Saturday, July 16, 2011

"Normal" is just a setting on the dryer

First, thank you, Dawn Chute for allowing me to steal your Grandma's saying.

I was looking at a friends wedding album this morning and I found myself in tears. Tears of joy because she is such a sweet girl and so deserving of as much happiness as life can give her. I also had some tears in there as I was thinking of our wedding, although years ago. We never would have dreamed that we would be where we are today. Proof in itself that we are ultimately not in control of our lives.

God sets our "Normal". He knows when we need to tumble dry on high and when we just need to be on the fluff setting. I am so thankful that we have been tumbled and fluffed to be where we are in our "normal" today. Neither Rob nor I would change the things that have occurred in our lives. We are much better people despite those things.

We met a 76 year old man and his sweet wife at the hospital in Pittsburgh yesterday. He is battling the same BK virus that Rob is. As we talked, we found that age is just a number. This man was such an inspiration to us without even knowing it. He is such a kid at heart, just like Rob. He is into snowmobiling, just like Rob. In these two men (Rob and the older gentlman), there is such life and happiness. Life is not taken for granted because they have been granted life......Wow...I think I have to repeat that to myself to let it sink in....


But that same thing is true for all of us. We have been granted LIFE through Jesus. No one else died for you or I, but HIM.

I've kind of rattled on this morning, but I knew that God was prodding me to teach me and I, again am amazed at how He has used "normal" life to do it.

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Whatever It Takes

Rob was asked to give a one minute testimony at church this morning. As he was contemplating what to say, we were reminded of life pre-amputation....

....We were struggling in our marriage with selfishness on both sides. We would both admit that happiness seemed like a distant memory. I was struggling with work. Rob was struggling with the forced role reversal of having to stay at home and "take care of the house". We were very close to calling it quits. I know that it may seem surprising to read this, but it is so much a part of who we were and where we were and who we are now.

We had been going to marriage counseling to work through these issues. We are both of the mindset that we want this to work, we just needed a little boost and someone else to get us headed in the right direction. The counselor at one point challenged us to be praying together, which we did start to do. We then sat down one night and prayed this short, but powerful prayer and more importantly than praying it...WE MEANT IT:

" Father God, we are tired of trying to be in control. We ask that you do WHATEVER IT TAKES to help us to yield our lives to you and serve you the way that You intend."

I journal and we prayed that on April 18th. On April 19th, we found out that amputation will be the possible option for the issues with Rob's foot. It didn't dawn on us until asked to give the testimony, that we asked God for Whatever it takes! God not only answered our prayer, but blessed us overwhelmingly with His joy and peace for the upcoming life change. We finally took the focus off of ourselves and we started focusing on what God wants us to do for His glory! How blessed we are to be the instruments He uses.

We will both tell you that neither one of us would ever go back to Rob having two legs. We have never been so close to God or one another. This amputation has saved our marriage, our relationship with our Lord and most importantly it has saved us from the damaging effects of our selfishness. Praise God for answering our prayers and doing WHATEVER IT TAKES!

Friday, May 27, 2011

What A Privilege It Is To Serve Our Great God

Ever since God smacked me up side the head and said "Janine...this is your mission field" (Giant Eagle checkout counter; Waiting room in hospital; Nurses caring for Rob...etc...) I have been asking God to show me His opportunities each day.

What a privilege it was to serve Him today......

Today was the boys last day of school and they went on a field trip to Waldameer. It also happens to be Ryan's 8th birthday :-) so there was a lot of excitement in the house. So this morning, Rob was trying to transfer himself from the wheelchair to the couch and his sock slipped on our hardwood floors and down he went right on his stump...OUCH!!! Praise God, he fell on the day we were to go to the surgeon for a follow up visit! So off we went to Greenville to see the doctor. Praise God Again...NO DAMAGE was done!

Rob was feeling rather spry after the surgeon so we went to the bank so he could do some banking business. He even accompanied me to a couple of appointments for work (he stayed in the car while I did my thing).

Then we went to WalMart to shop for Ryan's birthday presents. I am so proud of my husband for tackling this mountain of going out in public with one leg for the first time!!! We had a great time shopping for Ry. Then it was time to pick out the card.....

Here is where God set up an appointment for us!!!

I was digging through the graduation cards while Rob was looking for a birthday card for Ryan. This woman just kept standing back and glancing at the graduation cards. I finally finished and had my 4 cards and apologized that I kept getting in her way. She said "No problem, I've enjoyed the banter between you and your husband" (we were laughing at the dog cards...she even laughed along with us).

She then made a statement that they only had one card for Military graduation. She was carrying a flag and I told her to check the mall because Hallmark should have a better selection. I then asked who was graduating and she said her son. I said, "well congratulations! And please tell him that this family from home says 'Thank you, for fighting for our freedom' " At this point, she started to cry. I knew at that very second that God made this appointment!!! I hugged her right there in the middle of the card aisle. She said that she is frightened as any parent would be, but that he is so happy. So I asked what her son's name was and what her name was and I said that we would pray for them. She started to cry again and I just said...."Wait a second, we are going to pray RIGHT NOW!!!" So there I was hugging Miss Patty O'Neil and praying for comfort and peace that only our Great God can provide. I prayed for a hedge of protection around her son, Sean.


This is what we are called to do...not just recognize, but act upon His will for us even in the card aisle at WalMart!!!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Caretakers Prayer

My Jesus, I thank you for yet one more day with my loved one. I thank you for the privilege of being a part of his life. Help me, Dear Father, to this day be the anchor that this home needs. Help me be the pillow he falls on when weary, the rock he needs when he is weak. Show me how to provide comfort when there seems to be none. To be the light when the darkness looms.
Help me to pick him up when he is down.

And Father, protect my heart from harsh words spoken through pain. Through frustration that some times doesn't seem to end. Open my ears to only the words of peace and love and help me to filter those that are not spoken in love.

Thank you, Lord, for being the strength that I need when I am so very weary and worn out. When I am at wits end with exhaustion. I praise You for the moments of rest we find in You.

I pray tonight for all of the caretakers out there who get up and go even when the getting up part is so hard. I pray for rest and peace for these folks and I can say....I understand!

I certainly hope that no one who reads this would think that I am complaining. I am doing quite the opposite. Just as Rob is able to relate to others who suffer with chronic illnesses, I am able to empathize with those who care for the chronically ill. I pray that my experiences will be mightily used by God to lift the spirits of caretakers who may be doing this without the light and love of Jesus in their lives. Please pray for these folks. They may be smiling when they are truly silently suffering in the background.

Monday, May 23, 2011


I am simply and utterly standing amazed at how GREAT our God is!!!

It has been one week since I sat in this very same spot on my couch typing through exhaustion and desparation, trusting in what God has in store for the future, which we know is filled with hope!

On May 15th, my husband went to church with two legs. Yesterday, less than one week since the amputation, my husband returned to church praising God for his mercy and grace. Rob has been without pain medication for about 36 hours. His incision is text book! He is healing physically. But more than that, he is healing spiritually. I mean how can anyone go through all that he has and not be closer to our Lord?(myself included) You can just feel God's presence in our home and we are so overwhelmed at His gift of peace.

We are AWESTRUCK! Standing in awe of the peace that truly passes all understanding. According to the world, we should be devastated. We should be crying, sad, defeated, alone....BUT...we are NONE OF THOSE THINGS!!! Because of the love of our great God, we are JOYFUL, HAPPY, PEACEFUL, and even THANKFUL despite our circumstances.

This past week, we have experienced the POWER of prayer in a whole new way. We could not pray. We could not find the words, but all of our Christian family interceded for us. Sending up countless prayers as we go down this path. I've often caught myself wondering if God really hears me sometimes as I pray. We are receiving his bountiful love and peace as a result of your prayer. I doubt no more :-)!

We ask for continued prayer as we keep going down this path. Complete healing! Let's get him healed up so we can get off of this ride and board the next ride that takes us to the pancreas transplant and all of the people we can tell about God's greatness!!!!


Tuesday, May 17, 2011

HIS Mercy Is New Every Day

This morning, I woke up and went through the motions of getting through the same old routine the boys and I have done a million times.....except Rob wasn't there when I aimlessly walked back into the bedroom to kiss him good-bye and wish him a great day. So I decided to take a deep breath and go to my side of the bed and get my Bible.

Now I know I am not the only one who does this, but I am so very greatful that my God knows exactly how I need to be spoken to in order to hear Him :)!

I played Bible Bingo...YEP! I said, "Lord, I really need to just simply hear from You. I need your strength because at this very second, I have no idea how to even put one foot in front of the other."

So I opened the Bible to Luke 12: 22 where all I needed to read was the heading of "DO NOT WORRY" I am so in love with my God!!! I had a wonderful peace just wash over me at that very moment and completely overflow as I read how He cares for even the sparrow so He will care for me. HOW GREAT IS OUR GOD!!!!

So I went to work and was able to enjoy my job for the first time in a very long while! I texted Rob a few times throughout the day, and he had not answered back so I did start to get a little concerned so I decided that I needed to be with him and went to the hospital. As soon as I arrived, I could see the pain was lifted from his face and a feeling of relief washed over me. They had just finished putting in his pic line so they can draw blood and give iv fluids and antibiotics to him. I asked him how he was doing and he said that they had him up and out of bed. He took a few steps (or "hops" in his case). He says it feels very strange as it feels like he wants to put his missing foot down, but it's not there. The sparkle is starting to reappear in his eyes.

Each and every day is going to get better. I am so greatful that God's Mercy is new EVERY day. That we don't have to repeat the brussel sprouts day of yesterday and that today we at least got to eat some chocolate cake:)

Every day, we ask that God would reveal himself to us through this storm. Here is another way He spoke to me today....

I got in the elevator to leave the hospital. There was a older woman in there and we talked about the weather, the hospital, and how the parking was terrible. I asked her if it was her husband in there and she said "Yes!". I asked what her husband's name was and she said "Tom". I said that I would pray for Tom and at that moment she grabbed my jacket and said "They are going to start dialysis on my husband tomorrow and I am so scared." ! I stopped and looked at her and said, "Margaret, my husband went through almost 2 years of dialysis. It is scary, but you will get through it and he will be better once they get those toxins out of him." I then took that very moment to pray with her right there in the rainy parking lot!!!!!

Our prayers have been answered. " Lord, please place us in front of people that we can show You to. Help us to be a light unto Your path." This woman, Margaret, could have been experiencing any number of medical issues with her husband, but it was dialysis which we have gone through. Don't EVER doubt that God will use something/anything that you are going through for HIS glory.

We are so humbled and honored to be the instruments that He uses. As my amazingly wonderful husband says to all of his nurses. " I rather this is me lying here than some one else who has no hope because they do not have a relationship with Jesus." We are so very fortunate to experience this kind of relationship with our God.

We thank you all again for lifting us up yesterday when we were so very weak. And we praise Him today for the Mercy He has granted us!

Monday, May 16, 2011

Being His Hands and Feet

I would be absolutely, positively lying to all of you if I said that today was easy. I sit here typing through tear stained glasses as I am finally sitting on my own couch just exhaling.

I thought I was tough. I thought I was strong. So here's the truth...I am a weak pile of mush that used to put on a very brave front. Remember a couple of weeks ago when I talked about being broken? Broken to the point where only God can put me back together? I am there and I am rejoicing in that raw brokeness!

I kept watching the "play by play" board that tells you where your loved one is at any given time during the surgery process. For the first time ever, when that board changed from "In OR" to "Surgery Started" it was like time just froze. It was the end of life as we know it and the beginning of this new unknown world. All I could think of was at this moment there is a man cutting my husbands leg off. At that moment, God knew what I needed better than I. Ron, one of our great Deacons at the church, walked into the waiting room. He sat with me, some times in silence, some times with small talk, but he sat there. I was trying to be the "brave Janine" that always comes out at times like this. Then the board changed to "Surgery Completed". The surgeon came in and said something about the surgery went very well, and now starts the hard part of recovery. Then as quick as he came...he left. I totally forgot that Ron was sitting next to me and I just....well.....BROKE! The tears started flowing and I lost it!! There it is...bravery through weakness.


I looked up and there was Ron, this grown man, grieving right along with me. His tears were just as real as mine. This is what doing the Christian life is all about. We are not alone!! There are angels all around us!

Today, we needed to pull from the strength of our fellow believers instead of being the strength.
Today, all of you have been Christ's hands and feet and arms with hugs. Today, I realized that we don't have to do this on our own. That God has placed on each and every one of your hearts to help us out. From a simple prayer whispered on our behalf to being there to hold the hand of a broken and grieving wife.

I am beyond humbled that God loves us all this much! Again, we thank you!

I am privileged to be the wife of Rob Haines! He is, by far, the most brave person I have ever met! He has been suffering physically for years. Today, he is suffering so much that he has let it show. Please pray for comfort and rest as he heals. And please pray for our journey ahead!

Father God, we thank you for the privilege to be your servants. Even when it means being uncomfortable. For it is when we climb out of our comfort zones that we can truly serve You!

What Does Prayer Have To Do With Red Lobster?

I woke up an hour before the alarm goes off sneezing from my seasonal allergies. I am now waiting patiently for my Zyrtec to kick in. As I am waiting and praying, I feel so very led to tell you all about last night!

We have been asking you all to pray not for us, but for those we will encounter along the path of this journey. We have noticed how God is answering that prayer....even at Red Lobster!

We decided to eat dinner out, just the two of us on kind of our "last date" with four legs between us :). We get seated, and start looking through our menu when the manager comes up to us and explains that our waitress didn't want to have us wait too long as she was caught up in the back. So we ordered our drinks and an appetizer. The manager brought back our drinks and asked us what special occasion we were celebrating because we seemed so happy and I still had on my church clothes and she thought that I was "dressed up"! We have NEVER had anyone ask us at any other time what occasion we were celebrating. So here was our door to show God's amazing love to the manager of Red Lobster.

At this time our waitress came over to introduce herself. So we had Michelle, our waitress, and Kathy, the manager at our table as we joyfully explained that we were celebrating the upcoming amputation of Rob's leg the next day. We thought the manager was going to cry. But all of you who know Rob...he started listing the positive aspects of amputation like 1. He'll always get a front row spot at Wal Mart. 2. When he's ready to go back into the workforce, he's certain IHOP will hire him. 3. He was a country music man, but he's now leaning toward Hip Hop......That's my hubby :)

The manager actually gave Rob a hug. She said that there are a lot of people who come and go, but she will remember us forever. She also said our attitude and FAITH are so evident. Our waitress brought the check and said that we were an inspiration and that she will not forget crossing our path.

As we were walking out the door, the manager caught us and gave us her card and asked that we please keep her posted on how Rob is doing.

Rob and I left there saying that God planned this dinner. HE answered all of your prayers and ours that this journey would be a witness of HIS LOVE. How great our God is that He can use a leg amputation to impact the lives of a manager of a restaurant and a waitress!

In one short hour, the rooster is going to crow and our lives will be changed forever. We are NOT afraid. We are ever so greatful for life is the best we have experienced together thus far. Thank you for the continued prayers. Thank You, Lord, for the lives that this will impact as we go forward.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Count It All Joy

James 1: 2-4

"My Brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing."

"COUNT IT ALL JOY"! We are facing a huge trial with Rob having his right leg amputated below the knee. Yet both of us are experiencing a joy that is indescribable! We are so very humbled and greatful for this peace and thank God every moment of every day for disolving the fear and replacing it with joy!

For those who wonder whether prayer works? You catch yourself saying "God, I'm praying for such and such and so and so, but Lord, are you HEARING my prayers?" As sure as I am typing this, GOD HEARS!!! AND HE ANSWERS!!!!

Part of me feels guilty for feeling such joy and peace with all that is going on. Yet I know that this gift of peace is a gift directly from the God of the universe. He loves me THAT MUCH!!!
I am so undeserving of this kind of love. "Thank You" just doesn't seem like eough. But I know that God doesn't want a thank you, He simply loves THAT MUCH!!!

So I will say it, "Thank You, Father, for loving me so much that you have breathed peace and a true joy into my heart despite the circumstances surrounding us!"

I can only pray that all of my friends, family, every person that God has created gets just even a moment to experience this kind of peace and joy!

Thursday, May 5, 2011

THIS has become our mission field

What is a mission field? To me it is anywhere that we can show God's love even if that is our own homes. Our mission field just happens to be hospitals, doctor's offices, waiting rooms, etc...etc....

But then again, I was at Giant Eagle today and the cashier was talking to the lady in front of me about the trip the lady had just gotten back from...California and Hawaii. I was next in line and the cashier looked at me and said " I don't know if that lady knows exactly how lucky she is". At this point, I thought she was going to cry. I said " You must be having a rough time" to that she replied, well not recently, but I see some folks take for granted the life that they have. I lost my husband 14 years ago and then I lost my fiance' 3 years ago. I watched each of them suffer with horrible diseases. One had Crohn's and the other Diabetes and kidney failure. People just don't realize how lucky they are."

At this moment, I closed my eyes for a brief moment and said. " I understand you more than you realize." She asked "How? You're so young?" I said " We just found out this week that my husband, who is a Type I diabetic with a kidney transplant is going to have to have his leg amputated below the knee. But it's ok. Because, we don't have to go to Hawaii or California or anywhere else for that matter to enjoy life. God has richly blessed us and God and faith are all we need to get through each day."

She handed me back my change and gripped my hand in both of hers and thanked me for helping her see that she still has blessings in this life.

THIS is my mission field.

Oh YES! This past week I have had moments. Moments digesting what is going to happen. How is life going to be different for us? What will our new "normal" look like? But then, on the way home from the surgeons office in Pittsburgh, Rob and I had a revelation. Well, I guess it's not a new revelation per se, but it is a reminder. A reminder that we are on a new journey in life. A journey that we haven't really chosen, nevertheless, we've boarded the ride. We are going to come into contact with many, many people on this journey. People who will lift us up when we're down and whose faith we will lean upon. People who we will never meet, but will watch us and wonder how we are strong (even if we are, in reality, weak). People who we will meet only once, but we will lift them up and show them how wonderful our God is! God's strength will shine forth from us as we continue on. And some day, when we are in Heaven, some ONE will walk up to us and hug our necks and say "It is because of that day we talked in the waiting room at UPMC hospital that I got to know Jesus!" And our Jesus will say to us "Well done, thy good and faithful servant"

THIS is our mission field!

Through our great weakness/brokeness/despair that our GREAT GOD's STRENGTH SHINE's through!!

Thank you for the privilege of being the vessel to carry Your word to the mission field of our lives!

Saturday, April 30, 2011

What Exactly Does Broken Look Like?????

Last week I talked about how God gave me permission to "break". And ever since then, I have been on this journey of becoming completely and utterly....BROKEN.

We had the 2nd opinion at the surgeon on Thursday. It was absolutely not at all what we were expecting to hear. Amputation of the foot....YES! we were ready for, but taking the leg to just below the knee...NOPE!! We spent the ride home in silence as we were both trying to digest what we heard. We have the appointment for opinion number 3 on Tuesday, however, when we look at the facts, it is a matter of "when" not "if".

BROKEN? What does that mean exactly? I wish I could say for sure because I'm not convinced I'm done "breaking" yet. I keep holding on to this mentality that "I" can do something about life. Reality being what it is....I HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO CONTROL WHATSOEVER!!!

BROKEN? I think being broken is a journey. A journey that is as individual as each of our DNA. The only constant fact is that once we are completely broken, our GREAT GOD will come and put us back together again, just like Humpty Dumpty.

BROKEN? Right at this moment, for me, is raw truth. If I am asked, "Are you doing ok?"; "Are you hanging in there?". My answer will now be the raw truth of "NO! I am not ok, but I am seeking God through this horrible storm." "NO! but I am certain of one thing and that is that HE will NEVER leave me nor FORSAKE me." "NO! I would very much like to get off this roller coaster ride now, but NEVERTHELESS....not my will, but THINE be done."

God doesn't ask us to put a bow on the bad and "pretend" that we are A-OK. HIS miracles are better seen through the raw ugliness of the truth!

I thank you, God, for this storm. I thank you, God, for the miracle. And I now stand down and stop trying to control this whole situation for I have no control anyway. I have faith that just as always, with every other storm, YOU have showed yourself in such a mighty way and I will sit and wait upon YOUR glory as I continue to break!

Thursday, April 21, 2011

It's OK to Break

It certainly has been awhile since I have written. I guess you could say that I was running. My fear is what has caused me to not write. Fear of actually putting into words the things that we have been dealing with. If I write it down, it makes it all to REAL.

And REAL it is..."it" being life. We all have our portions and this plate has had quite a lot of servings of brussel sprouts (or lima know who you Just pick the food you dislike the most. Ours over the last few months has been quite crazy. So I will do the best to fill you all in and show you how wonderful God is through it all............

Last August, when we took Crystal to school in Arkansas, we received a phone call from Pittsburgh Hospital Transplant unit stating that we needed to get Rob into the unit the next day for a biopsy on the kidney because his labs came back and they were concerned that he would be rejecting his kidney. WHOA!!!! We were 1000 miles away and had an 18 hour drive to just get back to PA. They just said to get there as fast as we could. Talk about a long ride home.

So they do the biopsy and they start the drugs to stop rejection only to find 3 days later that it is NOT rejection, but instead is the BK virus that occurs in kidney transplant patients. OK, NOW WHAT???? Now we start on a new drug that is a 4 hour IV infusion once a week in Pittsburgh with weekly labs until the levels of this virus are no longer in the blood and register only at 80,000 or less in the urine. Most of the patients take 6 weeks of treatment and then they are good to go. Well...we are 6 months later and Rob is still having to go once per week for treatment. It's a one step forward 3 steps back process. But as always, we are plugging away and continuing on the path we need to go.

Then in December, Rob had an argument with the kerosene heater in the garage and, well, the heater won. Rob gave it a swift kick to hopefully start it up (which it did) then 9 hours later, I went to the garage to check on him and there was blood coming from his shoe. The heater he kicked caused a wound and open dislocation of his toe on the foot that already had the amputated big toe. So off we went to the ER. Three days and one surgery later Rob came home on IV antibiotics. He's bound and determined for me to get my RN degree in life :).

His toe healed entirely and yet he was still going to Pittsburgh as well as the wound clinic for an open wound on the bottom of his foot (see a previous post for how long we've been doing this).

We had a really rough holiday season and then I started to struggle at work, as so many of us do. This first quarter has been the most rough quarter at work that I have ever experienced, yet, I know that God has BIG plans for us to be going through all of this "STUFF". Through all of this, as well, our marriage seemed to start to crumble before our eyes. Every marriage out there has had their share of's just that ours has had some "unique" circumstances.
What's even more crazy is that our marriage seems to do quite well in the chaos of the health stuff, but you toss "normal life" in there and we just look at each other and have no clue how to act.

I am now at a place through all of this that leads me to the point that God made to me today.

I was working so hard the last few months to "fix" things on my own. Fix Rob's BK virus in the kidney; FIX Rob's stubborn temper that caused him to kick the heater in the garage which caused the open toe wound; FIX our marriage, which of course in my eyes meant "FIX" Rob; FIX my job and the horrible months I was having.

BUT GOD......has bigger plans......which I am EVER so THANKFUL for..... Tuesday of this week....we started to see what our options are for Rob with his condition called Charcot Foot that is causing the ulcer on his foot to not heal. Now we are starting to explore the options of possible proactive amputation. POSSIBLE. We are just exploring the options at this point. But again God allows things to happen for His greater glory.

Today, as I was driving to my meeting, the sunshine was bursting through the clouds and a beautiful stream of light was flowing from the sky. I just started to cry and literally asking God "How much more before I break?" This is where I am so very thankful that my God knows how to answer me in a way that I understand Him. He said to me "Janine, you need to let yourself break and stop putting on this strength of self. For when you allow yourself to be broken into pieces it is then that I can put you back together to make a better Janine!" WOW!!!! Thank you, Lord for giving me the permission to break! All this "stuff" that can look so scary is meant to help me to BREAK so that my precious GOD can put me together again and be a better woman in HIS name.

So, now it is written and it is REAL and it is NOT scary for my God knows exactly how this will end and it is PERFECT!!! I am greatful to be BROKEN........