On Saturday evening we had a consultation with the head doctor of the trauma unit. We learned that the small responses we have been seeing for at least the last week or so are signs that Peter has barely emerged from his coma. This is sobering, but the doctor told us that Peter has age on his side, and that in young people his age the brain still has repair enzymes operating. He said the biggest thing is that Peter has a lot of family love and support in his favor. The doctor frankly admitted there was still much that is unknown about the brain and can give us no certain prognosis. We voiced our confidence to him that Peter is in the hands of the Lord.
Peter is doing very well breathing on his own since 2 a.m. Sunday. The doctors did find staph in Peter’s blood, and that is a pretty serious concern. If Peter continues to breathe on his own, in addition to the seriousness of the infection, the infection will prevent us from being able to bring him home. We were told that 50% of brain injury patients who make it this far die of infection.
Now that Peter is emerging into consciousness, these are our prayer requests:
1) That Peter would have strength to fight infection. Specifically the staph infection and any fungal infections.
2) That we would have wisdom and direction in giving Peter the most effective stimulation that would produce the greatest response from him.
3) That we would be able to mentally absorb a daunting volume of information on rehabilitation from traumatic brain injury.
4) That the Lord would cause each cell in Peter’s brain to make new connections, spark new pathways, and regather new and old memories and that Peter would have an abundance of those “repair enzymes” associated with his youth.
5) Mom had an appointment with a state funding agency today. Please pray that Peter will be approved quickly for a state government funding program for people who need rehabilitative services.
For the family,
“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” – Isaiah 41:10
Suffering is so alien to us. And we in the culture of the healthcare explosion and American prosperity end up so surprised when it visits us. We’re kinda spoiled that way. I know I am. Some of my new heroes are those of you I have heard from who’ve born heavy suffering so gracefully in the privacy of your own homes and lives. I have also drawn great comfort from older brothers and sisters who’ve gone before us, whose stories reveal that suffering makes itself familiar in lives where the Lord wants to reveal Himself. Let me introduce you to one of our older brothers, B.B. Warfield, a Christian from the 19th century. He described the tendency we Christians have to veer toward the one extreme or the other of either emphasizing a strong devotion to the Lord, but dismissing theology, or of holding to good teaching without a warm heart towards God. When we are tempted to either say, “Theology doesn’t matter—I just love God,” or to think that it’s acceptable to have head knowledge and right thinking without a warmhearted devotion, we are making a false dichotomy. Warfield described it as asking a soldier going into battle which leg he would like to take along. He must have both, without question. These older saints tended to own a much more God-centered view of life than we do. Our religion has a lot of man-centeredness in it. These bygone saints knew that God was “the point,” and not we ourselves. This enabled them to gracefully suffer many losses. Warfield himself married a beautiful young woman who was struck by lightning on their honeymoon. He cared for her as an invalid for almost forty years, cheerfully and quietly arranging his duties as a professor around her needs. They never had children. Another older brother, Adoniram Judson, toiled away in Burma for years, losing to the strenuous living conditions some of his children, his first wife, his second wife, and his own good health. After years of labor, he had only won a scant handful of people to the Lord. Once, he got so discouraged that he meditated for days by an open grave. Yet he eventually returned to his work. The Lord used his efforts in the end to touch a whole tribe of thousands who had been waiting for the good news that they had been foretold would come. Today this group remains actively Christian in spite of severe persecution. Our parents (or grandparents for some of you) lived in the generation of Jim and Elisabeth Elliott. Jim and four other men went on mission to share Christ with a remote tribe along the Amazon. All five were killed before they had a chance to say one word about Christ. Jim’s widow, Elisabeth, chose to live with the Auca Indians for a time to bring the gospel to the very ones who had murdered her husband. All of these were only able to endure the suffering that intruded into their lives when they held fast to the idea that God was in control and that God works for the good of his people through their suffering. They refused to look at “second” causes. They trusted that God caused all things to forward the purposes that He intends for our lives and for His cause on the earth. He Himself is the Mover and Shaker behind all events. Yet that thought caused no fear in their minds or mistrust of His goodness. Rather, the strong thoughts freed them to love God because they were not focused on other people or Satan as causes. They looked to God alone. And I do not have time to tell about Jonathan and Sarah Edwards, William Carey, Corrie ten Boom, Horatio Spafford, Joseph Scriven, Samuel Rutherford and clouds of others, who by faith endured crippling losses under the hand of an Omnipotent God, and by love found firm stone pathways through waters of suffering. They created hymns from the depths; they left family legacies of unshakeable devotion; they left nations they’d won to Christ. They beckon us to rediscover the solid footing as we cross those waters of suffering ourselves. I’ll conclude with a few words from Charles Spurgeon, who battled health problems and depression for years, knowing that his beloved England was in the process of rejecting the gospel. Spurgeon left us much in the way of a strong theology and a warm heart toward God. Listen to what He says: “The God of Providence has limited the time, manner, intensity, repetition, and effects of all our sicknesses; each throb is decreed, each sleepless hour predestined, each relapse ordained, each depression of the spirit foreknown, and each sanctifying result eternally purposed. Nothing great or small escapes the ordaining hand of Him who numbers the hairs of our head.” Doug
The doctor’s have been unable to localize the infection and Peter’s white blood cell count is really high (which means his body is trying to fight whatever it is), even though he is on an antibiotic. They are taking cultures again, so please be praying that they can find the source of Peter’s infection. Thank you.
For the family, Hope
Today my desire is to share a little more about Peter. I liked Craig Sivil’s post yesterday that gave a brief glimpse into his life in the National Christian Forensics and Communications Association. Speech and Debate was a large part of Peter’s life during his last two years of his high school.
Peter is also a gifted artist. He’s been drawing since he was a little tyke of two, spreadeagled on the floor, stomach down with a pencil and paper. His very earliest characters were no mere stick figures. Even those first drawings held a lot of wit and insight. Once when asked to draw a picture of his favorite toy, Peter immediately drew a pencil. When he was seven, he entered the Fort Worth Stock Show Art Contest and took first place in his age division. He went on to place another first and a fourth in his age division in following years, as well as Grand Champion one year – top prize for all age divisions. (I’m hoping that we post some of his pieces on the group page soon).
Peter’s cousins related the time Peter got in trouble in a classroom. A few kids were doodling on paper while a film was being shown. Peter was the only one called down on it. And the teacher threatened to tell his parents if he continued “doodling.” Why? Because Peter’s “doodling” was an elaborate scene of a knight on a raging battlefield of men and horses.
As a literary family (or as one of our friends has lovingly pointed out after reading these entries – as a family of “geeks”), we have read through many books over the years. Peter has always been fascinated with the literary idea of the “Christ figure,” a person in the story who lives beyond his years in kindness and understanding, or who ends up bearing the weight of another’s struggle, who forgives another at great personal cost, or who sacrificially lays down his life for someone else in the story. Such characters function as a “type” of Christ in these stories.
Two of Peter’s most beautiful pieces of art are from a series he began three or four years ago(but then became busy with high school and never finished) of Christ figures from stories we’ve read. After reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens, Peter fashioned a clay figure of the young Ham dashing into the waves towards a sinking passenger ship. (At peril to his own life, Ham ends up rescuing a young man named Steerforth, the rake who stole his fiancee from him.)
Another story Peter likes is Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables, so he sculpted an aging Jean Valjean bearing a wounded young man on his back through the gutters of Paris in order to rescue him from being taken in battle. This young Marius is suitor to Cosette, Valjean’s adopted daughter – the girl to whom he’s devoted and for whom he has sacrificed his whole life. Marius was the young man who would woo her away from him.
Pete was planning another clay figure of Sidney Carton (from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities) on his way to the guillotine to die in the place of Charles Darnay, the gentlemanly husband of the woman Carton secretly loves. Peter had also considered sculpting Uncle Tom, the Christ figure from Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Civil War era novel.
I don’t want to glamorize Pete, but I do like to think that the suffering he’s experiencing on his hospital bed is accomplishing spiritual work in us all. May the Lord make it so. I do know that your sacrificial prayers, love and support (meals, cards, green juice, hosts for the waiting room lobby, contributions, visits, house cleanings, house preparations to make ready for Peter, lawn mowings, and so much more) have certainly accomplished a strong undergirding of God’s grace in us.
“By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us, and we ought to lay down our lives for the brothers.” 1 John 3:16
Last night Peter had a really difficult night. He coughed a lot and was unable to breathe on his own or do the breathing challenges. The nurses think that it might be a bug of some sort (like a respiratory infection). It has been a setback for him, and the nurses are getting cultures done to see if they can find the problem.
Please be praying that Peter can fight against infection and that God will protect him from it as well. The longer he stays in the hospital, the longer he is at risk for the hospital bugs that are resistant to antibiotics. It would be horrible if he had to deal with that while he is healing and in the coma.
For the family,
Sunday morning in New Testament Letters with Pete, his comments beside the underlined verses:
“I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and Himself for me.” Galatians 2:20 (the word “me” is underlined) Christ died for individuals
“For you were once darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light (for the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness, righteousness, and truth), finding out what is acceptable to the Lord.” Ephesians 5:8-10 We want to walk in the light because God has saved us from the realm of death
” . . . be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another in the fear of God.” Ephesians 5:18-21 Outdo each other in serving one another. Submit to everyone in love. This does not teach egalitarianism
“For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the first principles of the oracles of God, and you have come to need milk and not solid food.” Hebrews 5:12 spiritual backsliding
“But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” Hebrews 5:14 sense of discernment–we must use them and exercise them by the Spirit
“My son, do not despise the chastening of the Lord, nor be discouraged when you are rebuked by Him; for whom the Lord loves He chastens, and scourges every son whom He receives.” Hebrews 12:6 When you face trials, remember Christ is treating you as a son
Peter has been making slow but steady progress towards breathing entirely on his own. His fever has also been down today. Wonderful news! As soon as Peter is ready, we plan on bringing him home to take care of him until he can go to rehab.
Peter still only shows slight movement and not really any direct response to commands. We are praying this will change as he comes closer to waking up.
This past week Peter has been able to break his fever on his own. We think it has him quite worn out, but we are grateful his body is starting work to keep his body temperature more regulated.
There isn’t much else to update on right now. There is a lot of waiting and perseverance yet ahead, but we are confident that this situation is being worked for Peter’s good as well as our own.
Please continue to pray for these things:
1. Pray that God would wake Peter up in His timing.
2. Pray that Peter’s body will continue to regulate his temperature better, and for his strength in breaking any fever.
3. Pray that Pete will continue to make progress breathing on his own.
4. Pray for our continued health, stamina, patience, and peace.
5. Pray for Peter’s full recovery.
6. Pray for the nursing staff and doctors.
7. Pray against infection.
Again, I just want to thank all of you for the support, prayer, meals, and love that we have been given over the past three and a half weeks. It has been a constant source of encouragement for us and we are so very grateful.
For the family,
“Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let him all for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up.” James 5:13-15