The Storm has passed…

This is Part Four in a series.  For it to make any kind of sense, begin on Part One, Part Two, and Part Three.

We now had four days until it was time to close on our current home.

Per the contract we signed some three months ago, the date could not be changed.  Almost felt laughable as we sat in an ICU pod 200 miles from home, needing to be present to sign papers in four short days.

Christian was still exhibiting the same symptoms of sickness.  Though his color was improving after all of the transfusions, he was still on a liquid diet and not moving a whole lot.  He was also still bleeding internally.  His platelet count was slowly coming up as were his hemoglobin levels.  As we received each positive new number from the lab, I would write it on the white board as physical proof and celebration of what God was doing.

The staff at Henry Ford!!  The nurses!  I don’t even know how to begin to describe them.  They became our cheerleaders, and friends, and advocates, and nurturers.  We have many to thank.  The care they gave was over and above what we were used to–simply exemplary.  Each one became a face and a friend we will never forget.

We got some test results showing a parasite.  This nasty guy had found its way into my husband and set up shop.  Not uncommon, this parasite had been found near our area recently.  Acting alone, this guy could cause some upset, but nothing like what we were seeing.  Still stymied, doctors kept searching.

Three days until closing.

I am sitting in the room with my husband.  I get a text from my favorite new doctor in our hometown–the one who sent us here.  The same one who offered to help my family in our absence.  He had gotten some lab results back and texted me to get the number for our ICU pod to talk to the doctors.  He gave me a name of a bacteria.  Google translated it for me.

This nasty bacteria had been found.  It is similar to E. coli.  This one caused low platelet count and bloody diarrhea.  Yup.

As the day progressed, our favorite Detroit doctor with whom we had great life conversations came in to tell us that it seemed that the parasite and the bacteria both present in Christian’s system had been having one heck of a party.

This was our answer.  Though unheard of, and baffling, the great news was the bacteria was treatable with a strong five-day antibiotic!  The doctors would continue to boost his system and make sure his numbers climbed, but when they did, we would be released.

I cannot tell you the relief we felt.  We rejoiced as a family.  We put all of our kids on speakerphone and praised God together.  We did happy dances.

And then, I left the room for a few minutes while my husband used the bathroom.  When I returned, my husband was furious and the beeps on his monitor were going crazy.  Some young resident doctors had come in during the few minutes I was gone and misread a report, scared Christian into thinking he was back in danger and tried to bully him into more invasive testing.

More proof of the spiritual attack against us.  The minute we had the victory in view, the enemy swooped in for one final attempted blow.

But it didn’t work.  We praised it away.  We spoke truth and life.  We rebuked fear.  The battle was over.

We all slept that night, he in his hospital bed, and I in my hospital apartment with my friend.  No more transfusions.  No more fear.  We were on our way outta there and we could feel it.  The spiritual tides had turned.

Two days until closing.

By the end of the day Saturday we were moved to a regular room. (!!!!!!)

One day until closing.

New doctors came in to be sure what we wanted was to be discharged.  “Shouldn’t we wait and get the numbers higher?” they would ask.  “Who will you follow up with to make sure he is okay if you’re moving?”

“Let us out!” we exclaimed.

“This case is incredible!” they said.  “You could sell your story,” they said.  “Residents will be doing case studies on you,” they said.

“This is our miracle!  Only God.” we said.

By Sunday at noon we were released.

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We drove straight to Five Guys Burgers and Fries for a burger.  Yup!  From jello and ginger ale to a cheeseburger and fries.

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And my friend drove us home. taxi

We hugged our children like never before.

On Monday, with bruises looking like tattoo sleeves up and down his arms and needle holes too numerous to count, and ankles swollen like balloons, we showed up at the title office to sign off on the sale of our home.

We never even unpacked.

On Tuesday, we loaded into our 26 foot box truck so incredibly packed by just our son and daughter and left with Load Number One on our 500 mile drive to our new paradise–with me behind the wheel for the very first time and my husband in the passenger seat with his feet elevated.  Thirteen hours later, we were reunited with our beautiful daughter and granddaughter.

Wednesday, we showed up at the title office in our new town to purchase our dream home.  You should have seen their shocked faces when we actually walked in!

Thursday and Friday my kids and I unloaded the contents of our truck into our new garage.

Friday and Saturday we drove back.

Sunday–ONE WEEK after our release, our beautiful friends and family came over to help us pack up the mess we were so behind on so we could drive again on Monday for Load Number Two, this time with my husband behind the wheel!

Let’s talk about how big our God is.  You cannot deny this miracle.  You cannot read our story and refuse to see the hand of God in every step.  The timing!  It’s simply miraculous!!

As bad as things got, as scared as we were, is exactly how good it is, how amazing it is on this side.  Once He put a stop to the attacks, everything turned around.  If we needed to show anyone that we would always acknowledge His love, no matter what the circumstances, we did.  If God needed to walk us through the valley of the shadow of death to draw us even closer to His heart, so be it.  Though it may have looked like we were unprotected, we were quite the opposite.  God only let the enemy so close before He put him square in his place and took His kids to our promised land.

Here we are.  A brand new start.  Resting and basking completely in the love of our God–through the storm AND on the other side.

And by the time the new owners got our former home, the basement had dried up.

Not one detail was missed.

The amount of love shown by our friends and family has been overwhelming.  We missed every single going-away dinner and gathering leading up to our move, but we got to hug so many necks that last day.  Some friends followed us on our move to help us unload!  We have had beautiful houseguests help us settle in almost all of these first days.  They are truly an extension of the love of our God.

This is His story–used only for His glory.  If you take even one thing from our story, see His love.  His love is beyond measure.  No matter what circumstances look like with our little eyes, God is working things out for the best for those who love Him.  It doesn’t mean things always go our way.  That’s not being loved, that’s being spoiled.  It means that He would lovingly do what it takes to draw us close to His heart;  to pull us in to a place where we know Him more.  More than houses, or good health, or things looking great on the outside, the whole point is to know where we stand with the One Who longs for a real relationship with us.  That has value far beyond this life.

I leave off for now with photos from our new home.  Stay tuned for more adventures from the farm.  There are sure to be many.

It is, of course, always an adventure…

 

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Weathering the Storm (Part Three)

This is part three in a series.  Click here for Part One and here for Part Two.

I was devastated.  We were being transported via ambulance to Henry Ford Hospital in Detroit. A three hour road trip at this point in the story felt impossible for many reasons.  For one, my husband was in no condition to leave his bed;  I couldn’t imagine him being carted across the state.  For another, I was so beyond exhausted after several nights without sleep that I didn’t think I could find my way to my car in the parking lot, let alone to drive somewhere I’d never been–downtown Detroit didn’t sound like a picnic.  I was going to be even more alone than I had been so far.  The weight of the world and the future of our family felt like it rested somewhere between my shoulder blades.

As they prepared the ambulance and our drivers and all of the paperwork, I called my beloved friend and told her I was leaving.  Would she please watch out for my children–the two at home loading our moving truck and one with her family much too far away to be comfortable.

She basically said, “No.  I’m coming with you.  Whatever happens you cannot be alone in this.”  And then she told her boss and left work and arranged for my car to be picked up from the hospital and brought home, and took her place driving behind our ambulance.   She would soon guide me through mazes of hallways and secure our hotel room and haul my bags around and help me rally–and walk the halls and pray for us.  My other beautiful friends rallied as well.  They brought food to my kids and called and texted them and stopped over to hug them.  Beautiful friends were  texting me dreams and visions God had given them for us, and more folks than I knew how to count were praying.  All my bases were covered.

The wise man prays to God, not for safety from danger, but for deliverance from fear.  It is the storm within which endangers him, not the storm without.–Ralph Waldo Emerson

I got into the ambulance with my husband in the back and began a three hour road trip in a rainstorm at 80 mph listening to eighties music with a stranger (the driver) while eating a Lunchable.  Strangest, most surreal moment I can remember.

And then we arrived.  A huge hospital–completely scary and overwhelming as we entered through the emergency room and wound our way through the maze up to our new intensive care unit.  It all started all over again.  The million questions, the dozens of doctors, the transfusions, resisting fear, standing on faith, barely sleeping, just staring at my husband’s face…

Except this time, I had to leave him at night and  go to a hotel room and wonder if he would be okay while I wasn’t there.  Here, the staff quickly became our compassionate lifeline.  Here, God was about to reveal some answers…

 Storms make the oak grow deeper roots.–George Herbert

There is an enemy out there and he whispers lies.  He waits in the shadows until it’s dark and the world feels scary and then he quietly whispers lies into folks’ minds.  Sometimes he waits until you’re almost asleep and then he SHOUTS a scary word and makes you startled and unsettled and afraid.

But then…then, there’s a sweet and gentle whisper, like a beautiful melody wafting along on the breeze ever so faintly waiting to be heard, bringing words to remembrance.  Words of peace.  Words of love.  Words of truth.  Harder to hold on to, so elusive are they.  But they are real.  

We have heard both.  Lots of lies from the dream-dasher.  As I look into my husband’s eyes and see the same desperate look my sweet daughter gave me after hemorrhaging after childbirth–the same begging-for-help expression–the same pale features and drawn face, I heard lies.  From one hospital to another, there were doctors who told me that there was no way our dreams could happen.  I was told my husband would be here for weeks.  I heard words like cancer and leukemia.  We were asked if there were things that we had done to remove God’s protection over our lives.  We sought our God and asked why He brought us to this place.  Had we missed the mark somewhere?  Was this a lesson He was teaching us?

Time and time again, He responded ever-so-quietly.  We had recently told Him to give us a story.  To use us for His glory.  That if He wanted to fulfill our dream and His plan that He birthed in our family, that whatever the story was, we would tell of His goodness–shout it from the rooftops.  

This enemy, he tried hard to unseat us.  He wanted us to doubt and feel abandoned and to kill the dream.  

But this…this is the story about how he failed.  How God is bigger.  How God even uses the hardest of things to show His love–if we wait for it.

I remember back just a week or so ago.  I was driving in the country.  It was a lovely spring day.  In front of me at one point was the biggest hill in our area.  It struck me that this hill looked quite daunting upon approach.  If I had to climb it on foot, I would be overwhelmed, and quit before I even started.  As it stood in front of me, it looked like my car should strain to climb it.

But, in truth, as I began my ascent, in my cutest little Honda Pilot, it didn’t even really feel like I was on a hill.  On either side, spring flowers were blooming.  Halfway up, the hill hardly looked steep–just a slight grade.

It just depended on how I looked at it.  In the rear view, it was just a thing in my past.  No big deal.  A place I’d been.  rear view

I could have stopped at the bottom and gotten myself all worked up over the possibilities.  What if my car stopped and rolled backwards when I got halfway up?  What if I just couldn’t climb the hill?  Maybe I shouldn’t even try.

But I would have missed the victory!  The view from the top is spectacular!  The perspective from that vantage point is priceless.

Once the climb is over, it ceases to look like any kind of issue and just looks like a place I’ve been.

That’s where I want so desperately to be.  Over the hump.  On the other side.  I know it’s there.

I hate this hill at this moment.  But in me, it is producing something.  Some sort of strength.  An amazing sort of closeness to my heavenly Daddy.

And you should see the flowers along the way!

To be continued…

In the midst of the flurry–clarity.

In the midst of the storm–calm.

In the midst of divided interests–certainty.

In the many roads–a certain choice.

–MaryAnne Radmacher