Latest Update

May 18 (3:43 PM)

Praise the Lord the trach was finally removed Saturday evening May 6th. This is a miracle! Once it was removed, Pastor Esposito seemed very alert and able to communicate easier. He's had a very good week. After a week, he was moved to the SNF. As of today he was very tired and seemed a bit "rumbly" in his chest. We were a bit worried today that maybe through the night he was unable to cough or swallow properly. Please continue to pray for strength in swallow and cough. It was only a couple weeks before removing the trach that he finally seemed to have the ability to cough completely to the mouth. He still needs prayer for that strength to improve to do so regularly. I believe speech therapy will still work with him this week on these.

Thank you for praying, and thank the Lord! Many folks have acknowledged that this is God. Isaiah 41:20, the verse we've had posted from the start, reads, "[Pray for a Miracle] That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the LORD hath done this..."

May 6 (6:16 AM)

Thank you for reading our last prayer update. I wanted to just post this quick but important praise report and prayer request.

After 3 ½ years, the RT's will most likely be removing Pastor Esposito's trach completely this weekend. Two test results are pending. We are excited, but I must admit it's a bit scary (I've seen complications of other patients while being there so long). What I really wanted was to see the ENT (pending appointment) and pass the swallow test at the hospital; then remove it. But Friday the pulmonologist said let's take these two tests; then if they go well—let's do it! I've said that when the pulmonologist said it's time that we would do it. I mentioned my concerns, and they thought that he was ready and those wouldn't be determining factors. The speech therapist assured me she thinks he'll eat better without it (last time I mentioned to her she's asked me "why would you take it out when he could easily aspirate and get pneumonia". But she sees how much progress he's made.)

Please pray the Great Physician has His hand on Pastor Esposito, and that all goes well.

Thank you for your faithful prayer.

April 28 (10:12 AM)

I'd like to ask forgiveness for the lateness of this update. I appreciate that so many folks read and depend upon these updates to pray for Pastor Esposito, and I feel bad that I've taken so long to write another. I have been eager to share some blessings! Pastor Esposito seems to all of us to have begun improving at a faster pace than over the last few years. (Of course, he still has so very far to go and from an outside perspective I'm sure doctors would say it's slow and holds no promises.)

Let me share some examples of alertness and progress:

  • I told him that we had a guest preacher, and he clearly asked, "What did he preach?"
  • I was doing voice practice with him and asked for A-E-I-O-U, and as I often do I said A-E-I-O-U-R and waited to see what he'd say; and he said U-R beautiful. I told him he'd made my day, week, and month.
  • He laughs often. He REALLY laughs when I try to demonstrate to him how to cough or clear his throat. He laughs with some voice too.
  • My children have said that their dad has asked them questions lately when they have been there. Yesterday, on the way to High Hopes, his oxygen was a bit low; and I told him to take a breath and ask me a question. He asked, "What time are we getting to High Hopes." Praise the Lord for all that shows in alertness and so forth.
  • I've been working for a while on his being able to turn side to side. Now he can help turn the bent knees left and right. I've also been working on lifting the hips up, and he definitely puts effort into it; though maybe only an inch. Pray for strength to increase.
  • I told him that my son-in-law said that some preachers in Mexico where my son-in-law was preaching asked about him and said they were praying. He clearly asked me, "What were their names?"
  • Sitting in the wheel chair, Pastor Esposito can lift his left leg up and down now. Pray the right will follow.
  • He's begun to remember the names of staff at Huntington Valley and High Hopes. (I think about a month ago when we really started working on this he was half joking when I'd ask him the name of different nurses or therapists. He would confidently tell me the name of folks from church they look like and smile.)
  • He's doing very well at helping sit forward in the chair. I try to do ten daily "sit-ups" with the PVC pipe in the wheel chair before he goes back to bed daily. It's a lot more him now and not all me.
  • One day when I left the room during a sermon playing on his computer, it stopped. He had his hand up there trying, I believe, to figure out how to get the sermon turned back on. That's exciting because there seems for a while to have been a disconnect either with his eyes or spatial awareness of anything below the vision straight ahead. Maybe a lack of connect between the hand or eyes. It's hard to explain. He could move the hand to pull a peg from a peg board below, but never would look down while doing it. He'd do it as if blind though I know he has vision as he can read.
  • There's a robotic machine that has magnets that opens and closes his weak hand. If it feels his participation, a flower blooms on the screen. Just this week he's begun to "bloom the flowers." I told him these are way better than any real flower he could give me because he's working so hard for these.
  • He is doing well trying to push up on his feet and straighten his upper body in the standing frame. Pray for the weaker right side to come along with the left. Of course, before he had NO ability in either.

These are just some of the little but big ways that we've been excited to see God working. I often say, "Joe do you realize what a really big miracle little things like this are?" Then I tell him about how absolutely nothing outwardly worked and how far he's come.

God really has done so much and brought so many miracles! There was a session at Faith Baptist's ladies conference by a missionary of 10 years. She gave her life testimony of a very bad childhood. She became a bus kid and got saved, eventually going to Christian school. She felt unworthy but grateful and continually said that she was going to be a missionary like her bus captains. Then the day came when Satan sat on her shoulder showing her all that she didn't have in comparison to the "Christian family kids". He showed her how hard she'd had it. She struggled until once again she was able to see how good God had been to her. She was blessed to marry a third generation missionary. She gave the illustration of the black dot on the white piece of paper. Everyone says they see a black dot, and she reminded us that we really see a big piece of white paper. Her testimony was powerful, and God used it to work in me. Her testimony reminded me in some ways of me. I didn't grow up in church, but God led me to a neighborhood church where I picked up a tract and was saved at home that night. I eventually ended up in Christian school–a bus kid of sorts. I always felt that unworthy gratefulness to God, especially when I got to marry Joe Esposito. I felt I was the most unworthy candidate! And to go on and share all of God's goodness in my life since will have to wait for the writing of a book. But how easy it is to listen to Satan on your shoulder causing you to look at the black dot and forget the white piece of paper! God really is very good if we open our eyes and look at the blessings all around us.

A few other updates:

• Trach removal: Pastor is back to being capped around the clock with no oxygen. His lungs seem clear. An ENT appointment to verify there's no build up scar tissue, etc. is in process of approval. Today the tube is being downsized again–one more step forward. They will observe a month and see how that goes.

• Today we are having an evaluation for eating again. We haven't tried since the pneumonia. Speech therapy also is going to do an evaluation for a report necessary for the eye tracking device free trial the company evaluator recommended we do.

Someone asked me recently, "When are you going to take Pastor home?" Another asked, "What's keeping you from taking your husband home" The short answer is when God gives me peace that it's what is best for him and what will help him progress. I'd also want some professional advice that he's medically ready and that I can safely take over the care that presently is done by RT's, CNA's, RNA's, the doctors, and nurses here. As of yet he's still in sub acute level care. (A majority of skilled nursing centers don't even accept patients at that care level.) I'd love to have him home a long time ago; and I never stop thinking about, struggling back and forth, crying, and praying about it. Please pray for God's guidance that when it's time He will make it very clear. My husband used to say, "Don't make a move unless it's very clearly God moving you." That sense hasn't come yet and is probably why I do struggle so much. In the meantime, we will keep on praying and doing what we are doing and praise God for the increased level of progress we have seen lately.

March 7 (5:38 PM)

Thank you again for praying for Pastor Esposito. Let me first let you know what's happened since the last update!

  • The speech therapist is still working on the speech device.
  • No updates on the possibility of using the standing frame at Huntington Valley again.
  • Praise the Lord the reduction in the seizure medication has gone well thus far.
  • This past week we went backward as far as the trach. Pastor had Pneumonia causing his oxygen to drop and heart rate to rise. He's back on the T-bar and oxygen (not a respirator). He also was on IV fluids and antibiotics. He is doing much better. The RT's prefer waiting until after the antibiotic is done to work on moving back toward the cap, but the oxygen is already moved down to the lowest.
  • As for the hormone panel, I spoke with an out of state doctor but just haven't ordered the test yet (It's a saliva test.).

Pastor also had a bad UTI this past week and a severe allergic reaction. But again, praise the Lord as he's doing so much better. He's bounced back very quickly. I got him back to High Hopes and he did well. I thought a positive note through the Pneumonia was that I could hear voice even with only T-bar. He was never able to do that in the past, so I see more strength in that sense. As for eating, I think I may have caused the pneumonia through feeding, though there's no way to know. That's assumed when the pneumonia is on the right side as his was. It also could be that he just wasn't able to cough up some fluids that built up there. He won't be eating for a while until everything is back to normal.

One of my biggest praises/blessings is that over the last couple of weeks my husband has smiled and laughed more than ever. I told some of the children it has been like the old Dad again. It's like a mutual enjoyment of fellowship we haven't had in over 3 years. It also seems that at just about any time other than when he seems exhausted he has full awareness and understanding. It's no longer like he comes in and out as in the past. When folks come to visit, he really seems to enjoy the visits. (Thank you to those who do and to our pastoral staff who have faithfully taken the time to drive to Huntington Beach to see him and encourage us both.) His short-term memory isn't 100% but is improving. (As I said before his long-term memory of people, events, facts is way better than mine!)

I also want to praise the Lord for His faithfulness. He is so good. Though I struggle, He never changes. I thank Him for His patience while I learn the lessons He has for me. I thank Him for His constant love and the encouragement He sends at just the moment I need it most. Here are a couple of examples for which I'd like to give Him praise. I have never been the touchy, huggy type of person though I've tried to learn for sake of others. But one Sunday morning as I received a hug unexpectedly (I wouldn't have asked for a hug.) I hid for a moment and wept, grateful that God would know just what I needed at that moment. On one particular day, I turned and opened the curtain to my husband's room (it faces a back parking lot without any trees or anything, but we like it since it's bright.). On occasion if I didn't want my husband to see me emotional (I try my best to always be on top side when I am with him.) I'd turn that way as if to just look outside for a few minutes. When I did so a beautiful butterfly swirled around just outside the window where you'd least expect to find one reminding me of an early card I'd received that said, "If there were never any change, there'd be no butterflies." I thank Him for His guidance as He leads us along, changing us to fulfill His greater purposes (Romans 8:28). I thank Him for His living Word that is food to the hungry and drink to the thirsty soul. God is so good to give me just the truth I need. Yesterday in a little discouragement, He encouraged me with the first part of a verse of which the latter part has been an encouragement many times over the last few years. "My grace is sufficient for thee, for my strength is made perfect in weakness." In the early days when I felt I not only couldn't face the day but couldn't take the next step, He showed me the reality of the truth of His strength in my weakness. Yesterday what leaped out at me was the word "sufficient." In all the areas where I fear or feel inadequate or alone (especially the feelings of aloneness without my husband in everyday life like leading our children or making the decisions) His grace is sufficient. He makes up the gap. There is no lack or disadvantage because He is all I need. When I just know "I can't," HE CAN. "When you find He's all you have, you'll find He is all you need" became so real to me. Thank God He takes our trials and gives understanding to make Scripture more than clichés we've always read and heard but makes them alive and real and at work in our lives.

February 8 (5:02 PM)

Thank you for praying and for reading our monthly updates. Here are a few recent updates on the medical side:

  • I have asked the speech therapist to revisit the idea of getting Pastor Esposito the device that would allow him to type using his eyes and thus communicate in an easier way. When we tried it in the past, his eyes were not strong or steady enough. When they asked him to spell his name, you could see on the screen that his eyes would go to "E" but not hold long enough for the device to capture it. Please pray that if it will help he will "pass the test" and it will be approved.
  • I have requested that the physical therapy department allow Pastor to go on the standing frame twice a week as he did before I started taking him to High Hopes. The director at High Hopes told me that he needs to be up more sitting and standing to regain strength, but it's difficult to do so, so please pray that they will allow this again two afternoons per week.
  • I asked if the doctor felt it safe, we could lower the seizure medication with a hope that it would help Pastor Esposito not to be so tired. The dose was reduced beginning yesterday from 3000 per day to 2000. Please pray that he won't have seizures and will have more energy.
  • We are working on getting Pastor a full hormone panel test. They say that a large majority of people with injury to the brain have severe deficiencies delaying or preventing improvement in some areas. I've read and also heard from the annual brain injury conference that it's one of the first things that should be tested, then a natural form given to make it up.
  • I spoke with the RT today again about the trach. Today on the way back from High Hopes Pastor's oxygen dropped and his heart rate went way up. I pulled over and pulled the cap off and he coughed a lot out the throat. The RT agreed that we might want to see an ENT to make sure there is no scar tissue blocking the airway, which happens with long term trachs, and then with the pulmonologist's approval the next step would be to go ahead and try removing the trach. Again, he mentioned the fact that we keep it in because he can't always cough the phlegm, but trying it would show us if removing it helps him cough. One of my concerns is I don't mind pulling off the cap, but I can't see myself putting a tube down the nose into the lungs to suction if the same thing happens as today while away from the facility. Again, please pray for God's will and timing.

God has been very good as He always is! The folks at High Hopes are extremely positive on Pastor's progress. The son of the director walked him for the first time in a while and said it was like "night and day." Today it looked like he was pressing down on his legs somewhat on his own, and he's been doing really well holding the upper body upright. The director told him he is doing well and said, "Joe, we're going to get you up out of that wheelchair enjoying life again." Pray for God's will in everything and for His glory. He's the Great Physician, and our lives and health are in His hands. We want healing, but nevertheless not as we will but as He wills.

Updates
Pastor Esposito and Family

Left: Pastor Esposito pictured with his wife Mary and 8 children; Joseph (w/ wife Jennifer), Timothy, Sarah, Susanna, Daniel, Joanna, Benjamin, and Nathaniel

Right: Pastor Joe Esposito and his wife, Mary

I'm Praying

Pastor's family would love to know if you're praying! Your name or e-mail will not be added to any ministry mailing list. This is not a fundraiser. This is simply to let the Espositos know you are standing with them in prayer.