"Miracles are never wrought without prayer, felt need, and faith...they are the natural result of the Messiah's presence among men."
Bible Dictionary

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Tidbits from the week

Another week just flew by! Mortality really is just a short time in comparison with eternity, especially when we are looking backwards. However, looking forward, considering the uncertainties, life on earth still seems like forever. Anyhow, we are continuing at St. Joe's with PT and OT. We tried out the RTI E-stim bike twice this week, and Stephen really enjoyed it. He can pull up to it with his wheelchair and stays in the chair. The electronic pads are placed on his quads and hamstrings (2 on each leg). There are also pads for the glutes, but we haven't used those because of the time it would take to get out the chair and put them on and then get back in the chair. His feet are in footrests. The bike starts off with 100% power from the motor, while giving the electronic stimulation to the quads and hamstrings coordinated with the motion of the bike. It is a really high dose of stimulation...if he could feel it, he wouldn't be able to tolerate it apparently. Anyhow, the muscles begin to take over the motion and the motor backs off until it is 100% e-stim/muscle and no motor. He did this two days for at least 45 minutes. It was a good cardio workout too. It is an awesome therapy with lots of benefits. It would be ideal to have our own bike at home, but it is one of those insurance battles, and a really expensive one too. Currently, we are working on getting a standing frame at home...then we'll tackle the bike. Stephen also moved up to the heavier weight machine in OT, especially for the right arm and is showing some progress with those muscles. There is a little frustration when we have to work on adaptations and functional skills instead of focusing on strengthening exercises. That is technically what Occupational therapy is, but Stephen would rather spend time on muscle strengthening than opening doors and pushing elevator buttons. It's another therapy requirement dictated by insurance approval for continued visits. The highlight of the week is aquatic therapy. His therapist on Friday was really impressed with his improvement this week, lifting his right arm up above his shoulder and straightening out the tricep. Anyhow, we decided against changing rehabs for now and will keep our options opened to change in the future.

To all you missionary moms...tell your sons thanks for their letters to Stephen this week. I think there was a letter almost every day. Stephen loved to hear from them. They are great friends. A special shout out some spectacular girls who have come over every week to bring dinner and eat with us! We are going to miss you now that you are gone to school. You are the "cream of the crop" and thanks for your friendship and cheerfulness. What great examples you are to my three girls! We had some great laughs too. I'll never forget when Sarah, my 8 year old, was talking about how Stephen was "petrified". She's just a little obsessed with Harry Potter lately. Yesterday she set up a pretend school and was dictating a spelling test to Nathan using only words from Harry Potter, like Gringotts, Diagon Alley, etc. (I probably misspelled them!) She would say the word and use it in a sentence and then say it again. You should of been here for that, Amy and Syd! Stephen got a good laugh out of it. As much as I wish Stephen weren't here...that he was in the MTC...there is some blessing in the extra time we are getting to spend together with everyone home.

One thought from Neal A. Maxwell, "A good friend, who knows whereof he speaks, has observed of trials, 'If it's fair, it is not a true trial!' That is, without the added presence of some inexplicableness and some irony and injustice, the experience may not stretch us or lift us sufficiently. The crucifixion of Christ was clearly the greatest injustice in human history, but the Savior bore up under it with majesty and indescribable valor." That just hits home.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Insights from Sunday School

Our lesson today in Sunday School was from Acts and Thessalonians, talking about Paul and his second missionary travels. One of the scriptures read and discussed was Doctrine and Covenants, Section 4:

Now behold, a marvelous work is about to come forth among the children of men.

2 Therefore, O ye that embark in the service of God, see that ye serve him with all your heart, might, mind and strength, that ye may stand blameless before God at the last day.

3 Therefore, if ye have desires to serve God ye are called to the work;

4 For behold the field is white already to harvest; and lo, he that thrusteth in his sickle with his might, the same layeth up in store that he perisheth not, but bringeth salvation to his soul;

5 And faith, hope, charity and love, with an eye single to the glory of God, qualify him for the work.

6 Remember faith, virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, brotherly kindness, godliness, charity, humility, diligence.

7 Ask, and ye shall receive; knock, and it shall be opened unto you. Amen

I read the list of characteristics for us to have as missionaries, (vs 6) I recognized every one of them in Stephen, perhaps pre-accident, but especially now. As we go through the refiner's fire, we are polished and grow in a way only possible through trials. We are not the same as we used to be. We are all changed to some extent because we are experiencing this with Stephen. It's overwhelming to comprehend the impact it has on Stephen. He was a great young man before any of this happened, eager and excited to serve his mission, with a strong testimony. Now he can add to that testimony patience, humility, charity, and faith. He is being prepared to share the gospel with a personal, powerful testimony beyond anything he could have shared before. He is my example and strengthens me.

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Remember Stephen tomorrow!

I love my little brother Dan. He is here visiting for the week and we are having a great time. For those who don't know Dan is my youngest brother, 18 years younger than me. He and Stephen are great friends and were both at the Y last year together. All the kids love hanging out with him. He is here for the school break to visit and help out. Just having him here has cheered us all up! He is great for a swim, to play games, help with homework, help Stephen do exercises, and take Stephen to therapy. It's awesome!

Yesterday I ran to the grocery store for a quick trip, around 9 pm when no one else is there. As I walked around, the thought came to me that something good will happen to Stephen soon. It was the most hopeful, positive feeling. I don't know what it will be or when, but I am anticipating something wonderful as a gift of reassurance perhaps from Heavenly Father. Any small improvements, or news counts in our world. Every email or message from friends is good news. Every service given to us fills us with encouragement. So, I am learning to count my many blessings, even the small ones, and anticipate them coming!

We had some new neighbors move in who connected us with a different neuro-rehab possibility. It is much closer...saving us 40 minutes drive time a day, and we are considering the switch. Maybe include that in your "specific" prayers!

Also, tomorrow is a special day for us. It is Stephen's MTC date. I will never forget how excited he was to open his letter to read his call to Buenos Aires Norte. I'm not sure how the day will go, I'm hoping it will be a special day and we will feel comforted and hopeful in the future. We will keep busy with Aquatic Therapy plus some of Stephen's friends are coming over to make us dinner. Please remember him in your prayers tomorrow!

Friday, August 12, 2011

In the pool!

It looks like Friday is my day to post on the blog that last few weeks. That may have something to do with no homework on Fridays?? I have great intentions to post things more frequently, but stuff always gets in the way-like sleep. Unfortunately, the blog gets pushed down to the bottom of the list even though I realize this is the main news venue for most of you, and you are our support team. So, keep on checking regularly, I will try to post more often. Apparently some of you have a hard time making a comment. I'm not sure why that is...I've tried to go through all the settings and didn't find anything out of the ordinary. Let me know if you can't post a comment...genhome@cox.net.

We are "a-go" at 360 Therapy to get in the pool. We got a prescription and had our initial evaluation on Wednesday...with Brian Moss, a friend from the stake coincidentally. Today Stephen got in the water for the first time and really enjoyed it. The time went by too quickly. We are excited to go back twice a week and do more. Hopefully we can figure out a way to get in the pool in the backyard. So now we go for therapy 5 days a week. Tuesday Stephen had a great session at physical therapy. He stood in the standing frame for 37 minutes without the e-stim hooked up to his legs. He could of stood up longer, but we ran out of time. The e-stim keeps the muscles contracting and the blood flowing so he doesn't pass out. So, that was really impressive. Now we are working on a prescription to get our own standing frame at home. We'll see how that goes. We are continually concerned about the left shoulder sublexation and are working on kinesio taping for that and to relax the right shoulder and help keep his neck inline. His arms, shoulders, and back are a maze of tape.

We are in good spirits, and keeping the faith!

Friday, August 5, 2011


We have a showerchair! What a game we had to play to get it, but a different provider and a different prescription and Voila! That simple good news was a ray of sunshine that brightened up a tough couple of days. We also got Stephen's actual wheelchair, a Permobil...the so-called newest, greatest in wheelchairs. We are still getting used to the changes and there are a few things we don't like as much...it's a few inches longer and taller for one. But, no complaining...a wheelchair's a wheelchair. We'll get used to it.

Thanks to all the friends from Stephen's BYU ward in the MTC sending the photos from the world map wall. They lined up and pointed to Buenos Aires Argentina, holding up the WE Love Stephen Merrill" shirt next to it. Also, thanks for the great letters! They were very encouraging and full of faith that Stephen will get better, which lifted our spirits.

P.S. Those of you who are friends of Stephen on facebook saw the photo in the standing frame. We'll get it put on the blog too...keep checking.

Also, let me know if you want some blue "Elder Stephen Merrill" wristbands. We have more!