Jehovah was not in the wind. And after the wind, an earthquake: Jehovah was not in the earthquake.
And after the earthquake, a fire: Jehovah was not in the fire. And after the fire, a soft gentle voice. (1Kings 19:11-12)

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Monday, February 29, 2016

God Guides the Best Pathway For Your Life {One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak for #HeartMonth}

{To read Part 1, the beginning of the series:
click here first.}






The walls seemed to close in more and more. The oxygen line plugged into the wall that I was attached to became more like a leash than an aid to breathing. I was so eager to go home that the head nurse would tease me that she was keeping a close eye on me that I didn't attempt to sneak home on one of my walks out of the CVICU.

It was all by God's mercy and grace that I did leave those walls and the hospital. It was also terribly overwhelming.

So much healing had now taken place, but there was an enormous amount of healing that was still necessary. Some of which I had never even anticipated.

We were thrilled that I was being transferred to another care centre that would facilitate my needs in order to get me home safely. We had no idea how difficult that transition would be—both emotionally and psychologically.

The few days before I was transferred nurses, doctors, respiratory therapists, pharmacists—the people we had connected with for the past 80 days—came to say good-bye and send us on our way. We had so much to rejoice in and we proclaimed God's faithfulness in it all. We had been forever changed in this journey and not the least with me having a better functioning heart.

We continued to more forward filled with much gratitude and trusting that God was leading us and with us every step of the way.

Set up in our new location in the city, Jon sent an update on November 19:
I have actually surfed before, but only on the web. I have 'Googled' things that I have wanted to know or learn more about. I've entered coordinates and destinations to allow remote satellites to trace a route or draw a path to a destination. We have neat tools, in this age of 'instant', to know, be informed, and map our way. But these tools can't accurately gauge our purpose for living, or map our life, guide our future, or determine our destiny.

Psalm 32:8- The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." 
Another translation says that He will instruct and teach us the best way to go . . . His eye is always upon us. I take comfort in this reality that I never stray from the gaze of my Maker.

We got word coming into this past weekend that there was an opening at the West Park Healthcare rehabilitation facility for Rebekah to be transferred. This came quicker than we originally anticipated because there is a waiting list and many hospitals send people there—but a big push and faster priority is given to transferring patients from intensive care units. I wondered if there was a bigger reason we were meant to spend 80 days in ICU and not move to the general recovery unit earlier. There are certainly policies and safety precautions but when I apply Psalm 32:8 in a situation like this, the picture becomes clearer.

On Monday we were patient transferred from Toronto General Hospital, out of the heart of the city, and we are now at West Park Healthcare Centre. Our purpose here is for us to receive training and to set Rebekah up with her home sleeping Bi-PAP equipment. She has had more blood work follow up here, wound care, her PICC line was removed today, a walk test to check oxygen levels, chest X-ray and ECG.

It's still a fight to keep fluids out of her lung, and as we set our sights to going home soon, we need to make sure that can be done safely and everything including home oxygen and her medication cocktail is in place to transition and continue recovery from home. Rebekah will continue as an out patient from West Park once she leaves, for ongoing monitoring and periodic sleep checkups down here for the months to come in order to adjust her equipment settings. 
For a while, the majority of her limited outings will be for medical purposes as its crucial she doesn't get a bad chest cold, congested, or come down with pneumonia again. Please continue to pray for her in this and also that her breathing, diaphragm and INR stabilize and be functional moving forward.

Rebekah's body has adapted to so much over 38 years of life. A lot of it baffles the doctors that care for her. Sometimes her numbers don't seem to make sense as medically she is somewhat a mystery. She sits up and smiles, and challenges others with her faith and courage even with blood gas numbers sometimes in a range that would put me flat on the floor. One doctor recently at TGH who did an oxygen saturation test with supplied oxygen support removed for over half an hour, said she shouldn't be even communicating in that range she was showing—and with the print out numbers she should be turning blue—even though the monitors were showing low, but still a safe range for her.

Again, we have to look beyond the numbers, beyond the medicine and testing, beyond the knowledge and techniques, assumptions and results, all the way to Psalm 32:8 and rest with full assurance.

Again, The LORD says, "I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you." 
-Jon



{I was discharged home and we were all overjoyed to be united again as a family on November 21, 2014 to continue to recover from my open-heart surgery on August 29, 2014.}
~.~.~.~.~.


This is the final part of the series:
One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak
{for #HeartMonth.}

You can read Part 1, the beginning of the series here.


Thank you to the faithful readers who encouraged us along this part of our pathway.


Enter your email to subscribe to further posts at A Soft Gentle Voice.   

Friday, February 26, 2016

Courage to Move Forward {One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak #HeartMonth}

{To read Part 1, the beginning of the series:
click here first.}


There had been many days in which I struggled to move forward. It is a fight to move forward when faced with adversity, but it is not fight that you fight alone.

My voice was but a whisper and I could only breathe out a few words at a time. But, it was a privilege to stand, the only patient among all the medical staff that gathered in the hall of the CVICU in Toronto General Hospital, to sing O Canada, listen to In Flanders Fields and stop for a moment of silence at 11 am to remember the many who have fought for freedom.

On November 11, a day we remember many who have endured many extreme difficulties, Jon reflected on and shared a few humble thoughts:
Toronto General Hospital operates under this simple motto:

"Courage lives here!" 
Courage is: "The ability to bravely face, stand up to and endure through something that overwhelms, challenges or frightens you." 
Today we all think and pause to remember the courage and boldness of men and women who rose up in and amid their fear and have come face to face with horrifying realities both recently and decades ago, for the sake of honour and freedom in our land. For thousands, it has cost them their very life, for others a lifetime of scared memory and disability. But they are remembered for their valour and we honour them, pausing in our silence.

In this hospital setting we see brilliant minds who seek to learn and challenge the known methods, medicines, and technology and who aren't afraid to pioneer into uncharted waters for the sake of the global good. Not letting the safe normals and risks hold back progress, new discovery and intervention.


It's this mindset that sent Rebekah to the operating room 75 days ago. The reality that to walk away, retreat, give up and do nothing, would have meant medically, certain death, much sooner than later. Dr. David refers to Rebekah as "the lady who has aged him." Even though he teaches the world new unprecedented procedural interventions and methods that flow from a genius mind down through his hands, he has told me often now in our casual discussions together, "I thought several times I was going to lose her—but I kept telling my team, she is so young, she has a family—and she needs to survive."

I thank him for his courage to push forward among the many risks.

In many instances in scripture, courage is the demonstrating fruit of adherence to these imperatives from God. - Stand strong!, Move forward!, and Do not fear! (Psalm 27:14, Psalm 31:24, Joshua 1:9, 1 Chron. 28:20, 2 Tim. 1:7, 1 Cor. 16:13) 
Even though we feel weak and are filled with trepidation, and anxieties want to consume us daily, we are also reminded in these same passages that our ability to be courageous itself comes from the strength and power of the Lord, not simply from rising above fears and uncertainties with mustered up human strength which can only take us so far.

In this supernatural power—we are able to prevail in hardship and difficulty and we can triumph in trial with a courage that is not driven by fear, but by the power of God.

We are continuing here in days of waiting. 


Rebekah had an electromyography test last week that showed continuity in the left phrenic nerve which fires to drive the diaphragm when breathing. This test showed no severing or total paralysis, but because of next to no diaphragmatic movement its been determined that some sort of trauma happened during and post surgery that greatly weakened and pretty much stopped its function. We hope time will heal this nerve and muscle (which can take months—at only millimetres of recovery every few days) and once again give her the ability to function without assistance. The diaphragm is so important in everyday breathing, eating and stomach movement, as well as speech, singing, etc. 
Rebekah breathes on the Bi-PAP machine each night to fully oxygenate her while she sleeps and to drive out the CO2 in her blood. She is tolerating it better now that she knows it is essential and that it can be managed at home too eventually. An oxygen saturation test will happen today to prove to the team that will look into our home transfer and care that oxygen will be needed at home for a while.

Application has been made for us to transfer to West Park Healthcare Centre over in the north west side of Toronto with the purpose of training and acquiring the proper machine and masks to assist Rebekah at home. We don't know how long it will take to get in there, but we will likely leave directly from the ICU here to that rehabilitation facility once room is available for us. The goal is to train us and transition us to home from there. We don't know how long Rebekah will stay at that facility either yet and even if or at what point she may just be an out patient to travel there for regular visits for a while from home.

This is the path that we're heading into and it can't come soon enough as Rebekah feels more than ready to bust out of here and be home. 


I thank God for her courage to fight and to live on, (even through the many times over these weeks that it became overwhelming and unbearable, making her cry out for God to just take her home), and to continue to overcome the barrage of battles she faces with her health— because she knows that there is no other way, than to persevere—fuelled by the inward nourishing strength and the sustaining power of God, that flows like a steady river of restoring water through her life, her soul, her mind, and her body.

-Jon
~.~.~.~.~.


This is part 19 of the series:
One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak
{for #HeartMonth.}

You can read Part 1, the beginning of the series here.


Come back for the final part to this series or to receive these updates in an email subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice.   

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Secure in His Arms of Love {One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak for #HeartMonth}

{To read Part 1, the beginning of the series:
click here first.}





When the leaves were a riot of red and a blaze of gold, Jon captured the details as we plodded along the slow road of recovery. October 30, he pieced his thoughts together and wove these words:
I've heard it several times down here now from those who seek to understand and try to offer something. "You guys have been to Hell and back with all of this, but good to see you're pushing on."  . . . Now I think I know what people are trying to say but I'm not so sure I see it quite like that. What is good though is that it gets me thinking.

One thing I do know is that just over two thousand years ago Jesus went to the depths of Hell and back again and was victorious over it all so that I would never have to know and experience its reality. There is not a day that goes by that I am not thankful for that. Rebekah and I were chatting about how in the ages to come—these times, where things are very hard, will seem so fleeting, so small, and distant, passing from all relevance in the reality of the weight of glory that is coming.

Another thing I know is that here and now, there are times in life when God "proves" Himself in special ways to us. Walking this road has certainly been a time like this for us, where the calm of His voice saying—"I am with you"—resonates deeply. And although among the celebrated progress forward, there's pain, uncertainty, sleeplessness, machines that support life functions, frustration, separation as our family beds down in three different locations every night, discouragement, set back, struggle, medications, tests, bleeding, and failure, in all of this we are humbled and amazed, as we watch God work and bring us further through this storm that has and will continue to bind our family together and encourage our faith. 
There is a lot of "hard" still to come. 




As we talk of going home at some point in the near future, possibly now straight from ICU to home, we are thankful that this in itself, by God's grace, is even a reality. Rebekah has overcome so much in these last couple of weeks and the momentum of progression has been so exciting.

Having her bleed stop completely now for a week, her feeding tube removed, her trach taken out and healing well, and her walking, and appetite improving, she has made big progress. If this was all there was we'd be in general ward already, packing our bags and heading home.

As we still remain in ICU, we face some hard realities that we must come to understand and come to terms with. Her condition is fragile. Rebekah suffered from further lung collapse during surgery. This has further reduced her pre-op 30% lung capacity and made it difficult to get the big breaths she needs especially at night when she is sleeping. Although many X-rays show improvement from a month or more ago she is still under compensated. Dr. David said if he had known the results of these tests before hand he may not have been able to go ahead with the surgery. He agrees that providence had a hand in the order of these events being made known. 
Rebekah is only assisted with 2 litres of 02 which isn't much at all but gives her the boost she needs. She may have to come home with this assistance for some time. Also, her diaphragm function is a big part of this current battle that is keeping us here now. Recent reports had indicated that this was improving, but those indications at best are very slight. Because the diaphragm (the largest and most blood-nourished muscle that never sleeps) is huge in assisting breathing deeply, allowing the lower part of the lungs to draw in sufficient air to sustain the body and blow off blood gasses and lower acidic levels in the body, is barely working and not assisting as it should, we have seen Rebekah's CO2 rising once again throughout the day and even more rapidly as she sleeps. More specialists in the Neurology team and the respiratory team are involved now with new tests and ideas for moving forward.

Rebekah has had to return to the Bi-PAp machine for a few hours over night so she doesn't end up in a dangerously acidic condition and a toxic sleep that would be very serious if left unassisted.

We have to accept the reality of very likely coming home with Bi-PAP—and it is hopeful that with time (8-12 months we are told) the diaphragm can possibly fully kick into gear as it can even spontaneously do, if her phrenic nerve fully wakes up and assists her breathing making machines and extra oxygen not likely to be required any longer. There are no guarantees with medicine, but with God all things remain possible.

Please continue to pray as we battle through thinking too much on the many uncertainties of the future, the changes in how we do life now at home and out of the home, the what if's and challenges of coordinating many follow up and rehabilitation visits to hospitals possibly for a time.

To try and sort all this out at once is too overwhelming and I know it's only manageable as we continue to take it a day at a time and surrender it all under the banner that "God knows." I do not yet know how, but He will receive glory in that part of our journey as well.

"Those that wait upon The Lord, will have their strength renewed." God knows we need that. 

This is where we must dwell, like branches attached fully to the vine for sustaining life and nourishment—for as we do—this all will appear nothing like a trip to Hell and back, but much more the reality, of a slow, and steady walk—straight into the Arms of Love.

-Jon
~.~.~.~.~.


This is part 18 of the series:
One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak
{for #HeartMonth.}

You can read Part 1, the beginning of the series here.


Come back for Part 19 or to receive these updates in an email subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice.  

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

The God of All Grace Sends Showers of Blessings in a Season of Drought {One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak #HeartMonth}

{To read Part 1, the beginning of the series:
click here first.}



Every small step forward was exhausting.

Even the most basic needs of life: breathing and eating were difficult and overwhelming.

After weaning off the breathing machine, my CO2 levels began to rise again and the Bi-PAP machine became necessary during sleep. I didn't fight it this time around as I knew it was something I needed to accept and adjust to in order to go home.

Although I was hoping to be home in time for my son's birthday, I was devastated when told that would not be possible. Planning for a celebration at the hospital began and my sister also started planning a party for him at home with family and friends. 

So many people poured into our lives—with prayers, generous provisions, practical help, powerful words and plenty of acts of kindness. 

In the great heaviness and black clouds, God showered us with needed, plenteous, and varied blessings.

In a season of drought, God caused saturating showers of grace.



We had been in this place for almost two months, when Jon wrote on October 24:
We are creations of complexity—all of us! Fearfully, and wonderfully made in the image of God.

There is no simplicity in that. Every major thing that comes into our lives here and now affects us emotionally, physically, and spiritually. We are not numb, unaware, or untouched by trial, pain, and difficulty. How else would we grow and be strengthened if life was nothing but a bowl of cherries, a bed of roses, a walk in the park? How else would a patient and loving God get our attention if all we did was sail on seas of glass?

The hardships are needful for us—even though our world opposes that thinking and we do not normally invite or desire problems, but we will experience them because we're human, mortal, and fallen.

But we are not without sound hope!

Total conformity into the image of His dear Son—that's our Creator's ultimate plan for us. He will not rest till He has completed His good work in us.

"After you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to His eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you. To Him be the dominion forever and ever. Amen." (1 Peter 5:10-11) 
This past week has been very encouraging watching Rebekah's progress.
Moving to our seventh room here in the ICU after almost 2 months, having her tracheostomy downsized to a smaller one that has allowed her to talk again, be corked and be breathing entirely from her upper airways again instead of out of her throat. She slept last night for the first time corked all night, unassisted by tracheotomy mask. (There was talk of taking the tracheotomy right out completely today but this will happen after 48 hrs of successful corking.)  

We had a fluoroscopic video swallow study done, which she passed, allowing her to begin a regular diet again. (I had the privilege of watching her skeleton on a large screen ingesting barium, applesauce, liquids and crackers.) Her feeding tube was removed last evening and now they want to see her maintaining her calorie levels on her own from regular meals. If she can, then the tube will remain out. She can now swallow pills again for meds instead of nauseating injections through the feeding tube. 
A barrage of new tests at the beginning of this week show progress with heart, lung function, and even diaphragm, (although still weak) appears to be moving in sync now with lung expansion. Praise God for a healing and strengthening phrenic motor/sensory nerve to drive the main breathing muscles in her diaphragm. 
Rebekah is still assisted all the time with only 2 litres of O2 to support her lung function. We continue to pray that she will not need to come home with any O2 support at all. Also, we pray that the persistent and nasty colonized bug that has inflamed her bladder and caused it to be very angry—inciting further bleeding and clotting—will go away and stop for good after 14 days of focussed IV antibiotics.

We seem to be climbing upwards and the path is getting brighter. Movement to the general floor is quite possible going forward into this next week. I cautiously would guesstimate that we may even be home by the middle of November. :) 
We will continue to take one day at a time knowing that we are being kept by the loving and gracious hand of the One who has brought us this far.

-Jon
~.~.~.~.~.


This is part 17 of the series:
One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak
{for #HeartMonth.}

You can read Part 1, the beginning of the series here.


Come back for Part 18 or to receive these updates in an email subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice. 

Tuesday, February 23, 2016

From a Code Blue to a Pink Poster {One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak for #HeartMonth.}

{To read Part 1, the beginning of the series:
click here first.}



God knows our suffering. He puts each of our tears in a bottle and is familiar with our sorrows. He sees and knows. He is compassionate and the God of all comfort.

One of the scariest times during the months I lived in CVICU was when I was the patient for whom a Code Blue was called. A Code Blue is to alert medical staff of an emergency situation that involves a cardiac or respiratory arrest.

I had been walking around the halls of the hospital for some weeks—with a walker, the IV pole strung with bags of feed and saline water, and a portable ventilation machine—to change my perspective from the closed in ICU room and to get some exercise for my weakened body. On one occasion when I had shuffled my way to the atrium, my tracheotomy tube (the only way I had to breathe) blocked up with mucous secretions. One moment I was breathing, the next split second I could not get any oxygen into my body. One blocked entry meant no entry at all.

My nurse realized something was not right as I flailed my arms indicating I was not getting any air. I was not anywhere near a suction machine and moving a patient with IV poles and machines is no quick and easy task. My nurse that day, Sally, was a runner—she runs to and from work everyday and was extremely fit and fast!

I was in respiratory distress. I was far from my room, but Sally sprang to action and ran as though she was competing in a 100 metre dash with me and all my accompanying medical trappings. In a flash Sally had me in the closest ward screaming for a Code Blue to be called and scrambling for a suction machine. Medical help came rushing in by the time she had suctioned and cleared my tube. I could "breathe" again as the emergency team stirred around me like a whirlwind.

When we returned to CVICU, the staff there had known in their hearts that I was the patient who was in distress and for whom the Code had been called and they exclaimed how glad they were to see me back and sent me straight to bed. 

My emotions took off on a crazy ride following that rush of adrenaline. We realized, once again, how frail and dependant my body was.

As I look back over my journal from those days I am reminded that I forced myself to put a smile on my face. Those were days I cried out to God in my distress and all I seemed to hear was silence, but I firmly believed that God was with me and had me in that place. He was teaching me to be content in whatever circumstance I was in.



I ached so deeply from missing my children. The separation from them was heartbreaking.

We were so thrilled to be able to gather in the hospital for a day of Thanks-giving. My four year old could not understand why I could not talk and thought I would be able to if she taught me how. She scrambled up on my bed and started to teach me. I replied to her by writing on my clipboard that God would help me talk again one day. She was pleased with that explanation and took my pencil and clipboard and began to draw pictures. She never doubted that God was able.

Seeing my children for that day gave me the determination to wean completely off the ventilation machine that night. I had been struggling through the night and had to set my mind to complete that goal. It was as much a matter of the mind as well as the body.


We were all hurting in so many ways and yet, God in His faithfulness, reminded us that this temporal suffering was preparing us for an eternal weight of glory, joy unspeakable, hope beyond hope.

On October 15th, many received these words of encouragement from Jon:
The days stretch out long—one into the next. But these soon become weeks and now over a month and a half has gone by and we certainly long to go home. 
We walk around the unit here seeing the empty rooms fill up—then become empty again—many have come and gone making us realize that the progress and process is different for everyone. We don't compare, but it often reminds us of where we've been. We know that Rebekah's condition has been and still is fragile. We know that the journey won't end here in the ICU but will come home with us too.

We still can't put a date to when that will happen yet as we continue in this time of waiting, healing, recovering and strengthening. Dr. David and others tell us we've overcome much and have come through the worst of it. I certainly want to believe that is true. But while we really can have no medical guarantee of these things—we continue to rest in the One who cannot fail and who knows where this all ends.
"The Lord is my Rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in Whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold and my refuge, my Saviour. The Lord is my strength and my shield, in Him my heart trusts, and I am helped. My heart exults, and with my song I give thanks to Him." 
"For Your name's sake you lead me and guide me." 
(Psalm 59:9, 2 Sam. 22:2-3, Psalm 28:7, Psalm 31:3)
Rebekah has been off the ventilator for over 72 hours now. This is a huge step forward that now, at this point, makes the consideration for Toronto East General's ventilator weaning program not applicable. 
Rebekah's lung is strengthening, but with some fluid occasionally and shallow breathing at night that threatens her gasses to rise, and with limited diaphragm support yet, the approach to pushing for progress remains gentle. We are now discussing with doctors and respiratory therapy team about downsizing Rebekah's tracheostomy hardware to a smaller fenestrated style and size so she will be able to breathe more normally through her upper airways, start talking again, an also begin introducing regular foods again. This may happen in the next few days. We will also meet with the speech and swallow team later this week and next to have a video fluoroscopic barium exam done at some point, once the trach is downsized, to make sure all airways and esophagus are functioning properly while swallowing.

These are all steps that progress us along the path and move us closer to getting out of here.

I admit that I came down here very naive to the magnitude of this adventure. Packing my suitcase for a week and initially only booking a few days off work, I understand more now how God only gives us enough of the trial at a time so we can handle it. Then once we are in it, He simply says: now trust Me!

Each morning Rebekah opens her eyes to the bright pink poster our kids made and put on her wall that gives her purpose to rise and fight to win for yet another day. We all cheer her on, but nothing is as precious and says it quite the same as:

"Go Mom Go" - We love you!!
 -Jon
~.~.~.~.~.


This is part 16 of the series:
One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak
{for #HeartMonth.}

You can read Part 1, the beginning of the series here.


Read Part 17 here.

To receive these updates in an email subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice. 

Monday, February 22, 2016

Giving Thanks {One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak for #HeartMonth.}

{To read Part 1, the beginning of the series:
click here first.}






We were faced with many discouraging and difficult days. There was pain and frustration and pressing on required a strength I did not have in and of myself. God was teaching us to continue to trust in who He is.

It is a painful process to be humbled. We can fight against it with hardened hearts or we can surrender  to the tender work the Holy Spirit of God desires to do in our hearts.

On October 9th, Jon shared his thoughts with the many who where praying to the God who sees, and hears, and remembers and knows:
One recent devotional reading reminded me again to "Learn to wait on God." 
It's not naturally what we want to do as people who usually look to action to bring results. It's an important lesson to realize that with God - waiting brings results. God wants us to wait on Him for His timing. ("Wait" and "Time"- words we've heard a lot this past month). This nurtures many godly disciplines in us that is part of our growth in this journey.

"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from Him. "
Psalm 62:5 
The word Rebekah uses to describe the last couple of days is "lousy".

After a week of positive trending and better sleep, aiding added energy and drive to move about and push forward, the smaller perspective dips again into the frustrating realm with a new catheter and saline flush to control a persistent bleed that has come and gone through our whole stay here. Measures are being taken to source this and stop it. A cystoscopy has been ordered for Friday to determine the source. Potential of blood thinners as a result or irritation of some kind. A somewhat minor set back to doctors here who see this from time to time but it hinders us at our level.

The ventilator weaning continues into the night hours now and is a combination of a psychological and physical battle to overcome this need of dependence for support. The doctors feel Rebekah will overcome. Again—time and patience here. 
Dr. David and I chatted again this morning and he is encouraged by the latest lung X-ray that looks the clearest yet. He sees all these other things as more minor nuisances that will pass and be dealt with. He always knew [that only having one functioning] lung would be the main issue moving forward. Staff is monitoring her volume levels at night with shallower breathing. They don't want to see blood gasses rising to high again. We don't want to go down that road again. That was rough! 
Rebekah's INR levels for blood thinning are finally in therapeutic range. Smaller changes now each day to fine tune this for constancy.

We have been in talks and initial process of looking into a transfer to Toronto East General Hospital which has a more detailed and very successful, focused vent weaning program for patients like Rebekah. This is not happening for sure, but discussion has it as a possibility at this point. It is set up as more of a rehabilitation program for longer term patients.

So we head into Thanksgiving weekend here being sustained by the goodness of God. Although greatly missing the walks through the fall leaves, and travelling to family gatherings, for laughter and incredible meals and time together, we do ponder the many bountiful blessings in our lives that cause our hearts to truly GIVE THANKS!! 
-Jon
~.~.~.~.~.


This is part 15 of the series:
One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak
{for #HeartMonth.}

You can read Part 1, the beginning of the series here.



Read Part 16 here.

To receive these updates in an email subscribe to A Soft Gentle Voice. 


Friday, February 19, 2016

Living Out Vows in the Valley of Sickness and Over a Lifetime {One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak #HeartMonth.}

{To read Part 1, the beginning of the series:
click here first.}




I wept over the smallest thing holed up in my ICU room in the hospital.

I tried to slip my wedding rings on my swollen finger for our anniversary and they still didn't fit. The swelling in my hands and feet from my heart working hard to heal made it impossible for me to wear the golden band that Jon placed on my finger fifteen years prior. It was not a major dilemma, but it was devastating for me at the time.

I pulled out a fresh journal my sister-in-law had sent me and began to pour out my broken heart on crisp, white paper like the steady, silent stream of salty tears.

In writing—in the releasing, in the exposing, in the surrendering—there is a quiet balm to the soul.

Without a voice, my silent weeping merged with my quiet introspection into words that trickled down like quiet waters—a resting place for my restless thoughts:
"Fifteen years ago we were at our wedding rehearsal, practicing walking down the aisle in the church, getting all the proper positions for the wedding party, finishing up all the last minute details of our "perfect wedding". We were so excited to be starting life together, looking forward to having a family, serving the Lord together as a married couple, growing old together. 
"Honeymoon plans were all set; we were ready to set sail to Bermuda after our wedding day. 
"We had such a young, innocent love. Naive. But completely determined. I was going to completely entrust my self to my new young husband. I was eager, nervous, still much too selfish, self-conscious, stubborn, self-absorbed, but in love and ready to grow in love together. 
"Tonight, the eve of our fifteenth anniversary we sit together in cardiovascular ICU. Jon has been my steady support. The way he has demonstrated his love and commitment has been truly amazing. As the patient, I've depended on him. But, as the caregiver and one watching his wife suffer, I can't imagine the lonely road he has been walking for almost 5 weeks. 
"I give thanks for him, my love."
The next day, our fifteenth anniversary, the words were as scarce as water in a parched land, but not without a glimmer of hope:
"We've sat side by side, walked hand in hand today in CVICU today on our 15th anniversary. How we would love to go out on a date for a celebration. 
But, this year we celebrate by living out our vows in sickness. Nothing fancy."
Nothing fancy. No elaborate get-away, no sunsets on the beach, no breath-taking views or buffets overladen with gourmet food, no fun excursions, no privacy, no suites with hot-tubs. But, we celebrated by living out our vows and giving thanks to God even for this circumstance.

That's where love grows.

In the soil of the day-to-day. In the sowing, the giving, the watering, the growing, the learning, the laughing, the forgiving, the yielding, the living out of vows every day—even in sickness, in the hard, disappointing, trivial, troublesome, bone-weary, heart-breaking, growing old together, till death separates and in everything giving thanks to God.

It's an unending commitment like the unending bands of gold that may or may not fit our fingers.

So many toss it away when it doesn't seem to fit anymore or it's not new or exciting or dazzling, but it's a messy and gruesome tearing apart that breaks hearts and lives and families and grieves the very heart of God who purposed that we give ourselves in submission and love just as His Son gave Himself for His Bride.

It is the grace of God that holds two together as each one commits themselves first to God and then one to another. Without his mercy, grace, and holy love we are lost and floundering and helpless to live out this love with one another. How else could two selfish, self-absorbed sinners grow in love?





Jon faithfully sat by my side, winked at me from across the room and reflected on the years and vows we had lived and together we gave thanks. I was blessed and encouraged as he shared his musings on October 2nd:
A decade and a half ago life was bringing significant change for me. One stage of life was coming to an end and a new stage was beginning.

Fifteen years ago today at 2:00 pm I stood and watched the back doors open and Rebekah walked the long centre aisle to the front to begin a new life journey with me. With no baggage or past regrets we went forward together, looking ahead to the new chapter and whatever way the road would bend for us. We didn't know what was going to be around each corner.

I remember it being somewhat overwhelming, amid the emotion and blurred excitement of our wedding day to fully absorb and dwell on the verbal and heart commitments we were making to each other. Promises made in such a short period of time, that would be lived out over a lifetime.

It was never just a trivial thing for us. Making vows with intentions of only living through the good times, or because it's needed to make the crowd smile and nod on the special day, or to get a pronouncement from a minister, was never our focus. For us it was a big deal to stand before God and declare faithfulness, through sickness and in health, as long as we both shall live. The knowledge that just as God keeps His promises, He expects us to keep ours too.

The impact of commitment resonates and solidifies us as we sit here together today on our fifteenth anniversary in the cardiovascular intensive care unit in Toronto. Waiting for INR numbers to rise to coagulate her blood properly and safely, waiting to be weaned fully from a ventilator that is assisting in strengthening a recovering lung, living with the discomforts of a tracheostomy in her throat and a feeding tube. (We do give thanks that her recent mobility, slightly better sleep habits, clarity of mind have all assisted in keeping blood co2 gasses lower and are not being monitored now. A great step forward in this process that we trust continues).

No, it's not the same as any other landmark year we've celebrated. It's not like the cruise to Bermuda, or the trip to the Algonquin couples resort, it's not the same as Niagara-on-the-Lake or the Sight and Sound Theatre in Pennsylvania. We can't vocally communicate or even go out for a nice steak dinner today.

But even though this part of our road has descended into the valley for a time, we still have the two most important things in the journey with us. We have each other, and we have the One who brought us together in the first place who still walks with us now. 
And if those blessings are not enough, God chose to enrich our lives with loving and supportive family, healthy and active children, an incredible church family, amazing close friends, a great homeschool connection, wonderful neighbours, prayer networks, supportive and encouraging people all over the world. You are all amazing. We are truly blessed!

1 Thessalonians 5:18 reminds us to "give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." 
Even though there are a thousand more exciting and romantic places I would rather take my wife away to on this day—we will give thanks today, for God keeping us right in the centre of His will. 
-Jon
~.~.~.~.~.


This is part 14 of the series:
One Thing Our Marriages Desperately Need Today ~~ A Husband's Heartfelt Words as His Wife's Heart was Weak
{for #HeartMonth.}

You can read Part 1, the beginning of the series here.



Read Part 15 here.

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