February 28, 2011

From The Mouths of Children

It has been awesome to hear stories from some of you about how your children have really begun to develop a prayer life over the last several weeks.

In Matthew 21 Jesus is faced with angry religious leaders because He had healed the lame and the blind, and a group of children was shouting out, praising Jesus for His wonderful miracles.

"The blind and the lame came to Him in the temple complex, and He healed them. When the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonders that He did and the children shouting in the temple complex, " Hosanna to the Son of David!" they were indignant and said to Him, "Do You hear what these [children] are saying?"

"Yes," Jesus told them. "Have you never read: 
You have prepared praise 
from the mouths of children and nursing infants?"

Children seem to 'get it' better and much quicker than we adults. They seem to grasp the concept of faith so much better than we do. Here are a few of the comments I have heard from some of you about your children:

"If you knew what impact your family had on one of my boys tonight... he had been saying all week he was missing his dad. It happens each year with the early spring... grief has a way of recurring with seasonal changes - the memories come through the soft early breezes of Spring. This boy has prayed each day over and over for your family. And he has watched your blogs. He's made the connections of considering it all joy"

"I can tell you that it's amazing what effect Garren's situation has had on our family alone. I opened Kat's bedroom door the Tuesday night and she had her bible open reading...clinging to scriptures of healing. When in the car, the kids used to want to change the christian station to the "cooler" one, now they leave it on 91.9 and sing to the top of their lungs or just quietly listen to the words with Garren on their minds and hearts."

Someone at church Sunday told me "My kids remind us at every meal and before bed that we need to pray for Garren."

And I saw this on Facebook today:

"One of many little reminders my kids have left around the house to pray for the Janes family. Emily put this together on the fridge, J likes to pray at every stop light on the way to school, notes, pictures everywhere...so sweet to see children trusting so completely in the power of prayer. What a great reminder for the adults in their lives."

Monday February 28, 2011 8:00am

Had a great day yesterday. Nancy and I and the girls went out to dinner last night together. We had a good time chatting and goofing off with each other. I love my family.

Yesterday morning Garren had a low grade fever, so they put him back on pressure support to give his body a chance to rest. Today his fever is gone and he is ready for a full day of work. Here's what his schedule looks like today:

9:00-9:30 - Physical Thereapy
9:30-10:00 - Speech Therapy
10:00-11:00 - Occupational Therapy
11:00-1:00 - Break
1:00-2:00 - Physical Therapy

At this point, there is a lot of overlap in the different types of therapy. Each therapist does things with Garren to stimulate muscle movement, and to get a response from Garren.

Just to put this into perspective, for you and me this would be the equivalent of going to the gym and working out for 4-5 hours. It's a lot of work.

Pray today for Garren to respond well to the therapy.
Pray that his body will continue to gain strength.

February 27, 2011

Sunday February 27, 2011 5:00pm

It was so great to be with our church family today. I had the opportunity to share for a few minutes. It was so great to see everyone. It was also great to be with our Monroe campus as we celebrated our 2 year anniversary today. Awesome!

For those of you who could not be with us at Southbrook today, here is what I said:

Nancy and I are grateful beyond words for the outpouring of love we have received from this church. We have been blown away at the response to Garren’s unfortunate injury. And it goes beyond just this church. Churches literally around the world are continuing to pray for Garren’s healing. Students and faculty at Porter Ridge, Piedmont, and many other schools have banded together in the most spectacular way to show support and love for Garren. It has been truly amazing to be at the center of this kind of love.

Many have made comments about how well we seem to be holding up. Let me tell you - this is probably the most stressful and emotional situation I’ve ever had to deal with personally in my life. It’s not easy. Many of you have been in similar situations, you know what I’m talking about. From the minute this began, we started praying. We took Garren to God immediately, laid him at Jesus’ feet, and poured our hearts out to Him.

There have been a couple of very close calls along the way, Garren shouldn’t be alive today. The fact that he is alive is evidence that God does answer prayers. God orchestrated a series of events as Garren arrived at the hospital and in the days following that could not have been planned out by us. God is good indeed.

Life can change in an instant. You’re next breath is not guaranteed.

So how is it that we are able to hold up so well through all of this? I had one of the nurses ask me, probably about 4-5 days into this, if we were taking the time to grieve. She must have thought we were still in shock, or denial. I love questions like that, because it opens the door for me to talk about the One who is carrying us through all of this. If you’ve been following our story on my blog, then you are reading first hand what is going through my head. I don’t hold much back. I was able to talk to that nurse about Abraham and Isaac. God told Abraham to take his only son to the top of a mountain, to build an altar, and to sacrifice him there. Abraham obeyed, without question. God said go and Abraham went. I told her that we truly believed that God could and would use this situation as a way to point people toward himself. And just as Abraham was obedient, and willing to offer his son to God, we too had given Garren over to God many years ago. We want to be used by God through this situation as He sees fit.

You see, for years Nancy and I have spent time in God’s Word, regularly, and in prayer, regularly. Over a period of many years we have learned to lean on God, to trust His ways. This isn’t something that happens overnight. It’s not something you decide to do one day and it magically happens. It takes years.

I’m signed up to run my second half-marathon in a couple of weeks. I ran my first one in December. I started officially training in August. I put together a training program, and worked my way up to being able to mostly run 13 miles without stopping or passing out! But in reality, my training started years before that. I learned how to walk when I was a toddler. I spent years playing, running, doing things that kids do. I played sports in high school. I got into cycling, and running, and then built on that foundation to complete a half-marathon. Now, I’m continuing to build on that foundation, and hopefully will be able to run this one, maybe just a little bit faster!

The point is, I didn’t just wake up one day, decide to run a marathon, and go to the start line. I wouldn’t have made it past the first mile.

It’s the same with our spiritual lives. We have to spend years working on our spiritual health. It’s a process. It takes time. It means reading and praying when we don’t necessarily feel like it. It means taking whatever hardships come your way and thanking God, seeking Him in the midst of it, keeping your eyes on Him, on the end goal, rather than on yourself and your own selfish, comfortable desires.

Many years ago, when our children were young, we committed them to the Lord. We agreed to raise them in a Godly way, knowing that ultimately they were on loan to us. They belong to the Lord. When something like this happens, it rips your heart out.

One of the things that we have done with our kids from very early on was to teach them the Bible. I’m not talking about just church. Church is good. Get your kids involved in our children’s ministry, or student ministry. Get your kids involved in serving, and in outreach. But above all of this - talk to your kids about spiritual things. Talk to them about the Bible. Read your Bible to them. Pray with them. No matter how strange or awkward it feels, you can’t afford to put it off.

Joshua 1:7-9 says "...be strong and very courageous, being careful to do according to all the law that Moses my servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good successt wherever you go.8 This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success.9 Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go."

We’re in the middle of this family series. “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.” Pastor Rob has some tough things for us to hear today. He has some truths from Scripture to teach us, and if we will heed God’s word, we will be successful - not success according to the world’s definition of success, but success in God’s eyes. Success in God’s eyes is “Be holy, because I am holy.”

None of us knows when it could happen to us. Nancy and I have peace knowing that Garren has a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Garren is learning to be a follower of Jesus. I had the honor of baptizing him not to long ago. If God had chosen to take Garren, I have no doubt he would be playing football with Jesus today.

You have to make sure that you know where you will end up if you die today. You have to talk to you kids, make sure they understand. Don’t put it off. You are not promised another minute.

God has chosen to leave Garren in our care for now. But that doesn’t make it easier. Our road is a long one. We can’t see around the next bend. We have no idea what our future or Garren’s future looks like. Thousands have prayed and are continuing to pray for Garren’s complete healing and restoration. And we believe God for that. But it will take time. It could take years. Nancy and I are learning more and more each day the reality of what that means.

As a quick update on Garren - Friday Garren had his eyes open from around 3pm until nearly midnight. As I watched him, I could see him trying to move his legs. Very small moves, like he was trying to bend his knees. So awesome to watch.

We covet your continued prayer and support. We are so thankful for each one of you. We are so thankful to be a part of a church that is learning to act like the body of Christ.

Thank you all - we love you.

February 26, 2011

Comfortable in Captivity

1 Coirinthians 10:1-5
"For I want you to know, brothers, that our fathers were all under the cloud, and all passed through the sea and all were baptized into Moses in the cloud and in the sea, and all ate the same spiritual food, and all drank the same spiritual drink. For they drank from the spiritual Rock that followed them, and the Rock was Christ. Nevertheless, with most of them God was not pleased, for they were overthrown in the wilderness."

After Moses led the Israelites out of captivity in Egypt, they had to travel quite some distance on foot to arrive at their destination - the Promised Land. God had promised Abraham many years earlier that his offspring would one day become a great nation. God was leading this nation through the wilderness to inherit that land where they would live.

The problem for the Israelites was that it would be hard work. Traveling long distances, battling the enemy, dealing with hunger and thirst - these are not easy things. Even though they had been in slavery in Egypt, at least they'd had plenty to eat and drink, and knew where they would sleep each night!

They had become comfortable in their captivity. Stepping out into God's will was not comfortable. In 1 Corinthians 10 Paul is telling us that the Israelites worshiped and followed the same God that we worship and follow. He hasn't changed. They received their guidance from the same "spiritual Rock" as we do. That Rock is Jesus Christ.

But following Jesus can become very uncomfortable at times. The difficulties we encounter as Christ followers are not what most people would choose, or consider fun. But Jesus doesn't call us to follow Him so we could enjoy the ride. He calls us to follow Him so that we can become more like Him, so that we can be made holy as He is holy.

We must heed the example of the Israelites (see 1 Corinthians 10:6-13). They lived to eat, drink, and play. And as a result, many of them were destroyed. They desired comfort, and when they didn't get it, they grumbled. And many of them were destroyed. God does not call you to a life of comfort. I continue to hear James 1:2 in the back of my mind: "Count it all joy...when you meet trials of various kinds."

We are not called to a life of comfort. We are called to a life of following Jesus at any cost.

February 25, 2011

Friday, February 25, 4:00pm

Day 3 of rehab - Garren seems to be responding pretty well. It's always encouraging to hear the therapists get excited.

We've seen some movement in his left hand in response to commands and other forms of stimulation. They use ice, vibration, hairbrush, and other items to try and get a response. The physical therapist laid Garren on a bench that would allow her to angle him up, simulating a standing position. She raised him up to a 30 degree angle, then 40 degrees, then 50 degrees, stopping at each interval to check blood pressure, and allow Garren to adjust to the new positions.

Remember that feeling you get after having the flu for a couple of days, and trying to stand up and walk around? That's after 2-3 days. Garren has been in bed for 3 weeks. Sitting and standing puts a strain on his system that he is not used to. Part of the rehabilitation process is strengthening his system to be able to handle being upright again.

Garren is hooked up to another monitor for the night. I mentioned yesterday that they wanted to do a sleep study. The monitor will record his breathing patterns and the results will give us a better sense of how to continue rehab.

According to the team here, Garren is progressing. It's slow. It's a little tiny thing every day. They will continue to add up over time.

Saturday will be a slow day, only half as much rehab work as weekdays. Sundays are a day of rest (hmmm, interesting concept!) and they will not do any therapy for Garren.

I look forward to seeing many of you at church this weekend. Just a slight change of plans - I will not actually be "preaching", but I will be sharing (live at every service, Weddington and Monroe) some of what God has been showing us over the last several weeks.

Why Didn't I Think of That?

So many of you have posted comments, and Nancy and I read each and every one. Your notes truly are encouraging to us. Every now and then I run across one that just seems to really hit the nail on the head. It's one of those "Why didn't I think of that first?" moments. From time to time I'd like to share those with you. Here's one:

"As I was reading your update this afternoon you stated “When brain cells die due to an injury, other parts of the brain kick in and start learning how to do what the injured part is supposed to do.” It struck me that I believe that is how God intended to set us up too. Us….as the body of Christian believers, we are all in this together. Your immediate family has been injured so your extended family will learn to do what you can’t do right now. We will be stronger friends and prayer warriors. We will support your family while you “relearn, re-heal, and reset.” I pray that you, Nancy, Kara, Garren & Kelsy feel the strength of the rest of the “body” kicking in and that it gives you comfort, rest & peace! Sarah Prewitt"

1 Corinthians 12:24-26 confirms this reality:
"But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it,25 that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another.26 If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together."

Paul compares the human body to the family of Christian believers. He calls it the body of Christ. And as a body, all of our parts work together, so "that there may be no division...but that the members may have the same care for one another." It has truly been amazing to see God's family unify in our time of suffering. And this extends well beyond our local church family. I love Southbrook, but God is uniting people from other churches and schools in His name as well. It goes beyond man-made names and barriers. That's unity. That's the body of Christ.

At the same time, there are many things within our body over which we can rejoice. New babies have been born. Birthdays are being celebrated. There are so many things about which to rejoice. So while the members of the body care for those who are suffering, let's not minimize the things over which we can rejoice.

Thank you Sarah for your insight.
Thank you fellow believers in Jesus Christ for being the church.

February 24, 2011

Thursday, February 24, 2011 8:00pm

Today is day 21. Three weeks ago everything was normal.

This morning was a tough one for me. Watching Garren sit nearly motionless is agonizing. I haven’t heard his voice in three weeks. I haven’t seen him be silly, make a sarcastic remark. He hasn’t given me a hug. He hasn’t complained about...anything.
Garren continued his second day of therapy today.

Each Thursday the rehab team meets to discuss each of the patients, and to set goals for both Garren and for us.

Garren’s doctor wants to conduct a sleep test on Garren. She thinks he may have a form of sleep apnea. This can happen as a result of the part of the brain that was injured. He will be tested tomorrow. This will help her figure out the best way to proceed. One of the things they want to do along with the therapy is give Garren some neuro-stimulants. There are quite a few medications that can help stimulate brain activity. Whatever medication she chooses, in conjunction with continued therapy, should help Garren to continue to wake up.

Nancy and I are working toward getting into a normal routine this next week. The plan is for whoever is staying home that night to be home in time for the girls to get home from school. Hopefully this will help us all get some sort of normality, and also give us the chance to get some more restful down time.

I am really excited about this weekend. Southbrook Monroe Campus is celebrating 2 years as a campus this weekend. We're having lunch right after the service. There are some other things planned, but since I've been out of the loop I don't know what those are. I am definitely planning to be there to celebrate. Why don't you bring a friend, and come join us?

Also, I will be sharing in each of our services this weekend. I'll be at the Weddington Campus at both 9am and 11am services. Then I'll be at the Monroe Campus during the 11am service. I can't wait to see many of you there.

February 23, 2011

Opportunities in Disguise

The other day a friend shared a story from the Bible with me. It’s found in Mark 8:22-26. The story is about a blind man who was brought to Jesus. Jesus spit on the blind man’s eyes, and laid hands on him. But the man could only see partially. He said he saw men, but they looked like trees walking. So Jesus laid his hands on the man’s eyes a second time. This time when he opened his eyes he saw everything clearly.

So why did Jesus have to try twice to heal the blind man? Why couldn’t he just heal him completely the first time? Sometimes, for whatever reason, God chooses to do things in stages, it’s often a process. While we were in the ICU, Nancy and I would talk about the miracles in the Bible. Jesus could just say the words, and people would be healed, immediately. But this blind guy had to go through a process.

There are other times in the Bible when God chooses to use a process instead of instantly saving the day. The leper had to dip himself in the Jordan river, not once or twice, but 7 times (2 Kings 5:14). The Israelites had to march around the city of Jericho 13 times - once a day for 6 days, and 7 times on the seventh day (Joshua 6:15). God does things in stages.

God could have raised Garren miraculously from his bed. He still could. But he chooses to use stages, a process, in order to teach us, and in order to bring glory to Himself.

And God uses these “opportunities in disguise” to prepare us for greater works down the road. I was reading today’s entry in Streams in the Desert today. It talked about opportunities in disguise. David, when he was a shepherd boy, faced and killed a lion and a bear, on two separate occasions. Most of us would flip out at the thought of trying to kill a lion with a slingshot! But David took the opportunity head on. It made him stronger. It prepared him for greater things down the road - like killing a giant, and becoming king of Israel.

“Every difficulty and every temptation that comes our way, if we receive it correctly, is God’s opportunity.” We must learn to recognize difficult times in our lives as opportunities from God. “May the Lord open our eyes to Him, even in temptations, trials, dangers, and misfortunes.”

Just a Note of Clarification

Based on some of the comments I have gotten from my last post, I feel like I need to clarify something for everyone.

When I say sitting up, or putting Garren in a chair, I mean we sat Garren up, and we moved him to a chair. Garren is still only able to open his eyes, wiggle his toes sometimes, and move his fingers sometimes. In rehab, the therapies right now are about moving Garren until he can move himself.

Wednesday February 23, 2011 6:00pm

Wow. Some of you are probably going through blog withdrawals! I'm sure you're all wondering what happened to Geoffrey? Well, they really do keep us busy in rehab. And it's only been one day.

I got to the hospital around 10am. I would have been here sooner, but I had stopped to help a poor lady change a flat on her car. It never ceases to amaze me how many people will pass by a stranded person and never stop to help. It's sad, really.

But anyway - Garren met with the speech therapist first. She spent some time evaluating him. Next we met the occupational therapist. She helped us sit Garren up in bed. That is the most upright Garren has been in 20 days. They wanted to see how his blood pressure would respond. Garren did fine. Her job is to help Garren relearn how to do things he needs to do to take care of himself.

Then we met the school teacher. Her job is to coordinate with Garren's school, and do everything we can to help him keep up with his schooling, and with the reentry process when Garren is ready to return to school.

After lunch we met with the physical therapist. Her job is to help get Garren mobile. She will be working with him as he begins to sit up, stand up, and walk. Today we got Garren up out of bed and into a chair so he could sit up for a while.

The goal is to get Garren's muscles moving. The hope is that through the process of these different forms of therapy, the brain will be stimulated, and start waking up even more.

We've also met with several other medical staff throughout the day. It's been a long day of learning a ton of new things.

We continue to lift Garren up to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, praying for complete healing and restoration.

February 22, 2011

Tuesday February 22 8:00pm

We reached another milestone in our marathon. Garren graduated from ICU. It's a little nerve-racking in that we've been watching a monitor telling us what all of his vital signs were. We could keep an eye on blood pressure, heart rate, breathing rate, along with several other numbers. Now we have heart rate, and oxygen saturation level - that's it. It's a little weird not knowing what his numbers are.

Oswald Chambers wrote a devotional booklet called "My Utmost for His Highest." It's one of my favorites. Today's entry was haunting and intriguing to me:

Be still, and know that I am God . . . —Psalm 46:10
Perseverance is more than endurance. It is endurance combined with absolute assurance and certainty that what we are looking for is going to happen. Perseverance means more than just hanging on, which may be only exposing our fear of letting go and falling. Perseverance is our supreme effort of refusing to believe that our hero is going to be conquered. Our greatest fear is not that we will be damned, but that somehow Jesus Christ will be defeated. Also, our fear is that the very things our Lord stood for— love, justice, forgiveness, and kindness among men— will not win out in the end and will represent an unattainable goal for us. Then there is the call to spiritual perseverance. A call not to hang on and do nothing, but to work deliberately, knowing with certainty that God will never be defeated.

If our hopes seem to be experiencing disappointment right now, it simply means that they are being purified. Every hope or dream of the human mind will be fulfilled if it is noble and of God. But one of the greatest stresses in life is the stress of waiting for God. He brings fulfillment, “because you have kept My command to persevere . . .” (Revelation 3:10).

Continue to persevere spiritually.

May we all persevere, rather than endure, this trying time.

The New Room

We finally made the move. It took two trips to get everything, but we are settling in.

The room is much bigger, we have more room to spread out. And we have a view! The window overlooks the front entrance of the hospital. The room in ICU looked out over a gravel covered roof...pretty depressing actually.

We met with one of his rehab doctors. We talked about a lot of things. She explained some of the goals. She and her team will be assessing Garren over the next day and working on a plan for him.

As far a visitors go, we want to stay as focused as possible on Garren's therapy during the days. We're asking that no one drop by unexpectedly. If you want to visit, please let us know you are coming, and please only come in the evenings.

Tuesday February 2 9:30am

This morning we were waiting for Wellpath to approve Garren's move to rehab. The ICU doctors are ready to move Garren out. Yesterday the plan was to move him directly to rehab. This morning they were talking about moving Garren to a progressive care floor because they did not know when the insurance company would come through. So...I got on the phone, and our representative made a quick phone call to the insurance company. She called back within about 10 minutes and informed me that the insurance company had given authorization at 8:47 this morning. As I was writing this the charge nurse came and told me that my quick action got us the last available bed in rehab! Praise God! There was another patient that was vying for the same bed. Thank you Lord, we got it and we will be moving today!

Garren was on pressure support all night. This morning around 9am they took him off of the vent completely. Right now he is breathing on his own, with just a small stream of oxygen blowing over his airways. They will watch and see how Garren does with the breathing. It could be for an hour, it could be more, it just all depends on Garren.

The neuro-surgeon came in this morning to see Garren. He asked how Garren was doing. He waved his hand quickly toward Garren's face (his eyes were opened). You or I would blink, flinch, react to such a move. He said that it's like Garren is underwater, that things are blurry, not clear enough to see and react the way he needs to. He said we just need Garren to "break through the surface" of the water.

Pray that Garren will "break through the surface."

February 21, 2011

Monday February 21, 2011 7:00pm

Day 18.

The docs have been weening Garren off of the ventilator. Yesterday they dropped his rate to 4 breaths per minute. He did well breathing over that. Overnight they had to bring the rate back up to 6 because he got a little too relaxed while he was sleeping. This morning they put Garren on pressure support for a 3 hour trial. Pressure support basically means Garren does all the breathing on his own, the ventilator just supplements his breaths to help inflate his lungs a little bit more than he would on his own. He did great with the trial, and this afternoon they put him back on pressure support. The plan is to leave him there unless something changes.

We are still waiting to move to rehab. We are waiting on the insurance company, jumping through all the hoops and meeting all the requirements that they have in order to admit him there. Hopefully tomorrow we will be moving.

Please pray for Nancy and myself as we will be heavily involved with Garren's care as well as a lot of the rehab process. From everything we hear, we will be working hard - which is great, I'm tired of sitting here. Those of you that know me know that I am a doer, not a watcher.

There continue to be a lot of uncertainties and unknowns going forward. Please continue to pray for peace. Looking ahead into this dark tunnel of uncertainties continues to be a challenge for both of us.

Thank you all for everything you have done and continue to do!

Special Visitors

Many of you have dropped by over the past couple of weeks. We are so thankful for the encouragement that brings. I wanted to point out two special visits that we have had in the past couple of days:

Yesterday, one of the football coaches dropped by with something special for Garren. He said,"Since Garren is going to rehab this week, he's going to need this" and he handed me Garren's football jersey. Awesome!

This afternoon we got a visit from Michael Abbott. Michael is in the first grade at United Faith, and is working on his LOVE project for school. He decided to do his LOVE project for Garren. Michael sent out a letter to all of his friends and family, asking for money to help us cover some of the costs for food. Michael dropped by this afternoon with his family to meet us and to deliver the funds he had raised.

Michael, it was great to meet you today. Thank you for putting so much hard work into your LOVE project, and thank you for doing this for Garren. It means a lot!

A Thousand Years

Garren had a restful night. We are just waiting now for a room in rehab to become available. In the mean time they are continuing to wean Garren from the ventilator. Coming of the vent will be a massive hurdle that I am looking forward to.

"For a thousand years in your sight
are but as yesterday when it is past,
or as a watch in the night." - Psalm 90:4

It is comforting to know that God already knows exactly how this all ends. And that it will end with Him getting the greatest amount of glory and honor and praise. God will do whatever He needs to do in order to get our attention focused on Him. And that is exactly what He has been doing through Garren's circumstances.

My dad shared something with me from Warren Wiersbe this morning:

"We have at our disposal the same spiritual resources that Jesus used when He faced and defeated Satan: prayer (Luke 3:22), the Father's love (Luke 3:23), the power of the Spirit (Luke 4:1), and the Word of God ("It is written"). Plus, we have in heaven the interceding Savior who has defeated the enemy completely. Satan tempts us to bring out the worst in us, but God can use these difficult experiences to put the best into us. Temptation is Satan's weapon to defeat us, but it can become God's tool to build us (See James 1:1-8, 13-17)."

This is so true. Most interesting to me is the realization that Jesus Christ Himself goes before the throne of God interceding for us. We lay our burdens down, and Jesus carries them to the Father.

I have never in my life seen people come together and pray like I have seen through this difficult circumstance. But if this is what it takes to get the church off it's seat and on it's knees, then let's go. Let's not waste this opportunity to give our full attention to God. And though it may seem like a thousand years to us, for God it is as if this all happened yesterday.

Have a great day!

February 20, 2011

Sunday February 20, 2011 7:00pm

It's like watching paint dry. You can stare at it for hours and nothing seems to change. But if you walk away and come back the next day, it does change.

Watching Garren wake up is like that. Nancy and I stare at him all day. Nothing seems to change. But when we think about where he was a week ago, we are amazed at the progress he is making.

This morning the neuro-surgeon came to see Garren. I told to him that Garren's eyes stay open for longer periods of time now, that sometimes Garren blinks when I ask him to, and that Garren moved his toes. He said "This is the silent time. There will be slow progress while we wait for his brain to heal."

Later, the doctors making their rounds talked about Garren's breathing. They decided to try lowering Garren's ventilator rate from 6 to 4 (breaths per minute). Their goal is to get Garren vent free, possibly even this week.

Garren is on the waiting list for rehab. There are only 13 beds. As soon as one frees up, we are moving. That could happen anytime in the next 2-3 days. Rehab is on the 4th floor in the same building we are in now, so we won't have to move far.

And finally, tonight Garren moved his toes again. While we were talking to him, encouraging him to move his toes, he also moved his left thumb.

The doctors are saying positive things like they haven't since we've been here. We're trying to take this all in stride. We realize there will not always be good news. It's hard not to get too excited with the great things that have happened today.

I am looking forward to rehab. It will be a lot of work, but it's got to be better than sitting around watching paint dry!

Sunday February 20, 2011 2:00pm

I read Mark 15 & 16 today with Garren. The crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. For me and Nancy watching our son suffer is not easy. We would gladly take his place laying in that bed, rather than sitting here watching him. How much does he understand? Does he hurt?

I was talking about this with someone the other day. I said “It’s so great to see so many lives being changed and transformed by God through what is happening with Garren. But why does it have to be at the expense of my own son?” It struck me in that moment - this must be what it was like for God to watch Jesus suffer and die for the sins of the world. Not nearly an exact comparison by any means. But certainly a lesson to be learned. We often take for granted what Jesus went through on our behalf. He didn’t have to. He did it because He loves us. And God had to stand back and watch.

Garren didn’t volunteer for this. Neither did we. But through these circumstances people’s lives are being transformed. Prayer in families and churches is going deeper. Many of you have told us that your walk with Jesus has grown stronger. It’s not easy watching our son suffer in this way. But we are so thankful that God allowed His Son to suffer on our behalf. We continue to pray for Garren’s complete restoration and healing. At the same time, we pray that many more will be brought into a new or deeper relationship with Jesus Christ.

February 19, 2011

Saturday, February 19, 2011 7:00pm

After a rough day yesterday, I am excited to share another baby step.

Nancy and I were sitting on the couch, and I thought I saw the sheet over Garren's foot move. I looked at Nancy and said, "Did he just move?" She saw it too. We jumped up and uncovered his foot. After a few more seconds, sure enough, Garren wiggled the toes on his right foot! It's little, but it's something, something new.

Garren continues to keep his eyes open for longer periods of time. We watched Toy Story 3. I will read our quiet time to him a little later tonight.

The plan is still for us to move to rehab on Monday or Tuesday.

Thanks for your continued prayers.


"For everything there is a season...
a time to weep, and a time to laugh;
a time to mourn, and a time to dance."
- Ecclesiastes 3:1, 4

I know you are all praying for Garren, and for us. I just wanted to share some other news in our family. Yesterday morning my granddad went to be with Jesus.

"JB Janes, age 93, longtime resident of Memphis, TN, went to be with his Savior on Feb. 18, 2011. He was born August 24, 1917 and is survived by his wife, Earline Janes; sister, Jewel Thomas; brother, Floyd Janes; daughter, Sue Patterson and husband, Mel; son, Gary Janes and wife, Judy. He was known as “Pepa” to his 6 grandchildren and 18 great grandchildren. His actions reflected his deep belief in Jesus Christ. He served as deacon and Sunday School Superintendent and supported his church and the missions outreaches at Central Baptist and Willow Park Baptist churches in Memphis. Beginning as a farmer in North Mississippi, he moved his family to Memphis, becoming a salesman for MetLife. In his retirement years he sold vacuum cleaners, Shaklee vitamins, real estate, and worked as an examiner for the IRS. Visitation and funeral arrangements are being handled by Forest Hill East. Interment will follow the service. Memorial contributions may be made to Central Baptist Church, 5470 Raleigh Lagrange Rd, Memphis TN 38134 and Glad Tidings, PO Box 18824, Charlotte, NC 28218."

While it is sad to bid him farewell, it is a joyous day for him. He is finally rid of his worn out earthly body and is rejoicing with Jesus today.

In the midst of our weeping, Pepa is finally dancing.

I'll update you on Garren later this evening.

February 18, 2011

Friday, February 18, 10:00pm

Today was rough for me. I feel an anger within. Not anger toward God, or anyone else. Just a burning anger. I want Garren to be ok. Garren had surgery today to insert a trach tube for his breathing. The surgery went well.

It's hard to watch your child suffer. Many of you know what I'm talking about first hand. I know I'm not the first to go through something like this. It's tough.

This afternoon, Garren opened his eyes for several minutes. He's been groggy all day because of the medication they gave him for the surgery. But he was able to open his eyes. I spoke to him, talking about who I was, where we were, a little bit about what was going on. As I looked into his eyes, with his hand in mine, I saw a tear drop roll down his cheek. My heart broke...

That is what makes me angry. Garren didn't do anything. This just happened to him.

I had to get away, alone. I began reading Psalms.
I came across Psalm 102:1-2.

"Hear my prayer, O Lord; let my cry come to you!
Do not hide your face from me in the day of my distress!
Incline your ear to me; answer me speedily in the day when I call!"

This is my prayer tonight.

Friday, February 18, 10:00am

Garren just got back to his room. The surgery went well. Everyone here (medical staff) seems to be happy with the results.

He is back on sedation because of the surgery. We will probably not see much from Garren until later today, or even tomorrow, as we wait for the medication to wear off.

We want to give Garren as much of an opportunity to rest as possible. Nancy and I would like to request that we have no visitors today.

Thank you - we love you all!

February 17, 2011

Thursday, February 17, 2011 11:00pm

It's been another long day. Not a lot has happened - it's amazing how busy things can get.
Garren continues to open his eyes, sometimes for up to 10 minutes at a time. He still is not able to move anything else. He can control his eyelids, that's it for now. At one point as we were talking to him, I asked him to blink, to close and open his eyes. He did. Very slowly, yet deliberately, Garren responded to my request to blink. He can't do it everytime, but he did it a couple of times today. Another baby step.

Nancy and I went down to the 4th floor to tour the rehab facility. They have a great setup down there, with some amazing people working down there. When we went in, the nurse asked us for our son's name. When we said Garren Janes, she said "Why do I recognize that name?" Turns out she had heard about Garren from a friend who happens to be one of our neighbors.

Tomorrow morning (Friday) Garren goes to surgery at 7:30am to get his tracheostomy. Everyone here says that this will be a huge step forward for Garren. The next step will be to move Garren to rehab early next week. Right now we have to wait for a bed to open up down there.

Thanks for your continued prayers.

Count it all Joy

I've often wondered over the last several years what it would be like to face tragedy.

Nancy and I have had a very blessed life. Nancy and I have an amazing marriage. We have three amazing children. We have a home, a cat, a dog, and a couple of fish. Of course, cars break down, lawnmowers have problems, and we have to pay bills. But overall, God has blessed us with a pretty amazing life.

I've heard preachers say things like: "If you haven't suffered, you will," and "God uses suffering in our lives to make us more like Him." Having never 'suffered' I began to wonder, should I pray for suffering? Should I ask God to 'bring it on' so that He can grow me in a deeper way? I realize this may sound sadistic to you. And the one time I asked the question out loud I was immediately dismissed. (I never prayed for that suffering, by the way).

But I did pray to be used by God in a big way. Of course, to me, being used by God looks more like preaching to a stadium full of people than sitting in a hospital room watching my son recover from a brain injury.

Nancy and I had lunch together yesterday - at a real restaurant, away from the hospital. We were talking about how we are handling our circumstance, and how sometimes people look at us and don't seem to understand how we can be doing so well in the midst of this. I told Nancy: "I know this is hard. It's not something I would ever want, or volunteer for. But I in the scheme of things, it's not really that bad." I know that sounds crazy. Here's what I mean. I still have a house. We have cars. We have two other wonderful and healthy children. We both have our health. It could be worse...a lot worse. There are people all around the world with a lot worse problems than ours.

At the same time, God is using this little tragedy to expand His kingdom in a magnificent way. People are praying, some for the first time, some more than ever. Teenagers are getting serious about Bible reading. Southbrook Church has come together in a way that only God could orchestrate.

Nancy and I are humbled that God would choose to use our son to accomplish such great things for His kingdom. I pray that we will continue to 'suffer well.' I know God isn't finished yet - there is still a lot ahead on this journey to recovery.

James 1:2 says "Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness." We certainly have had our faith tested. And the testing will certainly continue for quite some time. I pray that the steadfastness that is produced will continue to carry us through.

As you pray for Garren today, pray for his brain stem and the surrounding mid-brain to continue to heal and restore. Pray that we will see yet another baby step today.

Thank you.

February 16, 2011

Wednesday February 16, 2011 9:00pm

The doctors and nurses have been removing tubes and wires from Garren over the last two days. I didn't realize how much stuff they had hooked up to him. He looks so much better without all the clutter of machines and tubes everywhere.

Today Garren made another small step. He opens his eyes more frequently, and for longer periods of time. Today he opened his eyes 5 or 6 times. Each time he kept them open for about 3-4 minutes.

Thank you for continuing to pray for Garren. It is just blowing our minds to think about how many of you care so deeply about us and Garren. Thank you.

Complexities Beyond Our Understanding

The human body is amazingly complex.

I spent some time with one of the doctors last evening, just picking his brain. He has worked in pediatric intensive care for nearly 12 years. He also has a special interest and has done research in the area of brain trauma. He had a few minutes of downtime, so I asked him some things about the brain.

The more I talk to these guys, the more I realize that there is a lot they do not know about the human body. There is just so much to know, so many factors, and yet still so many unknowns. Everybody is different, every situation is unique. And when you get to the brain, it’s a whole new level of unknowing. The brain can relearn, re-heal, reset - but they don’t know why or how. When brain cells die due to an injury, other parts of the brain kick in and start learning how to do what the injured part is supposed to do. (It sounds like a science fiction movie!) There have been hundreds of studies throughout recent years, thousands of attempts to try and crack the code, with very little headway.

I said to the doctor, "we just can’t seem to crack the code?" He said “It’s as you said before, Geoffrey, there is this “Higher Power” that seems to have put this whole thing together, and it is so complicated, there are so many factors present, it is nearly impossible to nail it down."

He told me that when a typical injury occurs to the brain, there are at least 75-100 “events” that take place at the neuron level within the brain to cause inflammation. That’s 75-100 events that they know of. There could be, and probably are, many more! I had asked him if there were any medications that might be available to help speed up the brain recovery process. That’s when he told me about these complexities. There are just too many things going on to be able to target them all and reverse the inflammation! The brain is just too complex!

You know what I think? I believe that there are things that God just isn’t going to allow us to discover or understand. The brain is a fascinating part of the human body. It goes way beyond human understanding. I don’t think we will ever figure it out. I think God wants to hang on to some of his creation, and keep us in awe. That’s what God does. If we could figure it all out, we could find a way to handle things without God.

Wednesday February 16, 2011 10:00am

We had another good night. The doctor's main goal right now is to get Garren out of ICU and into rehab. I know - when you hear "rehab" you probably think walking, talking, and exercising. So it's a little strange for me to think about what it will be like when we get there. I am told that they will wear us and Garren out, about 7 hours a day of hard work.

Before Garren can go to rehab, he will need to get a tracheostomy. This is a normal procedure for patients in situtations similar to Garren's. Right now Garren has a breathing tube. It goes through his mouth and into his airway. It is connected to a ventilator, which helps manage his breathing. He has been consistently breathing over the ventilator for several days now.

A tracheostomy is a surgically created opening in the neck leading directly to his breathing tube. This procedure will allow Garren to remove the breathing tube from his mouth and throat, and will help speed up his recovery.

Once he has this procedure, we will have to wait up to 7 days, depending on the surgeon and how Garren is doing otherwise, before they will let him go to rehab. We are supposed to meet with the surgeon today, and they are looking at Friday to insert his trach.

Garren had a good night. His eye openings seem to last a little longer each time. He is also starting to respond to pain a little bit more.

Thank for your continued prayer support.

February 15, 2011

Tuesday February 15 7:00pm

Today Garren had a few more tubes and lines removed. It's nice to see these things being disconnected. About an hour ago, Nancy, Kara and I were standing around the bed and Garren's eyes opened up. It's the most aware I've seen him since Sunday. It was so good to be able to talk to him. As I reached up to put my hand on his forehead, I could see his eyes move up, looking toward the movement. That felt good to see.

We talked to him about what happened. We have a very simple story that we tell him: "You had a headache, the doctors did surgery, and now you are doing great!" We talk about his friends that miss him. We talk about the teachers that miss him cutting up in class. We talk about things that are going on at home with Kara and Kelsey.

Thanks for your continued prayers. Prayer for his brain stem. Pray for complete healing and restoration. Thank you.

Tuesday February 15 11:00am

Today is day 11.
We read Exodus 26 together today. It is God's instructions for building the tabernacle. He goes into detail, describing exact sizes and colors. Every detail was of the utmost importance. As I was reading about the intricate details of the tabernacle I thought about something. In the past I've always read this passage and wondered why. Why are these details so important to God? Why not just say "Build something, and come together, and worship me."

As I was reading these details I couldn't help but think about Garren's body, and the intricate detail with which each of our bodies was formed. God designed each of us, exactly the way we are, to accomplish exactly what He wants us to accomplish. I think that one of the reasons God gave these particular instructions for building the tabernacle was to show us that He is a God who truly cares about details. Not just the details of the place of worship, but the details of each of our lives. He cares deeply about every detail of your life.

Overnight and this morning Garren has taken a couple more small steps. He was biting on his breathing tube last night. This morning the neuro-surgeon removed the drain from Garren's head. The drain was there to help keep swelling down by allowing excess fluids to escape. It was also used to monitor pressures on his brain. The nurse just finished removing a couple more lines that were attached to Garren. These are all steps in moving Garren from ICU.

We continue to pray for complete healing to Garren's brain stem.

February 14, 2011

Monday February 14, 2011 8:00pm

Our new normal is starting to settle into normal. It's strange how normal two weeks ago can so quickly change into a new and completely different normal. We are still figuring out some of the details, well, a lot of the details. But we are doing well. I even remembered Valentines Day! Being in the dog house right now would not be good!

We do have a small step to report for today. The CT scan revealed that the swelling is gone, and the pressure on the brain is gone. Everything looked good to the neurolist today. Praise God. This will allow the brain to continue to heal.

I am pretty wiped out right now, so no deep inspirational thoughts. Just keep praying. Thank you.

Common Questions

We have heard several questions from several of you, and I thought it might be helpful for many of you to try and answer a few of those questions.

1. Is Garren in a coma? This question is tricky. There is disagreement among medical professionals as to what the true definition of a coma is. According to Garren's doctor, someone who is in a coma is completely brain dead, with little or no hope for even waking up. That is the "technical" definition. Garren is not technically in a coma. Instead, his brain is injured and we are waiting for it to heal and recover.

2. Does Garen still have his hair? Yes! They had to shave just a little bit where the incision was made. I know many of you will be happy to know, Garren still has his beautiful blonde hair.

3. How long will it take for Garren to recover? One of the doctors today mentioned that the greatest period of recovery usually happens within the first 6 months. We will have a pretty good idea of what Garren will be able to do then. Like I said before, Garren has a long road ahead of him. He may have opened his eyes yesterday, but that is just one very small step in a long period of recovery. How soon Garren recovers depends on how badly his brain was injured, and how well it heals. We will wait with Garren each day and look for new progress.

4. Can Garren hear us? We believe absolutely that Garren can hear us. There are times when he seems to get agitated, and we can take his hand and talk to him, and watch him relax and calm down. We read our Bible to him twice a day. We play music for him. We play your messages to him.

Thank you for continuing to pray with us for Garren's complete healing.

Monday February 14, 2011 7:00am

Happy Valentines' Day...

Last night I read Mark 9 to Garren. Beginning in verse 14 we read the story about a boy with an unclean spirit. The boy's father had tried everything to help his boy get healed, to be freed from this spirit. He finally brought the boy to Jesus' disciples. Turns out they weren't able to do anything about the boy's problem.

Jesus enters the scene, and the man explains what is going on. As soon as the boy came into Jesus' presence, the spirit recognized Jesus and caused the boy to convulse and roll around on the ground. The dad pleaded with Jesus: "If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us!" Jesus replied "If I can? All things are possible for one who believes." The man replied "I believe; help my unbelief!"

I believe God can heal Garren. I believe that that He is all-powerful, that He is in complete control. I believe that. But there is always this little shadow of doubt lingering in the back of my thoughts. "What if he doesn't get better?" "What if things don't turn out the way I want?" "What if this doesn't go right?" I find myself battling between belief and unbelief. "Jesus, I believe; but help my unbelief!"

It is interesting to note the end of this story. After Jesus heals the boy, his disciples ask Him why they couldn't heal him. What had they done wrong? What were they missing? Jesus said to them "This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer."

As I mentioned last night. The doctors cannot heal Garren. Only God can. And only through prayer.

Thank you for praying with us.

February 13, 2011

Sunday February 13, 2011 10:00pm

God is so good.

We are so thankful for one very small step today. Seeing eyes open is pretty awesome - but Garren still has a long way to go. We still don't know, and won't know for quite some time, how Garren will continue to recover. We will continue to wait.

I was so glad that I got the chance to speak to everyone at Southbrook Monroe campus this morning. I snuck in after worship had started, and between songs I had the opportunity to address the faithful prayer warriors on the front lines.

As I think back over the last week, there are several thoughts that come to me. The first is how Scripture just reached out and grabbed ahold of my heart that first day. God gave me some very specific verses, and those carried me through the initial heartbreak of our devastating circumstance. Exodus 14:14 is one of those: “The Lord will fight for you; you have only to be quiet.” Of course, the context of the original writing of that verse was different, but the truth remains the same.

I cannot fix Garren. Neither can you. The surgeons can’t really do anything either. All they can do is prevent further damage, which they have skillfully done. The nurses care for Garren, keeping him comfortable and keeping his body healthy. Nancy, Kara, Kelsey and I sit with him, talk to him, read Scripture to him, and pray with him. Garren just needs time to heal. The only one who can heal Garren is God. God is the Creator of all. “For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.” Psa. 139:13-14.

So we wait. Waiting for the Lord to fight this battle for us. But there is one thing I think we need to understand. When the Israelites were facing the Egyptians at the edge of the Red Sea, they were scared to death. They thought they had reached the end of their journey, that they would be destroyed. They looked to Moses who had led them to this unfortunate circumstance. And as they listened to Moses declare to them, “The Lord will fight for you, you have only to be silent” I don’t think for a minute that they let their guard down. They didn’t just take a seat and watch to see what would happen next. No! You have to keep reading. Verse 15 goes on: “The LORD said to Moses ‘Why do you cry to me? Tell the people of Israel to go forward. Lift up your staff, and stretch out your hand over the sea and divide it, that the people of Israel may go through the sea on dry ground.’”

Yes, the Lord will fight for you. But that doesn’t mean we don’t have anything to do. We must participate and cooperate with God. Could He do it without us? Absolutely! But He chooses to use us.

In Garren’s case, yes, the Lord will fight for Garren. When Moses stretched out his staff over the sea, I’m sure the Israelites had their eyes glued to Moses, waiting for the next command. When the waters divided, they took off, making their way through the corridor of water to safety on the other side. Garren can only be healed by God. I can’t fix him. The doctors can only encourage his body to heal. The Lord will fight for Garren. But the rest of us, we must pray. We must call out to God. We must fight the battle that is not flesh and blood, but of unseen powers.

Thank you for fighting with us.

Sunday February 13, 2011 12:30pm

Garren opened his eyes.

We read Exodus 23 and then Psalm 77. My dad prayed. After the prayer we looked and Garren's left eye was partially opened. I talked to him, explained where he was, and told him we were with him. He opened both eyes. We talked to him for a few minutes. Then he closed his eyes and went back to sleep.

Wow. What an amazing thing to see!

The respiratory therapist came in and showed us something else. She turned off the ventilator and showed us that Garren was able to completely breathe on his own. Awesome! She is leaving the ventilator on - we don't want to completely wear him out.

Thank you for continuing to pray.

Sunday February 13, 2011 8:00am

Day 9. It seems like it all happened just yesterday. It all feels like a dream. Garren is struggling right now with blood pressure issues. The doctors are giving him medicine to help stabilize the blood pressure. No new movements overnight. My prayer today is for complete and whole resotration and healing. We will continue to watch for very small improvements and responses.

The best way you can pray for Garren is that he will respond to pain when the doctors pinch him. If you were pinched, how would your body respond? That's what we need Garren to do. Although he's shown some small responses, I'd love to see him punch the doctor!

I know many of you will be worshipping in your home churches around the world. I know you will be lifting Garren before the Lord today. We thank you for that. God has done some amazing things through this circumstance. I truly believe there is a lot more to come.

I will update you later as our day develops.
Thanks for praying for Garren.

February 12, 2011

Saturday, February 12, 2011 10:00pm

Garren has had a great day. He continues to take small steps toward recovery. The steps are small, but very good. He is breathing over the ventilator very consistently. He has responded to several pain tests, very small responses, but a response none-the-less. He coughed, ever so slightly. Garren is a long way from where he needs to be. But this is a start.

In the mean time I continue to be blown away at what seems to becoming a movement of sorts. Word about Garren is spreading to places I never would've expected. I am receiving notes from people whose prayer lives have been impacted tremendously because of what happened to Garren. I am hearing about prayer circles happening in the most unexpected places.

This morning my sister-in-law stopped at a gas station to pick up several copies of The Enquirer Journal. The local Monroe, NC newspaper had decided to run an article about Garren. We made the front page. So she picked up 3 copies. When she went to pay, the cashier asked her if she realized that she had more than one copy. Paulette replied that she did, that the front page article was about her nephew Garren. The cashier looked at her and said "This morning, when we opened the store, we saw that article. We stopped, gathered around, and prayed for that family."

I received a comment on this blog: "Today 30 wrestlers (Chase had a tournament today) at Marvin Ridge wore a blue shoe lace in Garren's honor. We are beside you in prayer for the long run!" Then I found this on facebook: "I don't know Garren but it brought tears to my eyes today at the wrestling match when one of the kids won a medal and held up a sign that said "For Garren"! What a great thing for a kid to do in honor of a friend."

Yesterday, at Porter Ridge Middle School - where Garren went last year, before he was redistricted to Piedmont Middle School - the students wore yellow in honor of Garren.

I'm not really sure what to think about all of this. As my oldest daughter Kara said, "This is the kind of stuff you read about in movies!" And she's right. You hear about stuff like this, but to be at the very center of something like this is truly humbling.

There are many more stories like these. We are so thankful for so many people who have taken an interest in Garren. This is by far the most difficult and stressful thing I've ever faced in my life. I would not wish this on anyone. But to know that we are exactly where God wants us, and that this event is being used in amazing and miraculous ways to point people to Jesus - that is just humbling. Who am I, to be used in this way?

"Father - thank you for your amazing love for us. Thank you for using us to have an impact for you on people you love all around the world. Jesus, we join with these friends of ours around the world in asking you to bring healing and restoration to Garren.
- In Jesus name we pray, Amen."

Saturday, February 12, 2011 1:00pm

Well, it's another quiet day. Which is good.

The report from the doctor today was that we are in recovery mode. We don't have anything urgent to deal with. We are just waiting. They are adjusting ventilator levels and sedation levels, watching to see how Garren responds.

Thank you to all of you for your fasting and prayers yesterday.

We will continue to look for "baby steps" from Garren, and I of course will keep you updated.

Saturday, February 12, 2011 9:00am

Good morning. We had an uneventful night. Which of course is a good thing.

Today is Garren's birthday. The nurse asked me how we were feeling about it being Garren's birthday. I said "We're glad he's here to celebrate it." And we are.

I've heard from several of you that you had prayed specifically for small responses from Garren. And yesterday we did see several small responses. Praise God.

One of the responses the doctors have been looking for from day 1 is a cough, or gag. He has a breathing tube that goes down his throat. Periodically they suction his airways. We do this naturally, often without thinking about it, when we cough. Today, while suctioning, the respiratory therapist saw a slight cough. Praise God for another very small response.

Thank you for continuing to pray. I look forward to seeing some of you today as we celebrate the big '14.'

Happy Birthday Garren!

February 11, 2011

Friday, February 11, 11:00pm

Today was a steady day. Mostly quiet, with a few highlights. We had several special visitors today. Some of Garren's friends from Piedmont Middle as well as from Porter Ridge Middle brought some posters and cards signed by tons of his friends.

Garren also got a special visit from one of his favorite teachers of all time...Mrs. Ritchotte. He was excited to hear her voice - his eye blinked when she started talking - pretty cool.

This morning the neuro-surgeon pinched Garren, pretty hard, and Garren moved his head ever so slightly. Garren has blinked several times, and at one point while I was speaking to him his blinking sped up slightly. Also, anytime the nurses or doctors do the things they do with Garren, his blood pressure rises. These are all very small signs, but very good signs. As the neuro-surgeon said this morning, it tells us that his brain is communicating with the rest of his body.

These are small steps. And we will celebrate each small step along the way. I am so thankful for the impact Garren has had on so man people, and I am learning that he had been having a big impact on people long before this incident occurred.

Thank you for your continued prayers and support.

Needs - and Not Needs

The outpouring of love has been amazing. Someone today said "Isn't it ironic, that while Garren's body is not functioning properly, the Body of Christ is functioning properly." Wow! So true, and so amazing to be on the receiving end, even in the midst of such turmoil.

I thank you, each and everyone of you for your continued love and support. I would like to list some of our specific needs at this time, and at the same time let you know what we do not need.

We need you to keep praying, and keep reading this blog. Your visits are welcome, it's just hard to know if we''ll be able to spend time with you or not. Thank you all for continually checking up on us.

We have received enough snacks to open a small convenience store. So I've setup a little table outside Garren's door where I sell cookies and crackers to the nurses....just kidding!

We do have plenty to snack on. I would ask that you not bring anymore baskets at this time. Really, we have enough to eat and the room Garren is doesn't have a lot of space. We are so thankful for all that has been brought to us.

Nancy and I, along with Kara, are processing and coming to grips with what our life is going to look like over the coming weeks and months. We have family living in two places for right now, which will require Nancy and I to eventually get into a routine - we want to give Kara and Kelsey fair treatment, and we want to make sure one of us is with Garren all the time. As we settle into our new life, needs will become evident. So many of you have expressed a desire to do anything we need. We will remember that in the days to come. It will take some time for us to get our footing.

Again - thank you for your continued prayer for Garren.

Garren's View

The doctors and medical staff have been blown away with the response we have received from our church family and from the community. We have hung posters, cards and letters all over the walls and doors. Here are a couple of pictures of what Garren will see when he wakes up.

Garren's Birthday

Tomorrow is Garren's 14th birthday. Many have asked if it is ok to come by the hospital and wish Garren a happy birthday. The answer is yes - we would love to see you. But please understand that you will not be able to see Garren. He needs as much quiet and rest as we can give him, and he will not be having any visitors to his room for a while.

Nancy and I love having visitors. But please understand that we may or may not be able to spend time with you when you are there, depending on what is going on with Garren at the time.

Thank you for your visits, and for your understanding.

Thank you for continuing to pray for Garren.

Friday February 11, 11:00am

This is Nancy:
Nothing new to share about Garren. He continues to rest peacefully. I have officially decided that 'wait' is an ugly 4 letter word. Being a doer type person its very hard to do nothing. I want results and I want them now. I want to fix it but I can't.

But at the same time 'wait' is also a precious 4 letter word because it gives us a wonderful opportunity to step back and watch God work. I know during this 'wait' he is teaching me to rely more on him and less on myself. I know he is in complete and loving control of Garren's life and will do what is best for Garren.

Psalm 28:7:
The Lord is my strength and my shield;
in him my hearts trusts, and I am helped.

I love this verse and hold on to it during the 'wait'. Sometimes we know things in our head but have a hard time believing them personally in our hearts. Through this terrible, painful, sad time I have been able to truly trust God with my heart and as the verse says 'my heart trusts and I am helped.' God really does give a peace that is unexplainable (see Philippians 4:7). Yes we hurt, yes we are deeply sad and yes our eyes are overflowing with tears but with that we have a love and peace wrapped around us that can only come from God. We have been asked how can you stay so calm through this....our answer, God's peace. Thank you for your prayers for us for that peace.

Thank you so much for praying for Garren. We are overwhelmed with all the love and support we have received from literally all over the world. You are amazing to us. Please continue to pray for Garren and specifically for his brain stem to heal. Pray for Kara and Kelsey too as they miss their brother.

Continue to pray and wait with us and see what God has to teach us in the waiting......


February 10, 2011

Thursday, February 10, 2011 8:00pm

I love our doctors. I hate our doctors. These men and women are gifted, intelligent, and very knowledgeable in what they do. I thank God for the work that they do. I also get a sinking sick feeling every time I talk to them. I hang on every word, waiting for them to say something that is going to rip my heart out. It is excruciating at times to listen to them talk.

Today they did an MRI on Garren. I was dreading the moment when I would have to hear what they would say about it. They had warned us beforehand that the MRI would probably not reveal anything new - that it would just give them a better picture of what they were already sure had happened. Sure enough, they were right.

The MRI confirmed that the bleeding had caused the damage to Garren's brain, just as they had suspected. What does that mean? Fortunately, or unfortunately, nothing new.

The doctors' goal is to help keep Garren healthy by doing the work of the brain for him, allowing his brain to rest, giving it the best opportunity to heal. Time is our greatest friend right now. I told the doctor we have plenty of time. They do not want to do anything that might cause stress, so we will just wait. How long? It's impossible to know right now.

I am home with Kelsey watching Tinker Bell. We are having a great time together. I will spend the night in my own bed, then head back to see Garren tomorrow.

We had our quiet time together today. I read Exodus 19 & 20, and Psalm 73 this morning. This evening before I left we read Mark 6. Each time I pray with Garren. The end of Mark 6 says that the people implored Jesus that they might have their sick touch the fringe of his garment, so that they might be healed. I implored Jesus tonight, that he would touch Garren, and bring healing to his brain.

Thank you for continuing to pray.

Supporting the Janes Family

I am reposting an email that was graciously sent out from our church. Thank you Southbrook for supporting us in this way. Thank you to all of you for your continued prayer and support.

Hey Southbrook,

We all continue to hope and pray with the Janes family as Garren continues to be treated at Levine Children's Hosptial in Charlotte. Not only the Southbrook family, but also the communities of Piedmont Middle, CATA, and Porter Ridge Elementary have rallied around the family. They are so appreciative of all the prayers and support that have been offered up. As Geoffrey has written on his blog, this situation is a marathon, not a sprint. As we look ahead to the coming days and weeks, there are a few additional ways you can support Garren, Geoffrey, Nancy, Kara, and Kelsey:
  • Fasting- The Southbrook pastors and staff are planning to fast from food starting 8 pm Thursday through 8 pm Friday. Some folks are fasting today, and many will be tomorrow. If you choose to, this is a time to seek God's will, listen to His voice, meditate on His Word, and to pray with fervency. (Isaiah 58)
  • Prayer- Saturday morning at 10 am at both campuses (Weddington Children's bldg. and Monroe Main Auditorium), we will be gathering together to continue to pray for Garren's healing and for the Janeses.
  • Financial Gifts- Southbrook has set up a special account for people to give monetary gifts to the family. These gifts are non-tax deductible and will be used to pay for medical expenses, food, and fuel. You can submit gifts several ways: online HERE, at Southbrook giving kiosks located in the lobby of both campuses, or during church services on Sunday mornings.
You may be thinking "I want to do more, there's got to be something we can do now." Right now they are waiting- waiting for Garren to respond, for him to wake up. I encourage everyone to start thinking ahead- a visit at the hospital next Monday, an encouraging email on Wednesday, praying with your family 2 weeks from now etc. Mark it on your calendar if you need to, but we are going to keep praying together, keep sending encouraging messages, and keep visiting at the hospital.

Geoffrey will keep us updated on Garren through his blog and Southbrook will keep you updated on how we can continue to lift up and love this family. Please pass this on to anyone who is interested in supporting the Janes family.

Thank you for continuing to pray-

Setting the Story Straight

There is still quite a bit of confusion about what actually happened to Garren. I'd like to clear that up for everyone.

Garren suffered a bleed from a ruptured Arterial-Venus-Malformation (AVM). The rupture occurred while he was in PE class at Piedmont Middle School. It is important to understand that this was not caused by anything. An AVM is basically a ticking time bomb. Some people go their entire life and never know they have one. You don't usually discover the AVM unless it ruptures, as it did in Garren's case.

Garren was taking his turn, climbing the ladder on the wall of the gym. He reached the next to the last rung at the top, and instead of climbing back down, he let go and dropped to the mat on the floor. He landed on his feet. He did not hit his head on anything (we have security camera video to show this). He walked over to his PE teacher and said "My head hurts." She sat him down in a chair, and called 911.

Some have wondered if the hits he took in football caused this. The answer is no. This injury is no one's fault. It just happens when it happens.

I know there are a lot of stories floating around out there, and we wanted to clear things up.

Thank you for continuing to pray for Garren.

Thursday, February 10, 2011 7:00am

I know you are waking up this morning looking for an update.
Nancy went home to spend the night and be with Kelsey. That was a HUGE step for her (if you're a mom you understand what I'm talking about). I stayed the night in Garren's room.

Last evening I requested that they drop the ventilator rate. Sunday they had it set at 8, and Garren was breathing at 12 (I'm pretty sure the number represents breaths per minute), which means he was doing some breathing on his own. Since his surgery on Monday they have had the ventilator set at 14, and Garren has not attempted to breathe over that. They have kept it so high because they don't want the CO2 levels to get to high in his system. (The brain responds to high levels of CO2, that what makes us take a breathe).

I asked them to drop the rate on the ventilator, just to see if Garren would respond. They dropped it to 10, and he did begin breathing. A good sign. But they ended up increasing the ventilator rate because the ICP (pressure on his brain) began to increase. There are so many factors playing into all of this. The body is unbelievably complex. The brain even more so.

I continue to pray for healing. I laid my hands on Garren and prayed to God to heal and restore Garren's brain.

They are going to take Garren for an MRI later today. This may or may not be useful. It is essentially a snapshot of his brain at that moment. It is in no way a predictor of outcomes. They are looking to see if they can see any signs of damaged tissue.

Thank you for the continued support.

February 09, 2011

Wednesday February 9, 2011 12:00pm

Garren is coming off the sedatives. I saw his foot move. This has happened a couple of times before. We are looking for intentional movement. One of the things that happens at this stage is seizures. If the movement is rhythmic, a regular movement back and forth, then it is more than likely seizure activity.

When I touched Garren's foot, it moved. I pushed on the bottom of his foot, and I know he pushed back. The movement does not seem rhythmic. It's easy to get excited in moments like this. Remember, we are in for a long haul. Was it seizure activity? There is no way to know for sure.

We will continue to pray for Garren as he rests, and his brain heals.

Wednesday February 9, 2011 9:00am

Nothing new to report. Garren is still under sedation. He looks so peaceful and unaware of his situation.

We are told he can hear us. So we talk to him. We joke with him. I have my quiet time with him every morning and evening. Nancy and I (and whoever else happens to be with us at the time) stand beside him, and I read Scripture to him. Today we read Exodus 17 and 18, and Psalm 72.

Exodus 17 talks about a battle that the Israelites were fighting. Moses, their leader, had to hold his staff up in the air. As long as his hands were held high, the Israelites were winning the battle. But soon Moses' arms got tired, and his hands started to come down, and the Israelites began to lose. So Aaron and Joshua found a rock for Moses to sit on. Then they each took and held Moses' arm up. And the Israelites won the battle.

I spoke with a dear friend this morning. She used to be a nurse in the neurological field. She has some insight into Garren's condition. I asked her some questions that the doctors seem to avoid answering. Finally, she told me this: "We need to take this one day at a time. We need to realize that this is a process that could take weeks. The doctors will not give up." She said to me "Don't give up."

I believe in the power of prayer. I know there are literally thousands of people around the world praying for Garren right now. I know God hears. I also know that as time goes on, and our prayer battle continues, that we will become weary. Not just me and Nancy, but many of you as well. The newness will begin to wear off, and the tendency will be to give up, to stop praying. Please don't. Please join us in this battle, for the long haul.

Today is day 6. I look forward to the day when Garren can personally thank each and everyone of you for your part in his recovery.

"The LORD will fight for you, and you have only to be silent." - Ex. 14:14

February 08, 2011

Tuesday February 8 7:00pm

I am still just simply blown away at the prayer efforts that are happening literally around the world. It is simply overwhelming to think about the number of people that are praying for Garren. It is amazing to hear so many of you say that you can't concentrate on your daily work, because all you can think about is Garren.

I am blessed. My church staff gathered first thing Monday morning and distributed my responsibilities so that I don't have to think about anything. I cannot imagine trying to focus on anything else right now.

Garren is doing great right now. Still heavily sedated. Relying on the ventilator to breathe. The nurse said today that basically they are keeping his body alive in order to allow the brain time to recover and heal. Medical technology is simply amazing.

They will take their time weening Garren off the sedation. Again, allowing the brain the time it needs to heal.

Here is a picture of a group of people standing outside our home lifting Garren in prayer.

Tuesday February 8 1:00pm

No changes yet. Things are still looking good so far today. I know you're wondering, so I wanted to put something up to let you know we are still waiting.

Check out the rock in front of Piedmont Middle School:

Tuesday February 8, 10:00am

Things are looking good today. Garren had a good night. I think he is getting over the Steeler's big loss.

His numbers are good, according to the medical staff. The plan right now is to take Garren off his paralytic medicine, and watch to see how he responds. He will still be sedated. Sedation affects different people differently, so we may or may not see or know anything today .

We continue to pray for complete healing for Garren.

Thank you to those of you that were at Southbrook Weddington this morning for prayer. I felt so refreshed and lifted up when I left.

I read Exodus 17 and Psalm 70 and 71 to Garren today.

We will keep you posted.

February 07, 2011

A Little Bit About Garren

I realize there are many of you who may not know Garren, or have not seen him in quite some time. I want to take a minute to introduce you to the amazing young man you are praying for.

Garren is 13 years old, he turns 14 this coming Saturday. He is all boy. He loves football. His favorite team is the Steelers - imagine his disappointment when he wakes up to find out the Steelers lost the Super Bowl!

Garren has been playing football for several years. His dream is to play in the NFL one day. He played quarterback two years, and though he is a good leader, and his team loves him, he prefers defense. "I like to hit - and the coaches won't let me hit when I play quarterback!" Like I said before...all boy.

Garren is known at school for his humor and quick wit. The students love it, and most of the teachers do not. It has gotten him in trouble several times. But the truth is, he is pretty funny. He loves to make people laugh. I try to imagine what he would be saying about himself if he could see himself right now.

Garren is a believer in Jesus Christ. Within the last year I was baptizing a line of people in a church service. I looked up to see who was next, and there stood Garren. It was an honor as his father and pastor to baptize him.

There is so much more I could say. But that should give you a little bit of insight into this amazing boy.

Thank you for your continued prayers.

Monday February 7, 2011 8:00pm

Things are the same. We wait. Garren lays in bed, waiting. Waiting for his brain to heal. Waiting for things to return to normal.

I have been reading Exodus in my quiet time the last few days. I can't stop thinking about Moses, and the Israelites. Moses was called by God to lead the Israelites out of Egyptian bondage. God promised Moses that He would free the Israelites from the Egyptians.

Moses went to Pharaoh. He asked Pharaoh to let the Israelites go - after all, that's what God told him to do, and God promised He would work t out!

But Pharaoh didn't let them go! He said no way! So Moses, by God's command, began calling plagues down on Egypt. Water turned to blood, hailstorms that destroyed crops and livestock, frogs, gnats, on and on it went. Each time Pharaoh promised that if Moses would call off the plagues, he would let the people go. And each time Moses called of the plague, Pharaoh changed his mind.

Now Moses had to be confused, frustrated, and annoyed at all of this. God said all I had to do was ask, and it would be done! And every time it looks like we are going to succeed, we have another setback! What's going on here God!

I'm no Moses. I'm not leading anyone out of slavery in Egypt. But we are facing a tremendous trial. I don't know why - and I don't care why right now. I do know this. I, along with thousands of Christ followers around the world, have been continuously crying out to God for Garren's healing. And each time we see something going in the right direction, it seems to turn and head the other direction. Just like Moses' experience with Pharaoh, I feel like God has promised to get us through this, to deliver us from this 'bondage.' I believe that God hears our prayers.

I prayed yesterday with a group of friends: "God, you obviously hear us, now we wait for your response." And we wait...

I'm watching Garren right now. He lays peacefully in the bed. And the Bible verse I continue to hang on to is Exodus 14:14 - "The LORD will fight for you; you must be quiet."

So we wait...

Update on Garren's Surgery

The doctor just spoke with us. He said that this was definitely the right thing to do, and he is glad they did it. Garren will be sedated for several days, if not the entire week. We will not know anything until they start to ween him off of the sedation.

It's going to be a long week. The doctor recommended strongly that we start taking shifts, driving home, getting into a routine. This will be very hard, especially for Nancy. Please pray for peace for Nancy. Give her a calm to be able to do what she needs to do to take care of herself.

Continue to pray for Garren's swelling. That is stil the biggest issue at this point.


A site has been created where you can send an audio message with words of encouragement for Garren. Thank you Lana for thinking of this and putting it together. We will play the messages you leave for Garren to hear.


Monday February 7, 2011 11:00am

The neuro-surgeons met with me and Nancy a few minutes ago. They are recommending that Garren go back into surgery. They are concerned about the swelling. The surgery will remove another piece of his skull around the affected area. This will give the brain a little more room to expand, relieving some of the pressure.

The surgery will be sometime around noon.

I asked the surgeon if he had kids. He said yes. I asked him if he would do this if it was his son. He said absolutely.

Thank you for your prayers.

Monday February 7, 2011 10:00am

Overnight Garren developed adema (fluid on the lungs). Adema is common in mountain climbers. It occurs when the lungs are not getting enough oxygen.

Also, Garren's brain experienced increased swelling. This was expected, as 48-72 hours from the time of trauma is when the brain is at the greatest risk of swelling. They want his pressure to be under 20, it spiked to 34. At this point it is back to 10 - that's very good.

So the pressure on the brain is the main concern right now. The doctor explained that right now, the area that was affected is located in the back, near the base of the brain. That is where the swelling is occurring. The swelling presses against the pituitary gland and the brain stem, which is where the part of the brain that controls all of the reflexes is. Our prayer and hope right now is that as the swelling goes down, the pressure will ease, and his normal functions will return. If there is no permanent damage, then there is a chance that things will return to normal.

As I said last night, this is a marathon. It's a long road ahead of us. Thank you for you continued prayers and support.

Nancy is sleeping in the room with Garren. She has gotten at least 5 hours of sleep each of the last three nights. I have taken Kara home each night to shower and sleep. Kelsey is at school today. We want to keep things as normal as possible for her.

February 06, 2011

Sunday February 6, 2011 10:00pm

Nothing new to report. Just wanted to share some of our thoughts and emotions.

We are learning some things about this process. One of the things we've learned is that this is a marathon, not a sprint. We cannot expect things to happen quickly. We have to wait patiently for Garren's body to heal itself. That's hard, we want to see results now.

The doctors and nurses have been truly amazing - sharing pertinent information regularly, explaining things to us over and over. Truly amazing.

We are in good hands here. God's love has surrounded us through you all. Thank you for that.

"The LORD will fight for you; you have only to be still." - Ex. 14:14