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Whirlwind, Hurricane, and Storm

30 September 2023

Knocked for a Loop by the Whirlwind

Dear Friend,

Title tile for 'Whirlwind, Hurricane, and Storm'Yessiree, it’s been an interesting period…

Lucky Elijah! He was taken up to Heaven in a whirlwind at the end of his life. But we’ve been caught up in an eight-week-long whirlwind and getting pretty banged up in the process. We’re not trying to leave our friends, supporters, and readers out of the loop — honest! It’s just that over the last eight weeks we’ve been “knocked for a loop” and we’re still trying to recover our equilibrium. Elijah was “one and done” with his whirlwind, but our whirlwind has led to a hurricane, followed by a storm!

A week before we left for Florida, I fell on our backyard deck, whacking both knees hard and bruising all the ribs on my right side during my sprawl. This was during the whirlwind of trying to get our house ready to sell and prepare for an extended stay in Florida in a supporting role.

Long story short — that fall led to a trip to the emergency room here in Florida ten days later, due to left-leg swelling that might have harbored blot clots. I received a clean bill of health — no clots. But wait… there’s more!

Hurricane Idalia barreled down on northern Florida on August 30th. But in God’s mercy, here in the Jacksonville area, Idalia was a non-event — hardly enough rain to even call it a storm (although one gust of wind blew a playhouse about 10 yards across the backyard).

The “Hurricane”

Ah, but our real “hurricane” hit on September 5, with me suffering a double stroke early that morning. I spent about 60 straight hours at the hospital (half of that in the emergency department, because all hospital beds were full). Despite the “double whammy,” I am a walking testimony to God’s mercy. I’ve been through every exotic medical test known to modern science, I think, including a CAT scan, echocardiogram, MRI (which confirmed the strokes), and even a TEE (Trans-esophageal echocardiogram, i.e., an echocardiogram from inside the esophagus).

For the first few hours after the 05:00 incident (which left me hardly able to stand initially), I lost some speech capability (mainly difficulty clearly enunciating certain words, though not in choosing them) and my handwriting went from its normal “legible scrawl” status to… well, kindergarten level (although, admittedly, kindergarteners can’t do cursive). However, both of those debilities rapidly improved over the first day. Currently, I note no deficiencies in my speech, and my signature is almost back to normal.

…But No “Storm Damage”!

Physical therapists (four, in different fields) were stunned, especially after the MRI on Day #2 confirmed the double stroke — and other than the speech challenges that I reported to them, they couldn’t perceive anything wrong. All motor skills, physical strength, cognitive and memory functions seem to be A-OK. I even walked close to 4 miles down hospital corridors (with permission), trying to get in some exercise during my extended incarceration.

Then when the discharge nurse from my ward was doing my paperwork on Thursday evening, she turned around and asked, “Why were you admitted?” I replied, “A double stroke early Tuesday morning.” Her eyes opened wider, she shook her head and said, “Yes, well, that’s what it says here; but it’s been impossible to tell that the whole day you’ve been up here with us.”

“Blessing and glory
and wisdom and thanksgiving
and honor and power and might,
be to our God forever and ever.
– Revelation 7:12 nasb

Aftermath of the “Hurricane”

Our hearts were full of thanksgiving and praise to God for His mercy and the wonder of His grace. He brought me through a double stroke with no apparent residual effects. We give Him all glory and honor! It was cause for a special time of rededicating what remains of my earthly life to Jesus.

There’s still more road to travel ahead. I’m on new meds, of course, blood thinner and blood pressure, I think — three daily pills. But I am being more careful with my spelling in prayer. Most of my Christian life I have been asking the Lord for a holy heart; I don’t think He misunderstood. Nevertheless, it turns out that I’m dealing with a hole-y heart! The TEE (see above) showed a small hole between the two atrial chambers of my heart, and the theory is that something sneaked through from the lung-bound part of the heart to the brain-bound part of the heart.

This hole is called a PFO, a Patent Foramen Ovale, present in all newborns, BUT… in about 20% of the population, it turns out that it doesn’t close the way it should after birth. The hole is a small flap-like opening between the upper heart chambers. So I need an in-heart through-vein leave-same-day out-patient treatment to fix this. We learned a little bit ago (indirectly from information a nurse anesthetist friend provided) that once the PFO is “plugged,” the chance of a stroke recurrence from the same source is negligible.

Then a Storm “Flu” In…

And then the flu “storm” hit our household. Five of six people have been sick, and Denise has had it the worst of all; she’s been more or less “off line” for the last ten days. She’s just now getting back on her feet. We had a grand time grandparenting last week while the “chemo ‘away team’” left us in charge. Denise and I traded coughs and “honkings” and nap times and food preparation, while fulfilling our supervisory duties. Being sick also postponed my first cardiologist visit by three weeks (which was the soonest they could reschedule me).

Wait. Chemo?! Yes, our primary Florida mission has been to support our daughter’s family while our son-in-law undergoes chemo sessions at a cancer center far enough away that each visit requires an overnight stay. And then there have been many local, related medical appointments as well.

Quick Prayer Points

Thanks for praying for us. (If you’ve been especially exercised in prayer for us, now you know why!) Have we been under attack? It seems so, and that’s actually encouraging in a certain way! All this has transpired since we followed the Lord’s leading towards His “new thing.” “Let God arise and His enemies be scattered!” (Psalm 68:1 ∥ Numbers 10:35) Please continue to pray that God’s leading will become clear, His “divine appointments” made and kept, and His will fully accomplished; and for:

  • God’s protection over us and our daughter’s household;
  • The logistics and timing of our house sale and move;
  • For the Lord to lead to and through the doors of ministry He has for us in Florida;
  • That the Lord would draw our son-in-law, so that he may know Him as Savior, Lord, and Healer; and that avenues of financial supply would open up for our daughter’s family.

There’s more to report — a trip to Honduras that’s coming together for next March, several writing breakthroughs on Book 2 of The John the Baptist Experience, etc.) — but not in this month’s newsletter. We’re still in catching-our-breath mode!

I hope your lives haven’t been nearly as “exciting” as ours have been lately!

Much love in Jesus,

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