Day 17 – And He Shall Give His Angels Charge…Over Caleb

Caleb's Dad ~ 27th November 2010

Today I think I will bring up a very important passage of scripture which has meant so much to us over the last two months.  Psalm 91 has become an integral part of the faith journey of our family.  There is a whole lot more to this story  I can’t get into right now—a whole back story that could take pages to tell about all the things we saw God do before our trip to Fall Creek Falls which prepared and led up to that fateful day. Perhaps we will tell that story one day. So with that said, I will skip over a lot to tell you about Psalm 91.

On the night of the accident when we finally left ICU to go to a temporary sleep room and get a little rest, I remember crying and sobbing and pleading with God over my son. I opened up my Bible and pleaded with God to speak to me and to give me some understanding, some wisdom about everything that we were experiencing. I plopped the Bible on the bed as tears rained upon its pages, hoping the first text I glanced at would be the text  God would use to make everything make sense, to make it all better. The text opened to Psalm 91.

The text didn’t speak to me that night, no doubt because I was too clouded by all the emotions—the anger, the pain, the hurt, the fear, the sadness…all consumed me that night. The very next day we were given a room at the Ronald McDonald House and as I entered into the restroom, there as you walk into the foyer, underneath the sink was a little aged looking plaque that bore these words…”And He shall give his angels charge over you.”—Psalm 91:11.  I still didn’t put two and two together. I still missed the things God was trying to tell us.

A day or so later we received a visit from Camille, a young Christian woman who both, her brother and father, had experienced traumatic brain injury.  She had come to give us support, help, prayer, and strength in time of need. She gave us a poster board filled with handwritten scriptures—all passages that had encouraged her and been a great help during the time that she struggled through the ordeal with her family. Right in the middle of the poster board written in such a way as made it a center piece to the whole work of art…was Psalm 91.

On numerous occasions when we first started Caleb’s Facebook page there were people who would send us passages of scriptures to encourage us.  One that kept coming up was Psalm 91. Tiffany’s mother, when she first learned of the accident when Tiffany called her screaming and crying, immediately began praying and praying scriptures to intercede for Caleb’s life.  The passage of scripture was Psalm 91.

Whether it was on Facebook, cards, text messages, numbers that by chance showed up all over the place, etc. Psalm 91 has been the centerpiece word from God ever since day one when we began this journey.  As I stated at the beginning there is so much more to talk about.

But I bring this up because I often think about all the Spiritual aspects of this journey, and believe me this whole process has been all about a Spiritual journey.

So as you read this passage of scripture and read about God’s protection over one’s tent, protection against a foot being dashed on a stone, being carried up on high to safety, and living a long life and seeing God’s salvation, perhaps you will be just as impacted and awed as we were when we came to realize just how much God was reminding us of these words as we were about to enter into the darkest time of our lives. I will post Caleb’s update after the scripture…

Psalm 91 – 1 He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High will rest in the shadow of the Almighty. 2 I will say of the LORD, “He is my refuge and my fortress, my God, in whom I trust.” 3 Surely he will save you from the fowler’s snare and from the deadly pestilence. 4 He will cover you with his feathers, and under his wings you will find refuge; his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart. 5 You will not fear the terror of night, nor the arrow that flies by day, 6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness, nor the plague that destroys at midday. 7 A thousand may fall at your side, ten thousand at your right hand, but it will not come near you. 8 You will only observe with your eyes and see the punishment of the wicked. 9 If you make the Most High your dwelling– even the LORD, who is my refuge– 10 then no harm will befall you, no disaster will come near your tent. 11 For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; 12 they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. 13 You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent. 14 “Because he loves me,” says the LORD, “I will rescue him; I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name. 15 He will call upon me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him. 16 With long life will I satisfy him and show him my salvation.”

This morning Caleb had a chance to practice an art that he has not had the privilege to practice in over two months—coloring! As mommy took him into his morning music session, the main therapist had been sick and was out for the day.  Tiffany volunteered to step in and sing some songs with the kids and along with singing they also broke out the paper and crayons and went to town doing a little artwork.  Tiffany was curious as to what Caleb would even do with a crayon, if he would even remember what to do with it.

So when it came to coloring pictures, Tiffany gave Caleb the crayon, firmly fixating it in his hand. She guided his hand at first making long and circular, colorful strokes over the surface of the paper. Caleb was instantly amused and as you could tell from the look on his face didn’t miss a beat as to what he was doing.

Tiffany felt the gentle push of a hand eager to take over and as she moved her hand away, off he went, coloring wildly across the page.  Soon the excitement of the activity caused Caleb to throw technique out the window as he, with a very large smile, began to jab the crayon up and down, making numerous large dots across the page.  It was his first colored picture since the accident, and I will tell you this, no amount of money would ever be enough to make us part with this picture.  It is worth far more to us than any Van Gogh or  Renoir out there!

In OT the focus today was on walking.  As we get further and further into therapy, the focus of OT has become more about teaching Caleb how to walk again.  Most of his OT now is centered on this task. Today was much the same.  The therapist had Tiffany get in front of Caleb, with her holding his arms closely in front of him, and the therapist sat on a knee high swivel chair behind him , holding him by his hips, helping him with his balance as he practiced bearing his weight from foot to foot.

The idea behind the therapy is to help you learn to stand first, then bear your weight and make the movements of walking, then with progressively less assistance, coach the patient to take on more of their weight and more responsibility of balancing oneself, to the point  they learn to walk with a walker, and  ultimately walk again on their own. Caleb is currently in the phase where the therapist is holding his hips, aiding him in weight bearing, and helping him to properly shift his weight and maintain balance.

Caleb’s walking overall has improved dramatically over the last few days.  At first when the therapists were just starting to get him up on his feet and get him moving, he was able to remember how to put one foot in front of the other.  The problem was what they called “scissoring.” In other words when he took a step, he would cross one foot over the other making it very hard to make the next movement in walking.  He was much worse with his right leg with this than his left.

Now, however, when the therapist, his Mom and I  practice walking with him, he barely scissors at all—all an indication that his overall muscle tone has improvement and his strength has increased dramatically. His coordination and balance has improved also, allowing the therapist to hold him at the hips with much less fear of him toppling over face first.

After break, after Caleb had ate a good lunch and had a good nap, the scene was reminiscent of that now stereotypical scene from the movie Rocky.  You know the one I am talking about?  The one where the Rocky theme is playing in the background and Rocky gets to the top of the stairs, and then once at the top he throws his hands up in the air in victorious accomplishment.  We had a similar experience in today’s afternoon PT.

The therapist asked me if Caleb had done any work on the steps.  I told her that yes he had once, but it didn’t turn out so well.  I was referring to about a week prior when the therapist had tried to see if Caleb would go up a small set of steps in the gym area—a movable platform about 3 feet high that had about 3 steps on it.

I remember when Caleb first attempted steps, it was very scary to him.  We surmised that it was probably due to his inability to see and not really know what was in front of him. He took one step and then started sobbing.  We didn’t work on steps any more after that, deciding rather to focus on other avenues of rehab and come to that one later.

Well today was the day to revisit the steps.  We walked down the hallway past the therapy rooms and the therapist swiped her badge across the magnetic locking device on the wall.  The door clicked and the lock released as she pushed the door open with her hand.  We were about to do this therapy in the stair well of the hospital.  It was the real deal!!!

As we approached the long flight of stairs in front of us leading to the fourth floor, the therapist told me that she is not necessarily expecting Caleb to go up all the stairs, and in fact she is not so much concerned that he goes up but a few.  She just wanted to see if he understood the concept and see if he would be willing to go up a couple.  So she positioned Caleb in front of the first step.  I climbed up about 10 or so stairs to get in front of him and encourage him up to me. She said, “Caleb, honey, you are in front of some stairs now.  Let’s go upstairs and see daddy.” I seconded her admonition and joined in with my own praise and encouragement.

Caleb slowly lifted his foot up and firmly planted it on the first step.  “Yes!” I said in my mind as he then began to push up with his right foot.  As the therapist was aiding him from behind he shifted his weight perfectly to his right leg, and then lifted his left leg off the ground.  In a single instant he completed the motion by bring that left leg to rest squarely next to the right.  He had accomplished the first step.  And the big news?  This time he did not have a face about to explode with tears.  This time he had a face that exploded into excitement.

He liked it.  He loved the fact that he could do it, and he liked being on the stairs. So with that initial success behind him and with him still feeling the pride swelling from all the encouragement we gave him, he took his next step with even more grace and speed. Over and over, sometimes alternating legs, sometimes using the same leg, he made his way all the way to the top of the whole flight of stairs!

When he arrived at the top, I grabbed him and swung him into my arms kissing him all over his face. “You did it little buddy!  You did it!  I am so proud of you.  Look at what you did!  You made it.  Yay!!!!” When I put him down he continues the jubilation with his own vocalized version of “Yaaaaaaaaay!” He also clapped proudly of himself—something else we were excited to see.  One of the things that the therapists want to see him do is clap his hands entirely on his own.  And here he was doing it like crazy!

But wait!!!  The news doesn’t end here!!! Once we got to the top and celebrated for a moment, he himself turned around and faced the stairs wanting to go back down.  And when he turned around and looked at the first step, he spoke!

He said, “Down!” The therapist said, “did he just say ‘down?’’ “I think so…” I said. We started coming back down the stairs again a couple of times he said, “Down!” and he was clapping and getting excited.  “He is saying down!” we both exclaimed.

Getting down to the bottom was a little harder than going up, as the therapist expected.  As she said, “It is always harder for kids to learn how to go down especially if their sight is off because just the feeling of stepping out when you are not sure where the step is, is really scary.” But overall, he did excellent, as well as exceed what the therapist expected him to do. And we had another little surprise out of Caleb when we got to the bottom.

As he stepped off the last step he again, got excited and proud of himself, and in his excitement, he playfully sat down on the bottom step, and as he did he said, “Down!” Immediately I got it! One of the little games we always played with our kids, especially when they were very young was we would sit them on something, like a bottom step or something low lying to the floor, and then have them practicing standing and sitting as we would hold their hands, saying “Uuuuuuuup,” and “Doooooown” as they would move their body up and down. It was a way to strengthen their legs as well as a way to teach them some words.  They always loved it and counted it as one of their favorite little games.  This was exactly what Caleb was doing.

The therapist took him by the hands and immediately he pushed with his feet and stood upright and said “Uuuuuuuh,” “I think he said ‘up,’’ the therapist said.  I agreed. He then plopped down on the step and said even more excitedly, “Doooooooown!!!!” He was playing the game alright.  And he repeated the movements and words about four times in a row! I loved today’s OT…simply loved it!

If the OT session was any indicator, it was clear. Caleb is coming more and more out of his “shell” so to speak and starting to act more and more like  normal playful two year old.  Some other notable things which stood out about tonight would include things like earlier when out of nowhere he started blowing spit bubbles.

We were in the room and all of a sudden we hear this very wet spitting sound.  We turn around and there Caleb is – making all kinds of funny noises with his mouth, and he was having a great time doing it!

Also, during play time tonight, as we were playing with Caleb and he was joining in playing with his brothers,  he picked up the little light toy we have been using to help him learn how to track with his eyes and attend to his left side, and after being shown once how to find the button and push it himself, he started doing it on his own.  And now ever since that time, if we give him the light stick, he automatically knows how to find the button and push it.

All these, to me, are signs that he is well on his way on the road to recovery.  When I was playing with him earlier, right when we had gotten back into our room from therapy, he was pushing with his feet so hard in the wheelchair he was practically standing up in his seat.  If he had not been wearing a seatbelt, I am convinced that he would have stood up nearly all the way! Also as I was playing with him in my chair as he was about to go to bed, I could barely control him!

He was so excited and so much wanting to play, that he was pulling really hard with his arms trying to thrust himself about playfully in my lap.  There were times it actually took some strength to keep him from falling out of my lap. Earlier, he tried to stand up in his high chair, and more than once he has tried to get down out of my lap, thinking that he could actually get down and go off somewhere to play. That is how strong he has become!

As we come to the close of another day.  Caleb is resting now with mommy in bed.  She is reading him books and he is helping her turn the pages of the book, again something that he is getting real good at doing.

So I sit in the quiet of my chair thinking about everything.  I still feel the pain of yet again, saying goodbye to our children, as they left and made their way back to Nashville. I don’t think I have it in me to describe that one tonight, not without tears. So again…I sit here…all my thoughts, memories, emotions, impressions, and experiences swirl about me and in me. The time old question of “Why?” still sparks my curiosity from time to time.  But my increasingly insignificant question quickly gets swept away by the raging river of grace that flows through room 355 here at Scottish Rite Hospital.

My son has taught me and continues to teach me, more than my own study has provided, more than the efforts of my mentors and my teachers in college, and more than all the accumulated life experiences I have had up until this point. God was and is the orchestrator of this process and he has said that he intends to accomplish that which he has started.

So I suppose the old adage is true, “I don’t know what tomorrow holds, but I know who holds tomorrow.” The saying sounded cliché enough until all this happened.  Now I take more seriously the sentiment that God is the one who holds tomorrow.

Don’t get me wrong, that is what I have always believed and that is what I teach. But until you have experienced it…until you KNOW Christ on an intimate level where you have experienced him as your Redeemer, as your Help in the midst of trial, as your Rock in the midst of turmoil, you can never truly rest in the Truth of who holds tomorrow.

You still live in a world where you think you have some kind of control over it all.  You realize when you go through experiences like this, you don’t have any control, whatsoever.  Sure you can plan ahead, taking whatever precaution you like, but the Christian life is one of fluidity, of being amenable and pliable to the moves of God and the directions of his grace.  It is agreeing to disagree with self and to lay one’s life at the awesome feet of the One who created you.

The day before we left for our trip to Fall Creek Falls, I had an extremely nauseating sense within me.  Earlier that morning my father called me at work and asked me if I as ok.  I said yes and then quickly inquired as to why he would make such an uncharacteristic call. He said he didn’t know, but that he woke up that morning with an impending sense of doom—that something had happened or was about to happen.

That thought troubled me all day until later that evening when my wife was about to go to a ladies Tuesday evening Bible study.  She was going to be taking the kids with her that evening as they have a special break out class for the kids.  As they were leaving, my oldest son, Colby gave me a small toy  he had been playing with all day.

He said, “Here dad, this is for you to remember me by.” As I walked back in the house, my heart troubled me.  I know Colby intended what he said to be a loving sentiment to me, but it sounded strange, and not like him. I too, had an impending sense of doom, and I was overwhelmed with a feeling that something might happen to my family—perhaps as they drove to the Bible study.

I immediately went upstairs and called my wife and asked her if she was ok.  She said yes.  I told her all I felt and told her to please be careful, and that I felt compelled by God to get on my knees and pray for her all the way to her destination. I told her I felt that something might happen to one of our kids, and that I was afraid.

After I hung up the phone, I got on my face on the ground and prayed, and prayed, and waited to receive her call knowing that she would arrive at her destination safely. The words I used as I prayed earnestly over and over?  Psalm 91:11.  I asked God to give his angels charge over my family, to protect them always, and to not let anything ever happen to any one of them.

Though it is difficult to remember the events that happened a day later at Fall Creek Falls, I know that God answered my prayer. He did give his angels charge over my family, and he did not let anything come against our tent (our family).  He carried my son up on high on angel’s wings through the strong arms of Michael Tagert (whose name just happened to be Michael). On the way up he never let his foot be dashed against a stone.  Michael ran all the way to the top without stumbling, without falling.  And to end of that passage of scripture, God promises the recipient of its blessings a long life, and the assurance of His salvation.

Blessings.

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10 Comments

  1. Fondra Magee

    December 2nd, 2010 at 12:30 am

    As I have just sat here and read this post and cried and cried, I want to thank you for your honesty about your fears and especially the encouragement I receive as I read your posts each night. Our 7 year old was diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes this summer and you are right, we think we have some sort of control over our lives and lives of or children, until something happens that is totally out of our control….I thank God that you have written to us….although you are not in your pulpit right now, you are ministering more than you possibly ever have in your life to a congregation across the country and world…God is using you mightily, brother and our prayers are continuing!
    Fondra Magee
    Coeur d Alene, ID

    • Shannon E. Daniels

      December 2nd, 2010 at 1:14 am

      Fondra, although you cannot control WHETHER your son has diabetes, please let me assure you that, watched and attended properly, a diabetic can be not only healthy, but healthier than their peers who’ve been given no reason to care for their bodies. Mary Tyler Moore is one example of Type 1, as is Nick Jonas. They’ve never let it slow them. Anyway, if ever you wish to speak to someone with 40 years of it under their belt, I’ll be more than happy to answer any questions, regardless how personal. For now, I truly just wanted to point out that there ARE ADVANTAGES to being forced to take care with what goes into your body. I also know how easy it can be to get discouraged. =) Praying for your family!

  2. Shannon E. Daniels

    December 2nd, 2010 at 1:00 am

    =D. He could end up w/ the nickname “Rocky” and with the biggest collection of angels you ever saw! So glad to hear he likes to color as that is one of the things I plan to get for him and I wasn’t sure how he might handle crayons — or if they/d just taste good!

    God bless your family, Tim, including all of those new ones you’ve not even met. I have been emotionally crippled for a very long time now as well as with little faith or trust. Your story has melted so much of that ice and I’ve actually cried with every post after being unable to cry for years — not even when diagnosed with kidney failure. Eveb then, it’s been, bitterly, “whatever”.

    Thank you -all- for being the start of my eyes and my heart reopening.

  3. Kelly Young Sparta, Tn

    December 2nd, 2010 at 1:10 am

    I can never read any of these post without crying, and tonight as I sat here reading this one aloud to my husband, I just cried. I sent you that scripture also, on November 2, and when I read tonights post, it was brought back to my remembrance. I pray for Caleb daily, as I also pray for the other children you post about, and even the ones that doesn’t get posted about. I wanted to tell you, even though no one knows “why” things happen the way that they do, God has a plan in it all. Do you know how many people’s life Calebs story has touched? And also how many people who are not christians read this, and through it all, they see you giving God the glory. That there is a light to the lost, and a great witness. Be encouraged, also, look at what Caleb being in that hospital at this appointed time has also done for other children. You have posted on here for several children that needed prayer, and people everywhere has started praying for these angels. And the prayers of the saints have not fallen on deaf ears.God is answering prayers, and healing sick children, because someone who has a sick baby also has taken the time out of worrying about the well being of his own child, to pray for others. If you had not have been in this place, no-one would know to pray for hese angels. Not that I want your angel in this place, my heart breaks for him, but as he is here, God is using you to draw light to others situations, and people everywhere are praying for the healing and comfort for these babies. And your family and their families as well. I want to encourage you to keep writing, and posting about Caleb and also say thank you, for letting everyone be a part of his journey, something that most would keep private, thank you. Please keep posting about his progress when he gets to go home. I would like to know how he is faring, and I am also waiting on the report when you post that God has completly healed Caleb. Oh what a celebration day that will be. I know beyond a shadow of a doubt, that God is going to heal him completly. He has laid this little angel heavily on my heart, and others too you can tell, and I know that he will be made whole again. Don’t doubt that at all. God is in control, He still sits on the throne, and He still answers prayers and does miracles. Thank you again, be blessed, don’t lose heart, and know that we are praying for your WHOLE family. God Bless You.

  4. Nicole Lester Russell (Murfreesboro, TN)

    December 2nd, 2010 at 7:20 am

    What a touching post. I remember reading before that God had done so much in the preparation for this event…laid the footwork for it…”fingerprints”, I believe you said. Now I see a glimpse of what you were talking about. I’d love to read more about that at the time you are ready to reveal it…What a testament to your faith and our Lord! I think it’s wonderful how you all had that conversation with your boys in the car before hiking down to the Falls about how much you all love them, but in fact, that God loves them more.

    I am SO HAPPY that Caleb is progressing so well and that he is coming more out of his ‘shell’ and being more like ‘himself’. I’m sure you all have missed his apparently sweet little personality. I love all the photos…you have such a beautiful family, and you all are an encouragement for so many people…all around the world! Keep writing…can’t wait to read the next one! Love and blessings to you and your family…still praying.

  5. Melissa

    December 2nd, 2010 at 8:12 am

    You do not know how many people are touched by your posts and it is SO awesome how far little Caleb has come! I know without a doubt that he will become the same litthle boy that he was because of your strong faith.

  6. Tammy Jackson

    December 2nd, 2010 at 8:21 am

    As always your post touch my heart so deeply and all the pictures are such a blessing to me. I continue to pray for Caleb and your family. Each and every one of your post just makes me want to praise him even more and I thank him for being my God. Have a bless day my friends.

  7. December 2nd, 2010 at 12:41 pm

    I am speechless!!!The post I read everyday give me encouragement..GOD is using your family to reach out to so many others…PRAISE GOD Caleb is getting better day by day!!!Tiffany,you are an awesome mommy and Tim,you are an awesome daddy…GOD is smiling down on your family..Thanks for sharing your thoughts and everyday personal mountains and valleys..Love, The Conner Family :)

  8. Virginia Mason Sparta TN

    December 2nd, 2010 at 6:02 pm

    Every day I have read the post of Caleb. We have prayed with the thousands who have lifted Caleb up before our Lord. Seeing the day to day recovery and miracles taking place in Caleb as well as the spiritual growth in your lives. It is such an awesome thing to be a part in watching and reading your post on a day to day basis. Thru your sharing the needs of others who are facing similiar situations , I have found a fresh anointing of prayer in my prayer life. I suppose we were first interested in Calebs story because it happened at Fall Creek. My husband and I ride our bicycles there a lot and hike some there. It is a wonderful thing to hear that he is improving on a daily basis. And I believe God will always receive the praise and glory for what He has done in young Caleb’s life!
    May God continue to bless you on this journey! The Mason’s, Mike and Ginny

  9. Dana Knight, Monteagle

    December 3rd, 2010 at 5:15 pm

    As I sit here with tears running down my face, I’m completely in awe of how God takes care of His children. Just how He somewhat prepares us for things. It is simply amazing!
    I have been catching up on your posts…I was a little behind…but am so glad to read of the continued progress of Caleb. I pray for him & your family every day.
    I want to share one of my favorite scriptures that I always turn to when I need encouragement…I’m sure you have too.
    Is. 41:10 Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

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