The latest update from Brenna, with long-awaited pictures of Elijah!
“I would have lost heart unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord; be of good courage, And He shall strengthen your heart; Wait I say on the Lord.” — Ps 27:13-14
Believe. That is what we have been doing these 12 weeks. Not always perfectly. Reflecting on Psalm 27, it is true that we have lost heart when our belief was wavering. What I referred to previously as my Jesus goggles. At times we have struggled… who would we believe? I still remember a chaplain in ICU telling me, “ Listen to the doctors report and take that report to the Lord, and believe His report”. In the laundry room here I met the wife of a Craig alumni who reminded me, “Doctors speak facts, but God speaks Truth.”
We believe God the Father, We believe Jesus Christ, We believe the Holy Spirit and He’s given us new life… We believe that the Lord spared Elijah and Autumn and continue to believe that He will knit them back together according to His purpose.
We are praising the Lord for a great number of answers to prayers this week:
First and foremost is Autumn’s healing and homecoming!
I will never forget…
- Scott telling me about the accident and that Autumn had severe head injuries
- holding her hand in the Cheyenne ER…feeling no life.
- looking at her motionless face and the huge laceration held together with staples.
- dialing the phone and holding it to her ear so that Scott could talk to his daughter for what I feared would be the last time.
- Elijah telling Randy and me, while he was covered in blood from the top of his head to the tips of his toes, with legs that were twisted and feet that were black dinner plates, oxygen blasting through the mask, “I don’t care about me, pray for Autumn while I am in surgery.”
- everyone gathered in the waiting room that night praying fervently for Elijah and Autumn..
- waiting for what seemed like forever for Autumn to arrive in Denver on a terribly rainy night. A night in May with such terrible weather that they could not use life flight but had to drive.
We had nothing left but to believe – desperate belief – that the God we love and serve would bend His ear to listen. The Bible says that we have Jesus’ belief in Him- we have the faith of the Son of God. “…the life I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me (Gal 2:20). This is the gift that Jesus gives. “For it is by grace you are saved through faith; and that not of yourselves it is the gift of God.” (Eph 2:8) God gives us Jesus goggles. And as I watched Scott’s video… all these moments flashed back to me as if it were yesterday. And I am in awe. In awe of what God has done. He has loved and heard and saved and healed and answered many many prayers on behalf of Autumn. We are so grateful.
Another praise: Elijah is able to communicate effectively with us!! This is great for obvious reasons, but also so that he can indicate wants and needs and pain that we have had to guess about for the past 87 days. Every day we have seen his speech improve in the areas of initiation, word finding, respiration, articulation and even more voice control. He has gone from being able to sing one word per verse of a song to singing whole songs or parts of very long songs.
Another praise! Elijah is able to read! The doctors were causing concern for us after the MRI and even the Neuropsychologist said that he doubted Elijah’s ability to read based on the damage to the occipital lobe. Unfortunately he stated his concern while Elijah was present. Bad move. In the evening on Tuesday the 21st of July Elijah and I sat quietly (at least I was trying really hard to be quiet) in the garden area. Later, I was showing him facebook pictures of his friends when out of the blue he read a comment below a facebook post!! We wept together and celebrated with ice cream. He called his Dad and said “Hi Dad, I can still read.” Emotion beyond words as we celebrate God’s preservation.
This whole week has been filled with evidences of progress. He has been casted with drop out casts on both arms and states that they are “not magical”. The phenol injections went well. The procedure lasted about one hour and Elijah did not flinch as they dug the needle around in each muscle to try to locate a nerve. When they found the nerve, they used an electrode to find the best impulse and then injected the phenol. I thought injecting the phenol would completely release the tone of the affected muscles. Not so. The effect was a weakening of the muscles (biceps, subscapularis and brachioradialus) so that the antagonistic muscles could have a chance to work. The day after the phenol injections the OT put him in double drop out casts. His arms are dropping quite well. He has quite a bit of movement in his left hand/fingers, although frequently reports pain in his left hand. The movement is slow and effortful but beautiful to see. He also is getting stronger in his leg movements as the PTs work with him on skills like bridges, lying position to sitting, sitting etc. Monday the 27th , he was rather energetic during PT because he had a crowd of supporters cheering him on. He stated, “I’m showing off…in a good way.” We teased him that he was also very humble to which he quietly replied, “yes”. Wednesday he sat up unassisted for nearly 20 minutes and stood for the first time with assistance for over 10 minutes. Then, with special footwear to wedge his heels, he was able to take his first steps! Thursday the 30th was another praise as we went to spasticity clinic. The doctors were amazed that his fingers and wrists had progressed beyond the point of needing botox!! They also said that this almost never happens! Thank God!
Yesterday, Elijah was blessed with a visit from a group of dear friends. They laughed and sang worship songs, and decorated his casts. He was looking forward to their visit –the first thing he has looked forward to since his accident. Haley asked him what the Lord has been teaching him, and he said, “I’ve been learning about surrender”. That is a lesson that we all need to learn, I would guess.
While I express my gratitude, my heart is burdened for the family next to Elijah. Similar scenario, different outcome. Their tragedy is bigger and harder and again we don’t understand. We have prayed for them many nights. A young momma will likely leave her two sweet little girls and the husband of her youth. They travel home this week to put her in comfort care to pass away. Why them and not us? How can we convey to them Jesus’ love in this situation? We have prayed for God to show the two little girls that Jesus loves them. I have had the opportunity to hug them, visit them and bring them little gifts. The Lord opened a short time for me to play with them and I shared with one of them who Jesus is and what He means to me. I explained that He is my dearest friend and I met Him when my own mom and dad died at an early age. And that whenever they are sad or afraid, He is waiting for them to pray to Him. And now I will believe in faith that Jesus will show Himself to them in their tragedy because He loves them.
About a week ago, Elijah told me, “No matter what happens for Autumn and I, it will always be a tragedy.” I felt sad. From our perspective, this is true; we don’t understand all of this. But we choose to believe that this will work together for our good because we love the Lord and we are called according to His purpose. (Rom 8:28) It is sometimes a struggle of belief to see why we all have different faith walks. Some walks seem easier than others. It’s especially easy to see it around here…some injuries are better than others and some are worse. But really it’s the same for all of us. God has been reminding me that, without Jesus, we all are living a tragedy in a fallen world. We often choose to ignore that we face death daily and the reality of where we will spend eternity. We hide our sick in hospitals and quickly wisk our dead away to the grave so as not to ponder this. We manicure and pedicure and coffee date or medicate our pain or fear away. In our society the pursuit of health and fitness becomes an idol in an attempt to cheat or prolong our encounter with the grim reaper- the consequence of sin. Elisabeth Elliot calls this pampered flesh. The reality is that each day brings us one day closer to heaven or hell. Our only hope of salvation from this tragedy is Jesus and the gift of belief and faith in Him- through Jesus’ goggles. (Gal 2:20) And thankfully these goggles give us victory to live for Him in a lost and dying world. Christ in us the hope of glory.
“And like a hero who takes the stage when we’re
on the edge of our seats saying its too late,
well let me introduce you to grace, grace, God’s grace.“
(Mercy Me, “Flawless”)
Truly, we are seeing the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living…. and we are praising God.
~Brenna for all