, while three artists with easels and blank canvases artfully brushed, dabbed and smeared pigments to create impressions of the season on the makai side, Meanwhile, at center stage were skits and narratives of the Christmas season, with musicians accompanying from the background.

As the sun set and darkness began to shroud the gathering, we were treated to a wonderfully graceful hula dance by several young girls who accompanied the singing of Silent Night, first in Hawaiian and then in English. It was a beautiful and moving testament to how Christianity has combined with the rich heritage and traditions of these ancient peoples.

Then the teacher, Bill Barley, took center stage and spoke passionately of God’s gift to mankind through His son, Jesus Christ, who gave us salvation through Grace while on the cross. He is remembered by Christianity at Christmas, which we celebrate as his birthday, and again at Easter, when He arose from the dead to take his seat at the right hand of God.

At the end of his remarks we each lit the candle which had previously been placed on our seat. 15 hundred candles in front of the outdoor stage and twinkling white lights behind and around us combined to create an astoundingly profound moment as one heard the waves gaining shore and saw all the bright pinpoints of light in the darkness, and a face highlighted in the glow behind each light. It was surreal, and wonderful, and the sight touched one’s soul. The feeling of being transcended into a mystical place beyond ourselves made one ponder what wonderous things will be ours when that day of Renewal arrives and Jesus returns.

Martin Luther
During Sunday services at LivingStone Church’s second location at Pine Trees the following weekend, Bill Barley was teaching us about how to listen for God’s voice amongst all the distractions we are constantly bombarded with in today’s busy lifestyles. He talked about how hard it is to block everything else out so we can hear God whispering to us. He related how Martin Luther’s mother, Margarete Luder, had seventeen children to look after, and was a harsh disciplinarian. She would place her rocking chair in the middle of the room and place a blanket over her head, so she could separate herself from the world, and listen for God.

His mother’s dedication obviously impacted Luther, who valued motherhood highly, recognizing its origin in the very design of God’s creation. “Be fruitful and multiply” (Genesis 1:28) was, in Luther’s estimation, “more than a command; namely, a divine ordinance which is not our prerogative to hinder or ignore.” In brief, God created women for motherhood. He stated, “When God wants to speak with us, he does not avail himself of an angel but of parents.”

Hartford Hospital
As Bill continued to talk about separating ourselves from the loud voices of the world so we can hear God talking to us, I reflected back on my days in Hartford, Connecticut, when Lea was so seriously ill. I was renting a room in what used to be nurse’s dormitories when Hartford Hospital had a nursing school. Now, they rented the rooms, which had long experienced deferred maintenance, and were in an obvious state of neglect.

My bed was a fold-out sofa. The carpet was filthy. Furniture was of composition wood, which had long since past its youthfulness. The sliding glass door to the balcony no longer slid, but was held in its track by wood screws wedged between the door and its frame. And, yet, the building had laundry facilities and an underground tunnel that connected to the hospital. It was perfect for my early morning departures and late night arrivals. I needn’t complain. I was able to be with her and tend to her every need.

It was there, lying prostrate on that dorm room’s dirty carpet, two or three weeks into Lea’s hospitalization, that I stopped to listen to God. I knew He was with me, and I talked to him all the time. That may have been the problem. I hadn’t shut up to listen to Him. But, finally, I caught enough of His whispers that I had to pause and give myself, and our situation, up to Him: Not my will, Lord, but yours. He gave me an indescribable peace. It washed over me like a sudden warm summer rain. I knew that she was in His hands, and regardless what happened, it was going to be okay. I was okay!

God Speaks
And, it was during Bill’s teaching that I realized that God was talking to me right then. He was telling me to finish writing what He had been pointing out to me over the past few years as I enjoyed the gift of having Lea in my life. These 12+ years were an answer to prayer, and a time for me to give back to her for creating my world filled with unconditional love.

During those intervening years, I had painted a few canvases of her that expressed my love of her physical beauty and sexual attraction over our lifetime. I wanted to elevate those images to something more beautiful than a photograph. I wanted my love and devotion to be reflected there. But, also, I needed to put into words the many things about her that created such a strong bond between us. A bond that survived the decades of married life and the life struggles put before us. That’s what I’m trying to do here.

Dickens Relic
Someone commented during our stay in Hartford, after reading my email postings, that I sound like a character from a Charles Dickens novel. At the time I took it as a compliment, but now realize that he was saying that I was out of tune with modern culture, and sounded like a relic from the distant past. Love for my spouse, trust in God, faith that healing will occur here or in heaven, as God chooses . . . are “old fashion” values that have little place in today’s culture. And, I’m completely comfortable with being “one of those guys.”

I gave vows when I took Lea as my wife, as much to my maker as to my wife and our families. I gave my word and will not dishonor God by failing to abide by it. I still believe in the noble, the heroic and the epic. I believe in the principles I learned in scouting: to be trustworthy, loyal, helpful, friendly, courteous, kind, obedient, cheerful, thrifty, brave, clean, and reverent. I want to be remembered as that guy.

Unconditional Love
I have loved Lea all these years because she gave herself to me completely. I’m not talking merely about sexual relations, although that certainly was a very important part of my love for her. When she gave herself to me in that ceremony, officiated by my uncle, the Reverend Virgil Vaughn, witnessed by God and our friends and family, she left her mother and father, moved to a new home in a strange town with me, and devoted herself to being everything a man of my day expected in a wife . . . lover, homemaker, housekeeper, cook, mother of my children, and my physically beautiful life partner.

She became my better half. She told me many years later that her father had told her just before our wedding, that “If he doesn’t get what he wants at home, he’ll find it elsewhere.” I never wanted. I never knew another woman. She became my dear companion during the early years of our marriage as I tried to expose her to things that were new to her. She hadn’t even eaten at a restaurant until I took her out on our first double date with my sister and her boyfriend!

We played. We went horseback riding, swimming and boating at the Lake of the Ozarks, took long drives exploring winding rural roads through the countryside, shopped, explored, sampled, and frequently drove “back home” to spend time with her family, for whom I developed a deep lifelong affection. She was physically and spiritually beautiful to me at every stage of our lives, personifying the perfect spouse, and I was totally committed to her as my lifelong partner. Oh, sure, I had my temptations and occasional thoughts of a dalliance, but there was always an unseen guardian angel who steered me back onto the correct path. Thank God!

Power of Prayer
I have alluded many times in these writings that I had a very powerful support system of Prayer Warriors who assisted me in lifting Lea up for miraculous healing, and that her doctors were amazed again and again at how she experienced healing well beyond their expectations or ability to explain. But, she didn’t heal completely. She had skeletal issues due to being so atrophied for so long. She had to learn to walk again.

Her bones had deteriorated and become too soft. Her right knee and hip collapsed and required replacement over the next several years. Her lower spine had compressed, putting painful pressure on nerve endings, and her gall bladder developed an inoperable sludge. She was always in pain. Unfortunately, she also developed Type One diabetes due to a trauma to her already damaged pancreas, and we had a number of scares and close calls due to suddenly tanking glucose levels.

I had to admit that her life wasn’t ideal. In fact, I’m not completely certain that she was really happy to be here, at all. Of course, she loved being with family, revelled in our grandchildren and great-granddaughter, but, was often in too much pain to even be able to enjoy her time with them. She was on serious pain medications that made her sleep too much, and prevented her from engaging in morning activities because of lingering “light-headedness.”

Selfish Prayer
I had to confess, on her really bad days, that she was here on earth because of my selfishness. I wasn’t ready to let her go in Hartford, because I needed her to be with me. I would be lost without her. I had leaned on her for support all of my adult life. She was my rock. And, I had earnestly prayed that the Lord would let her recover and stay here with me. I now realize that I prayed that selfishly because I would be cast adrift, lost, without my rock.

I had unconsciously prayed for me, not her. She often says that she visited heaven while in that weeks-long coma, and that she made a conscious decision to turn from the light and come back here. She remembers walking toward a light, with our two young granddaughters, dressed in white, alongside her. She took them by the hand, and while turning around, told them, “Come on. I’ve decided to go this way.” She soon came out of the coma and returned to us.

I have been deeply sorry for the pain she has had to endure, since then, and had I known ahead of time, I wouldn’t have wished it on her. We have prayed together many times, and I have told her that I release her from my selfish desire to have her by my side. When she is ready to go, although I will be sorrowed to the depths of my soul to lose her companionship, I know that she will be free of her pain, and joyful to receive her heavenly reward, which will be bountiful.

“God seems to be of the opinion that no one should be expected to sustain the rigors of the Christian life without very robust and concrete hope of being brazenly rewarded for it.” (John Eldredge, “All Things New”)

Heavenly Rewards
When we finally arrive in God’s presence, scripture tells us, we will be given estates to rule, and all things we lost in life on earth, for His sake, will be restored to us a hundred fold. “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind has imagined what God has prepared for those who love him.” (1 Corinthians 2:9). I think Lea was returned to me in Hartford to minister to me, for His sake. Great will be her reward. I hope I will be able to find work on her estate just to be near her.

“Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne . . . everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life.” (Matthew 19:28-29)
When every story is rightly told at The Reckoning, there will be tales of wrongs I have committed. I regret each one of them, and the people I hurt or negatively affected as a result, and will have to own those stories when they are told. I have made many personal apologies, and for all others I earnestly pray for forgiveness.

All Things New

While reading John Eldredge’s latest book, “All Things New,” in early 2017, he mentioned Dallas Willard’s teaching, “The life we now have as the persons we now are will continue in the universe in which we now exist (after death). Our experience will be much clearer, richer, and deeper, of course . . . rooted in the broader and more fundamental reality of God’s kingdom and will accordingly have far greater scope and power.”

“When the kingdom comes,” at The Restoration, “nothing that was precious to you in this life will be lost. No memory, no event, none of your story, or theirs, nothing is lost. It is held safe outside of time in the treasuries of the kingdom, which transcends, yet honors, all time. This will all be given back to you at the Restoration, just as surely as your sons will come back to you. Nothing is lost.“ (John Eldredge, “All Things New”)

“For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s gory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what they have done.” (Matthew 16:27)

“Serve wholeheartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good they do, whether they are slave or free.” (Ephesians 6:7-8)

Jesus, himself said, “Look, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to each person according to what they have done.” (Revelation 22:12)

God has a purpose for your pain,
a reason for your struggle,
and a reward for your faithfulness.
Trust Him and never give up!

Amen! And, Amen!

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.

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  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.”

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.


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’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!


Experience the Miraculous Healing of Lea Vaughn, and the incredible spiritual journey of her husband during 180 days of treatment in Hartford (CT) Hospital. Read his original daily emails to friends and family in "Hartford Letters" above. ____________________________


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