Friday, May 2, 2014

Pam Thorson: Glimpsing God’s Presence

Everyone's Story welcomes author
Pam Thorson. Pam, a mom, nurse, author, and speaker received the news no mom wants to hear: her son was in a horrific accident and may not live. What do you think, do, hope for? Who do you reach out to? Pam shares her personal story of why one shouldn't give up on hope and faith no matter the odds. Take a look at the excerpt from SONG IN THE NIGHT, the true account of her family's nightmare. Read her encouraging message of hope. And do leave a comment to win OUT FROM THE SHADOWS (a devotional) or SONG IN THE NIGHT. Pam's looking forward to hearing from you.


Book Giveaway:
Pam is generously offering a two-book Giveaway! One randomly chosen commenter will receive one copy of OUT FROM THE SHADOWS and another randomly chosen commenter will receive SONG IN THE NIGHT, books that will encourage readers with their struggles, either for yourself or for someone you know who may be gifted with this ray of hope. The winners will be announced here on Friday, May 9th, between 5-6 PM EST. For convenience, please leave your contact information within your comment. Thanks!




Pam's Excerpt from SONG IN THE NIGHT:



Excerpted from Song in the Night, by Pamela Thorson. Copyright 2008


7

Do not be afraid.
Stand still, and see the salvation of the LORD,
Which He will accomplish for you today…

EXODUS 14:13 (NKJV)

Parting the Waters
    
Although Kevin was finally out of intensive care for the first time in seventeen days, his condition continued to be guarded. Three days after the move, on July 31, we experienced a particularly emotional roller-coaster day. On this day, Kevin moved his finger on the left hand for the first time.
The impossible, the amazing, the miracle had happened. For a brief moment, heaven touched earth.
In our new world, the movement of one finger meant as much as a whole mountain being cast into the sea. This movement was well below the site of the injury, and indicated that perhaps his injury was not going to be “complete,” after all, although no one would tell us this. Except for Dr. Matthews’s “one-in-one-hundred” comment in Calgary, we had not been given one shred of hope that Kevin would ever regain any movement again, except for the possibility of some shoulder shrugs and possible arm movement.
We reveled deliciously in this mountaintop moment of joy and hope, only to careen dizzily downward as we realized that Kevin was getting sicker once again. Because St. Luke’s was a rehabilitation hospital and not an intensive care facility, Kevin was not getting the aggressive therapy that he had been receiving in ICU, and his pneumonia and urinary tract infection worsened. The day that the impossible happened, Kevin became so ill that the pulmonologist decided to do a procedure to drain and check his lungs. The procedure is called bronchoscopy, but was shortened to the nickname “bronch” by the nurses. Kevin hated this procedure. It involved inserting a tube down his trach and into the bronchial tubes of the lungs, and was a very unpleasant experience. Because he was on a ventilator, the experience was all the more frightening for him. 
The same day, the elder presbyters of LifeLinks came and prayed over Kevin in accordance with James 5:14-15:

Is anyone among you sick? Then he must call for the elders
of the church and they are to pray over him, anointing him
with oil in the name of the Lord; and the prayer offered
in faith will restore the one who is sick, and the Lord will
raise him up, and if he has committed any sins, they will
be forgiven him.



In those early days of Kevin’s injury, there was a pervasive sense of God’s presence that seemed to wash Kevin’s room in a holy glow. We were awash in a constant wave of pain, so we didn’t notice it as much as others. But occasionally we would get a glimpse of God’s presence through the eyes of the staff, who tried hard to work quietly around us without disrupting our prayers and worship times with others.
The day the elders prayed for Kevin, various medical staff members came and went, trying to disturb us as little as possible as they carried out their duties. The elders gathered around Kevin’s bed, men from different countries and different churches. They placed their hands carefully upon Kevin’s thin body; someone anointed him with oil; one after another prayed and read Scriptures to Kevin. We stood back a bit, solemnly and hopefully taking in the scene. At one point, unnoticed by most of the people in the room, the dietitian slipped in the door. A moment later, she left in tears without speaking. Later, Kevin received this note from her:
    
Dear Kevin:

I thank you for the witness you and your family are to the
Lord. You can truly feel His presence in your room. Your
faith and joy are shown in your eyes. I thank the Lord for
you and will be praying for you…

In Jesus’ love,

C.H. 8/12/97

Now, we weren’t trying to impress anyone, not because we don’t like impressing people, but because we were too involved in what was happening to Kevin and our family to worry about it. In fact, if anyone happened to notice, we were being stretched physically and emotionally about as far as we could endure. For us, this was all about survival, so we knew that what others were seeing was not what great Christians we were. What they were witnessing was the reality of God. It was as if He had propelled Kevin and us onto a horrifically public stage and broken us so thoroughly that we didn’t care that others were watching us cling to Jesus.  
 
For God, who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” is
the One who has shone in our hearts to give the Light of
the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

But we have this treasure in earthen vessels, so that the
surpassing greatness of the power may be of God and not
from ourselves.

2 Corinthians 4:6-7

                 We all wonder how we would hold up if a crisis ever hit our lives. Every honest person has contemplated whether or not he could continue to live for God in times of trial. The truth is, not one of us can. That was what made statements like the dietitian’s so precious. What she was seeing was God at work. I think that we often live like it is up to us to produce God for others, because subconsciously we have relegated Him to a belief system, instead of remembering that He is real. In fact, He does exist, and is perfectly capable of doing His own work.        
Kevin’s disaster was teaching us that it really is all about God, and we were simply the rough material He chose to use. What others were seeing was the beauty of His holiness. Like earthen pots, made from the clay of the ground, we were the unlovely vessels into which God had poured His holy oil. The value was not in the common container, but in what it held. In order for the oil to be poured out, one of us had to be broken; the others were turned upside down. We only felt the shattering, the dizziness of being upended, the emptiness of loss, and the temptation to wallow in self-pity.

WALLOWING

The next day, Kevin had to have another bronch, and he slept most of that day. He continued to struggle. We continued to be upended.
During one of those long days, I sat by myself in the waiting room. The room was much like others we’d seen, with lots of quasi-comfortable chairs and a television. One wall was filled with windows and looked down a couple of floors onto an asphalt parking lot below. From the parking lot outside, a minor commotion and some laughter filtered up and intruded into my gloomy commiseration. I turned in my chair and glared down onto the spectacle.
Below me, two men in wheelchairs were laughing and wheeling in the parking lot. One had a large electric chair; one was in a smaller manual chair. The guy in the smaller chair had managed to “hooky-bob” somehow onto the back of the electric chair, and the guy in the larger chair careened around in circles with his passenger dragging behind. Both men laughed loudly in glee.
I was instantly stricken with jealousy. A month earlier, I would have watched those
two guys with pity; now they seemed so blessed. They at least had enough movement and health to actually be enjoying themselves, even though they were in wheelchairs.
Jealousy would often rear its ugly head in my heart, tagging along behind the self-pity in which I often indulged myself. One day, as I drove the usual morning route from the Ronald McDonald House to St.Luke’s, I passed by a small group of young people hanging out on the street corner. One of them wore his (or her) flaming red hair in a huge, tall, and sharp roach of spikes. This person could move, breathe, do anything he (she) wanted to do, and he was wasting it loitering on the street. I wanted to stop the car, give him a good shake, and tell him what a gift he had. Or she. It didn’t matter.
But more than that, I wanted to scream my question to God:  Why was someone who loved and wanted to serve God disciplined so harshly for his misdeed of a poorly executed backflip, while others regularly squandered their gift of life and thumbed their noses at You, only to be given chance after chance?
Although I raged at God, inside I knew the answer: God disciplines those He loves, and one day we all must give an account of how we spent the gift of life. Until then, I was back to the trust issue. I remembered God’s words to me on the day of Kevin’s fall, the day I sat next to the beautiful little pond as my world fell down around me. We would have to continue to trust and wait.


Three days later, another bronch was scheduled for Kevin. We tried desperately to repel the sense that we were fighting a losing battle. Kevin, who had been extremely lean before his injury, was now alarmingly thin. His arms and legs were quickly becoming sticks. He had no appetite, and every bite was an agony to get down him. 
One night he expressed a surprise longing for a specialty ice cream. Poor Aaron hunted all over Spokane for it. He finally arrived back, ice cream in hand, harried from the search. After all that, Kevin could only manage to swallow a few bites before being too tired to eat. I kept fighting down a growing sense of panic.
I shuddered every time I gave him a hug, because it meant sliding my hands over his bony shoulders. He looked like one of those pictures of people who had lived through the Holocaust. Even his ribs showed. I guess it was fitting, because he was enduring his own personal holocaust. He told me one day that he felt like he was slipping away. We stood helplessly by, and my soul raged.

MAKING WAVES

We were not only powerless against Kevin’s illness and injury; we were constantly and totally at the mercy of hospital hours, rules, and attitudes. Good nurses and therapists were like angels; the incompetent and rude ones were an agony. We began to feel more and more like victims as we were tossed about by the routines and orders of the day. I longed to have a moment’s peace. The feeling of being constantly on the edge of destruction and pushed around began to fray at our nerves. The eternal uncertainty, the lack of privacy, the inability to rest clawed away at us relentlessly.
I finally snapped one night. A respiratory therapist we had never seen before came marching sourly into Kevin’s room and checked Kevin’s respiratory status. He looked things over glumly and decided that Kevin needed “lavage.” Lavage is a treatment in which sterile saline solution is squirted down a person’s trachea to thin and dislodge secretions in the lungs.  The secretions are then suctioned out.  It is a very unpleasant event. The person on the receiving end feels like he is drowning as the saline is squirted into his airway.
Lately, as part of Kevin’s new “education” in rehabilitation, therapists had been teaching Kevin that he needed to learn how to control his environment as much as possible. This is a very important part of overcoming the feeling of vulnerability that comes with the loss of independence that a spinal cord injury produces. A person who is disabled to the extent Kevin had experienced can do nothing for himself except think. He is totally dependent on the good will and the good sense of his care-givers. He cannot fight anyone who desires to do anything to him, and in a way, his body becomes public property as a constant stream of people care for his body functions. There is no privacy, no control, no sense of personhood in the sense we usually have. All Kevin could do was say “no” and hope somebody listened.
So when the therapist decided to do lavage, Kevin whispered “no.” The man ignored him as if he had not spoken. 
“You need this,” he declared as he aggressively squeezed the saline into Kevin’s trachea.  Kevin thrashed his head in a pitiful attempt to resist; the rest of his body lay like a stone. There was no escape, and the therapist pressed in harder. We stood by in helpless pain.



Finally, I erupted. I came completely and totally unhinged. I bolted into the hall and grabbed the first nurse I could find. 
“Get him out!”  I demanded angrily through a stream of hot tears, shocking everybody who happened to be standing in the hall. “Get him out!”
The startled nurse began to cry. “What’s wrong?” she timidly prodded.
I was not to be denied. “If that guy will not listen to Kevin, I don’t want him touching him again. I want him out!”
They quickly hustled him out.
 
STILLING THE SEA

Some days later, the respiratory therapist came back. He introduced himself, and he apologized to Kevin. As it turned out, Jason was a great Christian guy, and one of the best respiratory therapists we have seen. On the night of my unraveling, he had had a bad day, too.  He told us that he had just come from another hospital where a young man had refused a treatment and then almost died. Jason was determined to keep that from happening to Kevin.  Kevin and I explained that we had been at the end of our collective rope with endless treatments and interruptions, some of them even counterproductive, and that Kevin needed to feel that someone was listening.
So we made amends, and our family came to regard Jason in later days as a true advocate. God is good, even when we’re not.

DO NOT FEAR

             On August 4th, a third bronch was scheduled. I was back in the waiting room, my stomach churned into its usual tight knots. It seemed that we were at some crossroads, because Kevin just had to get better, or he was not going to be able to survive like this. I opened my Bible and turned randomly to Exodus, thinking to read about deliverance, since we needed it so much.  I started reading about Moses at the Red Sea, at the parting of the waters.  In Exodus 14:13, I was shocked to read the words: “Stand by and see the salvation of the LORD…”  I had totally forgotten about those words from the vision God had given me that day at church. That was the command in the vision. Hope began to lift its weary head. I grabbed onto it with both hands and dug in my heels.
That same morning, we received a call from a prayer group in Canada. “Listen, we have been praying about Kevin’s pneumonia, and God has spoken to us about Moses and the Red Sea.  God is going to ‘part the waters’ and clear his lungs.” The group felt that whoever was in the room should put their hands over Kevin’s lungs and pray, and that God was going to take away his infection.
We were pretty amazed to have received the same Scripture given to us in the same morning from across the border, and immediately did as we were instructed. Kevin soon began to perk up, regaining ground so quickly that the bronch was cancelled. Once again, our hopes began to rebound with Kevin. Amazingly, it would be the last time that Kevin would struggle with pneumonia.



When God Does the Impossible by Pam Thorson

The things which are impossible with men are possible with God. -Luke 18:27 (NKJV)

It was a glorious July afternoon in 1997. We enjoyed a delicious brunch with new friends and arrived back home to spend the day outside. I couldn’t wait to do some gardening. I was looking forward to seeing our son Kevin again, due back the next day from a church youth ministry trip to Canada. I’d had 
misgivings about this trip, even though he’d made a similar one to Mexico.

I was edging the lawn out by the columbines when someone called me to the phone. The voice at the other end was our pastor’s wife. She sounded excited.

“Pam,” she ordered, “you need to sit down.” Her next words were: “Kevin has been in an accident.”

There was much more she said, but my mind reeled as if from a blow and I could only comprehend bits of it, horrifying words like “paralyzed,” “ventilator,” “hospital.” 

It was the call every parent dreads. Kevin had fallen while attempting a backflip on a church lawn. He had fractured his vertebra very high and was paralyzed from the neck down. He immediately stopped breathing and was kept alive by CPR until the emergency personnel arrived to take him to the Lethbridge hospital.

He was airlifted to a larger hospital in Calgary, where we arrived after a harrowing twelve-hour drive from Idaho. We found him attached to life support, but conscious. Tubes and wires and machines dominated the tiny room in which he lay.

The doctor told us Kevin’s injury was an impossible one from which to recover. He thought we should pull the plug. We had no intentions of accommodating him. Kevin fought hard and long to live, and after two weeks in hospitals he was discharged to a rehabilitation hospital. There he learned how to live in his new body, and we learned how to care for him.

We didn’t know that the hospital had never discharged someone home with such a devastating injury. I was shocked the day they told us it would be impossible to care for him at home.

That was seventeen years ago.

In the nearly two decades since Kevin’s spinal cord injury, there have been many tears, trials, and struggles. There have also been many victories and days of pure joy.

Not only has Kevin lived at home since his stay at the rehabilitation hospital, he has learned to breathe again, walk with assistance, and run a computer.

He taught himself computer animation and 3D graphics and opened a studio with his brother. He turned his love for Christian music into a website called CMADDICT.com. As the founder and senior editor, Kevin works with recording artists, publicists, record companies, and contributors around the country. 

Every day Kevin serves God with trust and surrender. Every day we do the “impossible,” caring for Kevin’s extensive medical needs. Each day God grants us the strength to walk this incredible journey of faith.

Since that awful day in 1997, we’ve learned that with God, nothing is impossible. He is our powerful advocate and mighty Redeemer. When there appears to be no way forward for Kevin, God clears a path. When it seems impossible for us to care for him, God gives us the strength to walk the daily valley of the shadow. He has opened doors and moved mountains and supplied every provision for victory.

He has even given us a new song of praise to our Deliverer.

Now I can smile when I read those words in Psalm 77:6: I will remember my song in the night. When darkness falls and the journey appears to be hopeless, God makes a path for us as we remember to praise Him. When the praises of a broken people light up the night, God accomplishes the unimaginable.

Is the impossible facing you today? Believe, sing, and trust in a powerful Creator. 

You’re going to be okay.

Pam's Ah-hahs To Tweet:
Meet author Pam Thorson: her son’s disaster taught that it’s really all about God. (Tweet This)

Everyone has a story: Pam Thorson said no to doc over son’s critical injury. (Tweet This)

Pam Thorson: What one mom did when her child had a #SpinalCordInjury. (Tweet This)

Win #BookGiveaway of books by @PamelaThorson to overcome the impossible. (Tweet This)

Author's Bio:
Pam Thorson is a licensed practical nurse, author, speaker, and full-time caregiver. She pioneered in the homeschooling movement from 1982-2006 and authored her first book, Song in the Night, in 2008. Her newest book, Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver (Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas), released March 28. Pam resides in the Pacific Northwest with her family.

Places to connect with Pam: 
Amazon--Song In The Night

Kevin's Christian music website:
CMADDICT.com


20 comments:

  1. Thank you for sharing your story! This gives me courage and hope for our family (my sister-in-law and niece) who's world was rocked 4 years ago beginning with the diagnosis and removal of a brain tumor. Since then there have been new problems and complications. Life is very different than they every dreamed. Like you, we have seen God's hand at work in this situation over and over again. However, after returning from a recent visit, I sense a growing weariness. Your post encourages me to trust and pray! Thank you again. May the Lord continue to bless and sustain you all!

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    1. Cathy, I always appreciate your visits. Thanks for sharing this personal story. I'm sorry for your family's difficulties--sorry to learn of anyone's struggles… and we all go through them. Sometimes, time after time. Sometimes, it seems like it is never-ending. And that's why I'm thankful that despite Pam's ongoing trials she's able to share the reminder that God loves us and keeps us within His heart.

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    2. Pam, I wanted to thank you for these special words below. I love the imagery and the power you've brought to mind.

      "When the praises of a broken people light up the night, God accomplishes the unimaginable."

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    3. Cathy, thanks so much for your comment. It's hard to make it through those seasons of weariness, and I've been there many times. I wrote Out from the Shadows: 31 Devotions for the Weary Caregiver for times like these. My heart goes out to you and your family. May God strengthen and refresh you for the journey. Blessings, Pam

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    4. Elaine, I'm honored to be featured on your beautiful blog. Thanks so much! God has put in my heart to share the comfort we have been given with others who are hurting. Thanks for giving me the opportunity. It's a joy to be here.

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    5. And a true blessing to have you here, Pam

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  2. Thank you for sharing your story, Pam. Like you I've wondered how I would hold up if a disaster struck. I knew that as my mother was getting older and more frail, it was something I would know sooner than later. I learned that God is good and He wraps you in a bubble of peace as you move through the hospital days, and He never leaves you. So thankful Kevin is doing so well!

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    1. Thanks for visiting, Pat. I am so thankful that God puts His arm around us as we have to walk through the any dips or climb seemingly impossible crags in life.

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    2. Patricia, it's so true about God giving us peace in times of trial. It's that "peace that surpasses all comprehension" (Philippians 4:7). Kevin is indeed doing well and makes taking care of him a joy. Thanks so much for the comment. Blessings!

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  3. Caregivers need much encouragement. I can remember when I watched one family member that was burdened by the stress of care giving that I questioned if she was mentally ok. So hard to know how to relieve that burden they are under. This sounds like a book I would have given her.

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    1. Barbara, as always, I appreciate your visit. Bless your caring heart.

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    2. Barbara, thanks for the comment. I, too, would have loved to have had a book like this when I first started caregiving. It's hard for others to know what to do to encourage caregivers. That's why I devoted this book to the wonderful men and women who sacrifice their lives for others. Blessings!

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  4. I would like to win your books--I am too weary, teary, and weak right now to read the except as I feel like all I'd do is cry. My mother in law has lived with us for 30 yrs, so I am not a newbie--but she is soon to be 99 yrs old and has had the worst case of shingles all the docs/nurses have ever seen. We talk about placing her in a nursing home, but are not sure about the timing here... it would be the end of her. But we 3 need something here... God's ways are higher than our ways...

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    1. Patti, though I know Pam may have the best words to say (so please do check back later) I will say that you are a blessing to God and your family. These kind of decisions are not easy, yet I understand how one has to choose an answer that may not be perfect. I will pray for you that you will be at peace between the practical and your heart. God bless.

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    2. Patti, please leave your email address within another comment in case you are a Giveaway winner. Thanks so much.

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    3. Patti, my heart goes out to you. You have been a devoted caregiver for a very long time. No wonder you're weary and teary. You are indeed in a difficult place in your caregiving journey. I will be praying for the three of you as you make your decision. I can only say that there is no shame in either your tears or the acknowledgement of your weariness. You've been an awesome daughter-in-law! It's okay to ask for help, too. We're all just human. We get weary. It's okay to consider your own health and needs in your decision. May God guide you and give you strength. Please email me at thesong2008@live.com and let me know how you are doing. Blessings, Pam

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  5. Thank you, Pam,for opening your heart to my viewers this past week and sharing the story of your son's experiences. Both you and Kevin are an inspiration and I pray that you will be blessed with joy and health.

    Thanks for the Giveaway offer--I know your books will be received well!

    Before the winners are announced, Pam has a gracious offering for Patti--if she should be reading this. Patti, please contact Pam via the email address she's provided in her response to you. She'd love to hear from you.

    The winner's of Pam's book Giveaway are:

    Cathy and Patricia. Congratulations, you two. Pam and I will contact you in private emails.

    For anyone who appreciated Pam's uplifting words on spinal cord injuries, please visit with my next blog guest who is about to be launched.

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  6. Thanks for an inspiring story. What's impossible for man is possible with God.

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    1. Susan, I am glad you had a chance to visit with Pam. She's a true inspiration. Blessings.

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    2. Thanks for the comment, Susan. We all need the reminder from time to time that we serve a powerful God. Blessings!

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