Today was a big day for marriages in Branch County at First Baptist Church of Coldwater. Over 50 couples gathered together to “Focus On Marriage.” Altogether including singles and workers about 130 people were present. The live satellite feed from Colorado Springs, CO, included speakers Gary Smalley, Beth Moore, and music by Jeremy Camp.

These are excellent events, if for no other reason than Tasha and I get to come together to work on us. I know we’re around each other a lot, and we talk and have quality time. But the mere fact that we agree to go TOGETHER is a subtle message to one another that I thrive on. Unfortunately, there were a few couples that are struggling that weren’t there, and maybe their schedules weren’t as free, but maybe they don’t want to send subtle messages to one another that the marriage is important. It is sad. So today I called my wife an unexpected upgrade to a truck. I guess you’d have to have been at the simulcast in order to get the inside joke – but hopefully Tasha does. :)

Dear God, thank you for my marriage to Tasha. Thank you for allowing us each to heal from the harms we do to one another. The good outweigh the bad, but sometimes the bad are so intense, that it is hard to believe the good will ever prevail – but it does. Please help me to love Tasha in spite of her failings. Please help her to love me the same way. I pray that my daughters will someday have a marriage that they are proud of, too. If they are right with You, they have a chance of having that marriage. I pray they seek You out. Amen.

I’ve written out 100s of gratitude lists. It really helps. For those of you squinting to try to read the one I’ve posted, it isn’t really mine so give it up!

So, take a pen or two, a piece of paper, and find a quiet location. DON’T do this on your computer – it’s too easy to get distracted. EVERYONE has something their grateful for, to a bum on the street it is the building overhang that protected him from the rain last night and the fact that no one ran him out into the storm. For others, the list is so sweet that it can’t be written without a pail to catch the tears of joy!

Dear God, help me to sit down and make that list one time in the next week. To take the time to focus on all of the wonderful glimpses of life that enter my eyes every day, every hour, every moment if I let them. I pray for my friends and family that may have never made the list, to go through the awkward motion of setting aside the time, and effectively writing a thank you note to our Maker!

Check out this scripture – David realizes everything comes from God, so be grateful! 1st Chronicles 29:13-17.

Apparently Sara has been checking out my blog, too. She is keeping watch of the score of the “Marena” posts versus the “Sara” posts. Of course, she knows Marena’s surgery has stolen some of the attention she normally gets (steals). So this post is for you, Sara. I love you, too. :)

Marena was having to use the international face pain scale. I kind of had one going on in my mind, too. Click the link above. Some would say it is comedic others would say it forced them to require grief counseling. You’ll need .pdf to view it.

Wow! Whew! Thank, God that part is over!
From about 4am until 12:30pm today, I’ve been going through one of the top 10 most emotional moments of my life. Whether one thinks it right or wrong, I usually keep my emotions pretty well in check. It’s just the person that I’ve become. I still felt it was necessary to act confident and strong about the decision to have the surgery – to try to help Marena feel the same way. But my compassion for my daughter’s pain and my own fear for my daughter’s ordeal were still too much! So here come the tears….

The long waiting began after she disappeared in to the hands of the doctors and nurses. Tick, tock, tick, tock. Then Dr. Light appeared. He was confident and reassured us that the “surgery went exactly as we’d planned.” Hoo-Ray! What better thing could the Dr. say? So now the road to recovery is underway. We have pain management issues to deal with but no reason to be hoping for anything but the best. We’ll return on March 4th for our first chance to check out the Dr.’s work. Now it’s time to praise God!

Dear God, thank you for delivering Marena back to us in a hopefully much better situation than we left her to You in. Thank You for the talents of the caring doctors and nurses that have helped Marena to this point. Help us to help Marena. Give us all the strength to support her in a way that glorifies You. Amen.

Happenings In Dreamland….
The night before Marena had her surgery, I had a strange but cool dream. I promise not to blog about my sleepy dreams very often, but this was by far an exception.

In my dream, I was in earnest prayer to God for all aspects pertaining to Marena’s surgery. At one point when I was about to tear-up in my dream, I looked up enough to notice I wasn’t alone in my dream. There were dozens and maybe even a hundred people around me praying the same way. I wasn’t alone. I saw flashes of faces of the people that are closest to me in my life. Too many faces to list them all here. It was peaceful. Almost Heavenly?? I awoke feeling comfort in being able to remember the dream unlike so many other dreams I have. I’m grateful to believe that God has placed me in a wonderful position of having people to help pray for my family, including me; to somehow carry me with their prayers when I was feeling almost too scared to breathe!

Feb 192009

Pictured Left To Right: Becca Schott & Marena Hickey. The Shriner’s Children’s Hospital in Chicago is an incredible place. We arrived and were walked straight to Marena’s room by Sandy. They had her name on the room and bed! Marena’s roommate, Kailey, had similar hand anomalies and was awaiting a similar surgery to be performed by Dr. Light, also. Kailey, Marena, and Marena’s b.f. Becca seemed to quickly get along with each other. After a bedside intake with several doctors and helpers, we were given a meal voucher and headed to the cafeteria. They have a large common area with all kinds of games, billiards, air hockey, ping-pong, etc. The commons also had a large basketball court, pre-k climber (McDonald’s style), a TV/Internet area, and even a grand piano! We went back to the room after lunch and almost immediately after we got back, they announced that a magician would be in the commons!

It’s clear this facility goes all out, over the top, to provide a unique experience for the children here. It was probably the first time in our lives together that Marena was in the same room with another little girl with almost the exact same problems. And there was yet another girl with similar challenges that participated in the Magic Show!

Dear God, thank you so much for this wonderful place (did I mention it’s free?). To see all of these kids that have varying difficulties and to see them with smiles on their faces, almost at home with each other here at the Hospital if that’s what you have to call it. I know Marena deals very well with her challenges, but here it almost seems like she has no challenges – for once she has a true peer group. Thank you.

PS – Just after I finished today’s blog and I thought this place couldn’t get any better, the “Recreational” Therapist came into the room delivering a Build-A-Bear for Marena to keep! The evening’s recreational options were outlined for us including access to a Wii and the wheelchair basketball game at 6pm. This place is too cool!

Feb 182009

Dear Marena,
Back in the 90’s when you were born; Dr. Louis was at the forefront of the hand and especially the children’s hand field. He was the president of the American Society For Surgery of the Hand back when he operated on you. You were supposedly his last patient that he took on and that was somewhat of a surprise and/or miracle! I think he did an excellent job!

Now you are ready to have the next series of hand surgeries. Dr. Light is the one operating this time. Did you know that he, too, is a past president of the American Society For Surgery of the Hand! When you Google Dr. Light, he pops up in all kinds of different locations and his education clearly puts him near the top of the qualified list in this country! Even the Cleveland Clinic Dr. vouched for that!

I don’t know what will happen in the end. But I know that you want this surgery. And if you are going to do it, my job is to put you in the best possible situation that I can. I’ve done the best I can kiddo. I love you. I pray that this surgery improves your quality of life
– you deserve it!

Dr. Dean Louis Surgery

Dr. Terry Light

Feb 172009

On February 20th Marena will have the first surgery on her hands since she was a little baby. God delivered Marena to us with anomalies to both her hands. This first of potentially three surgeries is to redirect her ring finger on her left (non-dominant) hand. Presently the ring finger lays across her pinky finger and that causes some challenges for her.

We’ve been relentless on Marena in our expectations for her. We’ve ‘ignored’ her hands in terms of making her ‘different’ than anyone else. She has been very successful socially. And now it seems strange that for the first time in a very long time, her hands get the center stage of attention. But I think it is the right choice for us all.

God, thank you for my beautiful baby Marena. She is such a blessing to her mother and me. We’ve took great pleasure in her presence in our lives! Please be with each person that has a role to play in her surgery. I want those people to feel Your presence, like a father’s arm around their shoulders. Give Tasha and me energy and strength to bring comfort and Your compassion to her. And most of all I pray for Marena. I pray that she will be edified as the wonderful young lady she has become. I pray that she will know You stronger than ever before. I pray for her pain to have long periods of drought and for her recovery to be faster than we could humanly understand possible! I pray for miracles!

I’m Back!

My Blog Comments Off
Feb 162009

On the road again……I’m happy that I’ll be able to start blogging again. Yahoo! was all messed up and they never did end up solving the problem! I couldn’t believe it. There are a couple of blogging tools offered by Yahoo! and apparantly the version I chose (because it was the easiest) has a bug that is NEVER going to be fixed. So, I had to learn another new tool for the computer. I hope you like the new blog. Check back often. God bless, Russell.

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