May 13, 2020
May 3, 2020
April 8, 2020
Katie's Wedding Day
July 1, 2018
March 20, 2020
on the hour
Prayer of Healing:
Head - Stroke
Heart - Bateria in valve
Body - Cancer
and Swallowing to eat
7/2 - Thursday Update - Deb continued her string of good days today. While her energy hasn't been as great as yesterday, she still walked (sometimes with eyes closed) and accomplished much in her speech therapy. Later, she got hungry and fried herself an egg with cheese on top. Our hospice nurse and cancer doctor are working to get answers about Deb's enlarged stomach. We are pretty sure it is fluid which can be drained. This fluid is caused by the cancer. Deb wants it gone today. Unfortunately, the holiday weekend will be taking over, and so, we will have to wait. Waiting is never easy, is it? I think the biggest reason is that while we wait, we aren't in control. Someone else is, and that doesn't suit us well. Actually, though, giving up control is the best thing we could do. I often smile when I see the bumper sticker, "God is my co-pilot." I smile because I want to roll down my window and yell, "Just let Him drive! Get into the backseat!" Of course, they just might actually do it. That would be trouble. So, I refrain. The Bible says, "Wait for the LORD; be strong and let your heart take courage. Yes, wait for the LORD." (Psalm 27:14). And so we will wait... for more miracles and stomach draining - if not today - maybe by tomorrow??? You are loved!
7/1 - Wednesday Update - This day has been anything but routine. It started with the usual 6:30 a.m. pain med dose, but then the schedule went out the window for me. When my run took longer than normal because I made a stop at church (with an extra trip thrown in because I forgot my keys), Deb decided to walk on her own. Amazingly, she made it to the end of the road without assistance, but boy, did she hear it! Between her speech therapist, Hospice nurse, and myself, she got a pretty good lecture why this wasn't a safe thing to do - her poor vision in one eye and her endurance the chief concerns. Yet, she made it showing once again that she must have some really active guardian angels. 😇 The day continued with a steady stream of visitors, ending with the hospice nurse where Deb checked out great except for her ever growing stomach. Her stomach has swollen to 86 cm without any other negative side effects. This is a mystery to us. The nurse still thinks it's the cancer. We are hoping to get some answers soon. So that was today - not routine and fraught with concern and question regarding Deb's stomach - but still a day blessed by God. You and I are going to get days like this. When they come, it's best not to fight them and force them to move forward according to your will and plan. Rather, just let them unfold as is, taking advantage of every moment. I really tried to put this in practice today, and as a result, the day was just as God planned it - active, interesting, and blessed. And still true every day - you are loved!
6/30 - Tuesday Update - We've had a week now of uneventful health. What I mean is that there have been no real lows or highs. It's like we are in a holding pattern waiting to land. Deb is not getting any better or any worse as far as we can tell. So what are we to do? It seems God has led several of you to make suggestions for healing. Suggestions include the following: juicing (juicer included), hyperbaric treatments, light therapy, stem cell treatments, Vega shakes, and a host of other holistic healing ideas. Again, what do you do? We are praying for discernment and wisdom not wanting to miss anything that God may be providing for us because clearly God can work through these things. We also know God can continue to use what we have now - some sports nutrition products, meds for pain, and of course, divine medicine which is the most powerful of all. The question remains - can God bring complete healing to Deb? Yes!!! What remains is the how and when. So, for now, we will remain on the holding pattern and enjoy the ride until that day He provides a safe landing. We do so with the promise: "Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD; trust in Him, and He will do it" (Psalm 37:4-5). This promise is for you too! You are loved!
6/29 - Monday Update - Here we go, another Monday, another week of possibilities. That's how you should look at it, but what if you aren't seeing the new possibilities? What if the future isn't so hopeful? I think Deb feels this way sometimes. Each day nothing seems to change. There is some pain, meds that make her tired, and all kinds of time to do nothing. That's the view Satan seeks to give her, and all of us too for that matter. Have you heard whispered in your ear that life is meaningless and you cannot possibly make a difference? Say, "Be gone, Satan!" Claim the blood of Jesus and send Satan away for he is spewing his lies. The fact is this: You've been given Monday and perhaps a whole week! For me that means I will receive from my wife great gifts - a kiss, a hug, an understanding ear. I will receive a good laugh now and then and a hand to hold as we walk down the street. And some days the bed is made, the laundry done, the clothes folded, and more. They are simple things - nothing worthy of news, yet they mean all the world to me. There's no telling what lies ahead but because God has given Monday, there is the prospect of the blessing of Tuesday. So, today, find the person who needs to hear, "God bless you." Find the person who simply needs your smile and the affirmation that they were noticed. And if that is you, hear it again - you are loved!
6/27 - Saturday Update - Deb walked to the end of our street again even after staying up past ten watching one of her favorite movies, "The Greatest Showman" the night before. I didn't know she had that in her. She had a little inspiration with my sister and her grown kids around for the weekend. The rest of the day will surely be used to catch up on the lost sleep. It's good to have family around, but it is "exhausting" says Deb. Otherwise, the pain is being managed by the meds. Deb also wants to cut down her stomach size, but we're told the cancer is causing it. So, we're right back where we started - trusting in the divine medicine of our almighty God, and that has turned out to be very powerful medicine indeed. Pray on then, prayer warriors. There is nothing God can't do. You are loved!
6/26 - Friday Update - Deb's head swayed, her hands sometimes rose to direct, and a contented, happy smile lit up her face as three instrumentalists filled the room with beautiful music today. It was a surprise music therapy session, and Deb was very pleased. This comes after a serious evening chat on the patio swinging chair where Deb told me I had "refurbished" her through prayer. She wasn't exactly happy about that because heaven seemed so much better than the pain and trouble of this dark world. I reminded her that there have been hundreds and thousands of prayers directed to God on her behalf all asking for what she termed "refurbishment." Then we recounted the many blessings of her refurbishment and more were added today. Refurbishment - it's what God does. He takes broken things and gives them new life - like a musician does with a reed or a bow. So Deb's life is claimed from death - refurbished - and even now giving us sweet music to the glory of God. God be praised as you too are loved and refurbished with Deb today.
6/25 - Thursday Update - Deb is having a good day so far. She walked farther than yesterday and then finished saying she could have done more. Speech therapy was successful even during the hard exercises. Now, about that walk. Deb told me during our walk today that yesterday she walked with her eyes closed. She was tired, I guess. I can hear it now. "How was your walk?" To which she could say, "Great. I caught up on some sleep." Naturally! What are walks for? Who would have known? I didn't. Walking with eyes closed? How is it possible? Because Deb was holding my hand. She trusted me to keep her on the road, and I did. When she tried stray into the ditch, I guided her back. Today her eyes were open. There's room for both figuratively. Walk with eyes closed and cling tightly to God in faith when you have no strength left. He'll keep you on the road and out of the ditch. Walk with eyes open still clinging tightly by faith when you have the strength to marvel at the wonder of the journey. The key to both is to never let go of God's hand. I won't be sure each day how Deb will walk, and while I'm certainly not claiming to be God, Deb knows that if she just keeps hold of my hand, she will make it safely home. You are loved!
6/24 - Wednesday Update - Wow, did we need yesterday! After the trial and tribulation of Monday, God provided a rebound like no other. He provided a terrific Tuesday. It is amazing to me to see how things can swing from one extreme to another. Yes, Tuesday was fabulous - a complete opposite of Monday. Now there is today. Today is a leveling day - a settling out of two extremes, and if this is truly what it is, we can manage. There is a little bit of pain today, but nothing that stops Deb for too long. There is fatigue too, so Deb gets in her naps. Deb walked farther today than any day in the last week. She is carrying on conversations and showing a little feistiness not seen in awhile too. This is middle ground - a good place to be while waiting for our miracle. However, it is not good that we remain in the middle. We need those extremes too. Thank God He knows our limits. He knows how far to stretch us in order to provide growth and dependence on Him. It is in our nature to just get by, to settle, to get a little lazy and avoid anything hard. Just ask Deb when I "forced" her to take a walk today. 🙂 It turned out okay, and so will the other times no matter how hard. Really, we got off easy when compared to Jesus who endured it all on the cross for us. So find that sliver of hope in any day you're facing. It gets way better than this. God has provided for it. You are loved!
6/23 - Tuesday Update - "Sing to the Lord, you saints of His; praise His holy name. For His anger lasts only a moment, but His favor lasts a lifetime; weeping may remain for a night, but rejoicing comes in the morning (Psalm 30:4-5). This verse would sum up the last 24 hours. Deb went through a period of intense pain early last night. It got so bad she was ready to go to the ER. With all the Covid restrictions, we decided against it. We feared she would have been admitted, loaded up with pain medicine, and never seen by family again. Such is our world. Instead, Deb took her pain med an hour early and anyone who "happened" to be texting me at that time got the charge to pray. It worked! Deb found relief and in the morning there was rejoicing and even a half mile walk. I never want to see that again. There is nothing so helpless as watching your loved one suffer. Deb is tougher than most, but this was her limit. Hospice came later, and we came up with a better schedule for the pain meds. Deb would rather not use these medications, but until God stops her cancer, this will have to be our life. God does have a plan and His wisdom surpasses our understanding, therefore we will wait and see what He has in mind. In the meantime, we will continue to rejoice in His faithfulness. You are loved!
6/22 - Monday Update - I need to start with this - Thank you to all for your many Father's Day greetings and blessings and to the Ziemann children for blowing me away with love and appreciation on Father's Day. It was truly a day to remember! 🥰 Concerning Deb, we have now passed 100 days since she returned home from the hospital. Our prayers have been heard, and God has cured her heart (infection-valve) and given great healing in her head (from stroke damage). Progress continues each day. What is left concerns her body. Deb's stomach is noticeably swollen. This has given her pain and fatigue. The medicine she receives is to relieve this. There are days, though, we wonder whether the medicine is working or hindering her healing and if any progress is being made in the healing of her cancer. Last night I thought I was losing her. I prayed that God would hear my prayer for Deb's deliverance and that He would hear your prayers for her as well. There must be many praying because this morning Deb was back with very little pain and ready for day. I have learned again that tomorrow is not worth worrying about. It's easy in situations like this to lose sight of this. So, today I am celebrating the afterglow of a blessed Father's Day and enjoying the blessing of all the possibilities of today. You are loved!
6/20 - Saturday Update - Deb continues her progress as her pain seems to be decreasing. Her swollen stomach continues to be an issue, though. We don't know exactly what has caused this - cancer, fluid, other? We are praying the steroid brings it down so Deb will be more comfortable. Despite her discomfort, Deb has been working real hard to keep me in vacation mode. In fact, she got me to take a good Saturday nap. But with the weekend at hand, and the fact that we are still around, church will get my attention again. Deb also reminds me that tomorrow is Father's Day. Deb and I are both so blessed to have our fathers still with us. We are very grateful for the love and support they have given us all these years. If your father or a father figure is still alive, you might take some time to remember and give thanks for them. If they have entered their eternal rest, rejoice in their memory. God's Word says: "The righteous man walks in his integrity; His children are blessed after him." (Proverbs 20:7 - NKJV) We pray you are blessed as you walk in the love of your perfect Heavenly Father. It is in His hands that Deb remains. Joining Deb, we are so blessed and are deeply loved!
6/19 - Friday Update - Deb continues her rebound from the pain-filled days of early in the week. Her swollen stomach is still evident as we wait for the steroid to do its work. Hopefully, we're going to get that second walk in today. Deb and I have had some good heart to heart conversations too. One of them always starts with Deb saying to me: "It would be easier on you if I weren't here." I usually groan and sigh and then say, "How many times do I have to explain this to you?" It actually makes us laugh now. I explain to her that whether she is here or not, I would still have to do the extra work. If she were not here, I would be doing it alone - without her love, companionship, humor, hugs, kisses, support, and more. This doesn't even include the impact she makes with family and church. Then I kiss her and tell her how much I love her. End of discussion...until tomorrow when she brings it up again. 🙂 Here's the important point for us all. Everyone has value as long as there is life. God has given us our time on earth for a reason. What are you here for? It is to live, to smile, to pray, to serve as you are able. It's a gift, as is my sweet wife is to me and all who know her. You are loved!
6/18 - Thursday Update - The sun has begun to shine again after the gloom of the past few days. That's good because I don't think I could stand to send out another worrisome update to you all. Deb returned to walking this morning - about a half mile. She declared she wanted to walk again later. That's the start we needed. Deb's pain got less and less as the day wore on. By nap time, which we both enjoyed (I am on vacation, you know), her pain was gone. Speech therapy was outside again and that appeared to go well even when I was on the roof cleaning the gutters with the leaf blower. So, we'll take the day as a step forward. Actually, every day is a step forward for believers in Christ like Deb. She is either one step closer to eternal life in heaven or one day closer to the miracle of complete healing. We can't lose sight of this. Deb's story, therefore, has the certainty of a "happily ever after" ending we long for. However, without Christ there is no hope for this glorious future. I cannot imagine going through this experience without this promise and hope. It would be like living without sun. But the sun does shine today - sun and the Son! So, we are rejoicing in this moment and looking forward to more in days to come. You are loved!
6/17 - Wednesday Update - I received wonderful encouragement and promise of more prayers yesterday. Among them were these words: "Yes. There are those days you move two steps forward and one step back. Or it is one step forward, two steps back. Either way it can lead to impatience. At least for me. I am one of the most impatient persons ever and to my detriment. And it is good to know Jesus died for impatient people like me." These words are so true. It feels like we've gone backward these last few days, and I must admit, I have been feeling a little impatient myself. You see, I had hoped that we would have been on vacation in Wisconsin right now. That wasn't to be. That was my plan. God had another. He wanted us right here which turned out to be a good thing. Deb's pain was not going away and her abdomen has continued to swell (4 cm in a week). Hospice was called and nurse and doctor came up with a plan. It's back to two doses of pain medication and a steroid to help with stomach inflammation. That's where we are right now. So, an Ohio stay vacation is in progress and prayers for healing will continue. Now Lord, grant us patience in your working and forgiveness for our impatience. You are loved!
6/16 - Tuesday Update - Today hasn't been an easy day for Deb. She has had stomach pain all day. Recall this started last week. We dealt with it with two doses of her prescribed medication. This created it's own problems as Deb couldn't stay awake. Today Deb wanted to go back to one dose. This has led to more pain. What do you do? Add to this the recovery needed from our quick trip and you get the day that we've had. Sorry, some days are like this. We have learned to take the good with the bad. We are still considering a trip to Wisconsin, but it is looking less and less likely by the hour despite Deb insisting she could handle it. So we will look for God's wisdom and strength this day and your prayers and encouragement. This time will pass because God is faithful, and you are loved.
6/15 - Monday Update - We took a quick trip to Lansing, Michigan, to visit with Deb's family. It was the first big outing for Deb since Christmas. We are learning what Deb can handle. We were smarter on the way back giving Deb the whole back seat to stretch out and sleep. She was like the queen back there, even waving at her adoring chauffeur. The trip was pretty tiring at times but it was worth it. The trip was longer than planned because our van wasn't firing on all cylinders after we got there. About $400 later, we were able to head back. The mechanic somehow snuck us in despite a full slate of repair jobs. I was literally running all over town getting from place to place. Angels were watching over me when I ran to my in-laws house instead of the hotel, missing a crazy man shooting a gun at cars in the middle of a busy road, just down the road from the hotel. I would have been right in the middle of it. I'm starting to think our life is better than a reality show. We feel blessed by God as He continues to watch over us. We continue to be in His hands which is a great place to be. You are loved!
6/13 - Saturday Update - The ups and downs of life with cancer have continued this week. We are thankful that the days have been mostly up. This said, Deb has been dealing with stomach pain - very similar to what sent us to the ER a few weeks ago. This time we were ready for it. We understand the pain is caused by swollen nodes near her stomach pressing against nerves found there. The solution was a nerve blocker which up to now we've used just overnight. With the flare up, we tried it at noon too. This will help us when traveling and eliminate those rough afternoon hours. They cause some drowsiness, but they seem to be working. Deb remains active with speech therapy, walking from 3/4 of a mile to 1 1/2 miles, and general household tasks. We are thankful for this medicine. We are also thankful for the medicine of forgiveness applied through blood of Christ. This too eliminates pain - the pain of our sin - and brings peace. Here is the real miracle that saves us from eternal death. This weekend would be a great time to receive this medicine and to once again be reminded that you are loved!
6/12 - Friday Update - I learned today that though Deb might like her words, she definitely doesn't like geography. "I'm no good at it," she admitted. This we discovered during speech therapy. Her memory of geography was tested, and it was a struggle. So what is Deb to do? Simple. She "cancels" it. The question about the Nile in Egypt - canceled. Gettysburg - canceled. She was ready to cancel the whole subject. It was actually hilarious as we pressed the subject further. What else would she cancel? People? Things? Her funny husband? Thankfully, she limited it to geography. When it comes to canceling, there's someone better than Deb. It's Jesus Himself! Sin needs canceling. The debt we owe is great. Hatred...canceled. Unloving attitudes...canceled. Lust...canceled. Selfishness...canceled. The whole subject of sin was canceled in one sacrifice - never to condemn us ever again. This geography tops all - outside Jerusalem - on a mount called Calvary - on a cross - hung our Savior for the sin of the world. Deb knows the meaning of that place, and we pray you do too. She's not canceling it! You are loved!
6/11 - Thursday Update - The hospice nurse, who comes once every two weeks now, was speaking my language today. You see, Deb has been feeling a little down about her perceived lack of progress. The nurse, who herself came through a stroke, said, "You have to remember, this is not a sprint, it's a marathon." Wise words. I think Deb got the message despite not being a runner. Give things time. Progress often doesn't happen overnight. God's timing is not always our timing, but His timing is always perfect. The other aspect of this is when things don't happen like we expect, we tend to get down and miss the progress gained. Such is the case for Deb today because we all know how far she's come. God has been working big time. It might not seem like it day by day - a "not seeing the forest for the trees" idea - but things are significantly different from a week ago, month ago, three months ago. So the ups and downs will come, but we're always moving forward. That's a marathon. Then before you know it you've arrived at the finish line and the celebrating begins. So it is with our faith too. Just keep running, that's the key. And that's my kind of language and for my newfound "running partner" of 27 years. You are loved!
6/10 - Wednesday Update - Deb has always been well versed in the English language. She has taught Latin and has read all classics. Her vocabulary has always been superior to mine. Naturally, it was quite a blow when she lost it all to the strokes. She had to start all over. Recently, though, my wordsmith wife has showed evidence of regaining her old form. Today, for example, we went walking in the heat. I cut the walk a little short. How did Deb see it? She said, "Kurt was empathetic to my heat tolerance." And so I was, but I didn't know cutting a walk short could sound so good. Upon investigation, I found Deb continues to make her mark in therapy. According to Deb, she "churns a lot." She also loves to say: tobogganing, northwesterly, supremely, exquisitely, discretely, advantageous, and superfluous. In regard to our situation, obviously, "We've been honestly taken aback." Deb doesn't like to get things wrong. And it's always great when Deb says something like, "I know that. Nope, I don't." Or "I knew that yesterday." After 85 days of speech therapy, it appears I will have to use "precision of language" in our house or risk rebuke, but that's okay with me. This means another miracle is happening a word at a time. And so in this rejoice and know, "You are loved!" Thankfully for me, no big words are needed.
6/9 - Tuesday Update - Today is one of those days. It's extremely hot, the air is heavy, and walking isn't easy. That's not good for Deb. She did manage speech therapy and a shorter walk but other than that, her body wants to rest. Some days are like that. The normal inclination is to fight it, though, to keep going, as if taking the time to rest is going to undo all the gains of the previous days. This is just not true. Review the creation account in Genesis again and see that God in effect, created rest on the seventh day. He didn't need the rest, but we did. So, He gave it as a pattern and rhythm for our lives. Even Jesus took time and rested. I don't know about you, but I need to be reminded of this often. The schedule is full - go, go, go until I drop. And you know, that's what happens to me at times. If I'm going to get sick, it's because I didn't rest. As I care for Deb, the temptation is also to keep pushing ahead in the name of progress when in reality, more progress could be made by resting. Thank God for days like today - for sweet rest and recharging. That's when healing happens. God tells us we need it, and today, Deb was smart enough to listen. You are loved!
6/8 - Monday Update - Deb went to church again this weekend. She had to sit in the back pew because the boys and her were a little late. That's not good for her vision. What did she do? She told me she closed her eyes during the sermon (so she could "focus" she told me). I preached. Hmm. Naturally, I thought this was suspicious. Was she taking a nap? Was the sermon that boring? So, we had a little sermon talk on our Sunday afternoon walk. Well, she didn't miss a step. She heard it preached that God is the Creator and should be the center of our universe. Impressive! She actually was listening, so I pressed forward for the application. I told her that since God is first in my life (First Commandment), that would mean that she wasn't the center of my universe. She agreed that was true - she shouldn't be the center of my universe. Then she added with that grin, "but I am pretty close!" She had me there! Yes, she is close to being at the center. This time in our life has been a big reason. I have never felt closer to my bride than now. What Satan willed as something to destroy us has actually built us up in faith in Jesus and in our love for each other. I've said it before - times like this are opportunities for God to work. And we sure have seen it, haven't we?...even when our eyes are closed. You are loved!
6/6 - Saturday Update - Today Deb and I watched Timothy graduate from high school. It wasn't anything like we envisioned when Timothy started four years ago. There was no formal ceremony at school, but rather it was a virtual ceremony online. Who would have thought we would have been sitting on the couch watching a graduation like a television program? There are lots of things in life we don't see coming. This is true for Deb on two levels. Physically, Deb can't see anything on her right side. For example, we often are walking hand in hand, and she'll tell me that she can't see me. She has to turn her head for that. Her eyes are still as beautiful as ever, but the strokes have made a lot of things unclear, especially at a distance. So, this why Deb is not walking alone or driving at this time. On another level, we never saw this part of our life coming. Otherwise, we would have planned for it. Life is like that. I mean, did anyone really see this pandemic coming and the reaction to it? Other things pop up, and we are thrown into a panic. I would suggest you hold the hand of someone you love. Deb does often. Hold it tightly and walk together. Better yet, take the hand of your loving Father in heaven through faith. He's got a vision for you and your future. You can trust Him. He's got everything figured out. And when you get a little anxious, talk to Him, and He will hear and bring you peace. No matter what unexpected thing comes, it is reassuring to know that God is in control and that you are loved!
6/5 - Friday Update - Deb started this hot and humid day by expanding her territory. She walked beyond a mile and a half. On one particular stretch she could see how far she had to go. It looked endless. I told her, "Don't look at it all at once. Just take a driveway at a time." She wasn't buying it. "Can't we just take the car?" She made it without the car. Later I took Deb out on the town. First stop, bank drive-up line. So exciting! We passed the time talking to our oldest. Then we headed to Chic-Fil-A and found another line. By the time we got to the park where the boys were to meet us, it was too late. They had returned home already. So here am I writing this update looking for something profound and all I got is a walk, a drive, and at least forty minutes of sitting in drive-up lines. But now it has hit me. 90 days ago Deb was fighting for her life in a hospital bed with a tube down her throat. The way back looked long. We wanted a "car" back then too, but God gave us a driveway at a time and look where we are today! Step by step God has led us. May the Lord take your hand and lead you too. He's capable, you know, especially one driveway at a time. You are loved!
6/4 - Thursday Update - As many of you know, Deb is officially under hospice care. In order to receive this care, a doctor must certify that a person has six months to live or less. The terminally ill must also accept Palliative care (comfort) instead of care to cure the illness. This is exactly where Deb was when she left the hospital. All medical intervention was deemed fruitless. The only thing left was divine medicine. Thanks be to God, today things look dramatically different - enough to cause hospice to wonder if Deb is still eligible. We like that. Despite their care, we would rather graduate from hospice. We would rather wish them well and send them to those who are really sick. Six months, you see, is just a number. We believe that God is not limited by numbers assigned by man. We believe no one knows the days ordained by God, and for Deb, that means it could be six days, six months or even six years or more. This is true for all of us. Then how should we live? We should live in readiness. That is, we should live each day to the fullest. What kind of life is this? A full life is one filled by Jesus. Jesus turns emptiness to fullness by granting His gifts of faith, hope, and love. It is living forgiven and free. So six months? That's graduation. Life in Christ? That's eternal life! You are loved!
6/3 - Wednesday Update - We heard some groans today. It started on our walk. Yesterday was easy. The air was dry; the temperature cool. Today it was warm and muggy. We walk a mile anyway. Groan! Speech therapy was work. The mouth and brain didn't want to work together at times. We force them. Groan! Groans often represent testing and suffering and because of that, we would often like to avoid anything that causes them. Yet, when we do, we may miss opportunities for growth. The Bible says, "We rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us." (Romans 5:3-5) Yes, groans lead to growth and growth leads to easier days ahead. Consider also the groans of Christ Jesus on the cross. The work Jesus did there has led to the certainty of heaven for all who believe. What are our groans compared to that? Keep pushing forward then. You got this because the Spirit has you and you are loved!
6/2 - Tuesday Update - There's plenty of good news to report today! Deb seems to really be on an upswing lately. While her weight has dropped to 95-96, I think this is due to her increased activity level. She's actually eating more than ever without major issues so we are not worried about the loss. We are wondering if she lost some of that fluid in her stomach which would account for some of the drop. She has decided she doesn't need the maximum dose of the sports nutrition pain reliever anymore - cutting it in half. She started her day today by making bread (following a recipe using a bread machine) and then walking a mile and a half. Her pace has increased too. She had enough energy to follow this with speech therapy. Afternoons are often spent outside enjoying the patio and sun. We are now at a point where we can start considering some traveling to see family. So God continues to work this miracle and deserves all the glory and praise. Thank you for your prayers and keep us updated on the prayer requests you've given us. We are in this together. You are loved!
6/1 - Monday Update - What a crazy world we live in! First, a virus shuts us down. Now, that appears to be old news as protests and violence erupt across the country. What's next? In the backdrop of this topsy turvy world, months of dealing with cancer and the effect of strokes appears to be seemingly more predictable and secure. Even throwing in those dogs doesn't dissuade me. I'll take my little piece of the world any day. Who would have thought? The key to my world is faith in God's constant love and blessing. I know He is with us. I also know that when things go wrong, I don't have to carry a sign in protest or violently burn and loot. No, I can simply bow my head and bring a prayer to God, and God will hear me and answer according to His plan. It's a plan always for my good even in injustice or sickness or in health. That world can be yours too through faith in Jesus - the Savior of the world. You see, the violence in the world is not proof that God is powerless and has left us, rather proof that world has left Him. And that is saddest part of it all. This day, keep praying and rejoicing for Deb, but you might throw in a petition or two for the lost and empty souls out there trying to find meaning and justice without Him. Never lose sight of the truth - you are loved!
5/30 - Saturday Update - My darling, sweet wife got the smirk back and a few laughs in today. You see, a dog chomped on my arm during a run today. It was a pretty good bite. Deb and daughter Katie insisted I get it checked out at Urgent Care, and I dutifully did. Upon returning home, Deb poured on some tongue and cheek care. "Should I feed you?" she said with a smile. Then later, "Should I drive you to church?" She offered knowing what a mess it could be trying to feed me, but even more a disaster in driving. We both would not have survived that trip. I get it. She loves me and wants to show the same care she's been receiving. Turnabout is fair play, but today I will tenderly refuse those offers. I definitely felt loved and cared for by the whole family as they endured another little running mishap. I am not why these things happen on busy weekends like today, but I am watching for God's work in it all. Perhaps the Australian Shepherd's owner needed to meet a pastor today. We are first name basis now. I'd rather not evangelize in this way, but I wouldn't be surprised if this gives opportunity for the Gospel just like Deb's situation is bringing. When these things strike, watch for the good. It will be as God has promised for all who believe (Romans 8:28). Really, I'll be fine. I have a dear wife waiting on me, and a God who keeps loving me. You too! You are loved. Have a great Sunday!
5/29 - Friday Update - All the kids are home for Zeke's confirmation! It's a full and busy house. I took the opportunity to team up with Zach and Zeke to plant some vegetables and flowers today. Normally, we plant lots of tomato plants, zucchini, and kale. However, we are giving the ground a rest from those things this year. Instead, we planted what I call our "miracle" garden. It sits right off our patio and in time, it will give Deb a spectacular display of color when she sits out there. It will be a reminder of the Lord's provision (Matthew 6:25-34) and a complimentary representation of the flower we are watching bloom before our eyes - the miracle of Deb herself. And as if right on cue, our Lord blessed this planting with a soaking rain shortly after planting. We will also celebrate Zeke's planting in holy baptism this weekend in his confirmation. With all this blessing, I think we're going to need more flowers. God is faithful, and you are loved!
5/28 - Thursday Update - A source of frustration and laughs is Deb's confusion with names. Often she will be talking about Timothy when she means Zeke or Zeke when she means Jeremy. (Funny thing - I do this at times, and I didn't have a stroke.) She keeps us listening and guessing. Speech therapy has stepped it up these days. Deb has been working on middle names. At first all the boys were labeled with "Paul" (our oldest's middle name) or just were completely forgotten. Today, though, Jeremy came out and stopped on the stairs. He demanded Deb say his middle name before coming up. She immediately said the correct name of "Andrew." He came up and kissed her forehead, his usual greeting. It was a moment. Did you know that God has no trouble with names? Even among the billions, God calls each of His sheep by name (John 10). No one is forgotten. In fact, we are not orphans, but rather we are loved sons and daughters of the King. Keep that in mind when you feel needless and forgotten. In the meantime, there is hope for Deb. The names are coming out right. Now, if only I can keep the pace with her. You are loved!
5/27 - Wednesday Update - A dear friend commented the other day that she thinks Deb is "blooming" right now. I thought about that. What a great observation. So, I told Deb today. Well, she got a funny look on her face - a look of disbelief and shock. What did I say? She thought I said she was "ballooning." Whoops! I straightened that out real quick after a really good laugh. Blooming, not ballooning - it's an amazing thing. You wouldn't expect a beautiful flower like Deb to bloom in the soil of cancer and stroke damage, but she is. She is more beautiful than ever - her bright smile and sense of humor bursting from within. When we walk hand in hand on our morning walk she is blooming for all the neighborhood to see. When she tries to tell me my running clothes are in the dryer but tells me something about cleaning the refrigerator instead, she blooms in sweet laughter. She is blooming - her faith trusting Jesus. So many of you have noticed too, haven't you? Yes, Deb is a delicate pink rose blooming where no one expected because God has given her the growth. Bloom where you are planted today. More than ever the world needs a garden full of blossoms radiating Jesus in every way. Don't fret the soil. God will give the growth. And if it turns into ballooning, that's okay too. It just means the bloom is a little larger. You are loved!
5/26 - Tuesday Update - The boys wanted spaghetti last night. It was something they could prepare. However, Deb beat them to it! When I got home from church, Deb was stirring the sauce she put together. Another large pot was boiling for the noodles. After I found the meatballs, Deb had her meal. Then Jeremy kicked her out of the kitchen for her to rest. I'm counting it, though, "First Meal Made by Deb Day!" Recall, I saw this day coming on April 24, and back then I predicted that it would be the best meal ever. It was! Milestones like this are good to point out. They are like signposts pointing the way of progress. The church has the same thing going. Last week it was Ascension, this week Pentecost, and the next it will be Trinity Sunday. Zeke has one this weekend in his confirmation. They work the same way as Deb's milestones. They all show that God is active and working. Let there be no doubt who deserves the glory and praise today. See God working and loving you today as I saw it in a plate of spaghetti and meatballs. You are loved!
5/25 - Memorial Day Update - Except for her morning walk with Zeke and speech therapy, today has been a lazy day for Deb. It had that feel from the very start because it is a holiday today. This holiday always strikes me odd because most people get the day off and are doing fun things. It's considered the start of summer for many. What happened to the remembering part? Think about it. You got the day off because someone sacrificed their life for your freedom. So take time to remember those who gave their lives in service to our country. Remember and give thanks. And while you're at it, as you celebrate Deb's healing, take time to remember how far she has come. Go back to those early days and see what God has done. Remember and give thanks! And finally, consider the ultimate sacrifice - the one made by your Savior from sin. Remember and give thanks! So, whether it is a lazy day for you or a busy one, there's always time to remember. And when you do, you will certainly be led to give thanks which is most appropriate on this Memorial Day. You are loved!
5/23 - Saturday Update - Deb declared another miracle last night. Here's what happened. We finished our night time prayers and then Deb shifted her head on her pillow right onto a wet spot. It was a drool puddle. This happens, yes? But it happens more often after a stroke. Well, Deb was disgusted and had enough. With that smirk and in her way of saying, she announced that God should put her out of misery right then and there rather than having her drooling the rest of her life. I told her that if she died drooling, then that would be my last memory of her. That struck her funny (you had to have been there). And then she laughed. It was a good, deep, long laugh, better than any we've had in awhile. That's when she declared the miracle. For the first time, her stomach didn't hurt when she laughed. Naturally, I made her laugh some more - might as well enjoy the miracle. We've laughed more since, and most of the time it still doesn't hurt. I am thankful for this, but more importantly, I am thankful that Deb can laugh in the face of death. Many people are having a hard time doing that these days, and that's why talk of cancer and pandemics are causing such great fear. Understand though, those in Christ have no reason to fear since what is promised to us is far better than anything this life can offer. So in the victory of Jesus, laugh in the face of death. Laugh with us and drool a bit too. It will do you good. You are loved.
Note - Back on Monday! Enjoy your Sabbath rest.
5/22 - Friday Update - This update today will be short and early because Deb is celebrating with me. Back in July, I finished my Doctor of Ministry degree. Today is the official commencement of the degree. It is a virtual service and the second of our May celebrations (Deb's birthday started the month). I am grateful that Deb will be by my side because she was there throughout my doctorate studies and dissertation writing. We have Zeke's confirmation next weekend before capping it off with Timothy's virtual high school graduation on June 6. Back in March it looked pretty bleak for May. Thanks be to God for all that He has done these past 70+ days. God deserves all the glory and praise! As you pray for Deb today, it would be appropriate to lift your thanks and praise for God's mighty works. There is nothing He can't do. You are loved!
5/21 - Thursday Update - Deb continued to expand her walking territory today with no complaining even with the hills. The other notable event was the departure of two more hospice furnishings - the commode and the hospital bed table. Deb doesn't need them. So, all that remains of the original Hospice shipment is the shower bench. I thought about this today and marveled how the Lord continues to transform Deb from death to life. Little by little the memory of what once was is disappearing. Recently I read some of the early posts to Deb, and Deb could scarcely believe I was reading about her. The person she is today does not even come close to resembling who she is today, and Lord willing, we are not going back. Deb's transformation is giving us a glimpse of what has occurred in us through faith in Christ Jesus. The Bible says, "Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come." (2 Corinthians 5:17) So, like Deb, the commode and any other sign of your former self is gone. You have been transformed and made alive - forgiven and freed. That makes you just as much a miracle as Deb could ever be. We are celebrating both today and the fact that you are loved!
Update 5/20 - Wednesday Update - The wind was out of the East this morning which meant our morning walk would go left out of the driveway straight into it. You see, we always like a tailwind on the return trip home. So, off we went. We quickly arrived at the usual five house turnaround, but I didn't stop. I told Deb that the usual turn was good when she was weak and getting started. Not today. Deb has progressed beyond this point. Understanding, we walked on. Then it hit her, "But there is a hill!" "Yes," I told her, "but not one, but two." She responded with a big "Ugh!" Well, she survived the two hill half mile walk. Her territory has been expanded. Today two hills, tomorrow... (shh, don't speak of it 😉). Then came speech therapy and more "hills" tested Deb. Deb needed a nap after that. The hills of life are not fun for most people. They're exhausting. They require more effort, but their benefits yield great gain - not to mention the view from the top. Embrace those hills in your life. They are placed there not to destroy you, but rather to build you up. And when you are weary, look to the hill of the cross and find strength in the One who conquered all. So, ever forward we will press, to the next hill and the next. I'm going to hear it for sure. But hand in hand, through prayer and encouragement, and in the might of God, she will conquer! You are loved!
Update 5/19 - Tuesday Update - What a difference a week makes! Last week Deb spent the whole morning in the ER. Praise God not this week! In fact, after a good night's rest, Deb helped make banana chip muffins this morning. She also got in a good walk. So, things are looking up. God must have more in mind in Deb's future. At the moment, we don't know what that is. The stroke damage is keeping her from playing and directing the bell and chime choirs. She is not up to teaching either. Home responsibilities are limited too which has caused Deb to wonder at times, "What use am I?" So we continue to pray for full healing so she can go back to those things she did so well before her cancer and strokes. If that is not God's will, then we pray that He would use her in another way. Regardless of the future, we know that what she is now is exactly what God intended her to be. And so it is with you. God has created you for a purpose. There is no one like you. So just be you and do those things God has called you do today. Big or small, it is enough. So Deb will continue to inspire us with her faith. She will continue to be my sweetheart. She's going to be mom, daughter, sister, and friend to you and more. And if that is it, we will all be blessed. You are loved!
Update 5/18 - Monday Update - Deb had a wonderful weekend! She was alert, strong, and well rested. She even went over 100 pounds! Then comes today - Monday. This is usually the day when the weekend catches up to her. Well, it has been a typical Monday. However, I think it's nothing that a little rest and some prune juice couldn't solve. I'm not sure that the juice will ever be an option, though. 😝 There's another thing as predictable as Monday. It's the fact that when Deb eats, invariably some trace of food is left on the corner of her mouth. This is due to the strokes. Deb doesn't even know the food or spot is there until someone lovingly points it out. I call it her weak side or "blind spot." To her credit, Deb isn't offended, but rather, she goes right to work in cleaning up. I couldn't help thinking about this today after reminding Deb she was still wearing dried yolk from her morning egg. We all have these spots - some obvious and some we are clever enough to hide. Call them bad habits or even sin. Thankfully, we have a God who not only lovingly points them out, but goes the next step in cleaning us up each time, day after day, year after year. How patient we are with Deb, but more so, how merciful and gracious God is each day to us despite our blind spots. Through the work of Jesus, on our behalf, we can get through all our troublesome Mondays. You are loved!
Update 5/16 - Saturday Update - So how do you top a great day? You wake up and start another one. A good place to start for Deb is breakfast. She knows how to fry an egg to perfection. A morning walk in the neighborhood is another great place to start. Deb and I usually walk holding hands - partly because we love each other and partly because I'm trying to keep her on the road. Speech therapy follows with no violin or cello today. It's still fun and a bit of work too. So goes the day. Since I had to finish things at church and wait in line for a much needed haircut, Deb had opportunity to nap, sit outside, or find some project to work on. The boys will have to watch the chips. Each day, then, is really what you make of it. Whether good or hard, each day is a gift! The bible says, "Because of the LORD'S great love we are not consumed, for His compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness" (Lamentations 3:22-23). We are rejoicing in this day and in your partnership in the Gospel. You are loved!
Note-No update tomorrow. Enjoy the day. Why not start it in church - online or in person, where or when available.!
Update 5/15 - Friday Update - I was going to write that today was a good day, but I have to change that. It's been a great day! It started with the best sleep we've had in a long time which was followed with a beautiful morning walk. Later, while I ran, Deb enjoyed time sitting outside. When I got home, I caught Deb sneaking chips and salsa. Yes, the smirk was there. The day continued with three surprise visitors and a nap. We received a meal which included cherry pie and ice cream. Yes, the day was good. It became great when our faithful speech therapist surprised us with a concert! A violin and cello filled our home with beautiful melodies of praise to God. Tears of joy flowed and spirits were lifted higher than ever. God knew this week needed a Friday like today. And that should be a reminder to you that God knows your needs too, and with every down is sure to come uplifting and strengthening. Yes, God is faithful and you are loved!
Update May 14 - Thursday Update - Yesterday's photo said in picture what words could not describe - the turnaround from Tuesday was truly miraculous! I spoke to our cancer doctor, and she affirmed pretty much what was concluded on Tuesday's update. The new information is that the gall bladder is not as bad as perceived and that Deb's pain is coming from two swollen lymph nodes near the pancreas which are putting pressure on the some nerves there. Deb received some medication for the night-time and continues to use one of my sports nutrition pain relievers during the day. This had made all the difference. We are both sleeping again. It is amazing to me how things can change. This is why I am thankful for our changeless God whose faithfulness, mercy, and love are ever constant and sure. Day to day life can't be trusted, but God can. In this unpredictable time, He remains our source of strength, and the reason we can meet the uncertainties of tomorrow. You are loved!
Update May 13 - Wednesday Update - see photo at left.
Update May 12 - Tuesday Update - Well, well, a lot has transpired over the last 24 hours. Deb and I spent the whole morning in beautiful Geneva... Ohio. No vacation - just time visiting the ER. Deb's side pain seemed to get worse, so I called the hospice nurse at 5:00 a.m. She thought it was a good idea to get checked to rule out appendicitis. Next thing I knew Deb was in the ER, and I was forced to wait it out in the car (new hospital procedure due to virus). They scanned Deb. Her appendix checked out fine. Her gallbladder was "fully distended." There was also evidence of the cancer with the presence of liquid mainly in the stomach and under the right lung (pleural effusion). So no big miracle cure yet on the cancer. The miracle, though, is that after three months from the last scan, the cancer doesn't seem to be out of control and threatening Deb's major organs as this cancer likes to do. We hope to follow up with our cancer doctor to confirm. Stay tuned. In the meantime, Deb is going back to a bland diet with some sports nutrition as a supplement. This will help the unhappy gallbladder. We are rejoicing in God's grace of another day and the prospect of more to come. Direct your prayers appropriately. God is faithful and you are loved!
Update May 11 - As the days go on, I am realizing how powerless I really am. Deb has had side pain for days. Sometimes the pain is manageable, and Deb is happy and active. Then just like that, she's down, tossing and turning in obvious discomfort. What am I to do? I hold her, pray for her, and try everything to get her calories. But what if it is the cancer? What if it is spreading? I can't stop that. Another thing. Our church has been closed, and I want badly for it to open. Again, there are a whole set of obstacles that keep the opening out of my control. Then there is the prospect of life without handshakes or hugs and the new norm of social distancing of six feet...what kind of world is this? Do you think I can change this? I'm powerless. I guess these are the thoughts on a cloudy, 30 degree day in May. So where's the ray of sunshine? Where's the hope? It's this - that God is above all this. If He wants the cancer gone, it will be done. And this world? Nothing happens without God noticing. People might think they are in control, but in the end the buck stops at God's almighty right hand. So powerless I'll be - despite the protests of my nature - I am better for it. God's got things handled. I feel better already! You are loved.
Update May 9 - Saturday Update - If the Spirit urged you to pray last night, it was for good reason. Deb's stomach was making it hard for her to sleep. She tossed and turned for hours not finding any relief. I did a lot of praying over her, but she didn't seem to improve. So, I asked God to raise up others to pray with me. God heard our prayers and gave Deb an hour or so of sleep. Unfortunately, today Deb's stomach has continued to make life not so fun. Whether it is active cancer, the effects of past cancer, or simply constipation we don't know. Deb's stomach issues remind me of St. Paul's thorn in the flesh. He too prayed for release of his trouble, but God's answered him, "My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness." (2 Corinthians 12:7-10) It's true, God grace is sufficient. So it is, our discomforts simply drive us to rely on God and to trust in His power. In the meantime, continue to pray for Deb's head, heart, and body with a renewed effort for her stomach. We again thank you for your partnership. You are loved.
Update May 8 - Friday Update - Deb had barium for lunch today. Yum? Not really - even when berry flavored. This was part of a barium swallow test designed to check Deb's swallow proficiency. Recall, Deb could handle only thickened liquids at first because of the risk for aspiration. This test affirmed Deb was ready for any liquid given to her and affirmed all the hard work of speech therapy these past two months. This test could have gone the other way too. It could have identified problems and risks with Deb's swallow which could then have been addressed. Thankfully, the news was good. The best part of today were the looks of the two specialists working with Deb. While they were masked, their eyes and reactions clearly betrayed their amazement when Deb's two month history was explained. They searched for some medical explanation but found none given. I explained what they were seeing was the result of divine intervention. There is no way else to explain it. Divine medicine was applied and healing has resulted. To God all the glory! There is nothing He can't do! As a result of today's results, one thing is clear. Deb is cleared to eat all the ice cream she wants and steal sips of beer from her husband without rebuke. You are loved.
Update May 7 - Thursday Update - Alexa joined the effort to help Deb today. If you don't know what I'm talking about, I'll quickly explain. "Alexa" or otherwise known as "the other woman" in our house is a voice controlled Amazon assistant. It's like a speaker with a screen. We use it to video call our daughter and her husband. She also answers questions and plays music. When Deb was real sick, Alexa played classical music to help Deb. Today, Alexa helped Deb in speech therapy. Who would have known! The big deal is this. Alexa won't respond unless you can be understood. "Blah, blah" won't cut it. So Deb had to talk and be understood, and Deb managed it just fine. So, are we aiming at replacing our speech therapist now? No way!! You see, Alexa is just a machine. Alexa and other electronics like phones and computers have their limits. In fact, Alexa wouldn't even pray today. She wouldn't do it unless we purchased a special app. So, trust not in your gadgets these days. Stay close to One who hears every prayer whether audible or not. Trust in the One who died, rose, ascended, and even now intercedes for you (without an app purchase.) It is Jesus! Alexa is not replacing anyone in our house. She is merely adding a little color to the masterful miracle God is working before our eyes. You are loved!
Update 5/6 - Wednesday Update - Deb's stomach hasn't felt great these last few days. She describes it mainly as a constant full feeling. It hasn't stopped her from eating or being active, but I will admit, it is concerning at times. I start thinking, "Oh, no, here it starts. The cancer is getting worse..." Really, this thinking is a dread of the unseen enemy, cancer, but more specifically, death. And that's where I try to end it. This is useless speculation. Could it be cancer? Yes. Could it be the stomach stretching and healing too? Yes. Could be gas? Yes. It could be any of these things or maybe something I didn't consider. Regardless, needless speculation and worry over the unknown is a waste of time. So, the best thing I know to do is move forward and leave the unknown to Almighty God - the Creator of the world. God has given us life today, so why not live it. When this short life is over, I will receive the crown of eternal life. The truth is that Jesus has conquered all of our enemies - seen or unseen. Deb has said, "We're all going to die from something." No big deal then. Come what may. Right now, then, we will live as God wills and to His glory, and that, my friends, is how God beats a cranky tummy every time. You are loved!
Update 5/5 - Tuesday Update - The weekend finally caught up to Deb last night and today. While Deb is still doing things, you can definitely see her body is looking for a little extra rest. However, this hasn't stopped her from walking nearly a mile every day now and continuing to work hard at speech therapy. So it is. Deb is busy when active and zonked out at rest. The increased activity has prevented her from hitting 100 pounds. No worries. We will trade activity for weight any day. Eventually, though, the activity will feed the appetite and new muscle will push her through that century mark. We are keeping things in perspective in this all. The 100 pounds was our idea and our will. God is reminding us that He's in charge of the progress, and at that, He is doing a remarkable thing. It's good to have goals, but it is even better when we are open to God's way to getting us there. You are loved!
Update 5/4 - Monday Update - What a day! What a weekend! Deb's birthday was something to remember. All the kids were home (this includes Jake plus a dog named Max). There were phone calls, a large pile of cards, and an endless stream of texts. They are still coming in. Deb received some special gifts too. There was no shortage of food including her ice cream birthday cake and a birthday meal beyond belief. And who could forget the surprise birthday parade? Deb won't. For the first time ever, there was a traffic jam on our quiet road. Thank you for helping us celebrate a birthday that seemed an impossibility two months ago. Where do we go from here? We move forward knowing another birthday is possible. And why not? God hasn't given us any signs to the contrary. He is accomplishing a special miracle and to Him goes all the glory and praise. A great hymn says it well: "O God, our help in ages past, our hope for years to come, our shelter from the stormy blast, and our eternal home." We are not afraid, and neither should you. God is faithful, and you are loved!
Update 5/3 - It was my mom’s 53rd birthday today! To celebrate with her, some members from my parent’s church organized a birthday parade and drove by with posters, birthday music and gifts for my mom. It was SO amazing to see all the love and support my family has here in Ohio. Thank you to all who helped make this day special for her and for all the encouragement you’ve given my family. God has continued to show his love, even during this crazy time! @ Painesville, Ohio (Katie)
Update 5/2 - Saturday Update - One thing that is not in short supply around our house is laughter. For example, I asked Deb what I should write about today, and she told me that I should write about the "genius" we have in the house. I must point out, she wasn't talking about her husband. We laughed in relief when one morning she decided to go walking by herself again. You see, the boys weren't getting up fast enough. A friend in the neighborhood caught her and asked, "Are you supposed to be walking by yourself?" Needless to say, the mischievous smirk returned. Another cute story was when Deb tried to cook chicken noodle soup without the oven on. Yes, I can tell so many more. The great thing is that Deb laughs with us. Her good humor is alive and well, and this bodes well for her healing because laughter or a cheerful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). Find a reason to laugh today. If you need help, feel free to consult the "genius" living in our house. You are loved!
Deb's birthday is tomorrow. She says she is 23. 😂 There will be no update, but you are welcome to send a birthday greeting through a text or email.
Update 5/1 - Friday Update - When I made the vow promising to love, honor, and keep Deb in sickness and in health, I must confess I wasn't thinking so much about the sickness part. We were young and healthy. In my mind, the sickness part would come later, much later. I had at least 50 years to get ready for that. God had other ideas. He wanted to bless our marriage after 27. I know that sounds odd. How can you call sickness - in our case cancer, infection, and strokes - blessing? I call it blessing because that is exactly what it has been. In the last two months Deb and I have grown closer to each than ever before. We have shared wonderful times together. Our conversations, even when they are more like a game of charades, have been meaningful and intimate. Our prayer life together has never been better. I never knew how powerful and positive marriage could be until now. I thought I knew, but God took us deeper. Has your heart ached for me? Let it no longer. Rather, rejoice with me. What God has done in our marriage is truly another miracle. In faith and even in marriage, God's Word rings true: "Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything." (James 1:2-4) We lack nothing together. So, rejoice with us in the blessing of sickness and health. You are loved!
Update 4/30 - Thursday Update - DNR. That's where Deb was over 50 days ago, and that's not the Department of Natural Resources. That's "Do Not Resuscitate." I remember when I signed the paper for Deb. Deb was on the oxygen machine with a tube down her throat. Her tongue was swollen and sticking out. She only could nod or shake her head and squeeze your hand. The Palliative doctors said that any attempt to resuscitate her would crush her weak body. I remember following the ambulance that was transporting her home knowing they could do nothing to save her if her heart or breathing stopped. Deb wanted it this way. She didn't want to linger on a machine - kept alive only by human intervention. So we left it in God's hands - signed those papers - DNR. Well, God ignored the order. It was like He ripped that paper up. God resuscitated her anyway and then some. He rescued, revived, and redeemed her too, and He continues His healing inside and out today. He has the power to do that, you know, even for you. No one needs to live with DNR, at least not spiritually speaking. Jesus has redeemed you through His blood. He has rescued you from sin, death, and the devil. See the continuing miracle in Deb today, but more than that, see that DNR doesn't apply to the believer of Christ. You are loved.
Update 4/29 - Wednesday Update - Over the course of these days, I've received much encouragement from cancer survivors. One theme that keeps coming up is that we should expect the ups and downs or the peaks and valleys that come with healing. This is so true. We are living that theme. Deb had a good night and early morning today, then suddenly something didn't go down right and she was miserable. And then after a couple hours, she snapped out of it and was ready to eat again. Up and down, up and down, thankfully, with many more ups than downs. Life is like this, isn't it? Hopefully, more ups than downs is true for you too, but that's asking a lot these days. Know this, though. It is in the valley that we can remember God's promise that "even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil... (Psalm 23). He is with us. We get through them every time. Even death has no hold on the one who follows closely to the Shepherd's voice. As Deb's energy, good humor, and smile have returned this day, I know the promise of God is true and that His love has never left us. You are loved!
Update 4/28 - Tuesday Update - Deb is walking a half mile now. The walker partnership is working. Partnerships - that's what I want to highlight today. From early on, it was clear that a vast network of people were mobilized in prayer. I don't have proof, but I suspect there is someone in every state who is praying for us today. Thank you!There are others too. All these days we have been receiving meals - amazing meals, in fact. This has taken a huge burden off my shoulders and freed me for church ministry and given me more time to serve my wife. Thank you! There are other partnerships too. There are those who send text messages of encouragement, who pass along a hymn or song, who send a letter or card, who call us, who give Deb daily therapy, and more - all these tell us that you are standing with us and believing with us the incredible love and mercy of God. Thank you! These may be tough days for all of us, but they are blessed days as well. The partnership we hold highest is the partnership we share in the faith. We celebrate and thank God for your partnership today. To God all the glory and praise. You are loved!
Update 4/27 - Monday Update - Deb escaped the house today! Okay, maybe "escaped" might be a little too dramatic. The truth is this. She got tired of waiting for me to finish my run and decided she could walk the neighborhood without me. She did! She walked the route we did together two days ago - five houses or about a quarter of a mile. If the weather will cooperate, I am sure she will cover more ground soon. As a precaution, though, I am going to make sure she is not walking alone in the future. Actually, spiritually speaking, nobody should be walking alone. Hopefully, you have enlisted the help of walking partners - the Church! It is easier to walk the course of faith with the encouragement of others. That's what makes this time so difficult. Many churches are closed, and we are missing this personal contact. However, all is not lost! Look to Jesus in your walk (and run). He is there along with others, willing us to complete the course (Hebrews12:1-3). You are not alone. No doubt, a busy host of guardian angels were with Deb today as well, marking another miracle in Deb's progress. To God be the glory! You are loved!
Update 4/25 - Saturday Update - I need to start with - you are loved! Somehow my eyes missed that omission yesterday sending some of you into a panic, "Are we not loved anymore?" Of course you are! It doesn't depend on me writing it, you know. 🥰 Speaking of eyesight...this is something that concerns Deb constantly. I haven't noticed anything drastically wrong - Deb is able to walk without guidance, read numbers on my phone, and find letters in word searches. All of these things weren't possible right after Deb's strokes. Despite this, something isn't just right yet. This is something we have to keep an eye on. 😉 Spiritually speaking, it is best for us to be "cross-eyed." Then we will never lose sight of what Jesus did for us. The great hymn says it, "I was blind, but now I see." May God grant us all the ability to see Jesus today. Then we will be able to bear anything that comes our way whether cancer, strokes, or eyes that just can't seem to work together. You are loved!
No update tomorrow unless something big breaks. Focus on God's Word and find time to rest those eyes.
Update 4/24 - Friday Update - Deb continued her upward momentum today. She hit 96 pounds and continues to climb. Hitting 100 by May 3 (her birthday) seems on track. She also continues to be more independent. Today, she grabbed some things out of the fridge and made herself some lunch. She had to use the microwave to heat some leftovers and managed that okay. Her stroke damage made this impossible until now. She isn't at the point where she could make dinner for the whole family yet, but she is getting closer. When it comes, that will be the best meal ever! There are so many positives you have to wonder if she really has cancer. According to the info I read about her type of cancer, this isn't supposed to be happening. Makes you wonder, doesn't it? Her outward progress seems to suggest an inward miracle. What are your outward actions telling people about what is inside of you? I pray it is the miracle won by Jesus and worked through the Holy Spirit because this is the only sure thing in life, no matter how much weight you gain and how many lunches you prepare.
Update 4/23 - Thursday Update - "Blah, blah, blah," Deb says sometimes when her words don't come out right. It is said part in frustration and part in fun. We usually end up laughing about it which is good. There is no reason to get upset. This is where she is. Sometimes the words come out right, sometimes it's just blah, blah, blah. But here's the thing - sometimes I can guess what blah, blah, blah means. Other times I just make up something goofy. We often imagine that the blahs and gibberish are part of our secret language - something perfected after 27 years of marriage. Could you see us at the grocery store trying to decide what ice cream flavor to buy? "Blah, blah, blah." "Gibberish." "Blah..." Then we pick the chocolate peanut butter cup naturally after the exchange. 😋You think this is something? Read Psalm 139 sometime. There we learn that God knows us personally. In fact, before a word is on our tongue He knows it. So, I'm going to assume that includes the blah, blah, blahs too, and that's good news. While Deb is making huge strides with her words every day, God has her covered when she doesn't. And that includes you too because you are loved!
Update 4/22 - Wednesday Update - There was commotion in the laundry room. That meant two things. Either one of the boys was out of clean clothes and was doing an emergency early morning wash or Deb was up to something. I arrived to find handwashed unmentionables airdrying on hangers hanging from the ceiling. Deb's work. Deb's system. Deb was reclaiming part of her world. I should have left, but no, I had to ask: "What are you doing?" At that moment our worlds collided, and after a little bit of talk - much of it I didn't understand - and a kiss and a hug, the world was right again. The reality for me was this - I shouldn't have had to ask the question. I should have known Deb did this. The clips in the ceiling were proof. Funny how I never noticed them before! Today the coming together of two worlds was a good thing because it resulted in empathy, understanding, and a hug and a kiss. But that's not the only instance of two worlds coming together. When Jesus entered into our world and shared in our humanity, it was a good thing too. Its end was a cross, an empty grave, and life eternal for all who believe. I don't know what is happening in your world but knowing Jesus became part of it, you can be assured that it is right again. You are loved!
Update 4/21 - Tuesday Update - If God had a most prayed list, who would be on it? I think Deb would be on it. So many of you are praying from all parts of the nation - an army of prayer warriors have been mobilized! Thank you. I wonder, though, do you think God ever tires of us? We are a persistent people, aren't we? Could you hear it in heaven? The Holy Spirit says, "Another prayer for Deb...and another, wait five more!" To which God might say, "Just who is Deb Ziemann?" 🙂 Thankfully, God doesn't have to ask and not because we have stormed His heavenly throne with prayers. No, God knows Deb because He created her. In fact, He knew her before she was even born. He even had this time planned for her good and ours. Some might ask, "Why would God even care about one person among billions?" God cares because we are His people. We are the sheep of His pasture. He has invested heavily in us - even the death of His Son. So when you pray, think not of yourself as one in billions but rather as the only one, because you have His full attention. God never tires of us but waits eagerly to hear from us. So pray on warriors, knowing that you are loved.
Update 4/20 - Monday Update - We met virtually with our cancer doctor today. She was very pleased with Deb's progress. She's been following our story using the church website but seeing is another thing. Deb's progress became very real for her. This reminds me of the Bible reading about Thomas this past weekend. When he actually saw Jesus and felt the scars, Jesus' resurrection became real for him. It wasn't just talk anymore. In another example, yesterday, two church members dropped off a meal for us. Next thing we knew, Deb was up the stairs and giving one of them a hug. The tears flowed. Deb's progress became real. Our doctor made it real for us too. Deb's stomach cancer or the effects of that cancer still exist. The cancer (linitus plastica) has made her stomach like leather. It won't expand like ours. Despite this, Deb still eats and our doctor was very impressed to hear of Deb's continued weight gain (up to 93 lbs). While progress continues, Deb is still not at a place where she can get any medical intervention. We will therefore continue to trust in divine medicine knowing it is far stronger than anything Deb could receive from the hospital. May Christ Jesus and His love be real for you today as we remind you again - you are loved!
Update 4/18 - Saturday Update - Deb showed me! Yes, she did! I told her she could sleep a little longer today because I was running early. I told her that when I got back from my run, I could help her start her day. So much for that. When I got home, Deb had already showered, dressed herself, and made the bed. She sat downstairs waiting with a smirk on her face. Wonders never cease! I remember those days when it took three of us to help her shower and this only two or three times a week. We dressed her and practically had to carry her back to her bed. How times have changed! Yes, that smirk was well deserved. And maybe too, God is smirking. After all, it is all His work, isn't it? He's working His miracle. All that needless worry and tossing and turning of ours isn't necessary. In fact, His smirk might be saying exactly what Deb's said today, "I got this. I don't need your help." And so we pray today calling on God's power knowing He is perfectly capable of handling what we give Him. You are loved.
Note - No update tomorrow unless something big breaks. Let's focus on God's Word and a long nap.
Update 4/17 - Friday Update - It's like a scene from the classic, "My Fair Lady," only it isn't Katherine Hepburn doing the speaking drills, it's Deborah Ziemann. "Ooo, eee, ooo, eee" as fast as she can. Tongue out, and out it comes! Keep in mind, Deb hardly knew she had a tongue just 35 days ago. "A proper copper coffee pot," Deb says with some effort. You try it five times fast. "Fuzzy wuzzy was a bear. Fuzzy wuzzy had no hair. Fuzzy wuzzy wasn't fuzzy was he?" said Deb better than her husband could type it. Warm-up drills lead to the serious stuff and another day of miracle head healing is underway. It is simply amazing how God is giving Deb her voice back much like the Spirit interceding for us with groans too deep for words (Romans 8:26-27). Celebrate your voice today and the One who speaks for you. You are loved!
Update 4/16 - Thursday Update - Deb forgot she had cancer last night. She remembered when I prayed over her head, heart, and body. I was stunned. How does this happen? We have prayed often for the healing of her cancer. She is reminded when people give us helpful advice or recount their personal stories. She knows we have an appointment with the cancer doctor next week. The reminders are there. So, how does one explain Deb's forgetfulness? I think it is a positive explanation. First, I think Deb sometimes forgets because she doesn't have cancer symptoms to remind her. She's gaining weight. She is not nauseous after eating nor does she have a pain that never goes away. The cancer symptoms of old are mysteriously absent. And secondly, there is her focus. She is focused on speech and memory improvement. Who has time to think about cancer when you are coming back from three strokes? I rejoice in Deb's forgetfulness. It means we are making progress. It means Deb is not stuck in the past but rather living for the moment. I think all of us would benefit with a little forgetfulness too. Don't ever forget, though, you are loved!
Update 4/15 - Wednesday Update - One of the things Deb is "missing" is the changed world we are living in now. Think of the changes that have occurred since Deb had the strokes. For example, I'm writing this while parked in a line to the bank drive-up window. I ended up in the slow lane. It's going to be over thirty minutes easy. Deb has never had to deal with toilet paper sold out or eggs or wipes or... She has no idea about social distancing. It would crush her not to give you a hug. She lives in a simple world these days. Her focus is on eating, talking, and getting restful sleep. I'm glad she doesn't have to concern herself with the other stuff. After all, they are beyond her control. So what is beyond your control today. It would be best to leave those things to God. Maybe just focusing on eating, talking, and sleep would be good for all of us. Then it won't matter what the world is coming to or what lane you're stuck in. God is faithful. He'll carry us through no matter what. You are loved!
Update 4/14 - Tuesday Update - Deb hit another milestone today! She went over 90 pounds. She has been gaining about a pound every day. Her appetite is good, and she is eating the foods we have been eating these past days including casseroles, egg bakes, pizza, cheesecake cupcakes, and more. 90 pounds - 90 pounds of blessing! Other milestones ahead include a virtual visit with our cancer doctor next week and Deb's birthday on May 3. Could Deb hit a 100 by May? Don't be shocked! Celebrate your own personal milestones today. Look for the good around you. God is blessing in every situation. Some days you have to look a little harder but the blessings are there. When in doubt, remember you are loved!
Update 4/13 - Monday Update - We have come far together these past 30 days through the power of God's hand. Not too many people would have predicted that Deb would have walked into church on Easter Sunday, but she did! She had a great day worthy of many alleluias. However, unlike Christ's resounding and complete Easter victory over sin, death, and the devil, the battle wages on inside of Deb. Today we need to build on these victories by taking on the enemy with renewed focus. Deb has had discomfort much like heartburn after eating. Is it the cancer? Is the body adjusting to processing food? Is the stomach stretching and being healed? Probably yes to all. We have found ways to combat this like eating slower with smaller bites and Deb lying on her left side. It does pass, but this is a reminder that we are not done with this yet. So please join me in prayer for head, heart, and especially body. Let's build on the victories and be amazed at what God can do these next 30 days. Cancer is nothing to a God who can bring life out of death - the ultimate reminder that you are loved!
Update 4/12 - See Easter Pic
Update 4/11 - Saturday before Easter Update - I have been finding myself lately staring at a little circle going round and round on my computer as I wait for service and hymn downloads to be completed. Anticipation! I have been waiting for this long and strange week to be over. Anticipation! Deb too waits for the day when she can get every word out right without thinking about it and every bit of food to go down without problem. She waits for the day the doctor will say, "We find no more evidence of your cancer." Anticipation! Maybe you have been waiting for this update. Anticipation. How strange that on that first Saturday before Easter there was no anticipation, just fear and dread for the future. Let this not be you. Easter is coming. We know it, and we know what it means. Feel the anticipation and claim the victory through faith that you have in Christ. Know too you are dearly loved!
Update 4/10 - Good Friday Update - After Deb's "treatment" for her head, heart, and body last night, Deb began to cry. Then she asked, "What if I don't heal?" I explained that if she didn't heal, then these past weeks will be remembered as one of the greatest moments of our marriage - that we've never been closer, one in body, mind, and soul. And I add today, I would consider this time our greatest triumph together in Christ in facing the challenges of each day. I didn't end there, though, because the "what if" was not a question at all. Healing has occurred - amazing healing! I don't think anyone could have imagined how far Deb would progress in just 30 days at home with nothing but a prayer. Then I put it all back to Jesus and the perfect healing He accomplished on the cross. So today it is Good Friday. The Lord's words, "It is finished" tells us healing has certainly occurred. The forgiveness won there will wipe away the tears of the night and bring for those who believe eternal peace and joy in heaven. And that's where we left it, not fretting over wishful healing but sleeping soundly in the certainty that it has already been done. You are loved!
Update 4/9 - Holy Week Maundy Thursday - Tonight, I plan to give Deb communion. Who would have anticipated that? Think of it, she not only is alive, but she is also fully understanding of the events and meaning of Maundy Thursday and able to receive the body and blood of Jesus for the forgiveness of her sin. And with that, all our children will be with her. Another miracle I think. You all saw it yesterday, the sparkle and glow in Deb is returning but with that comes caution. There is still much healing and treatment needed. We cannot let our guard down. Thankfully, this was not an issue for Jesus. He saw the need and understood the cost and accomplished what needed to be done. He has applied healing for our souls in His blood. It is lasting. It is the deepest of healing. We will celebrate this today and the miracle of earthly healing for Deb. I hope you will join us across the miles through the Spirit who unites us and who reminds you that you are loved.
Update 4/8 - Holy Week Wednesday - It's a photo today! You are loved!
Update 4/7 - Holy Week Tuesday - I came in to church this afternoon and for the life of me, I couldn't remember the pass code in. It was gone. Do you know how many times I've punched in that code? I did get it with help, and I promptly put it in my phone. That's good... unless I forget my phone. 🥴 Deb's strokes raised the bar for memory loss. Last month I had to order more checks because Deb forgot where the extras were kept. Yesterday, she didn't remember that we agreed to get rid of the bed. Oh, boy! There are whole blocks gone and that has posed a challenge for me as I have assumed all of her old responsibilities. I'm told the memory will return in time, but for now, everything is new or relearned. Despite the negatives, this is an opportunity to build a whole new set of memories - memories without the old mistakes and burdensome guilt. And that gets us right back to the events of this week. The death and resurrection of Christ Jesus is your new start. God did not forget His promise to you. Build on this. Then you will have time to cherish the good memories while they're still around to be remembered. And as always, remember you are loved.
Update 4/6- Holy Week Monday - The bed is gone. So are the wheelchair, shower transfer bench, and oxygen machine and tanks. Our living room suddenly looks massive. I must say that it is one think to talk about letting go of these things and another actually doing it, but we are praying for miracle, right? If we truly believe God can do this miracle, why will we need that hospital bed? To not do this would be like praying for rain and not bringing the umbrella. So, we took the leap - a leap further into the arms of Christ. I can think of no better place to be! You too can take those leaps. You can believe we will get through this time. You can be confident that God has not left you or forsaken you. That's what this week is all about, isn't it? You are loved. This hasn't changed even with or without a bed or wheelchair or...
Update 4/5 - Palm Sunday - As clear as the Spirit urging me to pray for Deb's head, heart, and body came another leading...get rid of the hospital bed. This bed is currently in our living room along with the oxygen machine, bed table, and portable commode. It was all provided by hospice. Thank you! However, we haven't used the oxygen for over two weeks. The commode is handy, but Deb certainly could make it to the toilet now. The table is handy for collecting stuff. That leaves the bed. Deb is in and out of it - often making that transition in the wee hours of the morning. We really don't need it anymore. It looks like it's time to graduate from hospice. We've gone from providing "comfort" to rehab. We're making plans and dying in that hospital bad is not part of them. Miracles do happen. Yep, that bed has got to go as we make plans for life! Thank you for being part of it. God still has work to do, so, continue to pray. You are loved!
Update 4/3 - As we continue to work on getting Deb's weight back up after bottoming out at 78 pounds, the subject of calories has come up. So just how do you pork up someone needing weight like our dear Deb? Those who have known Deb over the years know how careful Deb was concerning diet. With exception of a few weak moments, Deb watched her calories pretty well. How interesting that is because at our house, we're pushing in anything that will stay in. There's the good stuff like avocados, sweet potatoes, peas, cottage cheese, and recently even asparagus. Then there is fresh fruit including juicy pears from Oregon, bananas, strawberries, blueberries, applesauce, and peaches. We've been encouraged to feed her the not so great stuff too - the stuff loaded with sugar like pudding and ice cream. Deb even stole part of a cookie the other day. The only thing Deb has pushed away was our offer of thickened prune juice. What kind of calories are you taking in lately? More importantly, how about those spiritual calories? Are you losing "weight" these days. Sunday is coming. Let that be a time for a smorgasbord of God's Word. Here, "porking up" is a good thing right next to Deb's new diet. And in God's Word, you will see that you are loved!
Update 4/3 - The quest for independence continues for Deb these days, and she seems to be achieving it far beyond our expectations. Deb is able to get around without assistance. She is feeding and drinking by herself. Last night she climbed the stairs in record time and went straight to the bathroom where she promptly brushed her own teeth. When we eat, she is quick to sample our meals. Shower time is not nearly as exhaustive. In fact, I think she is almost ready to handle this on her own. Our job is stay ahead of her and keep her safe. So, continue those prayers for head, heart, and body with special emphasis on speech development and wiping out the cancer. We don't know what is ahead, but we rest assured that we are firmly in God's grip. To God be the glory and praise this day! You are loved!
Update 4/2 - I took that nap after Deb nearly threatened me with bodily harm. Well, maybe I'm exaggerating a bit. During the nap the Spirit gave me what to write and that concerns hope. There's not a lot of it these days and in this house, Satan attempts to steal it away everyday. I mean think of it - strokes, infection, cancer! What do you do with that? You pray and make plans. Infection. It appears God has conquered this. Deb hasn't had a fever or another stroke in two weeks. Strokes? The effect of the strokes continue to be undone daily. God continues to work. The cancer...? No one knows what hides inside. This alone could crush our hope, but not today, friends! Deb is gaining weight. So we make plans - plans to see the cancer doctor, plans to celebrate birthdays and confirmation, and plans for weddings and family gatherings. We make plans to fix meals for Deb to eat - meals that go from soft to solid. You get the picture? We are not going to lay around and wait to die. We are moving forward with an end in sight. That's what is missing in the world today, but not here. Not you! Expect the miracle - don't just wish it. Test the water and swim. See the bright ray of hope breaking through the clouds. Why can't God handle it! So we plan big, and so should you! Ah, the wonder of a good nap and a God who loves you always and completely. You are loved!
Update 4/1 - With all the progress these days, you might get the mistaken idea that Deb is always active and talking. While these words would describe Deb, they only occur 25-33% of the time. The other times are spent resting or recharging. These times are when the healing happens. I often like to call them times of "deep healing." I really think God had this in mind when He created the Sabbath. Rest or deep healing is good and when we actually take time for it, we are blessed. True to form, Deb had a lot of deep healing time yesterday, and today she woke up at another level. Are you taking your rest today? Need some deep healing? Schedule some today (says the guy needing a nap right now). It will do your body good just as God intended. Add a dose of prayer, and you have a prescription for a miracle. Remember, you are loved! Now about that nap... 😴
Update 3/31 - The gains continue today as God's miracle continues to unfold before us. I am awed but not surprised. Is there anything God can't do? First, Deb has gained five pounds in a week. Recall, we were celebrating one pound last week. As Deb's appetite grows, we are confident this will continue. Secondly, Deb has been speaking in sentences at times. Yesterday, for example, she shocked us when she asked to watch a movie. And finally, I am happy to report that we have gotten into a nightly rhythm which is both safe and restful. This is God's work, and we give Him glory. And that's the key to all of this. This has never been about Deb or me or anyone else. This experience has been about God's mercy, grace, and power. Even if God chose to end it right now, we'd be rejoicing. That's how life and death must be viewed - knowing God has His arms around you now and that He will have His arms outstretched welcoming you home later. Until that day, rejoice in the miracle of life which for us this day includes pounds, words, and sleep. You are loved!
Update 3/30 - I threw it back to you this past weekend - to the prayer warriors and support crew that spans the nation and world (seriously). I can't even put it into words the overwhelming response we've received. I don't think Deb can fully grasp the magnitude of what is happening, but she will. So, I've saved the cards, the photos, and emails. They are read to her each day. She often becomes emotional when she hears from you. It truly has made an impact. Thank you! God continues to work His miracle. Deb is eating more and more every day. Yesterday, Deb begged part of my dinner off me - a tasty and nutritious spinach enchilada provided by someone in the congregation. By her look, it was a little heaven on earth with every mouthful. Her words are coming too which means no one is getting away with anything anymore and that we are having many good laughs. Despite the progress, patience is still the order of the day and that only is learned through struggle and discipline. There will be those moments, but even there, God is still with us and with you because God is faithful and you are loved.
Update 3/28 - Saturday Update - Deb's like a baby bird lately. That's good and bad. Good because she is eating constantly. We are staying away from the worms, though. Instead her open mouth likes all kinds of mashed fruit, potatoes, avocados, sweet potatoes mixed with squash soup, peas, and Boost drinks. And if we are not fast enough, she will grab it and feed herself. As a result, we are constantly trying to stay ahead like a frantic robin. The bad is the result of her growing strength and confidence. She's trying to leave the nest too early...like 1:30 a.m. or 4:00 a.m. the past couple nights. Yawn! I thought about posting guards all night but that won't help much since Deb likes to sleep in two different places at various times. "Clipping her wings" makes her pretty frustrated so this continues to be a challenge. It is all good, though, because these are not the actions of someone dying but rather someone very much alive and fighting. So we'll keep the good and bad for now and leave the worms for the robins. Have a blessed weekend. Also note, unless something big happens, I will skip the update for tomorrow. Instead, I will throw it back to you. Send us a photo if you can so Deb knows who is praying for her. You are loved!
Below is a link to Zion's Web Page dedicated to the Updates sent about Deb's condition and progress. You may also visit the page
Update 3/27 - Friday Update - Deb is saying words! She's even is putting some together in song. It's amazing the progress day by day. It hasn't been easy but little by little the muscles and brain are connecting. We are still waiting for that ice jam to break and then there will no stopping her. You know, in this process I have come to value every word said. Funny how I never really thought about that before. I imagine it's the same for you. You say word after word, some important and some not so important. Do you know the gift you have? Take away those words and you would get a whole new perspective. Deb is going to have to work a little harder for her words. Not so for you. You have a whole bank of words to use. Use them for good and to build up. Use them to praise a God who in the Word created and forgave. And sleep in the peace of God's word of hope in the certainty that you are loved!
Update 3/26 - Thursday update - I'm wondering if there will ever be a "normal" again. Aside from speech therapy at 10:30, I have yet to find a familiar routine and pace for each day. Gone is the regular routine. Even nighttime is subject to change. This is the new normal, and there is nothing normal about it. And of course, it doesn't help that there is nothing normal about the world either, does it? So what is to be done? Nothing, except to embrace what is constant and normal - Jesus Christ our Lord. His promises always remain. Nothing can separate us from His love. He will not leave us or forsake us. He will work all things for the good. His mercies are new every morning. Here is the normal we can trust, in good times and bad. Rejoice this day in Deb's continued progress and in the certainty of a God who can handle anything - even those days that aren't so normal. You are loved!
Update 3/25 - Wednesday Update - On today's run - often my personal time of prayer - I got a vision of an ice dammed river. Water poured against that ice. The ice cracked and groaned until at last it broke through. Then all was well. Then I saw Deb and the blood vessels in her head. The blood was pouring against a block and so I prayed harder. And then suddenly, it happened. All was free and Deb was thinking and speaking as she was before the stroke. That time hasn't come yet, but I sense the ice breaking. Deb wants it badly. She was pretty emotional about this. She wants it now. It's such hard work to relearn so much. It seems so hopeless. Why doesn't God work faster? Yet, He is! We see it every day. So we need to trust in God's timing. May God help us all see it as we hear the creaking and groaning of a miracle sure to come.
Update 3/24 - Tuesday Update - Deb continues to defy the odds as God works in her today. She continues to eat and drink as well as stretching those vocal cords little by little. She also continues her night wandering, so I am getting creative in my methods to slow her down. Usually that means sleeping in the hospital bed with her after she journeys down from our second floor bedroom every night. I'm going to need a nap again! On this day when our Ohio governor says only essential people are allowed out of their homes, I am thinking that all of you are essential in the journey we are on - from the man who delivered the hospital bed to those who took the time to send a card or text, to therapy, to meal providers, to the prayer warriors and more. Daily we are reminded of the miracle performed not only in Deb but also the ones done through you. Pray this day in the wonder and anticipation of what the Lord will do next for Deb and through you. You are dearly loved!
Update 3/23 - Monday Update - Deb gained a pound! I know that might seem like nothing, but for us, it is another marker for the positive. She's gaining because she is eating again. Her food list grows daily - sweet potato, avocado, pears, peaches, mango, blueberry/apple, and Boost. All these are prepared with just the right consistency to go down right. It won't surprise me if Deb is handling solid food by the end of the week. Scripture talks about this too (1 Corinthians 3:2). We would all do well to progress from milk to solid and then in the process gain a little weight. It might be a little challenging these days but we must keep working. And there's where you will receive that little miracle - like one pound or a bit more faith to help you through another day. God can do it! So help yourself to the good stuff today and see how God works. For Deb, for now, I think we'll try peas and a healthy dose of prayer.
Update 3/22 - Sunday Update - Found church online this morning. Deb drank 7 ounces of water and ate 4 ounces of apple/blueberry sauce. During therapy time Deb helped sing happy birthday to her sister Pam. And we are just getting started. This is a day to thank the Lord! The picture says the rest. You are loved!
Update 3/21 - Saturday Update - Despite what you might picture, life in the Ziemann house hasn't been dull, somber, or sad lately. Quite the contrary! It's an adventure! This is because as Deb grows stronger, she works harder at achieving her independence. As a result, in the middle of the night, you might catch her sneaking off to bathroom or attempting to make her way downstairs without assistance. This why I have to sleep with one eye open. Or you might find her trying to take a swig out of your cup or beer during our anniversary celebration because that's what you do. Forget thickened water! That's for sick people. What Deb is learning is that there is a time to be served - to be dependent on someone else. It's much safer. It's something we have all learned as so many of continue to give up yourselves to help us in many ways. This experience has ultimately taught us to depend on our heavenly Father, and that not a bad place to be at all, is it? Yes, we'd all be better off if we'd just let God do His miracles. And He does in our salvation and in our prayers for healing. Know God is faithful and you are loved!
Update 3/20 - Friday Update - 27 years ago, I married my sweetheart. She caught my eye immediately as a woman of great character and strength. She was beautiful inside and out. On this day, just 80 pounds, being fed by the spoonful, voice reduced to ahhs and oohs and an occasional word, and assistance needed in most things, she is more beautiful and stronger than ever. So is our marriage. Good can come from every trial and test. The unfolding miracle that is happening before our eyes is proof. Early on, I wasn't so sure Deb would make it to today, but there she is, more alive than ever. After a rough night in which my urgent prayers were made in the three o'clock hour and my plea that the Spirit rouse twenty others to join me, Deb's pounding headache and heartburn like symptoms were calmed. Deb is eating now - sweet potatoes, pudding, and bananas. Her voice is returning. Her wit ever sharper. She is a miracle. Best of all, she is my bride. To God all glory! Thank you for your prayers and know you are all making a difference.
Update 3/19 - Thursday Update - Today continued yesterday's amazing progress. Deb is chewing her ice now! We are hearing voice and even a word - "wow." Very appropriate! She continues to walk. She's getting antsy. Baby steps I tell her, and I get a playful hiss. And then after all this, Deb hits the wall and sleeps. This reminds me of the importance of endurance. Deb doesn't have it yet. She tires easily. Yet, we must have it. When the good reports come and miracles happen, it is easy to let our guard down and become complacent in our prayers. It's even happening in our house. Treatment must continue. This is not over by any means. Endurance - in all things. For those who have it, thank you. You are carrying us. For those like us who might need a little nudge now and then, this is it. Let's pound the strokes, the infection, and cancer with divine medicine. In all things - in good and bad - carry on with the Lord moving you!
Update 3/18 - Wednesday Update - Breakthrough Day! It is has now been two weeks since Deb was admitted into University Hospital in Cleveland suffering from multiple strokes, an out of control infection, and of course the stage four stomach cancer diagnosis. On this day we can send a hearty prayer of thanks to our God for His mercy, blessing, and healing. Deb who weighed in at 80 pounds after her shower today has turned a corner. Even the hospice nurses have taken notice. Things like this don't happen in their experience, but it is. Deb is able to walk stairs and sleeps in her own bed with her happy husband. She has made breakthroughs in swallowing and consuming at least four ounces of water and some Boost today so far. She no longer needs oxygen with an oxygen level of 98% without it. I could go on. God is working His miracle. There is still a long journey ahead, but today we celebrate a huge step forward. Continue prayer for head, heart, and body with special emphasis on weight gain and eyesight (still a little foggy from strokes). On this dark day in our world, let this message be the bright ray of hope that God can do anything from healing Deb to stopping a virus. Pray, give thanks, and know you are loved!
Update 3/17 - We solved the night wandering. I slept in the hospital bed with Deb and hung on. That was an experience! Because Deb is strong, I think we will walk her upstairs tonight and try our bed again. Among the miracles of today would be the therapist that comes in each day and works on Deb's language and swallowing issues. She's a member of our congregation who is trained in things like this. She is not working because of all the closings. But God is working through her for Deb's recovery. I prayed for one good swallow today and God gave us ten. People in general are God's little miracles too. Your visits and prayers, cards and surprise packages, meals, and much love. I can't express in words the difference you are making. Thank you. You are loved.
Update 3/16 -Deb was on the loose again! I said good night to her at 1:00 am. and went upstairs to sleep. At 2:30, I was awakened when Deb walked into the room. I thought I was dreaming. She had scaled two flights of steps (twelve in all) in the dark with no assistance. While this was dangerous, it was good to be together. She was able to walk back down the stairs to her bed with a little assistance. I'd say that was another miracle! Hospice helped give Deb another shower later. We continue to work on swallowing. It is better, but not great. This is a concern. Thanks for your continued prayers. You are loved!
Update 3/15 - You never know what each day brings, but when God works miracles, you need to expect the unexpected. Like today when we were eating breakfast upstairs while Deb was downstairs missing all the excitement. So on her own, she got out her bed and walked over to the steps to join us. After getting over our shock, we assisted her, and she did join us. She had some bites of pudding, and we had our eggs. The hard part of the day was realizing how far away we are from the complete healing we seek. That coupled with our desire for God to work according to our timeline and our ways brings frustration. We want it now and often God doesn't work that way. Sometimes he works through little miracles day by day which add up to the big ones. It's hard to see this and be patient, but we are learning. So continue your prayers, please, for the head, heart, and body. And also add a prayer for Deb's swallowing reflex to return so that she will get the nutrition and hydration she needs. We feel your prayers and we are so grateful. You are loved.
Update 3/14 - Today Deb woke up thirsty and ready to eat. Therefore, today has been declared "first food day!" She is getting small amounts of water, pudding, and applesauce by sponge on the hour right after her "treatment." Thank God today for this progress and keep praying for her head(brain), heart, and body. She is also more responsive today, but she still hasn't talked. One thing at a time. God is doing His work. We are blessed and you are dearly loved!
Update 3/13 - We've had an amazing 24 hours. God is working! Yesterday Deb returned home. What a relief this was for all of us! We have continued her "treatments" of divine medicine every hour. We pray over her head, heart, and body. In all this we seek only God's will and glory. Last night we were looking for any sign of progress. We got it at 11:30 when Deb suddenly sat up and pointed to the commode. We got her up and she filled that pot. Crazy as it sounds, it was "music" to my ears. Because she showed such strength, we decided she was ready for a shower this morning. She walked down the stairs with us beside her and got that shower! We used the wheelchair to get her back upstairs. She's going to need the rest of the day to recover, I think. We thank you for your prayers and continued support. It is sustaining us. God is faithful, and He continues to bless us. Know you are dearly loved!
Update 3/12 - No change in Deb's condition this morning. She sleeps a lot. I was able to give her water through little sponges. We are waiting for transport home. All man made methods for healing have failed. The only thing left is divine medicine. So every hour I administer divine treatment through prayer. I pray first for her brain which was damaged in the strokes. Then I pray over her heart that the infection would be killed and that her heart valve would be restored to health. Then I pray over her body that the cancer would be controlled and go into remission. Some might call this desperation, but I feel as long as there is life in Deb's body, God can do anything. You are welcome to join me in this application of divine medicine. In all this we ask for God's will and His glory in the miracle He can truly give us.
Update 3/11 - Well, we had to make some decisions this morning. Deb's heart condition is not improving. She told me so when I arrived and was confirmed by nurse and doctors. At this point, we are out of options. So the plan is to get her home tomorrow. Because of her cancer, she is eligible for hospice care. On the bright side, I worked with the physical therapy team to get her standing and moved to a chair. She really enjoyed that. Now she is resting and stable. While God has not answered our prayers the way we wanted, He is being merciful in sparing Deb a long difficult road and instead is giving her a path to unceasing and unimaginable joy and peace. We have both accepted this and are ready for the journey home. God is with us and even now is blessing us with His love and care.
In our prayers we ask our almighty and everlasting God, the consolation of the sorrowful and the strength of the weak, to be with the Ziemann family. May they recognize and receive His gracious help, comfort, and peace at this time; through Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.
Update 3/10 - Today there is good news from Pastor Ziemann. This morning the doctors were able to remove Deb's breathing tube which allowed her to breathe naturally on her own. A music therapist was present offering a lovely atmosphere sure to be an encouragement to Deb. Knowing that this was a big hurdle for her to cross, Pastor has asked that we "send lots of prayers of thanks right now."
So many of you have expressed loving concern for Deb and we'll do our best to keep you up to date with any news. There will be more hurdles but there is also reassurance in the power of prayer and the Lord is hearing us.
"Precious Savior, still our refuge - take it to the Lord in prayer!"
Update 3/4-6 - Dear Brothers and Sisters in Christ,
As most of you may have heard by now, Deb Ziemann had a stroke on Tuesday afternoon. We don't know many details, except that in addition to the stomach cancer diagnosis, she has had the flu twice and has suffered dehydration, and now she is dealing with the effects of a stroke. We are asking you to join us in prayer TODAY at 12:00 noon. Please stop whatever you are doing and pray with us as a group to lift Deb up in prayer.
Heavenly Father, You created the world and you created Deb to be in that world. You knew her by name even before she was born and you have ordained all things in her life. Today we lift her up before Your throne, asking you to fill her with an extra measure of Your Spirit to strengthen her faith during this crisis, and give her courage and hope during this crisis. We pray that you give her doctors an extra amount of wisdom to understand what she needs, and to be wise in their decisions as she goes forward through this process. Lord, we know that in all things what You ordain is "always good" and that it is needs to be "well with my soul". But Lord, we also know You know what it means to feel fear and dread as You prayed in the garden, but in the end we say with our Savior, "Thy will be done". Today, we put Deb in your care and know that she is safe and secure in the palm of Your hand. Keep her strong in all of this, we pray. We thank you, Lord, for listening to our prayer as You promised to do!
We pray in the name of our Good Shepherd, Deb's "good shepherd", Jesus, our Savior. Amen.
Thank you for your participation. God bless us all with peace and comfort.
(This suggestion & prayer was submitted by Jim Koscik)
Saturday Update - One thing that is not in short supply around our house is laughter. For example, I asked Deb what I should write about today, and she told me that I should write about the "genius" we have in the house. I must point out, she wasn't talking about her husband. We laughed in relief when one morning she decided to go walking by herself again. You see, the boys weren't getting up fast enough. A friend in the neighborhood caught her and asked, "Are you supposed to be walking by yourself?" Needless to say, the mischievous smirk returned. Another cute story was when Deb tried to cook chicken noodle soup without the oven on. Yes, I can tell so many more. The great thing is that Deb laughs with us. Her good humor is alive and well, and this bodes well for her healing because laughter or a cheerful heart is good medicine (Proverbs 17:22). Find a reason to laugh today. If you need help, feel free to consult the "genius" living in our house. You are loved!
Deb's birthday is tomorrow. She says she is 23. 😂 There will be no update, but you are welcome to send a birthday greeting through a text or email.
Saturday Update - Deb declared another miracle last night. Here's what happened. We finished our night time prayers and then Deb shifted her head on her pillow right onto a wet spot. It was a drool puddle. This happens, yes? But it happens more often after a stroke. Well, Deb was disgusted and had enough. With that smirk and in her way of saying, she announced that God should put her out of misery right then and there rather than having her drooling the rest of her life. I told her that if she died drooling, then that would be my last memory of her. That struck her funny (you had to have been there). And then she laughed. It was a good, deep, long laugh, better than any we've had in awhile. That's when she declared the miracle. For the first time, her stomach didn't hurt when she laughed. Naturally, I made her laugh some more - might as well enjoy the miracle. We've laughed more since, and most of the time it still doesn't hurt. I am thankful for this, but more importantly, I am thankful that Deb can laugh in the face of death. Many people are having a hard time doing that these days, and that's why talk of cancer and pandemics are causing such great fear. Understand though, those in Christ have no reason to fear since what is promised to us is far better than anything this life can offer. So in the victory of Jesus, laugh in the face of death. Laugh with us and drool a bit too. It will do you good. You are loved.
Note - Back on Monday! Enjoy your Sabbath rest.Friday Update - I learned today that though Deb might like her words, she definitely doesn't like geography. "I'm no good at it," she admitted. This we discovered during speech therapy. Her memory of geography was tested, and it was a struggle. So what is Deb to do? Simple. She "cancels" it. The question about the Nile in Egypt - canceled. Gettysburg - canceled. She was ready to cancel the whole subject. It was actually hilarious as we pressed the subject further. What else would she cancel? People? Things? Her funny husband? Thankfully, she limited it to geography. When it comes to canceling, there's someone better than Deb. It's Jesus Himself! Sin needs canceling. The debt we owe is great. Hatred...canceled. Unloving attitudes...canceled. Lust...canceled. Selfishness...canceled. The whole subject of sin was canceled in one sacrifice - never to condemn us ever again. This geography tops all - outside Jerusalem - on a mount called Calvary - on a cross - hung our Savior for the sin of the world. Deb knows the meaning of that place, and we pray you do too. She's not canceling it! You are loved!Friday Update - Deb continues her rebound from the pain-filled days of early in the week. Her swollen stomach is still evident as we wait for the steroid to do its work. Hopefully, we're going to get that second walk in today. Deb and I have had some good heart to heart conversations too. One of them always starts with Deb saying to me: "It would be easier on you if I weren't here." I usually groan and sigh and then say, "How many times do I have to explain this to you?" It actually makes us laugh now. I explain to her that whether she is here or not, I would still have to do the extra work. If she were not here, I would be doing it alone - without her love, companionship, humor, hugs, kisses, support, and more. This doesn't even include the impact she makes with family and church. Then I kiss her and tell her how much I love her. End of discussion...until tomorrow when she brings it up again. 🙂 Here's the important point for us all. Everyone has value as long as there is life. God has given us our time on earth for a reason. What are you here for? It is to live, to smile, to pray, to serve as you are able. It's a gift, as is my sweet wife is to me and all who know her. You are loved!