Monday, May 30, 2005

Rebecca's Journey - 64

Dear Friends,

Thank you for your prayers for Rebecca this week. We are delighted that she is now home, and we want to update you on the outcome of her time in the hospital. As you knew, the surprise and the changes were a challenge for us - but the overriding reality is that the power of His grace is enabling.

Rebecca: "Dear Ones, a little over a week ago we were scurrying about, getting me ready to go back into the hospital. I think I felt dread at facing Pellenburg again, as well as leaving my home and garden. We really did not know what this was going to mean. I was so thankful that you all were praying. And my dear family and friends were standing close by.

"In my early conversations with the therapists, I realized that the changes in my spine and back weren't thoroughly unusual for a quadriplegic. Their concern was the rapidity of these changes. Scoliosis has developed in my spine, shortening my right leg and changing the levels of my hips. It is caused by increasing strength on my left side, accompanied by increased general spacticity. This twisting of my spine has pulled up my right leg so that it is 5 centimeters shorter than my left leg. A year ago the difference was one centimeter.

"My wheelchair had been specifically designed for me when I left the hospital two years ago. Because of my lack of strength, it basically held me up. As my condition has improved I now need a more "active" chair, one that will enable me to sit up straight and be strengthened further in my progress.

"At the moment, the most important adjustments to be made are changes in my wheelchair, and changes in the approach of my physical therapy.

"How blessed we are to have a team of therapists, doctors, and technicians who know and genuinely care about me! They worked hard and prioritized adapting my chair so they could accomplish in a week what needed to get done: redesigning the chair for my comfort and ongoing health.

"They have a device called an 'Iron Nurse' which uses a sling to move the patient from the bed to the wheelchair. One afternoon I must have hung in the air for at least an hour all told - in 10 to 15 minute segments. They would take me from the chair and 'hang' me while they worked on the chair. Then they placed me back in the chair to push and move me, trying this and trying that. Then they hung me up again and checked out what they'd done. We laughed a lot. In the end I was tired but they had good success in their efforts.

"I really was surprised and blessed at how happy the nurses were to see me.
Some even said, 'Oh, we're so glad you came back.' With a laugh I said I couldn't share their enthusiasm. Sometimes it was very good, and often times it was very difficult. I honestly don't know how well I did. I lived in Ps. 118. Verse 6 says: 'The Lord is on my side; I will not fear. What can man do to me? The Lord is for me among those who help me.'

"Every morning I asked the nurse to set me up to read. On Wednesday she came in before I called and said: 'Do you want to read this morning? Do you want that big book?' So we had established our morning routine. I didn't have my tea. The bed wasn't very comfortable. It was very hot. But, oh my, the Lord met me. Each morning He gave me something, either from Luke or from Ps. 118
- a treasure that I help through the day.

"Once again, thank you for your prayers. How can I say what it means to us to have a team such as you standing with us throughout this 'Journey'. We don't know all the twists and turns, or all that will be required, but we know so well the One who has called us to walk together. We don't walk alone; we have Him and we have one another.

"In Paul's last e-mail he said it so very well: 'Jesus at the center of our lives doesn't always change our circumstances immediately, but He does change the impact of our circumstances on the atmosphere of our souls. He is faithful!'

"Thank you for your faithfulness to us in the journey."


With love from us both,

Paul & Rebecca

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Rebecca's Journey - 63

Dear Friends,

Today is sunny and mild - a lovely change after a cold snap the last week. Rebecca's spring flowers survived the cold and are beautifully filling the garden with color and texture. God had such a great idea when He created flowers! I leave tomorrow for Oslo, and want to get this to you before I depart.

Judy arrived last Wednesday and will be here for nearly 7 weeks. Annie leaves for France next Tuesday for 2 months. She will have surgery on her hand, followed by several months of physical therapy, and will be back in mid-July. Please keep her in your prayers. Margaret will be here until late June, then Susannah arrives for a 6 week visit.

Rebecca: "One evening not long ago, as the girls were putting me to bed, I said: 'O, I can't wait to get to sleep so I can wake in the morning to be with the Lord.' As I went on to sleep, I thought about sharing with you this most precious time of our day. Early mornings find everyone in the household quiet, with their cup of tea or coffee, in Father's presence. Paul begins long before the rest of us, but each of us carves out those moments to seek Him. At 7:00 the girls begin getting me ready, pillows and Bible in place so that I can begin. (Do you remember the days when I couldn't hold a Bible - and many of your cards were my 'Scriptures'?)

"I have often meditated on Isaiah 50: 4, where he says:
'He awakens me morning by morning,
wakens my ear to listen like one being taught.'

"Often, early in the morning before everyone arrives, He awakens me with that still small voice. It is such a gift to hear Him.

"Ps. 97, verse 11 says:
'Light is sown for the righteous,
and gladness of heart for the upright.'

"When I read this, I thought of many of you. Not long ago we talked about the seed being sown. Here He speaks of sowing light in us - and with that light, gladness of heart. Jesus said: 'I am the light.' Light often brings us joy. In the morning, as we seek Him, He wants to sow light, and thus bring gladness in our hearts. I love that picture!

"He wants to waken us with His still, small voice. He wants to call us to Himself and give us His light for our day."

Paul again! Rebecca would appreciate prayer for her left hand - her "good" hand. It has recently become stiffer and less dexterous. We would also appreciate prayer for the person who will take Margaret's place later this year.

With our love to all,

Paul & Rebecca

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Rebecca's Journey - 62

Dear Friends,

I leave for North America in the morning. We want to get a note from Rebecca out before my departure.

Rebecca: "Our garden is transitioning from the joy of early spring and yellow daffodils to mid-April's pink tulips. I'm awakened each morning with our birds proclaiming the joy of the season - all the sounds and fragrances of spring.

"We've had a very busy week - busy and full of the Lord's grace. Some time ago when Paul was in the States with a group of our long-standing friends (30+ years), they said: 'We've not seen Rebecca since before her accident. Next spring we're going to come to Brussels and be with her.' Much to our joy last Wednesday they arrived! We have all been blessed to see the strength I've had for their visit. They came with joy and encouragement for us. Such a memorable time for all! We were reminded again and again of John 15 when Jesus said that our love for one another would overflow into His joy.

"We've had a change in the last weeks. Donatienne, my physical therapist, has taken a two month leave to have her baby (little Jerome was born last Saturday, and has already been for a visit - such a darling family!). Donatienne was unable to secure the substitute who normally cares for me when she has to be away. But she was able to find a young man who had just finished his training. We interviewed him, and both of us felt good about him. His name is Nicholas. After only two weeks he has won my heart. He is a good therapist, and I can see I'm going to make progress with him. He is also kind and open. He said last week: 'I need to come here every day; it's good for me.' We've had remarkably deep and candid conversations about spiritual things.

"I was reading this week in ll Corinthians. Chapter 2 verse 14 says: 'Now thanks be to God who always leads us in triumph in Christ, and through us diffuses the fragrance of His knowledge in every place." It made me think of Nicholas. I'm so aware each day during our sessions that to him I am the fragrance of life, and I believe it will lead him to the Father through Jesus.

"So as we enjoy the spring about our garden I'm reminded of each of you and pray that you would be the fragrance of His life wherever you are."

Margaret has now been here several weeks and is a great joy and strength - God's gift to Rebecca and us in this season. Please be praying now for the one God has in His mind to take her place when she leaves later this year.

With love from Rebecca and me,