Appalachian Mountains in Autumn

When God Rearranges Your Priorities

It is 2023 and you are just now hearing from me because God rearranged my priorities in a very big way.  Before I tell you about that, let me say Happy New Year and that I am grateful to all of you who have prayed for us during these past 45 days!  God heard all of the prayers you and others all over the country have prayed for us.  He spared my husband's life and rearranged our priorities to better serve Him. 

A few days before Christmas, my husband was still trying to get over an illness (NOT Covid) and he was really struggling with a difficult cough.  We happened to take his oxygen levels through our pulse-ox that we had here at home and it read 84.  Not good.  The next day we called our nurse practitioner and told her what was going on and asked her to write a prescription for an oxygen concentrator to use here at home.  She refused and said, "You will be going to the E.R."  

Once at the E.R. Andy was immediately put on oxygen and wheeled in for tests.  At first, they told us they suspected heart failure and that they did not see any signs of pneumonia on the chest x-ray.  Soon after that, things changed and they said he did have pneumonia after all.  They were administering antibiotics and breathing treatments and had him hooked up to constant oxygen, but they began to see that it was not helping.  Andy's oxygen levels continued to go dangerously low.  

The hospital moved him to the ICU on Christmas Eve and I went home around 8:00 PM to try to have a little dinner with my sons and exchange the few presents we had.  I went to bed but was awakened by Andy calling me at 5:00 AM to ask me to come to the hospital to help him ask questions because they were wanting to put him on a ventilator. 

My heart was beating out of my chest as we discussed things with the ICU doctor and decided to allow them to put Andy on a ventilator.  Soon after they sedated him and intubated him, his oxygen levels were still not looking good.  I'll never forget when the doctor came to me in the waiting area and explained that he wanted to move Andy to the University of Tennessee Hospital where they had a highly specialized treatment called ECMO, which is kind of like dialysis for the lungs. 
My stomach was in knots as the doctor told me, "if Andy has any family that would want to see him, you should call them."  I vividly remember those sad phone calls that I had to make to Andy's 94 year old Dad, his brothers and to my own family members.  I was crying out to God throughout this whole thing, begging him to spare Andy's life and to have mercy on us.  

They put Andy on an ambulance and took him to U of T Hospital.  One of my sons was there with me while we watched them transfer him to the ambulance stretcher, proned (on his stomach) with tubes sticking out of his mouth.  We wept as he was whisked away, wondering if we would ever see him awake again.  

There are lots of details about all the events that followed but to keep this email from getting too long, suffice it to say that Andy was sedated and intubated with a ventilator for approximately 30 days.  The doctors and nurses were not giving me much encouraging news all throughout this whole time but I was holding on to some words that the Lord Jesus had placed in my heart.  "Persevere in hope and in faith," were the words I kept hearing in my spirit. So, I clung to Jesus and held on to those words.  

God brought to mind the story of Peter getting out of the boat to walk on water to Jesus when he took his eyes off Jesus and saw the wind and the waves all around.  Peter began to sink and cried out to the Lord who then reached for him and pulled him up out of the stormy sea.  I knew I was to keep my focus on Jesus and stop looking at all the circumstances which were really bad.  

Later on, when Andy finally experienced improvements and then setbacks, I felt the Lord saying to me, "I didn't bring you and Andy this far to drop you now."  I clung to that after Andy had a tracheotomy and was trying to come out of the deep sedation.  There were concerns about how his brain would come through all of this.

Fast forwarding to today, Andy is now in a rehabilitation facility to regain his ability to walk and treat his bedsores.  We are so very grateful to God for answering our cries for healing and for help.  We are grateful to the people in our church and our siblings, neighbors, and friends who supported us with meals, prayer, and money for me so I could purchase meals at the hospital.  

I can see evidence that Andy's priorities have been rearranged as he talks to me and to his brothers and father with a new appreciation and love for us.  I know my priorities were completely rearranged as I prioritized prayer, being by Andy's side every day since before Christmas, and humbling myself to let others help me (which is hard for me to do).  Life here on earth is valuable and can be brief.  We never know when our number of days will be complete and we will be called up to Heaven.  The most important "work" we can do is to tell others about Jesus and His saving grace so that we can be reunited in Heaven one day.  

Have a wonderful 2023 and may God provide you with plenty of opportunities to spread His Gospel to anyone who will listen.  Cherish your loved ones and take time to appreciate all the things about them, even the things that you don't necessarily like.  Some of the silliest things I would grumble about regarding a habit of Andy's I now consider to be precious.  

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