Wednesday, December 13, 2006

Wednesday, December 13th -

A long time ago, 12 spies were sent on a very important mission from God to do recognizance work in a foreign land. They were supposed to scout the region and its inhabitants to decide whether or not they and their people could move in and settle; to make a life for themselves. Upon completing their mission, 10 of the 12 reported that there was no way that they could survive in this foreign land. The odds were stacked way too high against them. According to these ten, the land was tempting, the opportunities were inticing, but the inhabitants of the land were too big and powerful. These foreigners appeared shifty and seemingly could not be trusted. There was no way that these ten spies could reccommend that their own people could move in, establish themselves, and survive. The fear of the unknown paralyzed the ten spies with a debilitating mistrust that they passed on to their superiors who had initially sent them on the mission.

But what of the other two spies? What was their report? They had witnessed the same things that the other ten had seen. Their hearts had been gripped with the same fears that had gripped the hearts of the other ten.

However, where their other ten comrades viewed the glass as half empty, they saw the glass as half full. The other ten believed that their mission had yielded lemons; these two took the lemons and made lemonnade. The skepticism of the ten was challenged by the optimism of the two.

These two spies believed that God was on their side. These two spies believed that with God, anything was possible. These two spies had faith. They had faith in God. They had faith that God would see them and their people through seemingly impossible odds. They had the kind of faith that moves mountains. Eventually, the testimony of the two outweighed the testimony of the ten.

God used Joshua and Caleb to encourage the Israelites to persevere. God is using Tom and Margaret in a similar fashion. They have blindly moved into a foreign land where all odds have been stacked against them. They have moved away from a comfortable place where they knew that they were loved and cared for. They have moved to a place that is unfamiliar. They have moved because God told them to. This move required faith. It required a faith that was as strong as the faith of Joshua and Caleb. With reservations, they made the leap to Tennessee, but just like with the Israelites in the Old Testament, God has provided!

Margaret, for the time being, is cancer free. Blood work and CAT scans have confirmed this. Her new and highly respected oncologist has told her that she does not need to come back in to see him until March. No one really knows what this means exactly, but that is okay. Is it really gone, or is it just hiding? Is she cured or merely in remission? Who knows? All we know for sure is that God is good, and that she and Tom have the faith of Joshua and Caleb. May the rest of us grasp the same type of faith in our own lives so that God might work similarily with us. Giants are indeed frightening, but the will of God is suffecient!

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Sunday, December 10th -

Friends from Jackson, MS came up a couple of days ago to help Tom and Margaret unpack boxes and get organized. With some luck, they will be living in their new home sometime next week! Tom is still waiting to get in to see a new doctor here in TN. They have some inside connections, though, and hopefully, he'll get in soon. Margaret is doing well. She had a CAT scan this past Thursday and the results have been sent to her new oncologist in Memphis. We all go to the oncologist this Monday to see where she stands.

Tomorrow afternoon, Tommy and Margaret are going to cook dinner for the session of 1st Pres. Tom will be on hand to taste and assist. I guess you could say that Tom and Margaret have moved back south and are getting pretty acclomated. Of course the weather here the past few nights have been very un-Californian! 14 degrees Thursday night and 11 degrees last night! Brrrrr!

Things are going well so far. More posts later.

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Wednesday, December 6th-

I recently received a card from a former client of mine. Six years ago, I had counseled him while he was going through a messy, messy, divorce. I never met his wife; their relationship had reached the point of no return by the time he came to me and there was no hope for reconciliation. Therefore, the time I spent with him centered around coping, starting over, and hopefully learning how to forgive.

As I read his card just the other day, I remembered how bitter (and frustrating) he had been during our sessions together. He had been absolutely unwilling to accept any responsibility for the decline of his marriage. His wife had been the culprit; she was the evil one, and the man she had found was equally as sinister. He swore that he hated both of them for what they had done to him. I remember him telling me that he would make it his life's mission to make sure his ex and her new husband's lives were miserable. He told me once, "My goal in life is to make sure that my ex-wife and her new lover constatntly look over their shoulders so that they will never be able to make a comfortable life together for themselves!" (Thank goodness there were no children involved)!!!!!

There was one word that always surfaced in my mind after sessions with "Jay:" sad. Sad, because Jay never believed that he had done anything to contribute to the decline and ultimate demise of his marriage. Sad, because he relied on blaming others to keep himself afloat. Sad, because his hatred denied him the ability to forgive himself and his former wife so that he could make a fresh start. Sad, because he considered himself to be a man of faith, and his crusade to ruin his ex-wife's new life had disabled his ability and desire to rely on the comfort and reassurance that came from the love and grace of Jesus Christ - the very same love and grace that could have guided him through this terrible crisis in his life.

My relationship terminated with "Jay" before we had completed the course of our therapy. I accepted a new job out of state, and I left town. Until 2 weeks ago, I never knew what wound up happening with "Jay." To be honest, if I had been obsessed with this case after moving out of state, I would have worried that "Jay" had ruined his life with his pathetic quest to blame other people for his problems. You see, when marrigaes end, 9 times out of 10, to be cliche, it takes two to tango! But I digress . . . .

The point is this: the card I received the other day from "Jay," was a breath of fresh air. He just wanted to wish me a Merry Christmas, and to tell me that he was hanging tough. He is not dating, he is not looking to date, but he is at peace. The pain of his failed marriage is still very real, but the difference now is that he has accepted the reality of his situation. He no longer is blaming others; he has honestly looked at himself in the mirror and has realized his part in the marriage collapse. There is no longer any bitterness, there are no more grudges, there is no longer a life-driving desire for revenge. It as if he is a new man!

The only credit I take for this about face is sitting for excruciating hours with him as he shoved blame on everyone from his parents, to his friends, to God, to the other man, and ultimately to his ex. During our sessions together, I believed everthing I said to "Jay" fell on deaf ears. In fact,they probably did!

In his card to me, "Jay" never said thank you. Not even once. He only sent that card to tell me how he was doing. That makes me believe one outstanding thing: it was not me that got through to him --- God did. God's voice finally broke through and softened the heart of a man who had been devestated. It was a voice that spoke clearly and convincingly enough to let "Jay" see that blaming others for his misfortunes was a dead end. His life had crashed, and he was furious. His fury blinded him to the reality of God's unconditional love and grace. His fury made him miserable and denied him access to God's healing and comfort. His fury exhausted his energies and left him in a pathetic heap of self-pity, gloom, and despair. Fortunately, however, God's love finally broke through into his life again!

Cancer. Parkinson's. Dementia. Forced retirement. Relocation. Unexpected new starts. Tennessee Volunteer football. All legitimate reasons for bitterness and blame? Absolutely! Tom and Margaret will have none of it, though! To God be the glory - whatever comes their way.

Sunday, December 03, 2006

Sunday, December 3rd -

The moving van arrived in Jackson, TN this past Thursday. The movers began unloading Tom and Margaret's stuff around 4:30 p.m. They finished around 12:45 a.m. Don't worry, though! Tom and Margaret had turned in for the night long before that! Tommy finished up the move. Everything is in Tennessee now, and the next challenge is unpacking. Tom and Margaret have been taking it slow and easy getting settled in. The stress of the move is being offset by the fact that they don't have to get it all done immediately since they have a place to live in the meantime. Although, they really want to get settled in their own home, they are doing just fine at Tommy and Elizabeth's house.

Margaret will be heading back down to Corinth, MS tomorrow morning for her first chemo treatment with her new doctor. Tom and Tommy will be driving her down, and they will wait with her. The doctor said that it will be a five hour infusion process. We are all hopeful that the treatment will be successful and that she will be strong enough to sustain the duration of the prescribed dosages.

Tom and Margaret went to church today for the first time since arriving in Tennessee. As luck would have it, First Pres Jackson had a potluck dinner after the eleven o'clock worship service. Tom exclaimed afterwards that there just isn't anything quite like a good ole Southern potluck dinner! The congregation was extremely excited to see them in church today. They have been praying for Tom and Margaret for a long time now, and they have been anticipating their arrival. It was good to see them receive an open armed welcome to 1st Pres Jackson!

Baby Meredith is absolutely in love with her "Paw-Paw!" Tom sits on the couch in the den, and Meredith crawls straight up to him, pulls herself up on his leg, and grins and squeals with delight! Tom is in hog heaven! Friday evening, Elizabeth and the other kids were gone to a fundraiser at the school leaving Tommy, Tom, Margaret, and Meredith at home alone. At one point during the evening, Meredith got the hicups. Tom picked her up, gave her a little bottle with water, and worked on her until she burped. Hicups were cured. Nobody could tell who was more happy - Meredith or Tom!

This is a new time for Margaret and Tom. New town, new church, new faces . . . but rest assured, the transition is going smoothly so far. Tomorrow will present a new challenge with Margaret's treatment, but everyone is optimistic. Tommy and Elizabeth will be here to help Tom take care of her. They will be here to help Margaret take care of Tom. Isn't it funny how God works sometimes? Right when you think you know what God is doing, He does something different.

Years ago when Margaret and Tom first experienced the "empty nest" syndrome, it became abundantly clear that their family would not live in the same town anymore. Tommy and Marty began their own families and moved away, Tom and Margaret accepted God's call to California, and all of a sudden, the Suttle, Jr. family was spread all over the United States. Each member of the family, however, felt comfortable that they were where God wanted them, despite the painful separation.

Now, despite the undesirable circumstances, the Suttles have been pulled together again. Tom and Margaret have been afforded the opportunity to become a present force as the matriarch and patriarch of their family again. They live around the corner from their son, and they are a little less than a full day's drive of their daughter.

Human nature leads all of us to be saddened, worried, and upset about the hand that has been dealt to Tom and Margaret. Human nature, however, is also the reason that Jesus Christ was sent to us by our heavenly Father. Grace, forgiveness, deliverance, and hope is what God gave us through his Son. Believe it, brothers and sisters, the comfort delivered through Christ is the very thing to which the Suttle's are clinging. May all of you also hold fast to the promises of God made through the sacrifice and resurrection of his only Son. Godis in control. He loves and cares for his faithful servants Tom and Margaret. His will is sufficient. Believe this good news, and hold fast to the hope!

Wednesday, November 29, 2006

Tom and Margaret's new address:

49 Bethany Drive
Jackson, TN 38301

No new phone number yet!
Wednesday, November 29th -

Thanks to my substitute blogger who realized that nothing had been posted for a while. It is true that since Thanksgiving day things in Jackson have been very busy.

The flight went well Thursday - in fact, it arrived fifteen minutes early. Tom and Margaret were whisked to Jackson from Memphis and got settled in at Tommy and Elizabeth's. Thanksgiving dinner was good, and the grandparents have been enjoying playing with the grandkids again.

Tom was ready to go to church Sunday morning, but Margaret was not emotionally ready to go to church just yet, so Tom stayed behind with her. 1st Pres Jackson nevertheless is at the ready to jump in and help Tom and Margaret as they begin to get settled. As mentioned many times before on this blog, the move has been bittersweet - sweet because they are near family - bitter for the neccessity of the move and the friends left behind.

The furniture is . . . . somewhere in Texas? It is a mystery. The truck was supposed to arrive Tuesday. The movers called and said they couldn't make it. The truck was then supposed to arrive today. The movers called Tommy's cell phone and mentioned something about their truck breaking down. The truck is supposed to come tomorrow (30th). It probably won't make it. West Tennessee is supposed to get bad weather tomorrow - thunderstorms. Midday, the temperature is supposed to plummet. Snow and sleet is expected by Thursday evening and into Friday. Hopefully the truck will arrive sometime before 2007! Tom and Margaret are troopers, though, and despite their frustration, they are hanging tough.

The oncologist visit did go very well. Both Tom and Margaret were pleased with the new doc. She will go back to Corinth, MS this coming Monday for a five hour infusion of chemo. Tommy will drive them both to the appointment. On the doctor's front for Tom, both Tommy and Margaret are trying to get him in to see a neurologist in Jackson. They are a reputable group, but getting in to see them is proving to be a little more difficult than desired!

Overall, the move has been good. Margaret is still a bit uneasy and perhaps sad that she had to move from Fair Oaks. She honestly doesn't feel that she was done there yet. She won't come out and say she feels cheated, but our prayers should center around Margaret's acceptance of God's desires for her life. Tom, on the other hand, is relaxed and excited to be "home." He is concerned about the furniture and Margaret's health, but watching him holding little Meredith, and seeing him trying to get out of the way of Drew blowing through a room, confirms the fact that he is truly happy.

The faithful nomad, Abraham, traveled the majority of his adult life following the will of God. He was to receive a promise and blessing from God if he only remained faithful. He would become the father of many nations and the Lord God would never leave him and would always remain faithful and protect Abraham and his family. At the end of his long, stressful, and tiring life, Abraham knew that he had been faithful to God. God DID bless him. God DID bestow upon him that promise, and the scriptures tell us in Genesis that Abraham, in his old age, finally died a good death. His mind was clear. He knew that God had done everything that he had promised. He knew that ALL of his loved ones were taken care of. He ultimately knew that God had been, was, and would continue to be good.

Perhaps it is true that Tom and Margaret are nearing the end of their God-directed journey here in Tennessee. Just like Abraham, may their minds be clear, may God fulfill his promises to them, and may the rest of us, their family, rest in the comfort that we, too will be cared for. And may we be also encouraged to follow in Tom and Margaret's footsteps of faith inspired by our truly good and faithful heavenly Father!

Updates on the truck and snow tomorrow evening! Grace and peace to you all!

Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Tuesday, November 28-

It has been extremely busy in West Tennessee lately. Tom and Margaret flew into Memphis around 4 p.m. Thanksgiving Day with no trouble. They were brought to Jackson, TN forthwith and ate a small soup dinner and went to bed. The following day, they went to see (IN PERSON) the house they had bought. Both were pleased, by the way! That Friday aftenoon, they had Thanksgiving Dinner. Since their arrival, they both have just been hanging out, relaxing, and enjoying their grandchildren.

Margaret went to see her new oncologist Monday, and she was pleased. He is a nice man, who Margaret said, was "trustworthy." Tom liked him, too. This is good news. If all goes according to plan, Margaret will take her next round of chemo, this coming Monday. She's a strong woman!

The furniture movers called tonight to report that they would be a day late delivering the goods to Jackson. This is frustrating for Tom and Margaret to be sure, but they are hanging tough! More blogs will be coming despite the lack of them lately. Stay tuned!

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

Tuesday, November 21st -

(Okay, seriously it is Wednesday, November 22nd . . . barely . . . )

"He's not real, sis. Really! He's not!"
"Shut up! Yes he is! Mom and Dad swears he is!"
"Whatever, stupid baby. Believe what you want. Maybe Santa will come back this morning to change your diaper!"
"Shhhhhhh! Be quiet! Whaddaya want? You want mom and dad to hear you and come up here or something?"
"Take it back!"
"I said take it back! Do it, or I'll scream again!"
"Okay, okay! You don't wear diapers."
"WAIT! Shhhhh! Keep it down, sis! Are you trying to get us in trouble before we get to go down to open presents?"
"No, TAKE - IT - BACK!"
"What? C'mon! I said you didn't wear diapers!"
"No. Take it back about Santa."
"Santa!! You said that Santa wasn't real! take - iT - BACK!"
"Alright, already, sis! Enough! He's real! Santa is real, and he probably brought us some cool stuff last night. Happy, now?"
"Santa IS real, and he is going to make this the best Christmas EVER! Santa will NOT let us down! He promised, and Santa doesn't break promises!"
"Okay, sis. You're right. It's gonna be great; I'm sorry, okay? Just keep quiet!"

As it turned out, materialistically, it WAS the best Christmas those two kids had experienced to date! Practically everything they had asked Santa for had been presented to them beneath the Christmas tree that morning. Christmas breakfast was divine, and that afternoon at grandma's, a Christmas dinner was served that could never be equaled!

After a long Christmas day filled with excitment, playing, eating, and playing some more, those two kids who began the day arguing about the reality of Santa, were driven home by their exhausted parents. Upon arriving home, they were sent upstairs to get ready for bed - a familiar Christmas day's end routine - resisted, and yet oddly relieving. After all, they too were exhausted, and they would need their energy the next day to play with all their new toys! Resistance and arguements concerning bedtime really would be merely symmantics this night!

The brother and sister changed into theri pj's and brushed their teeth. They both went to their rooms, turned down their beds, and waited for their parents to come upstairs to give them the all familiar, anti-climatic, "this year's Christmas is over" night's tuck-in. Excitement still surged through their veins, their minds were still preoccupied with the Christmas day's haul, their hearts were a little heavy that Christmas had come, was slipping away, and would not come again for another year. Sleep would not come easy, but (unbeknowst to them), would overtake them more swiftly than it had the night before! They both waited for mom and dad. Several minutes passed. Their parents must have been taking care of some last minute business downstairs. Maybe putting away leftovers from grandama's house? Still the kids waited. No mom and dad. Odd. They always tucked their kids in at night. What was wrong?

And then it happened.

Dad called upstairs for the kids. He asked them to come downstairs for a minute. Brother and sister, elated that bedtime had been delayed, scurried downstairs as fast as they could. Perhaps they had found another gift that Santa had cleverly hidden behind a couch in the living room! Upon arriving downstairs, the kids found their parents sitting somberly in the living room. The serious looks that overwhelmed the countenances of their parent's faces trumped the children's excited looks of anticipation. As instructed, the children sat down at their parent's feet. Both brother and sister were baffled. Suddenly, they realized that their mother had been crying. After this revelation, they immediately realized that their father had that "concerned" look on his face. At that very moment, the happy turned worried children gave their undivided attention to their father.

With a deep breath, a quick glance at his wife whose bowed head prevented her from seeing his gesture, and a long sigh, the father spoke to his children . . . .

Mom had breast cancer and would be going into the hospital the following morning.


Years later, as I sit up (waaaaaaay too late) typing this blog, I am reflecting on several things about that surreal Christmas day in Jackson, MS. #1: my sister's insistence and blind faith that an unseen and intangible being in whom she had total faith was real. #2: my parent's resolve to give their kids a wonderful Christmas despite the frightening reality of what lay ahead of them the very next day. #3: my father's stoicism and determination to maintain control despite the obvious fear that was permeating his very being. And most obviously (to me at the time), #4: my mother's ability to remain hopeful, calm, and reassuring to her family in the face of her fear, uncertainty, anger, and desperation.

History, they say, repeats itself. They also say that time can change one's perspective. 25 years later, I can confirm "their"assumptions. I can also say that we all can draw from Tom and Margaret's history as we grasp for straws of hope in light of their current situation. Just as sure as my sister proclaimed Santa's authenticity, we all must believe that God is real. However, there are definite times that we struggle with doubt concerning that Biblical certainty. Despite our doubts, though, God remains. God is.

And because Tom and Margaret hold fast to God's certainty, they continue to live their lives as witnesses to his reality, love, and mercy. In doing so, they give the rest of us hope as we all try to digest the reality of their current situation.

Tom's stoicism (or stubborness :-) ) remains strong. Why? Because he continues to embrace the role of the spiritual leader in his house that he did when he married Margaret years ago. Yes, unfortunately, his cognitive impairment increases with each passing day, but he still faithfully clings to his God given role as husband and father.

And finally, Margaret's hope. The hope that enabled her to give her children a Christmas on the eve of her breast cancer operation. The hope that enabled her to survive that cancer to raise a family and send them out into the world. The hope that enabled her to accept God's call into ordained ministry. The hope that led her to the west coast in answering God's next call into ministry. The hope that guided her through her next bought with cancer. The hope that gives her strength to care for her ailing husband. The hope that gives her the courage to fight through cancer a cruel and third time. The hope that has empowered her to uproot her fragile life at the age of 66 to move back across the country to a new and strange place. The hope that comes only from her Lord and Savior, our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.

Reflections can sometimes be hard. They can also be . . . . hopeful.

The movers packed their house today, by the way. Everything is on schedule.

good night, all.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Saturday, November 18th -

Last evening some friends came by to pick up Margaret and Tom to go out to eat. They celebrated Margaret's birthday. (Sorry. Current age not available due to the bloggers desire to live)! According to Margaret, a good time was had by all.

Although the bloggings have been recently light, more blogging in the weeks to come will be expected as Tom and Margaret will be in Tennessee with more significant happenings occurring more often!! Please stay tuned as we plan to continue to keep all of you informed of the happenings in the lives of Tom and Margaret as they settle into their new lives in West Tennessee.

As mentioned recently, tomorrow will be a very trying day for Tom and Margaret. Sunday, November 19th, @ the 9:30 a.m. worship service at Fair Oaks Presbyterian Church, Margaret will be addressing the congregation and delivering the pastoral prayer. There will be a low-keyed reception for the Suttles following the worship service. This essentially is Tom and Margaret's opportunity to say goodbye to their dear, special, friends at Fair Oaks. If you are able to read this post in time, please offer prayers of support, strength, courage, and words for Margaret as she will be placed in a pretty difficult public speaking situation. There is no doubt that she will do a fabulous job, and yet, the occasion will be quite stressful on both her and Tom. Prayers never hurt!!

Prior to Jesus' departure from this earth, physically taking him away from family and friends, Jesus gave the disciples the Great Commission. He said, "Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything that I have commanded you. And remember, I am with always, to the end of the age." In other words, Jesus was instructing the disciples to carry on. "Don't stand here with your mouths hanging wide open watching me ascend frantically asking yourselves, 'Oh no! What do we do now?' Keep up the good work. Continue to glorify my Father. Continue to learn from my example and live accordingly."

He was telling his disciples that everything was going to be okay, because he would always be with them. No, none of the disciples understood why Jesus had to go (even though he had told them countless times). Yes, in the minds of the disciples, his ascension was premature, and perhaps not even fair. No, they at that moment, didn't know what they would do without Jesus around. In fact, several of them probably suggested that without Jesus present, they should just go back into hiding!

This parallel is appropriate. Certainly no one is suggesting that Margaret is Jesus! However, her witness in California has been Christ-like. Her realationship with her husband, Tom has been Christ-centered. And, perhaps most importantly, Margaret and Tom both, have tried their best to live their lives in Mississippi and California and will eventually live their lives in Tennessee according to those powerful words that Jesus Christ spoke before returning to his heavenly Father. Margaret and Tom boldy embrace the Great Commission; Margaret and Tom will continue to embrace the Great Commission, and all of us should take their lead, despite the mixed emotions we all might feel as the result of their, health, relocation, and unknown future.

Remember the words of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ, ". . . . remember, I am with you always, to the end of the age." Thank God for that assurance! This is the very same assurance to which Margaret and Tom hold dearly. Likewise, may our hearts, ears, and eyes remain open - amen!

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Tuesday, November 14th -

There is more news to report tonight. First of all, for all of you who check the blog each day for new information, please accept the sincerest of apologies for the sudden absence of everyday posts! Since Margaret has been home, progress reports have been slow in arriving. This doesn't mean that she is not improving, it merely means that her improvement has been slow, steady, and almost non-eventful (praise God)! Rather than reporting the same news over and over again each night, the decision has been made to post when significant events have taken place, rather than redundantly post each night!

An aforementioned post reported that Margaret and Tom will be officially leaving California Thanksgiving day. In the meantime, they have been busy, busy, busy with all the logistics involved with such a large move. With monumental assistance from their Fair Oaks PCUSA family, Tom and Margaret have managed to pack many boxes. They have a solid plan in place to welcome the official movers November 20th. They will come in and begin packing the remainder of the house. Tom and Margaret will spend their last night together in their California home that night. The following day, once the packing is finished and the actual loading of the truck begins, Tom and Margaret will have suitcases packed and will move in with friends until it is time to go the airport.

An exciting event will take place before the 20th, however. On Sunday, November 19th, Margaret and Tom will attend the 9:30 a.m. worship service at Fair Oaks. Margaret will address the congregation and then give her final pastoral prayer. Following the service, Tom and Margaret will receive well wishers. Make no mistake, this will be a VERY difficult morning for Margaret. This essentially will be an offical goodbye to the flock that she has loved, nurtured, and lived with since her first call as an ordained Presbyterian minister. In many regards, Margaret and Tom both feel as if they are being prematurely pulled out of California. Conversely, they both understand that God has made his will clear - it is time for them to come home. Friends, please be in prayer the morning of the 19th. Margaret is a strong woman who has been blessed by God with the ability to deliver the spoken word, and yet, this last time before her congregation will be very difficult. Emotions will cover the entire spectrum, to be sure. Please pray for her peace of mind, please pray for her words, please pray for her resolve to remain strong before her congregation, and please pray for her willingness to succumb to the emotions she will be feeling regardless.

If we were to regard the happenings over the past year as a narrative, the reoccuring motif in the lives of Tom and Margaret would have to be the strong sense of hope to which they have so valiantly clung. There have been instances of desparation, doubt, and gloom along the way, but these negative feelings are miniscule when compared to the hope that has governed their lives. Hope that comes only from God their Father, their Lord, Jesus Christ, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit enriched, enhanced, and brought to life through their relationships with ALL of their friends and family.

Tom and Margaret, for the most part, have been private people their entire married lives. Not because they have skeletons in their closet, but because their life-long philosophy has always been to put others first. Both Tom and Margaret have embodied selflessness and have lived their lives according to the servant mentality preached by Jesus Christ in the gospels. This servant minded style of life is made possible only through genuine hope in the promises of God, and the sacrifices that he often requires.

Sacrifice. Hope. Promise. Psalm 62:5 & 6 - For God alone my soul waits in silence, for my hope is from him. He alone is my rock and my salvation, my fortress; I shall not be shaken. There are many things that have shaken us as we have watched the things that Margaret and Tom have had to endure over the past few years. And yet, have we been truly paying attention to them? Have we learned anything from their witness? Have we been paying attention to their faith, their attitudes, their actions? Even as they have been going through hell, they have kept their heads held high, their faith has not wavered, and they have resolved to maintain hope.

God alone has been their rock and salvation; their fortess. May those of us who love them dearly be not shaken either. Amen and amen!

More to follow . . . . !

Saturday, November 11, 2006

Saturday, November 11 -

It has been several days since the last post. Apologies are coveted, however the reason there have not been any posts recently is due to the fact that there has not been anything post-worthy to report. Tom and Margaret have been at home packing boxes waiting for news to arrive. News concerning their impending move, news concerning Tom's health update, news concerning Margaret's health update and ability to travel. In other words, we have all been treading water waiting for the last and final puzzle peices to fall into place.

Praise the Lord, though! Today, those last peices have fallen into place. Tom saw his doctor this past Tuesday. Although the doc decided that Tom's condition was deteriorating, he was able to readjust his medicine in hopes that Tom will improve. Margaret has met with her oncologist and he has gotten in touch with her new oncologist in Memphis. She is scheduled to meet with her new doctor in about 3 weeks. The California doc projected her life expectancy to be shorter rather than longer, but Margaret and her family maintain hope. Hopefully her move closer to family will negate the diminished life sentence.

Margaret also has met with her pulminologist. He cleared her for air travel! She will have to travel with oxygen, but that will be okay. The biggest obstacle was getting her oxygen cleared with the airlines. This has been accomplished. It means that she and Tom will be leaving California Thanksgiving day. They are scheduled to land in Memphis around 4 p.m. Their daughter in-law will pick them up from the airport and drive them to Jackson where Tommy will have a Thanksgiving dinner waiting for them.

The movers will come to their house in California either on the 20th or 21st to pack their belongings. They will stay at a friend's home between the time that their house is packed and they are scheduled to fly. Upon reaching Tennessee, they will stay with Elizabeth and Tommy until they are moved into their new home.

The news is good. The reality is sobering. Goodbyes are difficult, especially under the current circumstances. Please stay tuned to the blog for more information.

Wednesday, November 08, 2006

Thursday, November 9th -

No blogs recently due to nothing new to report and no contact with Tom and Margaret. Sorry to keep you waiting!

Since the last blog, Margaret and Tom have made serious progress in packing boxes for their move to TN. The most exciting and new news to report is that Margaret is getting stronger everyday. With each passing hour, she gains more strength and breathes much easier. A home health nurse came to visit yesterday, and Margaret checked out well.

Tuesday, Margaret and Tom caught a ride to his neurologist. Unfortunately, the news was not very good at all. Tom's condition is rapidly declining. There is not much hope for improvement. However, the doc adjusted his medication to see if that would improve his mobility and sleeping patterns. Ultimately, Tom and Margaret left the doctor's office feeling pretty dejected. In the words of Margaret herself, "It just isn't fun to hear from medical professionals that your lives are basically winding down."

Despite this news, and to no surprise to any of you reading this blog, Margaret remains 100% optimistic. Thursday, she will visit the pulminologist. Hopefully, after this visit, she will be cleared to travel. If this is the case, the movers will come to their house in CA November 20th to begin packing them up to move. Tom and Margaret will hang out in CA for a couple of more days and then take a flight to either Nashville or Memphis on Thanksgiving day. They are excited about "coming home."

Publishing these posts can be quite depressing at times. Why can't we find any authentic good news to report? Things appear and feel grim, sad, and hopeless. Friends, if there is any encouragement in the face of the character killing and hope draining obstacles that lay before Tom and Margaret , heed these words from Romans 5:3-5 - "And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because Gods' love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us." Hope is Margaret and Tom's last bastion. Hope has become their mantra. Not only that though, hope personifies Margaret's very being these days. May we, too, embrace the same sustaining hope to which Margaret holds dear - the hope that comes only from God, our Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit who makes hope real in our lives. Amen.

Monday, November 06, 2006

Today, Margaret and Tom continued to work towards their move to Tennessee. Friends have been coming over to help pack boxes and bring food. They have been running errands and have provided other much needed help as well. Tom and Margaret will certainly miss Fair Oaks PCUSA very much. In fact, Tom said on the phone tonight that Margaret and he were going to the church tomorrow to say goodbye to everyone out in the narthex. Although Tom and Margaret have no trips planned tomorrow other than to his doctors' office, his mental lapse accentuates the moving related stress that is weighing on his mind - the goodbye's - the apparent unfairness of it all.

Thursday, Margaret will go to see her pulmonologist to find out if she can be relased for travel. She is hoping that her doctor will free her from her oxygen tank and that she will get a clean bill of health which will enable her to fly sooner rather than later. She has promised that she will not push too hard, though, and that she will continue to take the neccessary time she needs to get stronger in order to travel.

Repeatedly aforementioned on this blog, the move to Tennessee will be bittersweet for Tom and Margaret. Sweet in the sense that being close to family will be wonderful; bitter in the sense that they are saddened to be leaving California in a seemingly premature fashion.

Several years ago, when Margaret and Tom accepted the call to Fair Oaks PCUSA, CA , there was an overwhelming sense of bewilderment felt by thier family, a positive sense of encouragement from thier Covenant Pres family in MS, and a fearful, yet excited feeling shared by both Tom and Margaret.

Over time, their family learned to accept and appreciate the call, the Covenant family missed Tom and Margaret, but knew that God was using them to forward His will, and Tom and Margaret were ecstatic that they were in the exact place that God had placed them. Then, over time, they were flooded with a series of most unfortunate diagnoses that have since dictated their lives. First, Tom got sick. Then, Margaret was re-diagnosed with a new form of cancer. Tom has not gotten any better, in fact, his condition is worsening with each passing day. Of course, Margaret has had to deal with extreme health issues recently - hence this blog! This roller coaster ride has forced Tom and Margaret to reflect on their lives. To be honest, it has forced all of us involved to reflect.

Another reoccuring motif associated with this blog is that God remains to be good. However, if we were all to be honest at this point, who amongnst us still believes that God has been holding up his end of the bargain to remain good? Parkinson's, ovarian cancer, remission, potential Lewy-body diesease diagnosis, reoccurance of ovarian cancer, life support, physical therapy, and a 3,000 mile move across the country? God is good? Toss the rose colored glasses aside, folks. Times are 100% grim for Tom and Margaret these day - and yet - God must remain good!!

For the skeptics out there, be not afraid! There are many out there that feel just like you do. And yet, consider the words of the apostle Paul from his first letter to the church in Corinth. "Consider your own call, brothers and sisters: not many of you were wise by human standards, not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth. But God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise; God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong; God chose what is low and despised in the world, things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are not, to reduce to nothing things that are not, to reduce to nothing thins that are, so that no one might boast in the presence of God."

As soon as we think that we know what is best, as soon as we begin to second guess God, He does something different. Different and good. We can't understand God; we can't know what he is doing, we can only have faith and believe that he continues to be good. Second guessing must pass. Believing we know what is best for Tom and Margaret must become a distant memory. Believing that we understand what God is doing? No way, folks! God is God and he has a plan. We must merely wait and trust for it to unfold, because He truly is good - despite the fact that we don't yet understand. Amen and amen. More later . . . .

Friday, November 03, 2006

Friday, November 3rd -

Today was an exhausting day for both Margaret and Tom. Margaret had an oncologists appointment this morning in downtown Sacramento. The exhaustion built as time wore on - traveling into downtown, waiting at the doctor's office, visiting the pharmacy afterwards, getting something to eat, and then getting back home - it was a long day.

Word from the oncologist was not good, and yet, totally expected. Her CA 125 level is quite elevated, which is not good, but completely expected as she has been off chemo for over a month. The doctor told her that she is not physically capable of resuming chemo treatments currently. He suggested that she wait unitl she arrived and settled in Tennessee. He would be in communication with her new doctor back south in the meantime to exchange information. He also gave her a timeline which was quite upsetting for Margaret, and yet, according to her daughter, Marty, at least he didn't say something horrible like "6 months!"

Friends, Margaret is our friend, our pastor, our confidant, our mother. She is under an extreme amount of stress currently. When our health fails us, and we can't do anything about it, we are tempted to lose faith or give up hope. Margaret cannot do that, though. Faith and hope are what have kept her head above water up until this point. We must join her in her effort to maintain the faith that God is good. We must believe just as strongly as she does that God will deliver her and Tom. When the going gets tough, the world says that the tough get going. We must ignore that popular anctedote and replace it with when the going gets tough, the tough hit their knees.

Tomorrow is Saturday, and Margaret is excited about watching SEC football on tv. Her spirits remain elevated despite the odds that are seemingly stacked against her. If you have not contacted her recently, please take the opportunity to call or visit her. Tomorrow would be a good day - especially during the Mississippi State vs. Alabama game. You'd make a marvelous distraction from the impending doom of the Bulldogs! More tomorrow, folks. Keep praying!

Thursday, November 02, 2006

Thursday, November 2nd -

No blog yesterday. Apologies.

Today was just an okay day for Margaret. She was able to make some phone calls to clear up the treatment she is supposed to be receiving at home. She also was able to clear up some medication issues. Apparently, there has been some confusion surrounding her follow up care in her home. Hopefully, by Monday things will be straightened out to her satisfaction.

Tom continues to be very pleased that his wife is back under the same roof with him. He has been catching up on the sleep he has lost over the past month.

Friends were at their home today to help them pack some boxes in preparation for their impending move. This made Margaret happy, and Tom, too was excited. They both must continue to live day by day and moment by moment, though. This is a tough proposition to handle. Both Tom and Margaret wish desperately that they could stay in California, but they also realize that they need to move to be close to family. This is a bitter-sweet time for the Suttle's. Please continue to keep them in your daily prayers.

Margaret has an appointment with her oncologist tomorrow morning. This will be a very revealing appointment for her, and to be completely honest, she is very frightened about the news she will receive. She has been off chemo for over a month, and tomorrow she will get an opinion from her doctor regarding whether she should continue chemotherapy or delay chemotherapy, or quit all together. Margaret is very anxious about this doctor's visit. Brothers and sisters in Christ, our prayers should be ceaseless, strong, and direct for Margaret in this trying moment. Pray for strength. Pray for discernment. Pray for HEALING. God is good. He MUST be.

Check the blog tomorrow. Whatever news there is to report will be here, and the news will be providential. Believe it, and keep praying - and as you do, may the love, grace, and peace of God the Father Almighty, his only Son, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit be with you all.

More tomorrow . . . .

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Tuesday, October 31 -

Tom reports that they had at least 80 trick or treaters tonight, but that he was ready for them! Margaret did not do much today, considering the fact that this was the first day in over a month she was actually in her home with her husband. The phone apparently rang off the hook all day. Agencies, home health providers, doctors, nurses -- all calling to make arrangements for Margaret and to make appointments for coming to the house to deliver supplies and check on her.

Margaret has a bed set up downstairs and reports that it is comfortable. She said that it was wonderful to wake up this morning in her own house surrounded by her stuff and in the company of her husband. Exercise was not a priority on the agenda today for her. She mainly sat in her chair and only walked when she needed the restroom. However, her plan tomorrow will be notably different as she plans to walk and exercise. A physical therapist will also be visiting her at home twice a week. In other words, it doesn't sound as if she is going to "get out of" anything!! Hard work is still to come! Go, Margaret!!

A home health care professional ordered by her doctor came to the house today to check in on Margaret. One of her lungs is still not 100%, but time, oxygen, and breathing treatments will remedy that situation soon. She will go see the oncologist this Friday to see what he has to say. She also got in touch tonight with a reccommended Tennessee oncologist. They had a good conversation and Margaret feels comfortable with the new doctor's ideas and suggestions. Friday will see all of her records and information being sent to the new doctor in TN.

Tom will visit his neurologist next Tuesday, and Margaret will accompany him. Hopefully, that will be a good visit, as well.

Simply put, Tom and Margaret are together again. Tom is slept very well for the first time in a month last night, and he was able to take a couple of good naps during the day today. He reports that he will sleep even better tonight. They are both very slowly, yet methodically, easing back into a routine. This is very good news. Tom needs to sleep!!

Understand, please that Tom and Margaret's lives have been irreversbily changed over the past month, and they still have miles to go. However, it feels as if the toughest part of the journey is behind them now. We need to remain in prayer for these precious folks - prayers that yearn for encouragement, discernment, hope, peace, and especially healing. Write, call, and visit!! More tomorrow . . . .

Monday, October 30, 2006

By the longest possible route, Margaret is at home again tonight. As it turns out, the admission process to Manor Care was much smoother than the discharging process. Apparently Margaret and Tom were left waiting several hours before being released. Upon her official dismissal, she went back to Sutter-Roseville hospital to get her blood drawn by order of her oncologist.

Once she and Tom arrived home, they discovered that her oxygen machine had been delivered, but that none of the other supplies had made it. This upset both Tom and Margaret. She needs a walker, and she needs a restroom accessory. Neither arrived. This has been upsetting to say the least. They will follow up with this discrepency tomorrow.

The good news is that Margaret is elated to be back at home again with Tom. She will be sleeping downstairs for the next few days in order to avoid the steep staircase in their home. Tom will HOPEFULLY be sleeping more soundly at night with the knowledge that his bride is again under his roof.

Yet another step has been made in a positive direction for Tom and Margaret. The dictated journey that they both have encountered has been both unexpected and seemingly unfair. However, they continue to navigate this hairy course with grace and patience. May we all benefit and learn from the example they have set before us all. Amen! More tomorrow.

Grace and Peace

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Sunday, October 29th -

It is late, late, late. Talked with Margaret several hours ago, and then my baby woke up with a cough and runny nose. So there you go, the blogger has revealed his identity. It is me, Tommy 3. The whole 3rd person thing was getting old, anway! Mom is going home tomorrow, although, nobody is exactly sure when she will be released time-wise.

Mom is a little aggravated, because nobody at the nursing home will give her a straight answer. Will she leave with a walker, or will a walker be provided for her once she arrives home? Will she leave with oxygen, or will it be provided for her once she arrives home? Who knows? Certainly not us! However, the good news is that she is definitely going home tomorrow, and the folks at Manor Care will send to the house her neccessary accesories!

Mom has some definite plans set in place. She will sleep downstairs for a few days on a blow-up mattress with a frame. She plans to work on the stairs - 2 or 3 at a time in order to build up her endurance. By the end of the week, she plans to be able to navigate the staircase in order to sleep in a real bed. The Kelly Girl service that has been secured for dad will stay in place, but with mom at home, they will have more direction, thus enabling them to be more effective. The Fair Oaks friends have been 100% hands on, and they have been working with mom to execute a workable plan to get mom and dad packed up and ready to move.

Mom plans to go to her oncologist's office in a couple of days to get blood drawn. After this proceedure, she will meet with the doctor for his two cents worth. She will need to follow up with her pulmonologist, also, for his okay for her to be released. In other words, mom is going home tomrrow, and is making strides to get the official okay from her doctors to travel to her new house in Jackson, TN.

The news sounds and feels exciting, but we are all still on pins and needles. Her health is still not 100%, and her situation remains volitale. God is good, though, and he has provided for mom and dad up until this point. There is no reason in the world why we should believe that He will drop them now. Their faith and our faith should strengthen at this point. Likewise, our prayers and their prayers should increase. I believe that mom and dad will be "home" in Jackson, TN by Thanksgiving, but a whole lot of things need to transpire between now and then.

I continue to encourage you all to remain in prayer for my folks. I encourage you all to stay in touch with them via letters, cards, phone calls, and personal visits. Personal encouragement means so much at this juncture in their lives right now. Elizabeth and I are eager to have mom and dad around the corner from us as soon as possible. Paitence is definitely an issue! If I could, I'd fly over there tomorrow and physically put them on a plane to bring them here. I know that is not realistic, however. God is in control, though, and we all must rely on his providence. Praise Him for her release! Trust Him for His deliverance! More tomorrow - and I promise, Margaret herself, will be blogging very soon! Thanks for the prayers and support! Goodnight! I'm hitting the hay myself before this baby wakes up again!!!

Saturday, October 28, 2006

Saturday, October 28th -

What a bad break for Margaret today! She is excited about being released from Manor Care Monday morning, and tonight at 2 a.m., she like all of us, must fall back an hour, consequently increasing her stay by one full hour!! Seriously, though . . .

Not much new to report today. This was her last day of physical and occupational therapy at Manor Care. Sunday is an off day for the therapy staff. She has been pleased with her progress, but is still a little apprehensive about her early release. Plans for her homecoming are still sketchy, and yet she will use tomorrow to devise a strategy.

Margaret will be leaning on her Fair Oaks family to help her with the transition. The stairs in the house are a scary proposition, the absence of trained therapists will be difficult, Tom's needs and expectations will be tricky, and then there is the whole issue of the move to Tennessee. Please keep Tom and Margaret in your prayers. They are not out of the woods yet by any stretch of the imagination. The next couple of weeks will be very important. Stay in touch with them and let them know that you all are praying for them. Love to all of you, and there will be another post tomorrow evening!

Friday, October 27, 2006

Friday, October 27th -

Margaret worked hard with her therapists today in anticipation of her release this coming Monday. Things are still up in the air concerning her and Tom's immediate future. They are still working on coming to TN, but at this point, with her premature discharge from the nursing home, nothing is set in stone. Prayers continued to be coveted.

More tomorrow -

In the spirit of celebration for all the miracles and hard work that have given Tom & Margaret another chapter in their lives to share together, I give you a picture of my daddy goosing my momma in Old Sac. He is a rascal.


Thursday, October 26, 2006

Thursday, October 26th -

Drum roll, please! Magaret goes home Monday, October 30th! This comes as quite a shock as all were expecting her to be in Manor Care at least until late next week. Truth be told, if the insurance company had their way, Margaret would have been released today. However, the therapists pitched a fit and insisted that she needed more time to recover. This grace period was granted, thankfully.

Friday and Saturday will prove to be difficult days for Margaret as she will be working hard to get in all the work she possibly can before returning home. Plans are currently being made for her return to the house. By absolutely no means are Tom and Margaret out of the woods, though. Our prayers will need to remain strong and persistent. The stairs, of course, will be an issue. Taking care of Tom during the evenings also will be tantamount. As of this evening, the plan will be to keep Tom's healthcare worker during the nights. The Fair Oaks family undoubtedly will be on the scene helping and encouraging Tom and Margaret, as well. The very last thing Margaret wants is a repeat of these past few harrowing weeks. So, quoting a hokey sign seen outside of a Southern Baptist church recently, remember, "God answers knee mails!"

Margaret will still need to walk with the aid of a walker, but hopefully soon, instead of using it to move around, she can use it to hang clothes! They will immediately look to begin the process of packing their house and turning their attention to moving to Tennessee. Excitement is bubbling just beneath the surface for Tom and Margaret, and yet Margaret's early release is cause for realistic caution. The temptation will be for them to overdo. Both Margaret and Tom will need prayers that will encourage them to pace themselves -- but all of you already know that, don't you!?! There will definitely be another post tomorrow evening, so please everyone, stay tuned!

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ; Margaret is going home Monday. Thanks be to God!
This picture has been trapped in my camera for a couple of weeks now. I left my card reader somewhere and was resisting the urge to just go buy another one. However, I have this silly love of computer accessories, I finally broke down today and bought a lovely new card reader that is much better than the old one anyway. I'm excited and can finally post this picture. Hooray.

Women at FOPC know who this is. This is Molly. Molly the Wilderness Moose.

In April, Kathy, Louise, and the fine women at FOPC brought me to CA to attend the Women's Retreat. My mother was the speaker that weekend, and my visit was a surprise for her. As she blessed the first meal of the retreat, they snuck me out with a big box of Sherri's Berries roses.

That weekend means more to me and my mom than those sweet ladies will ever know.

Momma and I already knew that her ca125 was elevated at the retreat. We sat up late and talked a little about the "what-if's" and a lot about the "what has been's." I got to listen to my mom talk about getting through the wilderness times in life. I know why I love her, but I got to see first hand why you all love her. It was a real gift.

So Molly and I just wanted you to know that she's been hanging out, reminding Momma of all the strong women in her life and how much they all love her.


Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Wednesday, October 25 -

The immediate word from Margaret this evening is that she is sore, stiff, and tired. This, however, is good news! It means that she is working hard on getting released back into the real world! Margaret did mention that due to all of her extraneous activities during the day, she is sleeping much, much, better.

Today, the physical and occupational therapists had her working most of the morning and for a good portion of the afternoon. She is dressing herself without any assistance now. She is able to wheel herself into the bathroom. She is walking a lot, and today, began to use resistance bands to continue strengthening the muscles in her arms and legs.

Perhaps the best news from today is the report on her oxygen saturation levels and the rate at which her levels are recovering post exercise. Her saturation levels remain high and are recovering much quicker now after excerting herself. This is a huge step towards her complete recovery. Even though Margaret feels as if time is just creeping by, she encourages herself by remembering back to October 11 when she was struggling to even hold a spoon to feed herself yogurt. Fantastic progress, to be sure!

Margaret continues to be overwhelmed, amazed, and thankful with all the special phone calls, reassuring visits, and powerful prayers from her dear friends. For her entire life, Margaret has embraced the role of the selfless servant. Since the end of September, Margaret has been, in a word, helpless. This has been difficult for her on several different levels, and yet the outpouring of love and support that she has received from all of her families - Fair Oaks, Covenant, cousins, lawfirm, and beyond - has really sustained and encouraged her and Tom. As you all read this entry, please know how much your friendship, loyalty, and prayers mean to the Suttle, Jr. family.

There will be more tomorrow. Hopefully, in the next couple of days, this blog will contanin words directly from Margaret herself, transcribed by her personal secretary. Love to you all, and please continue to pray for healing, discernment, and peace of mind.

Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tuesday, October 24 -

There is not much new to report today. Margaret continues to improve in leaps and bounds. She reported this evening that she is sore due to squatting exercises. The physical therapist lead her in a series of exercises whereby she would stand up out of her chair, squat down, straighten up, sit down, and then repeat the exercise all over again. She was able to conduct this exercise 3 times in a row.

Her occupational therapy continues to become more stringent with each passing day. Tuesday found Margaret wheeling herself into the bathroom to use the commode and the sink - all by herself - but, of course under the watchful eye of the therapist. Again, normal, mundane activities that we take for granted, Margaret is trying to relearn. So far, so good!

Both occupational and physical therapists continue to try to wean Margaret off of the oxygen, and she is reponding well. Margaret is fighting to get released, and the recovery of her oxygen saturation level really seems to be responding! She is walking a tremendous amount each day with the assistance of a walker, and should she be released and still reliant on a walker, Margaret is up to the challenge. She insists that her pride will absolutely NOT get in the way.

Tom is hanging tough at home with his healthcare worker. He rides to the skilled nursing facility every day to sit with his wife. Around 4 each afternoon, he gets a ride home. This unfortunate situation in which Tom and Margaret have found themselves will eventually pass. Soon they will find themselves in Tennessee - right around the corner from family. Our prayers should mimick theirs - that God will see the Suttles through this difficult ordeal, delivering them safely to 49 Bethany Drive in Jackson, TN. God willing, they'll make it! More tomorrow, ya'll! Stay tuned!

Monday, October 23, 2006

Monday, October 23 -

After a slow weekend, Monday proved to be a much more productive day for Margaret. With the facility fully staffed again and ready to begin a new week, Margaret's therapists were back on the scene and ready to help her work further towards recovery. Margaret worked very hard today!

While still on a constant supply of oxygen, Margaret continues to improve. Prior to any exercise today, her oxygen saturation level was right at 98%. She continues to be on oxygen, because doctors would like to see her improve to 100% - when she will be breathing room air. Speculation leads many of us to believe that her continued attachment to the oxygen is merely precautionary, and yet Margaret remains patient.

The encouraging words from today's progress are that when Margaret exerts herself, her oxygen saturation dips but recovers almost normally. In other words, all you healthy folks quit reading this blog and sprint as fast as you can around the block. How do you feel? Winded? Breathless? Well, wait a minute. Now how do you feel? Catching your breath, now? Good, because that is normal! Margaret is in the same boat - her recovery time for oxygen saturation recovery is rapidly returning! Praise God! In addition to her oxygen saturation recovery, her heart rate is going down in tandum with her saturation recovery rate. Nobody is saying that Margaret is signing up for any marathons anytime soon, but she definitely is steadily bouncing back into shape!

The therapist bragged on Margaret today. In conversation concerning what needed to be accomplished while Margaret remained in the skilled nursing facility, she mentioned that she needed to be able to navigate stairs. So, off to the therapy gym walked Margaret! There she encountered a set of portable stairs with 3 steps. Margaret climbed up and down these steps three times with some effort but with magnificent success.

Each day Margaret faces enormous challenges that we consider to be automatic and perhaps even mundane. We don't have to struggle to bend over to put on shoes and socks each morning. However, until this morning, this simple, mindless, task has been extremely difficult - rather impossible - for Margaret. Yet, this morning, due to her undying commitment to recovery, Margaret put on her socks and shoes completely unassisted.

She continues to walk up and down the halls of Manor Care, slowly albeit, and yet with a determination that can only be described as inspiring. With each step she takes, Margaret is gaining the strength and endurance she will need to have in order to be safely released.

Your prayers continue to be coveted for both Tom and Margaret. Margaret is recovering in leaps and bounds, and yet every minute she is away from Tom, his condition continues to worsen. God is good, and He has a plan, and yet in times like these staring Margaret and Tom in the face, it is exceedingly difficult to believe that God actually planned this scenario. Faith becomes essential for us all in times like these. Faith plays a vital role in the lives of Margaret and Tom. If ever asked if either one of them are angry at God for dealing them the hand they have been dealt, both of them emphatically deny anger. They are perplexed, and often frustrated, but not angry. May their undying faith and belief in the will of God Almighty continue to inspire us all! Amen! More tomorrow - stay tuned!

Sunday, October 22, 2006

October 22, 2006

The weekend has been slow for Margaret and her physical therapy. Since the last post, she has made it to the PT gym for a workout, and yesterday, she said her legs were sore.

Today, Margaret said that after help out of bed initially, she was pretty much independent the rest of the day. She is in a wheelchair but can do her own transfers. The oxygen reports is about the same - she is still on 3 liters and her saturation is at around 97%. We would like to see her independent from oxygen soon. Since she did not have PT today, she said that she sat in her wheelchair and practiced her breathing. She reports that she feels that she can breathe more deeply tonight and is looking forward to PT tomorrow.

The visits have been happy for Margaret. However, we need to ask a favor. There have been instances of several people in her room at the same time, and as much as Margaret loves to see friendly faces, it does take energy to "entertain." We would like to just remind everyone that her strength is still building and please keep visits short and staggered. She says though to please let people know this without sending them away! That is the message then. She loves you all and thanks you for your prayers and support and if you stop by to say hi, know that she would visit longer if she could, but she can't just yet.


Friday, October 20, 2006

October 20, 2006

Tommy has arrived safely in Jackson, TN. He and Marty are very much looking forward to being able to move Tom and Margaret close to Tommy's family as soon as they are strong enough.

Today the occupational therapist had Margaret get herself ready for the day. Margaret transfered herself from the bed to the wheelchair, wheeled herself into the bathroom, and the rest is history. She finished getting herself ready as Tom arrived with his friend Gil.

A post physical therapy report wasn't received today, so we will have to catch up tomorrow.
October 19th-

Prayers will be coveted today for Tom and Margaret. Tommy 3 leaves tomorrow morning, and they will be alone without family for the first time in 2 weeks. Please don't question their resolve, however! It is just easier to endure a crisis or an uncomfortable situation when immediate family are close by.

Today, Margaret made progress in leaps and bounds. She got fully dressed today, as opposed to hanging out in a nightgown and robe. She walked 45 feet twice today during physical therapy, and her oxygen saturation level rebounded well within minutes of her exercise.

Margaret has been wishing for the magic button that exists in all of our minds. You know, the button that once pressed instantly fixes all problems and overcomes all obstacles in a flash? Realistically speaking, however, Margaret knows that such a button does not exist. And therefore she must rely on faith - a faith that defies all odds. She must rely on the same type of faith exhibited by Abraham when he climbed that mountain with his son. Abraham believed that once he arrived at the top of the mountain, he would be forced to kill his son of promise, in the guise of a sacrafice. Abraham's unrelenting faithfulness led to the ultimate salvation of his son, Isaac.

God instructed Abraham with no explanations but with the expectation of obedience. He submissively obeyed and was ultimately rewarded. God has put Margaret and Tom into a similar complicated situation with no explanations. Margaret and Tom are responding with the same resolve as Abraham. God knows best, and they, just like Abraham must blindly trust in the fact that God is not only just good, but that he continues to be in control and ontop of the situation at hand.

Keep the prayers coming! More tomorrow evening! Peace out, girlscouts!!

Thursday, October 19, 2006

Wednesday, October 18th -

What a difference a day makes! Margaret has begun physical and occupational therapy. She has responded very well. After each exercise, her oxygen saturation level is checked - to see how low it drops and how quickly it recovers. Today, during the exercises, her level dropped to below 80%. And yet, upon ending the exercises, her level rose to above 91% in less than a minute. Pretty good show, if you ask all of us who have no medical degree!

Margaret is prepared to work hard. She says that she has things to do: take care of and have fun with her husband, teach her son how to make biscuits, get better aquainted with her new son-in-law, decorate her new house with her daughter and daughter-in-law, and spoil her grandchildren. According to her doctors and therapists, this is not a tall order. Her release is completely reliant upon her willingness to work hard. Go, Margaret! In other words, her release depends completely on her desire to get out. (Again - no medical degree)!

In Tom news, guess who is back? ELSIE!! Yes, Elsie the caregiver from Mississippi who dad instantly accepted, and of whom he was quickly fond, has reappeared on the scene. We had thought that Elsie did not want the job of caring for dad, but as it turns out, this was a huge misunderstanding in her office. In the span of 2 hours, Elsie has accomplished more than the other caregivers have been able to accomplish in 2 weeks. Praise God!

Tom and Margaret are going to be okay. Albeit, they will be okay in a different way than we and they had anticipated, and yet, God continues to be good. We just aren't sure of why he does what he does. Those of you with any ounce of faith, just remember this - God is. Tom and Margaret are okay. There are no explanations, there is no logic associated with their situation, but God is - He inroduced himself to Moses as, "I am." We either accept this or we don't. Tom and Margaret choose to accept this as truth, and their lives are strictly in his hands. For this, all should give thanks to God, Almighty. He is navigating their boat that has been seemingly out of control towards a course of destruction. However, the Suttle's will pull through. Believe it. (By the way, congratulations to Peter Graves and his bride - one down, 3 to go)!

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Address for Margaret:

Manor Care Health Services
Attn: Margaret Suttle, Room 111
7807 Uplands Way
Citrus Heights, CA 95610
Tuesday, October 17 -

Margaret has moved to Manor Care, a skilled nursing care facility. Here, she will undergo rigorous physical and occupational therapy. She is still on oxygen, but hopefully, as she regains her strength, the need for oxygen will end. Tom was very excited this morning upon arriving at the hospital. The prospect of his beloved wife taking the next step to recovery had him very alert and positive today.

Margaret was transferred today around noon. Tom and Tommy followed along behind and had no trouble getting her checked in and situated. She is in a private room, which has her very pleased. Not much happened after she arrived which was frustrating for her. However, her day will begin tomorrow with an assessment from the physical therapist, and then she will be on her way.

It is hard to be a patient in a nursing home facility where she has conducted so many pastoral visits, and yet, Margaret is ready to get well. Please keep her in your prayers. She does not have a phone in her room, so she keeps her cell phone handy. Since it is a nursing home, there is no shower in her room. In short, Margaret really does not "fit in" at the home, and yet we know that she will be recovering and leaving the home very soon. Tomorrow, the family will get to talk with a doctor so that a realistic/predictable timeline for discharge can be discussed. This, however, is definitely a case of living life one day at a time.

More reports tomorrow from Manor Care.

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Monday, October 16 -

Barring unforeseen obstacles, Margaret will be discharged tomorrow morning to Manor Care, a skilled nursing facility, for a couple of weeks of occupational and physical therapy. Her oxygen saturation levels are fantastic, her blood pressure is great, and her fever continues to remain normal! Praise God!!

She has undergone physical therapy that to the rest of us seems ridiculous, and yet, to Margaret, sitting on the side of the bed for a meal, and then walking to a chair to sit, is unbelievable! She is on the mend faster than expected. All should know that her determination is immeasurable, and her spirits are high. Keep on praying, ya'll! More tomorrow once the discharge is complete.

Sunday, October 15, 2006

Sunday, October 15 -

What a day! Margaret is in spectacular shape considering where she has been. Tom and Tommy arrived at the hospital around 11 a.m. Margaret was awake and very alert. The doctor arrived and checked her out and reported that she looked very well. He emphasized to her that if she wants to get out of the hospital sooner rather than later, she would need to work harder. This means that she needs to continue to eat well and cowboy up to her physical therapy! Margaret is anxious to take the next step - being released to the Skilled Nursing Facility - and the doctor basically indicated to her that this move was in her hands. She needs more strength and she needs to agree to more extensive therapy in order to leave the hospital.

The physical therapist arrived a few minutes before lunch, and she asked Margaret if she would be willing to combine therapy with lunch. The idea was that she would sit on the edge of the bed and sit up while she ate her lunch. It sounded like a fantastic idea until Margaret, heeding the words of the doctor, decided to take it one step further! Margaret insisted on trying to stand up by herself before eating on the side of the bed. The therapist enthusiastically agreed, and soon, Margaret was standing with the assistance of the therapist. She wobbled and swayed, however she was standing on her own! When she finally sat back down, the exhaustion was overwhelming, and in a flash, the idea of sitting on the edge of the bed to eat was a distant memory! Margaret's oxygen saturation level was measured after she had been standing, and it had fallen to around 87%. However, after lunch, approximately 2 hours, her level was measured again, and it was back to 94%. By the time Tom and Tommy left the hospital around 4 p.m. it was back to 97% and threatening to climb to 98%.

Margaret is determined to get home. She reflected today on her mother who broke her hip at the age of 93. Her mother was told that she would never go home again. However, Honey, as her friends fondly new her, was determined that she would see home again. And in fact, she did make it back home again. This memory of her mother has inspired Margaret to fight and make it back home to her husband.

The news continues to be very encouraging for Margaret. Tom, on the other hand, is struggling immensely. He misses Margaret very much and would move heaven and earth to be able to make things better for her. In the meantime, he continues to fight his home health care, and insists that he does not need any help. Tommy and Marty continue to bear the blame and the responsibility of this decision, and so far, they stand strong!! Your prayers are coveted!

Doctors say that Margaret will more than likely be discharged to Manor Care, a skilled nursing facility, for physical and occupational therapy, early in the week. It could be tomorrow, or it could be Tuesday, or even Wednesday. Regardless, her release from the hospital will not be soon enough for Margaret. She is ready to finish up strong, move back home, and travel to Tennessee to spoil grandchildren.

There will be more tomorrow as Margaret continues to improve. Please stay tuned, and thank you so much for your kind thoughts and sincere prayers!

Saturday, October 14, 2006

Saturday, October 14th -

Apologies for the late post. Marty flew home today, and Tom and Tommy were left holding the bag, so to speak! Upon arriving at the hospital this morning, Margaret was alert and in the middle of physical therapy. Today, she sat on the edge of the hospital bed and did "feet exercises." It was amazing to her that she was having to retrain her feet how to respond. However, as usual for Margaret, she did this seemingly minor, yet realistically difficult exercise with a broad smile on her face! Therapy ended, and lunch arrived. She was served more solid foods in the form of beef stew, green peas, and a roll. She ate most all of her lunch. All was well until Vanderbilt upset Georgia . . . ! (At least Mississippi State finally prevailed in their football game . . . )!

Margaret's oxygen saturation level was at 97% today - still shooting for 100%, though. Her blood pressure was good, and the doctor was very encouraging with his prognosis today. He said that she looked and sounded amazing. He ordered another chest x-ray, and it came back negative. In other words, Margaret is continuing to improve. There was, however, no talk about her discharge date today. We continue to hope and pray that it will be this coming Monday or Tuesday.

Regarding Tom, Elsie, the health care worker from MS, decided that she was uncomfortable navigating the stairs in the house with him. She has subsequently been removed from his case. Although, this is extremely disappointing, we pray that his new caregiver, Ava, will be received warmly. She is originally from Germany and was intrigued that Tom had spent 2 years over seas there. It has been fun listening to them speaking German - Ava fluent and dad trying to remember!!

Your prayers and concerns for our family continue to be coveted. Please keep them coming. The post tomorrow will come much earlier - hopefully!! God bless you all!
Friday, October 13th -

Despite the all the ominous urban legends associated with Friday the 13th, today was a spectacular day for the Suttle family! Tommy was finally able to make it to the hospital to see Margaret. The identical bald pates made for a good laugh!! Margaret was lucid and full of life today. While still on oxygen, she is making huge strides towards breathing on her own. Her memory has returned, and her mind is sharp as a tack. Her diet has been upgraded from thickened liquids to softened, sliced, foods. When Tom, Jr., Marty, and Tommy 3 arrived this morning she was eating a cup of yogurt by herself, indicative of her improved motor skills and her recovering strength.

Around eleven o'clock Pacific Standard Time, Margaret sat up on the side of the bed by herself as part of a physical therapy exercise. She continued to breath well during the exercise, although she did have a bit of a coughing spell once upright. The physical activity and aforementioned coughing episode sapped a great deal of energy from her, however. As a result, she was a bit winded and unable to eat much of her lunch. All was well, though - her nurses told her that her repressed appetite was completely normal and was more than likely due to her exhaustion from the exercise. In fact, they were encouraged, rather excited, with her phenomenal physical progress as opposed to being overly concerned wiht her inability to eat creamed mystery meat and sliced carrots!

As of 5 p.m. (PST), Margaret's oxygen saturation level was at an amazing 94%! Hopefully, by tomorrow, Margaret will be breathing on her own. If this indeed is the case, the doctor will discharge her to a Skilled Nursing Facility to undergo 3 to 4 weeks of physical and occupational therapy. Tommy, Tom, and Marty visited the reccommended facility today, and were very pleased with the staff, facility, and location. This facility is also one with which Margaret is very familar. She has conducted numerous pastoral visits in Manor Care and has been quite impressed with its operation. God's will be done, Margaret will be discharged to Manor Care as early as this coming Monday or perhaps no later than Tuesday.

Marty flies home tomorrow morning (Saturday, 10/14). Tommy will be in town until Friday, October 20th. Home health has been established for Tom, Jr. from 8 p.m. until mornining, and simply put, he is not a fan. However, we believe that he is warming up to the idea . . . . slowly albeit! (Prayers solicited)!

Surely there cannot not be a child alive that relishes the idea of wrestling away from their parents the freedom, independence, and dignity that they have so freely known and enjoyed. And yet, when those same parents, who have by way of example, taught their children the neccessity of caring for their elderly family members through words and actions wind up needing similar care; the children absolutely must lovingly respond regardless of how uncomfortable and difficult it might be.

God is good, and yet He continues to bewilder. More tomorrow evening - grace and peace, ya'll!

Friday, October 13, 2006

Thursday, October 12

Margaret is doing well. Her diet has been upgraded, and her oxygen needs continue to decrease. She was very conversational today and tolerated more physical therapy well.

Tommy got in tonight. He missed his flight in Memphis due to a accident on I-240 in which he was not involved. Consequently, he arrived 6 hours late and was unable to see mom tonight. This upset her, but they were able to talk on the phone this evening and will reunite in the morning.
Her spirits are elevated, and she is ready to take the next step - rehbilitation in a skilled nursing facility. This process, according to her doctors, could take anywhere from 3 to 4 weeks. Afterwards, she is looking forward to moving to the bustling metropolis of Jackson, TN! Dad is doing well and very excited about mom's progress. Tommy and I, too, are encouraged with the reports we are getting from the medical staff at the hospital. The fact that mom is lucid and able to understand what her doctors are saying is also incredibly reassuring.
The Suttle family continues to covet and appreciate the prayers that all of mom and dad's friends are offering on their behalf. More information and updates will be coming tomrrow as we will continue to monitor mom's condition! Thanks to all of you!

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

Wednesday, October 11

Margaret is continuing to improve. Her lungs are clearing, her voice is stronger, and she is complaining about the food. You can't blame her really - hamburgers should just never be pureed.

The improvements to her lungs and the signs that they are successfully fighting the infection are wonderful news. Her ordeal has left her very weak though. She is unable to hold anything, turn on her own, and other simple motions. Physical therapy has begun, though, and she is determined to get her strength back.

Tomorrow, Tommy will fly in to be here a couple of days overlapping Marty and then help with our anticipated discharge of Margaret.

She is really enjoying hearing from everyone. Thank you for the notes, comments, and cards.

Tuesday, October 10, 2006

Tuesday, October 10

Just another first person post to wish you all a good night from me and Elsie.

Elsie is the miraculous personal care assistant sent to us from Kelly Care. My dad has long needed someone to stay to watch out for him overnight, if only so that anyone else in the house can rest.

So now, I sit next to Elsie. She is a home health worker who is from - I kid you not - from Mississippi.

She and Daddy have a lot to talk about, and all of the sudden, something that can feel invasive and foreign, somehow feels - familiar.

Good night, all. I'm going to sleep. Say good night prayers that Daddy will get rest too.

Tuesday, October 10

Margaret has been moved from the ICU. She is in a room in oncology now, where they will continue to monitor and help her get strong enough to start rehab.

Tom has decided to have home health care for himself overnight now. It will start tonight.

Today Margaret is lucid when she is awake. After convincing her that she had never left Roseville and gone to Chicago, she was content to let the pieces fall into place over the next few days. She does not remember the past week except to the extent that she knew she was very sick.

We have started reading her your cards and emails, and she is grateful for all of your prayers and support.

Monday, October 09, 2006

Monday, October 9

Margaret was awake today. One of her first questions to Tom was, "How do I get out of here?" It was nice to have her spirit back. There were questions about what had happened and what would happen. It seems that even in just waking up after a week, she was already Margaret again, trying to organize her thoughts and plan for what comes next.

For most of the day, she held her own with just the oxygen tube in her nose. Her oxygen saturation levels remained good for the most part. The fever has not returned, and overall, she is doing well.

She still doesn't really need visitors yet. Even though the occasional friendly face made her smile today, it would just be too much to start having visitors right now. In addition to the rest, she also continues to need a sterile environment. Tom and Marty look forward to beginning to read her the cards that have been sent and the comments left here sometime tomorrow. Your messages do get to her, so please send them if you would like to!

The biggest piece of information learned today was that Margaret will need rehabilitation after she gets out of the hospital. This means that she will either have to go into a nursing home or have skilled nursing at home for several weeks. We are thankful that a relationship has already been forged with a home health provider recommended by the Presbyterian Board of Pensions. Tom and Marty will begin meeting with staff at the hospital tomorrow to try and make a plan to continue Margaret's recovery once she is discharged. The doctor said that her discharge should likely come in 3-5 days. When he said 3-5 days, it seemed like Margaret actually shot him a look, causing him to reconsider and lean more towards the 3 side of things. Who knows, though? Maybe she really is back and fighting, just like the amazingly strong woman we know she is.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Sunday, October 8

Sorry for the delay in posting, and tonight, you get first person. I'm too tired to write in third person.

Tommy and I decided that it was time for one of us to go to California, so here I am. Dad is in bed, there is a pound cake in the oven, and we have good news.

Today they took Margaret off the ventilator. She has been awake some today. Tom said that Friday, the doctor who would be on call over the weekend gave him a checklist of sorts - rather, a chain of events - that if Margaret could reach this goal, then they would do that. The short of it is, she reached all her goals this weekend and they took her off the ventilator even sooner than the doctor thought would happen. She might move back to the oncology department tomorrow where there are fewer germs and nasties floating about.

Tonight, I had been here about an hour when the phone rang. It was Mom's nurse. She had Mom on the phone and she was asking to speak to Dad. Although she is still unable to talk much at all, Dad said that he did hear her say, "I love you."

Dad is making progress on post-hospital plans and making decisions about his own needs as well. Tommy and I will continue to try and help find them solutions that keep them safe, comfortable, and happy. If I get a chance this week, I'll attach some photos of their new house in Jackson, Tennessee. It is really nice.

Many thanks tonight to every driver, cook, slumber party attendee, and friend who has been watching over them, and for the others who have volunteered. Your support of not just Tom and Margaret, but our whole family is so very appreciated.


Friday, October 06, 2006

Friday, October 6

Margaret is now receiving 45% oxygen. When she gets to 30%, they can remove her from the ventilator.

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Thursday, October 5

Margaret is continuing to improve in the ICU while being treated for ARF, Acute Respiratory Failure. Michelle is her nurse today and provided us with a detailed update. It is always a relief to feel as though someone is taking the time and care to provide us with as much information as possible.

Yesterday, Margaret was on only 50% oxygen. This is down from 100% this past weekend. Her potassium was elevated, and in treating that, she in turn had a restless night. In order to let her rest today, they increased her morphine dosages to once an hour from every two hours yesterday. Her oxygen was increased to 60% this morning, but is already back down to 55%.

The morphine is being used as a sedative more than a pain killer. Due to the fluid in her lungs, they cannot use the normal sedative. When Margaret wakes up past a certain, she gags on the tube and becomes agitated. Therefore, they are trying to keep her a little more sedated in order to rest and heal.

Her chest x-ray showed improvements today. They have increased her dosage of Lasix to help remove the excess fluid. They were pleased with the outcome today.

She did have fever overnight, but it was gone by noon today. Michelle reported that Margaret's white count is down, so they feel like they are fighting a good fight with the infection.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Wednesday, October 4

Conflicting reports today. Even though we have tried to cull calls to the nurses station so that Tommy and Marty can get accurate reports, the nurses yesterday and today have not been communicative.

Tom and Connie report that Margaret is off of the heavy sedation and can look at them when they are in the room. Her oxygen saturation levels continue to improve, but she remains on the ventilator.

The nurse that we finally reached tonight said that her sedation had not changed, but we think that is inaccurate information. She also told us that Margaret had not had fever since 12:00 AM this morning. This was after she told us there had been no change since we spoke with someone last night. We are praying that the fever information is an honest account of Margaret's condition.

We continue to try and line up continuing care for Tom at night. This professional care would also be in the expectation that Margaret is slowly improving and will need this care as well. Many of you know this should occur sooner rather than later. Tomorrow should hold an important decision in this matter.

Tuesday, October 03, 2006

Tuesday, October 3

Today the report comes through Tom via the pulmonary doctor. There is some good news to share.

The cat scan showed no signs of blood clots in the lungs. Tom said that the doctors saw what they needed to see on scan and didn't see what they didn't want to see on the scan. This is good news.

Margaret is still on the ventilator. They started her on a liquid diet last night too.

The word of the day was "stable." We think it is a good word.
Monday, October 2

Margaret is still in the ICU. A ventilator is breathing for her so that she can rest more and get more oxygen. The nurses said she had a good night last night and that they have been able to turn down her oxygen levels some.