Healing While We Wait

We’ve had a weird week. Kate is on a coma emergence scale and has been increasing pretty steadily but this last Friday she went down a few points. Not sure why, the staff where she is all say it’s normal but it’s so hard to witness. On top of that D and I were supposed to be at a church leadership retreat for 36hours and after 12 I left due to some rough food poisoning. That on top of some ringworm made for a rough Friday. I was scared I had more than food poisoning so I forced myself to stay away from Kate for the weekend. Enter:meltdown. 

It’s a tough thing knowing there are times of day that she doesn’t have visitors. We don’t know what she’s thinking or feeling and it’s easy to assume the worst. D and I are going to the beach with his family for a long weekend, our annual trip. I’m equally desperate to get out of town and guilt ridden to be leaving. I’ve set up literally fifteen people to visit Kate in my absence but it still doesn’t feel like enough. Never enough.

In the last week I’ve come to terms with some ideas I didn’t realize I had about God. Being an American, I truly had an American picture of God and that has been blown to smithereens. I don’t think I realized that I had made God synonymous with the word protected. In Jen Hatmakers book,  For the Love, she says “If it isn’t also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn’t true”. She wasn’t promised her spouse, or a certain salary, or food whenever she wants it, so I can’t believe they are promised at all. 

The last two months it has been clear that God doesn’t promise an easy road. He promises His presence along the way and nothing more. God loves Kate and her precious husband and babies more than I could and that is true whether or not she is in a coma. Still, I found myself screaming “YOU HAVE THE POWER! YOU CAN STOP THIS”. He does and He can. But He hasn’t. When I’m done stomping around and being angry it’s so clear that He has provided in ways I didn’t ask for but that we needed. Money for pre-school for the kids, broken family relationships being restored, drawing people to Him as they pray with Kate and experience spiritual giftings outside of their norm. We still believe He will restore Kate while she’s on this earth. We also believe he will walk with all of us no matter what we go through. 

In the meantime experiencing a lack of fear in the midst of such turmoil is nothing short of miraculous. Feeling like I’m definitely walking through one of my worst case scenarios but I’m still somehow surviving, able to experience joy, able to have fun with these sweet kids while they’re in my care. Jay had a checkup today and I told his doctor about Kate as she asked about any changes at home. She sobbed with me. Lost her cool completely and asked how I was doing and how Elle was responding to it all. I told her that when Elle asks about aunt Katie I tell her she’s sick right now but God loves to heal people so we’re just going to keep praying and asking Him to do that and I believe  He will. I hope you believe that with me. Please don’t give up hoping and praying. Please pray specifically that her coma number goes up two points by Friday.

As I pray continually, I keep thinking of this scripture:

Isaiah 49:15-17New International Version (NIV)

15 “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! 16 See, I have engraved you on the palms of my hands”


Here’s Two of our babies chowing down at Monday night dinner.

Dont forget to check out Hope Heals!

Hope Heals (really)

So a few weeks after Kate became ill I was folding about five baskets of laundry and turned on my favorite podcast, The Happy Hour. Her (Jamie Ivey’s) interview that day was with someone named Katherine Wolf (episode 96 if you want to check it out). Katherine has a terrible stroke at the age of 26 while her six month old napped in the other room. She and her husband Jay wrote a book called Hope Heals about their dramatic road to healing against all odds and the role that Hope in the Lord played in their journey. Cue the tears.

Nice timing, right? A few days later a friend texted me about this speaker at her daughters church named Katherine Wolf who had lived through a traumatic brain injury. The same Katherine Wolf, of course. So she suggested I email Katherine and see if she’d write a message back. And boy did she!

Katherine and I have been emailing back and forth for almost a month now. As I asked her a few questions I sheepishly confessed that I was totally scared to read her book. It’s one thing to walk through hell and pray for healing but it’s another thing to know what that healing could look and feel like and still pray for it, knowing how terribly hard the road may be. She of course, totally understood but sent me a book and some other fun things in the mail which was such a special treat to open! She hand wrote me a note and autographed the book which sent me into nap-time sobs. Oh I hope Katie can write one day!

The book couldn’t just sit on the end table. I devoured it in a few days, sending paragraphs to my tribe as things I’ve said practically WORD FOR WORD were sprawled on these lovely pages. Things her husband Jay wrote were thoughts I had constantly. Don’t get me wrong, the book was incredibly painful to read at times, we just don’t know what Kate will be like in the coming months and years. Some of the setbacks that Katherine lived through sometimes forced me to sit the book down and simply weep. But overall the book gave me such incredible Hope and comfort. It was sweet to be reminded that God performs miracles still. That doctors think a lot of things but only God knows how the story ends. And that people have felt the same feelings we feel today and every day as we wait for Kate’s story to fully unfold. 

This book was just a huge blessing.  If you’re interested in reading it, the kindle version is on sale for $1.99 today

In the mean time, keep praying for  Kate! Every Friday she gets a rating on the coma emergence scale. Her ratings keep getting better. Please join us as we pray for her recovery to warrant higher ratings and to blow the doctors away! We want every person who has cared for her since this began to be shouting “what a miracle!!”.

https://www.amazon.com/gp/aw/d/B010RB5YX4/ref=tmm_kin_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1471284112&sr=1-1

The Waiting and Waiting and Waiting

My sister has begun emerging from a coma. Oh what a week. We’ve head great joy as we’ve gotten to witness Kate making some strides. She’s moving in the right direction and progress is progress no matter how slow. I think we’re also starting to piece together a really big picture of the mountains that are ahead of us. Kate in her healing, us as we wait and try to support her and each other. 

It’s so weird the way you learn things about yourself in the midst of trauma. Apparently I have stress-induced online shopping tendencies. Two pairs of shoes, ten pairs of undies later and I clearly don’t feel any better. Doesn’t matter what my feet look like in the midst of this chaos.

My desire to simplify my home has reached all-time highs. So as I buy more stuff I want less stuff around me. 

Then there’s the outrageous desire to bail. I want to pick up and leave. Vacation, go on a long drive, a restaurant without little kids around me. I want out of here. Now. But no matter where I go and what trip I plan I still wake up at 4 am to the picture of my sister and can barely catch my breath. There is no escaping this. There are little babes and family members that need me to stick it out. We don’t have an option to bail. Only big girl  (new!) undies here. The hardest place to be is sitting in that hospital room. Begging, looking for glimmers, demanding responses that sometimes come. But to leave is a different pain. Relief but guilt. You never want to leave her but you have to eat dinner and be with the littles and live life while we wait. But being there means being faced with the reality of our current situation. So much unknown but a relentless hope like I’ve never known. Being so sure of her recovering and desperate to know what that will look like. We want Kate restored to our family right this minute fully knowing none of us will ever be the same.

My D played Kate this song last night on his guitar. Her nurse came running in telling us she loved that song, plays guitar, and wanted to jump in. Such a sweet moment. God has not left us, not for a single moment. He’s sending little pieces of hope and encouragement and we are His.

If you’re wondering what you could do, PRAY! And once you’re done praying consider donating to help with medical costs.

Oh The Dreaded Waiting

I hate waiting. Exactly zero people in my life would say I am a patient waiter. We are five long weeks into the waiting (for my sister to WAKE UP) and at the same time the waiting has just begun.

Kate has been moved to a coma emergence program as of Wednesday and now the waiting has officially started. Medically she is no longer in the diagnostic stage. They’ve treated her for some things that could have contributed to her initial symptoms and now we wait. We wait for her brain to heal. We wait for Kate to be restored to our family. We wait for Gods timing. We wait.

I’ve been asked a lot (I guess because I’ve taken a somewhat public stage to ramble, meaning this blog) about how I could stay so hopeful and positive. My immediate reaction is “I’m not always”. But then I think about all of the things that have gone right the last five weeks. I’d like to share a few because honestly it would be SO easy to have tunnel vision on Kate’s health status and just give up. But we don’t live in a vacuum and there are lots of other things and people at play in this situation.

  • People have shown up all over the country and world to donate to Kate’s husband and kiddos. It’s shocking and so encouraging.
  • People send me things. I’ll be a puddle on floor and just be sobbing for God to show me He’s there and He still cares. I literally stand up to get the mail that I heard being delivered and walk outside to a journal and Starbucks gift card from one of my besties. Or a gift from someone I went to high school with that I haven’t talked to much in the last ten years. Or I open my email and have gift certificates. It’s just nuts.
  • Some family members helped D and I buy a van. They paid the down payment. We did not have money to buy a van because we had two perfectly good cars that were both payed off. But when you have a conversation with your sister a year ago and she says “if something ever happens to me don’t send my kids to daycare” you go out and you buy the van. And people who love her so much help.
  • We have had people helping to watch my niece and nephew during the summer as we have been/are in crisis mode. One of those people recently lost one of her babies a few short weeks before he was supposed to be born. She has offered a day a week to watch Kate’s babies, to fill her horrendously empty crib with our feisty almost two year old and call it healing for her. What? 
  • I have friends from college who were in my major (Family Studies and Community Development) who went on to be Child Life Specialists. One of them works at the hospital Kate is at. She’s going to help us figure out how to make this journey easier for the little ones in Kate’s life. Ive been shocked by the connections I have at the hospital and the strings they are pulling for Kate to get extra exceptional care. 
  • The food (and gift cards!). People (especially my freaking awesome neighbors) just keep bringing us food. Like almost daily. We have been on this street for not even one year and they just love us so well. 
  • The most humbling of these is people have committed to being with and praying over Kate. I’m not talking about praying from their homes (which we also really appreciate and need). I’m talking about hauling their rears in traffic downtown and paying $8+ every time and holding my sisters hand and begging God on her behalf. And I’m talking several times a week. They could not ever know what this does for our family. They could not know the depth of gratitude that we feel as they tell us “we are with you for the long hall. As long as Kate’s here we are coming to pray”. Excuse me, what? This is nothing short of evidence that God is with us because these people are His and they are not leaving when it is really easy to leave. It’s easy to stop talking about it with us. It’s easy to be awkward around us. It is hard to support people in the midst of their grief but it is nothing short of miraculous to voluntarily enter into it. 

I would say this is why I’m hopeful. Our family has not been deserted. We have been supported beyond our dreams and it has blown us away. “But God! We still want Kate back”, we chant! So we wait. Even if we are terrible at it. We just wait.

<<In other news, Kate had been encouraging me to buy some plants. I knew which ones she had at her house so I just bought them (typical little sister!). So here it is, Kate’s corner. >> 

The {Forgotten} Theme for 2016

If you haven’t read the blog lately, my sister is in a coma. We’re four weeks into this chaos. For any of this to make sense, you need to know that.

Ok, so I shared back in December how I felt like I was being led to focus on a bible verse for a year. I also shared how my word for 2016 was going to be relentless. I wanted to be more relentless in prayer and frankly that’s laughable at this point. Anyway, the bible verse I chose back then was Psalm 89:14 “Righteousness and justice are the foundation of your throne; love and faithfulness go before you.”

Ahem

So I think about the verse once in a while. I would not say it has been an enormous part of my every day life. I’ll get back to that later.

As you can imagine, I’ve been having lots of conversations with my people recently about faithfulness, Gods plans, God promises, provision, etc. We’re frankly walking through hell and I’m trying to decide what I can hold tight to and what is Christian jargon and crap people say that is simply not true. 

The one thing that has been very clear is that this is not just about Kate. Our family is a mess of hypochondriacs, worriers, controllers, and we are not in control (I include myself at the top of this list!). We literally have no control, we are spending days and nights in an ICU staring at Kate while she’s sleeping in a bed hooked up to lots of machines. I say it again, we have zero control and I believe one hundred percent that God wants to heal some of that.

I’m watching my niece and nephew more consistently and talk about a person wanting some justice! It is a privilege to be with them and frankly I’m rageful that it’s me instead of Kate kissing booboos and tickling them. 

But here we are. My family is looking at a really long road ahead. It’s become so clear in the last couple days and even weeks that either we trust God or we don’t. The rubber has met the road. Either He is trustworthy or not. Either He loves Katie and all of us or he doesn’t. Either God is faithful to us, He is Just and righteous, OR HE IS NOT. 

Folks, He is. When money just shows up to pay for expenses. When He gives us glimmers of hope that Kate hears us. When people show up with food and gifts and shoulders and ears. When friends spend hours, days, parking money, at that hospital sobbing and begging in the room with my sister. He has shown up. 

Let me be clear, there is no book of Katie in the bible. We do not know how this story ends. But I know this, God is righteous, just, loving, and faithful. At the same time, I (we) can do nothing except pray to hasten this recovery. Our fears have been realized, every single one. Bizarre illness, Kate’s separation from her husband and kids, the unknown, and total lack of control. A nightmare. But God is so good in the midst of it. And for the days that I forget, I have hundreds of people reminding me until I remember again. 

Friends, please continue to pray! If you can donate to help with costs, please do!

Photo Cred: Arpasi Photography

Lazarus. 

Since my sister became ill, I’ve been saying to people “God raised Lazarus from the dead, surely He can raise Katie from her deep sleep”. I just tell myself this over and over when it seems impossible that she’ll be walking around carrying her babies one day. Some days she so still. Then some days, like last night, she opens her eyes when you tell her to, she gets teary when you pray over her, she looks at you, her hand gets more snug around yours. Yesterday was the first time I watched her swallow in almost three weeks and I celebrated like she’d climbed Everest.

I was at the hospital with a friend last night. A non-scary, non-weird pastor friend. Can I just say I’ve never been so thankful to know our pastors. Like to know when they’re praying for Katie or praying over Katie they have a relationship with her and they are not strangers. They’re holding her hands but its not the first time they’ve ever touched. Or prayed together.  They know her family and spend time with their kids and they’re fighting with us in the midst of the biggest battle in our lives, not from a distance but right next to us, where we need them.

Anyway…he prayed over her for a while then started reading her the bible. She perked up. A friend told me yesterday that someone she knows was in a coma and wanted to be read to but couldn’t say that obviously. So he started reading, all over the place really and then landed on Lazarus. Have you read it lately?

John 11New International Version (NIV)
The Death of Lazarus

11 Now a man named Lazarus was sick. He was from Bethany, the village of Mary and her sister Martha. 2 (This Mary, whose brother Lazarus now lay sick, was the same one who poured perfume on the Lord and wiped his feet with her hair.) 3 So the sisters sent word to Jesus, “Lord, the one you love is sick.”

4 When he heard this, Jesus said, “This sickness will not end in death. No, it is for God’s glory so that God’s Son may be glorified through it.” 5 Now Jesus loved Martha and her sister and Lazarus. 6 So when he heard that Lazarus was sick, he stayed where he was two more days, 7 and then he said to his disciples, “Let us go back to Judea.”

He later goes back and raises him back to life but I think there a few really important parts before that even happens.

  1. “Lord the one you love is sick”. We prayed that last night. “Lord the one you love is sick”. Clearly God knows this. More than anything, probably, it reminded me that God loves my sister. Can I just be honest that sometimes it feels like God fell asleep on the job when this whole thing started. He didn’t. We’ll find out why one day but in the meantime, “the one you love is sick.”
  2. This may be for Gods glory. We pray daily for every person who comes in contact with Kate while she’s in the hospital. That God would guide every single movement, every person reading scans, every person administering meds, all of them. When Katie wakes up we want people all over that hospital (and beyond!) talking about the miracle and remember us all in her room begging God on her behalf.
  3. This is the hardest one. Jesus and I don’t share the same urgency. He is secure in his ability to heal and so he finished what he needed to first; he waited two days before starting on his journey to Lazarus.  I want Katie healed and I want her healed yesterday. Three weeks ago. I have literally asked God to push the clocks back to family vacation and write another ending. Jesus waited a few days before the trek to heal Lazarus. He has his own timing. I’ve gotta trust that. He still wept over Lazarus, he still wasn’t happy that people were mourning, but it became worth it when Lazarus woke up. I know Katie is worth the wait.

I hope this encourages someone today. Something my husband has been praying about for a while worked out, a different person within a few degrees of separation was instantaneously healed to doctors’ complete shock. Things have worked out in the midst of Katie being in a coma. It has been a weird feeling for me. God somehow working something else out for good while I was desperate to see Katie awake. He’s good like that though, He’s working out crazy details surrounding Katie and her sweet family while we wait for her to heal. He’s the King of multi-tasking while he’s still the King of Kings.

If you haven’t, please consider donating to help with costs as Kate is sleeping.

Here’s one of my favorite childhood pictures. Kate and I about the ages of our kids currently.


 

Walking on Fire with You as my Cane

My sister is in a coma. It took me a long time to understand that, literally almost a week. But she is. She’s in a coma. And we’re waiting. We stare at her. We pray over her. We cry over her and we beg. Then we wait more.

As we wait you have been so kind. Neighbors,  friends, family…you’ve been so generous with your love and support. You’ve been so generous with your hard-earned money and it blows us away.

With every meal you make, grocery you drop off, flower you bring, hour you spend with my sister’s precious babies, we just thank you. We take that as God himself showing up to us in our darkest hours and covering our needs.

Every minute you have spent before the throne of God, petitioning on our behalf, on Katie’s behalf we thank you. Every hour spent at that neuro-ICU as you hold her hand and play her songs and talk to her, it overwhelms us. It is somehow too much to even comprehend and yet with all of that we yearn for more. We yearn for Katie. We want her awake so desperately. 

Thank you for standing with us. For praying with us. For sitting with Katie. We could never re-pay you. 

My prayer for my sweet sister just keeps coming over me in waves. That like in Daniel, she comes out of this fire with no hair singed, with no smell of smoke on her.

Lord, we expect nothing short of a miracle. We beg you for it.

(Photo Cred Arpasi photography)