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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!

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!

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.

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.

 

As Christians, we often wonder what the purpose of suffering is in our daily walk. It’s all around us. We struggle as best we can through our own difficulties, hold firmly our faith in the knowledge that this, too, is a part of God’s plan for our lives. We also make it a part of our lives to show compassion, and lend a hand, to those less fortunate than ourselves. Still, it is just beyond our power to understand many situations we encounter. 

I recently had included in my prayers a two-and-a-half year old boy who had been diagnosed with cancer.  He has undergone many struggles for survival, and was just recently sent home from the hospital with no hope of recovery. The doctors told his mother that he will most likey pass before Thanksgiving, a mere three weeks away.  How horrible for her! I can only imagine the pain and agony she is going through! And, although she has received great support from friends, family, her church, and others who supported from afar, nothing could be more heart rendering than the loss of a child. 

It can be pretty tough to understand why certain sweet souls have to undergo such battles, but a close friend of this mother sent a wonderfully uplifting message to her upon learning of the child’s prognosis. The heart-broken mother was so touched by the message she wanted to share with all who had uplifted her son in prayer or helped out with medical costs. It also gave me a new, brighter, perspective on suffering. I don’t know who the author of the email is,  but this message is so powerfully moving, it can help many of us as we face our own trials. I feel the writer will forgive me for not giving due credit.

A Little Soul

“Not too long ago in Heaven, there was a little soul who took wonder in observing the world. He especially enjoyed the love he saw there, and often expressed this joy with God. One day however, the little soul was sad, for this day he saw suffering in the world. He approached God and sadly asked ‘Why do bad things happen, why is there suffering in the world?’
 
God paused for a moment and replied, ‘Little soul, do not be sad, for the suffering you see unlocks the love in people’s hearts.’ The little soul was confused. ‘What do you mean?’ he asked. God replied, ‘Have you not noticed the goodness and love that is the offspring of that suffering? Look at how people come together, drop their differences, and show their love and compassion for those who suffer. All their motivations disappear and they become motivated by love alone.’
 
The little soul began to understand and listened attentively as God continued. ‘The suffering soul unlocks the love in people’s hearts much like the sun and rain unlock the flower within the seed. I created everyone with endless love in their heart, but unfortunately most people keep it locked up and hardly share it with anyone. They are afraid to let their love shine freely, because they are afraid of being hurt. But a suffering soul unlocks that love. I tell you this – it is the greatest miracle of all. Many souls have bravely chosen to go into the world and suffer to unlock this love – to create this miracle – for the good of all humanity.’
 
Just then the little soul got a wonderful idea and could hardly contain himself. With his wings, fluttering, bouncing up and down, the little soul excitedly replied, ‘I am brave, let me go. I would like to go into this world and suffer so that I can unlock the goodness and love in people’s hearts! I want to create that miracle!’
 
God smiled and said, ‘You are a brave soul I know, and thus I will grant your request. But even though you are very brave, you will not be able to do this alone. I have known since the beginning of time that you would ask for this, so I have carefully selected many souls to care for you on your journey. These souls will help you create your miracle, however they will also share in your suffering. Two of these souls are most special and they will care for you, help you and suffer along with you, far beyond the others. They have already chosen a name for you. Caleb Andrew.’
 
God and the brave little soul shared a smile, and then embraced. In parting, God said, ‘Do not forget Caleb that I will be with you always. Although you have agreed to bear the pain, you will do so through my strength. And if the time should come when you feel you have suffered enough, just say the word, think the thought and, I will bring you home.’
 
Thus at that moment, the brave little soul was born into the world and through his suffering and God’s strength, he unlocked the goodness and love in people’s hearts. For so many people dropped their differences and came together to show their love. Priorities became properly aligned. People gave from their hearts. Those who were always too busy, found time. Many began new spiritual journeys – some regained lost faith – many came back to God. Parents hugged their children tighter. Friends and family grew closer. Old friends got together and new friendships were made. Distant families reunited and every family spent more time together. Everyone prayed. Peace and love reigned. Lives were changed forever. It was good. The world was a better place. The miracle happened!

Father God, please be with this little boy in his few remaining days, letting him know that he is being brought home to eternal happiness. Keep your hand, Lord, in the lives of those who love him, or have been touched by his trials here on Earth, and provide them with peace, understanding, and Your grace to comfort them through all their days. In the name of our almightly savior, Jesus Christ, we ask these things. Amen.

President Obama:

Today I read of your administrations’ plan to re-define September 11 as a National Service Day.  Sir, it’s time we had a talk.

During your campaign, Americans watched as you  made mockery of our tradition of standing and crossing your heart when the Pledge of Allegiance was spoken. You, out of four people on the stage, were the only one not honoring our tradition.

YES, “We noticed.”

During one of your many speeches, Americans heard you say that you intended to visit all 57 states. Islam, not America, has 57 states.

YES, “We noticed.”

When President Bush leaned over at Ground Zero and gently placed a flower on the memorial,  you nonchalantly  tossed your flower onto the pile without leaning over.

YES, “We noticed.”

Every time you apologized to other countries for America ‘s position on an issue we have wondered why you don’t share our pride in this great country.  When you have heard foreign leaders  berate our country and our beliefs, you have not defended us. In  fact, you insulted the British Crown beyond belief.

YES, “We noticed.”

When your pastor of 20 years, “God-damned” America and said  that 9/11 was ” America ‘s chickens coming home to roost,” and you denied having heard recriminations of that nature, we  wondered how that could be. You later disassociated yourself  from that church and Pastor Wright because it was politically expedient to do so.

YES, “We noticed.”

When you announced that you would transform America, we wondered why. With all her faults, America is the  greatest country on earth.

Sir, KEEP THIS IN MIND, “if not for  America and the people who built her, you wouldn’t be sitting in  the White House now.” Prior to your election to the highest office in this Country, you were a senator from Illinois and  from what we can glean from the records available, not a very remarkable one.

YES, “We noticed.”

All through your campaign and even now, you have surrounded yourself with individuals who are basically unqualified for the positions for which you appointed them. Worse than that, the  majority of them are people who, like you, bear no special allegiance, respect, or affection for this country and her traditions.

YES, “We noticed.”

You are 14 months into your term and every morning millions of Americans wake up to a new horror heaped on us by you. You seek to saddle working Americans with a health care/insurance  reform package that, along with cap and trade, will bankrupt this nation.

YES, “We noticed.”

We seek, by protesting, to let our representatives know that we are not in favor of these crippling expenditures and we are labeled “un-American”, “racist”, “mob”.  We wonder how we are supposed  to let you know how frustrated we are. You have attempted to make our protests seem isolated and insignificant. Until your appointment, Americans had the right to speak out.

YES, “We noticed.”

On September 11, 2001 there were no Republicans or Democrats, only Americans. And we all grieved together and  helped each other in whatever way we could. The attack on 9/11 was carried out because we are Americans.

And YES, “We noticed.”

There were many of us who prayed that as a black president you could help unite this nation. In six months you have done  more to destroy this nation than the attack on 9/11. You have failed us.

YES, “We noticed.”

September 11 is a day of remembrance for all  Americans. You propose to make 9/11 a “National Service Day”.  While we know that you don’t share our reverence for 9/11, we  pray that history will report your proposal as what it is, a disgrace.

YES, “We noticed.”

You have made a mockery of  our Constitution and the office that you hold. You have  embarrassed and slighted us in foreign visits and policy.

 
YES, “We noticed.”

We have noticed all these things. We will deal with you. When Americans come together again, it will be to remove you from office. Take notice.

Faye Parrish
Bunnell, Florida
August 2009

Heavenly Father, You are the real foundation of nations, raising them up to serve and care for the people dwelling in their boundaries. I thank You for making me a citizen of this land of freedom
and unlimited opportunity—which are the result of its Christian base. Send forth your Spirit to this country and make it a source of wisdom and strength, order and integrity throughout the world.

Lord Jesus Christ, King of the universe, look with mercy on those who rule over us. Grant to our President and his administration the grace to know and do your will. Let them serve all their subjects in truth and righteousness. Inspire our Congressmen with the courage to make laws for the good of all rather than the few. Give our Judges your Spirit of wisdom and understanding that they may discern the truth and impartially administer the law. And let all the people pitch in to make our way of government  continue to work.  Amen.

Week 2,

     Well “Operation Ash Tray” has brought everything here to a screeching halt.  In my 7 years of flying AE I have never seen anything like this.  We were the alert crew Thursday night when the phone rang around 10pm, first we were going to a base in the desert, next we were going to Andrews, then back to the desert and finally told to just pack tan and green flight suits.  It was rather comical looking back on it.  At the time however, with all of 25 minutes to get packed, repack, repack again and then be ready to be picked up I didn’t find it was all that humorous at the time.  Finally a few hours later we were mere minutes away from flying to Andrews Friday morning and even got as far a closing up the ramp on the C-17 before the mission was scrubbed.  No comment. 

For Kevin and me it was a huge disappointment since Amanda and his girlfriend Robin had already made plans to drive down to D.C. later that morning to stay with us for the anticipated 4 to 6 days we would be there.  I know it has only been two weeks but I will take any opportunity I can to see Amanda and Cam that I can get and I returned to my room 12 hours after I originally left with no flight hours logged and a heavy heart.  Mission first I always say and when you compare with some of those I have the privilege to help on their journey home my temporary disappointment is trivial when you see what they are going through. 

     Day two of “Operation Ash Tray” we found ourselves off for the entire day.  The day started with a quick morning swim and then came an urgent mission to assault two vineyards located the Phalz region near the Rhine river.  Our two targets, Dr. Burklen-Wolf and Rudy Ruttger were successfully visited without incident and numerous prisoners were taken into custody.   Anything I can do to maintain international relations.   As for today I did find some humor when last night we were put into crew rest so we could sit in Bravo “Stand-by” today.  Here is my disclaimer.  To avoid any potential “Operational Security” issues I won’t discuss our current situation.  However if you Google “Stars Stripes Ramstein,” Stars and Stripes will and you will find the following article: http://www.stripes.com/article.asp?section=104&article=69398 .  Not much has changed but I am sure once we can start flying again I think it will get pretty busy.  Until then I will enjoy the down knowing there is a price for everything. 

     Down time has continued to be filled with running, swimming and biking.  Running here is fantastic and I try to set 2 days a week.  I am already back up to 12 miles and if I can keep up this pace might even entertain running the entire Hartford Marathon this coming October.  I am still split on what to run for.  Honor Flight is a great charity and the debt we owe WWII Veterans will never be repaid.  However my first flight we flew back some CT Guard members, two of whom were seriously injured.  It would be nice to do something for them as well.  Luckily I have a few more months to make up my mind. 

     In my previous update I totally forgot to mention and thank the support staff from our home unit in Westover.  Our full-time staff, recently thinned by staff reductions did a superb job in getting Kevin and I out the door.  While it may not have always been pretty we arrived to our deployed location with all equipment (maybe a little more than we needed), our paperwork was in line and we were ready to go.  It speaks volumes that 36 hours after our arrival we were mission ready and flying our first mission down-range the other night we were prepared to redeploy anywhere in the World.   Thanks to Lt Cols Z & D, Wayne, Rich and Vikki for all of their help.

That is it for this installment.  Hopefully this quagmire ends soon and we can resume our mission.  Talk to you soon, Chris.

Lea and I are high school sweethearts, and have been married 45 years. We have been blessed with successful careers, fun and adventure, wonderful sons and daughters-in-law, and grandchildren in whom we delight. And, God has always been a part of our lives.

The account of a man’s relationship with God is the story of how God calls him out, takes him on a journey, and gives him his true purpose. Many of us have thought it was the story of our acceptance of Jesus, and then avoiding doing bad things until we appear for judgment. Not so.

God created us to be Christ-like, and to carry the word of salvation to all parts of the world. If we aren’t serving Him in that manner, we are not fulfilling our mission, and He will, like any good father, try to nudge us in the right direction. If that gentle nudge doesn’t work, He will try a new strategy . . . perhaps a little more forceful. If those attempts don’t work, He may have to take even more drastic action to bring us back into line.

I am one of those believers God had to severely discipline.

Lost and Saved
I don’t remember not being saved. My childhood was mostly about church activities, Royal Ambassadors, Cub Scouts and Boy Scouts. I was taught to be independent and self reliant. I was raised Southern Baptist with a generations-long line of bible thumping fire-and-brimstone preachers who pastored churches and taught in summertime revival tents. God was always present in my life, although He was hardly the main focus of my life. I was a Christian on cruise control.

Danville Baptist Temple
The bible teaches that even though Satan cannot possess the Christian, he can oppress him. 1 Peter 5:8 says: “Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.” Satan is our enemy; an adversary who is out to throw us off track. He is out to drive a wedge between us and God! He was successful in my case.

When our sons were young boys, Lea and I transferred our membership to a startup Baptist church that was moving mightily in our community. The charismatic young pastor had a vision to create an entire Baptist campus which would include a retirement home and hospital for members of the church, and he was very aggressive in reaching out to young people in the community.

He had asked me several times to become involved full time in the ministry of the church. I had been successful in soliciting donations of cash and real estate for the campus building fund. Support from the community was outstanding, and the membership grew rapidly. It was a wonderful feeling to see God’s favor flowing on our church, and I was really under conviction to take the leap and join the ministry team. Lea and I talked and prayed about it extensively.

Then, overnight, the minister, his family, and the entire church staff, disappeared with all of the church funds! I was totally crushed. I just could not believe that such a thing could happen! I was so confused, and felt God had abandoned us.

I was too embarrassed to return to our previous church, and just could not bring myself to join any other. In fact, I shunned the church from that day. I reasoned that I could minister on my own. I felt that I could set a good example for my sons and for others around me, by professing my faith, and by keeping God in our home. After all, Jesus said, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Matthew 18:20) This reasoning was how Satan drove that wedge that turned me from the church for many years.

Discipline
Scripture is clear that you cannot accept Christ and then just live any way you please. And, God, our heavenly Father, takes our obligation to serve Him seriously. He will often let us stray a bit to test the boundaries, as children will do. Eventually, though, He will bring us back into line by taking us to the woodshed for a good, corrective, spanking if necessary.

Hebrews 12:11 states, “All discipline for the moment seems not to be joyful, but sorrowful; yet to those who have been trained by it, afterwards it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness.” To rebel because of discipline is to turn your back on His will for you.

Even when we sense God’s disciplining hand upon us we should be encouraged by this, for it shows that God is at work in our lives. We should not lose heart when being disciplined. God will never go too far. He will never give us a burden larger than we can handle.

Lea’s Illness
I got one of His spankings, and the memories still hurt four years later. God led me through a six month living Hell while Lea was in Hartford Hospital with an illness that, medically, she wasn’t supposed to survive; Necrotizing Pancreatitis. Her pancreas had suddenly ruptured while we were on vacation back East, a thousand miles from home, and had started digesting all her internal organs. Her pain was horrible. The surgeons had placed her in a drug induced coma and said she had a 15% chance of surviving. They told me to call the family.

The Hell I’m talking about is not some storybook or Hollywood contrived representation of Hades. This was Hell; the real one. You can touch Hell. It can touch you. Hell is so palpable you can actually taste it. It is a much worse place than you have imagined. It was the most horrible thing I have ever experienced, and I certainly don’t want to ever have to go back there.

My Hell was a small, musty, dormitory room with carpet I hesitated to walk on barefoot. It had an outdated motel style bed & dresser, flimsy wooden desk with loose-jointed chair, coffee table, and a fold-out couch that made into a bed. And, yet, I was happy to be there, close to Lea.

The room was attached to the hospital by a series of dimly lit underground tunnels with water dripping from cracks in the ceiling. The tunnels led to another room, this one sterile, where the person I most love in the whole world was in a coma, her every bodily function tended to by people I didn’t know. I was only allowed in the room to be with her at various times, which was painful, but she was not able to respond to me in any way.

She may not, really, have known I was there at all. I realized even then, as I looked at her lying helplessly there, this was only her body, kept alive with drugs and machines. She may already be gone. She was in this state for 78 days, and certainly could have been taken away from me at any moment. Nothing I did to comfort or help her appeared to make a difference, because she was unable to respond or react.

Purpose of the Coma
She was in that coma for 78 days. She had 18 IVs going into her, plus hookups for dialysis, because her kidneys had failed, and plasma phoresis to remove fat from her blood. She had cuffs on her legs that would squeeze and release to circulate her blood, and a ventilator to breathe for her. During that coma she had over 30 abdominal surgeries. She died four times. The doctors weren’t even sure her brain was working after the first two weeks. This was truly Hell.

God got my attention. It felt drastic, but He had tried easier, more subtle ways. The previous year my two sons and Lea and I had done a family study of Rick Warren’s Purpose Driven Life. Praise God! Our youngest son was subsequently convicted and saved, which was an answer to years of prayer. This was clearly God at work, but, still, I continued my selfish, prideful, ways, rather than submitting to His will for my life. I used our lifestyle as an excuse for not getting back to church.

The Floating Vision
Before Lea’s illness, in May of 2005, God gave me a warning in the form of a vision. At the time, I was in the basement, building a number of wooden replacement storm windows for our Victorian bed & breakfast. I had kissed Lea goodnight as she headed upstairs to bed, and I went down to work on one of the storm windows.

Maybe half an hour later as I was brushing on some paint, I heard Lea call softly from the top of the basement stairs, “Larry.” I was a little surprised she wasn’t already asleep, and asked, “What?” She didn’t reply. Sometimes when she was looking for me she wouldn’t realize that I was in the basement, and would go on into the rest of the house looking for me.

But, tonight I had turned all the lights off when I went down to the basement, and had left the door open, which would spill light out into the dark kitchen. “Larry,” she called softly. “I’m in the basement, hon,” I replied a little louder than before. Again, no reply.

I wondered if I should go find her, but I was almost done, and didn’t want to leave the painting unfinished. “Larry,” she called softly again. I put my paint brush down, a little alarmed that she didn’t answer me. I hurried up the stairs and saw her in the doorway in a simple white, floor length, nightgown.

“What is it, honey?” I asked.
She said, “I died!” She sounded surprised.
“What!?” I said, thinking I must have misunderstood her.
“I died,” she repeated, and started to fade away. Just as she vanished, I noticed she was floating above the floor, her feet dangling.

I ran up to our bedroom, where I found her laying on her side toward the center of the bed. I reached out to place my hand on her arm, while praying silently that she was still warm. As I touched her, she turned slowly to me, nearly asleep, and asked, “What’s wrong?” All I could get out, was, “I just wanted to tell you that I love you.” She smiled faintly, turned back, and went to sleep.

I stood there for several minutes, unable to make myself leave her side. How confused I felt! The vision was constantly in my thoughts over the next several days, and I shared it with Lea and other family members.. Although puzzled by it, I didn’t dwell on it. It was just one of those inexplicable things that happen. Later that same week, however, I had another warning.

The Casket Vision
Lea had gone on to bed while I finished up some things downstairs. When I finished and went upstairs. I entered our bedroom and saw Lea asleep on her back, with her hands folded on her chest . . . and for an instant I saw her lying in an open casket.

The sight nearly brought me to my knees. I was really shaken. I didn’t wake Lea, but lay down beside her, and wept silently as I prayed for clarity. I know how final death is. There is no second chance to say the things you wish you had said. There is no “Do over.” If you haven’t said it, it’s just too late. And, you have to live with that regret.

I really understood, for the first time, how horribly I would miss her if I no longer had her at my side. I realized that I was being given a message to spend more quality time with Lea. To make sure that all those things that needed to be said between us were said. We had many warm, loving, friend-to-friend conversations over the next few weeks, and I felt closer to her than ever.

Revelation in Hartford
Six weeks later she was in that coma. I kept thinking about the visions, and how she had slowly faded away into thin air. And, now, I feared, the Lord was actually taking her away from me. I prayed constantly, as I often did . . . doing some task, and silently talking to God as though He was at my side. I prayed first that Lea would be spared, and that she could somehow beat the odds. But I was troubled.  I felt I wasn’t praying for the right thing.

As she lay there in that coma, God revealed many things to me. One of the most painful, was the realization that her body was there before me, seemingly asleep,  but her spirit was gone. The spirit, or personality, or soul, is what makes us who we are. Hers wasn’t present. I suspect it may have been with Him, but that’s another part of her testimony Lea will have to share.

It was in those first days I realized that all these years I had been in love with her soul, but what I had always seen was her body. Now, here, they were separated! Although I could touch her body, I couldn’t reach her.

I spent countless hours at her bedside reading to her and tending to her body, helping turn her every two hours to avoid bedsores, applying lotion to keep her skin soft, washing her hair, trimming and cutting her nails, so that, if her spirit returned, she would be comfortable in her body.

I talked to God constantly, and as I poured out my emotions to Him, and beseeched Him for healing, I began to listen to my prayers and realized that if I wanted Him to listen, I was going to have to change my heart. I had been praying selfishly. I was praying for Lea to survive because I didn’t want to lose her. I wanted her to recover because losing her would be painful and I didn’t know what I would do without her by my side.

Suddenly, I thought of the glorious heavenly rewards that must surely be hers. That mansion with the flower gardens she loves so much. Friends and family around her forever! What joy she is going to have! And, here I was asking the Lord to delay giving those rewards to her.

That revelation cut me to the quick! It examined the truth of my faith, because it made me answer the question, “Do you truly believe in heavenly rewards, and that she will be better off?”

I prayed earnestly for forgiveness of my self centeredness. I grasped her hand and told her that I wanted her to stay with me, so we could have more years together, but if she wanted to go on home, I would understand. I then began to pray for strength to accept His will, whatever that might be, and the wisdom to accept the challenges He put before me. I also promised God that if He chose to allow her to remain here, I would abandon my self-centered ways and make the next chapter of our lives about her, and our service to Him.

Book of James
As I prayed one night for strength and revelation, I opened my bible randomly to whatever page happened to appear. As I looked at the page, James 1 Verse 3 came into focus, “The testing of your faith develops perseverance.” Over the next several months there were countless emotional ups and downs as Lea would improve and then crash. Four times her body just gave up. Two of those times I was in her room and experienced her relinquishing her life. That is a deafening silence.

I knew that my faith was being tested, but I also knew that God’s will was going to be served, regardless, and that my test of faith could include Lea’s death.  But, once God helped me realize that if Lea died, she was going to be cared for much better than I could ever provide, and that He was going to lead my life from that day forward. And, with that, I was given an inner peace that enabled me to deal with the trials and challenges of each day, knowing that He was in control, and I was doing His work.

James 1:5-8 states,  5 “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you. 6 But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. 7 Those who doubt should not think they will receive anything from the Lord; 8 they are double-minded and unstable in all they do.” I resolved to be single minded, stable, and keep my wpromise.

James 2:18; “Faith without works is dead.” I had not been working for the Lord for a long time, because I let the devil, through my pride, turn me away from the church. God was showing me that He wanted me back in fellowship, and He and I were talking constantly during those days as He strengthened my faith.

James 4:10 – “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up.” Pride has always been one of my biggest challenges, and I realized that it was at the root of my separation from the church years ago. I began working hard to let it go and confessed to God that I needed His help in casting that demon out. I continue working on humbling myself every day to bring my pride under control.

I thank the Lord for bringing me back into the fold, and for restoring Lea to a healthful state. I know that each and every day is a very special gift from our Father, God. I try to care for Lea, and look after her needs, as though she is very special to God, because I believe she is.

Lea and I feel that sharing our story is the ministry set before us, and we are blessed through giving you our testimony. Thank you for this opportunity to share with you. God bless!

Hear this testimony as presented during a recent service: http://kacfaustin.org/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=103&Itemid=116

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
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Praise: fellowship
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Praise: Joe
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