March 31, 2011

Thursday, March 31, 2011 4:00pm

Another good day for Garren. He played football trivia again. This time they added defensive players, making it a little harder. But Garren once again blew them away with his football knowledge. It is so awesome to be able to communicate, though it can be frustrating trying to guess which yes/no question to ask next.

Garren is getting better and better at holding his head up. Today with Wren he held it up for 11 seconds. His muscles are getting stronger each day. His cough is improving as well. Swallowing is so important. He is getting close, and Wren works with him every day. So close.

Garren has been impressing the school teacher as well with his knowledge of vocabulary. Today she would tell him a word, then hold up two cards with two other words. One of the cards had the opposite word of then one she had just said. Garren was asked to look at the opposite. He did this very well. In fact there were a couple of words that I didn't even know, and Garren got them right! Cool stuff!

We are continuing to see slow but steady progress from Garren. He is intent. I ask him before we start therapy if he is ready to get to work. His eyes go up every single time. During therapy he tries, really hard. We can see the effort he is putting into it. He's determined.

Here are some very specific things to pray for - Garren's left side is the stronger side. The right side is not responding nearly as much. Pray that the right side of Garren's body will wake up. Pray that he will gain control of his right side. The same goes for the left side of his face. This is why he is having trouble blinking his left eye.

Also, continue to pray for Garren's ability to swallow. As he gains more head and shoulder control, the swallowing should become easier. Pray that he will learn to swallow soon.

And then, pray for Garren - for peace, for comfort, for understanding. Last thing he remembers he was playing around in P.E. class at school. Now he has trouble moving. Garren has become much more aware in the last several days. This has to be a frustrating reality to wake up to. Pray for his peace and comfort.

P.S. Don't forget to vote for Mike's grandson in the Cutest Baby contest! He went from #38 on Wednesday to #16 today. It won't take much to push him up to #1! Click here to vote!

March 30, 2011

Football Trivia

We have some amazing therapists working with Garren here in rehab. They are so concerned, and so interested in helping Garren get better. And they do it in a fun and creative way.

Mike is the Pediatric Rehabilitation Technician - he helps the therapists wherever and whenever they need him. He makes wheelchair adjustments, maintains equipment, posts schedules each day...and he's super cool (even though he's a Green Bay fan). Let me tell you what he did today:

Knowing that Garren is a huge Steeler's fan, Mike made a little football field, complete with yard lines, goal posts, X's, O's, and even a football. Then he had some little signs made, in three groups: players' names, players' numbers, and players' positions. Looking up for yes, and down for no, Garren was asked to answer questions about each player. For every question he got right, the ball would advance 10 yards. For each incorrect answer, he would lose 10 yards.

"Garren, are you ready to play?" Eyes up without delay.

Mike held up a player's name, then going through each number he asked Garren if that was that player's number. Garren got every one right, except the last one. Same with the positions. It was amazing to see how engaged Garren was. When the answer was obviously "no" Garren's whole head would lean forward. Sometimes we could even see his lips mouthing the word "No". Garren nailed every question, like I said, except one. The doctor, other therapists, a nurse, were all standing around cheering him on. I think they were a little surprised at how much Garren knows about the Steelers. Mike promised to make it harder tomorrow. Good luck with that Mike!

I also found out today that Mike is a proud Granddad! He told me his grandson is in a "Cutest Kid" contest. He sent me the link so I could vote. He said feel free to share it with anyone I could. So - will you help Mike's grandson win "Cutest Kid?" Click here - you can vote once a day through Friday!

March 29, 2011

"I Don't Want to Go."

As I was reading in Numbers the other day I came across a couple of verses that I don’t ever remember noticing before. Moses, through God’s direction, had just finished instructing the Israelites on how to set up and tear down the tabernacle. They were ready to travel on. As they were about to leave, Moses had a conversation with his father-in-law’s son, Hobab. Apparently, Hobab was preparing to head back to his own home.

“Moses said to Hobab, son of Moses’ father-in-law Reuel the Midianite: “We’re setting out for the place the Lord promised: ‘I will give it to you.’ Come with us, and we will treat you well, for the Lord has promised good things to Israel.”

But he replied to him. “I don’t want to go. Instead, I will go to my own land and my relatives.”

“Please don’t leave us,” Moses said, “since you know where we should camp in the wilderness, and you can serve as our eyes. If you come with us, whatever good the Lord does for us we will do for you.” - Numbers 10:29-32

It’s not clear from this passage what Hobab decided to do. I imagine he had his mind made up, that he went back to his family, to what was familiar and comfortable. Have you ever known anyone like that? Haven’t you ever looked at someone who had great skills, who had a lot to offer to the kingdom of God, but they just weren’t interested in using their gifting for God? Maybe they weren’t even saved. Maybe they were saved, but they just weren’t all in.

Churches are full of Hobab’s. Each week the pastor gets up and offers a challenge, a challenge to go deeper, to do more, to sacrifice greatly, but they just walk out the door, unmoved. “I don’t want to go, Instead, I will go to my own land and my relatives.” It’s too bad.

The journey is not easy. But the reward is great. When Nancy and I chose many years ago to follow, whatever the cost, to be a part of God’s great adventure, we had no idea what life would bring our way. But even now, when it would be easier to go home, I wouldn’t trade it for anything - because I know that God is in control, that He is using us right where we are. Traveling through the wilderness, unsure of what the day will bring, is hard. It wears on you. It’s tiring. But the reward is so great.

Moses promised Hobab that he would receive the same blessings that had been promised to all of Israel. He would be a part of the team, a part of the family. Hobab had valuable gifts, he had something to offer. He knew his way around the wilderness, he knew the good places to camp. Moses saw something in Hobab. But Hobab chose the easy, comfortable path. He went home.

What about you? You’ve been invited to join in the greatest adventure of all time. “Go into all the world and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” You’ve been invited to join the team, to offer your gifts (we all have something to offer). God wants to use you to accomplish his mission. How have you responded? You are either on the team, doing your part, or you are in the stands, watching the time, looking for your chance to go back home. Have you said - verbally or by you actions - “I don’t want to go?”

“If you come with us, whatever good the Lord does for us we will do for you.” Don’t go home, don’t be left out of this amazing adventure.

March 28, 2011

Monday March 28, 2011 7:30pm

This morning Garren started out with physical therapy. Emily had him stand. Using a harness to help raise him into a standing position, feet on the floor, Emily stood behind him and helped him work on head control. Garren's neck muscles are getting a little bit stronger each day.

Wren (speech therapy) joined us and worked with Garren's mouth and tongue movement while he was upright. His trach was capped for a part of the time as well. Wren put a piece of ice in his mouth, and we told him to spit it out. We could see his tongue moving. His shoulders and neck would tense up as he tried so hard to push the ice out of his mouth. He didn't quite get it out, but he sure worked hard.

Garren went to school today. There's a teacher in the hospital who works with the kids to keep them going in their studies. Today was her first time working with Garren. She would show him two words, then take the words away. When she held them back up she would say one of the words, and ask Garren to look at the word she had said. He did great with this.

This afternoon, Tara (occupational) used something called e-stim. E-stim is a type of electro therapy. She put two sensors on Garren's bicep. When she turned it on, it would cause his muscle to contract, causing his arm to move (just like if you contract your bicep, your arm will move). By the way, she made me try it first. It doesn't hurt, it feels like a vibration on your arm. It was awesome to see Garren watching and participating. You can see his muscles flex as he tries to move his arms.

We're off to a great start to this week. Garren's eye continues to stay clear. And his cough is getting stronger. Thanks for continuing to pray specifically for these two things.

March 27, 2011

Sunday March 27, 2011 6:30pm

We're in week 3 of our Impact series at Southbrook. Today's message, "Mark the World," was powerful. Pastor Rob preached from Haiti via video. He was there with a team about a month ago. Wow. As I watch the images and hear about the needs, all I want to do is go. I love missions. Seeing people go on missions trips is exciting for me. I once told Pastor Rob that I think every church member should be expected to go oversees. It truly is a life changing experience.

I grew up overseas. I take every opportunity I get to travel overseas on missions trips. It's amazing how God can work in your life when you get out of the norm, out of your comfort zone. Missions trips are powerful.

At the end of the service today I asked those who were being prompted by God to go on a missions trip sometime this year to stand. We had 24 people at the Monroe Campus stand and come forward to commit to going on a trip this year. That is exciting! I love missions!

Garren is doing well today. The cap trials are continuing. Instead of 4 hours straight, today we did 2 hours in the morning, then 2 hours in the afternoon. He tolerates it very well. The problem is that he doesn't cough enough to clear his airway, making it difficult to breathe. I will say that his cough does seem to be getting a little bit stronger, but he still has a ways to go.

His eye looks really good today. Clear with no red. He still needs to get the strength to close it on his own, or it will become irritated again.

Thanks for your prayers. Tomorrow begins another week of hard work. Pray for strength and endurance.

March 26, 2011

Saturday March 26, 2011 9:00pm

Garren's room is nearing completion. We are putting the finishing touches on it. Today Steve worked some more on the design, painting black and yellow stripes around the room. Mike got the fixtures in the bathroom installed. It's looking great.

We were blessed to have a few students from Matthews United Methodist Church at our house today. They were participating in Operation Serve. About 177 students went out and served in the community. They were going to do some yard work, but the rain moved them inside. They helped move a new refrigerator in and the old one out. They hauled some things into the attic, moved some furniture around, and helped with some cleaning up. They were hard workers - thanks guys!

Garren is having a good weekend so far. Yesterday he was worn out, so it's nice to have a couple of days to wind down and prepare for another tough week.

March 25, 2011


"Trust in the Lord with all your heart,
and do not rely on your own understanding;
think about Him in all your ways,
and He will guide you on the right paths."
- Proverbs 3:5-6

I've read this verse hundreds of times. I even memorized it as a child. It's amazing how the Bible comes alive as we live out our lives. Trust in the Lord with all your heart. The only way we can continue on this journey is because we trust in the Lord. Trust is hard. Do not rely on your own understanding. It seems that the opposite of trusting in the Lord is relying on myself. We look to the doctors and medical staff for understanding. But really, they're at the mercy of the Creator. They only know what they observe. They cannot predict the outcome with any certainty. We must the Lord...with all our heart.

Think about Him in all your ways. In everything we do, everywhere we go, think about Jesus. Think about what He's done for us. Think about how faithful He's been to us. Think about how much He loves us. And He will guide you on the right paths. We often wonder what is God's will for our lives? His will is that we rely on Him, follow Him, trust Him...each step of the way. We cannot see beyond the next step, and we don't need to. We simply need to trust. Trust in the Lord. With all your heart.

Garren was a little worn out today. He's worked hard all week. We saw some more tongue movement. We worked some more on head control...building the neck muscles so he can hold his head up. We worked on arm and shoulder movement as well.

Garren made it through 3 hours of his 4 hour cap trial yesterday. The issue he has is coughing, clearing the secretions out of his lungs, and swallowing When he learns to cough, he will do much better with the trach being capped. Today he is working on 4 hours being capped again. So far so good.

Garren's left eye continues to stay a little bit irritated. Once he starts closing and blinking his left eye on his own this should clear up.

Continue to pray for his eye, that he will start blinking on the left side, and that he will get stronger at coughing and swallowing.

March 24, 2011

Thursday, March 24, 2011 6:00pm

Garren's had another great day. He continues to show small improvements each day. Praise God.

As I write this, Garren is in the middle of his second "cap trial." What that means is that his trach is capped, forcing him to breathe through his nose and mouth. Yesterday he did two hours, with no problem. Today we are going for 4 hours. So far so good. The plan is to extend the trial period a little bit each day, until they determine he doesn't need the trach anymore.

Garren also needs to learn to cough consistently, and he needs to start swallowing. When he can do that, he will be on his way to removing the trach.

Garren continues to show consistent communication with his eyes. Nancy and the therapists played 20 questions with him. At first he didn't want to play. Apparently its a dumb game and he didn't see the point (all of this was communicated through a series of yes/no questions...crazy). He finally agreed to play along, and they did it! One of the therapists left the room. Nancy and the other therapist asked Garren what thing he wanted to think about (again, yes/no questions). He went with a Gator (he was wearing a Florida Gator shirt). When the other therapist came back into the room, she asked him a series of questions (20 questions) and he answered yes or no, until she figured out he was thinking about a Florida Gator!

Later, Nancy wrote simple math problems, then held two possible answers up for him to choose. He chose the correct answer every time.

In speech therapy this morning, Wren got Garren to stick his tongue out just past his teeth. Another huge accomplishment! We are so excited to see Garren making this kind of progress. It's encouraging to see where he is compared to even 1 week ago.

A huge answer to prayer - we got the DVD with the security camera footage of Garren's incident at the school. It shows us exactly what happened, and how long it took. From the time he first complained of the headache until the time he left the school was about 30 minutes. It was pretty tough to watch, knowing the pain Garren must have been feeling, and knowing what was about to come.

We look forward to another great day tomorrow. Pray that Garren's left eye will gain strength so he can start closing it on his own. Pray that he learns to cough consistently, and to swallow.

March 23, 2011

The Garren Tree

I received the following email from our good friend's Bob and Barb. Thank you!

This weekend I was working outside in our “woods”, cleaning up the branches of all sizes that haven fallen from the trees. While there I saw one particular tree that captured my attention. It was obvious that it had been knocked over by a storm…..a very powerful storm. If we had seen that tree shortly after it was uprooted we probably would have felt little hope for it and figured it had succumbed to power of the storm.

But it had not! Even though the tree trunk was at about a 35 degree angle and some of the roots were exposed, that tree had a lot of life! The limbs have grown up straight and strong, reaching to the sky as if in praise to its Creator. The roots had dug in deep and strong. The tree is unmovable.

In the next few weeks, life will bloom once again from that once-battered-and-storm-stricken tree. Green leaves will grace the branches. A soft rustling sound will be heard when the wind blows through the leaves. And its beauty will reflect the One who designed it and be enjoyed by those who take the time to notice.

As I looked at that tree I couldn’t help but think of Garren.

I called Bob over and showed him the tree. And we stopped and prayed for Garren. We thanked God that Garren was not overcome by the “storm”. That his roots are deep. And we prayed that he would grow strong and straight, full of life like the branches on the tree reaching heavenward. And as the “green leaves” of strength, life, and beauty grow may his Creator be glorified.

Whenever we see the “Garren tree” we’ll be reminded of all that God’s done and all that He is able to do. And we’ll thank Him. And we’ll pray once again for Garren.

Love you guys and praying for you!

March 22, 2011

Tuesday March 22, 6:00pm

On Tuesday's I've been heading to church for staff meetings, trying to stay involved as much as possible. Meanwhile, Nancy spend the day in therapy with Garren. I'll let her share what happened:

March 22, 2011 – Day 47
Today in therapy we worked on more eye movement and strengthening Garren’s eye muscles. More yes/no question time. We asked different questions:

"Do you like to watch Dora the Explorer?" NO.
"Do you like to play Black Ops?" YES.

Then I asked him "Are you at school?" No answer. "Are you at the hospital?" No answer.
We could tell he was thinking hard and getting tired so we let him rest for a few minutes. It’s amazing how much energy it takes to think, process and respond. We take so much for granted.
As we’ve shared with you, we remind Garren each day where he is and why. We always start out by saying “You had a headache at school”. So after a short rest I decided to ask him about this. My question was “Did you have a headache at school?” The response was more that I was ready for. He looked up at the YES card, then his whole face filled with emotion. His eyes got big and his mouth opened. He became visibly upset. This is the first time I have really seen him show any emotion since we’ve been in the hospital. I talked him through the whole scenario again, explaining where we were and why, and he calmed back down.
Later, back in his room, he showed the same upset response again. We talked about his journey again and then prayed together. He calmed down.
We've all been dealing with this for the last 47 days. We've had a lot of time to process, feel, and show our emotions. Garren is just now coming around to understanding where he is, why he’s here, and what this has done to his body. His last memories are probably of playing in the gym at school as a healthy, athletic boy; and now he lays in a hospital bed and can’t move on his own. Big change and lots to deal with!

While it's sad that Garren has to deal with the realization of what he is going through, it's also good news. Garren is becoming aware of his surroundings and coming a little more out of ‘the fog’. But for a mom’s heart it’s hard to see him deal with this. I just want to take all the pain away and make him better. I can’t do that but I can love him, be here for him, and pray for him.
Please continue to pray for Garren; especially for a peace and comfort that only God can give as he heals and deals with his reality.

March 21, 2011

Monday March 21, 2011 3:00pm

During therapy Wren held bacon in front of Garren's nose. He could obviously smell it. He started salivating, and his lips moved just a little. She wanted to see him swallow. He is getting very close. We've actually seen him swallow a couple of times, but when he can do it consistently that will be a big step.

We continued working with the eyes. Yes is up and no is down. Nancy made a couple of cards with NFL team logos on them. One has the Steelers, the other has the Panthers. During therapy Tara had me hold one up and one down. I asked Garren which team was better. He looked down at the Steelers logo. I asked him which was the worst, and he looked at the Panthers.

Then I took the Yes and No cards and held Yes up high, and No down low. We asked him a series of questions.

"Is You name Garren?" He looked up.
"Is Kara your sister?" He looked up.
"Is Kelsey your sister?" He looked up.
"Is Katherine your sister?" He looked down.

Awesome. Garren understands and is able to answer simple yes/no questions. This tires him out quickly so we had to give him a rest. After a short break we asked some more questions.

"Do you like bacon?" He looked up.
"Do you like bacon cheesburgers?" He looked up.
I turned to ask Nancy what food he doesn't like. She said green beans. I didn't even have to ask, as soon as Nancy said "green beans"

Garren looked down without even hesitating.

That was pretty awesome!

March 20, 2011

A Visit From a Friend

Today was a rest day, so not a lot to talk about. I do have one fun story to share.

We've gotten to know the family of one of Garren's friends from school. It's been great getting to know them. They've been by several times to visit over the last month and a half. They came into the room, and when his friend started talking, Garren's eyes widened, and his head turned to the right so he could see who it was. It was really cool. We went down the hall to a bigger room where we could sit and visit, and Garren continued to keep his head turned toward his friend. He obviously recognized them, and I am sure he was glad to see someone he knew.

Garren's eye looks great. He just needs strength to blink and keep it closed at night.

Tomorrow's another big day as we start into another week of hard work.

March 19, 2011

More Room Progress

Work continued on Garren's room today. Hopewell Baptist Church sent a team of workers over to build a wheelchair ramp. They don't mess around. The ramp looks awesome!

The painting started this afternoon. I can't wait to see the finished product.

Tomorrow is Nancy's mom's 80th birthday. We had a great time with family and friends celebrating together. Nancy and her brother and sister planned a big party, and there was quite a crowd there to celebrate with us. Happy Birthday!

Garren continues to do well today. His eyes are getting stronger. He's doing great breathing on his own. Pray that his left eye gets stronger, so he can blink. We have to keep a patch over his eye to keep it closed, otherwise it dries out and gets irritated.


We like comfort. All of us do. We all have something we are used to, something we would hate to see changed. We get used to the way things are. And when it changes we react. We get stressed, we get angry, we question.

When we were in ICU with Garren, we had to adjust quickly to a new norm. We had to learn to get used to a whole new way of life. We studied our new environment and learned how to survive. We got to know nurses and doctors. We became comfortable with our new changes.

Then one day they started talking about moving us out of the ICU. What? We had just regained at least an illusion of control in our lives. We had just gotten used to the way things were. We were becoming attached to some of the nurses. The thought of moving on had not even crossed our minds.

We moved, and guess what? Each day we have become more and more comfortable in rehab. We have gotten to know some of the nurses. We have become comfortable in our new environment.

We can see this pattern in every area of life. Churches, restaurants, schools, jobs...we quickly become comfortable with a certain way of doing things. And when something changes the response is not always what it should be. The problem is that we think we have control over our environments. The reality is that we do not have control at all, we have the illusion of control. And when we feel like we are losing control, we panic. We don't know what to do.

One of the things I've realized even more over the last 6 weeks is that we really are not in control. From the AVM in Garren's brain, to the lack of understanding that the doctors have about brain injuries and recovery, it is very clear that we do not control anything.

Something I've learned to hang onto even more over the last 6 weeks is that God is in control. Though our lives seem to be spinning out of control, God is working His mysterious plan together for His own glory, for His ultimate good.

What are you hanging on to? What are you trying so desperately to control? The one thing in life that won't change is that everything can and will eventually change. It's not our job to try and control it. It's our job to stay close to Jesus, to follow Him in obedience, and to trust that He is in control. He will not lead you astray.

March 18, 2011

Friday, March 18, 2011 10:00pm

Good news, and good news, and some more good news.

After the care team met today, one of the therapists, along with the social worker, came into Garren's room with a big smile on their faces.

"We have a proposition for you."

"Sure. What's up?"

"We'd like to extend Garren's stay, if you would like's entirely up to you."

That has been Nancy's hope for some time. Garren has made some big steps this week, and they really want to keep him a bit longer and work with him as much as they can. So our new discharge date is April 6. While I was looking forward to being home, this is certainly a great thing for Garren. Praise God.

My dad and I went and picked up the van. It's perfect, and the price is too! Thanks David!

Last night Garren was on the vent for 3 hours. Tonight he is officially off the vent. Another huge step. Praise God.

I told you we had a lot of good news! Isn't it exciting to see the pieces of God's plan all working together?

March 17, 2011

Thursday, March 17, 2011 4:00pm

Garren continues to take small steps in the right direction. He had another hard day of work in therapy today, and he did great.

The team continues to be very excited about Garren's eye movements. He consistently tracks up and down. This afternoon, Kelly used colored construction paper. She took a green piece of paper and held in in front of Garren. She told him to look at the green paper. We could see his eyes focus on the paper, and then follow as Kelly moved it up and down. Then she did the same thing with orange paper.

Then Kelly took the green and the orange paper and held them both in front of Garren. One was up and the other down. She told Garren to look at the green paper. You could see him thinking about it. So she tried several times, going back to one color at a time, then both again. Finally, one time, Garren did look down at the green paper when she asked him to. So cool.

As Garren's eyes get stronger, we will be able to use methods like this to communicate with him until he is able to talk again. Pretty cool.

Another baby step - Garren will be on the vent for only 3 hours tonight. He may be off the vent by the weekend. We will see. He is doing great.

Our van will be here this weekend. I want to send a HUGE thanks to my friend David at Rent-A-Wreck in Greensboro, NC for the amazing deal he has worked out with us. Thank you David.

March 16, 2011

Wednesday March 16, 2011 10:00pm

Day 41. We are 7 days from bringing Garren home. Garren slept well last night. His first night at 7 hours with vent support. He had been at 10 hours. Tonight they are backing him down to 5 hours. We are pretty sure the doc wants to get him off the vent before we go home.

Garren continues to do new little things each day. Yesterday he vertically tracked with both eyes. First time that has happened. Up and down, consistently following light and objects. While sitting in his chair, his left arm was moving a lot. One of the therapists saw his arm movements and is convinced that this is intentional, that Garren is intentionally trying to move his left arm.

Tara is really excited about Garren’s eye movements. She thinks we might be close to being able to commnicate. She talked about having two flashcards: “Yes” and “No.” You hold the “Yes” card up high and hold the “No” card down low, then ask Garren yes/no questions. The idea is that he would look up for “Yes” or down for “No.” We’ll see.

Nancy and I have a checklist of things we are being “trained” to do. We will be responsible for most of Garren’s medical care when we go home, so we have to be able to do it all. So far I have more items signed off than Nancy.

Garren's new room continues to progress. The electrician is working on it now (10pm and he's still working hard). Inspections tomorrow, then drywall. It's all coming together.

We have also found a good possibility for a van. It's a really good deal, though I can't share details with you right now. All I can say is God is really taking care of things. Thank you Lord.

March 15, 2011

Tuesday March 15, 6:00pm

Garren met Baker, the therapy dog, today. He didn't really respond much, but it was fun to see him with the dog. Baker is an amazingly well trained Yellow Lab. He has a full time job working with the patients in rehab.

Garren made a goal today! It's actually a pretty big baby step for him. He was able to vertically track with both eyes. First Tara used a light in front of each eye, one eye at a time. Garren followed it up and down, consistently, with both eyes. Then she held a mirror in front of Garren and moved it up and down. He was able to track with that as well. Finally, she took a football and held it up in front of him. When she moved it up and down, his eyes followed. That was very cool to see! He is not able to track horizontally (side to side) yet.

Another baby step for Garren - they are cutting him back from 10 to 7 hours on the vent overnight. That's another step in the right direction. Go Garren!

This morning I read Psalm 125:1 -
"Those who trust in the Lord are like Mount Zion.
It cannot be shaken; it remains forever."

Sometimes I feel like I am being shaken. Rather violently actually. I am so thankful that my trust is in the Lord. I pray that we will continue to endure. I pray that I will continue to be the husband and father that God has called me to be. It's so easy to get dragged down. It's so easy to feel sorry for yourself. I pray that I will be like Mount cannot be shaken.

Tuesday March 15, 8:00am

Yesterday Garren had a great day in therapy.

In occupational therapy, Tara had him sitting up, with his hands on the mat, using his arms to support some of his weight. First she moved his head to his left side and we asked him to raise his head. "Pull Garren! Pull! You can do it, pull your head up!" I could see the determination in his eyes. He was really trying. Then all of a sudden his right should jerked and his arm moved! It was awesome. We had him try a few more times on that side. Tara would keep her hand on Garren's right shoulder and neck. She could feel his muscles contract each time he tried to lift his head.

Then she switched sides, moving his head to the right side. We asked him to lift his head, and slowly but surely his head moved up and back. He is definitely stronger on his left side. We had him work that side a few more times as well.

Remember, Garren is having to rebuild muscle. He is very weak. We don't even think about how heavy our head is - it takes a good bit of effort to hold it up.

Once again, it is exciting to see small steps of improvement.

Garren's eye seems to be a little bit better. It is a little less red and irritated looking. It still has some healing to do.

8 days until Garren comes home. The plumbers were here working on his room when I got home yesterday. The ramp will be built this Saturday. Hopefully we will be painting this weekend as well. We are still praying about the van. Thank you for your prayers.

March 14, 2011


It's dark.

I feel confused.

What happened?

I'm trying so hard to open my eyes. Nothing happens. Let me try again. I am doing everything I can. I hear something.

"Garren, open your eyes."

What's going on? I am opening my eyes.

"Good Garren! We see you trying! Open you eyes all the way!"

It's so hard. It's so bright! Why are they yelling at me to open my eyes? What's going on?

My nose itches. I can't move anything. Where am I? Everything's blurry. What's going on?

"Garren! It's Mom!"

Mom? Mom I'm here! I can't see you! I can hear you...I can't move! I'm trying to talk...but nothing happens. What's going on? Mom?

"Garren...It's Mom. You're in the hospital."

What? The hospital? Why?

"Garren...It's going to be ok. You had a headache at school. We brought you to the hospital. The doctors did surgery on your brain. And now you look great! You're going to be fine."

Fine? Headache? Surgery? I must be dreaming. This can't be real. I've had these dreams before. Where everything is moving in slow motion. You try to run and you can't get away. Yes, this must be a dream. I just need to wake up.

"Garren...It's Dad."

Dad - what's going on? I can't move. I think I must be dreaming.

"'re in the hospital. Garren. Open your eyes, Buddy. Let me see your eyes so I can talk to you."

Dad...I'm so tired. I can't keep my eyes open. It's so hard.

"Garren, I know it's hard. I know you're trying. We're in the hospital. We're going to help you get better. We have a lot of work to do. It's going to be hard work. But I've seen you work hard before, and we're going to do this together."

Do what? What work? I'm just dreaming...I just need to wake up...

Everything is so blurry.

I can't move.

I'm so tired.

Why is it so dark?

March 13, 2011

Sunday March 13, 2011 7:00pm

Yesterday was a rough day for Garren. He was experiencing some mild neurostorming. This is common for patients recovering from traumatic brain injury. BAsically your body gets stressed out, and you tend to have a higher heart rate, fever, along with other symptoms. He's had a more relaxing day today. He's getting rested up for another big week of therapy.

His eye continues to remain red and irritated. We are working with the doctors to try and figure out exactly what is going on, so we can help it heal. It looks better than it did the other day, it's just still a little red and swollen.

Nancy and I continue to be completely blown away and overwhelmed by the help that is pouring in. From the funds that have been donated to the work on the room, it is hard to take it all in. Today a family came up to me and handed me an envelope. They said they had unanimously decided as a family to give up their family vacation over spring break and give us a donation instead. I said, we are simply blown away. Thank you!

I have spoken with two individuals in the last couple of days about possibly getting a van...donated. We haven't gotten any details from either source yet. But I told someone today - "God has blessed us so much, every detail so far has fallen into place, I am not worried at all about getting a van. I know that God will provide." God is so good, and so faithful. We are so humbled by the generosity from so many people.

In my Bible reading today I read Psalm 120:1 -
"In my distress I called to the Lord, and He answered me."

How awesome it is to see answers. We pray for Garren's complete healing and restoration. Of course, we'd rather see Garren just get out of bed and walk to the car. But God has a different way of doing things. And even though His way is a bit more costly, and requires a bit more equipment, He supplies those needs, and in the end He gets all the glory. In our distress we have called out to the Lord. And He continues to answer us, a little bit at a time, day by day, one day at a time.

March 12, 2011


I love progress. I love seeing things how they were and how they are progressing. Checkout these before and after shots:

Work started at 8:00 this morning. When I got home after my little half marathon, there were 15 or 20 people hard at work. Windows installed, about 1/3 of the floor raised, plumbing work started. Simply amazing. I don't even know half of the people I saw working on my house. So amazing.

God is so awesome. He continues to supply funding and volunteers. We'll have a ramp built from the door you see in the picture. It will go from the door to the driveway. All the labor and lumber for the ramp is being donated.

My race went well this morning. I finished. 13.1 miles - 1 minute and 37 seconds over my goal of 2 hours, but hey, I finished.

Thank you so much to all of you who are working on or donating toward Garren's new room. It is truly overwhelming.

March 11, 2011

Garren's Room

Today we had a bunch of supplies delivered for Garren's new room: shower, lumber, windows, drywall, insulation. The permits have been pulled, the HOA has given approval, now it's time to get to work. Framing will start Saturday morning.

We are planning to give Garren's room a Pittsburgh Steelers theme. Black and yellow, black and yellow. We can't wait to start decorating. Any professional interior decorators out there? We'd love your input. We've already had someone offer to donate the paint, and do the painting. It's going to be awesome.

Tomorrow morning I'm running in a half marathon. It will be my second one. When everything happened with Garren back in February, I wasn't sure if I would run or not. I was able to work in some training runs, and I'm looking forward to running this one. Should be a beautiful day for racing!

Doubt vs. Disbelief

Here's an interesting thought. I had never thought about it until my dad mentioned to me this week that there is actually a difference between doubt and disbelief.

"Then John's disciples told him about all these things. So John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord, asking, 'Are You the One who is to come, or should we look for someone else?'" Luke 7:18-19

John the Baptist is the one who had been appointed to prepare the way for Jesus. The one who knew before Jesus came on the scene that he was to announce the coming of the Savior. John the Baptist is the one who said "Here is the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world! This is the One I told you about: 'After me comes a man who has surpassed me, because He existed before me.'" (John 1:29:30)

And now John is in prison, and he is starting to doubt. He wonders whether he had it all wrong. Had he wasted his life? Had he 'prepared the way' for the wrong guy?

John believed that Jesus was the Messiah. He believed that Jesus was the one who would save the world from sin. But when things didn't quite go according to his plan, he started to doubt. He began to question Jesus - "Are you the one, or should we look for someone else?"

The pharisees and religious leaders, on the other hand, never even believed that Jesus was the one. They believed he was a liar and a blasphemer. They chose to reject Jesus from the beginning.

We do this all the time. Think about it. Do you like to ride roller coasters? I do. I love the rush, the thrill, the ups and downs. It's a total rush. I believe that the ride is safe. I believe that if I strap into the car, I will get out unharmed at the end of the ride. But I have to say, I tend to have my doubts as soon as we hit that first big drop. "What if this thing crashes?" "What if my seat bar comes undone?" There are a lot of things that can cause doubt. I got on the ride. I believe the ride works, but that doesn't guarantee I won't doubt.

As we go through life, we face tough things. We believe that God is directing our lives. We believe that God is in control. We place our trust in Him. We choose to give our lives over to Him and follow his leading. But that doesn't mean we never doubt. That doesn't mean we won't sometimes question. The important thing is, that even though we doubt, we don't try to get off the ride! Suppose you were riding that roller coaster and you started to doubt. What would happen if you tried to get off in the middle of the ride? The results would be disastrous. Better to hang in there, rely on the faith that got you there in the first place, and finish the ride.

I think faith in God works a lot like that. It's easy to believe when things are good. But when things start to get tough is not the time to abandon your beliefs! When doubt creeps in, that's the time to embrace your faith all the more.

Whatever you are facing, when doubt creeps in, keep your seatbelt on and keep trusting Jesus to get you to the end of the ride.

March 10, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011 8:00pm

Garren seems to have good days, and then less good days. Yesterday was a good day. I mentioned the tough workout he got from Emily, the physical therapist. I think she wore him out. Today we saw a lot less action from Garren.

The ophthalmologist came by to see Garren today. He said Garren's eye was looking a lot better today. We've been keeping a patch over it to keep his eyelid shut, so that it will not dry out. This will reduce the irritation. He seemed very pleased with the difference already. I say thank you for your specific prayers for his eye! It still has some healing to do, so continue to pray that it clears up completely.

The work on Garren's new room was a major success today. Men and women from many different churches and from the community showed up to remove drywall and prep the room for the upfit. So amazing to see so many people show up and knock that job out so quickly. Friday is permit day. My dad and Joe Valentino are going to be working with the city to get the permits we need to complete construction. Then Saturday work begins again. We have been overwhelmed with workers. What a blessing.

March 09, 2011

Kara's Dream

So the other day on the way to school Kara, Garren's older sister, told me about a dream she had. I asked her to share it with you. Here you go (and as before, I recommend tissues):

Garren was laying in the hospital bed just like he has been. Only the hospital room was in our house. Well, I was sitting by the side of his bed when he suddenly sat up and walked out of the room. I was amazed that he had stood up so I walked out after him to see where he was going. When I walked out of the hospital room we were at our house.

Garren walked out the front door and went and sat at a bus stop that was across the street from our house. I went and sat down next to him and asked him where he was going. He replied something (I can't remember what) about where he was going.

I then said, "You can talk!?" because it shocked me that he could.

He replied, "I can do everything, Kara. It's just really hard for me right now."

We then got on the bus and ended up at the beach where my Aunt Paulette was waiting for us.

A Lot Going On

Wow - what a day. A lot has happened.

Garren did well with therapy today. In PT Emily really stretched Garren's legs. She really gave him a workout. At some points Garren would lift his hand, and his shoulders would tense up and he seemed to be trembling. Imagine what you would do if someone was really stretching out your hamstring. Good responses from Garren.

I found out today that a full size roll-in shower has been donated to us, free of charge. That is a huge expense. Thank you for your generosity - Nancy and I both are so appreciative of this gift!

We are working on getting the security camera footage from the day that Garren passed out in P.E. class on February 4th. I spoke with the head of safety and security for Union County Schools, and he said we have to have a court ordered subpoena in order for them to release the video to us. I have called a friend of mine who is a lawyer, and hopefully he will be able to get what we need. I want to be clear - we are in no way holding the school system responsible. This is purely for our own personal use. We just want to have a record of Garren's collapse. We want to have the video of Garren's last moments as he was just before all of this started.

We will continue to plug away here. You can pray specifically for Garren's left eye. It has been inflamed for several days. He had a bit of an infection, and now it is inflamed, making it difficult for him to close his eye completely. Because he can't close his eye, it quickly dries out, which causes it to stay inflamed. A vicious cycle.

March 08, 2011


Garren is very much aware of what is going on around him. He can hear. The therapists have recommended that we play familiar music for him. We let him listen to his iPod sometimes. They also suggested that we read his algebra book to him. Nancy does, I just can't imagine being that cruel to him! (just kidding...) They also suggested that letting Garren hear familiar voices would be good for him.

So - remember Message4Garren? Well we need all of you guys and gals that know him from school and church to start calling in and leaving messages. Call and talk about what's going on in school. Fill him in on the latest couples, talk to him about your soccer team, talk about March Madness. Talk about the things you used to talk to him about. Call as often as you would like. We will play your messages back for him throughout the day.

I realize that you're probably used to texting, but he needs to hear your voice. So quit reading this blog and go dial your phone!

If you would like to send Garren an encouraging voice message:

Dial: (713) 574-9075

Access code: 8265576

When you have finished your message, just hang up and your message will immediately post to

Tuesday March 8, 6:00pm

Garren has had a great start to his week. After the family meeting on Monday, Garren had another session with Tara (occupational therapy). Tara had Garren sitting up in bed, with his arms laying on a makeshift desk. She strapped his arm into what she called a "skateboard for his arm." It's a molded piece of plastic with wheels on the bottom. She placed Garren's arm on the desk in front of him and asked him to move it. Nancy said she could see the concentration in his eyes as he steadily began to slide his hand toward the middle.

Monday evening the nurse had to give Garren some medication with an IV. When they are done with the medication, they flush the IV with saline, which feels cold going into the arm. Nancy said she was watching to see if Garren would react. Sure enough, he lifted his entire arm up, about 2 inches off the mattress, and then back down!

And then today during his speech therapy, Wren saw Garren move his tongue. That's the first time we've seen any movement like that. Nancy also saw Garren 'smack' his lips a couple of times. These are the first steps toward swallowing.

Some very exciting baby steps for Garren. I can't wait to see what he does next!

March 07, 2011

Our Next Big Step

Many of you have been asking "What can we do?" Well, now we have a list of tangible needs.

We had our family meeting with the Care Team this morning. In the meeting we discussed Garren's progress so far. We also discussed the next steps for Garren. Rehabilitation from brain injury is such a long process that it is not feasible to stay in the hospital for the long haul. Part of the rehab process is to teach us how to care for Garren, and how to continue his rehabilitation at home.

As it stands right now Garren has a target discharge date of March 23. There are two major things that need to happen in order to bring Garren home.

The first thing is to build a room on the first floor for Garren. We are planning to convert the 3rd car garage into a room complete with a roll in shower just for him. Insurance will cover most of the medical equipment we will need. The costs for renovation will be out of pocket for us. We already have a couple of builders who are going to start work right away.

The second major purchase that we will need to make is a wheelchair accessible minivan. I have started looking around on the internet to see what our options are. My prayer is that we will be able to find and purchase something that will meet our needs by the time we need to bring Garren home. If you have any leads, or information on the best way to purchase a minivan that will meet our needs, you can contact me directly at

Your continued financial gifts will also be a big help in offsetting these upcoming costs. You can click the link to the right of this blog to make a gift.

Nancy and I still have lots of questions. We are still coming to terms with what this next step means for us. As I have mentioned in earlier blogs, our lives have changed. Things will not be the same for a while. The thought of bringing Garren home is a little bit scary. The idea that immediate medical help will no longer be standing right outside the door is a little bit unnerving. But at the same time, the thought of being home, having our family together under one roof, is appealing. I look forward to that. Once home Garren will continue rehab and continue to progress.

In the mean time there is a lot that needs to happen. We will trust God to provide for these needs. And we look to you to continue to pray. Pray that decisions about construction and vehicle purchases will go smoothly and timely.

And of course - continue to pray that Garren continues to get stronger and that these items are only needed temporarily.


We had a visit last night from a young girl who did something big. Many of you have been so generous, and we can't thank you enough. The money for gas, food, and other expenses is such a blessing, and I thank our God everyday for your gifts.

Last night I got a message from Kailtyn Rogers. She said she had raised "a little money" for our family. She and her mom were going to be out, and she wanted to know if she could drop it by the hospital.

About an hour later, I met Kaitlyn and her mom in the hallway. She handed me two envelopes. I asked her what it was. The first was an envelope full of cards she had brought from her church.

I asked about the second envelope. Kaitlyn and her mom told me that Kaitlyn had written a letter and had mailed it out to 43 of their friends and families. In the letter she told Garren's story, and asked for funds to help with Garren's expenses. She said "This envelope is only the beginning. We've given everyone until the end of March to get back to us."

There was $600 in that envelope.

Wow! Thank you very much Kaitlyn! And thank you to each of you for your financial help. It truly is a blessing.

"Remember this: The person who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the person who sows generously will also reap generously. Each person should do as he has decided in his heart-not reluctantly or out of necessity, for God loves a cheerful giver." - 2 Corinthians 9:6-7

March 06, 2011

Sunday March 6, 2011 10:00pm

31 days ago Garren left for school an active, healthy, athletic 13 year old boy. As you know and as we repeat to him daily so he knows what is going on..."you had a headache at school, we came to the hospital, you had brain surgery, you are doing great now we just have to wait as your brain heals".

With this waiting we have settled into a bit of a routine here in rehab. Here is a picture of what rehab is like and what types of things Garren does even though he can't move on his own.

As I mentioned before, according to Dr. Wunderlich Garren doesn't show ‘typical’ response. As I understand it, at this stage they look for what they call contractions: straightening or bending of arms and legs in response to stimulus, reflexive response. Instead, Garren shows signs of intentional movement. This is good.

In occupational therapy this week, Tara had what looked like ‘swimmies’ on his arms. They were inflated to keep his elbows straight. Garren was positioned to sit with his legs crossed, with his arms back supporting most of his weight. Tara sat behind him on a big rubber ball. She held his head with her hands. I could see Garren turning his head, from left to right, in very small increments. It was very obvious that Garren was working, trying to turn his head. It’s just small movements, a little bit at a time, but he’s doing it.

In speech therapy, Wren rubs ice on Garren’s arms and hands to see if he will pull away, or react in any way. His left arm was more responsive this week. At one point, Wren held Garren’s left hand out, palm up. She rubbed a piece of ice in his hand, and Garren turned his hand over. He only did it once, but he did it. Wren is also trying to get Garren to swallow. She tries different smells and tastes in his mouth to get a swallow, or gag....or anything. Nothing yet.

Physical therapy is a little different. Emily doesn’t seem to be looking for response, at least not in the same way as the other two therapists. She has put Garren on the 'lift table’ several different times. She raises him from lying flat (0 degrees) to nearly standing (70 degrees). His blood pressure stayed steady which means that Garren is tolerating standing up, that his body, his heart, his lungs are all working to allow him to be upright. Another thing that Emily has done a couple of times with Garren is to get him on his stomach. This allows the fluids in his lungs to move. Laying in bed all the time allows these fluids to settle in the back of your lungs, and that’s not good. The other thing laying on his stomach does is it allows Emily to stretch muscles and tendons that cannot be stretched while laying in bed or sitting in a chair. She can easily stretch his hip flexors and his quads. That must feel so good.

So many little thing we do naturally and don't even think about what it takes to do them.

We are looking forward to another great week of work and seeing more progress from Garren.

My prayer lately has been for Garren to continue to gain strength, that he will continue to respond more and more to what he is doing in therapy. Each day we wonder if this will be the day Garren "wakes up" even more, and that we will see him progress from there.

Thank you for praying for us and with us for Garren. He is a tough, hard working kid. God is so good and we know he is right there with Garren.

March 05, 2011

Heart on my Sleeve

I'm not a big music guy. I like music. I listen to music in the car, or when I workout. But I'm not big into all the latest artists and what they are singing. It's too much to keep up with. But not to long ago I found a band called Sanctus Real. Maybe you've heard of them. They sing a song called The Redeemer, and as I was listening to the words the other day, I identified with these:

Sometimes I just wish we could say
All the things that are easy to hear
Ignore the injustice we see
And explain every unanswered prayer
But I’d rather speak honestly
And wear a tattered heart on my sleeve
Cuz in the middle of my broken dreams
Redemption is here

A lot of people have responded to the things I've said on this blog. One of the things I hear a lot is "Thanks for your honesty and transparency." I never thought of myself as one who 'wears my heart on my sleeve.' I always associated that with more of a negative connotation - someone who outwardly shows all of their emotions, all of the time - complainers and whiners. But as we walk through this valley, I can't imagine not sharing with honesty all that we are going through. Not for pity, not so people will feel sorry for us, but so that we can walk together.

It certainly would be easier to pretend everything was fine, to say things that are easy to hear. But that wouldn't do me or you any good. We need honesty. People were created for relationship. We were created to be in community. God didn't put us on this earth to handle our problems alone. We need each other.

"And let us be concerned about one another in order to promote love and good works, not staying away from our [worship] meetings, as some habitually do, but encouraging each other, and all the more as you see the day drawing near." - Hebrews 10:24-25

Shirts & Bracelets

A lot of you have been doing some awesome things to help raise funds for Garren's medical expenses. We are so appreciative of that. Many of you have made generous donations, and we thank you.

Some of our friends have had "Team Garren" t-shirts and "Garren's Gang" bracelets made up.

Several of you have asked how you can get your own.

T-shirts are available for a $10 minimum donation.
Contact Remona Griffin at

Bracelets are available for a $3 donation.
Contact Julie Shillingburg at

Bracelets will also be available at Southbrook Church this Sunday.

March 04, 2011

Friday, March 4, 2011 4:00pm

We had another great day of rehab. Garren is working hard.

Here are some of Garren's baby steps:
  • He is coughing more - not a strong cough like you or I, but enough to begin clearing his lungs and throat - certainly more than a week ago.
  • He is really trying hard to move his head. You can see him working to pull it to the side. It does move, ever so slightly.
  • When you try to open Garren's eyelid, he pulls it shut. This is new within the last two days.
The doctor today said that Garren's response are not 'typical.' I said "That's our Garren." What she meant was this: normally you see reflexive responses early on in the rehab process. But Garren seems to be making movements that are not reflexive, but more intentional.

These movements are very small and labored. I am proud of Garren. He is working so hard, you can see it in his eyes.

Saturday is a light work day, and Sunday is rest day.

Nancy and I and the girls are all four going home tonight. This will be the first time we have all been together at home in four weeks. Tomorrow Nancy is going to be joining the team at The Closet for the prom dress event. I will be at church on Sunday.

I'm looking forward to a great weekend.

March 03, 2011

Thursday, March 3, 2011 8:00pm

Today is day 28 for Garren. It's hard to believe it's been an entire four weeks since this all started!

Garren had a great day today. We were able to make it through all of his therapy sessions uninterrupted. Each of the therapists observed movement and small responses from Garren.

One of the responses that has become evident in the last couple of days is squinting to bright light, and 'flinching' in response to a potential threat. In other words, if you move your hand quickly toward Garren's face he closes his eyes in response. So far I owe Garren quite a few "two for flinching" punches! (It's a middle school game, for those that don't know!)

Garren wore his new Team Garren shirt today. It looks good on him!

Well, I better get settled in for the night, we've got another full day tomorrow. Have a great night!

March 02, 2011

Garren Janes Night

I was honored to be at the ballfield tonight where Piedmont and Porter Ridge 8th grade teams were playing each other, and celebrating a night in honor of Garren. There were "Team Garren" t-shirts and pink "Garren's Gang" bracelets for sale by donation. I had the opportunity to talk to the Piedmont team before the game, and pray with them. It brought tears to my eyes to hear the team shout "Garren" on three.

In case you are wondering, "Sunshine" is Garren's nickname.

Garren had a good day today. He continues to show small signs of response. Today in one of his therapy sessions, I got to see him trying to move his head again. He works hard for a few minutes, then starts to close his eyes, like he's tired. We try to keep him awake during therapy. So the therapist started asking him about the Carolina/Duke game coming up this weekend. Garren's eyes popped open! He definitely hears and understands what is going on around him.

I know you are probably wondering about the results from the sleep study. So am I. We are still waiting to get the official results back from the pulmonologist (lung doctor). As soon as we know something for sure, I will let you know.


About 5 years ago, Nancy and I took our three kids to Ethiopia for a month of missions work. It was awesome, we learned so much together as a family about each other, and about serving the Lord together. You can read about our trip here. Erica had sent me an email during the first week of Garren's hospital stay. She had stumbled across one of my blogs describing an unexpected adventure that Garren and I went on. Basically, my camera was stolen, and we were presented with the opportunity to pray....a lot. You can read about the entire incident here.

Here is Erica's email:

"I'll start this by apologizing if it is long and hard to follow. I just wanted to share it with you since it has been on my heart this afternoon. I, along with many others, have been fasting and praying for you guys all day. During my planning time at work I was praying and then reading your blog. I began clicking on some of the links and to be honest, have no idea how I ended up where I did, but I was reading a post from your blog about your mission trip to Africa with Nancy and the kids. Phrases and words were practically leaping off the screen at me and felt the Lord's presence in a powerful way. At first I thought I was making too much of it (as I normally do when I am overwhelmed by God), but I reread the post again this afternoon and got that same overwhelming feeling. It was the post entitled "Leba, Leba". Below are some of the parts that stuck out to me the most...

I looked back to see what Garren was doing. He had made it safely half way across the street and was waiting for another car to pass.

It had all happened so fast. As we were walking I looked at Garren and said, “Are you praying?” He said “Yes.”

I tried to ask the one what was going on. He said “Relax.” So I did, and we waited.

As we waited, I contemplated prayer. We are supposed to pray according to the will of God. But I have to be honest. Although in the back of my mind, I thought “Your will be done,” deep down inside I was thinking, ‘My will be done, Lord, please get my camera back.” I don’t understand prayer, although I try. I have seen prayer work, I have seen God do amazing things. But I still don’t understand how prayer works. Why does God care if I get my camera back? I don’t understand.

“Jesus, please give me the camera back.” Again we waited.

I was floored, I didn’t know whether or not to get my hopes up, so I didn’t. Then I remembered, when we pray we should pray expectantly. Why ask for something, if we don’t think we will get it? I had been asking Jesus to get my camera back. But why did I still doubt?

Everyone was very helpful. I thanked the Lord again for answering my prayers. The police took a picture of the camera, and handed it to me. I put it right into my pocket, and off we went, back home with an amazing story to tell.

And as a mother, this one phrase stuck out in a huge way:

I knew Nancy must be quite concerned by this time, so I prayed that she would be at ease.

I don't know if any of this makes any sense to you, or if this only lines up in my mind, but I absolutely couldn't get it out of my head. I had to share it with you. I will continue to pray and wait expectantly. I love you guys!"
- Erica

Thank you Erica! What impressed me most about this is that prayer, not matter how big or little your circumstance, is important. Whether you're praying for something as serious as the life of a loved one, or for something as small as a stolen camera, God cares, and wants to hear from us. In fact, I don't think the object of our prayer is the point at all. It's the dependence on God that is most important.

What are you holding on to? Give it to God. Depend on Him.

"Cast your burden on the Lord, and He will sustain you; He will never allow the righteous to be shaken." - Psalm 55:22

March 01, 2011

Nancy's Dream

Hey everyone - Nancy shared a dream she had last night. I asked her to write it out so I could share it with you. Here goes (you might want to grab a box of tissues):

Monday night I spent the night at the hospital with Garren. During the night I had a dream.

I dreamed Garren and I were sitting at our kitchen table at home. He was telling me about a dream he had. He said he was walking down a country road on a sunny day. On the side of the road he saw a lit lantern. He thought it was a very strange place for a lantern especially since it was lit. He walked over and picked it up. He said when he picked up the lantern everything went dark. He said, "Mom, it was really strange that everything was dark but it was so cool I had that lantern to light my way. I could keep walking. I couldn't see very far out but it was enough to light my baby steps."

I'm not really a dream person but that night I woke up and felt a new peace that God was leading Garren's baby steps in a special way.

"For you are my lamp, O Lord,
and my God lightens my darkness."
- 2 Samuel 22:29

"Your word is a lamp to my feet
and a light to my path."

- Psalm 119:105

Some days I get frustrated and want so badly to see big steps that I lose sight and miss the joy of the baby steps. God is lighting this path and we trust him fully to lead where he wants us to go.

Thank you so much for faithfully praying with us and for us and for rejoicing with us in Garren's baby steps.

Thank you too for all your texts, emails and blog comments. These seem to come at just the right time when we need a lift and a reminder of God's love and guidance. If you have sent a personal text or email and you haven't gotten a response, please know it is appreciated. We are trying to reply to these as we have time.

- Nancy

Tuesday March 1, 4:00pm

I was just sitting down to share some of Garren's baby steps with you. As I was trying to figure out how to start, I looked over and saw Garren moving the fingers on his left hand. I went over and took his hand in mine, and he closed his hand around mine. It was a weak squeeze, but it felt good.

Yesterday morning I was talking to Garren and he moved his head. Not a lot, but enough to see that he was trying to lift his head to the side.

We've been in rehab for a week now. The therapies are going well with Garren. It's a lot to take in, a lot to learn.

Nancy and I received an email today with a great story. In the email they let us know that their 6 year old daughter had prayed to receive Christ, due in part to what Garren is going through. So great to hear things like that!

I was immersed back into reality this morning. I had to take Kelsey to the doctor (she has an ear infection, blech...) and then had to pick up a prescription for her. Then I went to work. It was good to be back in staff meetings. Somebody asked me how it was, being back. I said it felt like coming out of a cave - dark, warm, comfortable - and being overwhelmed by the brightness, the busyness and the noise. It was great to be back.

Many of you have asked, "What can we do to help?" We really want to take you up on your offers, and plan to. Right now we are stil trying to figure out what our long term needs are going to be. I promise, as soon as we have a need, we will let you know. In the mean time, thank you for continuing to pray.

One other thing - when you post a comment, Nancy and I would love to know who you are. If you don't mind, just sign your name to your post. It means a lot knowing who you are!