Thursday, June 25, 2009

Praise and Prayer

Tomorrow is a HUGE day for us as we will be getting Tim's new wheelchair!! We have so much for which to be thankful. His current chair was built to last 8 years, and it is now over 11 years old. In spite of some horrible creaking noises, the chair is still running relatively smoothly, and that is a huge blessing. When Tim's sister, Debby, got her last wheelchair, the entire process took about 2 years. The process for Tim's chair has been about 9 months--another praise!!!

Even though we will get the chair tomorrow, it could be a week or more before Tim can actually use it full time. We need to get the new chair outfitted with a lock-down bolt so that he can drive his van in that chair. We also need to get his side pouches sewn on so that he can carry all of his stuff (gotta keep the Iphone safe!). Please pray that these items will be taken care of quickly!

Please also pray for Tim during the "breaking in" period. It will take time for his body to get used to the new chair, and the process can sometimes be painful and frustrating. Please pray that God would make this transition period smooth and painless.

There is one new feature on this chair that is really exciting, but it does have us a bit scared. This chair has a standing feature!! I don't know if any of you will ever see Tim use it in public, but we will use it at home, and we hope it will have some therapeutic (circulation, etc) benefits. But, with each new cool feature comes new parts that can break or get in the way. Please pray that this feature will not hinder him in any way from driving his van, using his Motomed machine, or performing any other daily activities.

Thank you all for your prayers. We are continually amazed to see God work in providing our physical needs and surrounding us with such loving and supportive Brothers and Sisters in Christ.

Friday, October 17, 2008

A Year of Change

Change. We need change. That's all we're hearing right now from Barack Obama and John McCain, along with everybody else running for political office. What we have in place right now isn't working, and we need change. Funny, but this election really isn't different than any of the others--every candidate always says that we need change, that they are the only ones who can bring change, and then, once they are elected, they fail to deliver said change.

For us, though, this year really has been a year of change. In January, I went back to work full-time--something I desperately did not want to do. But, I had been praying that God would give me direction on whether or not to return to the workforce, and I asked that if He wanted me to go back to work, that He pretty much drop the job in my lap. He did. However, I was thinking part-time employment, but God had other plans. I've been working for the past nine months as the Ministry Assistant to the Worship Pastor at our church. Eric is a fantastic boss, and is very understanding of all the demands I have at home with taking care of Tim and trying to keep our lives running smoothly.

We've also been blessed with some adaptive equipment upgrades to our home, courtesy of Vocational Rehabilitation of Indiana. We now have a Surehands Lift System in our bedroom that can lift Tim out of his wheelchair and transfer him directly into bed, onto the toilet, or into the shower. The lift operates on a rail that is attached to the ceiling. The system is unbelievably easy to use and safe. We also had Open Sesame door openers installed on two of our doors. Now, Tim can enter or exit the house just by pushing a button.

My working full-time has been a hard adjustment as it has been next to impossible to fix decent meals, keep the house clean, etc. My gardens don't look very good at all this year--I did manage to get some flowers planted, but they're having to share a lot of space with the weeds that are quickly outgrowing them.

Meals have gotten easier now that we're using Dinner by Design. The meals are delicious, and I hardly have to spend any time in the kitchen at all. We've also just started using a cleaning service, The Cleaning Authority. It's wonderful to come home to a clean home!!

So, while this blog may seem like my own version of "My Favorite Things", it really is about change. Sometimes, in fact, most of the time, the change we need is not the change that we want. I did not want to go back to work full-time because I knew that EVERYTHING at home would suffer. We ate pizza and ravioli for six months until I finally had time to stop by Dinner by Design. The house only got cleaned if we were having company over, and that didn't happen often. My energy levels plummeted to the point that I slept all weekend, every weekend. But, God in His goodness has provided the tools that we need to make it work. We don't have it all figured out yet, but I am trusting God to meet our needs.

Monday, November 26, 2007


Here are Ten Things I'm Thankful For today (in no particular order):

1. My husband--he's wonderful.
2. The IU football team is bowl eligible for the first time, in like, 13 years. AND, they beat Purdue!!
3. Chocolate.
4. Starbucks!!
5. I got half of the house cleaned today.
6. The Eagles have a new album of all new material for the first time in 28 years.
7. God is Sovereign!!!!
8. Yoga.
9. Spring is coming (I realize Winter isn't really here yet, but God's Laws of Nature dictate that Spring WILL COME after Winter!!!)
10. My husband (did I mention him already--he's REALLY wonderful!)

Saturday, November 10, 2007


In the past three weeks, my husband and I have had at least 6 funerals we could have attended, but due to time and travel constraints, we've only attended four of them. While these funerals are, as expected, times of sorrow, they've also been full of the joy of seeing old friends and unexpected surprises.

Last week, I attended the funeral of a dear family friend, Gus Thau. He had pretty much grown up with my dad and my uncle, so I've known Gus my whole life. In fact, my dad and Gus were so close at one time, that they both started dating their wives about the same time, got married within 2 weeks of each other, and built their first homes after they got married in the same subdivision.

While the funeral was a great opportunity to meet more of my dad's childhood friends and to learn more about Gus, the part that I will always remember is how Gus was buried. He was buried in his pajamas and bathrobe! I absolutely love that idea. I mean, when you're entering your eternal rest, why not be dressed comfortably!!

Yesterday, Tim and I attended the funeral of the grandmother of our dear friends, Todd and Robyn Leyden. Violet, affectionately called "Gi-Gi-Vi" by her great-grandchildren was 100 years old! She lived a long, full, and blessed life. As we learned at the funeral, she loved showtunes and dreamed of being a dancer in Las Vegas. So, at the cemetary, we gathered around the casket and sang, "Hello, Dolly". I think that was the first time I've ever sung a showtune at anything other than a school musical! What a beautiful way to celebrate this life that was lived.

Tuesday, November 6, 2007

Debby, Part III

Debby decided to wait until the following Monday before being taken off of the vent so that her brother, Danny, and his wife could come in from Chicago to say goodbye. That last weekend of Debby's life was as unbelievable testimony to God's goodness and faithfulness. Even though we knew these were are last days with Debby, they were full of joy. Debby was able to say goodbye to each family member and many of her friends, and very few people get that opportunity.

While Tim and I were talking to her, she confessed to us that she was scared to come face-to-face with Jesus--she feared that she would hear from Him, "Depart from me, I never knew you" instead of "Well done, my good and faithful servant". At this point, even though we had the door closed to her room, several people entered the room. For the next 30 minutes or so, we could not keep people out of the room. Every time we got someone to leave, someone else would come in. It was obvious that Satan did not want us to finish our conversation. I kept praying that God would allow us to finish our conversation, and He finally did answer that prayer.

I asked Debby why she was fearful of hearing "Depart from me" from Jesus, and she said because she knew that was one of the two options. If you knew Debby, you knew that answer made a lot of sense--she was a very analytical thinker. So, I asked her if she believed that the only way into Heaven was through faith in Jesus, and she said, "Oh, yes!" Just the joy on her face alone gave evidence that her faith was real. Tim and I then ensured her that she had nothing to fear.

The greatest outcome of our conversation with Debby, was that she was then encouraged enough to spend the rest of the day witnessing to the other family members. While we've not seen any conversions to Jesus Christ yet, we are still praying that those seeds that Debby planted will grow!

The day that the medical staff actually took Debby off of the ventilator was full of joy, but also sorrow as we were saying our last goodbyes. They nurses started sedating Debby around 9:00 am, and it should have taken about 20 minutes for her to be completely sedated. But, Debby was never one to play by the rules--it took almost 8 hours for her to become completely unresponsive. We're not really why it took so long for her body to respond to the drugs, but I think that she was just enjoying as much time with her friends and family as she could. But, around 5:30 pm, they were able to remove her from the ventilator. In just 5 short hours, Debby passed away from this earth and into God's Heavenly Kingdom, where I know she heard "Well done, my good and faithful servant."

Debby, Part II

As promised, here is Part II of my blog entries on my sister-in-law's final day on earth. The specific purpose of this entry is to communicate some of the personal and theological questions I encountered as I contemplated Debby's decision to go off of the ventilator.

From a human standpoint, I wholeheartedly supported Debby's decision. Many, many years ago, when there were no trach vents, Debby wouldn't have even had a decision to make. But now, the medical advances that we've seen, are actually forcing humans to play God with their own lives. So, from a Christian viewpoint, are we required by God to utilize every medical means available to prolong our lives as long as possible? Theoretically, Debby could have lived forever on a trach vent. I believe that our bodies are holy temples and that we are to take as good of care of them as is possible on this earth. But, does that mean living indefinitely hooked up to a machine?

As I struggled with these theological questions, I kept coming back to one thing--Why keep suffering on this earth when you can be in Heaven, in the presence of Jesus? However, my husband was of the viewpoint that, if it were him, and if being in a nursing home and on a ventilator indefinitely would eventually help bring his entire family to Christ, he would do it. And trust me, the 2+ months that Debby spent in a hospital bed were crucial for the cause of Christ, and all she had to do was lay in bed. By her being there, Tim was able to minister to countless patients, visitors, and hospital staff members that he would talk to while he was visiting Debby. And, I have no doubt, that if she had stayed on the ventilator and gone to a nursing home, that countless others would have been ministered to because Tim was there visiting Debby.

So, is there a right or wrong answer? Or, is it different for each person depending on what God's will is for that person? I came to the personal conviction that trach vents are great if they will enable a person to recover enough to be able to come off of the ventilator. With that said, there are patients with MD who live active lives on a trach vent. And, I praise God that we have this technology that enables them to do that. If Debby had gone on a trach vent years earlier, she would have been one of those people. But, at this point in her life, her body was way too sick to be able to live an active life with the trach vent.

The day after Debby's daughters shared her wishes to the family, I went to visit Debby. While I was there, she spoke with her case manager and the hospital pyschologist about her decision. Both of them noted that, while she had stated these same wishes before, her attitude had changed completely. There was joy and peace where there was once anger and depression. Debby asked me what I thought about her decision, and I told her that I supported her 100%. She said, "But . . . .?", and I said, "No but's, I support you 100%".

Debby, Part I

I've been contemplating writing this blog for several months now, but keep putting it off because I know that it will be one of the most emotionally draining things I've ever done. Ironically, though, my hope is to communicate one of the most beautiful events I've ever witnessed--the death of my sister-in-law, Debby. Death being beautiful? I know it can seem hard to imagine, but the last week of her life, as she eagerly anticipated the end of her earthly suffering and her entrance into God's Heavenly Kingdom was definitely beautiful.

Because of the extreme length of this blog entry, I've decided to break it into 3 parts. The first part will just give an overview of Debby's health problems, with particular attention on the 2-3 months leading up to the last week of her life. Part 2 will focus on my theological and personal questions/struggles regarding current medical technology, and life and death decisions. Part 3 will focus on the last week of Debby's life. I hope to have parts 2 and 3 completed and posted within the next week.

Debby had suffered from Muscular Dystrophy for 35 years. The last year or so was extremely difficult as she knew she was only months away from needing to go on a trach vent in order to continue living. Debby desperately did not want to go on a ventilator, and, I believe, was hoping that she really wouldn't even have to make that decision either way. But, in April of this year, she was taken to the ER because of breathing difficulties. The doctors quickly determined that her lungs needed to be drained, and they prepped the family for the fact that just going through the procedure would be so hard on her body that she would need to go on a ventilator. By the grace of God, Debby came through that procedure just fine. But, just days later, she needed to go on a ventilator, and soon thereafter, a trach ventilator.

Because of the permanancy of the trach vent, Debby was soon moved to an acute care facility that specializes in patients who are on ventilators. Debby, who has battled depression most of her adult life, was at one of the lowest points of her life. Not only had she reached the point where absolutely everything needed to be done for her, she also had to face the reality that she would not be going home. The rest of her time on this earth would be spent in a hospital or a nursing home. Debby just wanted to be taken off of the ventilator so that she could die, but it was obvious to all of us that her desire to die was fueled by anger--at her family, at her doctors and nurses, and especially, at God.

By the grace of God, Debby was assigned to a caseworker who was really able to connect with Debby. In just a few short days, Barb had Debby weaned off of the ventilator--something none of us thought was possible. While she still had oxygen hooked up to her trach to assist her breathing, she was able to breath on her own. We had been trying to find a nursing home that would take Debby, but her physical needs were too great for any of them to be able to care for her properly. In-home care would have bankrupted the whole family. But, with her off of the ventilator, we had hope that we might be able to find a nursing home to take her. Despite this huge step, Debby was still severely depressed.

After remaining off of the ventilator for about 3 weeks, Debby suddenly took a turn for the worse and needed to go back onto the ventilator. Within days, Debby talked with her daughters and told them that she wanted to be taken off of the ventilator and be made comfortable until she died. Her daughters communicated her wishes to the family, and the entire family agreed to support her decision.

While this overview of Debby's medical condition seems lengthy, I've actually ommitted several details and have opted to stick with general descriptions. For a more detailed accounting of Debby's last few months, please visit my husband's website at He posted almost daily updates on Debby's condition.