The rest of the story... as Paul Harvey would say. A lot of people would say, so you and your husband built a greenhouse, a lot of people have done that what’s so special about yours?? So, here is the rest of the story. What you don’t know is the miracle that happened before we built the greenhouse.
In September of 2017 my husband, Tim, was diagnosed with end stage liver disease. Not only was this a dismal diagnosis but over the course of eight weeks he was admitted to three different hospitals on five occasions. Once in our hometown of Lynchburg, Virginia and three times in Roanoke, approximately an hour away. Johns Hopkins, our third hospital in Baltimore, Maryland was where we found ourselves in late November.
Here are the details. Late one evening while we were still in Roanoke, Virginia, we had a discussion with Tim’s physician and it was decided because he was not responding to treatment for pneumonia, he need to be transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital. We were immediately loaded into a medical transport vehicle and were on the road for six to seven hours. We arrived in Baltimore around 3am and within a few hours of Tim’s admission he was rushed to the Medical Intensive Care and put on life support. Life Support!!! His body had shut down due to septic shock. Survival rates are not usually good for someone in shock; one second can make the difference between life or death.
I was quickly ushered to a family quiet room. A wonderful nurse came in immediately and assured me she would stay with me only to leave to get updates. During this time, she attended to my needs, getting me something to eat and connecting me with the hospital Chaplin. It wasn’t long before I was allowed to go into Tim’s unit. There were probably ten people around his bed; doctors, nurses, lab, EKG, respiratory techs all working together to keep him alive. The attending doctor told me that she could not say if any of this would save his life but for every hour he lived that was an hour in his favor.
There was one nurse who monitored all of Tim’s medications, eight individual pumps routing eight continuous meds with additional medications “piggybacked” at different times during the day if labs changed. Those labs were done every two hours. She sat at her computer constantly adjusting medications and levels on the machines. She was not only a brilliant nurse in her field but also very compassionate and aware of the intensity of the situation and my need to be kept in the know. She constantly updated me on the changes in medication occurring every fifteen to thirty minutes.
During the first hour after being put on life support all of the alarms went off and the attending medical personnel rushed in and made changes to all the machines and IV’s. They stood by with the crash cart anticipating the need for CPR which happened three times within the first hour and a half after being admitted to the MICU.
For the next two and a half weeks Tim lay quietly in bed attached to numerous machines and multiple IV’s for medication in a medically induced coma. Slowly, they removed some of the medications until one morning the attending doctor told me “it’s time for Tim to wake up”. She told me that they were going to discontinue the medication that kept him in the medically induced coma and that everyone would begin to talk to him and make requests of him. Each morning his medical team would meet outside his unit and discuss his current condition and lay out a treatment plan for the day. I was fortunate to be included in these discussions. We were to include Tim in all of the conversations that took place in the room even though he did not participate. One morning we noticed while we were talking his eyes slowly began to open and he focused on the ones standing around. Words cannot tell how I felt. He was back! Everyone was ecstatic. Everyone rushed in. What an answer to prayer.
The next few days were still critical because Tim needed to maintain stable labs, blood pressure and no additional infections and as the days went by, Tim made great progress. Then came the day that they took intubation tubes out. He would be disconnected from the machine that helped him breath and keep him alive, but he was successful with this procedure. Each day brought new challenges but also new accomplishments. The morning came when the team met and commented, “Today we are discharging Tim from MICU to a regular floor.” We were so excited and apprehensive at the same time. No more one on one, we would be down the hall away from being close to the nurse’s station.
Tim was admitted later that morning to a wonderful floor with the same caring compassionate medical personnel. We quickly settled in and became “residents” on the floor for the next two months. We quickly realized that we had an extended family. We not only had a lot of medical discussions, but we laughed and talked about everything. We got to know the nurses and doctors personally sharing stories of family and friends. When the Christmas season came one of the nurses took me with her to her church for their Christmas cantata. Over the next two months Tim worked hard with physical therapy to learn how to walk again and also occupational therapy to be able to function and be able to do the activities of daily living. Being on life support requires tubes to be placed down the throat and when they were removed the doctors realized that the pressure of these tubes had paralyzed his vocal chords. Speech therapy was required for him to regain the ability to talk and to sing.
All of these therapies filled the day and they were challenging. During this time, he still remained on dialysis. But the day came when he was able to discontinue that also. We returned home in January of 2018. Tim continued to go to physical therapy and work on his speech. Slow and steadily progress was made. Each day brought new abilities and a return to the old self. In spite of this, Tim remained weak and sick as he still had the diagnosis of end stage liver disease. He was still in need of a liver transplant. Many patients wait on this list sometimes up to if not more than two years.
On April 26, 2018, eight months after being place on the waiting list, we received the phone call to come to Johns Hopkins for his transplant. WOW...eight months wait!! Another answer to prayer. We quickly gathered our things, called our friend who had volunteered to take us to Baltimore, and hit the road. One month later we returned home again, but this time Tim was much stronger and more determined to get back to living life because of the gift he had been given.
In December of 2018 he set out to build a greenhouse and the rest is history. So, what is so special about the greenhouse? God showed me that when we are at our lowest, He is there. When we don’t understand what is going on, He is there. In the midst of it all, He provided a medical team to attend to the crisis that Tim was experiencing and He provided people to take care of me and my needs. God provided everything every time. And there were lessons every day to teach me that he was there.
Sitting all those days in the hospital room I would have never imagined the outcome of the situation. As weak as we might have been, God was strong. Tim is now healthy, strong and on the move daily. God restored his body and refined his voice. Recently after singing in church one Sunday our Associate pastor said, “I always thought Tim sang good...but now he sings even better!” God gave us a miracle. Isn’t it amazing what God can do?”
Look around, God is trying to show you something....do you see it?
Father, Again, I thank you for showing me a miracle. Thank you for allowing me to watch as the days unfolded, and your presence and power were revealed. Thank you for prayers that were answered and thank you for my wonderful greenhouse that I can dig in the dirt and be close to you. But most of all, thank you for being my Heavenly Father.
Well, the fall season is certainly upon us. The grass is brown and crunchy and frost has made most everything hang their heads in anticipation of winter. But there is a busyness in our greenhouse as we are planting tomatoes, spinach, lettuce, basil and other tender herbs and vegetables. It just amazes me how what I once thought was a down season, now in the greenhouse displays a season full of life and activity.
I am having a blast “digging” in the dirt, planting seeds and anticipating a winter harvest. I have also found that the greenhouse is an excellent place for many types of seeds to be planted and a perfect place to not only talk to God, but to listen to God as I dig. He has certainly used this special place to remind me of his goodness, love, provisions and how my life is fitting into his plan.
Lessons on tending a garden is a lot like tending a life. Both need nourishment, food and water, sunlight and darkness. Darkness was the lesson God brought to my heart and mind most recently through a series of personal events. We need nourishment by digging into God’s word and we require continual sunlight to grow. Often darkness gives us needed time to rest, be still and draw near to God.
I have learned when we walk through those dark times God is with us and even though we may not realize it we are growing spiritually. This lesson was visually taught to me when a poinsettia I tended through the year gradually began to show signs of red leaves. After being stored and receiving the right amount of time in the darkness, the leaves began to show a bit of red. Had not had this plant spent time in the darkness the leaves would have remained green and it would not have reached its full potential. Because of this valuable lesson, my lovely Poinsettia will be a part of our Christmas
holiday decorations and serve as a reminder that we can bloom even after a period of
Father, thank you for the lessons that I have learned in my greenhouse. Thank you for
showing me that you walked with me in the darkness and now I can reach my full potential in
your plan for my life. Please continue to teach me lessons and guide me through each day as I
not only plant and harvest in my greenhouse, but as I plant and harvest for you each day. Amen
Written by Sue Wright Coleman
It’s amazing what a girl can do with a little dirt and sunshine. As you might remember, if you read the first devotional on my greenhouse that my husband built, I am loving digging in the dirt. Well, it is now Fall and the outside vegetable and flower gardens are putting out their last efforts to perform..sadly.
With “growing season” being mostly Spring and Summer I wondered what the greenhouse days might hold as the season wound down. As I stood in the greenhouse and looked around, being a Spring/Summer kind of girl, I found myself a little down. I would be needing to clean up the gardens, cut back or pull up the plants and ready them for a long winter’s nap. But, there in all it’s might was a cucumber plant that my husband had planted late in the summer. It was in full bloom and baby cucumbers were appearing along the vines. So, I was on top of the world again. There you go again, God! He was showing me something I needed to see. We all go through seasons of life, like I spoke of before, all pretty with blooms producing a lot of fruit and looking our best. But then a later season comes along, one in which we feel as though we got a late start to begin showing our fruit. Although we might feel discouraged, God has something else in the works just like this cucumber planted late in the season. This vegetable will perform and provide a delicious addition to our dinner table.
Again, Father thank you for showing me that there is always time in any season to be a productive child of yours. Amen
A childhood friend of mine, Sue Wright Coleman, has always loved "digging in the dirt." It has been a favorite hobby, passion and pastime as long as I can remember. Over the past year, Sue's husband, Tim, was taking a walk in their neighborhood and found a pile of windows being discarded in the trash. He promptly walked up to the door and asked if he might haul them away for the owner. Suddenly Sue and Tim found themselves the proud owners of numerous old windows in various shapes and sizes. Since Sue has always desired a greenhouse of her own, Tim set about planning out how to implement these windows into a fully functioning greenhouse. Their story is amazing and it's complete with pictures. In fact, the picture introducing the link is one of the final product.
During this month under the link "The Greenhouse" we hope you enjoy reading about their love for gardening to build a homemade greenhouse.
Look! God is showing you something. Do you see it?
by Sue Wright Coleman
It’s amazing that we go through our days and never really see what’s out there. In recent months I watched as my husband, Tim, took old, dirty and abandoned windows and turned them into a beautiful growing space, I call my greenhouse. As with any project, some down and dirty work had to be carried out first. This venture began in the cold and wet temperatures of winter. As Tim dug footings and poured concrete to form a firm, sturdy and durable foundation, our boots would become so tightly stuck in the mud we almost stepped out of them! Next came the cinderblock which were placed precisely so they would withstand the weight they would be expected to bear. Of course, being winter some days were so cold only a few hours were put in on the project.
Then the dirty old abandoned windows were placed out in the yard, measured and rearranged several times before being assembled in their exact place. With a lot of hammering, sawing, twisting and turning, I began to see a glimpse of the final result. Finally, a roof, water collection barrels and irrigation system were put in place; each having a contribution to the entirety of the greenhouse. A roof provides shelter while the water and irrigation provides life to thirsty plants. At last, I began to dig in the dirt and plant seed. We watched as they spouted, gained strength and were transplanted into the outside garden. Needless to say, we have certainly enjoyed the “fruits of our labor”.
Seeing the whole project come together reminded me of how God takes us and turn us into a person who can provide the same things as my greenhouse. It can be slow progress and sometimes we get stuck in the mud and the going is slow, but God can take our old nature, dirty with sin, and cleanse us so his light shines through us. Turning our lives over to the Lord provides an environment where people can grow and produce seeds just like the flowers and vegetables growing in my greenhouse. So, watch out! Look! God is showing you something every day. Do you see it??
Thank you God for giving me this life experience with my husband and teaching me to look out and to be aware that you are showing me something I need to see. Amen
Please tune in beginning this Sunday for the continuing story of "The Greenhouse". This is an amazing testimony of a childhood friend which is not only fascinating, but true. We will be posting pictures along with each entry on Sundays throughout the month of November.
As you count your blessings, or possibly tune into mine on the website, please click on this link and be blessed with this wonderful story of faith.
God works in mysterious ways...
Have a great week!