As a result of our trip to Italy, my back was beyond "out". It was debilitating. I could only sit at a computer for about two to three minutes before the pain made me stop. The first couple weeks I tried everything, and it only got nominally better. Over the next several weeks I had many visits to the chiropractor, massage therapy, heatpads, icepacks, bedrest, etc...... By early December it was doing better, but still major pain. A good friend told me about a doctor they had used in the past that thought out of the box and might be able to help. I made an appointment and found out a week before Christmas that I have flat feet. I have probably had them for some time. That's maybe why my back would flare up from time to time, especially depending how much I was putting my back through. That doctor sent me to a foot doctor who makes his own insoles. I've had them about two months now, and I can truly say that my back keeps continuing to do better. The pain is not totally gone, but I am taking far less pain meds than before and not wondering if the pain will ever stop. I am able to do things that I haven't in awhile. The past two weeks at church I could lean forward and pray during communion. In the past year, I could only do that about twice, maybe only once. Two weeks in a row is amazing! So hopefully, it will continue to get better over time.
In December, our container arrived from Italy. It was mainly filled with our things (books, resources, CD/DVDs, video equipment, computer equipment, clothes, some furniture, etc... The Casey family who we ministered alongside in Ancona, Italy for years also put some things in the container too. They finished up their part of the ministry in Ancona in January and headed back to the states too. My office stuff, bookshelves, books, art desk, etc.... is sitting in storage waiting for a new office area that is being renovated at Highland Park CC in Tulsa. They have, with support and love, given me a space to use for an office when I'm not working from home or in bookstore cafes. Now, it's just a Sunday School room, but soon it will be in the 2:20 Center positioned in a house behind the main building. The 2:20 Center is a fairly new space that was formerly the home of a deaf ministry school, Happy Hands. They were able to expand and grow into a major new property and that left this house to have new uses. The church leadership prayed and decided to use it for various ministries, such as a counseling office and donation center. Up on the third floor I will have a corner office in what will also serve as the High School Sunday School room. All that's needed are some funds for carpeting and a new paintjob and I can move my office stuff in.
Towards the end of January, three people in our house got the flu, Angie and our nephews, Jacob and Kohl. This also happened at the same time as a record blizzard in the state of Oklahoma, so we didn't have nursing for most of the week. I ended up playing nursemaid to three sickos and doing much of Kevin's round the clock care. I was fortunate to have our nephew Brandon's help since he was out of school for the snow. At the end of that week, the fevers were gone, nurses were able to get back to the house and I was seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. I had no idea what was going to happen next.
That Saturday night, my brother, Kevin starting having a coughing spell that ended up lasting seven or eight hours. Around hour six or seven we had to call an ambulance because nothing we tried got him to stop and his heart rate kept increasing and he just seemed to be in distress. We ended up finding out that Kevin had a severe pneumonia. It made an infection run through his body and he ended up being in ICU for about 9 days. Kevin did a great job of getting over it with the help of antibiotics and great care. We brought him home almost two weeks after he went there and we once more thought things were settling down.
Two days after bringing Kevin home, the lights started flickering and going off. After flipping the breaker switch once to turn them back on, I noticed the second time that something else seemed to be going on. There were all kinds of sparks and sizzles coming from the breaker box. I asked someone to get me the fire extinguisher and someone else to open the window. They brought the extinguisher back quick. Good thing too, since shortly after the breaker box burst into flames. I sprayed it down, but it kept sizzling. I sprayed it again and the sizzling continued inside the box. I left Kohl watching it with the extinguisher and I ran to get my tools. I needed to open up the panel so I could spray inside, the extinguisher wasn't getting in. I got it opened up and sprayed it a couple more times. It kept sizzling a little, so I had the family call 911. By the time the firemen got there, I had run out of extinguisher and the sizzling was almost done. We called some friends and family and moved Kevin (and us) with all his medical equipment over to my brother Greg's house. The power remained off all last week until Friday and now we are waiting on a restoration company to clean it back up. It is really only smoke and odor damage.
In about a week we hope to move back in, but we'll see and try to have patience. In the meantime, I completed a ten page sample packet for the new Team Expansion JUMP VBS curriculum. This packet lets churches see if they want to use this resource this summer. If you are interested, please let me know!