SO THAT YOU MAY LIVE A LIFE WORTHY OF THE LORD AND PLEASE HIM IN EVERY WAY: BEARING FRUIT IN EVERY GOOD WORK, GROWING IN THE KNOWLEDGE OF GOD, BEING STRENGTHENED WITH ALL POWER ACCORDING TO HIS GLORIOUS MIGHT SO THAT YOU MAY HAVE GREAT ENDURANCE AND PATIENCE, AND GIVING JOYFUL THANKS TO THE FATHER, WHO HAS QUALIFIED YOU TO SHARE IN THE INHERITANCE OF HIS HOLY PEOPLE IN THE KINGDOM OF LIGHT.
“Endurance and patience”………. certainly are 2 perfect words to describe 46 year old Jeff and his wife Stacy’s journey these past several weeks.
Jeff and Stacy have been married for 7 years and live in Georgia. He has 3 daughters, 27, 25 and 16 years old. Stacy has a son and daughter. They also have 3 grandchildren. Jeff works in the liquor distribution business for the racing circuit and travels when necessary.
Just 4 years ago he was diagnosed with ALS better known as “Lou Gehrig’s” disease. This is an incurable progressive neurodegenerative disease that affects the nerve cells in the brain and spinal cord. In July he and Stacy went to Mexico for treatment and during this time his condition worsened and they returned to San Diego.
We were contacted around the end of July about transporting him back to Georgia. We initially planned on transporting him on 8/17 and with everything in place we hit a roadblock at the last minute.
Extremely frustrated and disappointed Jeff’s depression was beginning to increase. Stacy, never leaving his bedside, continued to do everything she could to get him home.
She and I stayed in close contact as I did my best to encourage her to not give up hope. “Everything is God’s timing and it is perfect” I reminded her and she agreed. We set a new date of 9/4 to work towards.
As that date drew closer things began to look dim and we were not sure if it would now work out. Once again at the “final hour” and after many prayers from across the country God in His true faithfulness revealed that 9/4 would indeed be the date.
We arrive in the early morning to Jeff’s bedside. His corner room is small and dim, if there was a window I did not notice it. I can clearly see why this would cause depression.
Anxious to finally meet Stacy with whom I had been communicating with for so long we immediately embraced as though we had known one another for years. She has an encouraging smile and a great laugh.
One of those fresh faces that just glows and requires no make-up at all. It is evident that Jeff is quite nervous. He has a tracheostomy and is on a ventilator to help him breath. He does not speak audibly but uses his cell phone to type out what he wants to say. Stacy jokingly says, “he is not as grumpy as he appears.” He is wearing a ball cap and glasses. I told him, “I too would be nervous if a bunch of strangers showed up to put me on a plane.”
We get him secured onto our cot and equipment as Stacy reassures him that everything will be alright. She too is heading to the airport and will actually land just prior to us. Hal is waiting as we arrive at the airport and prays over a still very nervous Jeff.
Just prior to take-off I text Stacy to let her know we are on board and ready. She sends a quick message to please tell Jeff how much she loves him and I pass it on to him. Although our flight is long Jeff did begin to finally relax a little. Chris and I did our best to keep him
rested some and looked out his window. He and I also chatted quite a bit typing back and forth on his phone. He showed me pictures of his children and grandchildren who were of course adorable. He asked what I knew about the place he was going.
I told him they sounded very friendly and excited to have him. He really wants to go home. As the radio played into our headsets (country music…..Jeff’s choice) an unfamiliar song by Garth Brooks played.
He wrote the song about his parents specifically about his father after the loss of his mother. His father had left everything exactly the way it was after she passed and it stayed like that until he finally passed several years later, down to the exact place she had left her tube of lipstick.
I closed my eyes as I listened to the words during the song, mainly to avoid crying. As soon as it was over Jeff handed me his phone and he had typed………”that is why I continue to fight, because my wife loves me so much.” It was so sweet. I simply typed back……”it is obvious to me the love you have for one another, don’t give up, keep fighting.”
As the darkness of the sky creeps while we travel from the west to the east and through a few time zones our journey is finally coming to an end. At last we have arrived in Albany, Georgia and I once again send a message to Stacy.
She has landed in Atlanta and is now on her way driving the 3 hours from Atlanta to the facility where Jeff will be. I told him Stacy should be there about 45 minutes after he arrives. I prayed for him, thanking God for safe travels for us and Stacy as she drives. Unfortunately I did not get to see Stacy again.
I did however receive a text from Stacy the very next day with these exact words, “I hope you guys had a great flight back. We absolutely LOVE the facility Jeff is in. God has blessed us beyond belief !!! Thank you so much !!!”
That was exactly what I myself had been praying for for Jeff….God is faithful ! Home at last !!!
Thank you to Hal and Chris for sharing this mission with me.
Shelli Engle RN