He had been having pain off and on since before Christmas and attributed it to the acid reflux they have been treating him for for over a year. The same acid reflux that has sent him to the hospital four times. As it turns out, it very likely wasn't acid reflux at all, but rather his heart.
Sunday morning we got together with our older son and his family at my Mom and Dad's house before they had to head home to Dallas. All during the visit Dad seemed uncomfortable but didn't complain much - just seemed worn out. We didn't stay long and left hoping he would be able to get in a good nap.
Once we were gone, he told my Mom he had terrible chest pains. He thought it would pass - because it always did in the past. However, the pain became unbearable and my Mom took him to the emergency room.
To make a very long story short, when they got back the results from his blood work they realized he had had a heart attack. They put him in i.c.u. and sent my Mom home. Shortly after I talked to her, the cardiologist called and said they were transporting him to a hospital in the city because they had found a blockage that had to be treated immediately.
So....we jumped in the car, drove the twenty miles to pick up my Mom and headed to the hospital. We beat the ambulance by just a few minutes. The procedure took about an hour. When it was over the doctor showed us, via computer, everything he had done. It was immediately apparent that God had worked a miracle for my Dad.
The large blood vessel leading to the left side of his heart was 100% blocked - another hour and he would not have made it. It was a very difficult procedure. The doctor had to make several tries before he could get the stint in and the artery cleared. I'm not sure another doctor would have been as skilled or persistent. He inserted four stints in all, and my Dad will have to go back to have three more smaller blockages cleared.
It was amazing to see the whole thing unfold before our eyes. The blockage was so evident and so big. We could see as it finally cleared and the blood began to flow into his heart. There was some damage done to his heart, but the doctor said that he thinks most of it will repair itself now that it is getting the proper blood flow. He also said my Dad will feel so much better. The pain and constant tiredness should be gone. He was so pleased with the way everything went.
Today my Dad sat up and ate his lunch. It tired him out, but he really looks so good considering all he has been through. We are so thankful and continue to pray that he will make a good recovery and that the other procedures (they will be done in a few weeks) will go just as well as this one did.
God is so good. My Dad will be 89 on January 23rd. We are so very blessed. Thank You Father.
"Whose birthday is it?" asked little Hannah. Then her eyes lit up - "Oh, it's Jesus' birthday." And a second generation of children blew out the candles on Jesus' birthday cake.
Praying you all had a blessed Christmas.
I'm going to take a little bloggy break. I will see you in the new year. Happy New Year!
I was blessed to grow up in home where Christmas was always a magical time. For a little girl with an over-sized imagination, it was easy to get caught up in the idea of Santa Claus, Christmas presents and bulging stockings. There was once Christmas, however, that changed the "visions of sugar plums dancing in my head" into something quite different.
This devotional is at Laced With Grace on this Christmas Eve day. I would love to meet you there.
I send you wishes for a Christmas filled with His peace and joy.
What a precious little star!
Here are the Grands with the Perfect Christmas Tree.
Not to be outdone, Papa decided to send them a picture of the cutting down of his "Perfect Christmas Tree". He borrowed my cap, mittens and scarf and bravely went into the "wilderness" in search of his tree.
Needless to say - this tree is not the one in our living room! Have I ever mentioned how much my husband loves to spend time with his grandchildren? He plays just as hard as they do. He's an ideal Papa.
I sometimes think the words are no sooner spoken before the question comes, "Do you really believe that?" I have been thinking, writing and speaking about the way the peace and quiet joy of Christmas have filled my heart this year. I have had the time to quietly reflect, to read Advent devotionals, to listen to the glorious music.
Then came the "news":
- My Uncle had passed away. It was not unexpected, but he was my Dad's last remaining sibling. Five brothers and a sister all gone.
- My Aunt is losing her long battle with cancer. She is under hospice care, and three generations wait at her bedside.
I was still doing well until the final bit of news yesterday:
- Our son with M.S. was having i.v. steroid treatments again - another flare-up that blurred his vision and left him weak.
Then the tears flowed, and I felt the peace and joy begin to seep out of my heart as fear and sadness pushed their way in. Where had Christmas gone? I struggled yesterday fighting those doubts that fight for preemince over faith. I knelt by my bedside and prayed - the same prayers I've prayed for so long. Prayed with a sense of hopelessness for suffering to cease. Like a little child, I longed for Christmas to return to my heart.
This morning I felt a gentle breath whisper into my spirit - "This is Christmas too. This is why He came. He came to bring hope in the midst of dispair, joy in the face of suffering, peace when all around is chaos."
Yes. I opened my heart to the One who came and experienced everything I will ever have to face in this life. I felt that tiny spark of faith take hold. I remembered the words Jesus spoke at the very beginnng of His ministry:
"The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, for He has anointed me to bring Good News to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim that captives will be released, that the blind will see, that the oppressed will be set free, and that the time of the Lord's favor has come."
This is Christmas. He came to give us the gift of eternal life; to give us all that we would need to walk through this earthly life; to take up residence in the hearts of all who would invite Him in. Emmanuel - God with us. This is joy and peace.
One more (I promise) song from the Gaither Christmas CD. Whenever one shares music they love, they run the risk of having other people listen and then just sort of scratch their heads. So I bravely share this with you because the words minister to my spirit, and I think they'll bless you too.
New Star Shining by Johanna D. Hall and John J. Hall
They didn't own a house,
no crib, no toys were waiting,
Still they had their love
for the child they were anticipating.
He was born one winter night
on a road between two towns.
They wrapped Him up so warm
and tight and said it looks like
Heaven's come down.
There was a new star shining
in the sky up above,
By His light that winter night
they found peace and perfect love.
If we want to find it,
I know we always will,
'Cause that new star is shining for us still.
They worried how to feed Him,
simple trade was all they knew.
It was hard enough to make ends meet,
when there were only two.
But the cold, the dark, and hunger
couldn't take away their joy
And she knew that they would find a way
for that precious baby boy.
It is a cold, for us, day. The sky is winter white and the water in the birdbath was frozen this morning. I saw a little squirrel on top of the ice searching for a little bit of water. It has thawed now, but it won't get much above forty today. I'm sure the little squirrel is as put out as we are!
It is a good day to stay indoors, decorate a little Christmas tree, iron some clothes, play the piano and have a bowl of hot, steamy Lentil Soup for supper. On second thought perhaps a cold day isn't that bad after all.
"We had over 14,000 attend 4 services and more than 40 folks that we counseled that received Christ as their Lord and Savior. I have never been so thrilled with the responses from the congregation and many visitors that attended for the very first time. God is so good."
His prayer, and ours, leading up to this weekend has been that Jesus would be seen and glorified. Presenting the most professional program in the world would have been worth nothing if Jesus had not been the center of it all. We are far from the most professional group in the world, but there is a longing in each heart to lift the name of Jesus. What a joy to know that He was there and drawing people to Himself through the singing, playing, dancing and preaching of the word.
Thank You Jesus.
These are just a couple of candid shots before the program began. I wish I could have been in two places at once, so that you could get a better idea of what it all looked like. This was really all I could manage.
The choir loft beginning to fill up. That's my husband sitting in the middle of the last row ( and no, the baby didn't get to sing with us).
A view from the sanctuary of the children practicing. They were so sweet. I told my husband that I wish I could be a little girl again just so I could dance in church. It simply wasn't done when I was a little girl. I am just captivated by them.
Here is another song from that Christmas CD I love so much - "Still the Greatest Story Ever Told" by the Gaither Vocal Band.
HAND OF SWEET RELEASE
by Suzanne Jennings
Come thou long-expected Jesus
Come illuminate the mysteries of life.
Come redeem us from the refuse
Bring an end to endless suffering and strife.
Be the star that shines so brightly
That it draws our weary eyes to the sky - to heaven's sky.
Dearest child of new beginnings
Be the start of something beautiful, I cry.
There's an end to all the waiting
There's an answer to the "who" and "where" and "why...tonight.
All the years anticipating
Are surrendered to a tiny baby's cry
There's a dawn to follow darkness
There's a face to fill the title "Prince of Peace".
What He promised he delivered
I am saved by the hand of sweet release.
In this war I've been a captive
Just a sinner seeking life and liberty
But the hands that hold me tightly
Are the hands that set my shackled spirit free.
Blessed Jesus, meek and lowly,
You have come into my heart and made it new...now I'm new
Out of bondage into everlasting light
I owe everything to You!
I love Christmas music. I have lots of CD's and enjoy playing them all, but this particular one ("Still the Greatest Story Ever Told" by the Gaither Vocal Band) is the one I always go back to. The songs speak to my heart in such a profound way.
This one in particular, written by Bill Gaither's daugther Suzanne, just brings me to my knees. I tried to find a video to post so that you could hear the incredible music, but I couldn't find one. I think, though, that the words alone will bless your hearts.
We leave for church early this afternoon. This is the weekend of our Christmas Program. I won't be home much until late sunday afternoon. We are praying that this program will reach hearts with the Gospel message. I am so excited to see what the Lord will do.
Christmas is coming quietly for me this year. As a family, we've all agreed to cut back on the giving of presents - just children this year. So there is less shopping. We haven't cut back on our activities, yet everything seems to be moving at a slower pace. It has given me time to savor this Advent Season; to let my heart wait in silence.
I was thinking about Mary today. What was on her heart and mind all those hundreds of years ago as she awaited the birth of her first child? Scripture tells us she "treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart." I find that so compelling. I wonder how I would have behaved after hearing the news the angel delivered to her one ordinary day. Suddenly life changed forever for her, and her response was simple obedience - and trust.
When I have been given overwhelming news, I'm afraid my reaction has not been like Mary's was. I want immediate answers. I want to know what is going to happen, when it's going to happen and above all - why. Mary wasn't given very much information. She had to wait - through the hurt and disillusionment of the one she loved, the questioning looks of friends and neighbors, the long, difficult journey to Bethlehem. She did it quietly, obediently - never doubting that the Father would keep His promises.
This Christmas I want my heart to be as much like Mary's as the Lord can make it. There are some things - things that mean more to me than my own life - I am waiting for. I want to do it with a faith that doesn't falter and doubt. I want to do it quietly, trusting that the Father will do all that He has promised He will do.
I had a dear Pastor who once said, "It was not an indication of Mary's worthiness, but rather an indication that God's grace would be unique in her life." Surely I am not worthy, but God's grace is sufficient. Sufficient to give me faith to walk obediently and to trust in Him. My part is to receive that grace with an open heart. Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.
So, it was with a good measure of scepticism that I raised up on one elbow before getting out of bed and looked out our bedroom window this morning. "When what to my wondering eyes should appear...."
I know you're chuckling, but this is the biggest snowstorm we've had in ages! I rushed outside in my slippers and bathrobe and took these pictures to preserve this historic moment (before the sun could come out and melt it).
Look closely - that's actual snow on the roof of the garage.
We hadn't been for a walk in a few days because we've been so busy, so my husband suggested we bundle up and go. I'm nothing if not stoic (ha), so I agreed to brave the cold and the wind (it really was cold and very windy). I dug out my little knit hat and the scarf I had knitted myself a few years ago and got ready to go.
The dilemma was what to wear on my feet. My normal walking footwear is sandals. For years I have tried different walking shoes and invariably end up losing toe nails. I was thrilled to discover they actually make walking sandals and have used them (much to the delight of my toe nails) ever since. I had to decide between cold feet and lost toe nails. I made the mistake of wearing tennis shoes a few months ago, and my middle toe nail is just beginning to grow back. So......
I decided to improvise - and give my neighbors something to chuckle about. I will admit it is a little tricky trying to get the socks not to bunch around my big toes, but I finally succeeded.
Mission accomplished. We took our walk in the face of the huge South Texas Snowstorm.
P.S. I forgot to mention that it was 85 degrees yesterday before the "Norther" blew in. Talk about a big change in the weather!
Inevitably, as the years past and our families grew and changed, our paths began to go in different directions. We promised we wouldn't lose touch, but as time went on we saw less and less of each other. However, there is one special time of year where we all gather together to spend a few precious hours. Always, always it is as though we had only been apart for a few days. The bond holds fast; it is made of strong stuff - our love for each other and for the Lord.
Here are a few pictures from our Christmas Bingo Party:
Mary is our hostess every year. She was our Bible Study leader and is the one who makes sure we stay in touch.
The table - beautifully set for our lunch. Lunch is the same menu every year. No one wants it to vary in the least. Chicken Pasta Salad, rolls, fruit bowl, and lots of goodies!
Mary's living room - where we gather after lunch and bingo to open presents and listen to her girls play their piano recital pieces.
The Girls! I'm so disappointed that the one picture of all of us didn't come out very well. However - there we are.
This is the little corner where we gathered to pray before leaving to go home. It was such a sweet time. We wiped tears and said, as we always do, "We have to do this more often." Perhaps this coming year we will. If not, we will gather together again next year for Christmas Bingo - and sweet, sweet fellowship.
"A friend loves at all times..." Proverbs 17:17
Blessings dear Blogging Friends,
I have been trying hard to keep up with everyone, but the days have been so full. I have a sense that this season the Lord is calling me, and so many others, to a time of quiet waiting and a gentle savoring of this Advent Season. Because of that, I think I will step back a bit from blogging. I still want to write what is on my heart, and I will visit as time permits. I find I just want to rest in the peace and joy of this sacred time of year.
"I am not alone at all, I thought. I was never alone at all. And that, of course, is the message of Christmas. We are never alone. Not when the night is darkest, the wind coldest, the word seemingly most indifferent. For this is still the time God chooses."
Let Us Keep Christmas
"Whatever else be lost among the years,
Let us keep Christmas still a shining thing;
Whatever doubts assail us, or what fears,
Let us hold close one day, remembering
It's poignant meaning for the hearts of men.
Let us get back our childlike faith again."
Grace Noll Crowell
"Do give books - religious or otherwise - for Christmas. They're never fattening, seldom sinful, and permanently personal."
"It comes every year and will go on forever. And along with Christmas belong the keepsakes and the customs. Those humble, everyday things a mother clings to, and ponders, like Mary in the secret spaces of her heart."
"The only real blind person at Christmas-time is he who has not Christmas in his heart."
"A Christmas candle is a lovely thing;
It makes no noise at all,
But softly gives itself away;
While quite unselfish, it grows small."
"Peace on earth will come to stay,
When we live Christmas every day."
Helen Steiner Rice
No Ordinary Night
by Ruth Bell Graham
"Those were no ordinary sheep...
no common flocks,
huddled in sleep
among the fileds,
the layered rocks,
selected for the Temple sacrifice;
theirs to atone
for sins they had not done.
the angels should appear
Those were no usual shepherds there,
but outcast shepherds
whose unusual care of
made it impossible to keep Rabbinic law,
which therefore banned them.
How right the angels should appear to them
The chapter for today, posted on a friend's blog, was Exodus 6. I don't know how many times I've read this passage of scripture about Moses and the Children of Israel, but I know it's been a few. This time a verse jumped out at me that I had never really thought significant before. It is verse 9:
"So Moses told the people of Israel what the Lord had said, but they refused to listen any more. They had become too discouraged by the brutaility of their slavery." (NLT)
Moses had come to tell them that the Lord was going to free them from oppression and slavery - that He was going to rescue them. It was what they had been praying for their entire lives, but they were too discouraged to listen. They had listened to Moses once before and the brutality had only gotten worse. Now they were having none of it. They would just continue as they were - slaves to brutal masters.
Those words took my breath away. . . .
This devotional is posted at Laced With Grace today. Please join me there.
Since I don't know how to decorate my actual blog for Christmas (or anything else for that matter), I thought I would just begin my posts in December with little pictures from around the house. My Mom made both of these more years ago than I can remember. Every Year their sweet presence is part of our Christmas.
I have just come home from my piano recital, and I am Discouraged, Downhearted and Disappointed. Why is it that the songs I have practiced until my sweet husband must want to go running out the back door (although he says it doesn't bother him a bit), songs I know I can play well, sound as though I had never even seen the music before when I try to play them in front of others?
Honestly - there are only four of us - my piano teacher and the other two ladies who take lessons from her who are a bit older than me. No pressure right? Try telling that to my trembling hands and wobbly knees. I so desperately want to be able to play well. After five years you would think I would be well on my way.
So....I'm just having a little pity party at present. I'll be back when I get my attitude in shape.