Miracles...

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

Friday, June 1, 2012

A New Chapter

The past few weeks Genny and I have been prayerfully considering what would be the best thing for our family.  Stephen continues to work hard at Neuroworx and has started classes back at BYU.  And with all of his activities and the things that he wants to do, we have decided that it would best for our family to relocate to Utah.  While we continue to pray and wait for a, "restoration of all things" we also continue to push and work hard to try to give Stephen the best care we can and to provide for him the best opportunity to reach his goals.  Therefore, with the school year coming to an end in Arizona, we plan to move to Utah to finally be together as a family so that we can love and support one another.

This decision has been very difficult and certainly has many emotions.  While we are certainly looking forward to being back together as a family, we are going to miss the wonderful people of Chandler.  We love this area, this ward, and this stake.  Our Stake President regularly teaches the members of our stake that, "you are better than you think you are."  That is so true.  In the words of the prophet Joseph Smith when he looked back towards Nauvoo for the last time, "these are are the best people...under heaven."  We know there are great people everywhere, but can't help to think that about our dear friends, our brothers and sisters in Chandler.  They truly are some of the best people under the heavens.  We love you all and will miss you dearly.

We hope to stay in touch and as we move into a new chapter in this journey, please stay with us.  Please continue to pray for Stephen and remember him.  It is because of you, and so many like you, that our needs are being met and we are able to push forward.  Thank you so much.  May the Lord bless us all and may we ever care for one another.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Update from Neuroworx

We realize that we have not been quite so diligent in keeping up with things on this blog, but we hope you don't stop checking back from time to time to see how Stephen is doing and send him your thoughts and prayers.

Here are a few pictures from the last few weeks of physical therapy at Neuroworx.

This first one is of Stephen trying out a Quad Rugby chair.  Jan, the director of Neuroworx works with the Quad Rugby team and brought in this chair for Stephen to check out and see if he likes.  She has encouraged him to get involved with Quad Rugby and even work with the team.  Sounds fun, huh?


This picture is from Pool day this week.  Stephen is down to one therapist with him in the pool.  He has had two in order to help support him.  It's kind of hard to tell what's going on in this picture.  There is a hammock kind of swing that he is sitting on and the jets are blowing from behind him.  He was able to sit there on his own for a few minutes with the jets blowing from behind and not fall forward.  Pres. Packer said in a conference talk, "every quarter of an inch of improvement is worth striving for." This is improvement!



Sunday, May 13, 2012

A Faithful Wife


It's Mother's Day today and while it is good and appropriate to honor all good and "virtuous woman" whose "price is far above rubies" may I pay public tribute to Stephen's mother. There may be some who follow this blog who have some idea of the love, the true love, exerted by Genny for her children. She has loved unconditionally, she has given herself, not just of herself, but has given herself, she has cared for, nurtured, and loved Stephen and our family in a way that can only be understood by comparing it to the love of the Savior. She has been heroic in her efforts, tireless in her care, charitable in her example and always, always lovely, virtuous, and beautiful in her manner and spirit.


While I am aware that this is a public blog and I try to keep some things (probably most things) private I would like to share one thing as it relates to Mother's and in this case, specifically to Genny. When we were in the hospital in Utah our family gathered for a blessing for Stephen. Genny and I had been fasting and had been in the Provo Temple earlier in the day and had met our family to give a blessing to Stephen. Genny was inspired in her counsel to me in the temple that allowed me to speak by the spirit and to pronounce the will of the Lord upon Stephen. During the course of the blessing an image of Genny sitting in the corner of the room with her head bowed came to my mind and as near as I can remember these words were pronounced, "Stephen, may you always remember that this blessing upon you is yours because of the faith, goodness, virtue, and beauty of your mother."


Franklin D. Richards said, "Now, I ask you: Is it possible that we have the holy priesthood and our wives have none of it? Do you not see, by what I have read, that Joseph desired to confer these keys of power upon them in connection with their husbands? I hold that a faithful wife has certain blessings, powers and rights, and is made partaker of certain gifts and blessings and promises with her husband, which she cannot be deprived of, except by transgression of the holy order of God. They shall enjoy what God said they should. And these signs shall follow them if they believe."


Furthermore, we know, "That the rights of the priesthood are inseparable connected with the powers of heaven, and that the powers of heaven cannot be controlled nor handled only upon the principles of righteousness....No power or influence can or ought to be maintained by virtue of the priesthood, only by persuasion, by long-suffering, by gentleness and meekness, and by love unfeigned; By kindness, and pure knowledge...let virtue garnish thy thoughts unceasingly; then shall thy confidence wax strong in the presence of God; and the doctrine of the priesthood shall distill upon thy soul as the dews from heaven."
 

Surely the principles that govern the power of the priesthood are not limited to men. Righteous women are connected to the power of the priesthood by virtue of their goodness and beauty that allow for the spirit to lead them, guide them, and bless them. In our case, you can see how Stephen's beautiful mother has not only cared for him but has enabled the power of the priesthood to rest upon him. And in the coming day, we will see, "..because of the faith, goodness, virtue, and beauty of your mother" that the power of the priesthood will be made manifest for all to see.

How we love you and honor you Genny, our dear mother, today and every day.


Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Back in School

We have been in Utah for one month! So much has happened, that it is hard to believe it has only been a month. We are grateful to be in Riverton, closer to Neuroworx and Provo.  Last week Spence and I traded places. Spence took a week of well-deserved vacation from work and Mr. Mom duties so he could come up and see go to therapy with Stephen. I went home to catch up with stuff at home and spend time with the kids. It was a good switch/break for both of us. We both feel torn between the being in Utah and home, but the best we can do for now is divide and conquer. It is a temporary solution, until we can see a path ahead. Dan and Stephen hung out for the day while I drove to the airport and flew home, meeting Spence and the kids at the PHX airport. We hung out for a few minutes before Spence had to catch his flight to SLC. It was a risky proposition, because we were trusting the flights to be on time, but it worked out according to plan.

 In the meantime, Dan and Stephen had a great time at the Wheelchair Jazz celebrity basketball game that night at Jordan High School. It is an annual charity basketball game featuring the wheelchair jazz team and local celebrities in wheelchairs, like Sean Bradley (whose knees were in his chest). The highlight was Dan shooting and missing a freethrow in a wheelchair and then dancing on the court with Alex Boye singing some kind of hip hop song. We are still hoping for a video or photos, cause we all know Dan can dance. I'm bummed I missed it, but so glad to be home with my kids and do regular stuff. We had a great week and I loved being home with the kids.  The next Saturday we had the same pathetic switch, except this time Spencer's flight was 15 minutes late.  I met him at the gate in Phoenx and he walked me to my gate.  When this is all over I'm looking forward to some good time together.  

 Stephen had a good week with Spence keeping him company, talking sports and not fighting over tv channels. It was Spencer's first chance to go to Neuroworx with Stephen. Plus they went to a seminar about research and future treatments. Plus Wednesday was Stephen's first day of class at BYU in Provo.  He got readmitted and registered (for just one class...Classic Civ) barely in time, but it all worked out pretty smoothly. We met with the Disability office and they are very helpful getting all the accommodations arranged with the professors.   They contacted the other students in the class and arranged for a notetaker to share her daily notes.  He meets with the professor fifteen minutes before class to take the daily quiz orally.  Plus he can take his tests with Dragon Speak or a scribe.  He has access to all the textbooks digitally.  They will keep his scholarship with a minimum of 9 credit hours at least, possibly less.  He can have priority registration too.  But the best part is...we can park anywhere!!!  So this will be a good test run to figure it all out.  There will be a few inconveniences, but we are encouraged.  Stephen has enjoyed his class and feels good back on campus.  Plus, the reading and homework is keeping him busy.  So now he can register for Summer and Fall, when he figures out what he wants to study.  Oh the dilemma of every college student. At least somethings haven't changed.

We have some little problem-solving things to figure out, like how to hit the elevator buttons and the handicap door signs with small buttons.  We could use a few gizmos to attach to the chair to hold his ipad, phone, and a better straw to get a drink.  Basically we need to think like Jimmy Neutron.  We have an appointment with an OT on Thursday, so maybe she can help us out.  Maybe we could even get a writing splint.  The problem then is switching from the ipad stylus to a pen/pencil and then to the eating splint.  There is a way...we just need to figure it out.

So...that is progress of one kind.  Still praying, hoping, and waiting for progress of another.




Friday, April 13, 2012

Week two in Utah

We are getting settled into our new routine in Salt Lake. We now feel a part of NeuroWorx and are getting familiar with all the therapists and interns and other clients.  There are some great people here and it's great to hear people's stories and see their progress. We feel confident in our therapists. They have great expertise and Stephen feels good about the program. Yesterday Stephen did the FES bike for the first time since we were at st Joe's outpatient in August. We are planning to do that twice a week for an hour.  It is great exercise for his legs. Plus we started our wellness program, which means we can come in on our off days and use the cardio and resistance equipment.  With the combination of therapy sessions on land and in the pool and the wellness program, we are looking forward to spending a lot time here. 
We are trying our best to have some fun too.  Downtown SLC is so close. We went to the Suns/Jazz game last week (awesome game!) and were literally out of there and home in ten minutes. We have checked out the art exhibit at the church museum and are planning to go back for more.  Saturday we spent the day in Provo and met up with some friends at the BYU /Utah rugby game. Easter Sunday we went to the ward at the joseph smith memorial building and got a kick out of the amazing organist.  Also,  we figured we could go temple hopping while we are here too, so we started with the Jordan River. There are a few more temples around here, so it's a good list. So, we are trying to stay busy. The big news is that Stephen is planning on taking a class at BYU on Tuesday and Thursday evenings. We have an appointment next week with the disability office at BYU to figure out what accommodations  we will need to make, like digital textbooks, note takers, etc. It will be interesting to get back on campus and see it from a whole new perspective.  

Tomorrow is moving day to Riverton, closer to family and Provo. Spence and Rachel are coming up for two days to help. We are so excited to see them. It is also April 14th, one year from the accident. I can't explain the feelings I had last Saturday when we drove by the hospital on the way to the rugby game. I remember leaving the hospital and loading up in the ambulance to go to the Provo airport and fly to Phoenix, so grateful to go home and excited to start therapy. It's been an amazing year, and we are still full of faith and hope, even more so. I saw a message on a car today that I want to echo...Miracles Happen.  We have had lots of miracles and expect even more.

Friday, April 6, 2012

NEUROWORX

We have started a new phase in our adventure, so I figured it would be a good time to renew my dedication to Stephen's blog. We are now up in the Salt Lake area at a facility called NeuroWorx. This is our third day and it is a great place. I'll start with a brief summary of what brought us to this point. After the Neuro Institute in Tempe closed at the end of January, we started going to Touchstone in Phoenix and working with Dan Bonarti. He is very good with SCI, but he is a one man show, along with graduate student interns, and doesn't have a lot of equipment. It was our only other options at home. Then about 3 weeks ago there was a newspaper article in the sports section of the Sunday paper about an ASU baseball player who burst his C5 also and had the same C4-C6 fusion. His accident was just a few months before Stephen's. He was sliding into 2nd base and his head hit the knee of the 2nd baseman. The article mentioned is dad quitting his job and driving back and forth to California to Project walk, a spinal cord facility. As soon as I read it I knew we needed to do something similar. A week later I flew up to Utah and visited NeuroWorx for a day and felt that we needed to get Stephen up here as soon as possible. Spencer has a sabbatical this summer, but we decided not to delay until then. So after some consideration and planning, here we are. We felt completely led and directed to come here. I know that Heavenly Father continues to hear our prayers. We decided it would be a good idea for me to come up with Stephen for a month or 6 weeks. Spence will start his sabbatical (8 weeks off) plus a few weeks vacation the end of May. It’s tough for us to be separated from each other, but it’s a family commitment and investment from everyone to pull together to make it work out. We all drove up together in our van and a uhaul loaded up with Stephen’s equipment last Friday. We are staying at a small condo owned by Neuroworx in Salt Lake, about 20 mins away from their facility. Rachel went for a run Saturday morning and reported back that we live in the “nice part of the ghetto”. It’s taking me back to college days. Anyway we unloaded and went to conference on Saturday afternoon. We had 6 tickets and needed one more. As we walked up to the door wondering if we should hang a sign on Stephen’s wheelchair for a ticket….we bumped into the Westovers, former members of our ward who moved to California last summer. We started talking and found out they had extra tickets. Perfect. They also told us they had moved to Riverton and were leaving to Cambodia on a mission in two weeks. Well, the next day we got a message from them, offering their condo for us to stay in, at least until the middle of June when their son’s family will be staying in it. It is a lot bigger, more comfortable, closer to Neuroworx and Provo, and has a view of Mt. Timpanogos and the Draper temple. After figuring out how to build a ramp and adapt the shower, we have decided to make the move next weekend. Coincidence? I know that Heavenly Father is watching out for us and we’re thankful to the Westovers for their offer. They must have a soft spot for Stephen after his great hometeaching lessons. We are now on the hunt for a place to go for the summer when we will all be together. So, our adventure is beginning, and we will keep up the blog up to date with the news from Neuroworx.
We love all of you! Genny
P.S. They have given Stephen a thorough evaluation of his physical condition and endurance. We are on a wellness program of exercises that we can do on our own at the facility, including the NUStep bike, arm bike, FES bike, Vitaglide and resistance exercise machines. Plus we will have therapy sessions 3 days a week on land and in the pool. The therapists are concentrating on strengthening his shoulders and back. The left shoulder is still sublexed, but it is improving. He is wearing a brace to help it stay in place. Also the right scapula is “winging”. Those are the main areas we are concerned with presently, and request your prayers and faith that they will improve. Once they are stronger, he will be able to sit taller, and have greater body control. It is a long road ahead of us to reach the most basic of goals. I have to continually remember patience and perspective.

Monday, February 13, 2012

O Remember

I realized after seeing a few comments from some of you that we haven't updated or posted to this blog for some time. Thanks for being patient and as always, thank you for your thoughts, prayers and faith. It is so wonderful to hear from you and to receive your kind, inspiring comments.

I wanted to post a note on this blog to try to capture and express some thoughts that I have had for some time. So often during this trial I have found myself pondering various questions and praying about very specific things. And often times it is the case where I have something constantly on my mind and then begin to feel frustrated because the answer to my prayer does not come. Or, more correctly, I should say, it doesn't come when I think I am ready to receive it. But it does come when Heavenly Father knows I am to receive it. In other words, the Tender Mercies of the Lord, or answer to prayers have been so evident and, as I now look back on some of them, so very timely. And when they do, and when I once again become impatient, I need to do as we read in the scriptures and "Remember, remember..."

Let me provide an example or two. Last summer just before Sarah's baptism I was in Deseret Book getting her a set of scriptures. While I was waiting for her name to be embossed on the book I thought I would brose around a bit, but I usually don't like to just pick up any old book at Deseret Book. I usually like to read a chapter of Hugh Nibley or Neal A. Maxwell or Boyd K. Packer or one of the "older" type books. I'm not a big fan of some of the newer books that seem to be published without a lot of thought. Anyway, on this particular day I was not feeling very well and didn't really want to read anything. I was discouraged. I wandered around for a bit and for some reason picked up the book entitled "Signature Blessings" (some of you have mentioned this book before.) It was the only book that I looked at that day and it was a type of book that I normally don't pay much attention to. But for some reason, I picked up the book and read one and only one story. It was a story of a man who had a bike accident and severely injured his neck and brain. In summary, after months of therapy he was visiting his doctor who basically told him that there was no medical reason as to why he was able to walk and talk. The damage done to his nerves and what the x-rays showed was just too severe. The doctor said something like, "I don't believe in God, but whatever God you believe in, you should go home and thank Him because there is no explanation for your recovery." I read that story and wept and stormed out of Deseret Book in tears. It was the very scene that I had pictured in my mind that would happen for Stephen and now I was reading a witness of it. I thought it was curious that it was the only book that I even looked at that day and the only story in the book that I read. In short, it was a reminder to me.

Another quick example. Last Sunday we had a very nice lesson in Sunday School about 1 Nephi. The lesson was presented very well and I had many thoughts from the Holy Ghost during the lesson. At the beginning of the lesson the question was asked, "What did the Liahona do for Lehi and his family?" There were many good answers given. It did many practical and miraculous things but the thing that came to my mind that it did for them was that it was a witness, or reminder to them, like the burning flame for the Israelites, that God was still with them. It was a reminder that they were on the right path, they were doing the right things. It was hard. In fact so hard that they cried to the Lord and asked for His help and His help came in the form of the Liahona. There is more to that lesson, i.e., the Liahona provided a means to constantly remind them to live worthily, etc., but I thought of how relived Lehi must have felt to know that God is with him, loves him, and is guiding him. It must have been a tremendous re-assurance and it reminded me of an answer to prayer that I had received just a few days earlier. And, like Lehi, it reminded me that God's plan is on track, His purposes are in force and will be accomplished.

One last example and then I'll close this loooong post. I recently started reading Neal A. Maxwell's book, Not My Will, But Thine. Genny had read it some time ago and I just picked it up last week. I opened it up when I was considering reading it and read this story,

"President Thomas S. Monson has shared this illuminating illustration with us: While serving in Guatemala as a missionary...Randall Ellsworth survived a devastating earthquake that hurled a beam down on his back, paralyzing his legs and severely damaging his kidneys. He was the only American injured in the quake, which claimed the lives of some eighteen thousand persons. On his return to Guatemala, Randall Ellsworth supported himself with the help of two canes. His walk was slow and deliberate. Then one day, as he stood before his mission president, Elder Ellsworth heard these almost unbelievable words spoken: "You have been the recipient of a miracle," said the mission president. "Your faith has been rewarded. If you have the necessary confidence, if you have abiding faith, if you have supreme courage, place those two canes on my desk and walk." After a long pause, first one cane and then the other was placed on the desk, and a missionary walked. It was halting, it was painful--but he walked, never again to need the canes."

I want to testify through the use of this blog, that the Lord is with us. The Lord is with Stephen. And because of the prayers of you, He provides tender mercies of reminders to us from time to time, when we seem to need them most that He is there, that we are on His path and that we are moving according to His will. Some may wonder about the blessings given to Stephen. Some may say, "there were promises given and nothing has happened." I would tell them that that is not the case. Much as happened. Prayers have been answered and much comfort has been received that has allowed us to get to this point. And, most importantly, assurances have been given that just like Elder Ellsworth, there will be another missionary that will walk. With God as my witness, I testify that it will happen because it is according to the will of the Lord.

My constant thanks and love to all of you.
Spencer