The last time I wrote in November 2013, I was really dealing with a lot (as you’ll see below), but I had no idea what God had in store for me. I wrote that I want to abandon the goals that I had and focus on God, focus on the Bible, and His teachings. God still has a lot to teach me and the rest of the world, but this last year or so has been incredible, and it’s not done yet–More importantly, He is not done yet.
On May 4, 2014 we had a guest pastor preach at our church about Mary being the first disciple and how Mary had to step down from her role as mother and into her role as the first disciple. In summary, in order to be a disciple, you must submit to a new authority and you must learn to follow and discern what He wants us to do. A true disciple should teach others to follow and discern. Most importantly a disciple points others to Him. Letting the Lord lead is not the easiest thing to do, but for some reason, the Lord led me, on that day, to spin off on a tangent and outline how He has led despite our intentions to control life. God is truly using life to bring us closer to him. This is my story and while it is pretty long as is-it could be even longer. It’s long enough to get the point across-regardless of how broken, choppy, and not like a story it is.
It starts in spring of 2013. My mother found out that her position would be eliminated and that she would have to take early retirement. At first, this was upsetting, but once we got used to the idea, steps were taken and plans put into place. In the process, we found out that my mother should have been contributing into a different state pension plan which would allow her to take social security; however, the plan she was contributing to was a Teacher’s Retirement plan which did not allow her to take social security. At first we were angry, but then we figured out that this was for the better as the teacher’s plan offers health insurance while the others do not. BLESSING IN DISGUISE as it was only a clerical error that did this.
My brother and his wife welcomed a handsome, adorable, little man that I get to call my nephew into this world on June 9, 2013. He’s amazing and I don’t get to see him that much, but I already know. He’s my nephew. He’s my blood. He is and will always be amazing because he is a gift from God. A total BLESSING.
In September 2013, God really begins to challenge us and forces us to realize that He is in control, not us and it is only up to us to trust Him. This whole process has been a whirlwind and the Lord has been there every step of the way, whether we saw it at the time or not. In September, my mother underwent Knee Replacement Surgery. It was very interesting to see her prepare for surgery and prepare for rehab afterwards. She had all these plans and big dreams about life with a new knee and how life would be in rehab.
Well, after surgery, there were breathing complications and immediately, her plans went down the drain. She needed more support and at that point, I was incredibly grateful that my company offers flexible scheduling so that I could not only be with my mother in the hospital when she needed me there, but that I could work from the hospital without disrupting too much. BLESSING.
October is where it goes downhill a bit more. I just finished lessons on Heaven and Hell in Sunday School (per the kids’ request at wanting to learn some of the basics), and we were looking at starting a series. My Sunday School helper informed me that she was possibly battling cancer and I immediately thought of focusing on trials and tribulations. I found some lessons on the book of James and modified the lessons to meet the kids’ needs. Never in a million years did I think that those kids would meet mine more…
October 2-mom moves from the hospital to rehab. Overnight, rehab overdoses her blood thinner. As my mother is trying to get assistance to the bathroom, the nurses don’t respond. Being my mother, she goes out in her wheelchair to look around and finds NO ONE except for one nurse in the dining room, with shoes off, sleeping at the table. Needless to say, on October 3, 2013 my mother was discharged from rehab to my house. Her house is not able to meet her rehabilitation needs and my house is so that’s where she ended up. Her great plan continued to go out the door.
October 4, 2013 I was off so that I could celebrate the wonderful bachelorette party for a friend of mine from church. My father and I had switched cars as mine was difficult for mom to get into and out of. I went to the grocery store to get groceries for my mother and was hit by another car. Mom’s car was totaled. I didn’t make it to the bachelorette party that night. I was in pain and stayed home.
The following weekend, my aunt came to take care of my mom so that my hubby and I could go to our college Homecoming. We had it planned for a few weeks and wanted to go. We left on October 11, 2013 and went down to “Ol’ MC” to celebrate with our friends. October 12, 2013, we went bowling and of course, I sprain my knee… on my birthday. Ugh. Looking back, I think this was God’s way of forcing me to slow down and to give Him more focus in life. We left on the 13th to head back to home.
Nothing was out of the ordinary with October 14th until we went to bed. At 10:30 that night, I received a phone call from the hospital. “Mrs. Babich. Please come to the Emergency Room at St. Alexius. There’s been an accident. Your dad is here.” I wake up mom and we rush to the hospital. It’s down the street so we got there in 8 minutes from the phone call time. As we get into his room, he’s complaining of headache, he doesn’t know where he is, and his clothes have been cut up. Dad doesn’t even know his name. His things were all over the room and he’s got leads and monitors everywhere. The accident happened at 6:17pm and we had no idea. The hospital stated that the police officer that was called to the scene brought his wallet to the hospital as they needed it to fill out his accident paperwork. They ran his license and found my number. Six months prior, I had registered my phone number as an emergency contact on both of my parents’ licenses. Without registering that, it could have been more hours until we were notified. BLESSING.
Life for the next few weeks is a whirlwind. Mom and dad are deaf. The hospital wants to do one hour neuro checks because dad sustained three different hemorrhages in his brain. Hospital didn’t want to provide a live interpreter, but realized that they had to when the iPad VRI interpreter would not work for him since he could not respond.
My mother and I went to the accident site in search of his glasses and his cell phone (data and text only plan for the deaf). Found his glasses. Lens still intact, but frame completely bent. We didn’t find his phone until we went back to the house. Very unusual… he never leaves the house without his phone. He did that day. My mother saw him earlier that day and he was fine, but she had to remind him to eat as he had not eaten all day.
We were working on fighting for his right to an interpreter and working with family to ensure his safety. He had hallucinations due to medication, he was ripping out his IV multiple times, he didn’t recognize us, he didn’t know his own name, and lost so much in that first week. It was just bizarre. I can’t even imagine how it was for my family. In my world of case management, I see this all the time. Work life has prepared me for the worst, but it’s different when it’s your dad. BLESSING that God provided me with the experience from work to cope through all of this and help my family.
In the middle of this, we told the kids that Caroline, my helper, has cancer. We told them of my dad and we taught on James 1:2-4 where it states: “2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” CONVICTION. Is this my joy? Is this what God has for us? My mind was racing. On the day that I taught the lesson, we asked those kids to hold us (Caroline and I) accountable, to be the example God has called us to be in accepting these trials. In not sheltering the kids from what was going on, we were able to demonstrate rather than just talk about it. Actions speak louder than words and those kids had a lot to say. They told us that they could not hold adults accountable and we informed them that in this situation, it’s okay. It’s not kids holding adults accountable, it is children of God holding other children of God accountable for God’s commands. Actions speak louder than words and these kids would hold me accountable more than anyone.
After time in the ICU, Dad went up to the neuro floor. He was a vegetable. His favorite thing to do is watch Chicago Bears football. The game was on and we changed the channel to the game. He had no idea what football was, who the Bears were, and also didn’t want to eat ANYTHING. His default answer to everything was “no,” but he would take food if we fed him. Mom was crushed. She cried so hard coming out of the hospital that day. I’ve never seen her cry so hard.
The next day, the doctor decided to declare that my dad was competent (Even though he didn’t know his own name) and stated that my dad decided to be a DNR. Mom and I were furious. We turned my parents’ house upside down looking for the power of attorney paperwork that proves otherwise and couldn’t find it. I e-mailed the lawyer and he sent it to me via scan the next morning. I forwarded the POA paperwork to the hospital by 9:15am. At 10:05 we received a phone call–“Your dad has a high fever and some sort of infection going on. Get the whole family here and get to the ICU. It’s an emergency.” My little brother, older brother, mom, uncle and I all met up at the hospital. Dad was not conscious. He was using his bipap machine as a ventilator as his POA paperwork says no vent. His blood pressure dropped to 36/20 while en route to the ICU. He was in septic shock. Hooked up to even more machines, IVs, etc. Mom had to sign off on a PICC line to be put in. It was probably one of the hardest things she’s ever had to do in her life. Uncle Paul cried, little brother Don cried, big brother John, cried, mom cried, I cried. He was laying there, barely alive, dying from septic shock. I’ve never seen Uncle Paul cry and I’ve never seen John cry. One of the hardest sights to see. Mom said that my little brother kept telling her to “let him go.” The doctor asked us all to go home and my mother and I had to go back to my house. She’s still recovering from knee replacement. She can’t even go back to her own bed. We were fully expecting a call from the hospital that he had passed overnight.
Mom and I didn’t get that call so we went to the hospital the next day. Dad was awake. He was talking. He was signing. He was a bit confused, but he was alert. The doctors couldn’t explain it. He should have been dead from the accident. He should have been dead from the septic shock. We can explain it-the power of prayer-plain and simple. MIRACLE.
Dad made some improvements in the next few weeks and was discharged to rehab. My husband and I told my mom to go home as she was able to walk and get around on her own much better now. She had a lot of work to do since no one had been at the house in almost a month. A lot of cleaning out, a lot of cleaning up, and some help from Carol “little mouse” Loth and we got a lot of the house clean.
Dad continued to show signs of non-compliance in the rehab, changes in social skills, reasoning, cognition, processing, etc. He made it to his discharge date, but ended up in the hospital due to chest pain. He made another birthday on the 20th, but spent it getting an angiogram… oh boy, happy birthday, Dad. He was able to come home the 21st and have time with family. Still refusing to go to outpatient rehab, but happy to have him nonetheless. It was the weirdest Thanksgiving we’ve ever had, but we made it. It makes us appreciate family and a balance in life even more. Hubby and I were able to go to multiple places to unwind for many date nights at comedy clubs, movies, and a gift certificate to a night in Chicago on his company. BALANCE. In the back of our minds, we were happy to just have Dad home and wondering what the future had in store. We were happy that life was starting to come back to normal. COUNT YOUR BLESSINGS.
December 2013 comes around and I’ve been practicing lines for the upcoming church musical. It was a great relief to have something else to focus on all this time. Hubby’s birthday is the 14th, musical the 15th, mom’s birthday the 17th, and then comes Christmas and the New Year. The first week of December, I started noticing that I could smell things. I usually can’t smell again until April or so, and this was unusual. Well, the second week, it was getting worse. I figured out that I needed to be tested and found out on the 13th that there was a possibility that I was pregnant. On the 14th, hubby’s birthday, it was confirmed. I told him and then left the house to go to rehearsal for the musical. I think he appreciated the time to mull over the idea of being a father and I appreciated the break in thinking about anything but lines and stage blocking. I told a church friend, Carol, as well to help me process the good news. BLESSING. The musical was a success and we told the Christmas story in a different way. BLESSING. The kids were told that Caroline will be having surgery for cancer in January and that she needs prayer. The kids were asking how dad was because “You’re not sad, but you should be… what’s wrong with you?” It’s not that I’m not sad kids, I am. I just know that in the Lord, there is hope. God gives us contentment and hope in our lives to help us fulfill His Will.
We told his parents and mine on December 17th, by putting notes to various “grandparents” in children’s books. Our parents appeared to be thrilled, even Dad, who seemed to be excited through his anger about not being allowed to drive yet. That’s all he was focused on. Went to the doctor and got confirmation via ultrasound. Called and e-mailed family at the New Year.
January 3, 2014. Car accident on I-90. My car is totaled. I’m freaking out because I’m 7 ½ weeks pregnant when this happens. Life is just crazy at this point. BLESSING-We were saving up for a new car for me because my old one was falling apart. With our savings and an insurance payment, we were able to buy a used car for cash. No car payment for us. GOD PROVIDES.
Plans are made to have pregnancy announcement pictures taken. We’re going to be ready on February 22, 2014. Sorry, God had other plans-plans to bring my husband and me closer together and working even more as a team than we have in the past. BLESSING. He was walking the dog, fell on ice, and broke his ankle in two places, his Tibia in one. He damaged his ligament and needed surgery. No work for 16 weeks… How are we to afford everything? How are we to pay our bills? God provides. Overtime was provided at my job and my mom was able to come daily to help with dishes and laundry. SO BLESSED FOR MOM. SO BLESSED BY GOD’S PROVISION. The kids, they are just questioning. They’re exploring. They’re wondering. They’re amazed. In their questions, I found strength. I found comfort in knowing that God is there and it feels good to tell the kids that God has provided and will continue to provide.
Pictures happen in March of 2014. Deanna, another church friend, does an AMAZING job! BLESSINGS COME IN THE PEOPLE GOD PUTS IN OUR LIVES.
April-struggles. My income, even with overtime, is not enough to meet all of our bills with no income from my husband. The church I go to is wonderful and provides money for a mortgage payment so that we can survive. BLESSINGS COME THROUGH GOD AND HIS PEOPLE. Some of the kids are thriving, asking questions, taking notes. Another one struggles to find his path. He’s asking questions, but hoping he already has all the answers. He hasn’t hit rock bottom, but he’s crying out for the time to hit rock bottom and looking for guidance to get out. It’s going to be hard, but he needs to hit rock bottom.
May-Church mortgage payment goes through, we have enough money for our needs and second surgery comes around. Husband can put pressure on his right leg again. Walking with a lot of pain and a walker, but still walking nonetheless. End of the year. The kids have been asking a lot of questions and truly exploring. One child is finding himself, one child is finding her voice, and one seems to be getting more lost in trying to navigate God’s expectations, self-imposed expectations, and the expectations of the world around him. BLESSINGS THAT THESE WONDERFUL CHILDREN OF GOD ARE GROWING IN FAITH. Even the one that is struggling is growing in his faith as he looks to see how God can bring him out. He doubts God’s ability, but it will make it more meaningful when it all comes together and he sees God’s provision, God’s guidance, and God’s patience/love.
June- As we look back and reflect on the year, the kids held me more accountable and taught me more about being a Christian than any classroom could ever teach me. These kids had me thinking, had me reflecting on my actions, had me very aware of how I carried myself in the midst of this storm. Our actions, our demonstrations of love, our responses, mean more to these kids and in return, we learn so much from the innocent responses they provide. We’re in June now and as I look ahead, 8 weeks left until the due date, I see that in the midst of the storm, God has granted provision, blessings, and a new child. While we still have a long struggle ahead of us with Dad’s Traumatic Brain Injury, possible dementia, personality changes, refusal, denial and more, we look forward to the blessing that God grants us not only in our own child, but in the innocence of Children. Children can teach us so much more than we give them credit for, but it is up to us to work with God in helping the children to explore, question, and seek answers. God is not done with any of us yet, but if the next year is as “good” as the last in terms of blessings, I’m looking forward to life growing closer to Christ through children, and growing closer to Christ not only in this storm that keeps rolling, but DESPITE the storm.
“2 Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, 3 because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. 4 Let perseverance finish its work, so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
“I can do all this through Him who gives me strength.” Philippians 4:13
“No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him who loved us.” Romans 8:37
God will always give us strength to face the battles of daily life. In Christ, we can conquer what the world has to offer and face it with pure joy. This whole life of mine now with my Dad is way more than I could have ever planned for, but it forced me to slow down, look at God, and more importantly, learn to trust God even more than I have before. God ALWAYS provides. Not just financially, but in the lessons he provides, the people he puts in our lives and the blessings he bestows on us-even when they don’t look like blessings at the time.