Monday, August 30, 2010

Mary's Story Part 1 ~ Starfish ~

I bet you've read this short piece before, I hope you'll read it again, because it is the perfect analogy to set the stage for the story I am about to tell, the story about Mary...the Starfish we found...

~The Starfish Story ~
~ Adapted from The Star Thrower ~
~ by Loren Eiseley (1907 - 1977) ~

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, and so, he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects, and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out "Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?"

The young man paused, looked up, and replied "Throwing starfish into the ocean."

"I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?" asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this, the young man replied, "The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don't throw them in, they'll die."

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, "But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can't possibly make a difference!"

At this, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, "It made a difference for that one."

As Christians, it is often discouraging when we look out at the sea of people who need Jesus, they need to be loved, they need to know His love.  We look around and see needs, knowing that we are unable to bring change to every single life that passes us on the street each day.  Does that mean we give up?  Do we throw our hands in the air and keep walking, simply because we feel we can't make a difference to the masses.  What if we turned, reached out to just one.  Would it make a difference if we could make impact one life?  Would it make a difference if we could share the love of Jesus with just one person?  Would it make a difference if we could make life easier, better, for just one? 

The answer is yes.  It would make a difference to that one.

We met Mary at the beginning of June.  While working, my husband was called to a rehabilitation center regarding the suspician of someone taking advantage of an elderly person.  He took care of the situation, and after all was said and done, began chatting with her.  Mary is 94 years old.  She was married at one time, but had no children.  She is the 8th of 11 siblings, but the only one living.  She had many nephews and neices, but most have passed on themselves.  This left her with just a handful of relatives several states away who were already beginning to age themselves.

As Mary put it, she had "no one".  No one. 

No one to care for her needs.  No one to go home to when she was released from Rehab, no one to check on her home, no one to pay her bills, no one to visit her, no one to laugh with, no one to love.  No one.

Mary Etta

If you've been reading my blog for a while, you already know I have an extraordinary husband. If you haven't, now is my time to brag little. 

My husband is strong, logical, smart, straight-forward, matter-of-fact, and steady.  He is also the most loving, kind, generous, good-hearted godly man I have ever met.  He loves people with a passion.  His heart went out to Mary at that moment, and I believe in his heart he began to pray about how we could help her.  That night over dinner, he told me about Mary.  He wanted me to meet her, we decided to go after church the following day, the 4th of July, and visit Mary.

When we walked in, Mary saw Mike and her face lit up.  She had the sweetest smile and such a twinkle in her eye.  It was obvious to me that she had already bonded with my husband...a connection had been made.  We sat and chatted for a while, then went on our way, promising to be back soon.  And we were. 

Over the next several weeks we visited Mary many times, we took her out to lunch and to visit her home.  We visited her at rehab and during our conversations we learned so much about her life.  Mike began to take care of the things she was unable to handle from rehab; paying her bills, contacting her lawn man, bug guy, and friends who had called to check on her.  She had no way to make those contacts, and he was her "lifeline".  She was physically weak, and quite obviously wanting to get out of Rehab, but she would not be able to live alone anymore.

We began to think and talk about possibilities.  Before talking to Mary, the two of us discussed bringing her to our home, to live with us.  We were both aware that this would be a huge undertaking.  However, this was a LIFE, someones LIFE we were talking about.  How could we put a value on that?  How could we put simple freedoms such as running to thrift stores, or Starbucks, or out to lunch on a whim, before someone's life?  A lot of things in my own life were coming into perspective.  Our son is grown, we have a room, I do not work outside my home, I have the time and the ability to care for her.  We prayed, often and fervently for guidance, direction, and answers.  God answered with a peace in our hearts.

The overwhelming feeling was that God had placed Mary in our lives for a reason. 

During our next few visits with Mary, we asked her about this option.  Would she want to come live with us?  She said yes, but she was concerned about the expense it would be to us.  She was concerned that she would be a burden to us.  This 94 year old woman who was so in need, was concerned about being a burden.  My heart melted.  We told her it would be a blessing for us to have her in our home, that we wanted her "golden years" to be lived out in a loving environment, not a cold hospital-like atmosphere.  She gave us the biggest twinkling smile and said yes.  She would love to come and live with us and we would be like "one big happy family".  Wow.  I believe she was craving a family, as she had lived alone for so many years.

However, bringing Mary home with us would turn out to be more of a challenge than we expected...

"Learn to do good;
Seek justice,
Reprove the ruthless,
Defend the orphan,
Plead for the widow."

Isaiah 1:17

...come back tomorrow for Part 2.

Friday, August 27, 2010

Friday Funnies

I don't know about you, but I could sure use some funny!  I'm joinnig my best friend Kim for her Friday Funnies meme...if you want to giggle today, or have something that might tickle my toes, pop over HERE and link up or browse.

I got this in an e-mail the other day and it just hit me as funny...or humiliating maybe....LOLOLOL

Wednesday, August 18, 2010


I've never partcipated in a "color" themed meme before, but decided I'd pop on in today...Red is not my favorite color, but I do think it's pretty are some places I love to see it!

In my garden...

 Gerbera Daisy...
  Don Juan Rose... 

In my kitchen...

Valentines Birthday Cake with Chocolate dipped Strawberries...
  Chocolate Lava cakes with Raspberry sauce...
 Strawberry Morning Biscuits...

In Valentine Decorations...

A Vintage Card...
Valentine Craft Decor...

There are plenty of other places I like to see red, like in a pretty dress, or a pair of earrings, and in Christmas ANYTHING! :)

If you'd like to join in and share your "Red's"...pop over to It's a Very Cherry World.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Monday Mish-Mash!

Well, here we are...Monday.  I don't think I blogged for an entire week.  Life has been full and busy and happenin'.

*Hubby is doing great, healing wonderfully!  I love him SO much...He is my HERO! :)

*It's hot...HOT...and HUMID...and HOT outside.  Just sayin'.

*We are adopting...sort of....we are adopting a Grandma.  Only she's never BEEN a grandma, but she deserves to be, so we are adopting her.  More to come on this. :)

*Our house looks like a hurricane hit it.  We've had a LOT going on lately, and there is just stuff disorganized everywhere...and I'm NOT use to that.  I SERIOUSLY need to get down to the nitty gritty and clean up my sewing/craft is BAD people, I'm am telling you....BAD!

*I cracked open a book last night...from 1947.  Yup, everything a homemaker needs to know about proper meal preparation...from what the HEM SIZE on your napkins should be??? to learning great tid-bits of info like "fat is good for energy"...OK....and how to properly pack a lunch box.
I'm loving it, it's absolutely fun to read.

*My garden is in GREAT need of clean up.  But did I mention it is HOT?  August is my most unfavorite month in Florida.  Seriously.  It is HOT....oh, I already said this, huh?  Everything grows like mad in this hottest of months and it looks like a scary jungle full of vicious man eating mosquitos....when will Fall come?  In January.

*I'm super proud of my son.  He's brave, and I'm proud of him.  He was awake when 2 mortars came in to their base camp.  He alerted everyone to wake up, and made sure they had all secured their weapons and were heading for the bunker.  He made sure everyone was out before he left. 

Mind you, he's the youngest, AND lowest ranking of 14 guys in his group and he took charge and remained calm.  I'm proud of him. :)

What are your plans for the week?

"Do not be wise in your own eyes;
Fear the Lord and turn away from evil."
Proverbs 3:7

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Count It All JOY!

Today I'm linking up with my friend Angel for her Wednesday meme, Why I Count It All JOY Wednesday! :)  If you want to join in or just read posts that'll make your heart smile, pop over and visit ANGEL.

Here are some things that come to mind ~

I am filled with joy because...

~ The sun is shining, but I see rain clouds in the sky, and more rain means happy flowers!

~ My husband is feeling better every day!

~ My coffee cup is empty, but there's more in the pot! :)

~ God is stretching me and taking me out of my comfort zone to grow me, and I'm actually looking forward to it.  That is a good thing!

~ I am less than a month away from celebrating another year of marriage to my wonderful husband!

~ All my laundry is done!

~ Today is another day to rejoice in the goodness of our Lord Jesus Christ!  He is SO good!

"...And let your godly ones sing for joy." 
Psalms 132:9b

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Not What We Had Planned ~ Home At Last

"...Mike followed me to the Sheriff's office, where Deputy Pete met us. He stood out in the overbearing heat and hooked the boat up to the blazer; off we went.

I bet you think this is the end of the story, don't you? Well, I'll finish this up tomorrow with the adventures of our drive home..."

We got on the Interstate, I followed behind Mike.  We had about a 2-3 hour drive ahead of us and we would be home.  Oh, to be home.  There is nothing like being home during a time when you are injured, having car troubles, needing to rest and recover...we were looking forward to that more than you can imagine!

After stopping for a quick lunch (I ran in and brought it out to Mike in the blazer and we ate in there), we were back on the road.  As I was driving along, I began to hear a little tapping noise.  I remembered, we had a piece of trim that was slighly loose, so I figured it must be slapping the side of the RV.  Then the road became very bumpy.  I looked in my passenger side mirror and noticed that the back of the RV was bopping up and down QUITE a bit.  Hmmmmm, was it REALLY a bumpy road?

I called Mike on the cell (he had to put me on speaker phone, as he only had one hand available!). 

"Honey, is this road bumpy to you?"
"Bumpy?  No."
"Hmmm, it seems REALLY bumpy to me"
"Maybe you have a flat ti..."


Just as he was saying that I heard a loud noise.  Mike explained that my tire must have been loosing air slowly and the seal finally broke.  I was so thankful that it was one of the back tires (where there are two side by side), so I was still able to drive on the one tire.

We exited.  There was a truck stop at the exit, so we pulled in there, where Mike pulled up alongside me and eyeballed our flat. 

This is when I got this picture in my head.  Have you ever seen the movie "Princess Bride"?  Years ago it was my favorite movie.  It was a comedy love story of sorts.
The dashing young star was brave and strong and always knew what to do in any given situation.  However, he was 'almost' killed.  He was "half dead" they said.  To revive him, he was given a magic pill.  The pill, however, took a while to reach full effectiveness, and he lay there unable to move his body, while his mind was fully capable of giving all the commands needed to get the necessary things done in order to save the princess.  Yes, if you are reading this correctly, I am the princess... :)  And my hubby is the dashing young hero! :)  Over the next few days I couldn't get this out of my head, lol.

So, we sat there and Mike eyeballed the flat.  He pondered if I would have the strength to get those bolts off, not likely.  He suggested I go inside and ask an employee about tire service in the area.  After being directed to a "bulletin board" with various numbers on it, another employee, and older gentleman, who was on break asked me what I was looking for.  When I explained, he gave me a number he had in his cell phone.  It was not on the board, but he knew these people and trusted them.  They were 1/2 mile down the road.  Thank you Lord for bringing people into our difficulties that are looking out for our best interests.

I brought the number to Mike and he called.  They said, come on down.  They put our spare on there for only $13!  Excellent.

We hobbled down the road to a large tire service company where EVERY single person that we talked to was SO friendly.  It was almost unreal.  You just don't meet people in that line of work who are that friendly all the time.  The had a worker replace our flat with our spare tire.  When I went inside to pay, I was only chargred $5.00!!!!  Just one more blessing!

So, with all our tires intact, we hit the road.  As we got onto the Interstate, I got a call from Deputy Pete, he was checking on us and wanting to know if we'd made it home safely yet.  I informed him of our flat, and he was as astonished as we were, good gravy!  What else could go wrong, right??? 
I called my friend Kim to give her a status update and we laughed about the flat tire.  What else could go wrong?  LOL

Moments later the spare tire blew.

Yup, you read that correctly.  Do you want to laugh?  You can.  I won't be offended, it's funny NOW. 

Well, obviously we didn't have another spare, and we were SO close to home we could almost taste it.  Mike suggested we take the next exit and weave through the back roads to home.  That way we could drive slower and at least be right there in town, close to home, should anything else go wrong.

But really, what else could go wrong?   Right?

SOOOOOOooooooo, we are making our way through the streets in town.  We are almost home taking a road that curves around the backside of the Airport when I get a red light.  The brakes seem as though they are NOT working right.  I pressed HARD but the RV didn't want to stop, I'm so glad the light turned green.  As I make the curve, I notice the steering is tough to handle, and the temperature gauge needle is rising, it's in the RED!

I fumbled around for my cell phone and called Mike.  As I'm telling him what's going on, I am attempting to make a right turn, when the RV just dies.  I pull off to the side of the road.  We are literally about 2 miles from home.

After discussing what it could be, I get in the blazer with Mike.  We decided to go home, let it cool down while I unhook the boat and unload the blazer.  We do that, and we sat for a little bit contemplating what to do next.  I know by now that my husband is in a lot of pain, but he wants to get that RV to the house.  Only then can he rest easy.

We drive back down there and he pulls up, getting the drivers side window as close to the hood of the RV as possible.  I opened the hood and did as instructed, carefully squeeze that tube, touch that lid, look at that belt...  "That belt?  There's something kinda hanging off it."  Mike lift himself up with his one good arm and peers into the engine area.  The serpantine belt is broken.  He says we can still get it home, and after trying to explain to me how to do it (he must have seen the glazed look in my eyes), he said he was going to have to do it.

I insisted he couldn't (that didn't seem to have much effect).  Using his one good arm (with nice strong muscles, hee hee), he heaved himself up into the RV and slid across to the drivers seat.  He started it up and said, "Let's just see how close we can get to home".  I followed in the blazer as he drove a little, shut it off, coasted a little.  Drove a little, shut it off, coasted a little.  He did this all the way into our driveway...we were HOME!

(The "unpacking" disaster area: bags of clothes and camping stuff, dishes from feeding my hubby and putting him to bed, pain meds, bandage boxes...)

Blessings:  Too many to count, but I'll list a few.

Food.  Our RV has a pretty good size fridge, and it runs on LP gas unless it's plugged in.  I always prepare our camping meals ahead, and freeze them.  So that fridge/freezer was packed full with a weeks worth of meals, which saved me having time and cooking during that first week home.

(bags of food I removed from the RV!  What a blessing!!!)

Friends.  We are so blessed, and despite that fact that Mike wanted to handle things himself, I KNEW that at the drop of a hat, Kim and Brad would be there and do whatever needed to be done to get us and our belongings home safely.

Strangers.  I am in awe at the kindess of strangers through this entire ordeal.  That is not something you see much of these days, and especially not in such abundance.  We are so thankful.

Medical care.  Really, despite that fact that we can all find something to complain about when it comes to hospitals and medical care.  I am so thankful for the kind nurses who let me stay in the room past visiting hours, during shift change (when she basically hid me!), and showed me how to care for his wounds and keep them clean.

Family:  I'm thankful for my brother-in-law who mowed our lawn that first week we were home, it was a blessing to not have to think about doing that just yet.  (In Florida your lawn becomes a jungle in less than a week!)

Praying friends whom I've never even met:  I am so thankful for those of you in blogland who have been praying for my husband.  There is such a peace in knowing that prayers are being sent up to our gracious God.  You guys are a blessing to us!

My precious husband.  I am SO thankful for the man that he is, and so thankful that I still have him here with me.  He's quick thinking, strong, healthy and funny.  His sense of humor and ability to laugh at things that most people wouldn't laugh at is amazing to me, and I think it makes him heal faster!

(Stormie is keeping an eye on the "patient"...or sleeping on the job!)

So there ya' have it.  We are home.  He is taking sick leave for the FIRST time in 25 years!!!!!  Wow.  He's healing very nicely and pushing himself to get back on his feet.

We'll catch Lobster next year. :)

Now then, IF you are feeling curious, and IF you aren't eating breakfast, and IF you don't pass out at the sight of icky things, and IF you want to know what his burns look/looked may go HERE.  DO NOT go there if you DO NOT want to see the burns, they are kinda gross lookin'....but I have already had requests from several who are curious.  So, go ahead, have a look.

"Oh give thanks to the Lord, call upon His name;
Make known His deeds among the peoples.
Sing to Him, sing praises to Him;
Speak of all His wonders."

Psalm 105:1,2

Friday, August 6, 2010

Not What We Had Planned ~ Part 5

"...Once it was towed away, I headed back to the hospital to check on our "release" status. It was possible we could be out of there today, if only the Doctor would make her rounds. The RV would be ready soon, and we could get the boat hooked up, stay in a hotel, and hit the road in the morning.

Maybe we wanted things to move quicker than God had planned. Getting home wasn't going to be quite as easy as we thought..."

That evening, we got the call.  The RV was ready.  Now we were faced with a dilemma.  We had no news from the Dr. on a release, she had not made her rounds yet.  Even though the Plastic Surgeon that had treated Mike's wounds in ER had come by, and been shocked to see him up and sitting in a chair, we had to wait for the Queen Bee to give her OK.

Visiting hours for ICU were coming to an end, and with the strict security, I wasn't sure I would be able to get back in on my own.  I had gone out to the car once to get Mike's contact lens case and had to beg quite a bit to get re-entry.  If I was going to leave this hospital tonight, it was going to be WITH my husband. 

Our ICU night nurse, Michelle, was VERY nice.  She said it is always the nurses choice to change visiting hours and if he didn't get released that night, she would open out the weird stretcher/chair/bed thing and make it up with sheets for me.  She kept an eye out for the Dr., but told us she didn't think she would release us without sending us to a "regular" floor for one night.

We prayed.  Then I called Luis.  He was very nice, and said it wouldn't be a problem to come by in the morning to pick up the RV.  I told him we'd be there at 9:30 a.m.

At 10:15 pm, Dr. "J" made her rounds.  She saw Mike sitting in a chair and was impressed with his condition, agreeing to let him go.  I got a lesson in bandage changing and wound cleaning, and Michelle packed up a large amount of supplies for us to take home.

Deputy Beach had suggested a hotel to stay in just down the Interstate, in a better location, just in case we got released that day.  I called and made sure there was a room available and helped my hubby get dressed.  Note:  He had been sitting in a chair, he had walked to the bathroom, it hurt, but he was able.  So, of course, we figured he would be fine, right???

Michelle wheeled him downstairs and I pulled up the blazer, we loaded him in and off we went.  The plan:  Spend the night in the hotel, get a good nights sleep.  We would pick up the RV and boat, hit the Interstate and be home in just over 2 hours.  Mike was fine sitting, so driving the blazer home should be ok. 
After hitting the drug store for pain meds, we checked in at the hotel.  I carried up several bags to the room (which included our bandage changing goods), then came back down and helped Mike up to the room.  He slowly made his way, walking through the lobby, through to the outdoor elevator, then up to the 4th floor where our room was.

The room was great, especially for the price.  It was just what we needed, something comfortable and quiet.  After I settled Mike into bed, I showered, set an alarm and settled in myself.

It seemed as soon as I fell asleep, the alarm went off.  I threw on some clothes and popped downstairs to the "free breakfast", smuggling raisin bran, milk and coffee upstairs.  As I turned to get Mike up and moving, we realized something wasn't quite working.  His left leg was in so much pain that he could NOT get it off the bed.  Literally.  He could NOT get it past the point of the edge of the bed.

We thought moving it a little at a time would help, so I sat on the floor next to the bed with my knees bent (sit-up fashion). He placed his heel on my knee and I lowered them about 1/2 an inch.  We waited a few minutes, then lowered 1/2 inch again, and so on, until we had lowered his leg about 2 inches below the edge of the bed.  That was it.  No more.

The only thing I can figure out was that when we left the hospital, he may have still had a little "pain killer" in his system.  Well, by morning there was none, and this man was hurting bad.  We had some pain meds, HOWEVER, his plan was to drive home, so he couldn't take any.

Plan B.  We hadn't quite thought of a plan B yet, but we needed to begin formatting one....and soon.  I called Luis and let him know we would be running a little late, he kindly said he'd be there all day, no hurry.  Thank you again!

Mike tried several more times to get the leg off the bed, and he just couldn't do it.  Mind you, I have seen my husband endure things that SHOULD make a grown man cry, but didn't make him budge.  I KNEW if this was hurting him, it was hurting bad. 

We weren't exactly sure what we were going to do.  We tossed a few things around; should we stay another night?  Should we work on some other way to get the RV and boat home?  Was there a wheelchair I could borrow to get him in the car?

I inquired at the front desk about a courtesty wheelchair, they didn't have one.  Checkout time was coming up, so I extended it until 1 pm, which wasn't far off.

I headed to the store to get some Tylenol, in the hopes that it would help out with his pain enough to get that leg out of bed.  While I was gone, I couldn't help but work on my own plan.  I called Brad, my best friends hubby.  After talking for sometime, he decided that he could get a friend to drive with him to where we were.  I could drive Mike home, and he and his friend would take care of getting the RV and boat to our house.  I LIKED this plan.  I took the Tylenol and my newly formed plan to my husband.  He didn't think it was necessary for them to drive all that way.  He took the Tylenol and layed down to let it sink in.

After 30-40 minutes, I still wasn't sure what we were going to do.  I was waiting to hear back from Brad, and I began to take our bags to the blazer.  I was definitely leaning toward somehow getting my husband in there, and driving him home.  Glad to leave the boat and RV in other hands.  I had just loaded a few things in our blazer and pulled it around to the front.  I pushed the elevator button to go upstairs, and when it opened I was quite surprized at what I saw.

My husband.  Sitting in the rolling office chair from our room (makeshift wheelchair).  Sunglasses on, leg held in the air.  This man was going to drive home, and that is ALL there is to it.  I wheeled the office chair through the lobby, promising the gal at the front desk that I'd return it to the room.  I loaded my husand into the DRIVER'S seat of the blazer, bandages on both his lower legs, right bicep and right hand - that must have been a sight to see.  After returning the chair, we headed to the Mechanics shop.

Mike seemed ok, I am sure he was in pain, but as long as he sat still and didn't move around, he was going to make it home.  At Luis', I paid the bill and hopped into the drivers seat of the RV.  Mike followed me to the Sheriff's office, where Deputy Pete met us.  He stood out in the overbearing heat and hooked the boat up to the blazer; off we went.

I bet you think this is the end of the story, don't you?  Well, I'll finish this up tomorrow with the adventures of our drive home...

"Hear my prayer, O Lord!
And let my cry for help come to You.
Do not hide Your face from me in the day of my distress;
Incline Your ear to me;
In the day when I call answer me quickly."

Psalm 102: 1,2

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Not What We Had Planned ~ Part 4

"...I layed down in the bed, and as I prayed I heard myself say "Thank you God, for saving my husband". I didn't ask why this had happened, I just knew that God had been gracious in keeping him could have been so much worse. I sang a few praise songs silently to myself and drifted off to sleep."

I woke up early Monday morning, having only gotten a few hours sleep.  I washed up, and followed Deputy Jamie into town.  He "handed me off" to Deputies Beach and Pete at a little diner, where they bought me coffee and eggs.  They were kind and funny, asking me how I slept and how I was doing, if I had heard much about Mike's situation, etc.

After a quick bite, they again escorted me into the hospital (I've never seen such strict hospital security!).  They came into Mike's room in ICU to see him.  They asked him what the RV needed fixed in order to get it running, etc...  Then once again, went to work, and worked on helping us out in-between calls.

I sat with Mike through the morning, and finally got to find out what exactly had happened the day before:

If you recall from Part 1, we had been on the phone with eachother while I was driving in front of him.  He had his cell on speaker phone, and had it sitting on the passenger seat.  That way his hands were free to handle manuevering the engine and the steering to get the RV down the road.  I heard muffled sounds, and I heard him say something that sounded like "it died", what I now found out he had really said was something like "I'm on fire" or "there's a fire".  I'm glad I was unable to make that out correctly, or I may have panicked myself.

As I turned around and saw the RV moving across the 3 lanes of traffic, I thought he was pulling over.  In reality, there was NO ONE driving the RV.  While he was driving, the engine backfired, and a flame caught the carpet on fire.  He immediately jumped up and stomped on it, which caused it to spark and spit and grow.  There was a divider curtain that had been hanging down from behind the passenger seat, and it also caught on fire.  A combination of these two things ended up with his legs actually CATCHING on fire.  When any part of your body is on fire, you think of nothing else but making it stop, and he left the driving of the RV to our great and gracious God. 

He ran to the back of the RV and turned on the sink (the water pump was on, which is not usual, God's plan again).  He stuck his legs in the sink and 'put them out', ran back to the now spreading fire and tried to stomp it out again.  However his legs caught another time. 

He remembers trying to wipe the fire off his leg with his right hand, which resulted in it burning as well.  He quickly ran to the sink again, putting out the fire on his legs a second time.  Suddenly his brain shot out "Fire Extinguisher!", he grabbed it from the wall and sprayed the fire, stopping it immediately.  You must understand this all happened VERY quickly, probably 30 seconds.  All the while, I had no idea what was happening inside that RV, as I was calmly turning around.  About this time is when I approached the median and he had picked up the phone and was talking to me...

Lunchtime came and went.  Mike was in plenty of pain, but wanted to leave the hospital.  He wanted to go home.  However, there was one problem.  We were in ICU.  They don't release people from ICU straight onto the street.  It is policy to downgrade them to another "regular" room before they leave.  However, Mike assured them he did NOT need to be in ICU, and he was ok to leave.  We had to wait for the Doc to make her rounds, it was up to her, and no one knew when she would be in. 

(I wanna go home!)

It seemed ridiculous to us, but looking back, God was giving us a place to rest while He took care of other loose ends.  While we sat there feeling like we were twiddling our thumbs trying to get out of the hospital, Deputy Pete was making some connections.  He had a friend named Luis....

Don't you love it when someone says "I have a friend...".  His friend is a mechanic, and wanted to look at the RV so he could determine what it would take to get the thing running.  I met him there along with my two deputy friends.  After confirming it was the fuel pump (as Mike had known), he said he'd call another "friend" who has a tow-truck.  I don't know if you've ever dealt with RV's before, but towing and fixing one can be COSTLY.  

He spoke in spanish on the phone for a few minutes and then turned to Pete.  Pete relayed the info to me:  His friend would come from 30 miles away, tow the RV to Luis' shop (only a couple miles from the hospital), and he would do this for $50!  Incredible!  It would normally costs over $100 to have a CAR towed.

I was floored, how awesome our God is, he works through many to bring blessings.  After a few more words in spanish were exchanged, I was told that the part would be $50 (we had already known that was the cost of the part, as we were on our way to pick one up when the fire broke out)...and his labor would be $150.  I don't know how often you deal with mechanics, but $150 to drop a fuel tank that is 1/2 full, ON an RV nonetheless, replace a fuel pump, as well as blowing out the soot from the engine fire, putting the cover back on and buckling it all up for us, is an INCREDIBLE deal!  $250 bucks and an hour's work, and we'd be back in business.  Wow ~ my heart was thankful.

I sat with Deputy Beach, and waited for the Tow Truck.  When he arrived, we were unable to start the RV, so Beach and I had to push it backward until he was able to squeeze his truck into the small space in front of it.  He did some manuevering and managed to get the weight of the RV to pull his truck in-line!  That's a lot of work in the hot sun for $50!  I was once again, SO thankful!

Once it was towed away, I headed back to the hospital to check on our "release" status.  It was possible we could be out of there today, if only the Doctor would make her rounds.  The RV would be ready soon, and we could get the boat hooked up, stay in a hotel, and hit the road in the morning.

Maybe we wanted things to move quicker than God had planned.  Getting home wasn't going to be quite as easy as we thought...

"Come to Me, all who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will give you rest."
Mathew 11:28

Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Not What We Had Planned ~ Part 3

The rescue unit placed my husband on a stretcher and began to prepare him for a trip to the E.R. I stood in the median with a handful of officers who were talking about what we'd do next, how to have the vehicle towed, etc... when somehow I thought to open my mouth and say the one thing that would prove to be the RIGHT thing at that time.

"My husband is a Deputy Sheriff"...

(NOTE:  Please don't mistake what I am saying here.  I am well aware that the general public has "mixed" views about Law Enforcement.  I have met my share of "cops" that aren't caring people, but I have also met my share of Doctors, Nurses, and Retail Clerks and Mechanics who aren't caring people, so I don't like to categorize.  I am writing about THIS particular group of Officers.)
 Before I ever mentioned this bit of information out loud, this team of Deputies were kind and helpful.  I knew they would have helped me to get things in order and get me to my husband.  I knew they would do their job professionally and with kindness, I could tell.  However, I really felt God was leading me to open my mouth and say those words, because He knew.  He knew that Cops have a feeling of brotherhood when one of their own has been hurt.  He knew that my safety and the road to getting us home would be paved more smoothly if I opened my mouth.  It proved to be true.

Instantly the one that seemed to be in charge turned and looked at me.  "What?" he said.  Still in a bit of shock myself, I said "My husband is a Deputy Sheriff in another county north of here".  I could see him stand a bit straighter, and I instantly knew that I was not alone.  His voice got louder and took on an air of authority as he called out,  "Guys!  He's one of us.  He's an officer!  We aren't going to have this RV towed.  Come on, let's team up and push it into that parking lot."

Not everyone on scene heard him, so he went around and explained to the Firefighters what was going on.  Every single one of those men banded together, they blocked the traffic, they pushed and steered our RV to a road cut-off next to the Burger King.  The Deputy who had taken control, "Beach", turned to me and assured me that I would be ok, they were going to take care of us.  He instructed me to stick with him.

It seemed we had broken down in the "Worst" place, and the "Best" place.  The "Worst", because (as I learned) 80% of the crime in that particular county happens RIGHT there in the area where I found myself stranded; let's just say shootings are common occurances.  The "Best", because these guys were truly a family.  They instantly became like protective big brothers, practically holding my hand through each little step.

Now don't get me wrong.  It's not that I am an incapable woman.  However, I will admit, I do rely on my husband.  I like that he takes such wonderful care of me, he is my protector, my hero.  However, as he was being taken away with sirens blaring, I found myself feeling a bit afraid.  I knew that God would protect me and guide me, and I now knew that He was going to use these men to do just that.

My head was still spinning, almost like this was not a reality, I was so dumbfounded.  I was glad they were in control.  They made sure that the RV was secured.  They removed our bikes from the bike rack and put them inside (noting that they would be stolen in 5 minutes if we didn't), they checked any outside bins for valuable items, put them inside, and locked all the doors.  I then followed (in the blazer, pulling the boat), Deputy Beach to the hospital. He showed me where to park, gave me a moment to secure anything of value, and then drove me to the E.R. entrance.

Did he drop me off?  No.  He escorted me inside, bypassing the high security at this hospital (due to the high crime rate).  He came with me into the Trauma room where Mike was being treated, and inquired about his condition.  How severe was it?  Would he be kept overnight?  They were unsure of those answers at this time.  He then gave me his number and told me that when I found out what would be happening to call him.  He would arrange for a place for us (or me) to stay, as the nearby hotels were not safe.  He said call, no matter what, he would be there.  I was so thankful.

Deputy Beach left, and I stood there against the wall in the Trauma room, watching as they drizzled some sort of creamy solution over wet cloths that were draped across his legs and arm.  He was alert, answering all their questions, as they poked and pierced, inserting IV's and taking blood.

(If you can click to enlarge this photo, you can see that despite the fact that there were NO burns to his face at all (praise God!), his eyelash tips and eyebrow tips were singed!)

During the course of the next several hours, Deputy Beach and another Deputy "Pete" continued to check on Mike and I.  The county where they work is a busy one, and they were continually getting called out, however this didn't stop them from calling to check on us.  In addition, while they were enroute to their calls, they were busy trying to figure out ways they could help us out of our situation, discussing it with other officers on their shift.

As it turned out, the hospital wanted to keep him overnight for observation.  They noted that had his burns been only a few inches more (making a complete circle around his lower legs), he would have been flown to a burn center in Miami.  I asked the nurse (Annie) if there was any way I could stay with him in the room.  She said that they don't really allow that for overnight, but that she would make some calls and see what she could do since we were from out of town.  She was so kind and caring.

(The Trauma nurse, Annie was super-sweet and friendly.  Mike was pretty "high" at this moment, just so you know she wasn't posing with him during a critical time)

She was pretty funny too, this is her "caring nurse" look... :)  I needed that touch of comic relief right then. :)

After some time, it was determined that he would stay in the Trauma room until a bed opened in ICU, then he would be moved.  I was not going to be allowed to stay overnight.  So, I called Deputy Beach.  He was on it.  Soon, he called me back with a plan.  Another Deputy's little girl would give up her room for the night, as they didn't want us to incur any unneccessary expenses.  They had called around to some of the area's better hotels and tried to get us a free room to no avail, so someone had decided to open their home.

I kissed my Mikey, and told him I hoped to come back that night, but wasn't sure if I'd be back until morning.  I really had no idea where I was going.  I followed Beach to the Sherrif's Office, he unhooked our boat and locked it safely in their compound.  This allowed me to do all my driving without that extra burden. 

We then went by the RV where I retrieved some clothes and a toothbrush.  He assured me that the night shift officers had been notified to keep an eye on the RV during the night.  Afterward, we met up with the officer who was sheltering me for the night.  They were having some extra family for dinner, so he was picking up last minute groceries.  I was introduced to him inside the grocery store, then said I'd wait in my car in the parking lot (we were in a bit safer area now). 

I sat in my car and for the first time since "it" happened, I was alone.  Finally the floodgates broke open.  At first just a little tear of frustration and exhaustion, then I burst.  I sat in my car in the parking lot bawling, and I heard myself saying out loud "I just want my husband".  I felt like a baby, I was sobbing.  I didn't want to spend the night away from his side.  Maybe if I was in my own home, maybe if he was in the hospital in OUR town, maybe then, not likely, but MAYBE.  But CERTAINLY not in a strange place.  I wanted to be with him, and the events of the day began to fall from my eyes in big fat tears.

I got myself together, and following in my car, we drove out of that area into a safe gated neighborhood.  The family was very friendly, and the little girl was so sweet about giving up her room.  I felt dazed and a bit out of place.  I shut the bedroom door and made some phone calls, finally able to plug in my phone which had died some time ago.  I sat there for a long time, not wanting to have conversation, not wanting to talk, not wanting to do anything.  I decided to shower and then made my way downstairs where dinner was waiting.  It was a huge spread, but I only nibbled on a tiny bit of salad despite my hunger, I just couldn't eat.

After dinner was cleaned up and I had been thoroughly entertained by the little girl's cheerleading moves, the family decided to go out for icees.  I went back to "my" room and stared at the wall.  I was tired, but I wanted to talk to my husband.  I wanted to know if they moved him, how he was doing, I wanted to know anything.  After going through some red tape, I was able to find out they had moved him to a room in ICU, and they had even put a phone in there.  I was able to talk to him.  That settled my heart. 

I layed down in the bed, and as I prayed I heard myself say "Thank you God, for saving my husband".  I didn't ask why this had happened, I just knew that God had been gracious in keeping him could have been so much worse.  I sang a few praise songs silently to myself and drifted off to sleep.

"Then I will go to the altar of God,
To God my exceeding joy;
And upon the lyre I shall praise You,
O God, my God."

Psalm 43:4

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

Not What We Had Planned ~ Part 2

...the RV was now on the inside of the 3 lanes and stopped in a turning lane next to the median, there was a car stopped in front of it and 2 men were standing in the median. So was my husband, he had picked up the phone and was now talking to me.

I was confused as to what was going on.  I was focused on the traffic, as I was planning on turning and parking to wait for him.  I was looking at him, but not LOOKING at him.  I asked him if he had gotten into an accident with this other car, as I couldn't figure out why they were all three standing in the median.  As I crossed into the Burger King parking lot, he began to explain.

There was a no hint of panic in his voice, but a seriousness that got my attention quickly.  He calmly said "I need you to park the blazer.  I need you to come over here to the RV and get all our valuable items (laptop, firearm, camera, etc...).  I need you to have the RV secured and towed out of the roadway.  I have some burns and I probably need to go to the hospital.  I need you to handle this, OK?"

My head was fuzzy.  Burns?  What?  How?  What did he mean?  I didn't understand what was going on, but I knew it was serious.  I have the type of husband who doesn't go to the hospital.  He is Superman.  He is.  He would never say he needed to go to the hospital unless it was serious. 

I pulled across several parking spots with my vehicle/boat combo and happened to park right next to a Sheriff's Citizen Patrol who was about to leave.  I ran to his car and said that there had been a fire of some sort, and my husband needed medical attention.  Once I saw him grab his radio, I ran across the street to the median.  I found Mike, who seemed quite calm.  However, the look on his face gave way to the fact that he was in severe pain. 

As I began to look him over, reality sunk in.  The skin on his upper right arm had obviously been burned and was hanging loosely.  His legs, below the knees were much worse, they were red and white and skin was missing in many places.  He had his right hand turned so that I couldn't see the palm.  I asked to see it and he said he didn't want me to. 

I entered the RV and grabbed the items he had asked me to gather.  He stood at the doorway, calmly instructing me on where to look, what to get.  Because of his "togetherness", I had no idea he was on the verge of passing out, he was most likely about to go into shock.  He once again, repeated what he needed me to do.  Secure our valuables, take care of having the RV towed, whatever it took to get it out of the roadway.  As I gathered the items, I quickly glanced around.  I noticed a large black area, a fire extinguisher, and some charred stuff in the sink.  Fire.  There had been a fire and he had been burned.  That's all I could make out as my head spun.

He sat down on the edge of the sidewalk, and in just moments we were surrounded by help.  Firetruck, amublance, and several deputy vehicles. 

The rescue unit placed my husband on a stretcher and began to prepare him for a trip to the E.R.  I stood in the median with a handful of officers who were talking about what we'd do next, how to have the vehicle towed, etc...  when somehow I thought to open my mouth and say the one thing that would prove to be the RIGHT thing at that time.

"My husband is a Deputy Sheriff"...

"The Lord will command His lovingkindness in the daytime;
And His song will be with me in the night,
A prayer to the God of my life."

Psalm 42:8

Monday, August 2, 2010

Not What We Had Planned ~ Part 1

If you followed my blog last week, you believed I was in the Keys, watching sunsets, snorkelling in crystal waters, taking in the sunshine, and catching lobster.  However, our vacation did not go as we had planned, not in any way shape or form.  God had something different planned for us.  Oddly enough, I found myself constantly thanking Him for the things that kept happening over the course of 3 days. 

I kept being reminded of those old late night commercials where the announcer would say "But wait!  You ALSO get...", and then you would be told of some great thing that would accompany your original purchase.  However, these things that we were "Also getting" were not things we wanted...

Saturday night we finished packing up the RV, and hooking the boat onto the Blazer. This was the first vacation we had ever planned to drive separately.  We would be meeting up with several of my husbands siblings at Bahia Honda State Park, near Big Pine Key.  A week of fun in the sun was just ahead of us.

Our newly renovated camper...

As is usual for us, we went to bed way too late and got up early to start our day.  We wanted to be in Key Largo by 1pm so we could have lunch at our favorite Mexican place, Senor Frijoles.  It was a typically hot and humid Florida day in July, as we headed down the Interstate.

Shortly after we had gotten on the Florida Turnpike, hubby called me and said the RV was having some trouble, we'd need to take the next exit.  This was one of those big looping exits that curve in a large circle and end up taking you through a toll booth and spitting you out onto another road.  As we took the curve, I noticed Hubby slowing down, then he pulled off the road.  However, I am not quite as efficient at quick moves (I had the blazer with boat in tow), and I passed him.  Immediately after he pulled off, a guardrail began and I could not pull over.  I passed through the toll booth, asking the older man inside where I could turn around to get back to my husband.  He didn't know.

I later found a Police Officer and explained my problem, he gave me directions to get to the exit so I could meet up with my husband and we could work on this problem together.  I was completely unfamiliar with the area, did not have my GPS with me and got bad directions.  After an hour and a half (no exaggeration!), I caught up with my husband, sitting under a shade tree off the side of the exit ramp.

He managed to get the RV to coast a bit and we made it through the toll booth with me paying both our fees so he wouldn't have to stop.  We got it to putt it's way to a parking lot where he was better able to find out what was going on. 

Fuel Pump.  He's an excellent mechanic, so it wasn't hard for him to determine the problem.  However, he needed to drop the fuel tank, and that would mean parts that he didn't have on hand.

After finding out there was an Auto Zone not far down the road, he said he could probably get the RV to drive there by manipulating a part of the engine.  He removed the engine cover (which sits between the driver and passenger seats).  The engine was exposed as he manuevered a part to get it moving down the road.

I was in front of him, driving slowly, and we were talking on our cell phones on speaker phone to keep constant contact.  I noticed in my rear view that he was slowing down quite a bit behind me, and I heard muffled sounds on the phone.  He said something that I couldn't quite make out...but it sounded like "it died".  Assuming the RV had given up on him, I calmly said "Ok, let me turn around at this gas station and I'll come get you". 

I turned around and as I was waiting at the light to turn, I noticed the RV slowly drifting across 3 lanes of traffic.  I also noticed what appeared to be steam coming from the hood, or so it seemed to me.  I thought it must be the radiator, and that he was pulling over to that side of the road.  However, after I turned at the light and came upon the location, the RV was now on the inside of the 3 lanes and stopped in a turning lane next to the median, there was a car stopped in front of it and 2 men were standing in the median.  So was my husband, he had picked up the phone and was now talking to me.

What I found out next would throw us into a whirlwind for the next 3 days...or weeks...

"The Lord will protet him and keep him alive,..."
Psalm 41:2

Come back tomorrow for part 2