Wednesday, June 30, 2010

Mr. Toad's Wild Ride continues.
Matt and I witnessed Ray walking with a cane today!! The cane was the one with four little feet. Another aid to the walk was a lift in his right shoe that enables his left foot to clear the floor when he swings it forward. In total he walked about sixty feet!
Every day he is getting stronger! Thank You, Dearest Papa!!
Ray also practiced getting into a tub that has one of those tubchairs to sit on in it. He needed help to get his left leg in, but was able to pretty easily do the rest.

All wonderful news.

We were able to speak with all those individuals who have worked with Ray. Each one had a bit of advice for us; suggestions for what we can and should do with him ourselves to aid his continued recovery. They are wonderful and we told them so!

We met with the PA for final instructions. He gave us sheets that summarize Ray's condition upon arrival and where he is now. It also lists all his medications and what they recommend for treatment now and in the future. He explained to us what we should be looking for regarding Ray's care. We also learned that the PA had to go head to head with our insurance carrier to get approval for Ray's move to the new rehabilitation center, Glendale, in Naugatuck. They wanted to send him home!
He warned us that the insurance will be keeping a spotlight on Ray's recovery and the minute he doesn't appear to be making progress they will stop funding his stay. His progress also has to be in the functional arena. If it doesn't aid his being able to function at the basic level, it doesn't count.
Our case coordinator at Gaylord supplied us with the contact information should we need an advocate to deal with the insurance tyrants. This hospital is wonderful. They have not overlooked one detail!
We also learned that they will not cover his transport from Gaylord to Glendale, as he doesn't need an ambulance. He needs to travel via a wheelchair van. I would take him myself, but I am not able to get him in and out of the car by myself and my sons are both working. And I want Ray to be comfortable and feel secure!
Insurance companies have not been on my favored list for quite a long time, but they have now moved to the black list for sure!
Not long ago I received a bill from the ambulance company that had picked my husband up while he was laying on the road dying. The insurance company only paid seventy percent of the bill because it was a non-network ambulance.
How, may I ask, were we to avoid that situation? Maybe Ray should have been carrying a card that warned the police to check whether the available ambulance was an approved one or not?!
My head was spinning as I walked out of the hospital. Then a thought came to me. The thought was something Jesus had said that Matthew had recorded in his gospel account. "So don't worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will bring its own worries. Today's trouble is enough for today." There is a familiar saying that summarizes this very nicely, "One day at a time."
This all ties in with being in the moment. Fixating on what might happen in the future robs us of the now.
You know the ride isn't so crazy if one sticks with what is true; it's when emotions take over that the ride takes some crazy dips. Often I have told others to not let emotions be the engine of our life, but assign it as the caboose. Truth has to lead. Now I think I had better heed my own words. Better yet, I will choose to take to heart Jesus Words. I especially hold dear these Words of His: "I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you."
He's taking the ride with me!
Are you thirsty this morning? That was the question that came to me.
Come and drink. Be refreshed. Check out John four!
Come to the Holy One and when you do you realize that you are not. Yet, He welcomes you!
He is infinite. We are finite. Yet, in Him we have eternity!
This Absolutely Holy One is willing to indwell us!!
Oh Papa, may Your Spirit have His way with me; may Your Spirit rule, not man's ways not the law.
I finished Ezekiel today. In chapter forty-seven we are given a picture of a city which has the House of God in its midst. The LORD is in residence and thus from it flows Living Water - what a picture of the church! We find this picture in Revelation twenty-two
Life giving water; come and drink; come and be washed! Be healed! Receive life! Receive strength!
The name of the City is "The LORD is there."
"Surely goodness and lovingkindness will follow me all the days of my life, and I will dwell in the house of the LORD forever!"

Tuesday, June 29, 2010

There's a lot happening with my honey at the moment.
Today they removed his feeding tube. Yes, he said it hurt, but not for too long.
He went in the pool for the first time today. I sat in the air conditioned observation room to watch, which I was glad to do - the pool area was very warm and humid. Last night did not afford me much sleep and I would have been a goner in no time!
Ray has a special plastic neck brace for swimming and showering, which he was wearing for the occasion. I watched the nurses change the braces and saw my husband's neck for the first time in eleven weeks. I never knew he had to shave that low. My goodness he has a serious beard!
There is an apparatus alongside the pool with a seat that is similar to a life saver, just a bit flatter. The patient is seated on it and strapped in. The seat is attached to a bar that moves hydraulically.
He was swung over the pool and then lowered into the water. The therapists placed a floatation device around his head and strapped a type of life preserver around his middle before the seat was taken away.
As Ray laid down, they placed a noodle under his knees. The exercises were all focused on his trunk, as it is sort of s-shaped so they had him tightening and relaxing different muscles as they moved him through the water to help the muscles to take their proper places and roles. In case anyone is wondering, this is my translation of what they were doing.
He found the time relaxing. I am so glad!
Without a shirt the damage to his shoulder is more obvious. There is a definite disconnect between his arm and shoulder.
Today Ray had an EMG to determine if there is nerve damage. The specialist is calling me with the results tomorrow.
Each day he is a little stronger, so the therapy is increased accordingly. Thus his days are full!
I was able to speak with Marc, the PA, this afternoon. He expressed a strong desire to see Ray back at Gaylord, but in their unit for brain injuries. As soon as Ray can take care of his hygiene needs, including no longer needing to be cathed, he will be a good candidate to do just that.
I asked Marc what length of time he would guess-timate needs to pass before my honey can come home. No one really likes to answer that question, so I assured him that I understood that there are many factors to consider, however, give it a shot!
Marc misunderstood, at first, thinking I wanted to rush Ray's homecoming. Wanting the best for him I am glad to wait whatever amount of time it takes, but I just am trying to get an idea of what the near future might hold.
Marc's thought is that it will take at least two or three more months. He told me that to bring him home sooner would pare down his therapy by quite a bit. Right now he is getting as much as possible and will continue to do so. If he were home the therapy would be less than daily and certainly not multiple times in each day.
I will pray about what I tell my husband. Papa will show me what to say. He knows and I know I can trust Him with all of it.
In my reading this morning Psalm 119:74 leapt off the page.
"May those who fear You rejoice when they see me, for I have put my hope in Your Word."
That is my prayer through all of this. First, that I would be a source of joy for my husband and secondly, that everyone that crosses our path would encounter the true Source of joy.

Monday, June 28, 2010

What a day! It was beyond full, so this will be very brief.
Papa gave me this thought-picture.
It involved a garbage can.
Take all that robs you of peace - your expectations, concerns, musts, etc. and toss them right in the can. Don't spend your time and energy over "what ifs" or "I hopes".
Man, does that can gets filled up fast!
Trust Him.
Rest in Him.
Enjoy Him.
Does this mean I shouldn't have dreams and desires? Of course not! Simply entrust them to Him and let Him show you what truly has value.
This life is preparation for the rest of eternity and that involves abundant life!
There is such freedom found in Him, yet, how easily I lose sight of this truth. How easily I get bogged down!
The wonder is that no matter how deeply I get myself bogged down; no matter how miserable I feel, He is right here to lift me up and draw me closer to Himself.
What a gift!! A gift far fuller than this day was for me. A gift that lasts for ever!!

Sunday, June 27, 2010

There have been a few times in my life when the emotions have been so intense and the situations so overwhelming that I have felt removed from all of it. It has been as if I was looking in on someone else's life. It was safer that way. Not this time.
Papa holds firmly to my hand and leads me step by step. All of His reminders about being in the moment are culminating in securing me in the now.
"Look at this." "How does it feel?" "Be real." "Be authentic." "Be you." "Just be!" This is what I continue to hear.
For most of my life I was afraid to feel, afraid to be me, whoever that was! I have learned, but it seems there is always more to learn!
Today was an emotional day that was overwhelming at times.
I have never felt so loved. That feeling is shared by Ray and our sons too. We are in amazement over how our God has been moving, moving in love through so many. It is very humbling.
We are so well cared for in every area. Papa, thank You!
Thank You for being our God, our Savior, our Friend, our Provider, our Shepherd, our Protector and our Healer. The list isn't exhaustive, nor could it be. There isn't time nor words to descibe all He is to and for us.
This morning during our church's service we were presented with the fruits of all our dear friends labors on our behalf; the proceeds from the benefit that was held last Saturday. Very humbling. So sweet. My heart is overflowing with tenderness. I feel wrapped in love and joy.
Sharing with Ray all the blessings that come our way is such an encouragement to his heart. He, too, is humbled and so very grateful.
Papa's love is so astounding. A love that is unconditional; a love freely given and freely demonstrated before we had anything to do with Him. A love that doesn't stop. A love that works all things for good.
What I find even more humbling is how entwined all our lives are with one another. So many are involved in following and taking part in the journey we find ourselves on. He has something for each one.
This isn't unique to our adventure. It is the way of life. No one can live without touching others to one degree or another. We have to encounter each other, if only to survive.
When we really get involved with one another, well, then the sky's the limit!!
I received an email from a dear friend yesterday, who was struggling with why things happen to "good" people. Ah, we could ask Jesus that question.
I believe His answer would be that God has a purpose for everything, a good purpose; a wonderful purpose!
Brennan Manning addressed this issue in today's reading in "Reflections for Ragamuffins."
He spoke of saying yes to our Abba. Yes because He is trustworthy and wise. I like his explanation: "God will bring good out of evil-even a greater good than if there had been no evil-and the trial will have been an immense good for us."
This life is an opportunity to get to know our Heavenly Father in preparation for spending the rest of eternity with Him. It is an opportunity to become more like Him. He knows how to get us ready and how to shape us.
I choose to trust Him. Thank you, dear ones for allowing Him to work through you to help us along this way.
Now for an update regarding my honey. Ray had a number of visitors today, which is great! Sunday's are boring for him; there is no therapy, nothing happening and he is happy to see friendly faces.
He continues to be much quieter than the Ray we all know and love, but seems content just to listen and watch. Our sons always entertain him with their antics.
Speaking of antics. You might recall that some creature had woken me up the other night and so fully that I was up for hours!
Well, our friend, James, was over the other night and informed me that it was a simple tree frog making such a racket. He brought one in for me to see and it fit in his closed hand very nicely. The thing was interesting with its little suction cups on his feet, but not that endearing as far as I was concerned!
A while later the little fella was on the rim of our pool making himself heard and the sound was amplified as it bounced off the water. James was leaving and he was out there laughing with delight. Thanks friend!!
You know how some people stick pink flamingos on one another's lawns? Well, our sons, at my request, have gathered the three tree frogs up and deposited them in our friend's yard - right under his bedroom window!
I have read that laughter is good medicine! I am feeling really good!!

Friday, June 25, 2010

"Hear my cry, O God; Give heed to my prayer.
From the end of the earth I call to You, when my heart is faint;
Lead me to the rock that is higher than I."
Psalm 61:1
This scripture stirred my heart this morning.
"Climb onto the Rock!" is what I heard.
I thought I do and have already!
This message came to me again after I began the ride of dizzying emotions this afternoon.
On my drive to visit Ray I was enjoying some praise music. Then I rounded a corner and the sight that met me brought a wave of sorrow to my heart and tears to my eyes.
A man was cutting his grass. His back was to me as he pushed his lawnmower over his lawn. This scene was a very familiar one to me. I cannot count how many times I have seen Ray doing this chore, but it wasn't the activity as much as the man himself that evoked the strong emotions. His back was broad and both it and his arms were strong, just like my husband's - were. It is the "were" that made me sad.
It probably is a bit jarring to see your spouse weaken with age gradually, however when it happens suddenly or prematurely, jarring doesn't cover it! This thought surfaced again while I was with Ray. I had to help him move from his chair to the commode. Holding him, feeling his weeakness seeing his lack of muscle tone and his struggle to move himself into position isn't the easiest thing to experience.
Sometimes this being present; being in the moment, stinks!
Such is life. It is what it is, but so are my emotions. I try to take all of it as it comes. Not alone, of course. That would not work well, nor end well!
I continue to be working my way through Exekiel and thus far can summarize it this way: Knowing God and realizing that you are known by God is the main thing! Dozens of verses in the book tell us that God's desire is to be known for who He is. This knowing goes beyond acknowledging who He is to being intimately acquainted with Him.
Knowing Him, really knowing Him means that we can be confident that we are secure in His Hands. To know Him is to know His character and knowing this we can entrust all of this messy life to Him and know we can "let it all hang out"!
Nothing takes Him by surprise, so I figure I might as well admit what's going on with me. I find it cathartic. Speaking out loud what is in my heart seems to release the burden.
During Ray's and my time together we had the opportunity to be alone. We seized the moment and prayed together. He was burdened over the place he finds himself in, yet again said basically, "Yet, not my will, but Yours be done."
During conversation I told him that I imagine that part of his struggle is because he is not one to sit still. He is a do-er. He nodded.
It is my prayer that my honey would learn to "be" and that the lesson would be one he retains even once he is physically strong once again.
Papa is always talking to me about my identity. It is very easy to let a position or role become who I am, but it is always a lie. I am and always will simply be Abba's (Papa's) child!
Something I read today stated that in the Bible we receive marching orders from the LORD. Okay... It does tell us how to live, but if we take that as a list to follow, we miss something crucial. Scripture in its entirety is a big love letter from the Lover of our souls. When I read it from that perspective it becomes a gift versus a burden.
As I go deeper in my love relationship with my God, my heart desires to please Him and His Spirit empowers me to do so. Actually, His Spirit does it! (1 Thessaonians 5:24)
You know what this means? Ah, we can just be ourselves. We can live aware that He not only is with us, but indwells us. We carry the Living God with us! As we live in Him and He in us, He is free to flow through us to touch hearts and lives, often without a word!
We can know for sure that He does hear our cries and is the Rock that is the foundation of our lives.
This truth makes life worth living, junk and all.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

"It's so hard to see
when my eyes are on me."
Keith Green
What is it we should be seeing instead of being focused on self?
His Hand.
His Heart.
Both reveal His Love.
His Hand is always extended in love. We are misled, at times, because we tend to expect His Love to bring immediate victory. He is about transformation not quick fixes.
His Heart longs for a ever deepening relationship with each one of us. He will go to any lengths to have this relationship with us.
That was proven on Calvary, where His Son made the ultimate sacrifice!
This morning I read Ezekiel chapter thirty-seven. It is the chapter where the LORD shows Ezekiel a valley filled with dry, dead bones. They represented God's people, who had turned away from Him. The result was barrenness of their very souls.
I remember what that barrenness feels like.
In the following verses of this chapter those bones received sinew, then skin and finally the whole body was given breath. This was not a revival or spiritual CPR, it was re-creation.
Our God does not patch things up. Jesus, as an analogy, spoke of what happens to old wineskins with new patches. They tear.
He is the Creator not the repairer.
So I for one, need to keep my eyes on Him.
He longs for and thoroughly enjoys being our all in all. I am reminded over and over that as I spend time with Him in prayer, power fills my life; power, peace and especially love.
Then I can go visit my husband.
Ray's days are full now. Our visits are woven through with all types of therapy sessions.
He is progressing. I want to focus on that fact, instead of how frail and thin he looks or how he is can barely drag his left foot; on and on.
Matt and I are now cleared to help Ray move from chair to bed, etc. I actually helped him move earlier today and found out afterward that I hadn't received clearance yet. Oops!
We saw Marc, the PA, today and received a few updates. Ray will most likely be moved to a convalescent rehab facility July first. He is still unable to toilet himself and also needs to be catherized, so Gaylord's Trauig Center is out, for now.
This coming Tuesday they will remove Ray's feeding tube without any anesthesia. (!) Marc said it will hurt badly but briefly. Matt said, "What about an eight out of ten?" He thought he was joking until Marc nodded. Lovely.
July fifteenth Ray has an appointment with the ortho specialist, who will determine whether the cervical collar can be removed. If it is, I am giving him a shave and a haircut pronto!
Tonight I received a call from the hospital. My husband decided to try to get out of his chair himself. The result was that his left knee buckled and he hit the floor. He was on his knees when the nurse ran in. Ray's fine, just humbled. He apologized to the nurse.
They have now attached an alarm to him and his chair.
Ray has a t-shirt that simply says, "Surrender."
It is a comfort to know the One Who we can surrender to. Not to circumstances, not to feelings, but to the God Whose Hand is gentle and whose Heart is tender.
Papa's Hand has led thus far. We are trusting His Heart, which holds more Love than we can fathom to continue to lead.
May this adventure find us drawing nearer our Blessed LORD every step or dragged foot of the way!

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Did you ever get woken up abruptly from a deep sleep? It is not always easy to get back to sleep, at least for me. Often sleep becomes illusive. That is where I am right now.

My last entry was brief, as I had noticed the time and decided I had better get some sleep. My head hit the pillow and I was off to dreamland pretty quickly. About thirty minutes later some creature outside decided to start shrieking.

Some nights our backyard sounds like it turns into a jungle with all its accompanying sounds of life. Tonight one life was taking center stage out there and very loudly!

After some tossing and turning, praying and an attempt to relax every muscle in my body, it became clear that I wasn't going back to sleep anytime very soon.

So here I sit at my husband's computer, which is more convenient at the moment.

Hopefully, I will get down the rest of what is on my mind and be able to curl up for a few hours sleep.

I need to mention something first. It is of very little consequence, however, it is insisting upon being noted! When I logged off after my last entry it was about 11:15 PM. When I just signed back in, I see that they put my posting at 7:41 PM. That would work if I was floating out in the Pacific off the coast of California somewhere!

Let me tell you about Ray's and my visit today... make that yesterday. (We've past midnight now). Ray's schedule is fuller these days. He has twice as much therapy now, since they increase the amount as the patient is able to handle it. This is a good sign, but the down side is that it is difficult to have time to simply visit.
I arrived before lunch and we managed to get the "staring at the blue/green light" out of the way before his meal arrived. This light is suppose to be relaxing; recently Ray has had a hard time staying awake while looking at it. So I figured before eating and earlier in the day might work better.
I brought my lunch and we dined together! Then we headed to the garden for some fresh air. As is our custom, we prayed together. My husband expressed gratitude for all the LORD'S help and for His presence. Ray also asked Papa if He could heal him quickly so he could get back to his life, but he did say that he knew that the timing is best left in His Hands.
As Ray prayed, a thought came to me that I shared with him after the amen.
This is our life. Right where we are. If we just focus on getting through to the other side, we will miss out on what Papa has for us right now; joy, blessings, lessons...
This is a lesson my Heavenly Father is always reminding me of - to be in the moment.
It is too easy to wish our life away. It is too easy to think the real living will happen when we arrive at some particular juncture.
This is the real living. All of it is part of life. It is all to be experienced in its entirety, fully.
We needn't be afraid. He tells us to be anxious for nothing! If we are confident of Who is in control, we can relax and breathe; one full, deep breath at a time!
We are already getting on with our lives. Let's not miss it!

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Would you believe that tying my sneakers today made me miss my husband? Well, it did!
I can never tie them tight enough myself. It is the combination of not much strength and a touch of arthritis in my hands, but anyway, my sneakers always feel loose on my feet when I do the tying. If Ray is home, he ties them for me.
Today my sneakers felt loose and as I tried to tighten the laces I felt a pang of loneliness for my honey. It's the little things that you notice the most, I think.
There are a lot of little things.
The thought also came that he may never be able to do this simple, sweet thing for me again. His left arm and hand are not working and his team is not very hopeful. Of course, with God on our side, I am hopeful. Nothing is impossible with my God!
Yet, He may not completely heal Ray of all his physical and mental issues. No matter, I will still trust Him. I am confident that Ray will too.
Papa is trustworthy.
I am constantly reminded that this life is not all there is. Oh, it is a glorious life, to be sure, but really it is just preparation for all He has waiting for us!
Something I read by Brennan Manning this morning reminded me that I am on my way to a wedding feast that has already begun, a feast to beat all feasts!! It is where the King will celebrate with His bride, the church. The uniting, face to face, of Our Savior with those who are His will be a joyous occasion.
Some people might think that scripture is just stories or symbols, only metaphors. No way. The scriptures are promises from a loving faithful God. He has never disappointed me and I know He never will!
This evening I was unwinding with a crossword puzzle and thinking about logging on to blog. I was thinking that maybe I would wait until tomorrow. That thought was followed quickly with the feeling that I needed to write about the wedding feast. As that idea registered, Matt turned on our favorite internet radio station and a familiar song was playing.
The first words we heard were, "Hallelujah! The King will return, the King will return for His bride!

Monday, June 21, 2010

You know how I love to dance? Well, I was dancing again today...with Ray! Well, that is what the PT called it!
It was my turn to do a little PT. Rebecca wanted to train me to be able to help my husband move from bed to chair, etc.
Ray started in his wheelchair with me standing in front of him; he pushed himself up with his right hand on the chair arm and came to a standing position facing me.
It was so wonderful to be face to face with him, up close and personal!! We both giggled!
Alright! I giggled, he just gave me a lopsided grin!!
Step by step Ray had to move his feet so he was in position to sit on the bed. My job, first and foremost, was to brace his left knee between my two legs, as it has a tendency to hyper-extend. I also needed to give him verbal and physical cues as to when to move which foot. His left foot needed a little nudging to get going, which I did with one of my feet. It was difficult for me to keep contact with the knee and help move his foot and tell him what to do next!
This was reminicent of the time I convinced Ray to take dancing lessons with me. His legs stayed pretty stiff then too! At one point a small Chinese man, who was another student, felt compelled to speak to Ray, "You not dancing, you marching!!
We practiced a few times and will do so again, as I need to feel a bit more comfortable with all I need to remember, so it doesn't end with us in a tangle on the floor. Wait a minute... that doesn't sound too bad!
Hey! I haven't gotten to cuddle with my honey in nearly ten weeks!! This is getting old, really old!
How does anyone face life without Papa? Life definitely isn't for cowards. Yet, even a coward can make it through and well, when they have God on their side.
I was reading something in the book of Hebrews the other day. To be specific it was Hebrews, chapter thirteen, verse fifteen. It speaks about giving God continually praise.
How can we do that? With His help, of course. Apart from Him we can do nothing. (That's in the Bible too!)
When our desire is to honor Him and please Him, He knows it and gives us the strength and power to do it. My desire is to do all as worship, worship of my great God. This brings life and power into every situation. "God inhabits the praise of His people." And when His Presence is experienced, so is joy, victory, peace...
In today's reading in the devotional "Sanctuary" David Jeremiah had written, "The God who created us for life is the One who can help us with life."
Oh, the life He has for us! He doesn't just get us through life, He gives us abundant life! Yes, right smack dap in the middle of the difficult things. That is where we can experience life in its fullness and then we get to really dance!!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

I have a couple of confessions to make. The first confession is that I love to get my nails done professionally. It is what I do now and then to pamper myself.
I am sure that many are saying, "That's the confession?!" You need to understand something about me. I hate to spend money frivolously; I want to see something long term for my money! So, you see, this is a big deal for me! At least I get some color for a week or so!
Papa always gives me the go ahead, so I don't feel wasteful. Besides me having pretty nails there is the opportunity for Him and I to touch others in the process. He and I never go anywhere separately!
At the nail salon my favorite lady, Twee, was available to serve me. Twee and I always have good conversations and this one was no different. She was sharing with me how she and her siblings had lost their beloved father this past October and how they missed him terribly. The family is Vietnamese and very close. They do everything together, from meals to vacations and his absense is felt deeply. There is a glaring void where he should be.
Twee then asked me what had been happening in my life. I told her. She stopped and looked intently at me and said, "And you have peace, don't you?!"
I assured her that I did. This then allowed me to encourage her! Isn't Papa good?!
We ended with a decision that we both would count our blessings instead of our griefs. She is going to try to rejoice in who her father was and all that he did. I will rejoice in the progress my husband is making and all the wonderful support we are receiving through this season of our lives.
If we get stuck focusing on all the pain and troubles that come our way, we miss out on all the joys and blessings that are woven through all of it.
Ray is definitely progressing. He is holding himself up straighter and able to move from the bed to the wheelchair without the sling. The aides help him to his feet and he is able to balance himself and then shuffle his feet enough to be able to sit down!
His mental ability seems to be improving also. He still gets confused at times, as he did today. My honey wanted me to search for his wallet, as he thought he had misplaced it. I explained that it was home, which confused him because he thought he had had it with him at the hospital.
We had a discussion about why this happens to him. Why does he remember things incorrectly? I gave him my best educated guess; the brain is injured and thus things get jumbled. It isn't like he is remembering things that never happened or that he never had. It is just that the order is a little skewed right now.
After this conversation the Ray I know showed up; the Ray who is my detail man.
Here's the second confession.
I miss many details; I have trouble seeing the trees for the forest. Often I do not think out the steps needed to follow something to its logical end. Ray misses not a one, which comes in very handy in our relationship! The lovely man watches my back.
I had many items to take to my car at the end of visiting Ray today and was trying to figure out how to do it. Our sons had arrived when I did, so I had had help bringing everything to Ray's room. They had to leave before I did, so I was on my own.
There was my laptop so I could show him the photos of last night's extravaganza; my lunch, so I could eat with him and the light from our eye doctor, which Ray stares at for twenty minutes each day. In addition to what came in with me there was his laundry and, also, two vases of flowers that Ray insisted I take home with me!
I was going to look like a pack mule!
My husband suggested that I put a few items on his lap and then we could go to the front door together. Good thinking on my man's part!
When we got outside we discovered it was raining, so I left my purse with him while I ran everything else over to the car. As I gathered up the items and turn away from Ray I heard him quietly suggest that I might want to take my keys with me! Another good idea, baby!! Who, exactly, is suffering from brain injuries??
How many blessings did you count?

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Matt and I watched a Disney movie tonight - "Eight Below" - in one scene the sense of comradeship was evident. A few people were behind a guy who was driven to rescue his sled dogs and when he realized that they were behind him, there was great joy. There was a whole lot of hugging because of the realized sense of oneness.
What I and my sons experienced this evening was similar, yet much richer.
A ziti supper was held for our benefit. What a gift!
What was that gift? Certainly the financial support, but so much more! The greatest gift was love. As I watched our dear, precious, loving friends manning stations to serve others for our benefit and so many lining up to participate, I was overwhelmed with the reminder of just how blessed my family is.
Papa, I praise You! How well You know how to love! Thank You for this new lesson in love. You are love and You delight in expressing Yourself!
By the time the event ended I was tired, yet so encouraged and content. It is my prayer that the One Who is able to answer exceeding, abundantly above and beyond all that I could ever ask or think, would bless those who so richly blessed us today!!
I called my dear husband after arriving home to report on the evening, as promised. He sounded wistful and also amazed. I shared with him that someone said they were going to do this again this fall. Ray's response was, "Maybe I can be there for that one."
Maybe? Oh Baby, no maybes! You will be!!
Papa, please take note!
Everybody needs a good cry every once in a while, whether we know it or not. Since those beloved emotions we all have do such a good job of camaflouge, at times, we often need a little help coming to that realization.
Yesterday morning, as I sat with Papa, I told Him that I was feeling restricted in some way and needed His help to reveal what was going on. Isn't it crazy that we need help to understand what is going on within ourselves?
Well, Papa is more than obliging.. and before I knew it I was sobbing. Something very cool happened at that point. The Holy Spirit joined me! He grieved with me! In Romans 12:15 He tells us to "Weep with those who weep" and being true to His Word; He did!!
Such comfort I cannot describe!!
How gracious and loving my God is!! What a joy to be His!!!
The cry wasn't very long, but afterward I was so refreshed that I actually felt like me. The me I refer to is the one before this current adventure - burden free!
My loving Heavenly Father had a message for my heart and I want it to stay fresh every moment of every day.
Matthew 11:28-30 are the verses that Jesus used to bring me to Himself over thirty-one years ago and He continues to use them to speak to me. In them Jesus says to let His yoke rest on our shoulders. A yoke connects two oxen. One is the strong leader and the other just follows his lead. When we are "yoked" to Jesus, He does all the leading, as He is the strong one. By the way, that makes me the weak one. What about you?
His yoke is easy. What He told me this time was that yoke is all that should be on my shoulders. I am not to carry anything else! All else is to be given to Him.
What joy!
The joy continued as Matt and I visited Ray yesterday evening. I hadn't seen my husband since Wednesday afternoon. In two days time he is stronger! He holds his head and body up straighter!
We always cross paths with different staff members during our visit and yesterday was no exception. Everyone of them is encouraged by his "great" strides!! The ST! The PA! The nurses! And that was just Friday's encounters!
My honey is still a man of few words, but he does respond to us and seems a little less confused. His emotions are still under wraps. I chose to think that Papa is just keeping him at rest in His protective arms.
This coming week he will be having a hearing test, as it seems that hearing in his left ear has been diminished. He also is seeing a urologist for the bladder problem.
The spine specialist wants his neck brace on for about three more weeks. Ray is eager to lose it, so pray for patience!
I am heading out now to spend some time with my husband and maybe take a stroll with him through the garden. The three of us will just spend some time enjoying one another. Yes, Papa, Ray and I shall have a lovely time!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

This day was used to "rattle around in my own bones" to quote my mother-in-law. There was nothing on my agenda but hanging out with Papa. Choosing Fridays as my mental health day wasn't working very well. What I needed was a day when I could just stay home and "be!" Friday does not afford me that option, as the schedule holds a few other commitments that take me out of my home. I needed desperately to not get into a car to go anywhere! Today I succeeded in doing just that! Hallelujah!!
So I sit here feeling more refreshed than I have in quite a little while and, of course, I have many things to share with you.
I would like to begin with a bit of advice. Six months ago, or more, a wise man gave me a bit of this advice that struck me as something to heed. The problem is that I didn't follow it through. There are many shoulda, woulda, coulda moments in all of our lives and it isn't worth beating ourselves up over, however, why not take those experiences and offer what we learned to others. That is what I am doing here.
I had been in an accident; someone rear-ended me. My friend asked me whether I had medical coverage on my auto insurance. I didn't. He advised me to get it for the future. You see, when you don't have it and you are in an accident, your health insurance pays for medical care, but then often goes after your auto insurance for reimbursement.
That, my friends, is what is happening in our case. At first, I figured that as long as the bills are paid we are fine. Unfortunately, when there are extensive injuries that will take a good long period of time for recovery and might have some permanent disabilities, it would be very nice to know that there will be funds to help with the future.
Am I losing sleep over this? No. I simply feel it would be wrong for me not to pass this on to you. None of us ever think we or a loved one will be in an accident, yet, as you know, my family, as well as many others, can attest to the fallacy of that thinking!
You know everything that occurs in our life is an opportunity to learn a lesson, if we are teachable. With Jesus, who is Life, in my life, I have an added advantage. He is a wonderful Teacher. There is never a time that He isn't with me and there isn't anything that either takes Him by surprise or that He doesn't understand. No hand-wringing on His part! He walked this earth as a man on purpose. He can relate on the human level in all of the nitty-gritty of life. What a joy and comfort.
I am never separated from Him, nor He from me. We go through life together!
The catch is taking time to abide. Oh, I know He is with me and we have conversations all through the day, but I was still getting worn out.
Why? Lack of real rest. He calls us to "Be still and know He is God." (Psalm 46:10). That is what I did today. That is what I need to do every day. I have been forgetting that and letting all the extra busyness of my life crowd in and take over.
Every day every one of us could be busy every single moment. He didn't design us that way. He calls us to rest regularly; not just when it's time for a vacation or even once a week, but every day. I am going to be more deliberate in making sure, with His help, that I "come apart, before I come apart!"
I heard from Gaylord today. Ray's team met, as usual, today. Natalie, our case coordinator, called to report the team's current assessment of my husband.
He has made a considerable amount of progress this week! I knew that, but it is always lovely to hear that from them.
They are formulating plans for my honey's future, immediate and there after. A request has gone into the insurance company for their approval to keep Ray at Gaylord until July first. After that there are two options.
Gaylord has a separate section for brain injury patients where they can stay for futher healing and rehabilitation before they transition to their home. He would be a good candidate for this if a few things change. One condition that he does not meet, at this time, is being able to handle his bathroom needs by himself. Ray is still not voiding and he is also not able to move from the wheelchair to bed or toilet on his own.
The other option is to move him to a sub-acute facility until he is able to meet the conditions of Gaylord's B I facility. We have three good ones on the list.
After hearing this news I felt emotionally torn. There was the sense of relief that he would not be sent home in his current condition, but then deep sadness that he wasn't coming home very soon.
Who thought up these crazy feelings anyway?? Right now I feel like a little girl stomping her feet at her Papa while saying, "It isn't fair!" (I figure I might as well admit it as He knows anyway!)
My God is so gracious and loving. He just keeps loving me. There's no change in the intensity of His love. His love is super-intense all the time! Isn't that amazing?!
I have been thinking about how faithful He is in answering prayer. Of course, in His time and in His own way, but He does answer! He takes our prayers very seriously; often more seriously than we do! It says in Revelation that He stores the prayers of the saints under His altar!! Cool!
He also likes to help us rework our prayers. I heard a speaker a while ago who said that He encourages us to keep asking so that, as we seek Him, He guides us to what we should really be asking for.
This morning I asked Him to restore my marriage. It had gotten really good this past year and I want it back. A reminder came to my heart - a reminder that He loves to make things new. He wants to make Ray's and my marriage better than ever!
We certainly are learning afresh what love is and how to express it. Oh my! He has already started!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Last night's posting left me feeling dissatisfied. I had much more to say; I wanted to elaborate on my final thought, but was too exhausted. Exhausted seems to be a word I use too often these days.
There are many things going on each day that I don't write about. Ordinary things that we all deal with as we do life. However, they don't feel so ordinary to me right now.
The list includes many items that belong on my husband's list or, at least, on "our" list!
Should we change electric companies? Which one is best? Is it legit?
Which oil company has the best pre-buy price?
Who is hitting golf balls into our neighbors yard in such a way that it appears to be coming from our yard??
What do I watch for as the town digs out our stream???
Meanwhile...I'm still figuring out the budget...paying those shopping..and then more food shopping.
I am still trying to get a routine. Certain days I go to see Ray in the morning, no now it will be afternoon..Oh! there's an appointment I need to attend with him? Okay, back to morning...
If you had asked me a few months ago if I like to be in charge, I would have said a definite -Yes! Silly, silly me!
Ray handled so many details of our life that I think I was living the life of a princess! Yes, Papa, I know - I am still a princess, Your princess!
Your princess had a mess to clean up this morning, dear LORD!
We were awakened by a cat fight on our porch!! This is a first. They certainly did it with gusto!! Why would they choose this morning, on the freshly sealed floor, to scatter tufts of hair, urine and feces?? Lovely. Yesterday Matt and our friend, Tim, sealed the floor, as it was put down last summer and needed care. I guess the open space with a roof afforded the cats an ideal arena for their fight!
Matt and I had a laugh, as I went to get the Vicks to put under our noses! Cat odor is in a class all by itself! We figure we must have been irritating our enemy again. Too bad!
We could have become frustrated and angry, but that wouldn't have cleaned it up any faster and it would have ruined our day.
So this princess followed the way of the Prince and rolled up her sleeves, gagged quite a bit, and cleaned the mess up. Yes, it is so good to be patient and kind...
Now where did Ray leave that BB gun??

Monday, June 14, 2010

The drive to visit my man has recently become quite enjoyable, as Matthew has been my companion and driver most of the time. Our time is spent enjoying music interspersed with conversation. We love to talk about Papa and Papa loves it, so there is joy in abundance!
Often we use our trip home to reflect on what happened during our visit. Today was no exception.
Ray continues to be subdued. There is an acceptance of his helpless state, but not an attitude of hopelessness. Praise God!
He did tell Matt that he was in this situation because of choices he made. He said he shouldn't have gone out the night of the accident. Matt explained to his dad that he had not done anything wrong and that it was no different than if we had an accident on our way to visit him.
Time with him always holds surprises. When he speaks he might be totally confused or his words might reflect clarity of thought. His dry humor surfaces throughout!
During a new doctor's examination today she asked him where he worked and what he did for the company. He told her he worked for SNET and climbed poles for a living! That was many years ago! When he and I were alone I asked him if he remembered what his company had evolved into since SNET. After a moment he told me "at&t". Then I asked him what he did for them. His answer? "As little as possible." Hello Honey, it's nice to see you show up!
The doctor's examination today was to determine what type of leg brace should be ordered for his left leg. It will help Ray to be more mobile.
The entire afternoon was filled with PT and then the examination. When they put him to bed so they could make a cast of his leg for his brace, we left.
The thoughts that surfaced during Matt's and my drive home touched on what was said and done during our visit, but then settled on a discussion of the ways of our God.
He promises that He will work everything out for our good (Romans 8:28) and that is a comfort. That means everything, no exceptions. It also means that He is doing so through every day and every detail of our lives. We are very aware of this truth as we traverse this particular adventure. Yet, on ordinary days it is just as true; we are just not so sensitive to His doings. What a loss! A loss of peace and confidence.
A well-known quote by John Donne; "No man is an island" came to mind this afternoon as we discussed how Papa works. When any one of us experiences anything at all, it always affects others. The proverbial pepple thrown in the pond causes ripples far and wide! Our lives touch other lives.
Our great God could have prevented the accident. He knew the intentions of the enemy of our souls, but instead of stepping in He chose a greater good. Matt commented that he could picture Papa saying, "Okay, Satan, go for it, but then watch what I do with it!"
This rings true in my heart. I have felt my loving God's peace throughout all of this. In my spirit I have heard Him say to me, "Just rest in Me and watch what I do with all of this!"
The stories that we keep hearing of how lives are being touched is astounding! How Papa is moving within our family is a great gift! We rejoice in having such a Powerful, Wise, Loving God! Will you join us?

Sunday, June 13, 2010

My God knows how to love; He is very good at it and He is doing it through you!
A bridal shower of someone very dear to me was on the agenda this morning. Large groups weary me these days and have never been on my list of favorites things to do. The problem is that I don't do small talk. I am not good at it, but still continue to attend these events because it's not about me!
To get to the hotel where the shower was being held I had to pass, for the first time, the place where Ray's accident occurred. Do you know what was the most difficult part of this for me? It was disconcerting to realize that this spot looked so very ordinary. There wasn't even anything to indicate what happened there. Now I understand why people make memorials at the accident site where they lost their loved one.
I arrived at the celebration knowing that I would only stay a short while. All I want to do these days is be with my family. I find great comfort in the company of family and a few close friends. Three of our four sons were at home and I wanted to get back to them!
Watching them enjoy each other is such a blessing. Another blessing has been seeing how each one is stepping up and helping out. They spent this weekend building screens for our porch. This is a project that Ray had been preparing to do. When he comes home, instead of seeing an unfinished project, he will be able to sit on our porch and enjoy it!
Upon arriving at the shower it was a joy to see a few special (to me) faces among the many women in attendance, especially the bride-to-be and her sister! These two young women have been dear to my heart for quite a few years.
Here comes an example of how Papa is loving me through you! As I spoke with the bride-to-be, I learned that she will be serving at the ziti dinner that is being held for my family this coming Saturday! Such a loving gesture!
Often I feel like I am cocooned in my gentle, gracious, loving God's arms. Many times it comes through a kind word or action. Many days I receive a note from someone and His love just washes over me. Thank you for listening to His prompting. Isn't it the best to be His vessel?
Some of you are struggling yourself, right now. Look to God! He never disappoints!

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Emotions are exhausting creatures. Yes, creatures! They seem to be independent at times; hiding out of sight and just loving to show up unannounced!
Ever surprised by your own response to something? Where did that anger, sorrow, confusion, etc. come from? I have been. Take today when the lovely person driving their car decided they needed to turn before I passed them. They REALLY ANNOYED ME much more than was warranted. As if, I have never made a wrong move while driving!
Where did that come from? Ah, denial. You know the phrase - "It ain't just a river in Egypt!" For some of us denial is an art form. Hey, some of us come from a long line of deny-ers!!
Whether I am aware of all the emotions churning away inside me or not, they can really wipe me out. The thing with this type of exhaustion is it is not a satisfying tired, not like when you are worn out from having accomplished some sort of physical labor.
This journey I find myself on stirs many emotions and often I am not aware how close they lie under the surface.
Driving to spend time with Ray today I was listening to some upbeat music. I was singing along and felt light-hearted. In a blink of an eye, my eyes were filled with tears. Something triggered the memory of a moment I had shared with my husband before his accident and a great sadness overwhelmed me.
I am learning to turn it over to my gentle, loving God. No trying to deny this strong emotion, as I would have at another time in my life. No trying to examine it either. Just acceptance. It is what it is. Life hurts. Life is beautiful. Life is what it is. In the end it will all be made right and good.
My dear husband was in his room still believing he is in a hospital in Florida. We discussed this briefly and though he seemed to accept what I told him, he was disinclined to go with it. Whatever.
The brain does strange, strange things! Matthew told me that he thinks it is like all the contents of his dad's mind were dumped on the floor and then scooped up and simply dumped back in; so all the information comes from some prior experience, but just out of order. Sounds right.
Ray demonstrated his ability to manuever his wheelchair with one hand and leg and I could see that it gave him the sense of a measure of freedom. He was also looking for his cell phones.
I checked with the nurse and he can have a cell phone, if he is able to use it. I will bring him his personal cell tomorrow. He'd like his work phone also, but that would not be a good idea. It will be one thing if he should call a family member or friend and say something a little odd, but something else altogether should he call one of his clients! If your number is in his phone, be prepared - you may be receiving an interesting call one day very soon!
For all his confusion Ray had clarity of thought when we prayed together. (Thank you, Holy Spirit!) He expressed gratitude for a number of things; good care and support and continued recovery. When he thanked the LORD for bringing his sons back into his life my heart and eyes welled up. Then he told Papa that he was grateful for a wife who is steadfast in her love. That was it for me!
On the way home my car found its way into a Dunkin Donuts parking lot and so I had to get out once it was parked, as there was no drive-thru. What else could I do? At the counter I ordered my favorite comfort drink; iced coffee, light and sweet with milk. Oh, throw in that last jelly donut too, please. What? I don't eat donuts - they don't like me! Okay, I understand the iced coffee, as it reminds me of my grandpa.
I was two years old and he and I were home alone during a thunder and lightening storm when the electricity went out. Grandpa made me some "coffee", as we sat in a cozy nook in the kitchen watching the storm through a window. The "coffee" was a glass of milk with a touch of coffee and lots of sugar! To this day I love storms and very sweet, very light iced coffee. I always get that same cozy feeling.
I was looking for that feeling, I guess. It appears that some sneaky emotions were rearing their heads again!
As I finished driving home I reflected over Ray's words - steadfast in love. Is it truly love if it isn't steadfast? The One who is love is steadfast. Unwavering , persistent, committed, dedicated are words used to define the word steadfast and they definitely describe the Living God. He never gives up on us. He is so committed to having a relationship with us that He gave His Son to make the way for a relationship with us. Because my Savior walked this earth I know He understands my emotions. As I thought about this a thought came to me. He experienced all the emotions, He knows what they feel like in all their intensity, so intense, at one point, that He sweat drops of blood! That is anguish! That is love! Steadfast love!!

Friday, June 11, 2010

My man got a new set of wheels today! Or so I hear. Today was mental health day. The day that I relax. Even though I didn't just lay around it was relaxing because I just took my time and the day wasn't crammed full. So nice.
Anyway, about the new wheels...The PT ordered a new wheelchair for Ray and it arrived today. It has a high back and large wheels, which makes it more manuverable.
The case coordinator, Natalie, called today, as she usually does on Friday, to share with me what was discussed during the team meeting yesterday. To begin with she told me that she saw my honey in the hall wheeling himself toward his room. Did you notice that important word - himself? He used his right hand and foot to navigate. Natalie asked him how he was doing and he said a confident, "Good."
The team is very encouraged, Natalie tells me, by my husband's progress. They aren't alone! Next week they will be re-evaluating what the plan should be for the future.
Ray is not ready to come home. The CC told me that some families are insistent upon bringing their loved ones home before they are really ready. She wanted to know what I was thinking. Well, of course, I want him home, however, not until it is the best place for him to be. Otherwise, it will be very frustrating for all concerned!
My man just called me again. He misses his family but understands that we can't be there all the time. You see, he thinks he is in the Florida Keys! I told him where he was, but he said he didn't think so. Okay...
Ray wants his cell phones. He was certain that he had them with him - that he had taken them out of the Pinto and if he doesn't find them soon, he will have to report them missing. (We owned a Pinto about thirty years ago.) I explained that his phones are here at home. He can't figure out how we got them from him, but please bring them to him or he will have to report them stolen!
Sure, let's bring him home right now!
I think I have some more relaxing to do, so I am signing off until tomorrow. Papa watch over and bless all the dear ones reading this tonight.

Thursday, June 10, 2010

This blog has been focusing on hope quite a bit, as you know. Solid, sure hope. Hope in a certain Someone, not just anyone and certainly not in circumstances! It doesn't just happen. It is a choice to trust that One who is trustworthy.
I enjoy the comics. On occasion one will really reverberate with me and then I clip it out of the paper. I came across such a one years ago. I don't remember which series it was and even though it is probably in one keepsake box or another, it doesn't warrant a hunt. There was a funny little character that usually appeared each day. On this particular day, in the first frame, he was standing before a forest just looking around with a conductor's baton in his hand and in the second and final scene he had raised the baton with the effect of drawing music out from everywhere. He was looking over his shoulder to address the audience with the comment, "It is there, you just need to know how to find it."
Very optimistic. Often very difficult and now and then impossible! Unless we have help. Divine help.
Life is tough and on my own I know I have enough trouble just staying afloat in face of some of the crazy things that seem to come along! What a joy and comfort that it isn't dependent upon my own strength. When I am weak, He is strong! I choose to trust in the One who has proved Himself trustworthy over and over.
The ride continues. The days have been full and fuller. I don't wear well. That is simply the way it is. Sure Papa gives me the strength to make it through, but He also lets me wear a little thin to reveal a few things to me. What just occurred to me is that I am up to my old habits!
What habits might they be? Packing my day full to the brim; not thinking through just how long something will take to accomplish and committing to more than can comfortably fit in a day.
I abhor rushing. Going from one activity to another is not for me! Good thing too, as my God has shown me that it is crucial to stay in the moment and to learn to just "be".
I thought I had learned those lessons! Obviously, not completely!
The most tiring part of my day is visiting my husband. It doesn't matter whether it is a good day or not, the emotions run high and that is very wearing.
My man had a full day also. The trach ended up coming out this morning before any of his usual therapy. Matt and I arrived in time for ST during which we all went to the library and Ray was able to sit before a computer for the first time in eight weeks!! It took some time to get him in position with the keyboard and mouse within his reach, but he was then able to recognize Internet Explorer and click on the icon. My honey could not remember what his email was or his password, but insisted upon putting the wrong one in over and over.
PT was very encouraging! He walked with a hemi-walker, which is about half the width of a typical walker. The therapist braced him from the left and Ray held the walker on the right. He walked about twenty feet - twice!
Next week PT will begin to include the pool!! I need to dig out his swimming trunks!
During our visit we spoke with his physician and her PA. We told them that we had added another rehabilitation facility to the list. Their response was that they were not sure that he would need one, but were working on a few different ideas for him!!
This evening I received a call from the hospital. It seems my husband was calling me! Another first in eight weeks!
They transferred the call and I heard his voice. He just wanted to check in and say hello. He remembered my telling him that I wasn't coming tomorrow, but that he would see me on Saturday. Very good! Then he said that he would need to find his phone so he could check the ferry schedule!! So we're back to that ferry, are we?!
On another note, I heard from the officer who was handling the accident. He informed me that he had closed the case and had given the other driver a citation. The citation was for "failure to yield from a private drive." It didn't sound right somehow. It sounds so lame in face of what happened to my husband. If we were to hear that someone had gotten such a ticket, it wouldn't sound so serious, would it?
How about a ticket citing how so many lives have been so deeply affected; one life critically so. Isn't it sobering to realize how one seemingly small action can have such a huge impact? How often are we preoccupied or distracted as we drive? Ever suddenly realize that you have no recollection of how you got somewhere? We are so accustomed to driving from point A to point B that we give little conscious thought to the activity.
This experience has made me acutely aware of how important it is to be focused when I am driving. I use to enjoy driving, not so much these days. Just another example of how weak I am. Just another opportunity to rely on my strong God.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

It has occurred to me that my life seems to have themes running through it; messages that the LORD God is intent upon getting through to me. You ever notice that suddenly everywhere you turn you are hearing a similar thought?
Last year the message was joy. This year it is hope.
As I reflected on this the thought came that every message is wrapped in love. Love is the foundation, the motivation and the packaging. My Papa is deliberate in His love, it has a purpose and a plan. In love He uses everything that comes into our lives (those who love Him) in a way that works out for good. (Romans 8:28) It is the model for healthy love.
He doesn't rescue us from every "bad" thing that happens, but desires for us to learn and grow into all He intended us to be. What is His intention? That we become like Him!
"See how great a love the Father has bestowed upon us, that we should be called children of God; and such we are. For this reason the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God, and it has not appeared as yet what we shall be. We know that, when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is." 1 John 3:1-2
Such a glorious promise! So no matter what the day holds, I hold onto hope! And hope's name is Jesus!!
Oh the joy! Yes, joy! You see Papa got the message across. His great love begot joy in my life which made real for me genuine hope. To quote a dear lady; "He is extravagant in His love!"
Of course, love, joy and hope were in evidence today with a bit of humor thrown in!
Matt and I arrived in time to eat our lunch with Ray. In conversation with one of the staff, who had popped in, we were asked if we could encourage Ray to talk. It seems he has become a man of few words! Honest. Ray is stingy with his words!! Now would I lie??!
I sat there looking at my beloved and realized that he has lost a good deal of his belly. Ray has always exercised - his legs, arms, etc; only not the belly. He always told me that it was too much like work. Well, this certainly wasn't the easier way to lose that fat!
His afternoon was a full one. First we all met with an opthomalogist who gave him a good examination. His evaluation revealed that the optic nerve to Ray's left eye is damaged. The result is very little vision with a reduction in range, as well as focus. The doctor encouraged us that there can be improvement and ordered some exercises that can help to stimulate nerves.
During PT my honey stood a bit more strongly and took quite a few steps. To get up and take steps the PT holds him very closely and guides him. She uses her foot to help move his left foot and also lifts the leg, which she had a brace on for added support. I told the OT that normally I would have a big problem with a pretty young woman getting so close to my husband, but would gladly let it pass for now!
Ray had his own cheering section; the doctor, the OT and PT, Matt and I. Rebecca, the PT, told us that we should watch out because he will be expecting all this attention when he gets home. Knowing him he will be glad to be left alone to do things for himself.
The staff here is so supportive and encouraging! When Ray arrived here and was settled in I let all our sons know the wing and room that he was in. It is Hooker 212. Each son texted me to verify the name and asked if I really was going to let him stay. I told them, "Hey, whatever it takes to make him well!"
No, they are not that accomodating, but do truly know their jobs. Most seem to love what they do and are invested in seeing their patients recover. Praise God!
While speaking with the PA, Marc, we learned that with brain injuries like Ray has the most improvement comes from three to six months, with continuing, but subtle recovery onto two years and beyond. We are at the two month mark and see how much improvement Ray has made?!!
Now doesn't that give you a whole lot of hope??!!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

This day was a full day. Full to the brim. I am wiped out. The brain is in slow motion and my thoughts are disjointed, to say the least. As I sat here trying to get to this page on the website, it was looking doubtful that I would even be able to blog tonight. I figured that might be a blessing, as I was not even sure how to express myself. With that thought the page appeared. I guess the internet is operating slower than usual also, but it seems Papa would have me put a few words down here.
Our precious son, Matthew arrived this morning. I picked him up at the airport and we headed to see his dad. It is so good to have him back home. Such a gift from Papa. A gift also from Matt and his lovely wife, Mindy. Papa's beautiful heart is reflect in all of this. Every step of the way He is there meeting every need, tending to every concern.
Ray was delighted to see Matt. He kept his eyes on him and seemed so relaxed. Relaxed until OT.
Today he had to practice dressing himself. The idea is for him to be as independent as possible. He tried putting a shirt on and then taking it off. Not an easy task, especially with only one arm and hand working. The neck brace added to the challenge.
Ray looked a bit grim by the end of this exercise. Who wants to be so dependent and also be seen as such before their wife and son? No one.
Before this we had time for a short visit in the garden. The three of us took time for some prayer together, so sweet. Ray, as always, puts his trust in our gracious, mighty God, as we all do. Matt expressed thankfulness for a family that is close and loving. It truly is a precious gift.
Papa has used this difficult situation to draw us closer than ever. Praise Him!
Another bright spot appeared in the form of Diedre, Ray's speech therapist. She brought him some Frosted Flakes. Whoop-dee-doo - right? No really, it was a big deal! She said if he could eat it properly with no choking, she was going to lift all restrictions for his meals. He did it!
Matt and I offered to bring him whatever he wanted. Nothing, thank you.
I think his main interest, the thing he is focused on, is getting home. Now that is a good goal and one we will not discourage!
Tomorrow the opthamologist will see Ray and try to determine what is causing his left eye's trouble. Matt and I intend to be there at that time.
I am running out of words and steam so I am signing off. Sweet dreams!

Monday, June 7, 2010

Would you kindly join me in giving our Great God a standing ovation? Oh, by the way, Ray will be joining us! During PT/OT today they got him to his feet!! Sure they had to help him, but he took part and was actually able to rise without the feeling of dizziness overwhelming him.
My man had another new look today; he looked like a mysterious man, as they put a black eye patch over his left eye before attempting to get him standing.
As we know, his left eye is giving him trouble and most likely contributes to the dizziness he has been experiencing.
When my honey first stood I had to fight tears; tears once more of joy and sorrow. Aren't emotions crazy things? We can feel so many at the same time. Often it is hard to really know all we are feeling! The reason for the joy was obvious, but the sorrow I had to analyze. It still is difficult to see my strong husband so weak. I don't think I will ever get use to it and I don't want to either!! Who knows what other emotions were churning at that moment or any other? Who knows? Papa knows!
Ray stood a second time after a short break and then his blood pressure decided to take a dip, but not before he took a few steps! One of the therapists stood with the wheelchair right behind him and the second therapist helped support him and also moved his left leg for him. The leg is still very weak. However, he could move the right one himself! The step was more of a shuffle, but he did it himself!
Let's dance!!
Afterward my dear husband and I headed for the Japanese garden. Appropriately, we talked with Jesus while we were there. (I can't stop smiling!) Ray thanked our gracious LORD for giving him this day and for all the support he is receiving. He asked Him to help him keep everything in perspective. He said he was grateful for all the progress, but sorry that he gets impatient wanting things to move more quickly. Ray ended by expressing his desire for God to be glorified through all of this! Ah, Papa is so good!!
Before these delicious events Ray had had visitors. Each one an important part of Ray's life. The relationship he has with one of the visitors is like that of a son and father. It is obvious that both this older man and my husband have great tenderness for one another. What a joy to behold! I was grateful that I was there with the man and his wife. Being with them is always a blessing.
Another blessing for me is being able to blog! It often feels like I am having a conversation with a dear friend, which I am. I am becoming more and more aware that there are quite a number of you following this blog and that Papa is speaking to you. What a joy, but also a burden. Let me explain.
Our friend, James, is a welder extraodinaire. He loves creating with metals. I love creating with words. It could be said that words are my metal. I am amazed by James' creations. They often are beautiful things to behold. It is my desire to be a blessing and that Papa would give me His words to do beautiful things in hearts and lives.
I have been reading the Old Testament book of Ezekiel. Ezekiel was a servant of the Most High God. It was a blessing and a burden for him. The blessing is, of course, knowing and serving God. The burden is experiencing the heart that God has for others and being faithful to Him no matter what comes. It is too easy to become more aware of those with skin on and less aware of the One Who is Spirit; too easy to become a people-pleaser instead of a God-pleaser.
Ezekiel kept the right perspective, because he knew the heart of God. May I stay close to the heart of my God so I also keep the proper perspective.
In this Old Testament book I am reminded that staying close to Him in trust and obedience is the only secure place. To consider being anywhere else is a frightening thought! For Him to remove His Presence from my life, as He had to do with Israel, would leave me lifeless and hopeless. A commentary today put it this way, "God's absence is the ultimate punishment."
The true blessing is in knowing that He has promised never to leave me, nor forsake me. He also promised that whatever He calls me to do, well, He'll do it! (1 Thessalonians 5:24). So, Dearest LORD, blog away!
And precious ones, may each of you be enjoying life in the only secure place!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

A storm passed through today. I love storms; always have! It is exhilerating to watch the wind rushing through the trees causing an uproar among the leaves and the clouds hurrying to catch up. The sound and sight is glorious. To step outside and feel the wind, as it attempts to carry you with it, is refreshing! When one of these storms takes the humidity with it upon its departure, well, that's the cherry on top! That's what happened today and it is a perfect analogy of what my God has been doing in my heart.
It is difficult to experience His creation and not think of Him. What a joy to see His Hand is all of life. And a greater joy to experience His touch personally.
The skipping and dancing continue since His Spirit moved to lift my spirit and remove the heaviness of my heart. Just like the wind whisked away the humidity!!
This morning I was reminded by Brennan Manning that "Our primary identity rests in God's relentless tenderness for us revealed in Jesus Christ."
Who am I? "I am my Beloved's and He is mine!"
To add blessing to blessing I joined my fellow brothers and sisters to worship Him and partake of the LORD'S Supper. Such a precious reminder of what a Savior we have in Him!
Our son, Jon, and I headed over to the hospital to visit you know who. Ray was up and happy to see us, particularly Jon.
Jon shared with his dad the adventures he has been having with work, his home and his car. Ray listened intently. He told us that there was a car show on the hospital grounds in the morning and a volunteer took him outside to check it out. That is something he enjoys and I thank the LORD for having him in such a place! They go the extra mile!
My honey is having trouble focusing his left eye. We are hopeful that once all injuries heal that this will correct itself, as well as his lifeless left arm.
Yes, there is that word - hope. Papa is not letting up with the reminders. That's because He loves me. (Smile)
My hope is not in One who comes and goes like the wind. He is steady and constant and utterly reliable. He never changes, as He is "the same yesterday, today and forever!"
The apostle Paul said, "I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage." Philippians 1:20. Amen!

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Sometimes when I can't or shouldn't move around a lot I do the moving in my spirit alone. That is the case while I'm traveling by plane. They discourage dancing in the aisles, so I often need to resort to a subversive operation!
I plug in the head phones, find a worship station and really listen to the words. As I do, they stir my heart and then... I dance! There have even been times when I picture that I am sailing over mountains as I joyfully worship my God.
Other times I might just skip for joy, as His little girl. Tonight I feel like skipping.
You see Papa and I have been talking. Though there is peace underlying my every day, yet there is also a loneliness and boredom; I have felt out of sorts. Sure all of this is understandable, but I longed to get out from under the blahs. I didn't like it! I asked my God for help.
Prayer for me takes many forms as I am aware that my every thought is shared with Him. It is what "practicing the presence of God" means to me. Who is credited with that phrase? Was it Brother Lawrence? I'm not sure, but be sure it wasn't me!
There are times, however, when I need to articulate what is going on in my heart and mind. I know it is for me more than Papa, as He always knows what is astir in His child and often has to clue me in! At these times simply putting feelings into words helps me to recognize them.
Well, I admitted my melancholy mood to my Heavenly Father and then started my day. A little while later the phone rang and it was our good friend James. We talked and discovered that we were both in similar places. We really miss our dear friend! When we ended the conversation I felt a measure of relief. My Papa orchestrated that call and through it I was reminded that my feelings are valid and I am not alone.
It is all too easy to let old lies creep in; lies that say deny your feelings, they are not valid! I spent too many years doing just that and need Divine help to guard against such insidious habits.
As the rest of my day unfolded there was blessing after blessing.
Yes, that is how all my days are, but today was structured by the Hand of my loving Father to answer my plea.
Ray and I had visitors!
My sister, Chrissy and her fiancee', Tim, came to visit from Long Island. We always have a lovely time together filled with laughter. James joined us for lunch, as he had just finished our lawn (!), which added to the enjoyable fellowship. The men refilled Ray's poorly neglected bird feeders and I do believe the birds that filled our trees burst into fresh song!
Our son, Jon, arrived next and all but James headed off to visit Ray.
My honey wasn't as verbal as the past few days, but did greet everyone warmly and had a few words to say. The nurses were eager to tell me that they were able to move him from the bed to his wheelchair and then back again with out the hoyer lift!
The board that was introduced in PT the other day was used instead. This meant that Ray needed to be able to participate in shifting his weight to cross the board!
The staff is so encouraging and deliberately so. I don't believe anyone who is not cheerful would last at Gaylord.
We discovered a handmade card on Ray's nightstand. It was a good size; a regular sized paper folded in half. At the top it said that the message in the card was to be read every day. What was the message? (This is not word for word) Do you notice the changes that are happening? Do you notice what is improving? What is stronger?
When we had arrived for our visit Ray already had a visitor! Another good friend, Roger. Just what he needs; to see those who are in his life, close friends; those who love him. Papa is so gracious!
During our visit two more visitors arrived: Armand and Loreen; more love in the air and in our hearts!
We all took a stroll out to the garden. Once we were all settled comfortably surrounding my husband he looked around and thanked us for coming on such short notice and promised to try to give us more warning next time! I love it when the man I know and love shows up!
Yes, the visit was encouraging, yet it always leaves me feeling drained. I think, in part, it is having to say goodbye and head home without him.
Well, Someone wasn't going to let my day end on a minor note! My Saturday evening (date night) was spent over dinner with two of my sons, Jon and Tim, and Tim's girlfriend, Becca. Fun, but the night wasn't over! We went to the movies, which I enjoyed, except for the snakes!!
As the four of us drove home I realized the blahs were gone! When they left I can't tell you. I think they just slowly melted away like a spring thaw. Aslan must be on the move!
Yes, I feel like skipping and as I have no reason to be restrained, I think I will!

Friday, June 4, 2010

This week I have been bombarded by messages on hope. Papa wants me to pay attention! What is the meaning of the word hope? My thesaurus gives me a few choices; expect, trust, anticipate, wish, look forward to, expectation, optimism, faith. Ah, faith!
Without faith any hope I have will be on shaky ground; it will be a wish. With faith I have hope. What does this hope look like? Let me use the words the thesaurus offers.
I expect my God to be at work and knowing His character I can trust Him. It is with great anticipation that I look forward to seeing how He answers my prayers, my longings and desires. What will my heart's desire look like when He is finished?
He promises that if we delight in Him, He will give us the desires of our heart. This does not mean that whatever we think we want or need will be given to us. It means that as we get to know Him and find out just how delightful He is - our hearts change; we enter the process of being conformed to His image and that includes our hearts!
My hope is in Him.
This has never been more crucial. If my hope were in the hospital staff caring for Ray or in his fortitude, I would be in trouble! The staff is excellent and Ray is a strong man, but all are human, all are limited. My God is all-powerful and all-knowing! I choose Him!
Today was both encouraging and disconcerting. The nurses were excited that he fed himself all three meals today. The head nurse told me that it won't be long until he can eat anything he wants. I gave her a big smile and her response was, You have a lot to smile about! You will definitely be getting him back in time! Very encouraging!!
I visited in the evening for a change, so Ray was already in his bed and we just stayed in his room. He listened while I brought him up to date on the Reynolds' happenings and read him the latest cards. We prayed together and he thanked the LORD for all the kindnesses being shown to him. He also expressed thankfulness that I could come visit him.
If he hadn't mentioned me, his wife, in prayer I would have wondered if he really knew who I was. He asked me if I was staying in the area overnight and if I had taken the ferry. I think he thought I came from Long Island!
After a little while he looked at the clock and declared that I had better be on my way! Oh, would I also stop by the desk and let them know that we were through in here?
My honey is a bit confused! He reminded me of his dad, who had dementia. Very childlike.
Though I know that traumatic brain injuries take a while to heal and cause confusion among other things, it is still unsettling. This is my husband! I am use to him watching out for me! I am not accustomed to him being weak and slow of thought! I am usually the one who has to process everything slowly and he is the one who always quick thinking! What if he doesn't get it all back?
It is the end of the day and I am tired. Everything looks gloomier when one is weary. Oh, oh
I am reminded of a Word from the LORD earlier today and I can't help but be hopeful!
"Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Everlasting God, the LORD, the Creator of the ends of the earth does not become weary or tired. His understanding is inscrutable.
He gives strength to the weary, and to him who lacks might He increases power.
Though youths grow weary and tired, and vigorous young men stumble badly,
Yet those who wait for the LORD will gain new strength;
they will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary!"
Isaiah 40:28-31

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Some days reality hits harder than others. This was one of those days. Searching for a word to describe where Ray and I find ourselves today sobering comes to mind. This is not going to be over anytime very soon.
Oh yes, our God could raise him up this very moment. That He could and sometimes He does just that for a person. What I sense though is He is building something that is going to take time. He is building character, He is conforming us to His image. I can remember asking Him to do just that on many different occasions. I had no idea what I was asking, not really.
Would I take those words back, if I could? No. I surely would like to, but I know better. What do I know better? My God. He is trustworthy and far wiser than I. Actually, He is the source of all wisdom.
So, Papa, have Your way.
This morning, as I sat with my God and journaled what He brought to mind, I wrote "God first - God empowered!" What spurred this thought was a commentary by David Jeremiah in his devotional, "Sanctuary." What did those words I wrote down mean to me? If I seek God first, if I begin my day with Him, then I will have His power to face and go through the day. Power to live, not just survive. Power to make a difference in those around me. His power flowing through me to envelop and bless others.
Each of Ray's days are such tangles of victory and defeat. It would be too easy to see only defeat. In God's power and grace we can acknowldege the defeats and then rejoice in the victories.
What defeats did today hold? Concern that there is nerve damage which is causing the lack of feeling and movement in his left arm and hand. Continued dizziness that is hindering the PT.
What victories did we see today? Ray's voice is stronger! The trach is capped off! The greatest victory was in the spiritual realm.
Today when I asked Ray if we could pray, not only did he agree, but led off in prayer. What did he pray? "LORD, may Your goodness be seen through all that we are going through!"
So there I was seeking to bless my husband and he was blessing me!! I hope that you, too, are blessed!!

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Among all the rides that Disney World offers there is one called "Mr. Toad's Wild Ride." Hold onto your seat because the ride has many twists and turns, ups and downs, and the car you ride in is known to spin! I have been known to compare life to that ride. Nothing to date has shaken my confidence in that comparison!
This day was better than yesterday for my husband. I spent the morning with him as he had one therapy after another. Speech therapy came first. Diedre, his therapist brought him a sectioned binder. She explained that it was to help him jog his memory. The book is divided into different sections. One is a daily log where he can note when he has therapy and what exercises he is involved in. He can also record any visitors who come by. Another section is a place for him to note any questions he might have and who to ask. In the front of the binder is where personal information is written; his name, address, phone numbers, family members, important dates, etc.
Shortly after Diedre left we headed down to rehab. The OT/PT goal for today was to once again attempt to help Ray stand. Again he was moved from the wheelchair to the chair that converts to simply a support after it gradually helps the patient stand. Again Ray's blood pressure dropped. It was 80 over 60! So again he was moved back into his wheelchair and sent back to his room. One of the contributing factors for such a low pressure was that he was not wearing a mid-drift support. He normally has one on, but the feeding tube had leaked twice and that took care of all he had in his closet. They ordered another one and had to wait for it to come from supply.
Each day I take his laundry home, including those supports, and had brought one back this morning, but I had no idea they needed it and they didn't ask. Each time they get a new one it goes on the bill so I try to keep them clean and in supply. Who knew that they'd go through two in one morning! Oh well, such is life.
Ray was a little more receptive today and so we chatted for a while. Actually I did most of the talking. At one point Ray looked at me so sadly and said, "Sorry." I asked for what? He waved his hands to cover himself and his surroundings. I replied that I was sorry too, but it is what it is and we will get through it!
I asked him what he wanted everyone to pray for him. He said for him to get well quickly, because this is getting old fast!
It is amazing how the LORD orchestras so many details of life! You ever notice when He wants to get a message across you meet it at every turn?! Our Daily Bread today spoke about being up against a wall and instead of giving up, look up. (Okay, this is definitely Debbie's translation of what they said, but it is the same message!)
Ray and I smiled at how caring our God is that He desires to encourage us by reminding us that He is with us every step of the way! We spent a few minutes in prayer and then my honey promptly fell asleep! I kissed his head and left.
Tim visited his dad this evening with Ray's friend Jed. He came home very animated. Dad spoke! He shared that he was grateful to be alive. He asked Tim about work, school and life in general. Dad prayed! He thanked the LORD for being in His life. And Dad ate food!! He had a barium swallow today and must have done well. So for the first time in seven weeks Ray tasted food! Sure it was only mashed potatoes with gravy and some apple sauce, but it was food!!
Yes, it is a wild ride! However, with Papa in the car with us it is an adventure and we know that we will survive. Truly we will more than survive, we will enjoy the ride!

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

June 1, 2010; mark it down as a tough day. Tough for Ray and tough for me.

It sounded like my honey woke up on the wrong side of the bed. More likely it was just the wrong bed; not our bed!
Once again I found him hanging out with the nurses, but not by choice. After a kiss he wheezed out "Get me out of here!" So I whisked him away and down the hall to his room. It was close to his therapy time, so there was not enough time to wander.
He seemed very somber and kept staring off seemingly in deep thought. After a brief time together where I shared the latest card and a few updates with him, it was time to head downstairs to OT and PT.
We had to hangout for a short bit and I saw Ray watching the other patients carefully. At one point he shook his head and whispered, "Old age." I reminded him that he was not there yet.
During OT he had to copy patterns using cubes that had a different print on each side. It was his job to find the correct print and then position it the same way as the one on the page. His hand shook and it took some time for him to get a cube in place.
The therapist then moved him onto sequencing. As he followed he was read three sentences that broke down a particular activity and had to determine the correct sequence of events. He took a moment to think it through, but came up with the right order each time!
Ray is having trouble with his eyes. The therapist told us that his eyes are not tracking. He also has trouble reading. The eyeglasses are new. He and his optician had been on an adventure long before the accident trying to find the perfect lenses for him. These are the latest attempt. I imagine that much of the current problems stem from his brain injuries.
I noticed that he was having trouble getting his right hand to respond to directives. When he was asked to hold his left arm so they could move him, he grabbed the therapist's arm and didn't realize his mistake.
PT involved Ray laying on a mat and trying to roll onto his side. He cannot do this alone, but is able to use his right leg for some leverage. His left leg has some movement, but it is very subtle.
At times, such as this, it saddens me to see how much my strong husband's muscles have atrophed. I am also reminded of this when I hold his arm or leg. There is no firmness. He always had such strong, firm legs and arms. How quickly our muscles lose definition!

As a child I would escape into fantasy and dreams as often as possible. This is how I got through life at our very dysfunctional home. The problem with such escapism is that when you come back to reality, everything is that much more harsh.
I no longer do that, but still have a tendency to hang onto the good experience without any thought that it might not last. Thus, I set myself up for this difficult day.
Yesterday I had my husband back and even a little bit new and improved! Today I was met by a stranger, definitely not the man that headed off on his motorcycle the evening of April 14th. Though I shouldn't have been surprised, I was. It hurt to feel disconnected once more.
Ray has had a tendency to fixate on something. Today he wanted to get back in bed after therapy. The nurses told me that he had not been up long enough. He needs to get the rest of the phlem up and laying down just will compound the problem. I went back to his room and explained this to him. He nodded and then waited five minutes to start asking where they were.
Shortly later the nurses changed shifts and the new nurse came in to say that he would be putting Ray in bed between 4:15 and 4:30. It was 4:00 and I told Ray that he had to wait until the promised time. Every three minutes or so Ray would wave his hand as if to say what is taking them so long. Once again I would explain.
Right before the nurse did appear (on time) I leaned over and kissed my husband and lightly rubbed his left arm. He grabbed my arm with his right hand and threw it from him. I asked him if that hurt, which it never did before. He nodded a curt yes. I wanted to cry and had to fight the tears. Thankfully the nurse walked into the room so I again kissed him and said goodbye. After leaving I realized I had left my refillable water bottle in the room. When I went back in I joked that his absent-minded wife was back. He would not look at me, nor respond in any way, but just stared at the wall.
Yes, it was a tough day. As I thought it all through I decided that I need to have more understanding of what to expect because of the brain injuries. I want a better grasp of what is happening in Ray's brain. I think that will help me to go with whatever comes along on this journey.
Tonight a group met in my home and the topic was 'choosing hope'. I am deeply grateful that the God that I hope in will never disappoint, neither will He ever leave me. I am going to go climb up into His lap now. You can too, as there is room for all!