Everything’s normal once again. Nothing will ever be normal again.

I have begun this posting several times in recent weeks, but have never written so much as a single sentence.  It seems unbelievable to me that at one moment I can be an eyeblink from death… and now, a couple of months removed, everything seems so normal.  No, I haven’t yet returned to full time ministry.  No, I cannot yet drive myself anywhere in case there are some of you who forgot this most troubling bit of information.  I continue to work hard at rehab 9 hours/ week.  Speech, occupational (they work with the upper body primarily) and physical therapy (mainly concerned with the lower body) keep me busy. 

I am exhausted after each session but I am getting stronger every day. After 50 some days of rehab I reckon I am at roughly 50% of my pre-surgery movement.  Now this is not overall  strength, for I just recently advanced beyond “air curls” to 3 pound weights with my right side.  But this certainly beats 0%!   Today I asked Benjamin, my 15 year old son, if I could punch him in the stomach with all of my strength.  He agreed.  Let’s just say that he should be safe for many more weeks.

And then there are the daily frustrations that decrease a little bit every day.  I am now 100% independent as far as the daily tasks of life are concerned in case there are some of you who were wondering.

Karla and I have spent many hours going over exactly what has happened over the past several months…usually at nightime just before going to bed.  The more we talk the more I appreciate just being alive…and the more I appreciate what Karla had to endure.  I “missed” much more than I thought I had missed.   And the amnesia inducing drug I was given for the open heart surgery (that I was not given for the brain surgery) well, let me just say thanks to all the physicians and others who invent such things.   

Although Karla says “…just doing what I promised you 22 years ago…”, my love and appreciation for her has grown exponentially.  And my love for God, and His personal care for me has also increased.  I don’t mean to make Karla out to be crass, but when a person takes a vow, it is for keeps…and there will be times of “sickness.”  I have no idea how a person with no faith in God, who is rightly identified as “the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,” could make it through the kind of trial we recently endured.

Now, as far as processing all of the events of the past few months.  Some of you have confided in me that you too are having difficulty processing these things as well.  The church that I shepherd nearly lost this undershepherd.  My friends, I encourage you to begin processing these things for yourselves by taking a good hard look at  Romans 8:28-29 once again: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose.  For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…”  All things for good.  It’s what the verse clearly says.  Even so, I feel like we’re all, especially Karla and me, experiencing some of the symptoms of post traumatic stress syndrome!

Everything is so normal once again, yet nothing will ever be normal again.


10 thoughts on “Everything’s normal once again. Nothing will ever be normal again.”

  1. What exactly is normal? Isn’t it just what we make it seem to be? What one person thinks is normal, especially behaviorly, may seem totally not normal to someone else. I suppose normal is how we remember things to be before some tragedy strikes. I know/we know. I have been involved in so many not normal events the past two years myself. You will be fine. You will be normal again. God will see to that.

    You two are an amazing couple, and I am sure you have been told that before. Your faith in God is great and it overflows into your congregation.

    Not wanting to sound redundant, but we all are so glad that you are back home and doing so well. You have the desire and the motivation you need to keep getting better and better!

    We are proud to know you, John and Janet


  2. Back to normal: “Today I asked Benjamin, my 15 year old son, if I could punch him in the stomach with all of my strength. He agreed.” This cracks me up!

    This bears repeating: “Romans 8:28-29 once again: “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son…” All things for good. It’s what the verse clearly says.” And God has gone before us to show us it is true by way of the empty tomb.




  3. I praise the Lord for the remarkable recovery you have made! It is truely amazing has God has created the mind and body to be able to “rewire” itself and relearn how to complete tasks again!

    Witnessing you jouney has really helped me grow more spiritually. Before your surgery, I had this grand image in my mind of your recovery. You would walk in, have surgery and because of the countless prayers put forth on your behalf, come out of the hospital, practically doing cartwheels. All the while the doctors would be amazed at your progress and all would praise God seeing what he did in your life 🙂 I admit I’m a bit of an optimist!

    Well things didn’t quite go the way I had imagined and I was forced to rexamine my theology of “..all things work together for good for those who love the Lord”

    I learned God’s ways ARE higher than our ways. Also, being a Christian doesn’t make our trials any easier, in the physical way that is. BUT knowing God and his goodness and his sovernity helps us to take comfort even in the most hopeless of situations.

    In the end all things worked out and thankfully has continued to restore you, but even if that wouldn’t have been the case, I would have still praised him for the amazing testimony you have given all along your journey!

    God is good!


  4. My experience is that when we have a tragic event in our lives, it takes quite a bit of time to process it. We need to talk about it, maybe tell the story over and over if we’re “talkers.” We may become quieter, needing time to process it, if we’re “thinkers.” After Katie got hurt and I thought I was well over it, for some reason I fell apart on the one-year anniversary of her accident thinking of what that year might have been had she died. But life continues, and God does new and wondrous things in our lives for us to think and talk about. Gradually, the trauma fades to become just a small part of the fabric of our lives, one of the many things that shape us and build our compassion and empathy for others. And, it becomes one of the many experiences we are grateful for (perhaps not always, every-minute grateful for, and that’s ok too) because they brought us closer to being the people He created us to be. God’s blessings on you as you work through this season of life.


  5. I went through a similar situation last year. Mine was not as severe as yours, but I was near death and my precious baby died. Our precious Savior is gracious and always near. All for good…that is a good reminder. You don’t know me, but I know your sister. I have been following your story from the beginning.


  6. Hi, Mike (& Karla!);
    Just last week, after Terry’s return home from the hospital, we were talking about how just a ‘relatively’ minor issue with five days in the hospital followed by three weeks of 3 x a day IVs was disrupting our world and that we were looking forward to getting back to ‘normal.’ Then we went on to talk about ‘what is normal’ and how long does it take to get there. You came up in our conversation and we talked about how -when it is a long period of processing – that there must become a period of ‘new normal’ which, we decided, is where a person lives until suddenly a long time later they realize that they are doing and thinking things that they did before the ‘life-changing event’ occurred and they realize that they are closer to that previous state of normal. (We were talking about more practical, everyday things. The deep spiritual truths we hope to be the ‘permanent new normal.’) That was our hypothesis. You will have to tell us ‘down the road’ if that’s true.

    Thanks for letting me ramble . . . it’s sort of late and maybe doesn’t make sense to you . . . At any rate, we continue to consider it a privilege to pray for you and the family!!
    Karol (for Terry, too!)


  7. Dear Mike and Karla,
    All things work together for good. It is remarkable what is inside of those simple words ‘all things’ isn’t it? You would think that minus the catastrophic sorts of things that the two of you have been through people like myself by hearing your story and watching it from a safe distance might more easily count our blessings and move through our ‘catastrophe free’ daily challenges with relative ease; but it is not so for some reason.

    I will pray for your physical therapy regimen that you would persevere with discipline and be blessed with progress.

    Just think, some day you will have a resurrected body — this will be a ‘therapy free’ body that runs like the wind and who knows what else — someday — but not yet. However, ‘now you are a child of God already…’ (1 John 3)

    We are from God little children… (I John 4)

    What a thought. May the grace continue to be with you both.



  8. What a wonderful God we have. Praise him for his wonderous works. Pastor Mike, our prayers continue for your complete recovery, our joy is over whelming for you and your family. God bless!


  9. Thanks Mike for all your updates. I’ve enjoyed every one of them. This last one was particularly encouraging. Thanks for sharing your heart.

    It is truly amazing how God’s power has been demonstrated in your life, not only because of the medical miracles, but in how God led you and Karla together so many years ago. It goes without saying, in fact it sounds kind of trite, to say, He sure knows what He’s doing.
    Much love.,


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