Sunday, July 29, 2012

The Old Songs Were New Once


Drummer boy left early for church this morning. He had to be there by 8:30 to practice with the worship band in preparation for the service the rest of us would attend later. He walked to the car and I stood in my pajamas at the open door, watching him go. He noticed me lingering there, hesitated and said, "What are you doing?"

"Just feeling the fresh air," I said, drinking in the beauty of just-sprinkled flowers sparkling in the early rays of golden light. He smiled a knowing smile (he knows his momma does odd things like that), told me he loved me and proceeded to get in the car. I kept standing there even after I'd watched him drive around the bend toward the pale remnants of a tangerine sunrise. I made a point to notice how cool the gentle breeze felt on my face, how crisp and clear the air smelled, and how deep the purple of agapanthus flowers appeared against countless shades of green. It was a new morning, one I'd never seen before, the only one just like it, and I didn't want to fail to notice its unique delights.

When we arrived at church, She So Sweet and I walked in together while Hero Husband parked the car. Drummer Boy sat in his usual spot behind the drum set, but that was the only thing that was "usual" about it! We had never seen him with the drums set up like this before! Key pieces of his usual configuration were missing, and he had replaced his usual seat with a cajon, a box drum you don't typically see in a standard drum set. She So Sweet and I exchanged quizzical glances, laughed in unison, and she said with genuine enthusiasm, "I love my brother!!" This is the boy who did an impromptu drum solo on the wooden steps of my parents' hot tub and made it sound concert-worthy--we had no doubt he could make this work!

Along with the rest of the band who played guitars both acoustic and electric, mandolin, and keyboard, Drummer Boy gave a distinctive flair to the voices of the instruments he played, and the overall result was fresh and cool like the morning air that had greeted me earlier. We sang some familiar songs, an old song with a new chorus, and a new song for the first time. It occurred to me that the old songs were new once, and the truth that once inspired their songwriters can still fall fresh on hearts who remember to notice.

"He put a new song in my mouth,
a hymn of praise to our God."

Sandwiched between the first and second sets of worship songs, one of our pastors brought us a message about our identity in Christ--an identity that is at once brand new and older than time. She encouraged us to try new ways of spending time in God's presence, to ask God to move us outside of the boxes we have formed around Him, and to let Him use the gift of our imaginations to help us see more than black letters on white pages when we read His Word.

As I listened, following along in the "old, old story" while taking notes on my newfangled iPhone, I felt that same fresh, cool Spirit-wind caress my heart with an urgent whisper, eagerly calling me to newness with Him and in Him, the Ancient of Days. He had been wooing me all morning, in the softness of early daylight, in a new song with a new sound, and in a fresh message of old Truth tasted anew.

Every morning with Jesus is new and unique and not to be missed, and He never changes! The contrast of old truth and fresh awareness, timelessness and immediacy, is God's perpetual invitation to a new walk with Him. I wouldn't miss it for the world!

I love to tell the story,
for those who know it best
seem hungering and thirsting
to hear it like the rest.
And when, in scenes of glory,
I sing the new, new song,
'twill be the old, old story
that I have loved so long.

How has God given you fresh understanding of old Truth?
What are your favorite ways to renew your hunger for God?

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1612-1632 (July 22nd through July 28th)

22. 3 Gifts Understated
The fragrance of my Paul Mitchell Awapuhi Moisture Mist in my hair
The miles-distant cry of the train whistle as the California Zephyr rolls into the station
The soft blue of twilight
23. A Gift High, Low, Far Away
  A big goal to reach by midnight--the bar seems so high--I did it! My energy by the end of the day--spent it all!! Family spread far and wide--I miss all of them like crazy!!
24. 3 Gifts of Sand
Memories of beaches in the Okanagan Valley--Okanagan, Sunoka, and Skaha!
Memories of finding beautiful agates in the sand of Agate Beach on the Oregon Coast
Memories made and pictures taken at Wind and Sea Beach in La Jolla where the sand is turned to stone
25. 3 Gifts of Endings
Bittersweet words of farewell from my favorite teacher so far in my B.A. program!! Love you, Dr. Barbara!!!
Finishing touches on my final paper for her class
Words of gratitude from my teammates
26. 3 Gifts Fresh
Iced Peet's Coffee, bold and invigorating
Morning Air
Crisp, crunchy, fresh red bell peppers
27. A Gift on Vacation, at Home, in Relaxation
Pictures to take
Being ourselves 
Calm in the midst of the storm
28. 3 Gifts of Beginnings
The Olympics--I love the drama of sports!
Prepping for my next class that starts on Tuesday
My own experiment in neuroplasticity

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A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

Sunday, July 22, 2012

When Lazarus Comes Home

"Now the crowd that was with him 
when he called Lazarus from the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to spread the word." John 12:17 NIV1984
Two Sundays ago, I wrote of what was then an unfolding story, just three days old, that had thousands of people riveted to a "secret" group on facebook as we prayed for the life of Stephen Shaffer. What you didn't know then was that between Saturday night when I wrote that post and Sunday morning when I hit PUBLISH, Stephen had taken a turn for the worse. It was with trembling fingers that I posted what I had written the night before, trusting that God was going to continue to hold Stephen together, even when it looked like he was falling apart. Oh how we prayed, and many of you joined in and prayed too!

Hour by hour during that next week, we watched and prayed!
Last Sunday, I struggled to capture, in the craziest mix of metaphors you've ever seen, the incredible ups and downs we had witnessed as God worked while Stephen's life continued to teeter from minute to minute between earth and heaven. We had already seen God do so many miracles, but that morning there were huge question marks about the condition of Stephen's heart and what was going to happen next. We kept praying, and you prayed too!

Today, Sunday, July 22, 2012,

Last night, one day post-surgery, at the end of a 7-ish hour drive up I-5 from Southern California with his parents, Stephen, a.k.a. Miracle Boy, a.k.a. Lazarus, was welcomed home by a crowd of sign-waving, horn-blowing, hand-clapping, laughing, crying, screaming friends, family, and fans!! My family was privileged to be in that deliriously joyous crowd!!

THIS is what answered prayer looks like:

He didn't even look TIRED!!
To see the old Stephen looking out from behind those beautiful blue eyes and to give him a hug like we have all wanted to do for the last 17 days, was a thrill of joy I can scarcely describe!! It is hard to look at that face and reconcile that smile with the fact that on July 5th, Stephen was without a heartbeat for AN HOUR AND A HALF!!!! God literally raised him from the dead!!! He used amazing people, and medicine, and technology, and the power of more than 13,000 people whose hearts He stirred with love and faith, and over it all He poured His miraculous power to give us a modern-day Lazarus story we will NEVER forget!! Not only is Stephen alive after being dead, HE HAS NO BRAIN DAMAGE!!! The doctors didn't even bother with a CT scan to check because the truth was so obvious!!! Every time they gave Stephen's parents their dim prospects and projected timeline of possibly limited recovery, Stephen would make a giant leap of progress that blew their theories out of the water--they finally gave up trying to predict what Stephen would be able to do!!! They just threw up their hands and called him a miracle!!

"Now to the one who is able
to do
far more abundantly beyond
all that we ask or imagine,
according to the power that is working within us,
to him be glory in the church
and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations,
forever and ever!

Amen, indeed.

Thank you my beloved readers for all your prayers!
God has graciously used all of us to be part of this incomparably great thing He has done!!
To God be the glory!!!


Do you have any "far more abundantly beyond" stories to share?
Let's give Him some more glory!!

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1590-1611 (July 15th through July 21st)

15. 3 Gifts of Stone
My beautiful, deep-green, granite countertops
The diamond and sapphire evidence on my finger that Hero Husband picked me!
That the rocks didn't have to sing praise to God today because we did! Church in the park was such a blessing!
16. 3 Gifts Hanging Down
The shop lights that brighten my laundry area in the garage
Blinds that keep rooms cool when the sun is too hot and too bright
Stop lights that keep traffic from being a free-for-all . . . sort of
17. 3 Gifts Learned
Neuroplasticity--the adaptability of the human brain!!
Your brain cares what you think!!
Very thankful that my freshman year of high school, for reasons I don't even remember, I took Typing. One of the most useful skills I have ever learned!
18. 3 Gifts Musical
The heritage of music in my family
The next generation--Drummer Boy & She So Sweet
The technology that enables them to create new music like never before, and that also allows Drummer Boy to rescue old music that might otherwise have been lost
19. 3 Gifts Baked
New potatoes
English muffins
The scones at Peet's that I DIDN'T indulge in eating
20. A Gift in Light, Dark, Shadow
The light of my computer screen
People who pray when the darkness of evil touches our lives (Aurora, CO shooting)
The cool relief of shade
21. 3 Gifts of Story
The cheering crowd at the end of this chapter of the Stephen Shaffer story!!!
Gloria's stories of the tireless efforts of the paramedics and ER team that fought so hard for Stephen's life!!
The subplot of the story where some of the 13,000 met face to face at Stephen's Welcome Home party!!

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On In Around button

A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Riding Whitecaps



The splash of whitewater dots the lake surface, each wave advancing like a tiny storm all its own.

Whitecaps on a deep blue mountain lake are what this past week reminds me of. It may not be stormy all around, but the water certainly is choppy!

Last week I wrote of our friends, the Shaffer family, and their son, Stephen. They were hit with one mighty, overwhelming rogue wave that looked like something you'd see on an episode of Deadliest Catch. Since then, they have been riding a series of crazy and unpredictable whitecaps that just keep coming.

It's hard to believe all that has transpired since the 4th of July. At the time I wrote last week's post, the facebook group, Pray for Stephen Shaffer, was barely over 1500--it now tops 13,000!!! Keep in mind, this is a "secret group" that people can't just look up and click 'Like' to join! Apparently God didn't keep the secret! =)

This has been a truly turbulent ride with such violent twists and turns, and ups and downs, they leave us constantly breathless. Every wave we've ridden has been some wild mix of exhilaration and terror, extreme joy and heart-in-throat gulps for air. We have seen MIRACLES of the highest order! We have seen God completely override what people thought were impossibilities!! We have praised God in a chorus that literally covers the earth! We have ascended such heights as some of us have never seen before!

How we have wanted to stay on those mountaintops and keep breathing the air of glory you only find in high country!

But what we thought was the happily-ever-after ending was only the first act, and there is no intermission. The need for miraculous intervention is not over. The whitecaps continue to arch up and over, up and over, splashing down like wild horses tossing their heads in defiance of any thoughts of taming them. Stephen is still defying death, and God is still His Champion! And we, the transfixed onlookers, continue to watch and pray while we passionately cheer for the good guys!!

If you notice that I am mixing metaphors and shifting from one to the other like a writer who doesn't know any better, it's only because words are such weak vessels for this experience! It feels like the battle line runs right through Stephen's hospital bed, and the enemy does not want to admit defeat (yes, I know that's another one). Make no mistake, that wicked old liar IS defeated, but the fight is not over quite yet.

This morning, we had our church service in a beautiful park, and we broke into groups to share our reflections on the passage of Scripture we were given to study last week in preparation for today. It could not have been more perfect!  I hope you'll go read all eight verses, but especially this: 

"And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, 18 may have power, together with all the saints, 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." Ephesians 3:17b-19 NIV1984

Do you get the feeling even Paul struggled for words big enough to express the thoughts God breathed into his pen?

I have never felt "together with all the saints" like I have this week! The inexplicable closeness I feel for these 13,000+ prayer warriors, most of whom I have never met, is a powerful glimpse into what Heaven will be like! This I know:

The love of Christ is a

There is no one like HIM!

I pray that we all grab ahold of this love that is unlike any other and that we will allow God free rein to show us just "how wide and long and high and deep" His love really is!!

May I ask you to please continue to pray for Stephen! He is not out of the woods yet, but we are trusting God to bring him safely through to a full recovery! Let me know if you'd like to be added to the Praying for Stephen Shaffer facebook group, or you can follow the updates on his story at a special website maintained by his family: www.pray4stephen@weebly.comThank you so much!! I will continue to pass along any love and encouragement you would like to send to the Shaffer family!! Just leave your words for them in the comments!!

Here is a portion of the latest update from Gloria, Stephen's amazing mother:  ‎4:00pm 7/16 UPDATE: . . . Before we make a final decision (about putting in a defibrillation unit), we want to make sure that God didn't do something crazy like heal his heart, because God has been doing some crazy miracles with Stephen already, don't you think??
-As far as Stephen's heart condition, last we heard his ejection fraction rate was 10 - 15% (ejection fraction is a measurement of the percentage of blood leaving your heart each time it contracts.) Normal is 50 - 70%. Stephen's poor heart :(
-We learned today that his heart is also enlarged :(
- They are still baffled about what caused his heart to stop (and not want to start up again...) in a 23 year old, a potassium deficiency or electrolyte imbalance would make you weak, but not kill you!!! Bottom line: It is a medical mystery WHY Stephen's heart stopped and we (I am including me in this equation) just have to get over it. Repeat after me, "I'm over it." Good job. Now let's let God be God and move on. He has a plan and what He has accomplished thus far with this medical mystery thing is amazing!!

Prayer Requests: 
**Pray that between now and tomorrow, God completely heals Stephen's heart; more specifically, that his ejection fraction rate is 50%. God can do it!!!
**Pray that his heart returns to normal size
**Pray that his lungs, chest, heart area stays clear of fluids
**Pray that his electrolyte levels stay in balance
Praise: Kidneys working great
Praise: Fluid has cleared, lungs sound great.
Praise: Stephen is TOTALLY back!! He is acting completely normal. No confusion, no strangeness, just our regular Stephen. He's asking lots of questions, dazzling the nurses, watching movies on the hospital's movie channel - Moneyball, Tron, Real Steel, etc..., just being his normal self. No one can believe he's not brain damaged!! He should not have recovered brain activity so quickly! Praise God for his mighty healing.

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1569-1589 (July 8th through July 14th)

8. 3 Gifts Water
Ice for my knee
Ice for my Peet's Dark Chocolate Mocha Freddo
Water that makes Peet's Coffee at home
9. A Gift of Rhythm, Rhyme, Reason
The one-two, one-two, one-two count of my 2-mile walk
Bryan Duncan in my iPhone playlist:
           "In my mind I'm like a kid in the corner
     Where I argue with the devil 'til I've had my fill 
     When I start to believe all the lies that you're tellin' me
     Sayin' I'll never make it, I say, 'Yes I will'"
         C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm, Letter XIV
   "We may ignore, but we can nowhere evade, the presence of God.  The world is crowded with Him.  He walks everywhere incognito.  And the incognito is not always hard to penetrate.  The real labour is to remember, to attend.  In fact, to come awake.  Still more to remain awake."  
10. 3 Gifts in Weakness
That God's strength is shown in bold relief against our weakness
The glory of God shown through the momentary frailty of Stephen's heart
Overwhelmed tears of joy at good news that makes you go weak in the knees (amazing how we are hard-wired to get into a position for prayer when life is too much, either too scary, too sad to handle or too good to believe)
11. 3 Gifts in Jars
Kalamata olives
Peanut butter
My favorite spicy dill pickles
12. A Gift of Life, Growth, Decline
Stephen Shaffer!!!
The faith of all who have prayed and watched God do MIRACLE UPON MIRACLE in Stephen's odyssey!!
Numbers on the scale!
13. 3 Gifts Curled
Kissin' curls at the base of She So Sweet's ponytail (the only ones she can't completely straighten)
Leaves of every shape and size
Peeling bark on the manzanita trees
14. 3 Gifts Yellow
Flowers She So Sweet put in a vase
Gentle sunshine
Ripe bananas
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On In Around button

A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

What to Do When the Sky Really Is Falling

Please bear with the length of this post--I promise you won't be sorry if you read to the end!!
This is the TRUE story of God at work in ways I have never seen before even though I always knew He could!

After stuffing ourselves on the 4th of July feast Hero Husband made that featured both fried and BBQ chicken with all the fixin's, Drummer Boy, She So Sweet, and I headed over to our favorite spot to watch one of the many fireworks displays in our area. (Hero Husband loves Independence Day, but prefers to relax at home and let us have our firework fun.)

We parked strategically to have an easy getaway afterward, gathered our chairs and my camera gear and had a pleasant walk to where we staked out our claim. Caution tape marked the line between the safe zone and the danger zone, and we set up our chairs about 40 yards deep in the safe zone.

I tinkered awhile with camera settings, absent-mindedly listening to the customary brother-sister banter between my kids. It was punctuated with gales of good-natured laughter as the people-watching provided "the show before the show."

Finally the real show began, and I happily went to work to capture the beauty of the fireworks with my camera. We ooooh'ed and aaahhhhh'ed with the rest of the crowd, and I thought to myself how nice it was to have the wind in my face to keep my hair out of my eyes.

"It looks like they're coming right at us," observed Drummer Boy, thinking it only an optical illusion.

Those flaming embers came closer and closer until we knew it was NO optical illusion. They were falling all around us, many of them large and still burning when they hit the ground! Just then, a piece of cardboard shrapnel that felt like a heavy rock smacked into my wrist and made me jump back. Thankfully, it was no longer hot, and fortunately it hit me and not my camera! No damage done, but now pebble-sized pieces were raining down all around us, and with more fireworks going off every few seconds, each one produced more fallout to be carried on the stiff breeze! Clearly whoever had marked out the danger zone had not accounted for such a wind!

"Don't look up! DON'T LOOK UP!" I yelled, herding my kids (as though they were still little) under the cover of nearby trees, hoping it would be enough. All I could think about was protecting our eyes from what was falling. This was the last picture I took from under the shelter of the trees:

After it was all over and we were safe, I was struck (ha!) by how unpredictable things can be, and how we could never have anticipated such an extra dose of excitement in our 4th of July fun. We brought home souvenir pieces of the debris to remember the story by, and Drummer Boy said it had the makings of a blog post.


Special thank you to Stephen's family for
permission to use this picture.
The next morning, I awoke to the terrifying and heartbreaking news on facebook that a friend's 23-year-old son, Stephen Shaffer, had inexplicably gone into cardiac arrest while on vacation with his family and that he was in the ICU fighting for his life. Quite the opposite of my instincts the night before when it only felt like the sky was falling, my heart shouted, "Look up!! Look UP!!" When my friend's whole world was falling, help and shelter could only be found in a loving and powerful Heavenly Father who can always be trusted to do what is best for His beloved children.

When a moment teeters between life and death, there is suddenly an unbidden guilt that comes with attending to the usual things, as though they have become profane. All I wanted to do was pray and check facebook for updates.

Over the last few days, we have waited with bated breath as Stephen and his family have been on a roller coaster ride far scarier than any they rode at Disneyland on Independence Day. Ups and downs, big scares and thrilling progress have played out before a growing audience looking in through the window of facebook. This godly family has responded with huge faith, grateful hearts, and trust in God's goodness no matter what. In this moment when the unthinkable has happened, when the sky really is falling, they have exactly the grace they need to walk through it in a way that glorifies God in a profound, and powerful, and world-changing way.

Stephen's mom holding her boy's hand,
vigilant, prayerful, and so grateful!
Amazing things are happening! Scary things have happened too. It is still too soon to know what Stephen's full prognosis is, but while we wait to read the rest of the story God is writing in this young man's life, in addition to bringing him back from the edge of death, God has been doing something else that is truly God-sized in our midst! I have seen unity in the Body of Christ unlike anything I have ever witnessed before in my life! The prayer on Stephen's behalf has zig-zagged from friend to friend, family to family, coast to coast, across borders, oceans, and maybe most difficult of all, even congregational lines to bring  thousands of people together to touch Heaven as they continually pray for Stephen's life and complete healing. It has been a true gift to feel part of the FAMILY of God!! That is nothing short of miraculous!

We live in an unpredictable world. We really do.

The safe zone and the danger zone are not always clearly or accurately marked.

Sometimes, like Henny Penny, we are tempted to panic when we only
think the sky is falling.

No matter the unpredictability, we cannot worry about every frightening thing that
 might happen, nor should we. Some of us try anyway, as though by worrying we can head it off at the pass, or at the very least, keep from being caught off guard. 

It doesn't work. 
I've tried.

Worry does no good, in fact, it does us great harm, which is one reason Jesus said this:

“'Therefore I tell you, do not worry about your life, . . .'"

To be fully present through the days and happenings of our lives, we have to assume that everything will go as expected. Otherwise, we would be frozen by fear, unable to move or live life, unable to laugh or enjoy the fun of a vacation, and certainly unable to fulfill our potential. We know that disappointments sometimes happen and unexpected detours appear, but we also know that God's grace pours in just when we need it! We must possess the optimism and confidence to expect that everything will go well. We also must recognize that this life is priceless and fragile, and we must never take it, or the people we love, for granted--every minute is a miraculous gift! Somewhere between the push and pull of these twin truths is the sweet spot where we can live in holy gratitude and make every glorious moment count! 

God is faithful!! Trust Him always!!

And if ever your sky really is falling . . .

"The Lord is my strength and my shield;
my heart trusts in him, and he helps me.
My heart leaps for joy,
and with my song I praise him."Psalm 28:7 NIV

P.S. Stephen's mom is demonstrating a mind-blowing level of gratitude and "hard eucharisteo" grace-counting in a situation where many would see nothing to be thankful for.  Here is what she wrote early this morning as she waits to get the results of tests to determine whether Stephen has brain damage from the time his heart was stopped:

"God, You are faithful. 
We asked You to start Stephen's heart, and his heart began to beat again. 
We asked You for good care for our son, only to find out that he is in a famous cardiac care hospital with state-of-the-art equipment and world renowned doctors. 
We asked You to give us strength to help us get through this, and you really outdid yourself Lord!! You blessed us with amazing family who extended what used to be their Newport beach vacation to be our rock. Other friends and family drove down, drove up, and hopped on planes, just to give us strength to get through this and to be there for Stephen. We have been blessed with beautiful beach house accommodations, every meal has been provided. Big HUGS to the Bob and Paul Shaffer family who take food orders for lunch and bring in healthy food (Chipoltle!) and make arrangements at local restaurants each night (for at least 15 hungry mouths) for us to dine together AND they will not let us touch the bill. They are amazing!!! Kudos to the Oranje fam who brought a jug (yes, a jug!) of hot Starbucks coffee and bags of cookies and pastries plus hugs, love and encouragement to us all in the ICU waiting room! Our family and friends have nurtured us so that all our focus could be on Stephen and on looking to you, Lord, to care for Stephen. 
We asked You to calm Stephen's erratic pulse, and You calmed it. 
We asked You to balance his potassium levels, and suddenly his body is holding potassium. 
We asked You to help us proclaim Your glory, and You laid it on JC's heart to start a prayer page that is being followed by thousands of people around the world. Some of the people following this story do not have an intimate relationship with You, Lord :(. It makes me ache for them because they are missing such joy, such power, such a rich, full existence here on earth and an eternity with You! I pray that Stephen's story will touch their hearts and cause them to seek You and put their trust in You. You are EVERYTHING. 
Today, my Savior and the Savior of the world, we ask You to answer a HUGE prayer. We ask that test results reveal NO brain damage! This is a huge request for someone whose heart stopped beating for a while but no biggie for You. It does not come down to You being able to do this, and we fully know this is easy-peasy for you; it comes down to your plan for Stephen's life. Oh how we pray that our prayer for Stephen aligns with Your plans for him. Our favorite thing about Stephen is his brain, which controls his personality. Stephen is such a crazy combo of being wicked-smart and crazy-fun!!! We have always been in awe of his ability to understand complex things with his brilliant mind and yet still be the prankster who duct-taped his little bro to the ceiling at church camp. We just don't want to let that part of our Stephen go. We selfishly want his brain, Lord! Please, please let the results be good!! But, if they are scary-bad, we will trust You. We will do our best to be strong and still shout Your name. You are ---- too many words are jumping into my head because you are SO MANY things --- our Savior, our Redeemer, Giver of Life, etc... So I will end this simply with You are.
You've got this Lord!![Emphasis mine]

Please join me in praying for Stephen and his family!
If you would like to send them your Scriptures and words of prayer and encouragement in the comments, I'll make sure the Shaffer family receives them!!

Sunday, 4:00 PM PDT Update: It's been a very scary day for the Shaffer family. Stephen is hanging in there, but he has many obstacles. Stephen's mom is asking: 
"Pray that his blood pressure stabilizes. 
Pray that they can remove excess water from his system.
Pray that his kidneys start functioning.
Pray that his pneumonia clears up. 
Thanks again for your faithfulness!"
Monday, 6:30 AM PDT Update: Stephen has been stable through the night and is on very slow dialysis to reduce excess fluids--please pray for no more trouble with the machine, and for his heart and blood pressure to stay stable through this process.
Monday, Noon PDT Update: "Lots of praises to report! First off, that testy dialysis machine is alive and kicking. Please continue to pray it runs well today. Stephen is doing really great my friends! They put him on this odd breathing cycle that forced his lungs to expand. By doing this, it pushed all the excess fluid out of his lungs allowing him to breath better. Praise God!! I can't believe how delicate and intricate our bodies were created. One small change can completely head Stephen in the right (or wrong) direction!! God is definitely is the details! Praise God that his oxygen requirement went from 100% to 50%."

Monday, 7:00 PM PDT Update: THIS IS AWESOME!!! From Stephen's mom: "Okay Prayer Warriers, hope you have your shoes on because I am about to knock your socks off!!! God showed up mightily and answered so many prayers it is mind blowing!!

You prayed that Stephen's dialysis machine would behave today and guess what?? It didn't get testy until 4:30 this afternoon!

You prayed that Stephen's kidneys would start functioning and guess what?? They are now functioning at FULL capacity so it was NO biggy when the dialysis machine went kaput. 

You prayed that Stephen's blood pressure would stabilize and guess what? He was just weaned off his 4th blood pressure medicine!! Only two more to go!

You prayed that the excess fluid (50 lbs worth!) would leave Stephen's system and guess what? He no longer looks like the Pillsbury Dough Boy! He was soooo bloated yesterday that his puffy face was unrecognizable. Today he is my handsome boy again! 

You prayed for all the water to clear out of his lungs and guess what? The doctor took a chest X-ray today and could not believe what he saw. NO WATER -AS IN NONE!! He could not believe it. His pneumonia was completely gone!!

You prayed that I would have an opportunity to talk to Laurissa about her faith and guess what?? Today I read her the posts that people wrote under the picture I took of her! She was so touched!

You prayed that his fever would leave - it is gone!

You prayed that his breathing would stabilize - He is back on a normal breathing pattern and HE BREATHED ON HIS OWN FOR A MINUTE!! (they only wanted to let him breath on his own for a minute, but he did it!) Tomorrow they will begin to ease him off the ventilator. 

God is in the business of answering prayers!! Thank you all from the bottom of our hearts for praying for our son. Thank you for sharing your heartfelt, encouraging words. Thank you for the wonderful Bible verses. Thank you for sharing beautiful praise music. Thank you for sharing videos that encourage us. Thank you to all the Bloggers Who are sharing Stephen's story. As we wait in the ICU waiting room, WE READ YOUR POSTS OUT LOUD and share your encouraging words with each other. 

Please know that I have no doubt that a miracle has happened today and YOU are part of this miracle. Praise God!

P.S. Whoever said that living a Christian life was boring needs to get their head examined. Seriously, God is rocking our world right now :)"

Tuesday, 12:30am PDT UPDATE: Ready for MORE AMAZING?!!  "Hey all you insomniacs!! Tonight is a good night to be awake and Facebooking because I just got some more crazy-good news!! I called to check on Stephen just now and asked his night nurse, Winsome (such a cool name), how Stephen was doing and she said, "AH-MAZING!!" Happy dance time! She went on to tell me all about his progress. 

First of all, she weaned him off another blood pressure medicine, so now he is down to using only one! Thank you Lord. 

Stephen also responded to commands like, open your eyes, squeeze my hand, etc... But the neatest thing Winsome said he did was this: Winsome walked to the other side of his bed and asked Stephen to look at her. She said he opened his eyes and turned his head toward her, but did not make eye contact. Then she said, "Stephen, I need you to concentrate and look me in the eye," and Stephen looked right into her eyes!! We are so hopeful that he did not sustain any brain damage when his heart stopped. Thank You Lord!

Lastly, his kidneys are still functioning and working efficiently to rid his body of the excess fluids all on their own! It looks like he won't need that cranky old dialysis machine tomorrow. Thank you Lord!

I am exhausted after a day of experiencing an abundance of God's mercies and am forcing myself to say goodnight to all of you!! Our God Reigns!!

Love, The Shaffer's 

P.S. Did you remember to tell someone you loved them?? 

P.P.S. Did you remember to tell the God of the universe, the one who gave you life that you love Him??

Tuesday 7:00 AM PDT UPDATE: Gloria (Stephen's mom) writes, "We have witnessed a MIRACLE!!! I just got off the phone with Winsome and Stephen is FULLY CONSCIOUS, looking around, reading his poster, moving arms, legs, torso, etc... Winsome said, "Our staff is blown away, this NEVER happens, he is a miracle". A MIRACLE HAS HAPPENED PEOPLE!!!

Yesterday Stephen's old youth Pastor, Dion Brooks came and prayed over Stephen and anointed him with oil. You can read about practice in this in James 5 in the Bible (below). It sounds kind of hocus-pocus-y, but our family experienced a very holy moment as Dion anointed Stephen with oil and cried out for a miracle! The oil holds no power over death, WE have NO power over death. The God who raised Lazarus from the dead is the God that has power over death and he is the God that did a MIRACLE right before our very eyes!! 

We are heading to hospital. Can't wait to hug our son and tell him about what God took him through. I am also going to do a happy dance right in the middle of Stephen's room!!

The Prayer of Faith - James 5
13 Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray. Is anyone cheerful? Let him sing praise. 14 Is anyone among you sick? Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. 15 And the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up. And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven. 16 Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed.
Miracles happen people!" 

Tuesday 1:00-2:00 PM PDT Update: ‎(This never got posted because i must have lost focus when the nurse said they were removing Stephen's breathing tube - duh!!) I encourage you to read it now and see what our God has done. God answered all these prayers by 2:00 pm!!!)

1:00pm UPDATE: How can I begin to describe the magnitude of this miracle? 
[Referring to July 5th, the morning of the heart attack] Stephen's heart stopped beating on its own for (our best guess) 40 minutes and now he is fully conscience, just chilling with with Phil, AJ and me. 

Now that Stephen has regained consciousness, our next hurdle is for him to breath on his own so they can remove the breathing tube and take him off the ventilator. 

As I am typing this, he is BREATHING ON HIS OWN and doing just fine!!!!! I think our God deserves another "Shout Out!!". Thank you, Heavenly Father, for answered prayers!!

If Stephen continues to breathe on his own, they'll remove the breathing tube. This will probably happen later rather than sooner. The breathing tube is one of the last things to go, especially with a patient who was barely alive 48 hours ago. 

They must be pretty confident with his condition because the nursing staff, that is usually fawning all over him, is actually hard to find right now. They left for lunch and asked me to, "keep an eye on him."

Prayer Requests:

Please pray that Stephen can breathe on his own so they can eventually get that nasty tube out of his throat. DONE!!
Please pray that his gag reflex will subside. Every time he moves his head, the tube in his throat triggers his gag reflex. This is SO hard to watch. His face has that "I am dry heaving and I feel like I am going to throw up" look to it, and I feel SO BAD for him. DONE!!!
Please pray that his kidneys continue to function and rid his lungs and body of excess fluid. DONE!!!!!!

Mark 10:27

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man it is impossible, but not with God. For all things are possible with God.”

We believe this verse in the Bible with all our hearts. God has shown us that ALL things are possible and NOTHING IS TOO BIG for our God. Thanks for your prayers!! Our God Reigns.

Tuesday 3:30 PM PDT Update: We just heard from Gloria that the paramedic team who did so much to keep Stephen alive that scary morning stopped by to see the one they're calling Wonder Boy! He greeted them with a huge smile and a handshake!! She says they were "BLOWN AWAY!!!" Yeah, we kind of know that blown away feeling!! There is no God like our God!!

Wednesday12:00am 7/11 UPDATE: 

Where do I start??? Oh my 
goodness people, we are just completely overwhelmed and so thankful for the MIRACLES we witnessed today. 

First off, I would like to share with you (in order) all of the medical staff that looked us in the eye and said, "This is a MIRACLE"

6:45am: Stephen's night nurse, Winsome, said that Stephen regained consciousness and was so stable that she took him down to only one blood pressure medicine. She said, "This is a MIRACLE."

8:00am, Stephen's day nurse, who had cared for him on Thursday, could not believe Stephen's improvement! She said she had NEVER seen someone so gravely ill return to consciousness so quickly and this was a MIRACLE. 

12:00pm The respiratory nurse turned off the ventilator to see how long Stephen could breathe on his own. An hour later he was gagging and fighting the tube so much (and his oxygen levels looked great) that the ICU doctor said , "If he's fighting it so much, just go ahead and take it out." The therapist said she'd never seen someone come out of a coma and a cool down and recover like this. She said it was a MIRACLE!

3:00pm. A nurse who worked on him in the ER heard the news of Stephen's recovery and came to see for herself that he really was alive and kicking. She said, "He is a Miracle."

3:30pm. The paramedics who worked on Stephen's heart in the beach house and all the way to the ER (and never did get his heart beating) came to see Stephen. We thanked the Captain up and down and sideways for trying to save our son's life. He looked at Stephen, who gave him a big doped-up smile and held out a weak hand to shake and said, "This is why we do what we do." Then he said it was a MIRACLE he was alive. 

7:00pm. The night-shift nurse, Kim, who cared for Stephen on Friday night came to care for Stephen tonight. Her eyes welled up with tears as she told us that in all her years working in the ER, she had only seen one other patient who recovered from such catastrophic circumstances like Stephen. She called Stephen's rapid recovery a MIRACLE!!

9:00pm. A nurse who was working on the ICU floor on July 5 and July 7 popped in to say that she just had to see this MIRACLE named Stephen. She went on to say through teary eyes that Stephen was the "talk of the town" in the ICU and that everyone on the floor was pulling for him. They fell in love with our family and wanted "so bad" for Stephen to live. Oh my goodness folks, she hugged me and was crying and I had NEVER met her!! This is the impact that GOD'S MIRACLES have on people!! 

9:30pm. Dr Green, the Head ER doctor, came to see our wonder boy. (By the way, the nurse said he NEVER comes up to check on his past patients. He is ALL business) He told us that he had never had to work that hard to get a healthy 20-something boy's heart beating. HE TOLD US HE WORKED OVER AN HOUR to get his heart to beat!!! We had NO IDEA they worked that long!!! Praise God he didn't give up. Anyway, when we introduced Dr. Green to Stephen and told him that this doctor had saved his life, Stephen was full of tears and emotion. He said , "Thank you," with his raspy trachea-injured voice and extended a shakey-weak handshake to the doctor who worked tirelessly to get his heart to beat. God worked through this doctor to save Stephen's life and it was frustrating that he didn't even know it!!

There is no doubt that God uses people to accomplish His purposes. Dr Green was one of these people. I pray for all the doctors and nurses who witnessed our MIRACLE today. May they be spurred on to desiring a relationship with our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

We pray that people following Stephen's story will be impacted by these events and be drawn to a personal relationship with Christ. He is the King of Kings and the Lord of Lords. Our God Reigns.

Good night peeps. Today was a good day. I am overwhelmed by God!! He just keeps on rocking my world. He is just simply amazing and i am in awe of what He has done today.

Thank you so much for your prayers!! This story is ongoing, and God is still working!! Stephen has made a miraculous comeback, but he still has some challenges ahead of him and the prayers are still very much needed. If you would like to continue to follow along with his story you can send me a message on facebook to add you to the Praying for Stephen Shaffer facebook group, or you can use this website, updated by Stephen's family with all the same updates:

Joining Ann Voskamp in counting His graces for her Multitudes on Monday
I hope you'll join in if you haven't already!
In the counting of the endless gifts I say with C. S. Lewis,
"This also is Thou!"

Counting my next 1000 Gifts, joining Ann in The Joy Dare--like a scavenger hunt for graces, gifts and glory!! Wanna come along?  I dare ya!!

The continuing JOY DARE: 
#1548-1568 (July 1st through July 7th)

1. 3 Gifts Loved
Hero Husband
Drummer Boy
She So Sweet
2. 3 Gifts Read
Michelle's post: The Wind In My Face
The verse she shared, Psalm 125:2, ". . .the Lord surrounds his people both now and forevermore." 
Amber's post at Ann's: When You're Somehow Missing Your True Homeland
3. A Gift in Faith, Family, Freedom
Hope for a world gone crazy
"As iron sharpens iron . . ."
The sky's the limit!
4. A Gift in Red, White, and Blue
Red trails of fireworks that echo back to "the rockets' red glare"
The extremely useful glow of the flashlight app on my iPhone
The comforting dusky glow of the night sky behind the fireworks
5. 3 Gifts of Persistence
Unceasing prayer for Stephen Shaffer
Getting school assignments done despite having a difficult time concentrating
Hero Husband, Drummer Boy, and She So Sweet--each of them persistent in their own way
6. 3 Gifts of Enthusiasm
Increasingly hopeful updates  from Gloria as the day goes on!
The incredible swell of love and prayer that is gathering around Stephen and his family!
Seeing the family of God so unified!
7. A Gift of Challenge, Conflict, Change
The challenge to stay ever-aware of choosing in the direction of my goals
That we don't have much!
That the changes in Stephen's condition keep moving in the right direction!

   Beauty in His Grip Button

On In Around button

A heartfelt thank you to these generous bloggers
who make these communities available!


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