Tuesday, July 31, 2012

SSL - Stay Strong Lydia!  When those words were coined, who knew the truth they would hold throughout the journey?  From their importance on May 17 - stay strong and stay with us; to having her breathing tube removed on June 2, and the need for Lydia to stay strong and force her lungs to breathe, to recovery from g tube surgery on June 28, to these present days at Holland Bloorview and all of the rehab therapy Lydia must do, SSL is a great encouragement.  She is staying strong.  She is strong in the Lord and in His mighty power.  (Eph 6:10)
Today, like many other days, she had to work very hard in therapy.  She was in a stander for 15 minutes.  The stander is wrapped around her, holding her upright, and firmly placing her feet in a pannel.  The stander is necessary to help Lydia be able to stand upright, but it is immensely painful, as it stretches her heel cords.  Lydia cried and fought her way through this agony.  The therapists were asked if Lydia could be comforted while she did this, and yes, she could be reassured and encouraged.  So she was told how brave she was, how very painful, but necessary this was,  how it was helping to lengthen her heel cords, and that she needed to stay strong.  Fifteen minutes is a long time to endure, but she did it.  Afterwards, she did some therapy on the mats.  Her attitude changed.  She became playful and smiled a lot.  It was as if she endured the pain, and then embraced the joy.
We are so thankful to God, that He continues to give Lydia joy.  Her smiles and emotional responsiveness are gifts to us.
Our God is a God of joy.  Rejoice in the Lord always.  I will say it again: Rejoice!  Let your gentleness be evident to all.  The Lord is near.  (Phil 4:4,5)  He is near.  He is with Lydia, in her pain and in her joy, and He is with us.  He is near.  Thank you, Lord.

Monday, July 30, 2012

We were reminded today that tomorrow is July 31: the date when the driver of the truck will appear in court to enter his plea as to the charges laid against him. Does tomorrow or what may be said, do anything to change our journey, or the space in our hearts? No. We are learning in all of this, that God is at work in many lives. We pray for His healing in all of us who have been affected by this tragedy - the driver included. Certainly, God is at work in Lydia. She is being transformed, whether she has emerged, and her wings are drying in the sun, before she can fly, or whether she is still forming in the cocoon; at whatever stage she is at, she is being changed in all of this. And so are we. We live more one day at a time. We live in hope. We trust. We laugh, and we love more deeply. We rely on the provision of God through the hands of many, to care for us, help us, and encourage us.

The words and beautiful harmonies of a Steve Bell song, entitled We Come, spring forth:

We come, we cry, we watch, we wait, we look, we long for you.

I would add to these words, we hope, we laugh, we thank, we love ... we look, we long for you.

Here is the full song.

We Come
Our hearts are empty without You
Barren and cold
But for the bold
Hope that You Yourself
Planted within
In the mighty name of God
In the saving name of Jesus
In the strong name of the Spirit
We come
We cry
We watch
We wait
We look
We long for you

Sometimes we long for the morning
For a refrain
From etchings in pain
Yet our loneliness
Draws us to You
In the mighty name of God
In the saving name of Jesus
In the strong name of the Spirit
We come
We cry
We watch
We wait
We look
We long for you

Sunday, July 29, 2012

Little by little, Lydia is healing.  She is recovering.
Today's song is another Kari Jobe one, entitled Healer.  I remember listening to this song on May 18 in ICU, and clinging to hope that Lydia would live.  Today, I listen to the song, with hope that Lydia will fully recover, returning to us with all of her vibrancy, capacity, and kindness.  Nothing is impossible for  Him.  He is more than enough for us.  He is all we need.  He is our healer.

You hold my very momentYou calm my raging seasYou walk with me through fireAnd heal all my diseaseI trust in You, I trust in You
I believe You're my healerI believe You are all I needI believe
And I believe You're my portionI believe You're more than enough for meJesus You're all I need
You hold my very momentYou calm my raging seasYou walk with me through fireAnd heal all my diseaseI trust in You, Lord I trust in You
I believe You're my healerI believe You are all I needOh, I believe
I believe You're my portionI believe You're more than enough for meJesus You're all I need
Nothing is impossible for YouNothing is impossibleNothing is impossible for YouYou hold my world in Your hands
Nothing is impossible for YouNothing is impossibleNothing is impossible for YouYou hold my world in Your hands
I believe You're my healerI believe You are all I needOh, yes You are, yes You are
And I believe You're my portionLord I believe You're more than enough for meJesus You're all I needMore than enough for meJesus You're all I need
You're my healer

Read more: KARI JOBE - HEALER LYRICS http://www.metrolyrics.com/healer-lyrics-kari-jobe.html#ixzz2249GMWHI
Copied from MetroLyrics.com 

Saturday, July 28, 2012

Saturday July 28

We just noticed that blogposts have not been posting since Wednesday, so I hope this brings you up to speed. 
Lydia has had a good day today. She is moving a lot, (sometimes controlled and sometimes not), and she loves to stretch out on the large therapeutic mats. They are like gymnastics tumbling mats, so plenty of cushion, and yet firm enough to be supportive when she pushes to sit up or to stabilize herself in a sit. She is making great progress in this, and we are cheering her on. It is closely akin to the cheerleading parents do with their toddlers as they learn new "tricks". She also was into the water today, and she loved that. As she was supported in a float, she was encouraged to stretch from side to side, wiggling like a snake - in therapeutic recreation terms, it is called water dancing. Sound like something Lydia would like!

Yesterday Lydia worked hard, and so did we. Exhaustion was ours at the end of the day.

Lydia is very facially expressive, so even though we do not have a communication "yes" and "no", we can often gauge Lydia emotions by her face. Today, in some anxious, furrowed brow moments, when she was looking at her wheel chair, I soothed her by saying, "You are going to be fine. You will walk again, and talk again, and run, and leap and sing .... You are recovering. There was an accident, but it wasn't your fault. When you were getting off the school bus, you were hit by a truck. But you are healthy, and getting better every day. Jesus is taking care of you. He is always with you. You don't ever need to be afraid." She understood what I was telling her, because her face contorted, and she began to cry when I told her about the accident. I hugged her, blinked back my own tears, and reassured her.

A few hours later, I was blessed to open a card, and read this:

"And most of all, I pray that Lydia will recover from this, with nothing but a great story of a very long conversation and visit with God!

Miracles happen, and I believe Lydia is a miracle in progress."

This is the perspective we want, that Jesus is tenderly whispering to her, encouraging her and strengthening her, as he works his transformation in her.

Thursday July 26

Lydia was fitted with her last set of casts today - lime green, and they were cut off immediately and bi valved, which means they can be put on and off. She will only wear these at night, or for extended periods in bed, as they hold her feet at close to 90 degrees. When she is in her wheel chair, she wears new high top running shoes.

Lydia had a follow up appointment at Sick Kids, in the orthopedics clinic, to xray her clavicle today. It is healing. She has a shortening or displacement of 1.4, and anything under 2 is acceptable. We are thankful for this report, and that she is healing without the need for surgical intervention.

While Grandma and Grandpa were with Lydia today, we were at home and were encouraged by the support of our community in many ways. We received a gift from a nearby neighbourhood community association; we attended the Laurelwood Dairy Queen fundraiser for Lydia, where the turnout was incredible; we had a fresh meal delivered to us; we joined in our son's parents vs kids soccer game, and at the end, all of the players were given lime green wrist bands, team photos, and lime green soccer bags that say "Be Strong". How beautifully we are cared for by our community. Thank you.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Lydia is learning how to shift her body, when she is sitting, and slide along.  She needs to learn to use her arms to support her, and her legs, to move them along to help with the sliding of her torso.  The goal is then for Lydia, with the assistance of two people, to slide from bed into her wheel chair, or from her wheel chair to the therapy table.  She will continue to work on this all week.
Today, we gave Lydia a new pair of high top running shoes - something her therapist recommended because they provide better ankle support than her running shoes.  She only has to wear her casts at bed time now, or during long periods of bed rest during the day.  Otherwise, she has her high tops on when she is sitting up in her wheel chair.
Lydia had more taste stimulation today, again with peach puree.   I need to clarify that in yesterday's post when I said that she reached for the spoon, it was with her mouth that she opened and was reaching.  Lydia had the spoon in her hand, and her therapist had her hand over top, guiding Lydia's hand to bring the spoon to her mouth.  Learning to swallow food safely is a very difficult process that progresses very slowly at first.  With regular practice, Lydia will improve, and then be able to eat more at a time.  In these tastings, she is getting less than one teaspoon in total.  On average, she is given three 1/4 teaspoon amounts of food to try.  The Speech Pathologist listens to her swallowing with a stethoscope, to ensure that it has been a strong swallow, and that Lydia will not aspirate what she has taken in.  She has a strong but slow swallow.
We continue to be overwhelmed by the prayers of many.  Each day we hear new stories of individuals, or groups, many of whom we do not know, who are praying for Lydia.  This is the Lord's stirring in many hearts, and we are thankful for it. 
We pray this prayer from Ephesians for each of you:
16 I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, 17 so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the Lord's holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, 19 and to know this love that surpasses knowledge —that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, 21 to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Today held many encouraging moments.  In taste stimulation, Lydia enjoyed the peach puree that we had made for her.  She ate the three tiny spoonfuls offered to her, and then she reached for the spoon for more!  She has always loved peaches, so we are thankful it is peach season!  
It appears that Lydia has grown taller in the last two months.  We measured her on Mother's Day to be 5'3".  Today in therapy she stood upright for the first time, and she was definitely taller than her 5'2" therapist, and her 5'2" cousin!  She stood tall, with assistance, today!  She smiled for her cousins, and her brothers, and laughed a few times at their antics.
Later, she was very attentive when a long time family friend visited her, and blessed her with music, and soothing words for comfort.  She sang to Lydia, and told her how she had prayed for Lydia before she was even born, (This dear friend journeyed with us through years of infertility), and how she was praying for her again, as she is being made new.  She had Lydia strum her yukele as she sang Beautiful Things (Lydia's favourite song by Gungor).  Lydia was bright eyed and alert.
All around
Hope is springing up from this old ground
Out of chaos Life is being found, in YOU.
You make beautiful things,
You make beautiful things out of us.

Monday, July 23, 2012

Today we signed Lydia up for Holland Bloorview's therapy swim program, and tonight she entered the very warm waters of the therapy pool.  She enjoyed it.  Although she cannot communicate her thoughts with us, I imagine the water to be very freeing, especially when you are stuck in a body that cannot move with the grace and ease it once did.  Today in Lydia's physio therapy session, she reacted with the emotion of crying (but there are no tears and no sound - just the facial contortions).  We think these were "tears" of frustration because she could not do what she perhaps thought she would be able to do: stand up.  Part way through, she realized how hard it was to stand, even with the help of two therapists, and she cried.  Until we can establish some communication with Lydia, it is all guess work.  Please pray that Lydia's cognitive function improves so that we can "hear" from her and care for her better.  By hearing, we don't mean actually hearing her voice, as speech is a complex task that she will need considerable time to relearn.  We mean, being able to ask her questions, and then receive a definite  yes or no response.  Pray for communication.  Thank you.
Today, we also had a family meeting, where all of Lydia's therapists at Holland Bloorview, and her medical team, sat around a table to discuss their treatment plans for Lydia.  It was encouraging to hear their goals, and intended steps towards achieving them. 
I have been listening to Kari Jobe's album Where I Find You a lot in the last few months, but heard this heart soothing song today, as if for the first time.  The beautiful melody, and the lyrics, resonated with my spirit. 
Come and rest here
Come and lay your burdens down
Come and rest here
There is refuge for you now

You'll find His peace
And know you're not alone anymore
He is near
You'll find His healing
You're heart isn't shattered anymore
He is here

Breathe in
Breathe out
You will
You will find Him here

I will rest in You

You will find Him
You will find Him here
You will find Him
Take a moment to listen to this song.  May you find Him here.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Sing the Journey

Today was a good day for Lydia, and for us.  She rested well and enjoyed more bird's songs, warmth and wind.  If it is too hot, we cannot take Lydia outdoors, as she has difficulty regulating temperatures, due to the brain injury.  The shade of a beautiful tree is a great spot to spend time together on a Sunday afternoon.  
Today we counted our blessings, and were thankful again, to be where we are. Lydia is still with us, and we have hope, as we trust in God. 
We have received countless cards, notes and well wishes.  Thank you for sharing with us, praying for us, and caring for us.  We want to share with you a blessing that we received, and loved.  It is by Patricia Shelly in a work entitled:  Sing the journey.  That is what I want to do: sing this journey.  Sing in joy.  Sing in sadness.  Sing in fear and uncertainty.  
Psalm 108:1 God, my heart is secure.  I will sing and make music to you with all my heart.
We often sing to and over Lydia.  We look forward to when her voice will join ours.  We leave you with this blessing

The Lord lift you up,
the Lord take your hand,
the Lord lead you forth, 
and cause you to stand,
secure in God's word,
seeking God's face,
abounding in love,
abiding in grace.
 by Patricia Shelly from "Sing the Journey"
A great perspective to share that was sent by a friend:
"Thanks be to God for the good news and encouragement of yesterday! How wonderful that Lydia's progress is now measured on a new scale filled with hope. We pray a covering, therefore, that today will be a day where that hope and strength from the Lord remain. Stay Strong Lydia!"
Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Saturday, July 21, 2012

In a conversation with a nurse, I was informed that they do not talk in terms of levels of coma at Holland Bloorview, rather in terms of levels of cognitive functioning. Accordingly, Lydia is no longer in a coma!  While we had hoped this would be a mystical moment of awakening, it is instead a process of transformation, where we continue to trust the Lord for his care of, and his plans for Lydia.
At Holland Bloorview, and at other rehab centers, they use the Rancho Los Amigos Scale which gives eight levels of cognitive functioning that are used by rehabilitation professionals to describe the patterns or stages of recovery typically seen after a brain injury.  Lydia moves between Cognitive levels three, a localized response and level four, confused and agitated.  Detailed information on this scale is available at rancho.org.
We have seen progress in Lydia's attention span this week.  She has moments where she is awake, alert, reactive, and responsive to her environment. Her smiles and inaudible laughter continue to delight us, and encourage us to know that our girl is still in there, and she will continue to emerge, as she is able.
We have been blessed to connect with a mother who has walked a similar path to ours.  She and her son have touched our hearts.  Check out bensloetjes.com.
Today, she sent the followoing chorus to encourage us to Trust.  
Day by day,
and with each passing moment, 
STRENGTH I find to meet my trials here.
TRUSTING in my Father's wise bestowment 
there's no need for worry or for fear.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Lydia had a very good therapy session this morning.  She is working on sitting up, and it requires a lot of balance and muscular strength!  SSL - Stay strong Lydia, is appropriate, because she has to be strong to push her body to learn these things again. 
Lydia continues to do more taste stimulations, under the guidance of her therapists.  They put a very small amount of a soft food like yogurt, or mashed potatoes with gravy, on a spoon, and put it to her mouth.  She then has to open her mouth, curve it around the spoon, push the food to the back of her mouth with her tongue, and then tuck her chin down to swallow.  We all do this without thinking, whenever we eat.  It is hard work for Lydia.  We can also easily lick our teeth or our lips to clean them.  Lydia struggles to do this.  She has to rewire her brain to do it, and she will.  She is making slow but steady progress.  Therapy will be a significant part of Lydia's life for the next year or two. 
When you consider where we have been in the last two months, we are thankful to be at this spot in her recovery.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow ...
A friend just sent this to me:
I wanted to share with you something that I just witnessed. We have several green ribbons on our house in support of Lydia, and a big Lime green poster that reads 'Pray for Lydia' in our front window. Today is garbage day, and I watched as our garbage collector, a big, burly man, paused, bowed his head, and prayed for Lydia before taking our trash away. This simple action moved me to tears. May God bless this dear man, and may God hold you all close today.
Thank you God, that prayers for our sweet girl, continue to be uttered by many to You, our Healer.

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Tonight I came across a card that I had tucked away in my hospital bag, and was struck again by the poignancy of the simple message it contained.  It spoke to me again, like it had weeks ago, when I first received it.
Be patient ....
I am not finished working yet.

Lydia has been tired today, and needing to rest.  Unseen work is being done in her.  This is not the end.  He is making her new.  We trust His creating power.
A song for today, by Gungor:  This Is Not The End.

This is not the end,
This is not the end of this
We will open our eyes wide, wider

This is not our last 
This is not our last breath
We will open our mouths wide, wider

And you know you'll be alright
Oh and you know you'll be alright

This is not the end
This is not the end of us
We will shine like stars bright, brighter

Lydia has been on the tilt table once each day for the last several days, to stretch out her calves, and to prepare her for weight bearing when she learns to walk.  She will not be learning this soon, it is just necessary that her legs and feet are able to accommodate walking when Lydia is ready.  She worked again today on releasing her hands from a grip.
Acts 17:28  In Him we live, and move, and have our being.  This is my verse for Lydia today.   I pray that even when she is unresponsive, that she would rest securely in Jesus.  May she live in Him, move with Him and be with Him all the time. 
2 Cor 12:9  My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.  This verse is for us, as parents, today.  We are weak.  We are tired.  We waver in faith and hope, but his grace never fails.  He will give us all that we need for today.  We need to stay in today, and not look too far ahead, for the unknowns are overwhelming.  
Romans 12:12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction and faithful in prayer, was written on Lydia's casts last night.  May we all be joyful, patient and faithful in prayer.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Lydia now has a bed that has netting all around it, with metre high sides, so that she cannot fall out, or flail part of her body out of bed.  This bed will keep her safe while she moves around.  Today, her Physio therapist had her on a tilt table, to begin to have her experience the sensation of standing and weight bearing.  The table was kept at about a 135 degree angle, enough to have Lydia feel a bit of weight on her feet.  She handled this for about 15 minutes before tiring.  The goal this week, is to do this regularly, to help lengthen Lydia's calf muscles, before her next round of casts.  Her casts were removed yesterday, and bi valves put in them so that they can be taken off and put back on again.  On the the tilt table, her casts are removed. It was neat to see Lydia almost upright.

A friend recently asked me what my favourite bible verse in this journey has been.  Wow!  What a hard question.  Scripture has been alive and speaking to every emotion, thought and action.  We came up with a list of seven favourite verses, one of them being Isaiah 43:18-19:  
See I am doing a new thing!  Now it springs up, do you not perceive it?
I am making a way in the wilderness and streams in the wasteland.

Two months ago today, everything changed.  Sometimes in the day to day, it is hard to see progress, as the journey is so overwhelmingly long.  Lydia is relearning everything, and having to work so hard to do it. Today in her speech therapy session, her therapist showed her a picture of a dog and a picture of a bird, then she would ask Lydia to look at the photo of the dog.  This small command which seems easy to us, is incredibly difficult for Lydia.  It requires great focus and attention to look steadily at one picture, and to know which picture to look at.  The speech therapist is also trying to have Lydia learn to squeeze a hand to say "yes", but there has been little consistent responsiveness to this.  Our once articulate girl, is quiet and incapable of much communication for now.  Emphasis on for now.  She will learn.  This is were Isaiah 43 comes in.  We trust God that He is doing a new thing in Lydia.  He is making speech out of silence, and strength from weakness - streams in the wasteland.  Do we perceive it?  Not always, so we trust.  HE IS DOING A NEW THING!  

Monday, July 16, 2012

On the move!

Lydia is on the move - not to a new facility, but within the facility, and even within her bed!  Today, an aunt who hadn't seen her in 10 days, could not believe the difference in her mobility.  She humourously described it this way:  "If getting your legs over the safety gates while at the same time getting crosswise on the bed were an Olympic sport, we would definitely have a contender. She doesn't seem to be unhappy while she's doing this - it actually almost looks as though she wants to get up and walk.  Her doctor was amazed at her mobility, but shared our concern, that as Lydie gets faster, she may tumble out of bed before someone can return her to the proper position - therefore a waist restraint was put on her during the night to protect her.   He also ordered a special bed for her" (one with high sides).
Throughout her day, Lydia gets to go to the gym regularly for therapy, outdoors for extended periods, to the common kitchen to be with other children in the BIRT program, to the library .... there are many places to see, and experience at Bloorview.  Grandma and Grandpa took her out to the beautiful gardens for two hours this evening.  Unlike at Sick Kids, where there is heavy traffic all around, the gardens are Bloorview are away from busy roads, and are quite refreshing.  
Isaiah 12:2 Surely God is my salvation; I will trust and not be afraid. The LORD, the LORD, is my strength and my song; he has become my salvation.  This verse was shared with us in a card recently.  Truly, the Lord is our strength and our song.  We are tenderly and faithfully held in His loving hands.
Here is a beautiful song that is powerfully sung:
Your Hands by J.J. Heller
I have unanswered prayers
I have trouble I wish wasn't there
And I have asked a thousand ways
That you would take my pain away
You would take my pain away

I am trying to understand
How to walk this weary land
Make straight the paths that crooked lie
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine
Oh Lord, before these feet of mine

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands
[ Lyrics from: http://www.lyricsmode.com/lyrics/j/jj_heller/your_hands.html ]
When you walked upon the earth
You healed the broken, lost and hurt
I know you hate to see me cry
One day you will set all things right
Yeah, one day you will set all things right

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave your hands

Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still
Your hands that shaped the world
Are holding me
They hold me still

When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave you
When my world is shaking, heaven stands
When my heart is breaking
I never leave
I never leave your hands

Sunday, July 15, 2012

This morning Lydia's face lit up when her brother walked in to see her.  She smiled broadly at him.  We have witnessed how helpful the boys are in Lydia's recovery, as she responds readily to them.  In general, we see an increased response to familiar voices and faces, and how beautiful that her response continues to be a big smile!  This afternoon and evening she was cared for by friends who have known her since before she was born: friends who prayed for her creation, before she was given to us.  We are grateful for the many faithful friends we have in our lives.
Tonight we celebrated my parents 45th wedding anniversary, with friends and family.  While we missed our Lydia, it was good to gather, laugh, eat great food, and celebrate their marriage.  How fitting these words are for our journey with Lydia.  Love is patient, love is kind. ... (Love) always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres.  Love never fails.  (1 Cor 13:4, 7, 8)
As we are held by a loving, heavenly Father, we are given the grace to be patient, trusting, and hopeful.  Indeed, His Love never fails.

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Lydia is settling well into Holland Bloorview.  Today she went to a music room with 5 others, and was given a keyboard that could sit on the tray that attaches to her wheelchair.  Her fingers were placed on the keys, and then the recreation therapist played, with her hands over top of Lydia's, Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star!  Great stimuli for our little piano player!  (Not so little, everyone remarks how tall she must be!  She does look long sitting in her wheel chair.)
Lydia was moving around a lot today - knees up to her chin even!  She is encouraged by her therapists, and one today said that she "had high hopes for Lydia".  Yeah, Lydia!  You keep working hard to learn it all over again.  We all have high hopes for you.  We ask God to do immeasurably more than we can ask or imagine, according to His power, that is at work within us.
The highlight of today was seeing Lydia's joy at seeing her brothers.  She smiled broadly, and she even laughed a few times.  Laughing for Lydia does not have a sound, only the bright eyes, body shakes and great open mouth that accompany a laugh.  She enjoyed their antics!  We loved being together as a family again.  It happens so rarely these days, so we treasure it all the more. 

The question we are most regularly asked: Is Lydia still in a coma?

According to the dictionary definition of coma as "a state of deep, often prolonged unconsciousness in which an individual is incapable of arousal", no she is not. However, if the term is used to refer to varying levels of consciousness, then yes she is. As she has suffered a traumatic brain injury, she is not yet fully conscious. Her brain protects itself from being overwhelmed by only responding to stimuli as it is able. This week, Lydia has been far more alert. Her eyes are open and she is looking around. She is able to focus in on a person, or thing for about 10 seconds, then her eyes close, or she looks away, and shuts out any more stimuli until she can process what she has seen. She rests for 10- 15 seconds, and then she may re-engage, or she may rest for longer. We were encouraged by a therapist who summed it up saying, "so we celebrate that this week that Lydia is a 10 second girl! Next week, she may be a 20 second girl!"

In the early days, we anticipated (and even longed for) the Hollywood version of a sudden and dramatic awakening. It has not been like that, and won't be since it is a brain injury.   Increasingly, she will be coming to fuller consciousness.  It will take time.  We wait, we trust, and we wait some more.   A friend of Lydia's sent a card with this quote from an unknown author:  We delight in the beauty of a butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.  Lydia is becoming.  She is changing.  She is staying strong.

Today Lydia had her first physio therapy session in the gym. Tracy had Lydia lying on a big mat, while she worked with her to explore and measure her range of motion. Thankfully, Lydia was flexible before, and so she still has a very good range of motion. She worked with Lydia to grasp her hand, and the let go. The response was slow, but it happened!  Her therapist showed great patience and encouragement.  We liked her gentle manner immediately.

We are joyful in hope (Bloorview is a place of hope), patient in affliction, and faithful in prayer.  Romans 12:12

Thursday, July 12, 2012

What a full day!  Today we met most of the members of Lydia's BIRT - Brain Injury Rehab Team.  The facilities at Holland Bloorview are amazing!  Constructed in 2006, it has opportunities for music, recreation, art, physical and sensory therapies, as well as swimming!  There are also lush gardens and a green space behind, so we will be enjoying more of the outdoors.  
Thankfully, Lydia was fitted with a wheel chair today.  It has a tray table that attaches, so she will be able to use it for more visual and sensory explorations of things set on her tray.  (Think of the time a toddler spends in a high chair, playing on the tray table!)
Lydia was tired after all of the commotion and stimulation of today.  Every space and face was new to her.  May she sleep well, and recover from this big day.  Me too! 

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Today has been like the day before moving day: saying good bye to "neighbours and friends" we have made at Sick Kids and at Ronald McDonald House, thanking the medical team at 5C, visiting the team in Intensive Care for a final thank you and good bye before leaving the hospital, and packing up all of the posters, photos, and banners that have adorned Lydia' room for the past 5 weeks.  We will be moving to Bloorview tomorrow morning with an 8 am ambulance transport between facilities.  I have thought a few times how different this ambulance ride will be from the one that took us from Grand River to the helipad, and then the Ornge ambulance/helicopter that flew us to Sick Kids.  Tomorrow's journey takes us to a new home where much recovery will take place.  We visited the Holland Bloorview facility this afternoon, and it looks great!  Lydia will have a lot of stimulation and therapy.  We have been told that remarkable progress happens in two months of therapy, at the stage Lydia is at.
Is she still in her coma?  Short answer: yes.  I will try for a longer answer tomorrow.  But I must get to bed, because moving day is tomorrow!
Psalm 103:2  Bless the Lord, O my soul.  All my inmost being, praise His holy name.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On Thursday, exactly 8 weeks after her admission to Sick Kids Hospital, Lydia will be discharged to Holland Bloorview Rehabilitation Centre!   We are so thankful for this next step, and anticipating the many wonderful people we will meet who will help Lydia in her recovery.  Thank you for your prayers.  Please pray that Lydia has smooth transfer, and that she connects well with her new therapists.  She has worked hard for Ryan, Kate and Ann.
This morning I read the Message Translation of Romans 15:13:  Oh! May the God of green hope fill you up with joy, fill you up with peace, so that your believing lives, filled with the life-giving energy of the Holy Spirit, will brim over with hope!
Today we are running over with hope - sloshing it out everywhere.
I loved that the translation used the descriptor, green hope.  Lydie green.  Verdant, vibrant, and full of life green!  (I am picturing lots of rainfall or irrigation to make this green!)  
It has been touching to read some of the little green notes that were given to me at our Farm Market by a student at a local school.  One note says simply HOPE!  Other notes from other schools, photos, and pictures, have been equally encouraging.  To the many students who are caring for and praying for Lydia - thank you!  We pray that the God of Hope would be near to you too.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Lydia was down to the gym again today for a great therapy session with Ryan and Kate.  We love how these professionals care for Lydia and engage with her.  They are fully present with her, teasing her, encouraging her and challenging her to work hard.  We am grateful for the fullness they bring to their work at Sick Kids. 
Lydia's muscle relaxant medication has been increased, and it is effective in decreasing some of the tone and spasticity we have seen in her arms.  She was able to "play" with a music player today.  By moving her arm to press a big button on the player, she could start the music playing.  She is learning cause and effect!  She has reached out a few times in the last couple of days, towards a family member or friend.  Another first to celebrate!  She has also smiled as she listens to stories. 
Romans 15:5  talks about the God who gives endurance and encouragement - that's our God!  How we need endurance and encouragement for this long journey.  His presence with us, holds us and steadies us. 
Romans 15:13 held my heart again today:  May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him ...  Thank you for trusting along with us.

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Over the weekend, Lydia has had visits from some aunts, uncles and cousins who have not seen her for a few weeks.  Each one has been amazed at how good she looks!  She is gaining back a bit of the weight she lost, and she has a healthy glow to her skin.  No tan for Lydia this year, but given the sunburn her younger brother has, that is just as well!  She is gaining strength for sitting, and was in her wheel chair a couple of times today.
We understand that Lydia will have to relearn everything.  She is in her infancy.  She has started to be curious and feel things with her fingers.  When we hold her hand, she moves her fingers around, almost like a caress.  If we give her a sensory toy, like you would give to a baby, she feel it.  She had many smiles this weekend, and general contentment. 
We hope that she will get to Bloorview this week.  She is ready for more intensive rehabilitation.  We are weary of drives to Toronto, but know that it is just for a season.  We are spoiled by living and working on the farm; we step out the door and we are at work.  We know nothing of commuting. 
We have another song to share.  One that we first heard a few weeks ago, and its beautiful melody and lyrics have stayed close at hand.  It is called Image Of God by Christa Wells and Nicole Witt.


Image of God


Bare feet stepping on glass

We break along life's paths

Our fear and loss, we bring it all to you

Soul-breather, making all things new

You're making all things new

We come in pieces

We come in fragments

We come discolored

To the foot of the cross

Our Maker sees us

All that we have been

Bonds us together

The Image of God

Clay vessels molded for His own

Shall we question him who holds

And shapes us, for His perfect use

Soul-breather, making all things new

You're making all things new


Soil breaking for the seed

Seed breaking for the life

His life broken for the soul

We are remade whole, remade whole

Saturday, July 7, 2012

Lydia has had a very long day. She was up at 3 am, and has slept little today. Generally, she has been sleeping well each night and resting at times throughout the day.
She has a rash on her stomach of unknown origins. (If she were on a TV House episode, he'd no doubt have a battery of tests and treatments until the cause was determined and then treated. In the real world, the rash is simply monitored!)
Her casts this week are bright orange and show off signatures well!
Psalm 40:16. But may all who seek you rejoice and be glad in you;
May those who long for your saving help always say, "The Lord is great!"
Psalm 40:5 Many, Lord my God, are the wonders you have done, the things you planned for us.
None can compare with you; were I to speak and tell of your deeds, they would be too many to declare.

There are moments at the end of the day, when we try to count back over the mercies and blessings of the day, and find we cannot keep track of them all. There are also days where troubles seem to outnumber blessings. On these days, we choose gratitude, and worship.
From the earliest years of our marriage, we have sung together the hymn, Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus.

Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
Look full in His wonderful face, and the things of earth will grow strangely dim,
In the light of his glory and grace.

Sent from my BlackBerry device on the Rogers Wireless Network

Friday, July 6, 2012

one step closer to home

We are delighted to share the great news that Lydia is progressing well, and is at a consistent Rancho 3 level, and is thus eligible for treatment at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital in Toronto with the BIRT program!  (Brain Injury Rehab Therapy)  Lydia will be transferred from Sick Kids to Bloorview, sometime in the next week or two.  Thank you for your prayers.  Thank you Jesus, for preparing the way for more healing in Lydia.  At Bloorview, Lydia will have full days of therapy - almost like school, with regards to the structured programming she will be a part of.  We will be able to stay at Bloorview in the parent suites they have.  Ronald McDonald House has been wonderful for our stay at Sick Kids, and we are thankful for the generosity of many companies that support the RMH mission of families healing together. 
Today, Lydia had a great day!  It's as if she was celebrating her accomplishment and sharing our joy.  For this day, we too, are thankful.

Ephesians 3:20

20 Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,

Romans 15:13

13 May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Lydia has had another good, full day.  We are making progress - one baby step at a time.  We continue to pray for full healing, and we trust God's goodness to us.  We thank God for his presence with us, each baby step of the way.
As we long for rain on the farm, we give thanks to God for all that we have. To the one who provides abundantly, in every season, we give thanks. From the simplicity of Johnny Appleseed, (Oh the Lord is good to me, and so I thank the Lord, for giving me the things I need, the sun and the rain, and the apple seed. The Lord is good to me - Jonnhy Appleseed- Amen!), to the beauty of Nichole Nordeman's Gratitude, (another of Lydia's favourite worship songs), we remember and give thanks to God for all things, at all times, even when what is asked for, is not received.
        Gratitude by Nichole Nordeman
Send some rain, would You send some rain?
'Cause the earth is dry and needs to drink again
And the sun is high and we are sinking in the shade
Would You send a cloud, thunder long and loud?
Let the sky grow black and send some mercy down
Surely You can see that we are thirsty and afraid
But maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case ...

We'll give thanks to You with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to thirst for You
How to bless the very sun that warms our face
If You never send us rain

Daily bread, give us daily bread
Bless our bodies, keep our children fed
Fill our cups, then fill them up again tonight
Wrap us up and warm us through
Tucked away beneath our sturdy roofs
Let us slumber safe from danger's view this time
Or maybe not, not today
Maybe You'll provide in other ways
And if that's the case ...

We'll give thanks to You with gratitude
A lesson learned to hunger after You
That a starry sky offers a better view
If no roof is overhead
And if we never taste that bread

Oh, the differences that often are between
Everything we want and what we really need

So grant us peace, Jesus, grant us peace
Move our hearts to hear a single beat
Between alibis and enemies tonight
Or maybe not, not today
Peace might be another world away
And if that's the case ...

We'll give thanks to You with gratitude
For lessons learned in how to trust in You
That we are blessed beyond what we could ever dream
In abundance or in need
And if You never grant us peace ...

But, Jesus, would You please ...

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Summer is here!  The boys are home, full of energy, and delighted to be finished school for another year.  With great relish, they enjoyed their first cobs of sweet corn tonight.  We are so thankful that we have been able to keep them at home, involved in their activities, and enjoying the outdoors here on the farm.  My parents continue to be regularly with Lydia, staying at Ronald McDonald House, while we journey back and forth from home. Our few trips to Toronto with the boys have been fine, but not the type of adventure that fuels their young spirits.  They are not city boys!  With regards to their sister, they are becoming more comfortable with seeing her eyes open, but not necessarily focused.  Her agitation is hard for them to understand.  It is hard for us to see too, but I have been assured that it is a necessary and good next stage, as it reveals that she is now taking in her environment, and accepting the stimuli around her.  It is just that she doesn't know how to handle it, so she is confused and agitated.  When Lydia works hard to follow a directive from her therapist, many body parts begin to move, as she is trying to figure out what circuit needs to be connected to do the requested task.  She has to relearn everything - starting with gross motor control.
James and I took the time to watch a video together last week.  It moved us.  In these days of uncertainty about Lydia's recovery, days of dreams, and days of sorrow, we were moved at the new beauty in Ian that Larissa saw and cherished.  Jesus is changing our view of beautiful too.  It has long been defined within parameters that included able bodied, intelligent and capable.   Again, we trust God for the new beauty that He is creating in Lydia, and in each of our hearts.  Take 10 minutes to watch, if you can.  www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/the-story-of-ian-larissa
As the video closes, so do I, with this wonderful thought:  God is most glorified in us, when we are most satisfied in Him.

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Lydia has had a good day.  She had a very good therapy session with her OT and PT this morning.  She is becoming more responsive and alert.  Today she began moving her left leg - pulling it in, and letting it down.  It is great to see her lower body begin to "wake up".  She had an xray on Friday morning to look at how her broken collar bone is healing, and it is mending.  Still more healing is needed before it is fused together.  She will have another x ray and check up in a couple of weeks.   Overall, she is recovering and healing.
Romans 12:12  Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. 
So many of you are faithful in prayer, and we want to thank you for your prayers - some of you we know personally, but many of you, we do not know.  We have made many new acquaintances, and been overwhelmed by the support we have received.  Thank you.  In our family, and in our extended family, we have been cared for and sustained in the most difficult of times.  We are abiding in the arms that never grow weary, and the love and faithfulness that never fail.  As I turn off the computer and go to bed, I entrust Lydia, and each of you, to He who watches over us and does not slumber nor sleep.  (Psalm 121:4)  He'll be working while we rest. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

There are some words that have been companions with us on this journey.  ALL is one of them.  The enormity of God, the sureness of His presence with us, the totality of his faithfulness.  He is ALL we need.  When we are weak, He is abundantly strong.  He is ALL our strength.  When the way is uncertain, He is ALL our hope.  When the grief is great, He is ALL our comfort.  He is the beginning and the end.  He is our ALL.
Revelations 22:13 I am the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End.
Worship music continues to hold our hearts, and adjust our focus.  All To Us, by Chris Tomlin, is for us today.
Precious cornerstone, sure foundation
You are faithful to the end
We are waiting, on You, Jesus
We believe You're all to us

Let the glory of Your name be the passion of the Church
Let the righteousness of God be a holy flame that burns
Let the saving love of Christ be the measure of our lives
We believe You're all to us

Only Son of God sent from Heaven
Hope and mercy at the cross
You are everything, You're the Promise
Jesus, You are all to us

You're all to us
You're all to us
You're all to us
Yes, You are

When this passing world is over
We will see You face to face
And forever we will worship
Jesus, You are all to us
Lydia has had a good day, with two trips out into the sunshine.  She is up to her full feed amount, and her G tube site is healing well.  Her IV was removed, and so she is no longer hooked up to any machines.  Medically, she is doing well.  Her brain injuries will require time to heal.  She will emerge from her coma, when she is ready for full consciousness.  Until then, she is cocooned in grace.

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Happy Canada Day!  We have reflected many times how we are fortunate to live in Canada, and have access to excellent medical care.  God keep our land, glorious and free!
Today was a good day with Lydia.  She was not agitated, and seemed to be in a lighter stage of her coma, as she was responsive and awake often.  We shared with her a photo slideshow of her friends, and she regularly looked at the computer screen.  How much she is able to see, we do not know, but she was focused in the right direction.
She no longer has her NG tube, so her face is clear of medical tape and tubes.  (How sweet she looks!)  She is feeding well from her G tube, and she is almost up to her full amount of feeds.  Her core and neck muscles are strengthening.  She is able to better hold herself upright in her wheel chair.  We went outside twice today, to enjoy the warmth, and listen to the birds.  Lydia enjoyed a couple of freezies too!  We hold them to her lips, causing them to melt, and then we encourage her to swallow.  She is improving!
We tried to coax some sounds out of Lydia, but we did not get any today.  Patience in all things.  We are working to develop some communication systems with Lydia: blink once for yes, and shake your head for no.  She will be non verbal for many months, so we are finding other ways to communicate.
For Lydia's thirteenth birthday, we asked friends and family members to share their thoughts or encouragement with her as she enters the teen years.  A friend reminded us today of the poem that her Grandma H shared with her.  It was a poem that she received from her Sunday School teacher when she was thirteen.  The words ring true:
God hath not promised skies always blue,
Flower strewn pathways all our lives through:
God hath not promised sun without rain,
Joy without sorrow, peace without pain.
But God hath promised strength for the day,
Rest for the labour, light for the way.
Grace for the trials, help from above,
Unfailing sympathy, undying love.
We are grateful for the love of God to carry us and light the way for each day.  We give thanks for today.