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Everything posted by eaglei

  1. To Those Who May Still Remember Me . . . I think of you often and remain very grateful for how you lifted dh, ds, and I so faithfully in prayer. My intentions have been many and often to post another update. Truly, I have some wonderful testimonies concerning ds who – unbelievably – has been Home in Heaven with Jesus for over five-and-a-half years now. However, this post will not include those testimonies. The purpose of this post is to let you know that my son has now been joined by his dad – God called my husband Home on Friday, February 5, at about 11:30 p.m. His passing was very unexpected, very sudden, and very peaceful. We were home and we were together. Dh had just seen our family doctor and one other doctor the day before. All of his tests, etc., had come back very good, no red flags. Our doctor was shocked to learn of dh’s passing. The cause is officially recorded as Sudden Cardiac Death. There is much I could write, but for now I will briefly write that which is most important: If you do not know Jesus as Savior and Lord of YOUR life, please do not delay in acknowledging that you are a sinner (as we all are) in need of a Savior; that Jesus IS that Savior Who bore your sin on Calvary’s cruel cross; ask Jesus to forgive you, and invite Jesus to come into your life as Savior of your soul and Lord of your life. Nothing is more important than knowing Jesus as your personal Savior and Lord. He loves you so very much! I thank God that dh and ds made this decision years ago and stayed true to that committed relationship with Jesus so that, at their deaths (dh’s so quickly and unexpectedly), each entered into Heaven to be with Jesus for eternity. Blessed be the name of the Lord.
  2. Update – June 17, 2018 Don’t know if anyone on here remembers me anymore – but I sure do remember you and still thank God for you! Have thought often of updating, but that’s as far as it went. Today seems like the right time, and the rest of me is actually cooperating! It is hard to imagine that June 25 will mark three years since ds’ Homegoing. Hardly seems possible. I miss him so much. The pain and the grief are still there – but – Jesus is still here, too – and He makes all the difference. I am doing remarkably well thanks to God’s grace, and the peace and the hope we have in Him; and, due to the word of ds’ ongoing testimony and my testimony, just as Revelation 12:10-11 says: “And I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, Now is come salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of his Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, which accused them before our God day and night. And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death.” I choose to focus on the good memories; on where he is now and how incredibly, joyously happy he is; on the fact of that blessed hope that I will see him again; and, on all the good he is yet doing in touching lives for Jesus. The stories keep coming to me from people who are encouraged through their struggles and hard times by remembering what ds went through, and that he never lost his faith, never gave up, held on to Jesus right on through that instant when Jesus took him Home to be with Him forever. I personally know of three people who have come to know Jesus as their Saviour and Lord of their lives through my son’s death and the life he consistently lived. One was an elderly man, formerly an atheist who, by the time I met him, was an avowed agnostic. To make a long story short, BECAUSE my son died, this man began thinking about Jesus in a whole new way. One DAY before he died, he accepted Jesus’ finished work on the cross, repented of his sins, and received Jesus as Saviour of his soul. Now he rejoices on streets of gold along with my son. I would never have given my son for ANY one, but he wasn’t mine to give. He belonged to Jesus. Even this great grief Jesus has used so that He may be honored and glorified and lifted up that others may see and receive – as this man did. Some people have asked me if I have dreamed of ds or seen him in a vision. The answer is no. While I would be glad for that, whether it ever happens is up to God. I don’t ask for it, seek for it, or look for it. However, I have once heard ds speak to me out loud and very plainly. I have also heard him speak to me, inside of me, several times – always very relevant, very unexpected, and very real. As I’ve written before, ds planned to live. However, he also made plans just-in-case that wasn’t God’s plan. After he died, we learned several things he had shared with our pastor that were no longer confidential. I’ll relate just a couple here. He had asked our pastor to preach a specific scripture and message for Easter. It was this: Romans 6:5-11 5 For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also in the likeness of his resurrection: 6 Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that henceforth we should not serve sin. 7 For he that is dead is freed from sin. 8 Now if we be dead with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him: 9 Knowing that Christ being raised from the dead dieth no more; death hath no more dominion over him. 10 For in that he died, he died unto sin once: but in that he liveth, he liveth unto God. 11 Likewise reckon ye also yourselves to be dead indeed unto sin, but alive unto God through Jesus Christ our Lord. I was in tears for most of the message and didn’t get as many notes as I would have liked. Some of the thoughts ds wanted mentioned were the need to conform to Christ, His Word, His way, His will. The need to be transformed and how that transformation leads to BEing with Christ. How Christ wept for humanity because He desired that none be lost, though some would not receive His finished work. The need for yourself to guard your heart, mind, ears, eyes, even your nose if necessary. Also asking God to guard your life and you'll be amazed at what God will do. The preacher gave some examples of things about ds and said that ds loved Jesus because Jesus was everything to him; that he could talk for hours about Christ His Saviour, all that God did for him and meant to him; that Jesus meant everything to ds. He also asked our pastor to preach a specific message on the one year anniversary of his death IF he didn’t make it. The passage: 1 Corinthians 9:19-27 19 For though I be free from all men, yet have I made myself servant unto all, that I might gain the more. 20 And unto the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might gain the Jews; to them that are under the law, as under the law, that I might gain them that are under the law; 21 To them that are without law, as without law, (being not without law to God, but under the law to Christ,) that I might gain them that are without law. 22 To the weak became I as weak, that I might gain the weak: I am made all things to all men, that I might by all means save some. 23 And this I do for the gospel's sake, that I might be partaker thereof with you. 24 Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. 25 And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. 26 I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air: 27 But I keep under my body, and bring it into subjection: lest that by any means, when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway. And, he asked our pastor, if he didn’t make it, to “please preach a message of comfort on Mother’s Day for my mom.” Indeed, on that first Mother’s Day the preacher did just that. However, in his pre-sermon remarks, I learned that ds had also left a poem for me. In it, he expressed his love for me, reminded me that we would meet again, and expressed the confidence that whatever happens, it is God’s will. For Father’s day, we learned that he had left a poem for his dad. Whereas mine was quite easy to understand, his dad’s is a riddle! And we STILL haven’t figured it out! Whereas ds’ poem to me makes me cry more often than not, his poem to his dad makes me laugh! From a young age he loved putting together scavenger hunts for us with the most erudite clues that often necessitated his help in deciphering and that made total sense. I can just imagine him up There saying, “C’mon, Mom and Dad. It’s not that hard!” There are so many stories – wonderful stories – from these almost three years. That doesn’t mean I don’t grieve or don’t miss him. I do – very much. I have yet to do anything major with his room and his belongings. I am just recently beginning to think that it’s getting time to start parting with things and repurposing his room. Easier said than done. I feel like he wants me to – has wanted me to for a while. I’m not quite ready. But closer. To that end, I have slowly begun to sort a few things in his room. Just a few things. Small steps. Every time we work in there, I find something that just amazes me all over again about ds. The small steps may begin to increase a bit. I have mentioned to the Lord countless times that I know I need to repurpose his room, but it is just so hard. I’ve pleaded for His help. I’ve had a sense of ds gently urging me to do this for quite some time now, complete with some general directions. I could also tell myself some very pertinent reasons why I should. But I couldn’t. This last time I talked to the Lord about it, He answered. It’s always His timing, and His timing is always right. He spoke a scripture in my heart: “Lay not up for yourselves treasures upon earth, where moth and rust doth corrupt, and where thieves break through and steal: but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: for where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.” (Matthew 6:19-21) Indeed, my heart is in heaven. There Jesus is and there my son is. So it’s time to gear up a bit more in clearing ds’ room. Speaking of God’s timing, that is another area of reflection for me. So often I hear myself again reiterating to my own heart that God is perfect and He does all things well all of the time. Not some things. Not all things some of the time. ALL things ALL of the time. A very hard truth. I still cry a lot, privately. Sometimes heart wrenching sobbing. The smallest thing can start those tears while something seemingly huge may not. I will never stop missing my son. He is a part of me wherever I go, whatever I am doing. I see him around the house and yard. I see him when I am traveling to and from work, or doing errands. I sense him at church. The memories abound. Sometimes I laugh and sometimes I cry. Always I am thankful for the memories, thankful he got to be my son, thankful that he stayed true to Jesus, thankful that Jesus saw him safely Home, thankful for the hope we have in Christ. I am also beginning to think differently in doing some things, hard as it will be. That is a direct result of ds. For example, there are some foods I haven’t been able to eat since ds died because he liked them so much. Dh kept asking me to make one of those in particular and I kept putting it off. A while back, he asked again and I said I’d make it over the weekend, thinking he would forget since he forgets everything else. ? Come Sunday afternoon, he reminded me. I said I’d make it “tomorrow.” The next day happened to be Labor Day and I was home, while dh was not. As I reached for the first and main ingredient, SO not wanting to do it and silent tears starting, I heard ds within me gently say, “Mom, do this in remembrance of me.” The silent tears turned to flat-out sobbing. He knew exactly how to reach me – his voice and scripture. I made the meal, barely ate it as I still had escaping tears over a lump in my throat. By the end, though, I realized I not only was no longer crying, but that my head was also up and I was smiling. I thought, “I did it! It’s done! It’s finished!” Another step forward. Then I realized it really wasn’t finished – it had just begun as there are so many things I can do in remembrance of ds . . . Last November was our third Thanksgiving without him. It was the first since his death that I made the traditional turkey which he loved - in remembrance of him. I also made lemon meringue pie which he loved – in remembrance of him. Opportunities continue to come to share ds’ story to encourage someone in some way. I yet turn from most of these conversations wondering how in the world they got started – but I know each was God-ordained. Recently such a conversation opened. The presence of the Holy Spirit was so strong and so real, and the gentleman kept the conversation going, so I kept responding until I reached that point at which it was clear in my spirit that I had said all that I was to say. The gentleman then told me he was going through a very difficult time, that he and his family had basically been blind-sided and he was struggling with his faith, but ds’ story had encouraged him, uplifted his spirit, strengthened his faith. He was interested in hearing the song we’ve come to call ds’ testimony (as ds also referred to it), so I e-mailed him the song, “In Christ Alone.” As God would have it, the next day after work I headed into the grocery story just as he was heading out. He told me again how much our conversation had helped him and thanked me again for sharing, then told me that the song had blessed him, and that the last verse had particularly touched him. He knew God had his situation in-hand. Another abbreviated story: A young man in his 20’s was involved in an accident. Transported from one hospital to another, the doctors finally gave up on him. However, it was not his time. When he came through, he had a story to tell. While in the coma, he saw a bright light. In that light was ds whom he understood God had sent to him and who told him it was not his time, that God still had a work for him to do. When he came out of the coma, a scripture was going through his mind. Unbeknownst to us, this young man had carried a very strong fear of death all of his life. His first day back at church, he caught up with me immediately to tell me what happened. The scripture verse was none other than Revelation 21:4 – “And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” He said ds appearing to him with the message from God and then God planting the scripture in his heart has driven out the fear of death. He now realized that not only was heaven real, but he had seen someone he knew who was in no sickness, no pain, no sorrow. He also said, “For as long as I’ve known [ds], he has always had some type of wisdom to share with us.” His fear of death no longer haunts him – it is gone. All praise to Jesus! There are so many stories over these almost three years. Ds’ life continues to bless and encourage and inspire others. He continues to be a help to people. As for dh and me, we grieve differently. Dh seems to have moved ahead more quickly, but as I’ve been told repeatedly by others, that’s because “you’re his mama.” The hole in my heart is huge. God’s grace is greater, else I could not bear up. God has blessed me with full-time work as of last July. The other co-worker retired. Though we had the exact same job and title, I still had to interview. It was the toughest interview I’ve ever had. Nonetheless, I got the job and I yet praise God for that. I absolutely love my job. It is sheer joy. I continue to participate in the writer’s workshop and I have participated in another public reading. I finished a project that I promised ds I would finish and delivered it. I continue to take tiny steps that, in some areas, are growing. Dh learned earlier this year that he is diabetic and also had a couple other issues going on, so some life changes were necessary for him. Shockingly, the hospital doctor immediately started him on insulin. Our family doctor has since stopped the insulin and dh is on medication instead and doing well overall. I continue to endeavor to live for Jesus. Our lives are not for ourselves – they are for Him Who gave us life, sustains that life, and has prepared for us eternal life if we will receive Him as our Saviour and the Lord of our life. Well, I’ve made this update longer than I intended – so what else is new! ? I think of my Hive friends often and how you so faithfully prayed for ds and for us – and I thank God for you. I still covet the prayers of any who will continue to remember me. Know, though, that God is keeping me. He is my help, my strength, my fortress, my hope, my all. Know, too, that ds continues to touch lives for Jesus – as only Jesus can do through His willing servants, whether they are on earth or in heaven. ? Jesus is awesome! Now unto God be all glory, praise, and honor! Blessed be the name of the Lord.
  3. Awwwww........ Thank you everyone for just saying hi, and good to see me on the boards again! You really made my day! As to the fragrance - Just today again, someone leaned in at work and said how much they loved that fragrance! I've got enough left for maybe a couple more days. I'll keep checking eBay. Someone is bound to post some of this cologne at a reasonable price - right? Right??? :-)
  4. I am looking for a cologne that has been discontinued. It was given to me as a gift many years ago and is a fragrance that every time I wear it, I get lots of compliments. As I currently lack a sense of smell, it is not a good time to choose a new fragrance. Does anyone have a partially used bottle of Victoria's Secret "Sweet Temptation" cologne / splash / eau de toilette that you no longer want and would be willing to sell at a Very Reasonable price? I've checked eBay, but the prices of the few available are too high. As I don't shop VS, I don't know if they may have reissued it under a new name. I'll check back in a day or two; or, you can pm me. If memory serves, pm's show up in personal e-mail. Thank You!
  5. Oh my. I haven’t posted on the Hive since September . . . (Not sure whether to post here or start a new thread, but this thread seemed more reasonable). Please know that your prayers are being heard, and felt – and I am so very thankful for your support. Many of you have let me know you are remembering and praying. One lady has her phone programmed to alert her to pray on Thursdays for us, since that is the day ds passed from this life into heaven. Please forgive my inability to respond or to post still yet. There are far-flung family members and friends who still don’t know of ds’ passing. I realized that when we received Christmas cards addressed to all three of us. I managed to finish thank you notes from the funeral on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day. The letters to those still in the dark have been a bit much for me to do, though I have started writing them. I don’t want to be presumptuous; however, it occurred to me that maybe I should give a little update on these past ten-plus months - not for any other reason than that you have been so supportive and I want you to know that God is hearing and answering prayer. It may not sound like it. Afterall, we are still in the first year. But I can sense it, feel it, see it. I don’t need to tell you these months have been very hard. But I would be very remiss if I did not also say that God is a very present help. He is the strength of my heart and my portion forever. So here are a few things (trying to keep this short!) in no particular order: I am well-acquainted with uncontrollable tears, whether quiet streams or whole-body sobbing. They come when they will, and stop in their own time. They are fickle in choice of catalyst. Some major thing might not bring them on, while the tiniest, most inconsequential thing will. I can go from laughing or smiling one second to spilling copious tears or brushing away gentle tears the next. These times seem to be moderating, however, and also coming less frequently. Additionally, work has been a constant oasis and a reprieve from tears. Grief zigzags. It doesn’t follow a well-ordered, progressive path. It hurts, deeply and horribly. Christmas, ds’ favorite holiday, marked six months. We did our best, but it was a day of intense heartache. Ds began giving me a Christmas pin or two quite a number of years ago. Dh and I had actually spent a modicum of time in ds’ room a few months prior, taking a random survey of his things and reminiscing. During that time, I discovered ds’ stash of some already-purchased Christmas gifts which included my Christmas pin, the last one I will ever receive from him. While I tried hard not to cry on Christmas day, I failed miserably and spent most of the day in tears. I HAD to go back to the cemetery, even though we had just been there again the previous day and even though it was pouring rain. I did not cry while standing at his side. As we left, I noticed half a dozen cardinals in a nearby tree. Cardinals were special to ds. Why is too long of a story to tell here; nonetheless, they were a bright spot in the day. In March, I again asked the preacher what else he could tell me from those private conversations he and ds had had. He said, “Easter Sunday,†and went on to tell me that he would be preaching from the text that ds asked him to preach from "if [he] did not win this battle.†His sermon would also include material from ds. Needless to say, I took scant notes through the tears that day, but I had the presence of mind to have the sermon taped. The main things I managed to write down were examples the preacher used that involved ds. Easter was hard in that it felt like we did Easter twice. Last year, Easter Sunday was the last Sunday ds went to church with us and it was also the last major holiday he attended church with us. It fell on April 5; the following Thursday, April 9, he entered the hospital to begin the process for the bone marrow transplant, and did not return to this earthly home. In that same conversation in March, the preacher also told me that ds had asked him – again, if he didn’t win the battle - to preach a particular message on the Sunday nearest the one-year anniversary of his death. (He will do so on June 26). Then he added that ds had also asked him, if he didn’t make it, to “please preach a message of comfort on Mother’s Day for my mom.†Even as I type that, my eyes are welling up again. He was truly prepared either way. And he looked out for me. So, this Sunday I will hear the pastor’s message, and four days later, we will mark ds’ 25th birthday. (Ds was actually born on Mother’s Day, 1991). On June 15, his headstone was placed. It is beautifully and simply done. There were three Bible verses that were especially special to him, but one seemed to define his life, so we had that put on the back of the stone. “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.†(Colossians 3:23-24) June 25 will mark one year. Ds remains instrumental in people’s lives. We continue to learn new things about ds on an almost regular basis that bring a smile and even a laugh. His commitment and devotion to Jesus is verified over and over again in the stories and memories people share with us. Even in his earthly death, his earthly life continues to touch people, to encourage them, inspire them, and persuade them of the necessity for living first and foremost for Jesus. As for dh and me, we keenly feel ds’ loss. He filled the house. There’s a hole in my heart that will never be filled again on this earth. But – God’s grace is sufficient. His Word is sure. His promises are true. My oh-so-human feelings of sadness and grief do not diminish God’s sovereignty or the fact that He IS God. There is no proper preposition that I can think of that addresses the reality of the path one follows after losing a child. I don’t expect to get THROUGH, or go AROUND, or get OVER this huge loss. I am looking for the time when this new norm is so grounded that it no longer overwhelms. If God chooses to let me experience something more, then all praise to Him. If He doesn’t, or if I somehow fail to receive it, still – all praise to Him. He is still King of Kings, Lord of Lords, Saviour of my soul, and the One Who completed the good work He began in my son, and Who led ds safely Home. There are other positives from these past months. I am mightily blessed to have a job, albeit part time, that I love. It is sheer joy to go to work. I am also doing some editing for a few people, something I also enjoy, even though one person’s writing skills are a particular challenge. While I haven’t been reading as much (just can’t seem to concentrate very well on books yet), I have been doing more of my own writing and am part of a small writing group that meets a couple times a month. I have mostly read poetry at those meetings and just a few prose selections. I have also recently read poetry in a more public forum and my work was very well received, including by the featured speaker, an internationally published author – something else I praise God for. Late last year I had the distinct impression that this year would be a time for me. I don’t mean that selfishly – simply a year meant for me – whether to heal, or branch out, or what – I don’t know. What I do know is that I have a growing list of friends and from time to time, one of these friends and I will go out for lunch or dinner, or just find a quiet place to visit. It is time well-spent. I have been amazed at the colorful kaleidoscope of new people in my life, and equally amazed at the conversations. There are people who are hurting, who have questions, who are seeking. People who are lonely, stressed, scared. And they want to talk, need to talk. We still haven’t done anything with ds’ belongings or with his room. I am not up to that yet. With God’s help, I put one foot in front of the other and keep looking for the good things. Topping the list is that I know where ds is, and I know I’ll see him again someday. Those two things are major blessings. To KNOW that your loved one lived for Jesus and is now residing with Him eternally is a wonderful gift. Equally wonderful is KNOWING that God’s Word is sure, and that if I stay true to Him, I will see my son again and there will be no painful partings. What a blessed hope we have in Christ! Blessed be the name of the Lord.
  6. DS's Update – Coming Full Circle Written: July 7, 2015 Preamble: September 7, 2015 Posted: September 20, 2015 - - - - - - - September 7, 2015 Don’t know why I haven’t posted this yet, even though folks have been asking me about it. Maybe because grief takes so many different paths and is such an individual process. “Grieving†is an understated word. It doesn’t capture at all what life is like right now. The pain, the heartache, the emptiness. The cruel callousness of some who freely tell you how to grieve – what it says, how it acts, how it looks – when they have never watched their only child pass from this life to the next. God has blessed me by bringing three people into my life who know from experience – two mothers who had only sons, and one dad who had an only daughter. They have not sugarcoated the reality of grief nor of the grieving process. Nor have they made Christianity and its truth and the beliefs we hold dear into a watered-down, easy fix for a bleeding brokenness that defies description. I remain confident that the same God Who was with me as I watched my son suffer through cancer three times, is the same God Who is yet with me, walking with me in this horrible grief, and Who will, in His time, bring me to that place where I have entered the new norm so that, while the pain may remain, it will no longer predominate. God is gracious. He blessed me with a wonderful job that keeps me otherwise focused for a part of most days. Even on the many days when I drive to work with blurred vision because the tears come unstoppably when they will, He dries them and soothes my spirit before I enter the door; He puts the smile on my face and in my heart that greets the people. The house is overwhelmingly empty without ds – he filled it. God gets me through the hours here, too. Somehow one foot goes in front of the other and very basic things are accomplished. In time, the bigger things will follow – sorting through ds’ belongings; writing notes; pulling in the driveway just one time or walking into his room just one time and not crying; smiling, instead of increased sadness, at the memories, and so very much more. God is able. Blessed be the name of the Lord. - - - - - - - September 20, 2015 Except for some typos, I have not edited the content of the original posts. As usual, it is written from my perspective; the difference is that ds is not here to review it and to add his seal of approval along with dh’s. I have decided to hit the send key before I change my mind again. Coming full circle, here is ds’ update: - - - - - - - July 7, 2015 Hello, Everyone. I wanted to once again thank you all for your faithful and prayerful support over these past twelve years as ds battled leukemia; and, to bring ds’ story full-circle with one more update. We have received many fresh insights into ds’ life over the past days – how he quietly impacted people for Jesus and quietly endeavored to make his life count for God. We have also had a number of questions concerning ds’ time in the hospital. This update, which is likely to be longer, cannot possibly address the totality of that time, but it may give some indication. Hopefully, it will be a testament to God's keeping power, His mercy, and His grace. You all know that ds made the decision to have the bone marrow transplant after thirteen months of research; talking with medical personnel as well as a smattering of folks personally acquainted with this procedure; steady and persistent spiritual counsel; and, continual, intense praying. I am very proud of the mature and prayerful way he handled such a difficult decision, and his steadfastness in obeying God's leading. He had ample time to change his mind, or to second-guess the answer he received, but he did not. Some have wondered why God would direct him to a decision that would ultimately take his life. Admittedly, his dad and I fully understand this question. However, God's ways and God's thoughts are higher than ours. (Isaiah 55:9) While I have my own private ideas as to why God may have chosen this route, He nonetheless did not simply “take†ds’ life, but rather, gave him life abundant and life eternal. Ds is now more alive than any of us living on this earth could ever hope to be – for real life, real living, is to be with Jesus. We reckon life backwards here on earth. From the moment we are conceived, we are dying; but, for those who die, having lived this earthly life for Christ, their lives begin and never die. Throughout his life, ds had a heart for souls and wanted to reach people for Jesus. His stated purpose in going into the hospital to have the transplant was that he might do just that. While he lay in the hospital bed, he surely must have thought that he was useless, but he was not. The stories and comments we heard during his hospitalization and since his Home going reveal a life that spoke volumes for Jesus. When ds entered the hospital, he was, according to the doctors, a prime candidate for the transplant. He was young, strong, vital, healthy. Yes – healthy. He was in remission, and no organ had been adversely affected by all the previous years of chemo and radiation – a fact that amazed the doctors. Within days of having the transplant, his situation became serious, ultimately putting him in ICU in critical condition, where we were told by a doctor that he was experiencing the worst case scenario of bone marrow transplant times a hundred. The medical conditions he suffered through are too numerous to mention and frankly we can't remember them all. Some include graft-versus-host disease (GVHD) of the gut, GVHD of the liver, venal occlusive disease (having to do with the liver), hemolysis, kidney failure, a perforated colon, multiple bacterial and fungal infections, and blood pressure issues. Towards the end, he acquired both bacterial and fungal infections that he had already had and were now unresponsive to any medication. He also began to require increased blood pressure support which disallowed using the second function of the dialysis machine, which was to draw off fluid since he was very anasarcic (swollen with fluid retention) which put extreme pressure on his heart and lungs. At one point his heart became tachycardic (beating much too fast). His temperature began to dangerously drop and finally, he had to be intubated. In the beginning, one of the medications used for GVHD caused a condition called PRES (posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome). This puts extreme pressure and swelling on the base of the brain and can lead to death. However, removal of the medication allows for the condition to reverse over a varying period of time. Alternate medication could not be used with ds as there were too many concurrent conditions, and what would potentially help one condition could be fatal due to another situation. The GVHD was basically left to heal on its own while other, even more serious issues, were considered. As medical problems began to mount, finding medications that would not prove fatal became a hugely challenging problem. PRES causes a patient to talk irrationally and also renders them incapable of responding physically to the body's demands or desires. While in the throes of PRES, ds’ sodium and potassium levels began to drop, while his bilirubin began skyrocketing. Each of these individually causes mental confusion. As the PRES cleared and the sodium and potassium levels regulated through repleting him, a very real condition called ICU delirium set in. During that time frame, he would talk alternately in and out of his mind. Blessedly, the confusion diminished and the delirium surprisingly disappeared. GVHD causes extreme, ferocious pain. Neupogen, one of the medications used for assisting the development of the white blood count, causes horrific whole body pain. Ds had always had a high tolerance for pain. On a scale of one-to-ten, when most people might be at twenty, he wasn't even on the scale yet. The pain he endured for the first several weeks was so intense that he would holler out so loudly, you could hear him all the way down the hall. He fought hard against all of the setbacks and kept his eyes focused on life. After his Home going, the nurse told us what some of the doctors had earlier told us – that she had never seen anyone fight so hard or so long. She said that when bone marrow transplant patients enter ICU, they are almost immediately intubated and they die within days, most certainly in less than two weeks. Ds was in ICU for seven weeks and was not intubated until the last week. He fought a courageous battle. Ultimately, he won the greater victory. While the above paragraphs are in no way complete and do not come close to defining just how grave things were, I included them so you would have some idea with which to juxtapose the following. People have asked me if ds ever said anything out-of-character during the times when his mind was more “out†than “in.†The answer is no. He might be in the midst of telling a very creative story and begin to interpose whisperings of “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.†Sometimes he would begin praying or singing songs to or about Jesus. Once, when he was talking in delirium, he began to sing these words to the tune of “Just a Closer Walk With Theeâ€: “Yes, He's big and I am small. Yes, the Rock is high and tall. Yes, I'm in His shadow. Make me strong, dear Lord, make me strong.†Then he began to pray, “Give me a hand, Lord. I know you have a Spirit. Give me a hand, Lord. Make me strong physically, mentally, spiritually.†The point is, that even when his mind was clouded by the various conditions, his mouth still spoke out of the fullness of his heart. When in excruciating pain with such agony etched on his face and hollering out a sound of heart-wrenching suffering, he was often heard also calling out, “My God! Help me!†Or, “Je-e-e-e-e-s-u-s!†Once, following a particularly agonizing time, he boldly and firmly declared, with emphasis on each word, “The Commander is commanding. The Commander is Jesus. This, I know!†Various nurses expressed surprise that his focus stayed on his beliefs and also commented that he was such a good and unusual patient. He remained respectful, whether in pain or not, whether speaking in his mind or in mental confusion. For example, he would call them “Ma'am†or “Sir.†Each would tell him to call them by their first names. He would respond, “Yes Ma'am†or “Yes Sir.†In each and every verbal exchange, he consistently said “Ma'am†or “Sir.†In the midst of the hollering-out pain, the nurse would invariably ask if he needed more pain medication. Through gritted teeth, with raging pain, he would grind out, “Yes, Ma'am.†His humor and his wit stayed intact. He wearied of the nurses' repetitious questions and stopped answering them, e.g., what is your name?, when is your birthday?, what is today's date?, do you know where you are?, etc. I started asking him various questions relevant to his real life. Once I asked him what he thought his dad's chances were for getting the lawnmower fixed without his help. Said he, “About 40%.†Another time I asked what a specific person had that was loud. Motorcycle was the answer I had in mind. His equally correct response: “That would be either his truck or his kids.†And when a doctor asked him why he wouldn't talk to him, he quipped, “Why should I?†Ds stayed true to himself and more importantly, stayed true to God. What more could we ask? He made an impression on everyone, and more than one person told us that everyone was pulling for him. One doctor told us: “Your son is remarkable. I've never seen a young man openly carry his testament, read it, and live it. Your son is absolutely remarkable.†Some time later, this same doctor told us he was a Muslim. That is significant to us as, in his last year of life, ds discussed with his pastor many-many times how to best reach various people-groups, and especially the Muslims, for Jesus. Which brings me to that last year of his life. Ds lived that year as he had lived all the previous years – to the fullest, with a joyous heart and a ready smile. To look at him, it was impossible to tell the weight he bore, the decision that was his alone to make. As you know, he sought spiritual counsel, and he prayed and sought God. Though he was a prime candidate for a successful bone marrow transplant, the doctors and all the research made it quite clear that there were no guarantees. He could die a painful death with the transplant; he would die an excruciating death without it; he might get a miracle healing without the transplant or perhaps an extra month or two but the doctors were dubious. In March 2014, he told our pastor that he did not want to die and among his several reasons, he said he needed to be here to care for his parents and to bury them in their time. He continued to wrestle with the alternatives before him and to seek God. In December 2014, while still determined to fight for life, he reached that place of peace in all decisions, in knowing God had answered his seeking. His major, set-in-stone decision: Whether he lived or died without the transplant, or, whether he lived or died with the transplant, he wanted “to be found in the center of God's will.†Peace with living and peace with dying was his. In January, he made public his decision. While he was alive on earth, those counseling sessions were private. Some things can now be revealed. The above is a part of that revelation. In retrospect, we can see that he was keeping his house in order for whatever result would ensue. He was prepared to stay and live and continue to serve God and, more importantly, he was prepared to die and in death, to find healing, health, wholeness, and life eternal with his Savior and Lord, Jesus Christ. He peacefully and quietly slipped into his new heavenly home, wrapped in a peaceful atmosphere with gospel praise music gently filling the air, his parents with him, a born-again nurse close by, with peace in his heart, and with peace shining on his face. Though the many complications he endured from the bone marrow transplant ravaged his body (to put it kindly), they could not eradicate the “peace that passes all understanding.†(Philippians 4:7) Several people attending visitation and/or the service - which was meant to lift up the name of Jesus and to celebrate ds’ life - commented on the peacefulness that rested upon his face, and the sense of the presence of God surrounding him. In one of those counseling sessions, ds proactively discussed certain funeral arrangements (should they be necessary), including asking Pastor to speak on the importance of loving and serving God. They regularly discussed three Bible verses that were special to ds. As we have seen evidenced through comments, e-mails, and cards, the third verse listed below, found in Colossians, was his life. “Then said he, Lo, I come to do Thy will, O God. He taketh away the first, that He may establish the second. By the which will we are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.†(Hebrews 10:9-10) “The God of my rock; in Him will I trust: He is my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my high tower, and my refuge, my Saviour; Thou savest me from violence. God is my strength and power: and He maketh my way perfect.†(2 Samuel 22:3 & 33) “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.†(Colossians 3:23-24) Before I close, I want to once more thank you for the huge part you played in ds’ life. He had twelve years of battle – but he also had a quality life, and a life of service to the King. It goes without saying that his Home going has left a huge and painful void in our lives. We rejoice for ds that he is pain-free, healthy, happy, and with Jesus. We cry and are filled with incredible sadness because our humanness wants ds here for a lot longer time. Twenty-four years, one month, and thirteen days just wasn’t long enough. We easily gave him to Jesus at his baby dedication. I gave him to Jesus again on May 30, 2003, the night he was originally diagnosed. I truly thought he was going Home that night. Jesus graciously gave him back. We did not want to give ds to Jesus on June 25 – and I'm sure every parent reading this understands that – but we had to acknowledge and accept that God wanted him back, his work was done. Sometimes we bow painfully to the will of God, but bow we must. Your prayers would be most appreciated as we travel over this road of immense grief and loss, knowing that Jesus travels with us, even carrying us, and that, ultimately, the road will lead to that joyous reunion in the morning, on the other side, where “God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.†(Revelation 21:4) As ds prepared to enter the hospital, he wanted a specific link for a song he especially liked and identified with. He enjoyed this song as much as “Amazing Grace,†and had earlier told our pastor that it “sounds like my personal testimony.†I will close this update with that song. I have posted the verses below and would encourage you to listen to the song as you read the words. (There may be an advertisement that precedes the song). The actual recording begins with her speaking a scripture verse, then the song begins. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YBNFNfH89SA In Christ Alone (by Keith and Kristyn Getty) In Christ alone my hope is found. He is my light, my strength, my song. This Cornerstone, this solid Ground, Firm through the fiercest drought and storm. What heights of love, what depths of peace - When fears are stilled, when strivings cease. My Comforter, my All in All. Here in the love of Christ I stand. In Christ alone Who took on flesh, Fullness of God in helpless babe. This gift of love and righteousness, Scorned by the ones He came to save; Till on that cross, as Jesus died, The wrath of God was satisfied, For every sin on Him was laid - Here in the death of Christ I live. There in the ground His body lay, Light of the world by darkness slain. Then bursting forth in glorious Day Up from the grave He rose again. And as He stands in victory Sin's curse has lost its grip on me For I am His and He is mine Bought with the precious blood of Christ. No guilt in life, no fear in death - This is the power of Christ in me. From life's first cry to final breath Jesus commands my destiny. No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand; Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I'll stand. No power of hell, no scheme of man Can ever pluck me from His hand; Till He returns or calls me home Here in the power of Christ I'll stand.
  7. Thursday, June 25, 2015 9:55 PM Ds peacefully slipped on into Heaven to be with Jesus. Yes, I was with him -
  8. June 20, 2015 Still critical. A culture came back positive. This appears to be what has caused the most recent additional issues. Is being treated with a new medication, and will also have to have another procedure done that is not generally a serious thing, but because of the whole situation, in this case, is serious. Have cried and/or choked back tears most of today - having to leave was so very hard - Your prayers are so very much appreciated and needed. Thank you for praying. I don't doubt that God is hearing and answering. "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord." (Exodus 14:13b)
  9. June 19, 2015 - 9:00 p.m. Still critical. The hoped-for results of yesterday's tests were not meant to be. Other things showed up - small in the whole picture, but adding nonetheless to the whole situation. Additionally, I have to return to work next week - Doctors understand and said, with being ventilated, he is more stable as his body can rest and hopefully make progress. I am sure every mom reading this knows how hard being away is going to be - will need prayer - Doctors saying ds is in a holding pattern and they can only watch and wait. With God nothing is impossible. Man's efforts seemingly end, making way for God's miracles. We await the salvation of the Lord as "Ds shall not die, but live, and declare the works of the Lord." (Psalm 118:17) Ds greatly needs your prayers. Thank you. "Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord." (Exodus 14:13b)
  10. June 19, 2015 - 9:30 a.m. Just quickly: Got a call at 2:10 a.m. that ds needed intubated (a breathing tube inserted). Was on 6L of oxygen and acidotic (unable to breathe out the carbon dioxide), and gasping for breath. Also, his blood pressure meds had greatly increased. Got a call at 3:03 a.m. that the tube was inserted; bp meds reduced but still high. The multitude of things for God to intervene in and show His mighty power continues - The battle is HIS. Thanks for praying.
  11. June 18, 2015 Still critical. Tests run today due to the new bumps in the road mentioned in yesterday's post. Doctor says best possible outcome of those tests would be to find an abscess or an infection - that would be treatable and if that is the cause of the new bumps in the road, would possibly be the answer to those bumps. All other conditions same. Thank you for praying. "And thine health shall spring forth speedily." (Isaiah 58:8b)
  12. June 17, 2015 Still critical. Same conditions. Some new bumps in the road. Need solid, sustained breakthrough to healing. Please keep praying. Thank you. "And thine health shall spring forth speedily." (Isaiah 58:8b)
  13. June 14, 2015 Still critical but stable. Bilirubin went down another tad – Thank You, Jesus! White blood way too low; needs to start trending up. Healing of graft vs. host disease, and the other conditions, needed, and that the bone marrow transplant is successful. Thank you for praying. So very needed. “Because he hath set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him … he shall call upon Me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him. With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him My salvation.†(Psalm 91:14a, 15-16)
  14. June 13, 2015 Still critical. Bilirubin dropped by two - Thank You, Jesus. White blood dropping. Some other changes, but basically status quo. "The Lord on high is mightier than the noise of many waters, yea, than the mighty waves of the sea." (Psalm 93:4)
  15. June 12, 2015 Still critical. Bilirubin up a tad two days in a row. White blood count trending down. Otherwise, status quo. Critical but stable. Please keep praying. "... And with His stripes we are healed." (Isaiah 53:5b) "... And with His stripes [my son is] healed." (Isaiah 53:5b)
  16. June 10, 2015 Still critical. HOWEVER: --three days in a row with no new negative news added --bilirubin down by 3.5 – still way too high but trending in the right direction --a test related to the bone marrow transplant came back with good news Still needs MUCH prayer, in particular: --GVHD (graft-versus-host disease) – It is stage 4 (the worst). Have started a new medicine today to hopefully (prayerfully) help with it. This medicine comes with GREAT RISK due to the other medical situations he is dealing with. --The LIVER in general. Bilirubin needs to come way down. Not sure if he has GVHD of the liver (in addition to GVHD of the gut) or VOD ongoing (venal occlusive disease) or both. He is in much pain – need to find something to deal with this that is not detrimental to other issues. Consulted with pain management today; some potentially good ideas. We appreciate your prayers very much. Please keep praying. He needs prayer from head to toe – remains in critical condition – but God's Word says in 2 Chronicles 20:15b: “Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God's.†So: “Our soul waiteth for the Lord: He is our help and our shield. For our heart shall rejoice in Him, because we have trusted in His holy name. Let Thy mercy, O Lord, be upon us, according as we hope in Thee.†(Psalm 33:20-22)
  17. June 8, 2015 Still critical. Yesterday's news, among other things, was that the bilirubin, after five consecutive days of going down, went up. HOWEVER, that was yesterday. Here is today's news: --The bilirubin came down today, lower than two days ago. Still way too high, but trending in the right direction. Thank You, Jesus! --The test results from the additional test for a potentially new problem came back today – negative! Thank You, Jesus! --One doctor said, after examination focused on his particular area of expertise, “Holding steady; no changes.†--The doctor who said this was a worst case scenario times a hundred, after reporting the test results, said he would be “looking for more good news.†So, while all the major stuff is still ongoing, today was a day of no new negative news – Thank You, Jesus! Please keep praying. In addition to the whole multitude of things, the doctors need wisdom in making decisions regarding new treatment for certain conditions – weighing the benefits versus the very serious risks and, in one area, with a lack of vast data to support either decision. Thank you! "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together." (Psalm 34:3)
  18. June 6, 2015 Still critical. Had I posted last night, it would have said only: ENOUGH already - From today: --Bilirubin lower by a tad for the fifth straight day. Still way too high. --Team of doctors (not just oncologists) concerned about yet another situation. Will be testing. --Engraftment (bone marrow transplant) seems to be working, but is being hindered by the multitude of other problems. --Oncologist would like to see two problems in particular resolved as, in his condition, each alone is life-threatening. Additionally, they know how to treat each one, but, if they treat one with standard care, it could prove fatal due to the other condition(s), and vice-versa. The two conditions are GVHD (graft-versus-host disease) and VOD (venal occlusive disease – has to do with the liver). --Oncologist freely admits that this is the worst possible scenario of bone marrow transplant, times a hundred. Yes, I reminded him with the scriptures and the promises that God is in charge and the battle is HIS. --My son is in agonizing pain – it is heartbreaking – this whole situation is heartbreaking. --My peace remains in Jesus, and in His promises. He is not a man that He should lie. Even during times when he is less responsive, my son often calls out to Jesus – the only One Who has ALL power to save, heal, deliver. Please keep praying for him. What God has allowed him to come TO, He will bring him THROUGH. “This sickness is not unto death, but for the glory of God, that the Son of God might be glorified thereby.†(John 11:4) “God is not a man, that He should lie; neither the son of man, that He should repent: hath He said, and shall He not do it? or hath He spoken, and shall He not make it good?†(Numbers 23:19)
  19. June 3, 2015 Still critical. The last couple of days have been very, very hard with additional conditions being added. Difficult day today, too, both medically and otherwise. We had to travel home later today to take care of beginning-of-month things. It will be a quick trip. In tonight; do all we can tomorrow; return to hospital on Friday. Leaving was VERY hard. On the drive back, I made a list of things that he is battling right now. It is a long list and is not anywhere near complete. Standard treatment for one condition cannot be done because it could be fatal due to another condition – this is the typical scenario going on with each and every thing he is fighting. He is also in horrific, whole-body pain. The good news today was that the bilirubin came down just a tad – still way too high, but down a tad. That news was juxtaposed with two negatives – one new and one old one – the latter being his blood pressure. In the consultations we had today, it was reinforced just how important it is that his blood pressure regulate and stay regulated – he needs to come off BP medication and stay off of it. The bilirubin also needs to come down. Those two items are not the half of what needs to happen. Many of the conditions are life-threatening; combined, it is an overwhelming multitude of things. As I've stated before, he needs massive prayer from head to toe – and that is not an exaggeration. With God, nothing is impossible. When He touches my son, it will be God alone Who gets ALL the glory. One of the doctors who, last week was trying to “prepare†us, told us that, in all of his years of practice, he has never seen someone survive with a bilirubin count this high. He said (paraphrasing), “But your son is alive and the count went down a bit. You keep praying.†Please keep praying – he needs it so very much. “Heal [my son], O Lord, and [he] shall be healed ... for Thou art my praise.†(Jeremiah 17:14 a, c)
  20. June 2, 2015 God - have mercy - "And Jesus went forth, and saw a great multitude, and was moved with compassion toward them, and He healed their sick." (Matthew 14:14)
  21. June 2, 2015 Major storm last night - no internet. Yesterday's update and going into today: God - have mercy -
  22. June 2, 2015 Major storm last night - no internet. Yesterday's update and going into today: God - have mercy -
  23. May 31, 2015 Today's update is almost identical to yesterday's; received no negative news; additional includes: --white blood count down a bit, but expected due to bone marrow transplant; --bilirubin down by 4 1/5; still too high; --BP continuing to drop at times, requiring boost in medication; needs to have another arterial line inserted which is difficult due to various other issues. Critical/unstable and need for massive prayer remains. Thank You! "Sing unto the Lord, bless His name; shew forth His salvation from day to day. For the Lord is great, and greatly to be praised." (Psalm 96:2, 4a)
  24. May 30, 2015 A mostly same-same day. Still critical. Still unstable. No negative news today, other than continued concern over BP (started on medication again at a higher dose than before), bilirubin higher, and one other issue that I haven't posted about. On Monday they will be testing to determine whether and if the bone marrow transplant appears to be working. From surface factors, such as certain CBC's, it appears to be working. In fact, his white blood count was the best today that it's been since the transplant. Massive prayer still needed from head to toe. God knows exactly what needs to happen in each of the conditions and how precisely to bring it about. (The doctors admittedly don't since so much is wrong and since standard procedures for one thing can be fatal regarding another). Please keep praying. Your prayers are very needed and very appreciated. "Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need." (Hebrews 4:16) "O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together." (Psalm 34:3)
  25. May 29, 2015 Still critical and unstable - HOWEVER - today was a day of good reports! Thank You, Jesus! The DIC (disseminated intravascular coagulation) remained basically unchanged from yesterday, which is good. Lower would be better but status quo is GOOD news. There were NO blasts - Hallelujah! Thank You, Jesus! There were several other pieces of good news and/or progress concerning things I haven't posted about. All the major stuff is still ongoing including the bilirubin continuing to climb. We had one time today when a doctor told us that a test had revealed yet ANOTHER serious problem - then came back less than ten minutes after she left to tell us that the latest test results showed a decline in those particular enzymes and that was GOOD! So a potential negative was foiled - Thank You, Jesus! PLEASE keep praying! As I've been saying, massive prayer needed head to toe. Thank you. "It is a good thing to give thanks unto the Lord, and to sing praises unto Thy name, O most High: To shew forth Thy lovingkindness in the morning, and Thy faithfulness every night." (Psalm 92:1-2)
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