Friday, December 31, 2010

The Shadowlands

"Then Aslan turned to them and said: '...you are - as you used to call it in the Shadowlands - dead. The term is over: the holidays have begun. The dream is ended: this is the morning....'
     And for us this is the end of all the stories, and we can most truly say that they all lived happily ever after. But for them it was truly the beginning of the real story. All their life in this world and all their adventures in Narnia had only been the cover and the title page: now at last they were beginning Chapter One of the Great Story which no one on earth has read: which goes on for ever: in which every chapter is better then the one before."
                              - The Last Battle, by C. S. Lewis


For all of you who have ever wondered about the origin of the movie title, here it is. Lewis was a Platonist. These ARE the Shadowlands...in the words of Lewis "the anesthetic fog we call Nature." Some day we shall go "higher up and higher in" forever in Aslan's Country...:-) (Go see "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" if you haven't. While not exactly true to the book it's a good movie none the less.)

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

More Good News

I did my weekly visit to the Wound Care Clinic this morning. The foot wounds are doing remarkably well healing with the Biostep-Ag. It's good stuff! In addition, the Wound Care Clinic will dress the wound once a week (with Karen serving as backup at home if needed...more stuff she didn't bargain for when she married me...:-) so no more Home Health Care visits! That means Monday, Wednesday, and Friday belong to us again...:-). Also, as of the one I did this morning at 6:00 a.m., no more antibiotic infusions...woohoo! Maybe I'll really be able to taste food again! I go to the Infusion Clinic tomorrow morning to have my picc line dressing changed, but it looks like that will be coming out with my visit to the Wound Care Clinic next week. I've had it for six months, but believe me I won't miss it. Can walking be far away? Not too much longer, I think. We also get to go see the girls and their hubbies on Thursday! What a great set of Christmas gifts! I am very thankful!

Now, for those of you who wonder what I read for fun, here's my list:

Heidegger and a Hippo Walk Through Those Pearly Gates: Using Philosophy (And Jokes) To Explore Life, Death, the Afterlife, and Everyting in Between, by Thomas Cathcart & Daniel Klein

If You Can Read This; The Philosophy of Bumper Stickers, by Jack Bowen

The Amazing Story of Quantum Mechanics; A Math-Free Exploration of the Science That Made Our World, by James Kakalios

The Greatest Show on Earth; The Evidence for Evolution, by Richard Dawkins (A favorite author of mine, and yes, I realize that he is an atheist...lol!)

Have yourselves a merry little Christmas...or a big one, whatever the case may be!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

The Mystery in Which We Live

"Is the mystery within which we live, and to which we are inescapably bonded, ultimately gracious or indifferent? Are we grounded in a reality that cares for us or not? That is for us or against us? The Christian response to these questions is that the hallmark of God is graciousness. God cares for us. God is for us. This takes us to the heart of the reality we call grace." - Richard M. Gula

The Incarnation is the proof of God's loving care for us. If the story is true, it is the most remarkable story ever told on this planet...that somehow the God who created a universe billions of light years across, full of galaxies and stars innumerable, entered into the small Child in the stable in Bethlehem for the sole purpose of human redemption. It is a mystery unfathomable and such a strange way to save the world. As the White Witch in The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe says as she is about to sacrifice Aslan, "Did you think by this to save the human creature?" The Answer from the Deeper Magic from beyond the Dawn of Time is a resounding, "Yes!" that echoes through the timeless halls of eternity!

"It's still a mystery to me that the hands of God could be so small...."

"So wrap our injured flesh around you,
Breathe our air and walk our sod,
Rub our sin and make us holy,
Perfect Son of God,
Perfect Son of God."

Welcome to our world...You who called the galaxies and stars into being. We were too busy with being ourselves to even know it was You. So angels sang to a group of lowly shepherds and foreign astrologers were wise enough to read your signs in the skies and come to find You.

Forgive us for being so tied up in ourselves that we missed Your coming. Help us not to miss it again in this season of parties, shopping, and busy-ness. Turn our hearts to a quiet stable in Bethlehem to ponder this Great Mystery. Let us be still and know that this is God who has entered our world because God loves us and cares for us.

Welcome to our world........

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Wound Care Update

I went for my usual Wound Care Clinic visit today. It appears that the Biostep-Ag is doing its job! The wound looks good and is progressing well. It also appears that I am now permanently done with the wound vacc and not just a two week hiatus. We're going to send it back to the company it came from this week! It also appears that the end to my antibiotic infusions are in sight...maybe next week. My picc line will stay in for a bit, just to be sure, but the end is coming! When the picc line is gone and the foot is well, I intend to take an hour long shower (or at least as long as the hot water lasts...lol). I will also then be able to vertically visit the upstairs realms of my house and dismantle the Infirmary so it can become a den again. Please pray that the progress continues in the right direction. It would be a great Christmas gift!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

The Faith of a Marshwiggle

"'One word, Ma'am,' he said, coming back from the fire, limping because of the pain. 'One word. All you've been saying is quite right. I shouldn't wonder. I'm a chap who always liked to know the worst and put the best face I can on it. So I won't deny any of what you've said. But there's one thing more to be said, even so. Suppose we have only dreamed or made up, all those things - trees and grass and sun and moon and stars and Aslan himself. Suppose we have. Then all I can say is that, in that case, the made up things seem a good deal more important than the real ones. Suppose this black pit of a kingdom of yours is the only real world. Well, it strikes me as a pretty poor one. And that's a funny thing, when you come to think of it. We're just babies making up a game, if you're right. But four babies playing a game can make a play world which licks your real world hollow. That's why I'm going to stand by the play world. I'm on Aslan's side even if there isn't any Aslan to lead it. I'm going to live as like a Narnian as I can even if there isn't any Narnia.'"
                                  - The Silver Chair, C.S. Lewis

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Biostep-Ag

We visited the Wound Care Clinic this morning and came away with good news. My foot has reached a point in healing where we are going to try something different. They have put me on a regimen using something called Biostep-Ag. It's a collagen based looking foam with antibacterial in it that they are placing in and on the wound. My tissue will grow around it and absorb it. We will do new dressings every MWF with Home Health Care just like I was doing with the wound vacc. Notice I said "was doing." I am now on at least a two week hiatus from the wound vacc pending the results from the Biostep-Ag. If it does well, I may be permanently free of the wound vacc and well on the way to being able to use the foot again before too long. It will be wonderful not having tubing down my leg and attached to my foot and no extra eight pound vacc attachment around my neck. I still cannot have any weight bearing on the foot, but that is nothing new. At least the extra attachments won't be there for awhile. I will still have the picc line and be on infusion antibiotics until there is no open wound in my foot, but perhaps the end is in sight. Let's pray that the Biostep-Ag works its wonders in the next few weeks!

Friday, December 3, 2010

The Invisible Presence

Shasta: "Then it was you who wounded Aravis?"
Aslan: "It was I."
Shasta: "But what for?"
Aslan: "Child," said the voice, "I am telling you your story, not hers. I tell no one any story but his own."
Shasta: "Who are you?"
Aslan: "Myself...."
          -From The Horse and His Boy, C.S. Lewis

"If what you want is an argument against Christianity (and I well remember how eagerly I looked for such arguments when I began to be afraid it was true) you can easily find some stupid and unsatisfactory Christian and say, 'So there's your boasted new man! Give me the old kind.' But if once you have begun to see that Christianity is on other grounds probable, you will know in your heart that this is only evading the issue. What can you ever really know of other peoples' souls - of their temptations, their opportunities, their struggles? One soul in the whole creation you do know: and it is the only one whose fate is placed in your hands. If there is a God, you are, in a sense, alone with Him. You cannot put Him off with speculations about your next door neighbours or memories of what you have read in books. What will all that chatter and hearsay count (will you even be able to remember it?) when the anaesthetic fog, which we call 'nature' or 'the real world' fades away and the Presence in which you have always stood becomes palpable, immediate, and unavoidable?"
      - Mere Christianity, Book IV, Chapter 10, C.S. Lewis

"No sooner had He spoken than I caught a glimpse of the Light that had escaped the Most Holy Place when the Lord first entered the torn veil. It continued its boundless journey through the ages, touching every time and every nation. It was not a haphazard flash of light, but a calculated methodical search for everyone who ever lived. Upon each one, the Light of His Glory rested, urging, nudging, calling, drawing each person to Him who sits on the throne....I sat in awe of the Light's gentle determination to shine in the heart of every living person, revealing the love and forgiving power of the Christ of God."   - from Romancing the Divine, Don Nori, p. 175

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Today's Visit to Wound Care

I went to the Wound Care Clinic in HEB today. Dr. Sotman says the foot is doing well. The nurse had me look at the bottom of the foot for the first time in a long time. It is now no longer one big wound, but two much smaller wounds, one of which is not so very far from being completely healed. The other wound is where the surgery to remove the toe bones occurred and it is progressing slower, but Dr. Sotman says the tissue is nice and pink and looking good as well. The best news is that Dr. Sotman thinks a Christmas trip to Birmingham, AL to spend Christmas with our daughters is absolutely doable. That is indeed good news! The foot is slowly but surely healing and my goal is to be back at work when everyone returns from the holidays in January. Pray to that end and that the foot continues on its present progress!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Thanksgiving

How does one really give thanks to God for all the blessings one has?

I have so much this year to be thankful for. Actually, I have always had so much to be thankful for in a life full of good things. But until now my senses, my awareness of things, has been dulled by a cold kind of selfishness that has governed my life. However, my brush with death this past summer brought me face to face with my mortality and I am now truly reminded of all of the good gifts I have been given.

I am thankful beyond measure tonight for my life, a gift that we simply too often take for granted. I am thankful for my Mom and Dad and brother and sister and the rich Christian heritage given to me by my family of origin. I am thankful to God for my loving, caring wife, Karen, who has been by my side in all of this and her gifts of loving and caring for people. I give grateful thanks to God for my two wonderful daughters, Katie and Mary Beth, for their husbands, Matt and Caleb, and for the commitment of all of them to the faith. I am thankful for the gift of pets and their delightful little personalities as they brighten my life. I am thankful for extended family and a wealth I have of wonderful friends. It is in moments of crisis that one realizes just how many and how wide that circle is. I am thankful beyond measure for my church family at Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth. The wideness, deepness, and richness of their caring and compassion during this period of my life can neither be measured nor repaid. I love you, church family, and am honored and blessed by God to be a member of such a community. And finally, I am thankful to God for His Son, Jesus and the mercy and grace God has shown to such a pig-headed, stubborn human such as I am.

I am reminded of a song by Billy Crockett...."Let us be thankful boys and girls..." for so many things!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

The Advent Conspiracy

Advent is upon us and I have a suggestion...no, really a request for all of you....

As he got older my Dad and I used to have conversations about Christmas and all the hassle of buying gifts for family members, finding just the right gift, how much money to spend, etc. I would ask him what he wanted for Christmas. He would always reply that he had enough, and really didn't need anything else. He suggested that we give gifts to those who really needed them in the family's name. We never really convinced the other family members about this wish, but it has become even more importnant to me now.

My near death experience this summer has caused me to do a great deal of thinking. I look around myself and realize that I have all that I really need...a lovely, loving wife, two wonderful daughters and their wonderful husbands, my dogs and the cat who give me great delight, great extended family and friends and a loving church home. I have enough to eat and a warm place to sleep. But what I really have is the one gift that God gave me this summer, more life to experience all of these wonderful things.

Because of this I want to invite you to join the Advent Conspiracy. This year instead of spending all of that money on gifts we don't need or will return the day after Christmas, why not spend that money on real gifts? Give the gift that you have been given to others, the gift of life. Spend your money on gifts that will really make a difference in the lives of people throughout the world. Join the Advent Conspiracy...and change the season to one of true gift giving. If you want to know what I would like for Christmas, then understand the conspiracy! Give the gifts of life...clean water, animals, school supplies, meals....real hope, real change.

Here are several places to find real opportunities to give the gift of life:

http://www.adventconspiracy.org - Watch the video! Give the gift of clean water to people who need it...a thing so simple that we take for granted.

http://www.heifer.org - give a charitable gift to provide animals to change people's lives.

http://www.thefellowship.info - Check out the CBF Gift Catalog and find multiple opportunities to change lives world wide.

What if Christmas became a world changing event again?

Come join the Conspiracy!

     God, who gives seed to the farmer to plant, and later on good crops to harvest and eat, will give you more and more seed to plant so that you can give away more and more fruit from your harvest.
     Yes, God will give you much so that you can give away much, and when you take your gifts to those who need them they will break out into thanksgiving and praise to God for your help.
     So, two good things happen as a result of your gift - those in need are helped, and many overflow with thanks to God.
     Those you help will be glad not only because of your generous gifts to themselves and to others, but they will praise God for this proof that you really do love the Lord. 
     And they will pray for you with deep fervor and feeling because of the wonderful grace of God within you.
     Thank God for His Son - His gift to wonderful for words.
                                         - II Corinthians 9:10-15 from the Living New Testament
 

My New Blog

This is the irrational season
When love blooms bright and wild.
Had Mary been filled with reason
There's have been no room for the child.

Madeleine L'Engle

The above is just a thought for the Advent season.  I've created my own new blog to share my thoughts and contemplations for any who are interested in reading.


http://exploringthemystery.blogspot.com

Tim

Real Worship...The ordinary and extraordinary aspects in the movement of God's grace

"Mass had already begun, and the priest was reading the epistle. Then a brother in a brown robe came out, and you could see he was going to lead the children in singing a hymn. High up behind the altar St. Francis raised his arms up to God, showing the stigmata in his hands; the children began to sing. Their voices were very clear, they sang loud, their song soared straight up into the roof with a strong and direct flight and filled the whole church with its clarity. Then when the song was done, and the warning bell for consecration chimed in with the last notes of the hymn and the church filled with the vast rumour of people going down on their knees everywhere in it: and then the priest seemed to be standing in the exact center of the universe. Then the bell rang again, three times.

Before any head was raised again the clear cry of the brother in the brown robe cut through the silence with the words: 'Yo creo...' 'I believe' which immediately all the children took up after him with such loud and strong and clear voices, and such unanimity and such meaning and such fervor that something went off inside of me like a thunderclap and without seeing anything or apprehending anything extraordinary through any of my senses (my eyes were open on precisely what was there, the church), I knew with the most absolute and unquestionable certainty that before me, between me and the altar, somewhere in the center of the church, up in the air (or any other place because in no place), but directly before my eyes, or directly present in some apprehension or other of mine which was above that of the senses, was at the same time God in all His essence, all His power, all His glory, and God in Himself and God surrounded by the radiant faces of the uncountable thousands upon thousands of saints contemplating His glory and praising His Holy Name. And so the unshakable certainty, the clear and immediate knowledge that heaven was right in front of me, struck me like a thunderbolt and went through me like a flash of lightning and seemed to lift me clean up off the earth."

Thomas Merton quoted on pg. 151 of The Seven Mountains of Thomas Merton, by Michael Mott

I love my church, Broadway Baptist Church in Fort Worth, Texas and I am grateful to have had moments like Merton describes in the serious work of worship that goes on each Sunday there.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

Christ the King

Tomorrow is the end of the church liturgical year. It is Christ the King Sunday. We began the seasons of the church year last Advent with anticipation, but we end the seasons of the church year with a certainty. In Advent we waited for the needed and longed-for definitive and ultimate self-disclosure of God in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth. On Reign of Christ Sunday we celebrate the fulfillment of the biblical revelation of God in Christ.

Here in light of Christ's triumphant presence we find our voice and declare once again, Jesus Christ is Lord of all and shall reign as Lord in my life.

Revelation 1:4-8

Friday

So, Friday was a lovely day...my pcp decided it was time for me to have a colonoscopy and an upper GI. My iron was very low when I was in the hospital in June and my doctor wanted to rule out all possibilities other than the infection I had. Besides, everyone over 50 should have one. So mine happened Friday morning. I must say that the procedures were not that bad since I was out most of the time, particularly for the upper GI. The preparation for it the night before, however, was no fun at all. Taking all that stuff to empty you out is bad enough when you have both legs and no wound vacc. Since I have one leg and a wound vacc, it meant camping out in the downstairs bathroom until all was done. Let me tell you, that's no fun...lol. We had to be there at 7:15 Friday morning which meant not a lot of sleep. We were finished and out before 9:30 and then went and had the best tasting breakfast I ever had. The good news is that everything is normal and I don't need to have it again for eight years.

The following is a nice video sent to me from my friend, Charlie Shapard, in honor of the event!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_N0w2rORwSc

Friday, November 12, 2010

What to do?

I've been pondering what to do with my future a lot lately...and I came across this quote from Frederick Buechner. It is great advice for all of us, but I post it here mainly as a reminder to my daughters.

"The kind of work God usually calls you to do is the kind of work (a) that you need most to do, and (b) that the world needs most to have done. If you really get a kick out of your work, you've presumably met requirement (a), but if your work is writing deodorant commercials, the chances may be that you've missed requirement (b). On the other hand, if your work is being a doctor in a leper colony, you've probably met requirement (b), but if most of the time you're bored and depressed by your work, the chances are you've not only bypassed (a), but you probably aren't helping your patients much either. Neither the hair shirt nor the soft birth will do. The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world's deep hunger meet."

I think maybe I know where that place is for me...and will try to go there.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

The Marathon Doctor's Visits Day

Well, it's been a long day. I've had three doctor's office visits today. We left at 9 a.m. and didn't get back until after 4. I went to the eye doctor, the surgeon, and my infectious disease doctor. Here are the reports.

The eye doctor's visit was just a couple tests and was very quick. Went in at 9:30 and was out before 10. The results of the main test will be given to me tomorrow afternoon via phone call. The tech also checked the pressure in my eyes and it was down from last time. We'll see what tomorrow brings.

The second visit was to my surgeon at 11:30. He is very pleased with the healing and doesn't need to see me for a month. He also gave me a prescription for shoes for diabetics which he said were very good, but were ugly and expensive. It won't be much longer (about a month?) before I will have two feet for walking again. He sent me on to my next appointment with my infectious disease doctor to get Dr. Sotman's (my infectious disease doctor) advice about where to go from here. It appears I will NOT need a skin graft as things seem to be progressing well.

We ended up at Dr. Sotman's office at 1:30. Dr. Sotman looked at the foot and was very pleased. (He has been working on it since the beginning.) I will now being going back to see Dr. Sotman at his wound care clinic in HEB where I was before. (I love the staff there!) I'll be on the wound vacc maybe at least for another month (depending!) as he believes there is still great benefit to be gained with it. As long as the wound is open, I will still be on antibiotics to kill any unwanted critters that try to grow there. Dr. Sotman said the wound on bottom of my foot looks like Batman's mask...lol. That's a good thing because it means it's closing up in the middle and filling in.

Karen and I are tired from the long day, but are pleased with the results we heard. There is at least an end in sight.

We appreciate your thoughts and prayers. We've come a very long way and now we just need to persevere to the end.

p.s. A bonus...I don't have the wound vacc on tonight...:-). We'll put it back on tomorrow.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Trying my Wings

I have just returned from three days of travel. Yes, travel to Norman, OK for a missions fair at North Haven Church and then to McAllen, TX for meetings at the BGCT. I did it! I was able to make the 3 hour drive each way to OK and stand at the booth and was happy to be there representing CBF. I returned on Sunday evening and left on Monday morning for south TX. That trip included a little more than a car ride. This was the test - the airport and rental car lot!

I managed to park the car, ride the shuttle to the terminal and check my bag only to learn that the gate had been changed to another terminal. Security was a whole new experience. I knew I would set off the alarm and sure enough I did. I was asked to step aside and a female was called to "pat me down". She did and explained that I would have to do this every time I go through security, no matter if I have a card from the doctor or not! I might as well get used to being patted down from now on - unless the airport has those new machines that do the body scan. I will just need to allow extra time to clear security!

I did however make it through security and rode the Skylink to my new terminal and board the plane. Whew, I made it my destination! Rented a car and toted my luggage, a display and my rolling backpack to the car and then to the convention center. But I did it and was so pleased that I was able to do that because 3 months ago - I could not. I participated in several meetings, walked the convention center several times and managed to return the rental car, make it through security (patted down again) and return home safe and sound last night. I was tired but no worse for wear! I made it - my first trip to fly since my surgery.

My new hip is doing great, still have some muscle healing and strengthening to go but I'm walking and carrying and doing good.

Thanks be to God!

Thank you!


Thank you!
Two short words that express our gratitude to so many people who have helped us during the past several months. We have had people bring meals, provide transportation to doctors' appointments, mow our grass, shop for groceries and deliver, and run errands of all kinds. These beautiful roses were our way of saying thank you to so many people. I hope you were able to enjoy the beauty of them in worship last week!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Another antibiotic...

So, I went to see mt infectious disease doctor, Dr. Sotman, today as I do every Thursday...to get the dressing on my picc line changed and to get my weekly antibiotic supply. Today, Dr. Sotman had finally tracked down the culture they did on the foot bone removed during my surgery almost 3 weeks ago...he's very persistent...lol. It seems there are some new bacteria trying to grow there, so I now am on a third kind of antibiotic. Unfortunately, this one degrades quicker, so I have to pick it up twice a week and I can't get it out of refrigeration too early. This is not a problem for my 2:00 p.m. and 10 p.m. infusions, but 2 to 4 hours before my 6 a.m. infusion will be interesting...:-). C'est la vie!

I see my surgeon next Thursday, but my wound care nurse says the foot looks better each time. It still looks a little funky since its missing the two bones. My fourth and fifth toes are sort of out there on their own. But the wound is getting smaller bit by bit and the wound vacc is now only on the bottom of my foot. The hole that was in the top of my foot is almost completely gone and just needs a little band aid now. Hope that is soon ture of the bottom.

The healing process is slow, but sure and....complicated. So, what's new? lol

Monday, November 1, 2010

We Fall Down....

I have loved being back in worship at Broadway these past few Sundays. This past Sunday there was a time of remembrance for all the saints of Broadway who died in the previous year. Again, I realized how close I came to having my name on that list and it has again set my mind to pondering exactly what this "saint" (I use that term loosely...lol) needs to do with the rest of his life.

For those of you who can understand...I have been broken and am being remade (on several levels).

A couple of Sundays ago Jorene Swift's sermon asked a very important question about what you would do if you knew you only had a short time left to live. My summer experience has brought the reality of that fact home to my heart. First of all, I agree that I would want my wife and daughters and family and friends to know how much I love them...something we fail to say not nearly often enough. But the question remains for me, what will I do with whatever time is left to me...and that is the center of my "remaking." Jorene quoted a line from one of my favorite poems "Who Am I?" from Dietrich Bonhoeffer who wrote it during the last imprisonment before his death. (I love it because I have always identified with it and find the words express my own struggles.) I give you the last stanza here. (If you want the whole poem it is in an earlier post on this blog under "Who Am I?").

Who am I? This or the other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? A hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

I've often pondered the word "saint." If I am, I am like Bonhoeffer's saint above, struggling with my own inner hypocrisy while others think something different of me. But I think sainthood is more like the understanding found in Bob Carlisle's wonderful story told in song "We Fall Down."
In it a man goes to the market everyday bearing a heavy load and everyday passes a monastery. As he goes by he often ponders what life would be like in such a place away from the heavy load he bears. One day as he is passing by he meets a priest coming out of the monastery and he asks the priest what life is like for the "saints" in that place. The priest replies:

We fall down, we get up,
We fall down, we get up,
We fall down, we get up,
And the saints are just the sinners,
Who fall down and get up.

In the end, being remade is just another time of getting up, and in doing so remembering, "Whoever I am, O God, you know I am thine!"

"There remains for us only the very narrow way, often extremely difficult to find, of living everyday as if it were our last, and yet living in faith and responsibility as though there were to be a great future. It is not easy to be brave and keep that spirit alive, but it is imperative."
-Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Tegel Prison

I think the following passage from my daily devotional guide illustrates how I really want to be "remade."

"'It's time,' announced the Other One.
'I know,' responded the man. 'Could you explain the choices to me again?'
'Of course,' said the Other One. 'I will write one thing in the dust and one thing only. I will write whatever you ask me to write, and whatever it is will become a part of your life. You may ask for anything, any knowledge, any virtue, any gift, any hope, any dream, any grace, any possession, anything. I will write it in the dust, and it will become a part of you and your life.'...
Everything good he could think of to ask for was incomplete and flawed in some way. While each choice fulfilled one hope or dream, it left some other hope or dream unprotected and potentially unfulfilled. That is why he had been sitting there for so long.
'It's time,' the Other One reminded him again.
'I know,' replied the man. 'I know.'
'What shall I write in your dust?'
The man took a deep breath. He was ready to make his decision.
'Your Name,' he declared to the Other One. 'Write your Name in my dust.'
Suddenly it seemed as if light and song surrounded them as the Other One moved a single finger toward the tabletop."

-From The Carpenter and the Unbuilder, by David M. Griebner

John 8:1-11





Saturday, October 30, 2010

Happy Halloween!

A quick update since we haven't posted in awhile. I had surgery to remove some bad bones a little over two weeks ago and more integra implanted. I went to the surgeon on Thursday and everything looks good. The wound vacc is no longer having to be bridged between the bottom and top of my foot. The wound on the top of the foot has graduated to a band aid and some antibiotic. Not bad for a wound where originally I could see one of my toe tendons. The wound vacc is now directly on the bottom wound only. I see the surgeon again in two weeks and we'll decide where we go then.

I went to the eye doctor yesterday. The old eyes are good and they haven't changed much. Getting new glasses because the ones I have are scratched badly. It will be another new look for me, so be ready.

I gain a little bit more stamina with each outing, but still realize I tire easily.

Karen's doing well and each physical therapy session gives her a little more strength. She's been cleared to travel...so she's fully back in the saddle again. I can't wait to be back there myself.

It's a beautiful Saturday here close to All Hallows Eve and then All Saints Day!

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Home....

Hebrews 11:13-16
"All of these died in faith without having received the promises, but from a distance they saw and greeted them. They confessed that they were strangers and foreigners on the earth, for people who speak in this way make it clear that they are seeking a homeland. If they had been thinking of the land they left behind, they would have had opportunity to return. But as it is, they desire a better country, that is, a heavenly one. Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God; indeed God has a city prepared for them."

"We are all strangers in a strange land, longing for home, but not quite knowing what or where home is. We glimpse it sometimes in our dreams, or as we turn a corner, and suddenly there is a strange, sweet familiarity that vanishes almost as soon as it comes." (Story as Truth: The Rock that is Higher, Madeleine L'Engle, pg. 24)

"Whenever we encounter the beautiful, our hearts awaken , stir, quicken, thrill because there is and extraordinary magic power in the least thing; ...a shade of the sky at a given moment of the day, or a calm, cold night brilliant with starshine - all things that ravish the heart....They are little oases in the vast wasteland of the world." - Brennan Manning

"So where is the home for which we are so homesick? It is something that is still to come; it is that towards which all Creation is groaning in travail. It is the kingdom of God that will be ready when Christ comes again, not only to us on our little planet, but to all of Creation. We are homesick not so much for something that was, and was lost, as for something that will be, and is to be found." (Story as Truth: The Rock that is Higher, Madeleine L'Engle, pg. 31)

"Perhaps the city of God is not so much a place in space, as a place in the heart." (L'Engle, pg. 32)

Home is a place I've never been to, yet I've longed for all my life.

"No sooner had He spoken than I caught a glimpse of the Light that had escaped the Most Holy Place when the Lord first entered the torn veil. It continued its boundless journey through the ages, touching every time and every nation. It was not a haphazard flash of light, but a calculated, methodical search for everyone who ever lived. Upon each one, the Light of His glory rested, urging, nudging, calling, drawing each person to Him who sits on the throne.
I sat in awe of the Light's gentle determination to shine in the heart of every living person, revealing the love and forgiving power of the Christ of God." (Romancing the Divine, Don Nori, pg.175)

"And so it goes, all of Creation singing its praise of the Lord from the place of joy, which is home."
(L'Engle, pg. 34)

Friday, October 15, 2010

Home from day surgery...

Just a quick update...home from day surgery at Baylor Surgical Hospital. All went well and the surgeon believes we know have gotten rid of all the offending tissue. He put another round of integra in it's place so we hope we're on the downhill side of regrowing my whole foot. Unfortunately, I now have two floppy toes that will bear watching all the time. Poor little piggies...now two of them "have none!" Looking forward to a whole, healed foot and some walking in the future, hopefully back in my beloved Hatch before too long.

In the meantime, here's a great quote from Richard Foster for those of you who really want to be Christian leaders:

"In the everlasting kingdom of Christ. low is high, down is up, weak is strong, service is power. Do you sincerely want to engage in the ministry of power? Do you want to be a leader who is a blessing to people? Do you honestly want to be used by God to heal human hurts? Then learn to become a servant of all. 'If anyone would be first, he must be last of all and servant of all.'
(Mark 9:35) The ministry of power functions through the ministry of the towel." - From Money, Sex, and Power by Richard J. Foster

We could use a heavy dose of this reminder in our lives today! I certainly intend to live differently from now on...:-).

Thursday, October 14, 2010

The Night Shift

"There is always a night shift and sooner or later we are put on it. The praise does not cease with the fading of the light, but goes on through the spiritual night as well as the spiritual day. And if you are picked for the night shift - well, praise the Lord. Lift up your hands in the dark sanctuary of your soul when you are tempted to wonder what is the good of it all, and praise the Lord! and the Lord, maker of heaven and earth, will bless you from Zion." - From The Fruits of the Spirit, by Evelyn Underhill

Monday, October 11, 2010

Them Bones.....

I went to my original orthopedic surgeon today for a consult on what to do about the bad places in the toe bones of my foot. We have scheduled surgery for this Friday morning, October 15 to remove pieces of bad bone in my right foot attaching the fourth and fifth toe (Poor little piggies!). That will leave them both "floppy" but the doctor thinks some scar tissue will form that will help stabilize them both. He will also put in some more integra in that place to facilitate tissue growth. Hopefully, this will encourage real good tissue growth in that area and hopefully this is the last surgery (unless of course they were to have to do a skin graft...but we'll see).

I don't know what time Friday morning, but it will either be at the Baylor/All Saints main hospital or the Baylor Surgical Hospital where I had my integra implant about a month ago (Has it really been that long?). I'm betting Baylor Surgical because Dr. Wagner already has a 7 a.m. surgery scheduled before me.

I don't believe this will be much of a setback...but will actually move me forward to heal and rehab my foot. I will post more as plans solidify.

Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Suffering and Grace........

"To be sure, [grace] is full of joy, a supernal joy of amazing buoyancy and light; and yet I think that grace and suffering must be seen together. It is by grace that the world of nature is redeemed, and there is no redemption except by the cross. No poem is written, no picture painted, no music made, no sinner forgiven, no child born, no [person] loved, no truth known, no stone shaped, no peace attained, except grace took a risk, bore a burden, absorbed the evil, and suffered the pain."
The Dilemma of Modern Belief, Maxie Dunnam

Just pondering my past and future tonight...

Monday, October 4, 2010

The Saturday Morning Adventure!



We were asked if we were crazy when we told people we wanted to take Lucy and Charlie Brown to the Pet Blessing at Broadway. Yes, we were probably crazy but we did take them and us for their blessing on Saturday morning. We made it - it was quite comical getting Tim in the car hopping down the drive on one foot, putting the brakes on his walker all the way down; then getting the dogs in the car individually and then getting me in the car with my cane to go. We did it and had a wonderful time being outside with our 4 legged children and being with other Broadway friends. We did manage to make it back home even if Charlie did pull himself out of his body harness when trying to get him back into the car. Thank goodness, he didn't take off running! Now that would not have been a pretty scene!



At least we didn't try taking all 3 dogs. We left Gus at home - he received his blessing last year but he actually needs an exorcism! He's known as the "devil dog".

Thursday, September 30, 2010

Thursday Morning Doctor Visit

I just returned from my doctor's visit. The implant in my foot wound is doing well so one more week of the wound vacc. However, I have osteomylitis (sp?) in the bone attaching my fourth toe. This means the bone is not regenerating and is still harboring infection. I will probably face one more surgery to remove that piece of bone, since I don't want to carry a little time bomb around in my foot. The doctor thinks the fourth toe will be fine though a bit floppy. He feels its pals on either side will hold it in place as well as scar tissue that develops where the bone was. The decision about when this will happen will be made at next Thursday's office visit, but we all feel this is the best course of action to make the foot as well as possible. It will also mean continued antibiotic infusions until this process is done. So...more prayers for the foot this week and for wise decision making for the future.

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Wednesday., September 28

Those in prison or convalescing from some serious illness will understand this quote:

"There remains for us only the very narrow way, often extremely difficult to find, of living every day as if it were our last, and yet living in faith and responsibility as though there were to be a great future. It is not easy to be brave and keep the spirit alive, but it is imperative." - Dietrich Bonhoeffer

So, I managed to make it upstairs today doing the Gilbert Butt Crawl and I really don't have much butt to work with these days.. I needed to work on the home computer which is upstairs in the office. So, I did several documents and saved them and was in the middle of some intense writing when the screen went blank. The computer had been acting up before I was ill, but my son-in-law Matt fixed it while he was here. So here I am, writing an intensely on a statement of my faith and it all just disappears...like permanent sleep mode. The computer is still working, I just can't see what's going on because of the blank screen. Matt is going to call later and maybe he can walk me though what he did to get it up again...at least until I can send documents to Karen's laptop for printing. It was either the doing of God, the Devil or just plain lousy luck..each of which has numerous theological implications for life. Then I had to butt crawl back downstairs.
Ah, well! I suppose it's good exercise.

Heading to the foot doctor at 8:15 tomorrow (Thursday) to get the staples out of the implant on my foot and see where we go from here. I hope it goes better than my computer wok did today.

Please pray for my friend, Matt Menger, who is having a heart catheterization (sp?) procedure Friday at 3.

p.s. Sometime try to get up off the floor using just one leg when you can't put weight on the other leg. I'm sure it would have made an amusing youtube video. Sigh.....

Friday, September 24, 2010

I'm Driving!

Here it is - another Friday! Gosh, how does the week fly by so fast? This Friday finds me working on several things and wondering if I can find time for a nap. I've done four sessions of physical therapy. I'm making progress and am now up to 8 minutes on the bicycle, 3 rounds of most all the exercises, working on strengthening those driving muscles and stretching all those leg muscles. Today I drove myself to physical therapy and back home and made it just fine!!!

I've been practicing for a few days to see if I can push on the gas and then move my leg from the gas to the brake and I'm doing all of that with confidence and without pain. Now the real test is to get Tim in the car and me in the car and go somewhere. Thinking about giving that a try tonight!

So, look out world - here we come!

Friday, September 17, 2010

Friday came so fast!

Well, it's Friday night again with football and the Ranger's game on TV and I'm wondering how did we get to Friday so fast. That means that tomorrow will be filled with college football and Sunday will be NFL football. I have the netflex movie this week and the Hallmark channel. Thank goodness there's a second TV upstairs!

Tim is doing well after his procedure yesterday. The doctor implanted a product called Integra which is used a lot with burn wounds. It'a a bilayer membrane system of skin replacement and they put it into the wound to help it fill in. The doctor was very hopeful that this would fill in the wound and then in several weeks they would be able to close the wound with a skin graft and he could be walking and even driving in the next month! Now, that's a miracle! Pray that this will come to be!

I've completed my second session of physical therapy with lots of pushing and stretching exercises. I even rode the stationary bike today for 5 minutes, which was 1 mile. The goal is to strengthen the right leg and improve the mobility. My goal is to get me to the point that I can drive!!! I'm making progress - have moved from the walker to a cane, climbing the stairs daily and that's getting easier. Also, the motion range needed for the gas and brake pedals is improving. Look out roads, here I come!

This has been a fast week of many accomplishments! We're working hard to get back on our feet! Haha! Hope to be out and about real soon.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Update - Wednesday, Sept. 15

Sorry we haven't blogged for awhile but things have been much the same until now.

Karen is doing great. She is in outpatient physical therapy twice a week, moving her off the walker to a cane and hopefully away from those things completely. She's been told by the doctor she can drive when she feels like it, but at the moment she's trying to build the strength back in her right leg to be able to do that. It won't be too long...:-).

I am going into the Baylor Surgical Hospital tomorrow afternoon for a pr4ocedure to implant "integra" (artificially grown tissue) in t5he bottom of my foot. Hopefully, this will allow a skin graft to be done on the foot and close that wound within a couple of weeks. I'll be pretty much immobile for the next week after the surgery and still will have the wound vac on it. Once the bottom wound has closed, I may still be facing another surgery. The toe bone of one of the toes was still harboring some infection in xrays taken a month ago. We took some new xrays of it last Thursday, but I have not heard the result. If we can't get rid of the infection, they may go back in from the top of my foot (which heals much easier than the bottom) take the bone and do a procedure to attach the boneless toe to the one next to it so it won't be floppy. We shall see. In the meantime, real progress is about to be made.

We'll do a new post after the procedure tomorrow and give you any updates of information we learn.

Monday, September 13, 2010

Where did the week go?

I find it hard to believe that a week has passed and we've not written any updates. It was a very busy week with visits from friends, doctors appointments, home health visits, PT assessment and a trip to Dallas!

I saw my surgeon on Tuesday and she was very pleased with all that was going on. She is basically releasing me to do as I feel like it - so work, driving, etc is on that list. She has referred me to outpatient physical therapy which I will begin tomorrow. I went Thursday for my assessment and that was not too bad. I'm still on medical leave and still not driving. Remember, I have to be able to get in the car, push on the gas and brake and move my foot from the gas pedal to the brake pedal. I don't think you want me on the road just yet! Hopefully after a few PT visits, I'll have the ability to move my leg in the motions that are required for driving as well as walking without a limp.

Friday, I was able to go to Dallas for a much needed haircut! yea, thank you Carolyn for the ride. We had lunch with friends and it was a good day. I was tired when we got home but it was a good tired.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

A Good Report

I visited the Baylor/All Saints Wound Clinic this morning. I have been going to the HEB Wound Care Clinic, but my orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Wagner, wanted me to see Dr. Reaves, a plastic surgeon who works through the Baylor/All Saints clinic. This morning I saw Dr. Motley, who does the work ups for Dr. Reaves (who is presently out for a two week vacation for his 35th wedding anniversary. I think we can allow that! lol) The first words out of his mouth when he looked at the big wound on the bottom of my foot were, "This is a piece of cake!" That's very important because Dr. Sotman, my infectious disease doctor and the one who's been working on it at the HEB Wound Care Clinic, was concerned that they wouldn't know what progress has been made. In fact, they are very happy with what they saw and Dr. Motley says he will use something called "integra" (some sort of artificial tissue...don't ask me, I won't see what it is until next week...:-) and he believes that by the time Dr. Reaves returns we'll be ready for a skin graft to close the wound. He also said the wound vacc was doing well, but by itself it would probably take another two months to fill to the point where we could do skin graft.

In the meantime, I'll still have my trusty wound vacc and will probably keep taking antibiotic infusions as long as the wound is big and open so I won't get any more infection. This report gives me a goal to work towards with a definite end. And that means the freedom to get back to work and to church and just to roam the city to get groceries, etc. I also hope to be able to return to visiting the Hatch in Dallas near White Rock Lake with my friend Cap'n Ron Williams.

The doctor also was very complimentary about my new habits for controlling my diabetes and my blood sugars and being careful what I eat. Without that commitment, all the other things will not work. Evidently, there are many more people who don't take care of their diabetes than those who do. I'm grateful for all your prayers and care for me. Now pray that I can stay the course and that my foot will continue to improve as it has been doing.

I'm still reminded by Jean-Pierre de Caussade: "If we have abandoned ourselves to God, there is only one rule for us: the duty of the present moment." I'm trying to remember to live the sacrament of the present moment - that what is before me in the present moment of every day is the task God has for me. For those of you who've ever seen the newest version of the movie The Four Feathers will understand what it means to say, "Whatever God puts in my way!" :-)

I'll try to post more regular updates as the process moves froward.


Tuesday, August 31, 2010

A Good Report

Just returned from my weekly visit to the HEB Wound Clinic. First of all, I have to say how much I love Dr. Steven Sotman and his nurses and staff there. They are wonderfully caring in doing a difficult task and are swamped more often than not when I am there. Today I got a very good report. The bottom of my foot has wide spread areas where granulation for tissue growth is occurring. All who saw it were pleased and told me that when I first came in they were very skeptical. Dr. Sotman is hopeful that the tissue growth will fill in the hole and only perhaps make a skin graft necessary. He debrides and scrapes the wound every week to make it bleed to check for blood flow and it's covering almost the entire area now. He showed me the pictures he first took weeks ago and a progression until now. It appears the wound vacc is doing its job and they were very reaffirming about my hard work to get blood sugar under control and eat well.

This gives me great hope to keep on keeping on. It's very hard to sit here everyday dragging the wound vacc around and infusing antibiotics every eight hours wondering whether in the end I'll have done all of that for nothing. While it is still an iffy process, some growth there will produce other growth if I can just be patient. While not a perfect foot, I will still have a functional foot if all continues well. Keep praying.

I visit the plastic surgery office tomorrow and Dr. Sotman reminded me to have them look at his pictures to see just how far the wound has come. We will not do anything surgically without consulting Dr. Sotman and my primary care physician, Dr. Greg Hanson.

Please keep praying for the foot and for me to stay the course....lol.

Here's a thought for today from Jean-Pierre de Caussade:"...[W]e must live from minute to minute. The past is the past, the future is yet to be. There is nothing we can do about either, but we can deal with what is happening moment by moment." The sacrament of the present moment...

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Outing with Friends!


I had friends come from Dallas yesterday and take me out for lunch and then we made a trip to the grocery store. It's always a challenge to go anywhere with the walker - you have to get to the car, get in the car and then get the walker in the car - close the door and buckle up! Well, I managed to do all of that several times with the help of Tricia and Kay. They were very patient with me! We ate at the new 5 Guys in Fort Worth and it was a very good (hamburger was good but fries were great!) The restuarant was very crowded with lots of other people checking it out, too. Tricia let me off at the door since there were no handicap parking places available and no other parking spaces in the front. I made it in, ordered and was able to get seated without a whole lot of trouble. Of course, I needed help with my drink, ketchup and food pick up! Couldn't have done on my own.

Then we headed to the grocery store. Well, what an adventure! I drove/rode on the electric cart, Tricia had the regular cart with the walker and Kay was the item retriever. What a crew! Luckily the store was not crowded and we could move up and down the aisles pretty well. I was really afraid of not being able to drive the cart and hitting the grocery displays set up in the aisles, creating havoc in the store. That didn't happen. I enjoyed driving my little cart through the store and have decided that's the way to shop for groceries all the time. I'm not sure it was as much fun for Kay and Tricia but again they were patient and very helpful! We successfully completed the grocery shopping and got it all in the house and put away! Whew, we did it and I was able to make it without being totally exhausted. Kay and Tricia, thank you very much for my outing! Let's do it again sometime!



Sunday, August 22, 2010

Sunday Morning Musings

As I sit here in the Gilbert Infirmary this Sunday morning I'm pondering several things...

First, for most of my adult life I've kept the time schedule of an educator. That means the real beginning of the year is now, with the fall semester. Everything is always new and fresh and full of hope as another round begins. However, I'm realizing that for the first time in my career at TCC (in fact, almost my entire life) I will not be present at the beginning of a new semester. At TCC that means faculty meetings and in service and the Chancellor's Breakfast and all that comes with preparing for the new year. I will miss it, particularly seeing all the friends and colleagues I've made over the years at TCC from all the various campuses. I will miss you, my friends.

Second, I desperately miss going to church, to be with my Sunday School class and department. You have been wonderful in your care of us, but I miss being with you and exploring our lives with God together. And there really is no substitute for the worship at Broadway. Listening and watching online is one thing, but it is not being there in the midst of the people of God and worship at Broadway is a thoughtful, powerfully spiritual, magnificent experience. I long to be well enough to be back with you.

Third, I'm tired of the healing process on my foot being such a slow process. When I go to the Wound Clinic in HEB each week we measure growth of tissue and progress in .1 millimeters of progress which visually is hard to see. By the way, the nurses and staff there and at my Infusion Clinic are the best as is my infectious disease doctor, Steven Sotman. But its slow progress and the days slide into one another and are much the same, broken up only, not by weekends, but by my regular weekly doctor's visits. Being patient is hard, but in my devotional readings today I found this quote from Dietrich Bonhoeffer: "But everything has its time, and the main thing is that we keep step with God, and do not keep pressing a few steps ahead - nor keep dawdling a step behind." I understand this well, I just hope I have faith to live it.

Fourth, my good friend, Ron Williams, came over from Dallas on Friday and took me out to lunch and to run some errands. Ron and I have made it a practice over the years of our friendship to spend time at the Old Fish Hatchery near White Rock Lake in Dallas. We both are bird and nature watchers and our beloved Hatch is a wonderful place to escape. In The Place of Wild Things, Wendell Berry reminds us of our need of such places.

"When despair for the world grows in me and I wake in the night at the least sound in fear of what my life and my children's lives may be, I go where the wood drake rests in his beauty on the water, and the great heron feeds. I come into the peace of wild things who do not tax their lives with forethought of grief. I come into the presence of still water. And I feel above me the day blind stars waiting for their light. For a time I rest in the grace of the world, and am free."

I miss my time in the Hatch with my good friend Ron and wonder if I'll ever be able to hike the woods with him again.

But I also have heard from C. S. Lewis this morning as well. "But as organs in the Body of Christ, as stones and pillars in the temple, we are assured of our eternal self-identity and shall live to remember tha galaxies as an old tale." :-)

"Nothing that has not died will be resurrected."

The eighteenth century writer Jean-Pierre de Caussade reminds us how we must
live with the idea of God's Providence as the keystone of our lives. "He teaches us to see everything that happens as coming to us from the hand of God. God addresses us through the people we meet and the work we do, through our hopes and fears, through our moods and dreams, through the good [God] sends and the evil [God] permits. De Caussade speaks of the sacrament of the passing moment because in each moment we are confronted with an opportunity of responding to God who is present in that moment." (The River Within by Christopher Bryant)

De Caussade writes: "Now let me tell you that the will of God is all that is necessary, and what it does not give you is of no use to you at all. My friends, you lack nothing. You would be very ashamed if you knew what the experiences you call setbacks, upheavals, pointless disturbances, and tedious annoyances really are. You would realize that your complaints about them are nothing more or less than blasphemies - though that never occurs to you. Nothing happens to you except by the will of God, and yet [God's] beloved children curse it because they do not know it for waht it is." - Abandonment to Divine Providence by Jean Pierre Caussade. I often wonder if this is the real meaning of the Book of Job!?

So, I set my mind to living another day with care for the present and hope in God for the future. I'm looking for God in whatever God puts in my way today...so as not to miss the sacrament, the mystery, of the passing moment...:-).

Saturday, August 21, 2010

Happy Flowers



A couple of weeks ago when one of our friends was here to mow the yard, she discovered a weed infested, empty flower bed at the front. Well, it just so happened that another friend was here at the time and she, too, had discovered this empty flower bed. They conspired and talked about the "flower fairies" coming to plant some happy flowers in this bed. Well, a week later I had flowers and herbs planted in the bed as well as rocks in the drain. They are beautiful and truely are happy flowers.


Now, if you know me, you know that having a "green thumb" is not one of my attributes. In fact, I usually kill anything green that comes into the house. I have managed to keep a plant alive that Tim got while he was in the hospital but barely. So, you can imagine my thoughts when I look out and see this beautiful array of plants and know that they are dependent on me to water them and keep them alive on my walker. Well, I'm here to tell you that my plants have survived a week and are doing just fine. Thank you, Joan and Beth, for the happy flowers!

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Stairs - check!

My physical therapist came yesterday afternoon and we did our routine - check blood pressue and leg exercises. I looked at her and said, " can we try the stairs?" She has been a little protective just because I'm suppose to be on toe-touch walking on the walker but I must confess I'm walking more than just toe-touching. She said she really couldn't think of a way to navigate the stairs without putting weight on my right leg unless it was to do the butt slide. I really didn't want to butt slide the stairs, so we decided to give it a try.

I'm here to report that I made it to the top and back down just fine! Actually did much better than I was doing before I had my new hip! Stairs were getting harder and harder to climb prior to my surgery. The upstairs looked like a foreign land since I haven't been up there in 3 weeks! I didn't tary up there and really didn't even have my list of what I needed from there so I guess I'll have to make another trip. Not to worry, I won't be making it by myself for a while longer.
It was good to know that I could take the stairs - all be it slow - one at a time - without pain! yeah for me!

Monday, August 16, 2010

Why, O Lord?

"Now here I am in front of you, and you have your dreams too, or have had them. And I can tell you something.

That mistaken injection that paralyzed my leg was not a stroke of bad luck. It was a grace.

Let's be precise. There's no point in pious platitudes.

It was bad luck, yes. It was a misfortune. But God turned it into a grace.

I had a useless leg. I could not climb. So I got a jeep and became a meteorologist.

Through no wish of my own, there I was where I belonged: in the desert.

Instead of trudging through the snow I trudged through the sand.
-
Instead of mountain passes I came to know caravan routes. Instead of chamois I saw gazelles.

Life suddenly appeared to me as it was, an immense personal exodus. Now I saw the desert as an extraordinary environment of silence and prayer.

My crippled leg helped me to "stand firm" (Jas. 1:12)

I the runner - now stood firm.

I who'd always tried to do two things at once - now I stood firm.

No doubt about it, it was a plus.

Deep down inside I began to understand that I hadn't been cheated.

Misfortune had thrust me upon new paths.

Brothers and sisters before me with your misfortunes, I testify to you of one thing only.

Today, thirty years after the incident that paralyzed my leg, I don't say it wasn't a misfortune.

I only say that God was able to transform it into a grace.

I have experienced in my flesh what Augustine says: 'God permits evil, so as to transform it into a greater good.' "

-from Why, O Lord? by Carlo Carretto

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Blessing Blankets


We have received so many cards, emails, phone calls and facebook messages. We love hearing from you! Last week, we received a package from Birmingham that I thought I would share with you. (I had just the day before said to Tim that I wished I had one of those throws that the girls had in college because sometimes, not very often, it gets chilly sitting with the fan blowing straight on.) Woodlawn United Methodist Church in Birmingham, where Matt, our son-in-law is associate pastor, has had us on their prayer list for several weeks. They have a special way of sending their love and care to people in the hospital and that is to have a blessing service for these blankets that they give and then to take them to the people in the hospital as a way of blessing them. We now have two of these "blessing blankets" in Fort Worth, TX. Their ministry has extended beyond Birmingham, AL. Thank you members of Woodlawn for remembering us in such a special way!


Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Staples Out!

I had my appointment with my surgeon for my "10 days after surgery" appointment yesterday. She took x-rays and showed me my new hip and said everything was looking good. I did see two screws in the x-ray and asked about them. She said they were screwed into my pelvic - now I know I've got screws but they are not loose! (at least not yet!).

She also took a look at the incision and said it was looking real good, no redness, no drainage and the staples were taken out. I didn't know if I could watch this or not but I did. It's sorta like using a staple puller to remove a staple from a piece of paper. There's a sterilized instrument that goes between the skin and the staple and then they pull it out of the skin. Now, I'm not going to say I didn't feel each one as it came out, some hurt more than others, but they are all out (all 16 of them!) and the incision is now butterfly taped up! Of course today, the dogs have all wanted to jump on my lap on the right side and I keep having to push them away from fear they will jump right on the incision. I don't think that would feel so good right now.

As far as what's ahead, looks like I'm going to be on the walker for at least another month. She wants to see me in 4 weeks. In the meantime, I will continue my home health physical therapy for a couple of weeks. At the end of that time, we'll assess whether to stay with home health or go to out-patient physical therapy. Driving is still at least a month if not more away. Because it's my right side, we have to be sure of my ability and confidence to use my right foot before I get on a gas or break pedal.

So, I'm doing well, making progress and trying not to overdo. That's hard for me - have a hard time sitting or laying down but have to do some of that in order for the healing to take place.
Thanks again for all your prayers, meals and help with transportation. it is all appreciated and is the hardest thing for us to do - ask! but we're learning to do that!

Update

Since we haven't blogged in awhile I thought it was time for an update. Karen says she will do her own blog update about her situation, so let me update you on mine. As you already know, it was my right foot that was infected and it was on that foot that they did the debriding surgery. They took out large amounts of dead tissue on the bottom and the top of the foot. The wound vac that I now wear is to help that tissue grow back. In addition, I have been taking infusions of antibiotics every 8 hours to try and kill any infection that's left.

My wound vac is doing well and the wound on top the foot is healing great. The bottom of the foot is more difficult, but we are making progress there as well. However, from the beginning my surgeon said there were places in the toe bones that did not look good and that might not respond to the antibiotics and the wound vac. I went to my surgeon today and sure enough, those places don't appear to be responding. He is going to have me visit a plastic surgeon he works with to evaluate it. It probably means some more debriding and reconstruction of the foot unless the bone responds. In the meantime it's more antibiotics and wound vac for two weeks. Continue to pray that the bone will respond to the treatment. If not, we will probably move forward with some further surgery that should move us forward in the healing process, but will probably mean the loss of some bone and maybe a toe or two depending. That sounds awful, but we are not talking the loss of the foot.

I'm learning to be patient aqnd do what needs to be done. My blood sugar is well under control and that will reinforce the healing process. I'm ready to get back to work, but it appears that will not happen anywhere near as fast as I want it to.

Karen's update will come soon and she has good news all the way around. I have to teach her how to sit still as she wants to do all sorts of chores...:-).

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Has it really been a week?

I would look at the blog through the week and think, "I should update that blog" but just never did. I really was hoping Tim would do it but he hasn't. So, here I am on Sunday night looking for stuff to do because Tim is watching the pre-season Cowboy game and I really don't have any interest in watching football this early. I'll try to give you some of the week's activities.

It's been a busy week! We've both had home health care in several days and Tim's had doctors' appointments and we've not killed each other yet. On Friday afternoon, we had my home health physical therapist, my home health nurse checking my blood levels, Tim's home health changing his wound vac dressing all at the same time. We just had to laugh at it all! The home health folks can't believe all they are seeing and are amazed at how well we're both doing with all that's going on.

I'm making progress each day. I think I've surprised the physical therapist with all the movement that I do have being two weeks after surgery. My friend, Carol Causey, said it well when she wrote on my facebook wall, "Hip, Hip, Hooray!" I'm not dancing or jogging or even climbing stairs but I am moving around with my walker. I have a doctor's appointment this tuesday and she'll hopefully take the staples out (I have 16 staples holding my right side together).

Tim is making progress each day. He is going to a wound clinic weekly and they are pleased with his foot. There is some new tissue starting to grow. He's still on the antibiotic infusion but this week had his antibiotic changed. He had built up a tolerance to the antibiotic he had been taking for the past month. The management of his doctors' appts, home health visits and medicine is a full time job.

It's taking a village to keep us well cared for and we are so appreciative for all that's being done. We've got people providing meals, transportation, yard mowing, running errands and helping with all the little things (You really don't think a lot about collecting the trash and putting it in the trash bin and then once a week putting the bin at the curb and returning it to the garage until you aren't walking). Thanks to everyone who has helped or is scheduled to help us in the coming weeks!

Monday, August 2, 2010

Sunday School Class

Here it is another day...went out on some errands with my friend, Carolyn, and then home for home health visit for my wound vac. Yesterday was Sunday and I miss my friends and family at church...the worship at Broadway, my wonderful Sunday School Department, and my Sunday School class. Speaking of my class, they have decided to study Job...not because of what happened to me I hope.

First, I have this admission. While I was in ICU some of you will want to know where I was. I'm sorry to say, there were no bright lights, or beautiful people waiting in the light for me, nor was I with the Apostles enjoying some glorious conversation and fellowship. In fact, I don't remember anything...several days of my life are just a blank. I went in on Sunday afternoon and the last memory I have is of the staff trying to get me through a scanner ring of some sort and the terrible feeling that I couldn't breathe. My next memories are vague memories of people visiting with me on Wednesday...although, as I said, those are vague. I have no further evidence in that direct experience of the existence of God than I had before I nearly died.

But it is from this that I think my experience is most like Job. (By the way, don't draw too close an analogy, because Job was a righteous man and I'm not...lol). In the face of overwhelming events in his life that seem to go against everything he knows about God, Job claims his faith..."I know that my Redeemer lives!" In the end, Job gets no explanation from God about why it all happend, just a reminder from God of God's power and majesty...just one more look into the mystery. In the face of that, Job still believes in a redeeming God. And in the face of all that's happened to me, I still believe in the redeeming God as well.

In the end, I know about God because of the wonderful love of God's people poured out on Karen, and the girls, and me. I'm simply overwhelmed by the richness and wideness of that care from people at church, in former churches, at work, and across the nation and the world. And that love continues to be poured out on us as Karen and I recover.

The late Rich Mullins had a short song titled "The Love of God" that was in a medley of three tunes. It's second verse goes:

"Well, I've seen no band of angels,
But I've heard the soldiers' songs,
Love hangs over them like a banner,
Love within them leads them on,
To the battles on the journey,
And it's never gonna stop,
Ever widening their mercies, and the fury of His love."

I've always loved the song, but I understand it far better now. I've seen no band of angels...but about the soldiers of the Cross...the banner of their love is everywhere. Everywhere there's evidence of God's love.

Saturday, July 31, 2010

28 years! Happy Anniversary!

Today, we celebrate our 28 wedding anniversary! that's really hard to believe. this past year has brought so many changes to our family with the weddings and sons-in-laws, sickness, surgery and then throw life in between! What a year!

The Gilbert infirmary is going well. Picture 3 walkers, a potty chair, a wheelchair, separate beds, and then there's all the medicine we're both taking. oh, my gosh! I think we're managing all this quite well with the help of our good friends. thanks for all the meals, cards, emails, rides and prayers! we're better but not out of the infirmary yet!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Night Number 1

Well, here it is early Friday morning. I'm doing my 6 a.infusion, Karen is napping, and the dogs are wrestling on my bed. We did very well last night. Thre puppies don't understand why they can't get on the bed with Mom, but they are now living with that idea. That's okay because I like them snuggled with me in my bed. We had to throw the cat off Karen's bed several times but when we got up aT 6, guess what? He was snuggled on the bed next to her. Oh, well....as long as he will lay there he's not in the way. A very stubborn creature, that cat. Karen and I both managed to coordinate bathroom breaks in the night...so that was good. She's getting up and negotiating that well. I'm going to fix us breakfast in a bit if I can get the food and Karen to the table...:-). So far, so good.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

Thursday evening - Quick Update

Karen is on her way home from the hospital as I write. Why is it that hospitals let people out late in the day? I'm sure there is some reason for it in their minds, but it seems complicated to me. Anyway, now we begin the Gilbert Infirmary...lol. Karen is doing very well, but moving slowly.
If I know her she'll be up and about before you know it. At least I'll have someone here to fuss at.
More later!

p.s. I don't want to gross anyone out but Karen said my foot looks like some kind of war wound (I believe we were talking about someone who had served in WWII when Karen said that), just so you'll have some idea of why it's going to take awhile for the old right foot to heal..

Thursday morning update

Good Thursday to all!

This morning we're waiting to hear if Karen will come home today or perhaps tomorrow. Her blood work is low, but her doctor really doesn't want to give her a transfusion unless she just has too. Karen was going to bank her own blood but my situation caused her not to get it done. She's been up and about on the walker with her physical therapist and appears to be doing pretty well otherwise.

My situation pretty much remains unchanged. I'll be going to the wound clinic in HEB every Tuesday for them to check the foot and do whatever treatment they can. I'm still attached to the wound vac for the foreseeable future and still taking antibiotic infusions every 8 hours. The progress is slow and seems all uphill at the moment.

Many thanks to all the good people who have helped Karen and I in the midst of this hard time and too all who will continue to help in the future.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Mama's Got a Brand New Groove


Mom came out of surgery just fine! Her surgery lasted a bit longer than two hours but she made it through just as expected. She was moved to recovery and is now resting in her room. She should be in the hospital for a couple of days and then will be recovering with physical therapy at home. Please no visitors while she is in the hospital.

The surgeon said it was pretty nasty inside her hip joint so she was hopeful that mom would be feeling better fast and will actually be walking around in about two weeks! That is crazy!

We are so glad that the surgery was successful and we look forward to recovery. Please continue to pray for patience for mom and dad and for continued healing.

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Sunday

Well, here it is Sunday again. I must say I really miss my Sunday School class and worship at Broadway. Here at home, one day is pretty much like the next and I miss the friendship and fellowship that attendance at church brings. It's something I don't think I will ever take for granted again when I am free to return.

Karen's surgery is scheduled for tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. Pray for that everything will go as smoothly as expected by the doctor. She has been in great pain the last months and I pray the surgery will bring real relief. The surgery should take about 2 hours and Karen will be in the hospital through Wednesday. I expect that she will be up and about and much more mobile than me in a much shorter time than I will.

The healing of my right foot, if successful, is going to be a slow process. I'm already tired of walkers and things attached to my body for 24 hours a day. Things that used to be so simple are now complicated, consume much time, and wind up being very tiring (and trying too...:-) It's frustrating that I will not be able to help care for Karen as I want to, but it is the limitation of my life at the present moment. We are both doing well mentally, but will continue to need your prayers as we negotiate the next few difficult weeks.

Friday, July 23, 2010

Who Am I?

Who am I? They often tell me
I stepped from my cell's confinement
Calmly, cheerfully, firmly,
Like a squire from his country house.
Who am I? They often tell me
I used to speak to my warders
Freely and friendly and clearly,
As though it were mine to command.
Who am I? They also tell me
I bore the days of misfortune
Equably, smilingly, proudly,
Like one accustomed to win.


Am I really what others say about me?
Or am I only what I know of myself?
Restless, longing and sick,
Like a bird in a cage,
Struggling for breath,
As though hands were compressing my throat,
Hungering for colors, for flowers, for the songs of birds,
Thirsting for words of kindness and neighborliness,
Shaking with anger at petty tyranny and the slightest slurs,
Bedeviled by anxiety, awaiting great events that might never occur,
Fearfully powerless and worried for friends far away,
Weary and empty at praying, at thinking, at doing,
Faint and ready to say farewell to it all.

Who am I? This man or that other?
Am I one person today and tomorrow another?
Am I both at once? An hypocrite before others,
And before myself a contemptibly woebegone weakling?
Or is something within me still like a beaten army,
Fleeing in disorder from victory already achieved?
Who am I? They mock me, these lonely questions of mine.
Whoever I am, Thou knowest, O God, I am Thine!

Dietrich Bonhoeffer
Tegel Prison
March 4, 1946

Thursday, July 22, 2010

7/22/10-The PCP Finally

Karen and I got to meet my PCP for the first time today! (That's Primary Care Physician for those who don't know the language...lol). Dr. Gregory Hanson was recommended to me by one of my hospital doctors (Dr. Giang, who was great to me in the hospital!). Dr. Hanson is wonderful! Had a great visit and we have a health plan for the future. It's remarkable that God has placed so many good medical people in the path to care for me. I get to add taking my blood pressure regularly to my regimen now. He was very pleased with my blood sugar log and we are already talking about some simple changes to it.

As for yesterday, I had a wonderful birthday with greetings from lots of family and friends. Charlie and Carolyn Shapard brought steak, half a baked potato, salad, and angel food cake with low sugar Cool Whip and strawberries (Did you know angel food cake is on the can have list?...yum!) and there were no adverse affects on my blood sugar.

Everyday is a little step forward and forward is the right direction to go.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

the great dance

the great dance...

"...for that is how it is, a great and moving pattern, a cosmic dance of the whole created order, of which each of us is a part. The patterns change, the steps of the dance vary, but it is still the metaphor of the Great Family to which we belong."
-Madeleine L'Engle

Happy Birthday to my daddy!!!

Daddy- you are part of the great dance... did you know? This is just for you, even if no one else understands, I know that you will.

Thanks dad for all of the ways you have been my teacher throughout my life. You are even teaching me now about taking responsibility, about the grace of God and about relying on others to carry you along. After all we were put here to be in community and love each other. We have the great privilege to expand our family and we can choose to be that to each other. I am so thankful that you are still here to celebrate with and be family to! I am thankful that there are so many who are willing to be your family while Katie and I cannot be there.

I hope you have had a great day! And a great steak dinner!!!!

May we continue to choose to carry each other through whatever life may bring. May we never forget that God is continually putting things in our way and we choose whether or not to join in the dance.

Happy Birthday Dad!


Maybe when you are feeling better we can take another family vacay??!!

We are so thankful to be celebrating another year of life!
Love you Dad, enjoy your day!!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Going Home


This weekend I was able to spend some time back at home with mom and dad. I had a wedding to attend in Abilene and when I booked my ticket months ago, I had already planned to fly through DFW to stay with my mom and dad for a night or two. Although I didn't know we'd end up here, I sure am thankful I somehow knew that I would need that time at home with my family.

It's funny how life moves in cycles. In college, I didn't like coming home much. It was hard, the rules had changed and I was just learning how to handle my own independence. And then, when I moved farther away from home, that distaste for coming home began to fade. These days, I want nothing more than to be able to sit at home with my mom and dad (and sis when she is there) to talk and share life together. We know they are in good hands and cannot even begin to fathom the outpouring of love or say enough thank you's for the care you are giving and have given to our parents.

While at home, I helped move a second bed downstairs. If mom does indeed have her surgery (which we are hoping and praying that she will), she will not be able to share a bed with dad due to the infection. So, guess what.....they now have two beds downstairs!
I think mom is now calling this their "infirmary," but I think its quite cozy really.

Dad spends most of his days reading books and working crosswords. I bought him a Netflix subscription while I was home so that he can at least watch movies and TV shows he cares about instead of mindless TV.
I am so thankful for the time I had at home this past weekend and until the next time, Skype will have to do! (which by the way, we have figured out how to 3-way call so that ALL of us Gilberts can talk at one time! Thank goodness for modern technology!)

Before and After

We are finally getting around to posting some pictures of dad's new "do."
Here he is before with a full head of hair.

And now.....
He looks like this....it's not so bad after all! He fits right in with his two sons-in-law and could be his older brother, Malcom's identical twin.

Although he may not keep this look forever, it is much easier to handle for now.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Monday, July 19

We went to the infectious disease doctor, Dr. Sotman (How many of you have your own infectious disease doctor? I bet I'm listed with the CDC in Atlanta, lol.), today and to the infusion clinic. Dr. Sotman was pleased with the foot's progress and scheduled us to see him in the future at his wound clinic in HEB where his wound nurse can help care for the foot. He simply reminded me that this will be a slow process...sigh.

At the infusion clinic they lengthened my port line so I can give myself my own infusions (yay!) and changed the times to 10 p.m., 6 a.m., and 2 p.m., .more humane times all the way around. Love the people in Dr. Sotman's office and the infusion clinic...wonderful folks. The receptionist at Dr. Sotman's office said she had been praying for me in her church prayer group from First, Burleson. Seems the hand of God has a wide reach.

They took a culture from Karen to see if she has any staph she's carrying. Dr. Sotman didn't think it likely but he said if she did he'd create a concoction for her...:-). Unfortunately, no test results available until Friday. Karen's pre-op is scheduled for tomorrow. Dr. Sotman said to move forward. So Monday may still be D-Day for Karen's hip replacement.

I am still overwhelmed by the grace of God that keeps coming to me through God's people...a community built on God's very love. I'm thinking about doing a little theological reflection...maybe God's given me this downtime to do so. If I do, I'll make my own blog and link it to The Gilbert Life.

Life is a mystery and we are caught in its midst!

Friday, July 16, 2010

Friday update

Just a brief update. For convenience in maintenance I let a friend buzz cut my hair last night. My hair hasn't been this short since I was 5 years old. If I had any muscles, I'd look like a marine drill instructor. We're working on pics to share so you can rate my new look. All I can say is that it sure feels better.

Karen and I are waiting for the home health nurse to come and redress my foot. This happens every Monday, Wednesday, Friday. I have doctor's visits next week, including the surgeon, so we'll see what they say.

We are actually looking forward to the weekend...without having to get out to go to the doctor or having the nurse come dress the foot. All in all, we're doing pretty good right now...although the 4 a.m. antibiotic infusion is still a challenge. You'd be amazed at what's on TV at 4 a.m...lol.

Everyday brings a little progress.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday...getting into a routine

It's nice to be home. I'm beginning to get into the routine of a diabetic...checking blood sugar regularly, giving myself shots as needed, watching my diet. It's doing very well, by the way. Figuring out a diet variety of what to eat and how much is a real challenge...we still have a lot to learn.

It appears Karen may go forward with her hip replacement surgery. We'll know more after her doctor's visit Monday. The doctor's are just concerned that she doesn't catch my infections...so it will be separate beds, no care from me, etc. Not sure how all that will work....maybe my foot will reach a point where I won't need the wound vac before then. I'm hobbling around on a walker with only one good foot. Makes cooking, getting to doctors appointments, etc. a real pain. We'll see.

I'm trying to learn patience...I want the foot to heal faster then it will. I will just have to learn to use my days productively and live by faith.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Home! Time for some reflection...

Well...I'm home. The schedule here at home is a little slower, but still a schedule. Karen has to help me with antibiotic infusions every 8 hours - 8 p.m., 4 a.m., and 12 noon. Yes, the 4 a.m. is fun...but we get through it. I seem to have my blood sugar under control and all is going well there. The home health care nurse is coming by today to change the wound vac dressing on my foot and that will be a Monday, Wednesday, Friday occurrence until the foot is well on its way to healing. I'm thinking of getting a buzz cut for easy hair maintenance, so if I do I'll post pics of the new me on the blog.

So, here's some reflection. Mary Beth and I have long talked about what it is that God wants us to do in our everyday lives. Our favorite line is "Whatever God puts in our way!" I've always spent my time everyday looking for all those things that God puts in our way. In this case, I missed the most important thing God put in my way...caring for my own health. My health is the key thing that allows me to do all the other things I do...and I ignored it. I was among all those stubborn individuals who say, "I can take care of this myself!" Here's the truth! I can't! It was a stubborn, selfish thing to do and it almost cost me my life and terrified my family and friends. It was a hard lesson to learn, but one well learned. From someone who didn't have any doctors, I now have many...and really like all of them.

I want to thank everyone for your prayers during this time. The list is simply too long to thank everyone, but I am blessed to have the support of a wide ranging community of faith. When I think of the number of people who care I am overwhelmed and grateful to God.

Healing will be a much slower process than I want it to be, so continue to pray for patience. I'm getting around on a walker...yeah, yeah, just like my Mom. No more making fun of those people...lol. Slowly but surely I'm getting more strength each day. I'd be glad for some company but be sure and calbefore comingl since we have ongoing doctors appointments.

More to come as time and inspriation strikes me!