It was minutes before the "welcome back" party for our college students last night. The house was unusually clean. We were heating up a few leftovers for a quick dinner, and for an easy, crowd-pleasing supplement to the kids' meals, I pulled out a tub of mac n cheese.
"Caroline, I need you to make this while I run upstairs for a few minutes," I said, not thinking twice about my request. She'd made it at school a million times before. I heard the microwave begin, and soonafter I heard the front door slam as she and Jameson rushed outside to greet our neighbors, leaving the microwave unattended.
A few minutes later, as Marc and I started downstairs, we immediately smelled smoke. Suprisingly, no alarms had been triggered. (we'll be fixing that...) "Something's on fire!" I yelled, as we both ran through the billows of smoke throughout our downstairs trying to find the source. It wasn't until we opened up the microwave to see that pile of clumped-together, charred Easy Mac noodles that everything made sense. Caroline had forgot to put water in the container before she nuked it for three minutes.
Thankfully, our house didn't go up in flames.
But, nevertheless, what would this mean for our party (a cereal mixer, we were calling it) for all of the college students IN JUST A FEW MINUTES?!?!!!
We threw open all the doors and windows to let the smoke out. (Ooooh, my type A personality was anything but calm in the moment if you can imagine.) The smoke began getting to us, though, and it was obvious we couldn't stay inside any longer. What were we going to do?...
Meet Taylor. He's from Memphis, and he'll be our new RUF intern for the next two years! Over the summer, he's worked hard to raise the financial support needed to move here and begin ministering to our college students. Two weeks ago, he pulled into to Lynchburg and it was a great joy to help him move in and get the new school year started off RIGHT.
The next morning at church, I started getting texts from my mom during church.
My dad had been recovering from a knee replacement surgery all week, and suddenly, things were taking a drastic turn for the worse.
They're taking Dad to the ER. He's having trouble breathing.
It looks like Dad's [transplanted] lung has pneumonia, and it's serious. He's going to ICU.
They're going to have to sedate him and put him on the ventilator (aka life support) because it's getting worse and he's unable to breathe on his own.
My mom was scared. I was, too.
I hopped on the first plane I could.
My sister flew out the next day from Chicago.
There's no way to describe seeing your father on life support with a hundred different tubes and lines running to and fro.
I saw him this way in ICU once before, after his lung transplant two years ago. That recovery was NO fun, but this time was worse. And scarier. He was so lifeless. And though his body was right before me, he seemed so far away.
(I'll be honest, y'all. This is very painful to type right now. I don't want to relive the terrible days I've just experienced.)
|Making our beds in the ICU waiting room|
My mom and I camped out in the waiting room of the ICU along with several other families my first night there. I'll just say it was anything but restful.
The days slowly passed. We waited for any piece of new news or information the doctors could give us. Would he make it? Would he be okay?
X-rays were looking worse each day. Now they were finding blood in the lung. The doctors weren't reassuring us in the least.
Though it was a struggle, I decided I wasn't going to put my hope in the "numbers" or even in the doctors. I knew who ultimately holds my Dad's life in His hands, no matter how things may appear to seem.
And to think, all this started with a routine KNEE surgery, and here we were on life support in the ICU. Just like the burnt mac'n'cheese in my microwave, this plan was taking a drastic turn from what it was supposed to be.
|Pastor J from our former home church in Dallas|
Can I just say, though, that in the midst of our great sorrow, God provided so much comfort.
In the midst of what appeared to be endless WAITING, God gave us evidence that He was, indeed, hard at WORK.
Our former church in Dallas sent pastors and elders to visit and pray with us.
We were given opportunity after opportunity to discuss God's faithfulness with several other families in the ICU, and some of them boldly spoke Christ's love and goodness to ME when I needed to hear it.
Hundreds of friends and loved ones across the country were praying for my dad, and for us, and I cannot tell them all "thank you" enough.
A dear, old friend came and brought me some of my favorites.
And you know, there was even something wildly comforting about the Elvis impersonator in the hospital's lobby, too.
Even as he slept on life support, my sister and I read scripture to my dad.
We held his hand and told him Jesus was holding him.
I'd break down in tears every time I left his side.
Day after day we waited and watched.
And then one day, the doctor told us, "He's out of the woods."
And we oh-so-cautiously rejoiced.
Bringing my dad out of sedation was quite the challenge.
We all watched and prayed as the doctors made several attempts.
Finally. FINALLY he was breathing steadily on his own and the tube came OUT.
We were by his side as he literally came to life again.
He was confused and anxious, and obviously had no idea he'd been sleeping for 5 days.
(even a week later, he is still trying to piece together what happened)
It felt like as soon as he was awake enough to say hello, I had to say goodbye.
He had JUST made it into a chair for the first time. (with lots of help, of course)
It was one of the hardest goodbyes of my entire life.
It wasn't time to go.
He still had (and has) a long, long road ahead of him. (Please continue to pray with me for his ongoing recovery as he's now been transferred to a rehabilitation hospital.)
But I had a hubby who was making grand attempts to keep the homefront alive and functioning. (And I'll add that our new intern, Taylor, was a HUGE help to our family that week- I am so grateful!) It was terribly hard for this mommy to miss Caroline's Meet-the-Teacher and her first two days of school. I needed to get back to my family.
When I flew into DC, these two little faces were BEAMING to see me. (they absolutely loved it that Daddy let them ride the Metro to pick me up at the airport, too!)
Though it was so sweet to be reunited, I was emotionally torn between two places.
|the staff of Lynchburg RUF, Marc and Taylor|
It probably didn't help that as soon as I landed and my feet hit the ground, I was thrown back into the world of campus ministry and kid's schedules.
Students were literally spending the night at my house for an overnight ministry team retreat. There wasn't any time to slow down and process all that had just happened.
|hanging out after large group|
But it's been a tough start to the semester, for sure. I'm already a little burned out. (no pun intended)
I wasn't planning on having a dad in the ICU or a small house fire before our first event at our place, much less a hundred other little things that I haven't mentioned in this post.
But after moving everything outside to our front yard, and showing the nasty burnt mac 'n' cheese to the students, the party actually ended up being better than it would've indoors anyway!
Isn't that so often the case in life? What seemed like such a terrible mistake at the time ended up yielding such good gifts. What an unending process it is to trust God's crazy plans over own own.