Monday, November 30, 2009

Update 11/30/09

Dear friends,

Did any of you see the sky at sunset this evening? Purple, orange, yellow...stunning! I drove to Sunnyview and had to watch the road, so I only got a moment's glimpse. I'm looking to be a cheerleader for the creator of that sunset. How in the world does He do that, put beauty in the midst of this mess? I believe that's why we are all here - to show off love in the middle of misery. That's what all of you have shown me. I continue to be stunned.

Miss Hannah broke my heart this morning when she showed signs of real sadness. And at the same time I rejoiced, because it's just a little more of her coming home to me. How odd to be a parent, looking for signs of sadness in your child, and being glad and busted up at the same time when you see them. She is also beginning to feel more self conscious about her eye and teeth, especially around strangers. She didn't want to go to the store with me today for that reason. These are all good signs, signs of recovery, but painful none the less. Still, pray for more of her to emerge from the "boo boo on her brain". Tomorrow she starts outpatient therapy at Sunnyview on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I'm hoping to see Stephen while they work with her. He'll be in therapy too, so we'll have to play that one by ear.

Steve is eating! He had the Gentle Roberta's lasagna tonite and loved it, along with salad and A WHOLE CHOCOLATE MILKSHAKE from Stewarts! (For crying out loud, I'm even a drama queen in print!) He was a tiny bit discouraged because he was unable to hold himself up today, despite lots of sweat and effort. I reminded him that 22 days ago he was asking "for whom the bell tolls", and that time is his friend. Please ask the Great One to help him get strong, and to lead him down the pathway of patience. "If God is for him, who can be against him?..."

Tonite I had a visit from the fabulous Officer Ernie and the wonderful Officer Mike. They came to my house to deliver my GPS from the car and Steve's keys. I can't even begin to tell you how much I appreciate these fine men. Not only were they a part of rescuing my family, they have continued to be available to me in every way. It was a bit eerie to see Steve's keys, kind of jumbled up, a little bloody and cold from being in the car. That's the keys. Thanks be to God, the people are getting unjumbled, are no longer bloody, and are warm as toast.

David can't seem to get enough in the physical affection department these days. I am so happy to oblige him! He is being incredibly brave through all of this, and so very good, too. How I love my baby boy.

Joseph has been a song writing machine. I have listened to some of his works, which so impress me with their poetry and feeling. Many of his songs are sad. Somehow I think it's a healthy thing for him right now. He is on his guitar a lot of the time. He's pouring out his soul to the "sound hole on his knee" to borrow a line from Joni Mitchell. I know Jesus understands every minor chord he plays.

Officer Mike asked me if I would like to be involved on Saturday morning with a special DWI checkpoint in East Greenbush. The reason for the event is to make people aware of the devastation caused by drunk driving. I will be bringing a photo of our family, and talking to folks about the importance of sobriety behind the wheel. What an opportunity! Pastor Greg, I'm hoping you can make me a few simple cards on the computer with the blog address on them so we can get the word out. Perhaps we can use this as a part of the "Advent Conspiracy" - reaching people relationally, showing them the power of love, as you have shown me... -

I continue to receive mountains of love and understanding from all of you, my precious fellow travellers on this topsy-turvy adventure. You are absolutely my heroes. I am humbled every day by the way God is turning this nightmare around for good. I, by his grace, will be one of His cheerleaders til the bell tolls for me!

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Sunday, November 29, 2009

Update 11/29/09

Dear friends,

"He has set my feet in a spacious place..." Today I wheeled my husband outside to see the sun and sky. We held hands and thanked the One and Only for all He has done for us. Our dream is to stand on Coast Guard Beach in August and roar with the ocean about how awesome the Mighty One of Israel is!

I went to church this morning with the kids for the first time since the accident. I burst into tears just walking in the back, seeing the beautiful folks who, along with our family and friends, have been like a waterfall of love through this deep cavern. Pastor Dave so inspired me with his message, and the call to take part in an "Advent Conspiracy" - the kind of conspiracy that gives more, loves more, takes less. How I long to be on the giving end! With all my heart I long for that. And for the record, Pastor Dave, my husband said to me today "I love that man" (speaking of you). His heart will cheer when you are feeling well enough to visit. But for now, keep your germs in your pocket. You and Laurie are the cat's meow!!

This is a short post because Stephen is waiting for me (the nurses were putting him back in bed after four hours UPRIGHT in a wheelchair! I think I smiled for half an hour. I'm crazy about the man, and I believe he will walk again, no doubt about it. I just need patience. I'm sure you're asking for it too!

Thanks for keeping me UPRIGHT. You're the best.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Saturday, November 28, 2009

Update 11/28/09

Dear friends,

I am rewriting this entire blog because I accidentally stepped on the power button on my surge protector. Everything just doesn't go right in life. Now that is an understatement! David understood that when he was being hunted down by Saul. Joseph understood that when he was falsely accused by Potipher's wife. I have no doubt every one of you has felt the stab of life's un-rightness. I wish I could help ease your suffering the way you have helped ease mine. All I can say is thank you. That's an understatement too.

My brother commented on the blog yesterday and captured a perfect sentiment: "Beyond the missing teeth and impulsiveness, beyond the rods, pins and loss of appetite, are two hearts of gold..." You nailed it, kidlet. Stephen and Hannah are making their own way on this zig zaggy pilgrim road. We've all seen the Great One do remarkable things over the last 3 weeks (21 days tomorrow), but even the small favors are marking my days. For example, Miss Rejoice lost her cell phone at the crash site. Verizon, not being a charitable organization, was unable to replace it for the cost of an upgrade since we aren't due for one yet. I was unwilling to pay the full price for the desired phone, a ridiculous sum. My sister in law (Lori Ann Champagne, poor girl has a used name), went to Verizon today and used her own upgrade for Hannah so I paid the sale price. Way, way lower. Praise God. He cares about it all.

Speaking of cash, I am unable to adequately thank you for the money that has made it's way to my pockets. And given so incredibly cheerfully! Steve and I are common folks. I purchased some of those side snap pants for him per the physical therapists request so he can get dressed and still manage with the huge fixator on his right leg. The extra cash has helped get those kinds of things - front button shirts (although they are wanting him to put on a tee shirt too!), Hannah's replacement phone, TV and phone for Stephen at the hospital, etc... I promise you I will be a good steward with every penny you have generously sacrificed. I am praying for a multiplied blessing back to each of you for your tangible help. That goes for all of you, for the prayers, the love, the food, helping with the kids, the visits, putting gravel in the hole in my driveway, putting tires on my car, cleaning out my gutters, raking my lawn, washing my clothes, picking up my mail, picking me up off the floor at Albany Med, bringing your children to help my daughter, making out my bills, driving from Connecticut, driving from Virginia, leaving your own loved ones to help me, and on and on and on. You see why I feel so inadequate with any expression of gratitude? I hope to pay it forward, as I could never pay it back.

Stephen had a rough go of it today. I spent quite a bit of time with him this afternoon. (Thanks to the beautiful Jessica for taking care of the kids and transporting them to Sunnyview in the evening). He did eat a little more today (keep those prayers coming - I really believe he'll take a turn in his appetite), but his digestion is off. Without going into the gory details, it helped him greatly when they removed his catheter. Suffice it to say he was experiencing a great deal of discomfort and anxiety. I've seen the man sweat, but never as much as today. By the time we left, however, the nurse had him quite comfortable. He is getting some skin breakdown on his back which is a concern. Hopefully they can get him up in a wheelchair by Monday. We're moving in the right direction, it's just kind of rocky.

We heard a great saying at church on Good Friday. It said of Jesus' suffering: "It's Friday, but Sunday's comin'..." Well, I am in no way comparing this suffering to that of our precious Jesus. But I too can say, "It's Friday, but Sunday's comin'..." May be a while, but He'll take us there.

You are the absolute best people on the planet.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,

Today I thought a lot about the men and women who rescued Stephen and Hannah almost 21 days ago. To the policemen, the firemen, the EMT's, paramedics, helicopter medics and pilot, helpful bystanders, and that Army medic who I know was sent by God, I LOVE YOU! This blog would look quite different if it hadn't been for you. There were hundreds praying for you as you pulled my train wreck of a husband and my battered daughter out of that smashed car. (Even my friend John Cole of Cole Collision couldn't fix that bad boy). Someday we'll all have a party. Lemonade only please.

Friday, November 27, 2009

Update 11/27/09

Dear friends,

So much is going on, I just about lost my footing today. Stephen moved to the aptly named Sunnyview, where tomorrow he will begin to receive a variety of therapies to help him recover from what can only be called a veritable disaster. I still look to Psalm 18: "They (my enemies, spiritual!) confronted me in the day of my disaster, but the Lord was my support." How far we have come from November 8! Thanks for staying with me on this rocky pilgrim road, because there are miles to go before we sleep.

Stephen has lost over 25 pounds. We really need to pray hard for him to be able to eat. He has no appetite, and lots of broken bones requiring calcium and protien, not to mention his great need for energy for the task ahead. He is really barely eating anything, and I am quite concerned. His mental status is also a bit off. There is no brain injury according to the scans, but he is confused at times and his tests showed some things that need attention. He was placed on the brain injury unit (where Hannah was) at Sunnyview to address these issues, which are fairly minor, but he will also be spending lots of time with the orthopedic folks. He definately has a concussion, which is completely understandable given the nature of the accident, and may explain his slight offness (is that even a word?). Also, here's a man who never even took a drink in his life, and he's on some pretty powerful pain medicine. That may explain some of what's going on. I'm going to make him some pasta (his favorite food!) and see if he won't have some. The ortho people believe it's critical he starts to eat. So I'm asking once again for your specific prayers for that need.

Hannah continues to do well at home. She is more impulsive than she was before the accident, and I can see the areas where she will need help. But praise God for a living, breathing young woman who can relate to people! I will need help in the next month with people willing to sit with her for a few hours while I visit Sunnyview. I'll work that out with Terri at the church office, but I thank you already because I know from experience you will be there for me. I'm also at a loss about Christmas shopping. Stephen and I missed our November 14 shopping day. Tough to walk the mall when you're intubated. I feel like Scarlet O'Hara: "I can't think about that today, I'll think about that tomorrow..."

I'm scared, I'm tired and I'm muddled, but I'm not alone. He Who Lives Forever is with me, and so are you. Apparently there's a new "normal". I'll have to get used to that for now.

I think I'll try to write some during the day in the future, as the nights are very full now that we're home. I can't remember details at night.

Please keep commenting! You fill my lungs with air.

Your friend on the bumpy pilgrim road,


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day, 11/26/09

Dear friends,

Well, it's a Thanksgiving full of thanks. In my previous blog I expressed why I am so grateful, so I won't repeat myself. But I must say the little things mean so much. I folded a load of laundry today and enjoyed it. I ate a piece of Katie's apple pie and my mouth watered. I watched the cousins shoot baskets in the front yard, and my heart was happy. My brother did the dishes. That was really a kick.

I held Stephen's hand and watched some of the floats in the parade while my three children chattered quietly in the crowded space of a hospital room. Sheer joy for all of us to be together! When I think that 18 days ago I was lying on the floor of the ER wondering if my husband would be alive for the next 5 minutes, I am full of wonder. Dog tired, but full of wonder none the less.

Tomorrow morning at 10am we leave Albany Medical Center behind for the first time in 19 days. Thank you to the amazing, gifted and tenacious medical people who worked so hard to keep my husband and daughter alive. And to my dear friends in Bed Access, especially Trish Regan, who covered a stunning amount of ground in two and a half weeks to make my life bearable. When the Great One put it on her heart to become a nurse, He so knew exactly what material to use. Trish, my affection and gratitude knows no limits. I'm asking all of you to pray for her husband Tom, who has an aggressive form of prostate cancer. She's seen what Jesus can do, and He loves her so much!

So here we go into a new phase. Sunnyview again, but not the traumatic brain injury unit (one trip there is enough for a lifetime). This time we will go to the orthopedic section to begin rehab on Steve's left side only. As I said before, I have no idea how they will do this. I am back to one-day-at-a-time (did I ever leave it?), and now the long haul really begins for both Stephen and Hannah. Stick with me friends, I'll never go the distance without you.

Short post tonight, but no less heartfelt. I hope to soon begin responding to your comments. They breathe encouragement into my soul.

Your grateful friend on the pilgrim road,

Hannah with her cousins from Virginia, and with Mom. Look at that fabulous grin!

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Update 11/23/09

My dear friends,

It won't be a traditional Thanksgiving, but it will be full of true thanks.

Thank you Amazing God first of all for my great salvation. I never deserved it, but you loved me anyway, and continue to love me, recklessly, relentlessly. Thank you for the spared lives of Stephen and Hannah. You put out your mighty hand before the enemy of my soul and said "this far, and no farther". Though I don't understand it all, I know somehow the mix of free will and Your will work together for good for us. I am overwhelmed with gratitude for Your people, the church, acting like the church, being weaved into this whole tapestry, which we see the back side of but you see the front. Thank you for keeping my feet on the pilgrim road. I would never be able to keep them there myself. All my wanderings have been foolhardy, but You have been gracious. "And should I stumble again, I'm caught in your grace..." I have more gratitude than I can express. As it was for the pilgrims, suffering has brought thanksgiving.

Hannah is HOME! She is in a phase of TBI (traumatic brain injury) where she is hyper and has trouble coming down. She talks a lot. Keep praying God will restore her to her full and complete precious self. He will, he will. The dear little thing had 2 teeth pulled today by the Gentle Dr. Taranto. Next week she will get a mold done for some kind of temporary teeth and a plan will be made for something more permanent. She will have many doctor appointments and will start outpatient therapy at Sunnyview 2 days a week. All the experts want to ease her back into "real life", whatever that is. She is raring to go, but we have to tread lightly. Brain injured people can get overwhelmed. She needs time. I will be asking friends to come and see her often here at home for a little while since she probably won't reenter school until after the Christmas break. She will have a tutor in addition to the therapies, and soon will attend Gen Church again. My heart is broken that she has to miss so much school. But this I can do, this I can do.

Believe it or not, Stephen is slated to go to Sunnyview, possibly as early as Friday (the day after tomorrow). He can weight bear on his left leg now since Dr. Bagchi shored him up with a great deal of titanium. His left arm is about the only thing standing on that broken frame. How in the world they can work with a left arm and a left leg is beyond me. I'm so glad there are smart people in the world. His eye is still drooping a bit, and he still has some double vision. I suspect it is pain killer related, but I never attended medical school. In fact, the medical school students at NYU thought the film school students were a big joke. But that's another story...

I'm off to the couch to watch Ratatouille with my babies. I'll never make it all the way through, so I've got to do the Steve chores first. Ouch, that makes me so sad. I'm a blessed woman to have him as my own. Joseph will do the trash for me, David has already set up the video for his sister, and we are a family with a missing piece, but a family none the less.

Thank you to all of you who are providing a Thanksgiving meal for our family. And to those folks who have donated money to help us, how can I ever thank you? I praise God for your sacrifice to help us. May he pay it back to you a thousand times over.

I love you all dearly, I mean it, and rejoice to be so honored to have you as travelers on the Mayflower with me. The quarters are cramped right now, but oh the land that awaits us....

Happy Thanksgiving on the pilgrim road,


11/25/09 Update

(from DFGC)
Hannah is going home today and the Smith family will now be needing some meals. So many of you have contacted us wanting to serve the Smiths in some way. Here is your opportunity.

If you are willing to make a meal, please click on the "Smith Family Needs -- Meals & Needs Calendar" on the right side of this blog. It will show you what meals are needed and when. Then, please contact Judy Almy at (518) 463-6581 any day between 9 AM and 8 PM. (Please leave a message if there is no answer and she will get back to you.) Judy will coordinate dates with you, and then she will add your name to the "Meals & Needs Calendar" so that everyone can stay up to date.

May God bless all of you for your availability to meet this precious family's needs.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Surgery Update 11/24/09

Dear friends,

Well, Dr. Bagchi (Bob the Builder) does it again.  After messing with my husband's bones for
 6 1/2 hours, he calls me sounding fresh as a daisy.  He sounded positively delighted, like a kid who just put together some complicated lego set.  Here's the low down:

4 pins, 3 screws (or maybe it was the other way around) to put together the metatarsals.

Rejointed at the midpoint the heel and front of the foot.

Put a rod in the left tibia, which by the way had a beautiful, clean skin graft.  Normally this "only" takes an hour and a half, but because of the skin graft Dr. B had to be very careful.

This is Stephen's last major surgery.  Down the road things may be tweeked, but that's way down the road.  In the meantime, if no issues arise, (like infection - I've grown to hate that word), it will take the Right Leg 3 months to heal.  It will take the right arm 6 weeks-2 months to heal.  The left leg can be weight bearing now.  Of course the left arm was the only unbroken appendage on his body.

These are long healing times.  You see why we will need you for the marathon not the sprint.

Not sure yet how all this will play out.  Of course I'll keep you posted.  

Your friend on the long pilgrim road,


I can't wait till I can start responding to the comments.  I read every one, just no juice to answer yet.  But I will...

Update 11/24/09

Dear friends,

I promised you I would be honest and not hide my struggles on this uphill climb.  I thank the Mighty One for keeping me vertical, for knowing the way I take, and for His mercy to me as I stumble and groan, rejoice and sing.

I was pierced with fear today, and it cut deeply.  Hannah has made tremendous progress, and my gratitude is profound.  There are still things within her yet to emerge, and today I was confronted with the idea from a sweet and wonderful professional that "some people never come all the way back".  I can run with any emotion, and still, by His amazing grace, trust God.  But fear is my mortal enemy.  Fear takes me to the edge of the abyss and threatens to destroy me.  I can't let it get its hooks in me or I'm a dead man.  I was there today.  But it lifted.  And you are the reason why.  

He hears your prayers.  His word is true that says "God is our refuge and strength, a very present help in time of trouble.  Therefore, I will not FEAR, though the earth give way, and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea..."  I have always loved what C.S. Lewis said: "Sometimes you have to tell your feelings where to get off".  The truth is, God is doing and will do amazing things.  It is well with my soul.  

Hannah comes home tomorrow.  How about a Hallelujah?  My joy at being with my girl and my boys at home is only matched by my sorrow that Stephen won't be there.  There it is again, joy and sorrow sleeping (ah, sleep) in the same bed.  Who will turn on my electric blanket an hour ahead of time so it's toasty when I go to bed?  Who will check all the locks and make sure Cosette is inside for the night?  Who will set up my coffee for the morning?  Oh my best friend, how I miss you.  You make everything around you sunny.  I hope you feel the love.

Hannah will visit the dentist tomorrow to get her lose tooth out and to see how we will fix the adorable toothless grin on that beautiful face.  Stephen will be recovering from today's surgery, which is this subject of a second blog this evening.  

My fabulous friend Sharon from the attorney's office took care of all my insurance/no fault papers for me today, and set it up at the pharmacy so I won't have any copays.  My wise and wonderful husband purchased extra insurance through our carrier which will make this possible.  Thank you Jesus.  Those copays can really add up.  Hannah has quite a few meds to come home with, so this is a big help.

Now I know this post is a bit disjointed (as was my husband's foot), but I'm working off of 3 hours of sleep, so forgive me.  I thought for a minute about passing on the blog tonite but... NAH!  Love you too much.  Need you too much.  

The Gracious Judy will help us move out of Sunnyview tomorrow.  Of course Miss Hannah will be back as an outpatient, but we'll be home.  Some wonderful friends are putting together a Thanksgiving meal for us so I won't have to cook on Thursday.  Of course I will be making my world renowned chocolate chip scones for breakfast, lest I be stoned by my offspring.  I can't wait to get up on Thanksgiving morning, put those scones in the oven, and snuggle on the couch with my kids to watch the parade.  It could never be complete without Stephen, who we will all visit later in the day.  Still, it's a beautiful beginning, given the past 16 days.  I'm so sorry we won't have our usual house full of bustling, wonderful people.  But there's no doubt we will next year.  Keep hold of your invitations, that one ought to be some party.

Check the other update for today for the details on Stephen's surgery.  This weekend his family is in town so he'll have plenty of visitors. (No one will be there Thursday morning if anyone would like to go and just sit next to him).  Please gage his need for sleep.  He's been awfully tired lately.  When he's feeling better he'll need lots of visitors.  Right now he needs quiet rest.

So I melted down today, but it's okay.  God's people helped me up.  So much more to tell but I've got just enough energy for the surgery blog.  You've got to know you are the best friends money could never buy.  I love you with all my broken heart.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Monday, November 23, 2009

Update 11/23/09

Dear friends, 

I continue to be absolutely astonished by The Great and Mighty One.  How strange it is that sorrow and joy can be twin sisters of different mothers (ok, now I do sound tired!)  Truly though, I am holding both of their hands and finding my way through this shadowy place.  "He has prepared a table before me in the presence of my enemies.  He has anointed my head with oil.  My cup runneth over.  Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life...."  

The docs, therapists and nurses at Sunnyview are all saying WOW.  Hannah Mary Rejoice is herself, I mean really HERSELF.  She had many friends with her today, chattering away and making plans for a future she will now have.  One of her high school buds came and she showed him the fish she named after him in the fish tank.  She will have a challenging road ahead, but with friends like you to travel with her she'll surely take her ground, mile by mile.  The social worker is trying to get things in place to make possible a prompt discharge.  Can you even stand it?  Fifteen days ago she was unconscious with a subdural bleed in her frontal lobe.  Today she was laughing about the jello she spilled on MY sneakers...  Oh, and Dr. Taranto, if you're reading this, she would like her new teeth to be perfectly straight....

Though the ortho docs never connected with me today, Dr. Bagchi told Stephen the graft looked good (PRAISE GOD!) and he will be in surgery tomorrow at 9am.  The plan is for a five 1/2 hour surgery, but who knows?  Last time he went 9 hours (I was wrong about 7), and Stephen tolerated the anesthesia very well.  Steve didn't feel too well today.  He has no appetite (probably the oxy for pain), and he was very tired.  We have an added complication of some double vision, which neurology is looking at.  He has no head injury, but probably got one bad boy concussion.  Who knows?  Let's just pray for him and once again ask the Giver of all skill to make these incredibly intelligent medical people even smarter than they are.  I wish I could take away all Stephen's misery, but I can't.  It's a crummy feeling, and a helpless one.  I'm so very grateful he's alive, but it makes me so sad to see my sweetie who loved to stride during lunch at the Corning Preserve stuck with external fixators and a sick belly.  Even in this, "he will stand, for God is able to make him stand."

The fabulous Mary Louise is at this moment staying with my baby girl so I can once again sit on the Walker's couch and give you a glimpse of my life -  the good, the bad and the ugly. Thanks for reading my night time scribbles.  That you care so much humbles me.  I wish I could have a cup of coffee with each one of you, one on one, and hear all about YOUR joys and sorrows.  I would gladly share them as you have shared mine.  For now, we love one another across the cyber miles.  

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


PS: The comments are pure gold.  Thank you.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Update 11/22/09

Dear friends,

You could read Psalm 18 for a hundred years and never plumb the depths of it:

16 He reached down from on high and took hold of me; 
       he drew me out of deep waters.

 17 He rescued me from my powerful enemy, 
       from my foes, who were too strong for me.

 18 They confronted me in the day of my disaster, 
       but the LORD was my support.

 19 He brought me out into a spacious place; 
       he rescued me because he delighted in me.

I stand in awe of the greatness of God.  Two weeks ago tonite I might have buried my beloved husband and daughter.  No exaggeration, no hype.  Check out the photos of the crash.  (I'd attach a link if I knew how!)

Instead, today I watched my daughter chitter chatter like a beautiful, toothless teenager with her girlfriends and drink her vanilla bean frappuccino (she wants one every day), and talk to her daddy via computer.  My DFG friends know the song "Grace Like Rain".  Well, it's pouring.  I'd say I'm speechless but you would all know that's impossible.

Stephen is continuing to do so well!  He misses his family, and my time with him is limited.  If I could I would spend every minute with that flesh of my flesh.  I have never loved him more, and never been more separated from him.  He, of course, wants me to be with baby girl.  It's a tearing, but it's not forever.  At the rate she's going she'll be home in no time.  By the way, she's looking for visitors now - and misses her classmates like crazy.  She loved all the cards from the kids at Columbia and her wonderful Gen Church friends. Keep praying for her - remember, double for her trouble.  She's still always thinking of others and is just so precious and sweet.  Hannah is most definitely IN THE BUILDING. Will somebody just give God some praise!

No surgery for Stephen tomorrow.  Apparently my addled brain mixed things up.  However, a big prayer request for Monday : Dr. Bagchi, (aka Bob the Builder), will remove the dressing from Steve's left tibia and see if the skin graft took.  If it did, we're off to the OR on Tuesday.  If not, time to regroup.  So time to take this next hill, my awesome friends, and ask for a nice clean skin graft when those bandages come off.  I in no way want to be cocky, in fact I'm humbled to the floor by all Jesus has done for us thus far.  But I know He says to "ask and keep on asking".  Let's do that, again.

Please remember to love my boys.  They have been so beautifully cared for by Jackie and Steve and Mike and Lisa, and other fine folk who have come to our aid.  Still, there's no place like home and they need their momma.  If you're reading this dearest Joseph and David, it won't be long my darlings!  I love you with every fiber of my being.  We shall overcome!

As for all of you, how can I ever express my gratitude?  It has no limits.  Each one of you will receive your reward for all the invisible acts of love, kindness and tenacious effort for my family.  You are here for "such a time as this".  I can never repay you, and if I could, the world wouldn't be enough.  

As an aside, please pray for my dear friends Mike and Lisa Carey.  I love them more than words can say.  Mine were saved, but their son went home to be with Jesus several years ago.  They are heroes of the faith.  They still walk with God through the pain of loss.  What a wonder He is to carry us through.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Saturday, November 21, 2009

Update 11/21/09

Dear friends,

"If God is for us, who can be against us?" 

 Hannah was watching High School Musical today with her cousins and brothers, grandma and aunt, when she remarked "No one talks like that, that's so awkward!"  And that comment is so Hannah.  We have a long way to go, but today I am so encouraged by my daughter's smile, her wit and even a bit of sarcasm.  She used the term "epic fail", which assures me she still has a teenage brain.  Tomorrow (Sunday) we are 2 weeks out from the accident, and not only are my darling ones alive, they are improving.  Hannah got on facebook for just a few minutes today, but WOW.  She relished looking at many of the cards from her friends at Columbia High School, and she is trying so hard to remember some of life's details.  Please pray hard for her concerning some of the restlessness and anxiety she is experiencing.  These are all natural results of brain trauma, but so far the Great One has given us supernatural answers to our prayers.  You guys have been to war for me.  I love you more than I can say.

Tomorrow, Pastor Greg and Peter the Great will attempt to link Stephen and Hannah by computer.  Being technologically challenged, I only know this involves something called skype (sounds like a rap singer), and I want this to work for both their sakes.  They miss one another desperately, and right now the in-person thing is impossible.  What a day it will be when we are all together again!  Angels will be hootin' and hollerin' about the goodness of God.

Stephen is doing so well.  He's having some trouble digesting his food, so he's not eating too much.  We are truly thankful for the dear folks at Albany Med who prepare his meals, but institutional food just isn't the same as home cooking.  Yogurt seems to be going ok so we'll take it a day at a time.  

I saw the stitches on his arm today.  You fellas will be truly impressed.  What a He-man!  The nurses on the unit love Steve, and who wouldn't.   He is so very grateful to be alive, and looking forward to moving ahead.  Monday is a big surgery day for him.  You're all getting so strong flexing those prayer muscles, so work out hard on Monday.  And for every minute you exert yourself for Steve's sake, I will pray a blessing back on you times 10!

Joseph and David hung with their cousins from Virginia today.  God bless my brother-in-law Richard and his wife for traveling so far and caring for my boys so beautifully.  Grandma, who is almost 80, made the trip too with Aunt Debbie, and I can't describe her complete joy at seeing Stephen up and aware.  A mother's heart is a mother's heart at any age.

Amy and Kim sat with Hannah and I tonite till my baby girl fell asleep in my arms.  We watched "An Affair to Remember" with the original tall, dark and handsome Cary Grant, and at Hannah's request we "kept talking".  Somehow the ordinariness of conversation brings her peace.  

I'm finding my way with the light I have, and it is enough.  I want it to be next year, or 2 weeks and 1 day ago, but I'm here and it's now.  We're sharing the trenches - we will also share the victory.  You all are the best comrades in the world.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


PS - love your comments.  When I'm a little more sane I will try to respond to them.  Thanks for your grace - I'm just so darn tired....

Friday, November 20, 2009

Update 11/20/09

Dear friends,

I keep hearing this: "It's a marathon, not a sprint".  I always wanted to run a marathon.  26 miles looks like nothing about now.  "Let us run with endurance the race marked out before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith..."  I'll keep running because God is able to help me put one foot in front of the other.  You are all the ones cheering me on, passing me the water cup, reminding me of the absolute awesome power of God.  What a company - I am in awe of it all.

On the Hannah front, today was a better day.  What a sweet child she is!  She talked to Laurie on the phone and told her she was sorry Laurie had the swine flu!  She's always thinking of others.  It is not possible for me to comprehend that God will not bring her all the way back.  I'm depending on all of you to take up the shield of faith for her.  I'm not going to read anything about brain injuries on the internet.  Not because I have buried my head in the sand, but because I am not dealing with an ordinary girl or some pagan God.  We're talking Hannah Mary Rejoice (that really is her full name) and Jesus Christ.  I want her to not only recover, but get double for her trouble.  Like Job, who received more from God after his suffering.  Like Joseph, who went from pit to prison to palace.  Remember what Joseph said?  "You meant it for evil, but God meant it for good, for the saving of many..."  There was no pacing the floor tonite, just snuggling with a movie with momma and talking with her "big girl" girlfriends.  Pray for Hannah to be able to experience the full range of human emotion.  She smiled tonite!  And her incredible wit made a couple of appearances.  It's a marathon, not a sprint, but mile markers are encouraging.

As for Stephen, he is improving beautifully.  His family is up from Virginia til Sunday afternoon and have visited with him frequently.  I took David up to see him this morning.  It was very emotional for my little guy.  Dad's are invincible to kids, and it's hard to see him stuck in bed.  We reassured David as best as we could that Daddy would be fine, we just need patience.  Please pray for my dear baby boy to have strength and courage through this.  It's a big load for a 12 year old. Steve will most likely go back for more surgery early next week.  After that it's 8 weeks of bone healing before he can begin weight bearing rehab.  That means probably 2 months in a nursing home before Sunnyview.  Now once this guy can begin working toward recovery there will be no stopping him.  But sitting for 2 months could be worse for him than standing on hot coals watching the Yankees win the world series.  So how about we plan to pray for him through all that, and play chess with him, and cards, and access a computer for him and DVD's and any other cerebral exercises we can imagine?  (Does anyone know about some newfangled electronic book thing so he doesn't have to turn pages?) He' s going to need lots of visitors then, and lots of encouragement.  I promise he will keep you amused with his terrific sense of humor.  I only wish I could be with him every minute.  

You can't even grip the blessing of your comments.  Thank you for your kind words.  Something good has to come out of this mess.  Your love is one of those good things.  I'm amazed to be honored to walk with the likes of all of you.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Thank you 11/19

BTW, have I said thank you today?  For everything - your love, your prayers, your food, your hearts.  I'm so incredibly humbled by your help.

The comments you write to me on the blog are so encouraging!  Thanks for that too.

I forgot to add this little bit to tonite's blog, so you get take 2 as they say in Hollywood.  Hollywood.  Wow, I forgot about movies, tv, radio, media.... I guess I'm not missing much.  Still, to sit on the couch watching "Arsenic and Old Lace"... 

Getting loopy on the pilgrim road,


update 11/19

Dear friends,

How I wish this roller coaster ride were the fun kind.  

I started my day with a good night's sleep behind me, and met my little princess at Sunnyview at 7:15am.  She is going through a stage in brain injury that is marked by restlessness and agitation.  We must have walked 40 miles of hallway with her today.  She desperately wants to go home, and even tried to open the fire escape door.  I know the good people of Sunnyview will do all they can for her, but I need God to do this thing.  I called Laurie tonite to express my sorrow (I am so in need I ask for help shamelessly), and she prayed and shared my suffering as I know all of you are.  

I'm asking you with every fiber of my being to take a minute to ask God to fully restore my Hannah.  Please don't let up now in your prayers.  

When Hannah went into therapy today I drove to Albany Med to see Steve.  He was sitting up as much as he can, and I fed him a little food which kind of upset his stomach.  He is on morphine now, which explains why he told me he would try to come home tonite after a little while.  I explained to him the road ahead will be long, but he will get home.  I so wish he could be with me through all of this.  He is the joy of my heart, and I miss him so.

I saw my David today for a little while.  Lisa let him stay home from school today.  He was so in need of a break.  It's too much stress for a little boy, not seeing mom and dad, not being in his own home.  Please pray for this to change soon!  Please.  If all goes well I plan to take David to see his dad tomorrow.

Blessed be His name, on the road marked with suffering, though there's pain in the offering, blessed be His name...

Laurie said to me "If this mountain won't be moved, we're going over it."  I know you are going over it with me.  It may be a long trek.  Please hang in.  I'll never make it alone.

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Update 11/18

"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it..."  Today is a dark day for me.  I had to leave my baby girl at Sunnyview overnite after spending the last 10 days sleeping in her room.  I simply could not go on physically.  The exaustion has almost overwhelmed me, and I was mercifully scooped into Dale and Kim Walker's van and brought to their home to sleep.  It is an agony to leave Hannah, but my body is completely spent.  Please pray for peace for my soul in this awful choice.  My heart is broken for my boys, who are being wonderfully cared for by my dear friends, but not near me.  I long for the day we will all be together again.

If I were not sad and tired I would probably be able to see more of the good things happening.  Stephen was being transferred out of SICU to a surgical step down unit (E401).  He is extubated and talking.  He cracked a joke with the nurse today according to his brother John.  All of a sudden he lifted his oxygen mask and asked her "How do you cook a crocodile?  In a crock pot!"  Now his jokes are usually much better than that.  That's the Fentanyl talking.  Still, a joke is a joke, and that's Steve all the way!

Hannah made it down the elevator and into the ambulance to Sunnyview today without a meltdown despite her major problem with claustrophobia.  She is very restless or very sleepy most of the time.  Please pray she would stop picking her scabs and would pass quickly through this stage of emergence. I confess my fear of the unknown in her case, and ask for you to pray for faith for me to believe for her total restoration.  

David came to see Hannah today.  He was upset to see his sister banged up, but I know his precious heart is so tender and God will turn his sorrow into perserverance and character.  Joseph stayed home from school today just to get some sleep in his own bed.  Please pray for my beloved sons, who are bravely dealing with all of this.  

Corrie Ten Boom's father told her once "You don't get the ticket until you get on the train."  I feel the truth of that as I go through each minute, getting just enough strength to go to the next minute.  Soon I will sleep, under Derek Walker's dinosaur sheets with my sneakers next to his size 17 shoes.  He is away on a school trip, and I will grab enough energy to go through tomorrow.  

I love you all so very much.  I know you share my sorrow.  I'll never give up on God, because HE won't let me, and neither will you.

Your friend on the steep pilgrim highway,


Tuesday, November 17, 2009

Surgery Update Nov. 17

Dear friends,

Here's a condensed report on Stephen's surgery:

Dr. Bagchi expected to work on Steve for 6 hours if he could tolerate being under that long. He wound up doing 7 hours. I may mash my medical terms or leave something out but here's a list of what was done.

1- He reapproximated Steve's elbow, making it a little better and closing the wound. He was happy with the way it turned out.
2- The left tibia, (that's the one we've been watching so closely for infection) looked "clean", so Dr. Bagchi put on a skin graft. Now we watch to see if it takes. If it does, next week he will put a rod in on that side.
3- The right femur was, and I quote, "shattered in a million pieces". Dr. Bagchi said it came together "perfectly". How wild is that?
4- The right tibia was fixated with 2 large screws. He converted external fixator to internal, and put together the joint from the top and bottom.

If all goes well (no infection, continued progress and healing), Dr. Bagchi is talking about putting that left tibia rod in next week and possibly beginning work on the right foot.

Praise God for His greatness! He is bringing us through calamity day by day. Someday, when this is all over, we're going on a big trip where I can sleep for a week. That is, if Steve can get on an airplane with all the beeps from the metal detectors...

I love you all!

Your friend on the pilgrim road,


Update 11/17

My dear friends,

Praise be to the One and Only God, He who parted the Red Sea and is good, merciful and kind. I am writing from Hannah's room. She is sleepy today, partly because she had surgery on her orbital bone yesterday and the anesthesia takes time to get out of the system. Also, recovery from a brain injury is tiring. Tomorrow (Wednesday), she will be transferred to Sunnyview as a patient in their brain injury recovery program. Your prayers have been strong toward heaven, and He has delivered us from death and will continue to deliver us from calamity. Please don't let up! We have a long way to go but in the end many will see and know the power and especially the love of Jesus Christ our Lord. Please pray for Hannah to have a thorough recovery and to be able to return to school to resume her studies. It seems like such a long range goal, but I've seen the power of prayer, and I'm walking this highway with the best people on the planet.

Stephen is in surgery. Dr. Bagchi is a wonderful surgeon and a kind and humble man. He will be attempting to repair Stephen's shattered femur and possibly the tibia on his right leg today. He will also try to clean up a small area on the left tibia and possibly do a skin graft. If Steve can tolerate it, he will work on closing the wound on his elbow which was operated on last week. Yesterday I had one of the best moments in my life in the worst week of my life when my best fri.end opened his eyes and talked to me. I had missed him so! And I was filled with hope to see him smile. He doesn't remember the accident. When I told him he was in a car crash he said "I'm sorry". I immediately told him it wasn't his fault, and showed him pictures of his kids. He looked relieved and happy. He's a bit loopy (fentanyl at the levels he's getting will do that), but he's the most beautiful thing I've ever seen despite his broken body.

My heart is filled with gratitude to all of you. Your love has carried me through. If I named you all by name, I suppose the list would go from here to Texas. I have seen God with skin on for the last 10 days, and I will never be the same. There's much more to tell, but I'm bone tired, and I'll be sure to write again soon.

As always, your friend on the pilgrim road,


Monday, November 16, 2009

11/16 Update

Hannah will be going for surgery to repair her broken orbital bone today. As she progresses, she will be transferred to Sunnyview for rehab. Please pray that Hannah's surgery is a complete success and that she continues to heal and recover quickly.

Please pray for Stephen's doctor to be "smarter than he is", as Loriann puts it, and that God will give him great wisdom as he carefully plans Stephen's next surgery.

Sunday, November 15, 2009

11/14 Update

As you know, Stephen had surgery on one of his legs and his elbow. He will be having surgery again on his other leg on Monday. Although there is no sign of infection, the doctors are most concerned with that possibility. That would be very detrimental to Stephen. We've been told that the previous fever was caused by pain and stress, not infection. Also, please pray about the severe pain Stephen is experiencing. Though unconscious, he has been expressing this pain through a drop in his vital signs each time they have to move him.

Hannah has become more coherent and has been able to answer questions the doctors have been asking her. She will be having surgery to repair the broken orbital bone above her eye on Monday. Please continue to pray for a complete healing of her brain!

Lastly, Loriann wants to sincerely express her gratitude beyond measure for everyone's support! She has been feeling the prayers of the saints!

Friday, November 13, 2009

11/13 Update

Steve did well during surgery. They only worked on one of his legs and his arm.
Please continue to pray for no infection. This is the most critical thing right now. Also pray against severe pain. This surgery was just step one and there will be many more to come. Keep praying.
Loriann really wants to express her gratitude for everyone's prayers and love.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

11/12 Update

Please continue in prayer for the Smiths. Though his temp is still elevated it is controlled, so Stephen will be going into surgery at 12:50 PM today. Three teams of doctors will be repairing the damage to both legs and his arm. Please pray for skill for the doctors as they work, healing for Stephen, peace for the family and the strength and comfort that only the Holy Spirit can give.

Don't forget, tonight is THOP (Thursday Hour of Prayer), 7-8 PM. Pastor Dave and Laurie have asked that as many as can, come out tonight for corporate prayer for the Smiths.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

11/11 Update

So many people have asked us how they can help the Smiths. We are still working with Loriann to figure out exactly where she needs your help and how to make it happen without becoming more of a burden on her in the process. So, we are asking for your patience as we walk through this.

The first thing we need to ask is a direct request from the staff at Albany Med, Steve's doctors and the Smith family. Due to the high risk of infection for both Steve and Hannah, they are asking that there be no more visitors until further notice. Of course those who have volunteered to be with Loriann over the next couple of days will be allowed to be with her. However, that doesn't necessarily mean that you will be in the room with her as she makes her rounds between Steve and Hannah. She really needs people to be there for her and do whatever she asks of you. If she wants to be alone with Steve then we ask that you be extremely sensitive. If people from other churches come to visit and they have not been informed of the restricted visitation request, it would be great if you could act as a gate keeper to prevent any risk of infection. If anyone has even a slight cold, we would ask that you notify the office and we will try to find a replacement for you. Right now it's so important to honor this critical request and we know that everyone understands.

We are presently working on some plans for a work day at the Smith house to rake leaves, clean gutters and get the house ready for winter. Mark Almy will be the set man in charge of this project. His numbers are: 463-6581 (h) and 376-4521 (c). If you can help please contact Mark.

I know several have asked about their finances and once again we are working on it. There are many things to consider and we won't have all the answers for some time, but their immediate needs are being taken care of. We will keep you posted as to there needs as they arise, but for now they are fine.

In Christ Alone,
Pastor Dave and Laurie and for the Smith family

11/11 Update

Let me begin by sharing a verse that the Lord gave my wife the other night.

2 Corinthians 1:8-11 (NKJV)
8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. 9 Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, .
that we should not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead, 10 who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us. 11 you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many.

On Sunday night it appeared that a death sentence had been given to our precious brother in the Lord, Stephen and his daughter Hannah. But thanks be to God who is able to grant a full pardon from any death sentence. Laurie and I are astonished at what God can do when the Body comes together in unity. Your love for the Smiths is amazing, but we know that comes out of your passionate love for God. May we continue to trust in God and not in ourselves to accomplish all that He has for the Smiths and this body. And may we pray together, as one Body, believing God for the miraculous healing of Stephen and Hannah. We trust that He is still able to deliver.

We give praise to God for this wonderful church and the great things He has done... is going... and will continue to do. We thank God for the many people who have helped and believe that God has given back to us the gifts of Stephen and Hannah.

Also, allow me to thank you for all your concern for the Smiths. We are aware that many want to help and we are still formulating the best way to help the Smiths and keep things as organized as possible. Therefore, we're asking that everything continue to go through the church office so we have a central headquarters for all information. In the days ahead, we know that the Smiths will need lots of help and there will be ample opportunities for everyone to help lift this burden.

On behalf of Loriann and Steve and his extended family, they wanted to express their appreciation for your outpouring of love, prayers and concern.

On behalf of Laurie and myself, we are so incredibly proud of this church. You are a shining example to many and we are proud to call you our family.

In Christ Alone,
Pastor Dave and Laurie

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

11/10 Update

Stephen Smith's temperature has gone up to 102. This means that there is an infection somewhere in his body. Please pray against this infection and for God to heal, wisdom for the doctors to find where it is and the skill to treat it effectively.

11/10 Update

Because our pastors will be at Gen Con this week with Gen Church there is a need for willing folks to spend some time with Stephen and with Hannah to relieve Loriann. We are trying to develop a schedule to meet this need.
If you are college age or above, and able to give a 3 hour block of time between 9AM and 5PM, any day this week, please respond to this e-mail and I will put a schedule together and e-mail it back to you. They do not need meals right now, but do need your presence.
Thanks so much for responding quickly.

11/10 Update

Here are some specific requests for Stephen and Hannah Smith.
1. For Steve, please pray against infection and blood clots and that his organs will all continue to function properly.
2. For Hannah - Loriann would love to fill her room with cards, pictures, notes, etc. We want to make her room as encouraging and colorful as possible as she becomes more and more alert!
The Whitbeck/Baum cell group is coordinating meals for the Smith family. If anyone desires to participate, please call Barrie at 225-7743.
Continue in prayer. God has been so faithful.

Monday, November 9, 2009

11/9 Update

Thank you for your persistent prayer.  Stephen Smith is out of surgery
and the prognosis for his recovery is good. The doctor feels that the
surgery was a success but he is still in critical condition and they
will be monitoring him closely for the next couple of days.

Hannah, as reported before, though still in serious condition, is resting.

Please continue to hold the family up in prayer. We want them to feel
the comfort and peace of the Holy Spirit as we support them with

11/9 Update

Stephen was not able to have surgery last night and is still in
critical condition. The doctors are trying to stabilize him before he
has surgery.

Hannah is stable but they are still monitoring her condition.

Please continue to pray. "Our God is a God who saves!!!"

11/8 Update

This evening (Sunday, 11/8/09) Stephen and Hannah Smith were in a serious head on
collision caused by a drunk driver. Both are in critical condition.
Stephen is in now in surgery for repairs on two broken legs. He also
has a broken arm and has needed a blood transfusion.

Hannah has a serious head injury and many facial cuts and contusions.
They will be doing a cat scan of her head shortly to determine the
next course of action.

Please pray for wisdom for the doctors, a miraculous touch for Stephen
and Hannah, and peace for Loriann, Joseph and David. God can do more
than we can think or imagine.