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The following exerpts are from emails I had written to my NM friend.  I pray they will serve as a testimony to God's grace and strength to me, as He obviously sustained me and held me up through the most tragic days of my life.  I pray you will see God's goodness through the bad times.

Psalm 119:68  "Thou (God) art good, and doest good..."

 

Psalm 136:1 "O give thanks unto the Lord; for He is good, for His mercy endureth forever."

 

Psalm 145:9  "The Lord is good to all: and His tender mercies are over all His works."

 

 

Thursday, December 30, 2004:

 

I know you've been through so much, Friend, I was wondering, did you ever feel like you just weren't going to make it through another day?  The last few mornings I wake up and dread facing another day of this.  I just don't want to go through it or deal with it anymore, yet I feel like I'm being pushed through the days by some unseen force.  It's hard to describe, but I want to stop and watch for just a minute, but am unable to do so.  It's so draining, and I can't stop it, even for a second!

Sunday, January 2, 2005:

 

Hi Friend.  Thanks again for the prayers.  God is so good.  I can say that today.  And I mean it.  That unseen force is definitely our loving Father.  Yes, loving.  I was thinking there was no way I would be able to continue with the Bible study, because I didn't want my words to be just words.  I was almost afraid to look at my notes and begin studying again for this Friday.  Last night I picked up the study guide book and just began reading.  As I have been telling those dear ladies, I read when you worry, pray, when you are hurting, pray, when you are overwhelmed, pray.  So I just told God I was overwhelmed, worried, and hurting for my sweetie more than just words could say.  I guess you could say I crawled up in His Lap!  :)  I found a comfort there last night.  He is good.  

Saturday, January 22, 2005:

 

One lady was constantly saying, "You don't deserve this, Wendy."  ???  I sensed a wrong view of God in her desperate and pathetic way of trying to comfort me.  As we had talked about before, this is nothing that God is doing because Todd and I deserve it, or need to be punished or anything like that.  I tried, badly, to let her know God is good, always has been, and always will be.  I tried to bring out in our study again how God always wants the best for us, and allows things to come into our lives to strengthen us in HIM!

 

God is so good to us!  He remains faithful and continues to meet our every need in miraculous ways.  It is so encouraging and such a blessing to hear of all the churches, family, and friends across the whole country who are praying for Todd and us!    It's just so amazing.

 

At times this all feels like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders, but God continues to be our strength and our refuge!  I am humbled at His care and love shown to us through everything.

 

 

Monday, January 24, 2005:

 

My brain feels like it's in another spinning mode.  It can all be so overwhelming sometimes.  Oh, after updating Pastor Griffith, he emailed me some verses and words of encouragement, telling me to be sure to keep my eyes on the Lord through all of this.  I wrote back and thanked him today, and he wrote back a short note today, saying:

 

Thanks Wendy - We are praying!!  Stay steady - not too high when things are good - not too low when things are tough.  Steady!

Tuesday, February 8, 2005:

I appreciate so much your words of encouragement, and especially those that remind me that God is still here, even when it doesn't feel like it.

Wednesday, February 9, 2005:

 

Thank you for the prayers and the words to that wonderful hymn.  Those prayers, even though to you feel like you wish it could be more, mean so very, very much to me.  I keep telling people how precious their prayers are, yet they continue to ask what else they can do.  Often I say, "Just pray."  Thank you.  Thank you so much!

Later Wednesday, February 9, 2005:

 

The prayers sure are working!  I am overwhelmed at God's incredible working!  He is amazing.  It was a little funny, cuz Dr. Clay's office called this morning asking for NIH's number.  Just an hour later, a doctor from NIH called saying he understands we would like to have the surgery done up here.  Both Todd and I said, NO!  You are our first choice, but this was a back-up plan.  Then he told us, "We were able to set up the MRI for this Friday, so if you could come down early tomorrow morning, or even this evening, that would be wonderful.  Then we could do the other tests all day tomorrow, and then the MRI Friday."  He also said IF the tests showed them what they were looking for, then they would TRY to schedule his surgery for the following Friday!  woooooo hoooooo!!  I told Todd it's hard to believe we're hooting and hollering and cheering that he's going to the hospital!  :)   Praise the Lord!  He is so good to us!

Tuesday, February 15, 2005:

 

I've received countless calls, more cards (a few with large checks again...how that makes me cry!), and dozens of emails from people who I haven't heard from in years.  Word is spreading, and prayers are increasing every day on Todd's behalf.  God is continuing to show Himself strong to us, and particularly to me.  

Wednesday, February 16, 2005:

 

I just called Dr. Gary's office to update him on Todd, letting them know Todd is in the protocol and will be in the clinical study at NIH, having surgery possibly as early as Friday and to thank him and the nurse who helped get him there.  The nurse was so excited for us, and kept thanking me for calling.  I told her I was extra thankful, because one of the surgeons last night told me that Todd would have been considered inoperable anywhere else, and she lowered her voice and said, "I know.  We knew that, Wendy."  wow.  I'm taking all this in.  It's a lot.  ...just thought I'd share that.  Love you!  Wendy

Tuesday, March 15, 2005:  **Please Note:  Todd came home from NIH (after being hospitalized for 4 1/2 weeks with around the clock care and watching), just two days before this was written.....he had a LOT of medical needs that I was unable to meet. **

 

Oh, Friend, what in the world am I doing?  How in the world did I end up in this situation?  Everything I knew to be "normal" and "comfortable" here at home has been mixed with all this, and now I've brought home my biggest nightmare to my "retreat" and solace here.  I want to run away, but I don't want to run from those I love, either.  I feel so trapped.  Everything's mixed together now.  Everything hurts again, and I can't find any relief.  ouch.

 

On a lighter note, and even happier one, yesterday two big baskets were dropped off here. They were for my birthday and were filled with cards, gifts, money, notes, candy, and even a scrap book with a page from each person!  It was so amazing.  I have never received so many cards and gifts on any of my birthdays; it was incredible.  I still have not read all of the notes and pages from everyone.  At least my chocolate supply has been replenished.

 

OK, I think I'll go open a candy bar and read some cards.  Good night, and thank you again and again for all your prayers.  I feel like I need them more than ever.  Yesterday and today I've felt like the burden I feel is way too heavy.  I just feel so inadequate in all of this.  But God is good, and He will be my strength.  I need Him and your prayers so much.

Easter Sunday, March 27, 2005:

 

I couldn't help but remember those words I've written countless times, as I heard the kids reading the cards and telling me what was in each package.  God is so good.  I am rehearsing the words you wrote to me last night:  "I will take some time to reflect on Jesus' incredible gift that He has given us through His death and resurrection.  I still am amazed at His love for us--for me."  You are so right (again).  I am amazed as well, and actually feel a bit overwhelmed again at His love for me, when I surely don't deserve any of this at all....not even a fraction of it!

 

I need to get ready for another busy day here.  Todd is not doing well today, as far as his thinking and just feeling yukky.  He said he didn't feel well, and has been in bed, except for briefly to watch the kids find their eggs this morning.  Sue warned me about this, because of his busy day yesterday, and said it would be "ok," so I'm not concerned, just a little disappointed that we may have done too much yesterday for him to be able to enjoy any of Easter Day.  But maybe he'll be out later, for our big dinner.

 

Thanks again, Friend, for being so wonderful.  I'm starting to wonder, especially after all those gifts this morning and feeling so incredibly loved by our Great and Good God, that maybe I don't really need that help for sound sleep, comfort, and peace.  Perhaps it's all in just resting in His Arms.  I hope I feel the same way tonight!  I'm praying you have a great day of happiness with your family and are reflecting, as you wrote earlier, just how awesome God's love is for us on this Easter Day!

April 8, 2005:

 

It just "hit" me that God goes before us and prepares our days, our weeks, our years, knowing exactly what is coming.  He shows us the right path to take, and if we follow Him, he makes us to "lie down in green pastures," which is a sign of true contentment knowing He is in control.  I then realized that God knows what next week, or even tomorrow for that matter, will hold for us where Todd is concerned.  God knows.  God will "prepare the way" so to speak, or show us exactly what to do.  What a comfort to know He will be right there and is in total control....no matter what happens!  We are so incredibly blessed with such a Good Shepherd who cares for us so tenderly!

 

 

Saturday, April 16:  **Please note:  Todd's pain was increasing and I had to run out to get him some extra pain medications a few hours before I wrote these words**

 

Thank you for your prayers!!  God is sooooo good!!  I just went in to check on Todd, and even though he was awake, he said the pain is gone!!!  YAY!!  :)  I feel so much better.  I reminded him to wake me for anything, and now I feel more confident of that sleep afterall (if toby cooperates!).  thanks again for the prayers, Friend.  I just had to share that news!!!

April 19, 2005:

 

We did have a decent talk about the "living will" this morning.  I just talked as we both needed to do this, and we were able to really talk in depth about our wishes.  It was awkward at times, but God was good, and we were able to get through.

Wednesday, April 20, 2005:

 

thanks for your prayers, Friend.  Everything hurts again today, but God is good. He is able.

Sunday, April 24, 2005:

 

Todd's very weak today and the pain is intense.  This is happening so fast and I can't stop the tears today.  I honestly just feel like it is all too much, even though I know God's promises.  I hear the kids and see problems, and they all seem like they are in a distance, far away, and I'm unable to deal with it.  I'm neglecting the important "Mom jobs," and I'm helpless to intervene.  I prepare meals, change diapers, clean clothes and the house, but the really, really important stuff is neglected.  I feel  like I'm walking and doing the mundane in a thick cloud.  My husband, my best friend, my love is dying in front of me, Friend, and there is nothing I can do to help him.  

Monday, April 25, 2005:

 

Could these be answers to your prayers for me?  Thanks for the encouragement and obvious prayers.  God is too gracious to me.

 

I am still within my fog, however, which is quite distressing.  It's a strange feeling.  I feel so unattached to my kids.  I keep thinking of what Todd would be doing or saying or how he would be acting on a "normal" day/night.  It's weird.

 

Thanks again for the all the encouragement, hugs, and especially those prayers.  It means so much.  You are right, this is truly unbelievable, but God is good and showing Himself a source of strength and comfort.

May 6, 2005:

 

What a day, Friend.  Todd was about the same all day, then about 3 pm he started breathing with a raspy sound that was horrible.  We would all hold our breath as he would finally take another.  The hospice nurse was here 4 times today, and when she first came in the morning to check up on us, she told me it was important to tell Todd it was ok for him to go.  She said he needed to hear that from me, that we would be ok.  So early this morning, feeling like I could no longer take even another minute of this, I talked to him.  I told him how much I loved him, and he clearly told me he loved me (which I knew, but it was nice to hear).  Then I named each child, said something special about them and him, and reminded him of their love.  I reminded him of Pastor Ascher's visit, and how God will never, ever leave him.  I told him to be absent from this body was to be present with God, meaning God would never leave his side.  I repeated the words, "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me" and told him I was praying for no evil to be present and told him not to be afraid.  Then I reminded him again of God's presence....both here and there.  I told him there were many people who loved him and me, and named all that were in the house.  Then I told them we would be ok, and well-taken care of, not like he took care of us, but we would be ok.  I told him Paul Taylor was cutting the grass (we could hear the mower outside) and just then he hit something and it clanged and banged and was quiet.  Todd gave a big smile.  Yes, I told him, not like he would cut the grass, but none-the-less, it was being cut.  :)  We all laughed at that (there was a room full).   I told Todd there were many who would take care of us.  I promised him I would keep telling and remind the kids what he's been teaching them.  I told him I would continue devotions like he did with us.  I then told him what a great job he has done here.  I told him he was a great father, and a great husband.  I thanked him for loving me and allowing me to know he loved me, even when I was angry at him.  I then thanked him for his testimony and love for the Lord.  I told him I knew we would be together again, because I had asked Jesus to be my Savior as well, and that it wouldn't be long before we would see each other again.  I thanked him for giving us all the confidence of knowing where he was headed.  He had tears in the corner of his eyes, and he kept smiling and nodding his head.  Then I told him to relax and rest, and when God called him, that it was ok to go.

 

He stayed the same, and I repeated my speech two more times.  Then around 3 he did that raspy breathing.  It was bad, but he wasn't really struggling or acting like he was in pain.  We kept giving him the morphine and anti-anxiety meds, and called hospice, which told us we could give them every hour now, and added a med to dry up the secretions, which never worked.  I couldn't stay in there any more.  I went out on the deck when he was breathing so noisy and slow.  It was torture to sit and listen and watch.  Kim came out and said it was ok, that I didn't have to go back in.  She said her and Kelly were with their dad around the clock, then they went home for a shower, came back and he was gone.  She always thought that was because he felt he could go and not have them go through that pain of watching him go.  So she said it was fine I wasn't in there, and maybe Todd would recognize that and feel better leaving without me there, knowing I wouldn't have to endure that.  I felt so terribly guilty, but I couldn't make myself to go back in there.  Then Kim came out around 6:30 and gave me that look.  She held me tight and we just cried.  I started shaking all over.  I suddenly felt all alone.  I ached all over.  My world crashed in.  I couldn't speak or even breathe.  This continued, and I couldn't even tell the kids, but they knew.   Nathan came over and we hugged awhile, then each one came and gave me a hug.  Winter said, "Daddy's in heaven now, why are you crying?"  And I told her how much I missed Daddy already.

 

Kelly walked back with me, so I could see him.  That was so hard.  I felt so angry at him for leaving, and yet I told him it was ok to go, but it suddenly wasn't ok anymore!  It stinks, Friend!  It makes me so angry.  Then each child came in one at a time...first Nathan, and I gave him a hug and told him he has Daddy's heart and his way of thinking, and I warned him I may cry every time he does something that reminds me of daddy for a long time.  Everyone was crying.   I told him I didn't mean to make him cry, just was warning him.  Then Tiff came in and I told her how much I loved her and reminded her that Daddy was in heaven and we hugged tight and long.   Then Winter came in and I reminded her that that (glancing over my shoulder to Todd's body) was empty and that Daddy was not in there anymore, but now in heaven.  She stared at it for a long time, then hugged me and told me how much she loved me.  Then Trina.  I told her I would need her later to make me laugh, because she was so good at that.  She wasn't crying, and said she was fine, and I told her I could see that, then she just lost it and sobbed.  I held her for a long time and told her we would be fine.  She said, "Toby will keep us laughing later."  Then Abe.  I had to reach up to hug him and told him I was glad he had such big shoulders, because I was going to be leaning on them.  He said he knew.

 

Monday, May 9, 2005:

 

He said on Friday when he came, he felt a peace here.  Others had said the same thing.  (Where was I?  I sure didn't feel that peace!  ...only a peace in knowing where Todd was, but my heart was shattered and I wasn't seeing straight or hearing or even existing, that I remember.)  But obviously God was here.

 

I was so loved, Friend, so loved.  I keep crying every time I think about those last few minutes he lived.  I'm crying again.  Hold on.

 

Alright.  Deep breath here.  I tried to rest later in the afternoon, but dear Toby climbed and pulled and finally I put her on the bed next to me.  She put her hand on Todd's pillow and said, "Da-da?"  I said yes, it was Daddy's pillow.  Then she started gathering the smaller pillows at the bottom of the bed.  Toby was always bringing pillows to Daddy the last few weeks.  It was so cute.  She had two in her hands, and she was trying to get off the bed and saying, "Da-da" over and over.  I sobbed again, trying to tell her Daddy went bye-bye, but not doing a convincing job because she kept going.

 

I had asked the children earlier today to please try to think of something to write, make, color or whatever to give to Daddy Tuesday night.  I explained to them that we were going to say goodbye to him, just our family.  (Yes, I decided to do this)  Winter colored a picture and drew our family, each stick figure was the favorite color of the person she was drawing.  She made Daddy taller and with a big smile.  Tiffany wrote something on yellow paper, and plans to finish "decorating" it tomorrow.  Trina wrote a poem.  Nathan is giving him one of his Hummer models he built with Daddy (he has many....I reminded the kids that this would just be going in the ground, just as a "token" to Daddy, and that we wouldn't see it again, so be sure not to take something really special to them.  The girls are going to photocopy their things.  I was having trouble myself with this idea, because there are so many very special things that I want to keep, but later today I found the perfect thing to take....his work boots!  He worked so hard for us.)  Abe is giving Dad one of his Star Wars books that the two of them loved and talked about many times.  I decided to let Toby give Daddy a pillow.  That coffin is going to be full!  :)

 

Pastor Griffith said he would be in touch again soon, and kept reminding me how God was working and all that He as doing to care for me.  He said he can hear it in my stories, and he can see God working, and wanted me to be aware of God's love and care so evident these past days.

 

I just don't know if I can do this.  Pastor G says, "one day at a time," but how long can I do that?  There is so much to do in a day, and I can't focus for even a minute.  I still have bills that have to be written from last week.  I want to go hide someplace and forget it all.  I tried today, and Toby found me and made me cry even more with her wanting to give Daddy those pillows.  There is no hiding here.  There is no quiet time, other than the night hours, and then it's even harder!  My brain feels like a big fuzz ball.  I don't like this feeling of not being able to plan or know what I'm doing.  This big empty feeling won't go away, and the pain seems to increase every time I see something of Todd's or think about the reality of all this.  It's too much, Friend.  

May 16, 2005:

 

thank you, Friend. You are such an encouragement.  There were a lot of tears today and a lot of hurt, but looking back over the day, I can see God at work and giving me people along the way to support and encourage me.