Progress

                                   Braydon visiting me in ICU when things weren't moving. 
                                            Jackson cheering me on in the step down unit.

October 1
Whew, it's been 17 days since the stroke.  The walker has been put away and the cane is hung up in the house and just pulled out for rough terrain!  Speech is good until around 5PM and then there are a few slurs or slip ups from just being tired.
My morning begins with me taxing my brain on Luminosity and then I head out the door to therapy.  I fix my own meals and fold laundry and put away dishes for our daughter.  By the time the rains stop in Virginia I'll be ready to slip in my kayak and take off...just may need someone to dump me out on the beach afterwards!  :-)

Most of you received the email update I sent out yesterday, but for the journal record I've posted it here below.

My medical care here in Nashville,  through St Thomas, has been superior. Today I had a check up with the partner of the neurologist who was with me at the ER. I LOVED this man. He said he had visited Roanoke years ago and loved the valley. At the end of the appointment I gave him my card and said, “You’ve won a free vacation to Shiloh on Smith Mt Lake!”

He said, “Something very bad has happened to you, but for the life of my I can’t figure out why.  You are normal and as strong as a horse! Everything you have lost WILL come back.  I don’t like not knowing why this occurred though.”

This doctor feels another possibility is what our daughter in law and the EMT thought…the 8 hour drive here could have caused me to throw a clot.
He ordered some more blood work looking for a genetic clotting disorder. He also wanted to order another CAT scan but Anthem Blue Cross/Blue Shield refused since I’ve had 4 scans and an MRI.  He is looking for something new, a “girly disease” called FMD.   Fibromuscular dysplasia.  He does not think I have Afib like the other doctor was guessing.  Bless their hearts. 

They want an answer for me so they can prevent this from happening again, but I’m ok with the diagnosis it was a “devil dart” and God had a whole lot of things for me to do and experience these past two weeks in Nashville.

The doctor has scheduled an appointment for me in 2 weeks in case I have any questions or my condition changes. Our daughter is going on vacation with her family October 14th to the Outer Banks, so the plan for now is for me to fly with them and go to VA Beach and hang out with our son and his family there. They live 3 blocks from a Primary Stroke Center! The doctor liked the option of flying back to VA better than driving.

I’m in good spirits. Am loving the visits from our kids and I’ve made amazing friends here in Nashville.  Betty Ashton and her family have been gracious beyond belief, as have all of you with your cards, gifts, and prayers.  

Today’s Biblegateway verse is my new memory verse. I have experienced God’s love in a way and a depth that is indescribable.
 Love to you all,  Boo


And this is my prayer: that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight, so that you may be able to discern what is best and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ,  Philippians 1:9-10

PS. Even if God should beam me up to be with him today, I’m thankful for this experience.  Hang out with him more often. It’s the ultimate.

Mirror Mirror Rolled in Front of Me

Missing Moses.  He would be the ultimate recovery buddy.
September 30
Button, button, who can do this and that with buttons (in occupational therapy yesterday) plum tuckered my left hand out! Sometimes I momentarily forget I've had a stroke, then the simplest task brings a subtle reminder.  Struggling to comprehend a couple exercise moves yesterday I asked for a  mirror to be rolled in front of me. The left side weakness became visible to me reminder and brought to mind the verse in James which relates to doing more than just listening to God's Word.  We've got to do what it says.
Likewise, if I want to return to full strength, I've got to do what my therapists say.

Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is like someone who looks at his face in a mirror and after looking at himself, goes away and immediately forgets what he looks like.   James 1:22-24

The other mirror verse that has played out in my head  (at least I know the Word of God is still in there) came to mind during one of my four CAT scans, when they were concerned about hemorrhaging.  I told the Lord, if now was the time I was so excited to see Him face to face.

...but when completeness comes....For now we see only a reflection  as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known.  
1 Corinthians 13:10, 12

Everlasting Gobstopper

Oodles of Uncle Love.
Thanks for coming to visit.
September 29
If you've ever seen/read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, then you've heard of a piece of candy called the everlasting Gobstopper.  The sales pitch is that you can suck on it forever.  The past two weeks I've experienced the Everlasting GODgiver.  Each time I reflect back with someone we see God's footprints right beside me.
This afternoon I told my god-daughter, who had come from NC to visit, that if God calls me home right now it is fine because the past two weeks with him have been magnificent.

Sitting in the therapy waiting room yesterday morning, my husband and I were discussing the reality of me returning home to the lake anytime soon.  Right across the room three people were talking about the great sermon they just heard at Shiloh. (We guessed that was their church.) Shiloh is the name of our property!  I told them they had no idea how God has just used them to bless us!  

The 8AM event was an occupational therapy evaluation. What a blessing to check off showering alone, getting off the potty and dressing myself.  When asked if I could reach behind and hook my bra, I explained I couldn't do that before so no need to worry.  While squeezing a contraption which measures my hand strength, the OT said, "That was awesome!"  I turned to my husband and said, "Actually, I just asked Jesus to help me with that one."  The therapist laughed and said, "I just asked Jesus to help me get through the traffic and get to work on time!"  

After our hour together, we set some goals and this sweet young woman looked at me and said, "Could I pray over you?"  The love of God poured out upon me as she prayed.  I wept as I prayed for her and thanked God for how fearfully and wonderfully he had created Bailey.  Time stood still, as I stated in that prayer that the moment God made her he knew he would use her skills, talents, compassion and faith to encourage a woman named Boo recovering from a stroke.  The Holy Spirit was in that small room and all three of us knew it.

We walked to the appointment desk and I was so thankful there was a box of tissues right there.  Rounding the corner into the waiting room, in a chair right by the exit door, was a disheveled man.  His head was bent down and at first glance your guess would be that he was  homeless.  As my husband reached for the doorknob the man looked up at me with the sweetest eyes and said, "Ma'am, you have a wonderful day." We stepped into the hallway where the elevators were located and knew we'd just experienced Jesus in either a homeless man or an angel.  We were speechless and felt we had truly been standing on holy ground the past hour.

The person without the Spirit does not accept the things that come from the Spirit of God but considers them foolishness, and cannot understand them because they are
discerned only through the Spirit.
1 Corinthians 2:14

But I am like an olive tree flourishing in the house of God;
I trust in God's unfailing love for ever and ever.
Psalm 52:8

It's week three of this marathon recovery, which some tell me could take over a year to fully complete.  That thought is daunting, but focusing on "today" and the fact that God is my personal trainer and this is as much a spiritual training ground as a physical one allows me to "Be Joyful Always!"

Two years ago today I laid in the bed beside my Daddy and watched him exit this world to eternity with Jesus.  One year ago we welcomed our youngest granddaughter who began her life here.  Happy Birthday Maddix.

White Hair


September 28
Yesterday was a good day.  I have the privilege of buying our four year old grandson his first bike and watching him test drive it through Walmart.  As we moseyed (my description of my new gate) out to the car I was overcome with gratitude and thanked the Lord for allowing me to accomplish this sweet feat.
We have laughed that my life will now be divided BS (Before Stroke) and PS (Post Stroke). I had started this devotional back at the lake...BS.

God makes me laugh.  Not being able to sleep the other night, I headed into prayer mode around 3AM.  The necessity to do some "cleaning out" in the house has been on my heart and discerning a method to that madness was foremost in my thoughts.  Seeing how a seasonal change is upon us, clothes sorting seemed to be a good starting point.
In my mind, I'm still 35 and I think some of the clothes I've held onto are geared towards a 35 year old and not a woman nearing 60!  When I opened Biblegateway that morning the verse made me laugh.  Time to toss some things I no longer need to be wearing in my "old age."

Even to your old age I will be the same, And even to your graying years I will bear you! I have done it, and I will carry you; And I will bear you and I will deliver you.
Isaiah 46:4 NASB

I opted for The Living Bible version, which omits the words "old age," when using this verse to encourage an older friend.

I will be your God through all your lifetime, yes, even when your hair is white with age. I made you and I will care for you. I will carry you along and be your Savior.
Isaiah 46:4

The neat thing is that the timing of the clothes sorting came in very handy, as I had to have my husband bring clothes to me in Tennessee!  Also, looking back and reading Isaiah 46:4 I can say, God has been there throughout my lifetime and he certainly has been carrying me these past two weeks!

Tereo

The serenity garden at St Thomas Midtown
September 27

A sweet sister loved by God sent me a "word of the day"...Tereo, which means to watch over, to preserve, to keep, to guard, and to attend to carefully.  Understand God is watching over you, He is keeping you, He is perserving you, and He is guarding you. And boy have I ever felt that!  I've got to do my part though and I blew it yesterday.

True confessions of s stroke victim.  I choose our son and daughter in law for the personal trainers of the day. I'd been assigned 3 exercises.  They were so encouraging as I worked on standing on one leg at a time for 10 seconds.  Ole lefty is topping out at 3 seconds best.  From there we moved to my upper body band work out.  The bands quickly turned into Ninja Turtle head bands for our TN grandsons and their dad.  The idea of  taking my walker and going to the park, which has a paved path, and working on my stamina really appealed to me.  We returned home to watch football and I fell fast asleep.  Should have called it a day at that point, but I really wanted to look for a picture frame (could have done it on Amazon) for some beautiful scripture cards one of our daughters made for me.  Pride got the best of me and I wanted to attempt this using the cane.  A couple hours after returning home my good leg was in terrible pain and I was unable to bear weight on it. Icing my ankle, popping an Aleve and elevating my leg, I began to fear another stroke might be coming on.    I thought I've ruined Monday's PT appointment at the new rehab and brought on a huge set back.

Opening Biblegateway this morning it was so good to camp out in Matthew chapter 6:25-27, 33-34

"Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat or drink; or about your body,
what you will wear. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothes?  Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them.  Are you not much more valuable than they?  Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?...
But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well.  Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.  Each day has enough trouble of its own.

Today will be a day of rest!!!!

Sacrifices


Our daughter ministering to me and many others with her harp.

September 26
Yesterday, was a good day. The out patient therapy rehab has big windows and is bright and welcoming.  My new therapist has just the right combination of "push" and "praise."  She thinks they can get me to where I can do everything at home soon, since I am a hard worker!  Pray I don't slack off, but continue to realize the importance of persevering and challenging myself daily.

A phrase has been waking me up in the middle of the night lately.  It is "offering a sacrifice."  This morning I read back through Old Testament verses concerning all the different types of sacrifices.
Merriam Webster defines sacrifice as:"the act of giving up something that you want to keep especially in order to get or do something else or to help someone."

Humbled again, I looked at the bowl of cards people had taken time to send, the emails and Facebook messages, flowers, meals, gifts,  thought of those who have babysat for our grandsons, the sacrifices of time and money our children and my husband have made to come here and encourage me.  Those sacrifices are so appreciated and interpreted as touches of Jesus. Thank You

Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to God a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that openly profess his name.  And do not forget to do good and to share with others for with such sacrifices God is pleased.  Hebrews 13:15-16

My husband arrived last night and our son and daughter in law who live in Louisiana.



To Tell the Trth

September 25
Walking into our daughter's beautiful home yesterday was such a comforting feeling.  It's so familiar and that has to be a huge plus in this recovery road to independence.  I'm the one who set up her kitchen when she moved, so I know where everything is.  I messed up though.  From 3-8, I was under constant stimulation (my own fault not understanding my limits) and a severe headache came on and all my functions slowed down.  The killer was me trying to tell my husband which clothes to bring me. Naming location, color, designer, etc. taxed my brain way beyond it's limits right now.  Betty Ashton and my girlfriend got me into bed.
This morning with "my girls" beside me I got up I went to the bathroom and brushed my teeth.  The left leg was so slow. Afterwards I just stood and looked in the mirror.  Finally, I looked at her with tears pouring down my face and said, "I don't know what I'm supposed to do next."  We both hugged and cried and she said what she has said over and over to me..."It's going to be alright."  I realized at the rehab there is an erasable board right in front of the bed that tells you hour by hour what your day looks like. I'd become so reliant on that.
The grandson's preschool has graciously offered to allow them to come an extra day for awhile until we figure out the new normal around here.  They are all out the door and my sweet SC friend is flying home.
In the quiet of this moment I decided to read a devotional. God sent a message to me via Liz Curtis Higgs email this morning entitled "To Tell the Truth."  Her first quote is 
"It takes a woman of courage 
to show the world her flaws and failures."
Amen to that. 
Higgs writes: "Dishonesty isn't an option for believers.  Honesty is how we do life and how we grow: Speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of  him who is the head, that is, Christ."  Ephesians 4:15  

Being transparent is important for me right now, as physically I look pretty normal to others, but my body and mind are in slow mode.
Higgs' references how the Queen of Sheba humbles herself before Solomon and admits how he has fully impressed her.  That's how we should feel about Jesus. Totally impressed by how God has outlined EVERY step of this journey.  This has been one of the most humbling experiences of my life.  I wish I could accurately express how close Jesus is to me right now.  Anything I ask is answered, even unknown needs are provided the second the need erupts.  Example.  Yesterday, I said to my girlfriend, help me remember to ask the doctor if my knee pain from arthritis returns; Can I take an Aleve?"  That moment the doctor walked in the door.  I bet things like that happened 20 times yesterday.  You just want to go 
"WHOA, Jesus, could you be any closer!"

"He must increase: I must decrease."  
John 3:30

As I think back to the hospital and rehab I saw Jesus in all those doctors, nurses and therapist.  I know being in the medical field is taxing this days. They have their medical training, but they also have to be computer whizzes and engineers.  I watched one nurse at 3AM use a pen to repair my "box" (can't think of the word..like telemetry or something) that records my heart.  Another tech repairing wheelchairs and on and on.  If you see a nurse, doctor or therapist today thank them for the sacrifices they make and they way they cheer others on even when their worlds may be falling apart.
Love you all, Boo

Extravagant Love

September 24
Braydon arrived at ICU very quickly coming from Minneapolis.  He sat by my bed and in a sweet soft voice said, "Mom, this is pretty amazing.  You are still alive and getting to hear all the nice things people usually say about someone at their funeral!" I love my kids.
While looking at the computer screen is still a struggle it has been a blessing to have my children sit beside me and read the "nice things" so many of you have posted on Facebook.

The amazing grace of the Master, Jesus Christ, the extravagant love of God, the intimate friendship of the Holy Spirit, be with all of you.   2 Corinthians 13:14

This afternoon I took time to read some emails.  A dear friend, from SC flew in today to be with me and she was sitting with me.  One email was from a young man, whom I love like one of my own children.  As I read the words he had written I began to weep.  All the love and prayers that have been poured out have equated to an indescribable feeling.  With all sincerity I asked my girlfriend, "Is this heaven?  I've never felt a love like this."  She began to weep too.

Today I will leave St Thomas Hospital In Patient Rehab.  The friends I have made here are incredible. 
We will get together soon here in Nashville.  I've told several who love the Lord...."Just think, when we get to heaven we will already know each other!"

By My Side-Jesus, Betty Ashton, Beth, N-Linda, Rebecca, Sandi, Shirely, Shasta  PT-Debbie, Jean  OT-Mary, Rebecca ST-Teresa Case Manager- Margie  Doctor Bomboy  (yup that really is his name)  Housekeeper-Patricia

Breaking News

September 23 Part 2
Most of you received this email.
I passed my cooking test this morning!  Baked brownies without falling over.  I realized a walker is really not going to be my aide of choice (Deke is) since Betty Ashton and the lake house both have gravel driveways and both houses have stairs to maneuver.  I requested this morning that they begin having me use a cane only.  BIG step.  I’m a bit wobbly, so they keep me belted, but as quickly as other things are coming back I really think I can do this.

Your prayers have made the difference. Thank you, thank you. The biggest prayer right now is for my balance. 

Insurance says I’ve been talking too much about how I love Jesus and too many praise parties in my room, so I have to MOVE OUT tomorrow and begin out patient therapy Friday!

Praise the Lord for me, but I feel for the burden that is coming upon Betty Ashton and Aaron.  The Andrews troops are being great about flying in to support her the next 10 days.  Also, the best way to get my face muscles back is to paste a BIG smile on my face, so I should look happy to her!

I love each of you and look forward to seeing each of you soon.  Celebration party at Shiloh eventually!
Love, Boo

Anniversary

Practicing my BIG smile.  Going to get that left side back!
It still works to kiss if your wondering!
September 23
Today is our 37th anniversary and we are 8 hours apart, but close at heart.  The first thing I thought about this morning was to reflect on my wedding vows.

I, Boo, take thee, Deke, to be my wedded Husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love, cherish, obey, and cheer on your beloved Tar Heels till death us do part, according to God's holy ordinance.

My man has stood by me through "all of the above" and while I was certainly ready to head to heaven  on September 14th, at the onset of the stroke, I"m thankful to have some more time making memories with the man of my dreams, my best friend, my encourager...the one whose kisses make my head spin!  Deke Andrews thank you for loving me as Christ loves us!

Today's Biblegateway verse is perfect for the battle I've been facing physically, but I also think it's a great marriage verse.

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope.   Romans 5:3-4 NIV

There's more to come: We continue to shout our praise even when we're hemmed in with troubles, because we know how troubles can develop passionate patience in us, and how that patience in turn forges the tempered tell of virtue, keeping us alert for whatever God will do next.  In alert expectancy such as this, we're never left feeling shortchanged.  Quite the contrary-we can't round up enough containers to hold everything God generously pours into our lives through the Holy Spirit!
Romans 5:3-4 MSG



The God of Hope

Hats off to these two caregivers.

September 22-Evening thoughts.
This morning was a banner day! I made it through the whole night alone and slept great.  This morning I put cereal in a bowl and poured milk over it (ok, yes with my right hand, but I still did it all alone) and they left me totally alone to dress for PT.  The value of your accomplishments is directly related to your circumstances! While the enemy wants my mind to go to...."No way you will ever be able to make breakfast for all 23 members of your family again," I say "Hooray for what happened today!" and look forward to the blessings coming on the other side of this hospital rehab door today.
I know who my God is.  A God who loves me and has plans to give me a hope and a future wherever I am!
My PT session today, with a new young therapist didn't start off great.  I was standing behind my walker and she said, "So why is your left knee bent? Is there something wrong with it?" I wanted to say, "Are you kidding me?" but said, "Actually, I didn't even know it was bent."  Then she asked me to sit and lift it and she realized I wasn't as strong as she had presumed.  Next she rather abruptly said, "So what day do you think you should go home?"  I burst into tears. I looked at her and said, "I may not be as bad as some of the other people here, but I woke up this morning and realized there's no way I could walk down the hill to my dock. No way I could keep my balance on a floating dock; take my kayak off the rack, put it in the water and get in; and no way I could load up a group of Bible study ladies and drive them off on the pontoon boat. I don't want to leave here in a wheelchair or behind a walker. I want to be me again."
So she worked me so hard my muscles are twitching tonight. Bout killed me but I walked up a FLIGHT of steps!!!! Then she took me outside and said she was going to make me walk through pot holes!

Strokes can come upon anyone.  Those of us recovering here at ST Thomas are quite a varied group.
Black, white, male, female, old, young.  Some know Jesus, some don't.  Enjoy today's Biblegateway verse and reach out to someone who may be a little different from you.

So reach out and welcome one another to God’s glory. Jesus did it; now you do it! Jesus, staying true to God’s purposes, reached out in a special way to the Jewish insiders so that the old ancestral promises would come true for them. As a result, the non-Jewish outsiders have been able to experience mercy and to show appreciation to God. Just think of all the Scriptures that will come true in what we do! For instance: Then I’ll join outsiders in a hymn-sing; I’ll sing to your name! And this one: Outsiders and insiders, rejoice together! And again: People of all nations, celebrate God! All colors and races, give hearty praise! And Isaiah’s word: There’s the root of our ancestor Jesse, breaking through the earth and growing tree tall, Tall enough for everyone everywhere to see and take hope! Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
Romans 15:7 MSG

A Cheerful Heart

The nurses gave the boys popsicles when they came to visit.
September 22
(BettyAshton again..helping type this for Mom)

I just asked my nurse to put my life verse on the erasable board as a daily reminder.
Be joyful alway, pray without ceasing, in all things give thanks."  I Thessalonians 5:16-18

On Biblegateway yesterday was a great verse to memorize for this first full week of therapy.

May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be with you all.  2 Corinthians 13:14

Sunday our VA Beach grands called to FaceTime.  Our oldest grandson looked at me and said, "Mama Boo, you look younger, I think you've lost a few pounds!" I said, I definitely have. He said, "Well, don't you go eating too much now!"
Laughter is good for the soul.

Speaking of laughter...Saturday I had visitors and while they were here I needed the nurse to take me to the bathroom.  All the time at the other hospital I'd been in a hospital gown and no panties, because it was easier with the lack of mobility I had for them to care for me in that manner. Saturday a nurse showered me and I put panties on under my night gown.  Bladder issues are a huge concern after a stroke.  They had been ultra sounding my bladder to be sure those muscles were working.  As I sat on the potty I called to the nurse and said, "Rita, something really doesn't feel right."  Then I realized I had never pulled down my panties.  We all laughed and laughed!

My husband opened a fortune cookie which accompanied the anniversary dinner he brought in from PF Changs. (Another perk of a stroke in a major city.)  It read:
"Your kind heart will be most important this month."  I hope so!  Today I had my first group lunch as part of occupational therapy.  I was the new girl around the table today and it was nice to be with people who are ahead of me in stroke recovery.  The kindness and sympathy we had for each other was heartwarming.  They cheered me on as I persevered to open my first tab top and tear open a salad dressing packet.  Instead of napkins, we each had a towel to catch the food that might drip out of our mouths!  God does use the experience of our trials to equip us to encourage those going through a similar struggle.

Our youngest son called to say he's coming in town October 2nd for "Operation get mom out of there"!

By My Side-Jesus, Betty Ashton, Samantha, N-Linda/Rebecca/Teresa PT-Jean OT-Mary ST-Teresa

Posted by Deke

September 21
Please pray right now. I've been nauseous and had intestinal issues all night.  Today I have 6 hours of therapy starting at 7:45 and hardly know how I will lift my head off the pillow.
Love, Boo

The following is an excerpt from a recent He Reads Truth devotional...

Years ago there was a woman who came to the church I served, and every Sunday, without fail, she would have a seizure in the middle of the service and have to be taken home. Before long, a sizable percentage of our congregation began to learn the signs that her seizure was coming on, and they took turns caring for her and driving her home.
One day she came to tell me she was thinking about leaving our church because she felt she was a burden on us. I told her she felt that way because she was, and that it was our holy honor to help carry her. It was one of the most tangible expressions of Christ-like love I saw come out of our congregation—people stepping into her world to help her be among us.
Bearing one another's burdens is often challenging from both ends; whether, bearing a burden or sharing a burden. Pride is usually the culprit. Interesting that more than once, God's word says that  He will resist the proud but gives grace to the humble. So, we are called to humble ourselves to help others and when needed allow others to help us. Such has been the case in Nashville this week.
Anyone who knows the Boo of Boojoyful knows that no one is more giving, selfless and willing to share others' burdens. However, this week she has needed some help and help has come in abundance through doctors, nurses, babysitters, prayer warriors, children, grandchildren, therapists, family, friends and even strangers. It has been a blessing beyond comprehension. Perhaps the greatest blessing of today was being ministered to by her daughter, Betty Ashton, as she played her harp throughout the 6th floor of the hospital. 
Interestingly, the cycle never quits as she, even in the humble state in which she finds herself, has had opportunity upon opportunity to share others' burdens. A nurse who has lost three children with a rare genetic disease, another nurse who lost her home in the Nashville floods several years ago, a young patient who woke up one morning with a sore foot, only to have half her leg amputated later that day, a young nurse who needed encouragement with her first pregnancy, a housekeeper, a doctor with two children, both diagnosed with potential life long illnesses... it just goes on.
With God, most things work contrary. You give to get. You must die to in order to live, You must be last in order to be first and you need to bear others' burdens in order to have others share yours. 

Unwholesome Talk

September 20
I rolled over yesterday morning to hold hands with my sweet husband sleeping on a cot by my hospital bed. How hard it will be to say good-bye to him today. (News Flash, I talked him into one more night. We had a romantic 37th anniversary dinner from PF Changs and the sweet nurses are allowing him on the bed with me and putting a do not disturb sign from 9-5!  How sweet is that.

I asked Deke to read me the Biblegateway verse for the day yesterday and it's perfect for a stroke victim!

Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.  Ephesians 4:29

Therapy began. My therapist walked in and said, "Hi, I'm Debbie. I see you are from VA. Where exactly?" "Smith Mt Lake," I replied. Smiling she said, "I just got back from there yesterday!"
I expressed to Debbie my fear that these uncontrollable emotions which come over me would be a problem when encouraging/counseling others.  She was quite honest that depending where in the brain the problem was they might  not get better. Silently I prayed.  Fifteen minutes later God answered those prayers.

Betty Ashton brought her harp to minister to us.  As she played, God gave her a new song with the lyric..."I make all things new. I can make this beautiful." Sitting beside us listening was my new, young friend, Tammy, who has just had her leg amputated.  She tapped along with her good foot!
Betty Ashton, Deke and I were able to team up and minister to Tammy.

Moments after that a young, precious neurologist friend of our daughters came to visit and encourage us.  As she shared about her two young children with serious illnesses we were hugging and crying and the Spirit gave me the words to pray over her!!

The evening ended with two more precious opportunities.  A mother whose son is battling cancer and a nurse sharing how she lost all three sons she delivered after full term pregnancies within 30 hours of birth.

I found myself longing for home, to be able to swim and romp with our grandchildren, drive a car....then God said.  Stop thinking of what you can't do and concentrate on what I have for you to do at this time!  There was such peace in those thoughts.

A man's steps are directed by the Lord.  How then can anyone understand his own way?  
Proverbs 20:24

For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all.  So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen.  For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.  2 Corinthians 4:17-18


Tried to pick up my camera today and it was SOOO heavy.  The occupational therapist puts some weights in my hands and said, "We are going to conquer this!"

Thanks for all the kind texts, emails and PRAYERS.

By My Side- Jesus, Deke, Betty Ashton, Lulu N-Andrea/Sandi PT-Tom  OT-Chelsea ST-Teresa

Look, Listen, Think

September 18-19
(Warning! Words don't alway work just right in my brain. Deke says he better proof these entries.)
The clock is still ticking slowly and the days and nights seem so long.  Last night was a struggle. I felt like my body was having a difficult time adjusting to all that is happening to it.  My arms and legs are moving, my face, speech, eyes and balance have some catching up to do.  I have to listen to the doctors and therapists and remember this recovery will take time.

I will miss my stroke team at St. Thomas Nashville so much as I make the move to rehab. Cheri, my Occupational therapist  and I have exchanged information and are going out to lunch in Nashville some day soon.  To have someone like that one your team, genuinely carrying and encouraging you is a gift.

The move to rehab was devastating  (the uncontrollable emotions that accompany post stroke life, make lots of things seem devastating). I had a meltdown after those first few hours here and was moments from dragging myself out.  The problem was it being done on a Friday afternoon.  I was wheeled into St Thomas Mid-town, rolled into a room and told there will be alarms on the bed and chair and I'm never to attempt getting up without a staff person.  Then I was left to ponder that for the next five hours.  Deke and Betty Ashton have stayed close to my side, but the reality of this situation keeps sinking in slowly.  The verse God has on Biblegateway was perfect preparation for my rehab stay.

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.  Philippians 2;3-4

Please pray for the Holy Spirit to fill me to be all God intends for me to be in this place.
I asked Betty Ashton to read me a devotional that popped up yesterday by Liz Curtis Higgs. The lesson was on humility and the life application was to "Look, Listen and Think."  Pretty good advice for me right now.

We laughed after my admittance interrogation by the charge nurse...she inquired. Is there anything else we need to know about you...like to you not like men as part of your care?  Anything that would help us understand you better?  I simply said, "I love Jesus!"  Deke said, "She had no idea what to do with that one!"


Than you, thank you for your prayers. We know it is God's mercy and your prayers that have seen me this far   Pray for Deke and Betty Ashton as caregivers. Deke leaves Sunday to return to VA. Jiewon and Jordon are next in line to come give Betty Ashton a little reprieve.  Talk about a spirit filled person...if I ever grow up I want to be like Betty Ashton.
Pray I will look at those around me, listen to the needs of their hearts and be able to think and find the right words to express to them how much Jesus loves them.

By My Side-Jesus, Deke, BettyAshton, Lana, Judy and Mary.
                     N-Sandi, Rita PT-Debbie (SML) OT-David/Rebecca ST- Teresa Dr. Bomboy

It's Me

September 18
Betty Ashton has told me that outside this hospital, St. Thomas, is a HUGE banner which reads....
Nothing is impossible with God!
The head of the stroke department has counseled me it is important to journal daily, so as to not grow weary or become frustrated in this recovery process.  The occupational therapists says typing will be really helpful. Honestly, these three sentences have worn me out, but I will type what has been my repeat verse the past four days...
Trust in the Lord with all your heart, lean not on your own understanding, but in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your path straight.

A quick recall for me of the progress so far and a thanks to all the encouragers.  I'm learning what a key factor this is in this process.
Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.
1 Thessalonians 5:11

9/14 - Flat on my back, paralyzed on my left side and slurred speech.
By My Side- Amazing EMS team.  I can't wait to take them lunch!
                   Jesus and Betty Ashton, ER Nurse Nicole, Dr. LaFranchise & stroke specialist, Deborah.
                   I want all these people to be my forever friends.
                   Thank You Lord, for filling me with your Holy Spirit and allowing me to pray over
                   Nurse Nicole and for her daughter, Lucy.
9/15-  Able to wiggle toes and fingers, yet set back with severe nausea and headaches.
          Begging Jesus to take me home to heaven.
By My Side- Jesus, Betty Ashton, Pop, Braydon  ICU Nurses Molly and Jennifer
         Molly gets married December 5th in Manhattan and Jennifer, November 6th in Nashville
         Betty Ashton, Braydon and Pop begin to read the prayers, texts and Facebook postings to me.
         We all weep together.
         Made friends with housekeeper, (we laughed together, after I asked her her name and she LaDressa , like your dresser where you keep your clothes!)  I asked her if she loved Jesus, Yup, she has become my forever friend.
Pop (Deke) has slept beside me every night in a bed chair!

9/16- Able to move left arm and lift left leg slightly. I think this was the evening they got me in a chair, then physical therapy made their first attempt that night for me to walk. So humbling and I think this is when I recognized the battle ahead.  My leg would not move forward. My left foot turned inward.  Deborah, whose passion is stroke recovery, came in to educate us all. We will never forget her. We all wept again.
By My Side- JC, BA, Pop, Braydon and Jackson Nurses Jennifer and Tim
A huge thanks to my daughter in laws Jenna and Mallory for sending their husbands to cheer on their mama.  Jenna also sent photos of the grands for me to have to "show off."  Brilliant idea!

9/17-Made it out of ICU and onto the euro-floor.  Was able to walk with a walker that morning!
       Could lift my left arm up high. Saw myself in mirror for first time and realized the left side of my face didn't work.  Tried solid food and bit my tongue and inside of left check.  Also realized the right words didn't always come out...Asked Deke to do my puckets.  Then said, "There's no such thing as puckets is there?" I meant the snaps on my hospital gown.  Speech is getting better, but still tough to form some words.
Met Cheri, the most amazing Occupational therapist.  She strapped a belt around me, walked me down the hall to the therapy gym and told me how important it was to get me to a rehab soon.  She called the Physical Therapist, Gina, and asked her to work with me that afternoon. Reality check #2
Hard work ahead.  She unleashed me from the belt and let me stumble, but then told me the exercises she had put me through were advanced.

Well, this has brought back my headaches and the nurse has just come in and suggested I take a time out....To be continued.






Doing our Best

September 17

Filling in for Mama Boo today...

Boo is obviously desperate to move things along as quickly as possible; who wouldn't? So, the dilemma of the day (so far) was somewhat humorous. Trying to make the best impression on the doctor as to her state of recovery and hopefully moving out of the hospital to the next stage of rehab, should she:

A) after showering, put her nice nightgown on, fluff up her hair, even put a smattering of make-up on, which she normally avoids, and risk the doctor thinking this woman is trying to use her "wiles" to get out of here (that was my thought, not hers) or,

B) look disheveled and risk the doctor thinking she doesn't even care about getting out and getting better!

She went with option A simply because for her, doing anything less than her best is not an option. Mama Boo is sold out for the Lord. In fact, I often refer to her as being a member of the NFL... Nut for the Lord!

So, the message for the day is doing our best for the Lord, regardless of the limitations we face at the  time; easy for me to say but I am indeed witnessing someone do this.

Col. 3:23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.





Not a stroke of luck

September 14-16
*written by BettyAshton

But maybe a stroke of genius?  As I was trying to think of a stroke pun for the title (Pop has given us a steady line of them)  I kept realizing that, actually..maybe this is a stroke of genius.  We know that situations like this are often about more than the event itself and God is in control.  We are excited to see what things will come out of this that only a genius God could design.

Monday afternoon Mama Boo arrived in Nashville to be an extra set of hands while my husband was out of town this week.  She was playing with the boys upstairs while I was downstairs getting dinner ready.  I heard her calmly call to me and say she needed me.  I assumed one of my boys was up to no good ;-0  When I got upstairs she was laying on the ground on her back.  I immediately assumed her back had gone out.  As I asked her what was wrong she had a hard time articulating what the problem was.  She just kept asking me to pray and saying that something was wrong.  After a minute or so I realized that she was not able to move her left side and she was having a hard time communicating.  At this point I called 911.  The ambulance and Fire truck arrived quickly and we tried to make it seem like that was a normal fun surprise for my boys.  Harrison even let the firemen in.  Thankfully my next door neighbor noticed the trucks and came over.  She was able to take the boys to the play room so they didn't notice the Ambulance take Mama Boo and me away.  They didn't seem phased by their Mama Boo lying on he ground since she's so often down there playing with her.  We made it to the hospital about 25 minutes after I first called 911.  Thankfully mom was a candidate to get TPA stroke medicine and the faster you get that the better (there is a tiny window of time before you are no longer a candidate for this).  We are SO thankful that this happened when and where it did.  Thankful that she was not alone and that we were in such close proximity to a great hospital.

Yesterday morning she started regaining movement on the left side but it was a rough day of nausea.  Even in her pain she kept thinking of others.  Today has been much better.  She was able to get out of bed (with help) and begin PT and OT.  We are still in ICU waiting for results from an MRI and Eco-Cardio test and then they will hopefully move us to another room.  The next step will be to go somewhere for neuro rehab.  They are calling this a stroke, but seem baffled as to why she had one.

As you'd expect, Mama Boo has been quick to tell every nurse and doctor about the Jesus she loves.  She is eager to work hard in rehab and get back to normal so she can play with all her grand babies.  The doctor expects that to happen but has prepared us that it's a marathon, not a sprint.

Today's word of the day on her computer was "Haptic" which means related to, or based on the sense of touch.  The nurses and doctors have spent the last 48 hours checking her sense of touch on her left side.  When I searched "touch" in Bible gateway, it gave me Psalm 105:5

“Do not touch my anointed ones; do my prophets no harm.”
Mama Boo is certainly an anointed one.  We are thankful for the protection over her.  Along with this theme, we read the account of the bleeding woman in the storybook Bible last night.  All she had to do was touch Jesus and she was healed.  Touch is a powerful thing.  Most of you reading have been touched by something my mom has shared on this blog or just in doing life together. We wait with anticipation all the ways that God will be woven into this chapter of her story.  Thank you so much for your prayers and kind words.  
BettyAshton

Recreate



September 14
Recreate my heart to love You above all else.

Awaken me to Your presence.

Create in me the desire to love You and glorify you more fully.

Receive strength to be different.

John Lloyd Olgivie

Pippi



September 12-13
This little Pippi Longstocking hung out with me for 10 days.  The time just flew by.
Our favorite activity was putting a coat hanger on her head and braiding her hair like Pippi. If you've ever watched a Pippi movie you know she does some amazing feats, because she BELIEVES.
In line with the believe theme we chose this memory verse for memorization.

Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be SAVED!  
Acts 16:31 

Body Battles



September 11
The night before a friend went into open heart surgery, I opened Jesus Calling and read:

"Accept each day exactly as it comes to you. By that, I mean not only the circumstances of your day, but also the condition of your body. Your assignment is to trust Me absolutely, resting in My sovereignty and faithfulness.  On some days, your circumstances and your physical condition feel out of balance...You can turn to Me at any point, and I will help you crawl out of the mire of disappointment. I will infuse My strength into you moment by moment, giving you all that you need for this day.  Trust Me by relying on My empowering presence."

"I will refresh the weary and satisfy the faint."   Jeremiah 31:25

That same day a younger sister in Christ wrote requesting prayer. She was weary.
Here was the prayer I emailed her. May it bring you comfort this day.

Father, shower your love on my sister and restore her weary soul. Make your presence known and assure her that her future holds good things; things she can't imagine which you are going to use to prosper her.  Fill her with hope and a peace which passes understanding. Guard her mind and help her take any detrimental discouraging thoughts captive.  Also, encamp encouragers around her and give her reason to laugh, for laughter is good for the soul.
Lord, we know you hear her cries Answer her Lord and make provisions for her heart's desire.  Father, we don't understand  Your ways, but we know you are good and love us immensely. In Jesus' Name, Amen

Afloat

Love this cute face!
September 10
"I just want it to be over!" These are words I've recently heard from four friends in varying battles.  Listening to their stories made me think of various waiting scenarios we face in life.
I just want this chemo to be over!
I just want this illness to be over!
I just want this infertility battle to be over!
I just want the hurt of this grief to be over!
I just want this child's rebellion to be over!
I just want this class to be over!
I just want this unemployment to be over!
I just want these financial woes to be over!
I just want this legal battle to be over!
Ugh, for some it might be...I just want this marriage to be over!

I thought about David's pleas to the Lord.
"How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?  How long will you hide your face from me?"
Psalm 13:1
"My soul is in deep anguish. How long, Lord, how long?"  Psalm 6:3

Jesus is our life preserver! He keeps us afloat in the wait of life!

Why are you downcast, O my soul?  Why so disturbed within me?  Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my Savior."  Psalm 42:5


Grace

 September 9
Having our grandchildren visit us is pure grace!  Thanks for entrusting these little ones to our care!





A Joy That Makes Your Heart Thrill





September 8
Last November, at our grandson's 6th birthday party, he asked my husband if he would baptize him in the lake.  Talk about a joy that makes your heart thrill!  This past Sunday was the big day!

Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.   
Matthew 28:18-20

Peace Like a River


September 7
Picnicking on a large quilt, under an enormous oak tree yesterday, with the most delightful breeze blowing though our hair, phrases such as..."This is incredible! What a day! Heaven must be like this!"
kept coming from our mouths.  This Labor Day weekend weather has truly been delightful.
The grands began swimming at 7:45 AM and finished up with an after dinner swim in the evening.

Looking out at the water the thought...peace like a river...came to mind. I'm thinking that is a lyric from a song, but I plugged peace and river into Biblegateway and took to heart these words found in Isaiah 48:17-19

This is what the Lord says-your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel:
"I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you,
who directs you in the way you should go.
If only you had paid attention to my commands,
your peace would have been like a river,
 your well-being like the waves of the sea.
Your descendants would have been like the sand,
your children like its numberless grains;
their name would never be blotted out nor destroyed from before me."

Headed Where?

September 5-6


Start children off on the way they should go, 
and even when they are old they will not turn from it.
Proverbs 22:6


No Regard For Others



September 4
I should have been out the door to the grocery store, but inside I was flat on the floor before God.  (The positioning didn't begin out of reverence, but because I'd been cleaning spiders out from under a book case and was plumb tuckered out from my morning of chores and stretching my sore back.) Anyway, God had my attention.

I told the Lord, I knew I had some heart issues and asked him to reveal the source.  He said, "You're ticked by people who have no regard for others."

Hmm..like the treatment of the Jews? The Japanese/Americans in the novel Hotel at the Corner of Bitter and Sweet? Our country's involvement in slavery?  The unborn? Nuts like me with a crazy Christian faith?  Where was this going?  The bigger question (my sin issues) and supposed purpose of this quiet time would be...Who it is I have no regard for?

Turning to Biblegateway I found Paul standing on a platform. He is sounding off to us from the grave on how to make the best of any situation.  "Go ahead, lock me up, mistreat me, God will use it for good!."

"So how am I to respond? I’ve decided that I really don’t care about their motives, whether mixed, bad, or indifferent. Every time one of them opens his mouth, Christ is proclaimed, so I just cheer them on! And I’m going to keep that celebration going because I know how it’s going to turn out. Through your faithful prayers and the generous response of the Spirit of Jesus Christ, everything he wants to do in and through me will be done. I can hardly wait to continue on my course. I don’t expect to be embarrassed in the least. On the contrary, everything happening to me in this jail only serves to make Christ more accurately known, regardless of whether I live or die. They didn’t shut me up; they gave me a pulpit! Alive, I’m Christ’s messenger; dead, I’m his bounty. Life versus even more life! I can’t lose."       Philippians 1:21 MSG

Paul was truly a life transformed.  He teaches us whom we are to no longer regard once we come to Christ.

And he died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died
for them and was raised again.

So from now on we regard no one from a worldly point of view. Though we once regarded Christ in this way, we do so no longer.  Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here!  2 Corinthians 5:15-17

God's Gifts are All Around

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful.
I know that full well.
Psalm 139:13-14
September 3
A cherished sister in Christ, gathered these shells along the seashore and made this beautiful cross for me!  Each shell is such a reminder of how unique each of God's creations is.  Placing these on the cross is a reminder of how precious we creations are to Christ.

If you, then though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children,
how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!
Matthew 7:11

What better gift is there than the gift of salvation?

But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
                                                                       Romans 5:8

Take Hold


September 2

School is back in full swing and we are missing the pitter pat of little feet and the sound of splashes in the water.  The joys of summer time and loving life are such gifts to be treasured.  There is definitely leaf work ahead and storms in our future, but we can take hold of Jesus and look at each day as a gift no matter what it holds.
I'm choosing a Daniel in the lion's den attitude today.  I hope he saves me, but if not He is still God!
Some days make us long for heaven more than others, but no matter where we are, if we are with Christ it's a good day.

"For I am the Lord your God who takes hold of your right hand and says to you,
'Do not fear: I will help you.'"
Isaiah 41:13

"Not that I have already obtained all this, or have already arrived at my goal,
but I press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus too hold of me."
Philippians 3:12

 "Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called
when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses."
1 Timothy 6:12

The Coin


September 1
Here's a great visual add.  We've been walking through a deep pit of a problem with some close friends, which has involved false accusations resulting in government investigations and a possible court room appearance.  I could go off with a string of adjectives to describe the instigator, but I will take every thought captive.  Hanging out with my girlfriend recently, she walked up to our living room coffee table and smacked this nickel down "tails" (ooh, what a lead in to say something unkind related to people being tails) side up.
She said, "This side represents government, power and greed."
Then she flipped the coin over to the "heads side" and said, "I just keep the coin turned this way to remind me to seek the face of God and trust Him to reveal truth!"
Praise the Lord he is doing just that.

Walking and praying for these friends one day this week, I started to lose it and go into panic mode telling God what HE MUST DO.  I looked to my left and there was a large white rock.  Knowing my heart and the twit I was getting into, the words came to my mind..."Boo, remember I am their Rock and their REDEEMER.  I will restore to them all that has been lost."

The following day I allowed anger to ignite me into a flurry of fluster. Gently, the Spirit reminded me...God is RIGHTEOUS and he doesn't need your help for this resolution.


Answer me when I call to you, my righteous God.
Give me relief from my distress; have mercy on me and hear my prayer.
Psalm 4:1

Bring to an end the violence of the wicked and make the righteous secure-
you, the righteous God who probes minds and hearts.
Psalm 7:9

God is a righteous judge...
Psalm 7:11