Latest Update

February 12 (7:49 AM)

Thank you once again for coming to the site to read Pastor Esposito's update. Please forgive us for taking so long. There is very much to report—ups and downs, praises, and prayer requests.

Monday of this week Pastor Esposito had a follow up visit with the physiatrist. I let him rest in the morning and skipped his exercises we do. He did extremely well, and the doctor was so very positive about his progress even calling it "amazing." I took the speaking valve along, and she asked him to tell her his first and last name. Though it only sounded like heavy air, he said, "Joseph Esposito." She asked his wife's name and with air again but a for sure attempt to speak he said, "Mary." Then she asked his age, and we understood, "I'm fifty…" She told him he had to keep trying.

We discussed how after Pastor spoke, there was, as would be expected, much excitement, many visits, etc. Prior to speaking he had been doing a lot of trying to lip words to communicate. For the last few weeks since, however, he mostly stopped lipping words and only on a few occasions tried to lip when asked to do so. He has also been extremely sleepy. He was simply out of energy. I had thought that maybe he got discouraged because I wasn't understanding, but I talked with him one day about how he'd have to just keep trying to speak even as frustrating as it must be. Then he lipped "I love you" at my request. I try to balance/reserve requests to conserve his energy for daily routine, while trying to get him to take new steps. (For example we are doing new things like blowing a tissue while wearing the PMV to strengthen the vocal cords.)

He certainly enjoys visits with folks and obviously does his best to try to "be there" with folks and smiles. You can see his interest and excitement in his facial expressions. The physiatrist said we just need to be careful and limit his visits to only once per day to keep promoting progress in all areas. Previously, though we were just saying yes to visits at any convenient time, but we will need to be careful. I for sure do not want folks to stop coming. I believe he needs that too (to know he is missed and loved) and "a merry heart doeth good like a medicine."

The doctor said that we definitely need to do what we can to keep the progress up. She gave two specifics that she wants us to work on diligently in the next two months. She wants us to begin in the morning and to try to work our way up in using the PMV (speaking valve). We will do it as long as he can tolerate it and as long as nearby suction, and under direct supervision. The goal is to be able to tolerate it all day. She recommended we postpone walks and prioritize this. Secondly, she wants us to increase time up in the chair as much as possible (which of course has to be done carefully to prevent pressure sores as one of the nurses reminded me; but praise God he just got his own tilt in space wheel chair which if used properly can prevent sores). The goal again is to be up most of the day.

She chose not to change any medications or anything else. She emphasized time and steps and progress again. She said in the future she'd like to have him go to their therapy program, but he'd have to tolerate it for 3 hours at a time. She said he's "not there yet."

For so many who have asked about Pastor Esposito's potential attendance at my son's upcoming wedding (February 28). I want to give an answer including what the physiatrist instructed. We have made the decision not to attempt to have him attend the wedding. First of all, I want to say that it hurts us very much to think of Pastor not being at Timothy and Cindy's wedding. I am sure I am not alone in the many tears I have cried while struggling over this decision. And of course a decision for him not to be there will make the wedding bitter sweet (even his being there would have as he couldn't officiate the wedding). That is the truth of where God has us right now. It isn't going to be the first bitter sweet, and I am pretty sure it won't be the last; but it is where God wants us right now. I typed a list of many diferent considerations we have struggled over, but omitted them.

We are praying for God to give a clear answer on what was best for Pastor Esposito because that's what we all wanted. So considering the physiatrist is supposed to be the expert in coordinating care and developing the best plan for someone in my husband's condition, I asked her. She said no, that it was a bad idea. She said, "Your husband has a brain injury." His perception and ability to cope and energy levels, etc. at this point in recovery is different from what it once was. She said that just the emotion alone of being at his son's wedding would be too much at this point. Then add being in a place, his church, where he hadn't been for a long time, and add 100 people on top of that (and I am sure it will be many more). She said he is doing so very well and that this could be a huge setback to him. I then asked her also about maybe a trip home here and there for a short while. And once again she told me, "He's not there yet." (Be patient.) And again let's focus on the steps at hand and then reevaluate after two months.

I was encouraged a couple days ago while reading in Numbers where God spoke of leading the children of Israel out of Egypt. Having read through my Bible at least once per year since age 12, I still had always pictured the people sleeping at night and getting up to go in the day time and moving forward daily (though it does say he led them at night with fire as well). I never noticed verses 22-23 "Or whether it were two days, or a month, or a year, that the cloud tarried upon the tabernacle, remaining thereon, the children of Israel abode in their tents, and journeyed not: but when it was taken up, they journeyed. At the commandment of the Lord they rested in the tents, and at the commandment of the Lord they journeyed."

God's leading was sometimes stop, sometimes go, sometimes short, and sometimes long; but His will, His way, His time.

Cindy said too that selfishly she'd like to have him there but also questioned if it were best for Him. We do plan to figure out a way to live stream the wedding into his room, then possibly have the wedding party stop in to introduce to him "Mr. and Mrs. Timothy Esposito."

Though I know this is a long update (making up for missed ones), I also wanted to give an explanation of the tracheotomy. This is another area about which quite a few folks have asked. Basically, when my husband had the initial brain injury, the brain stopped operating most of the body. (Praise God his vital organs didn't stop working, even the respirator was only a few days, and he showed to be breathing his own breaths early.) However, folks in a coma, sometimes stroke, etc. aren't swallowing or coughing their phlegm or saliva. Just as the hands and arms and legs stopped working, so did the muscles in the throat. The airway could become blocked, or fluid could be going into the lungs, causing serious pneumonia if there was no way to suction it out. The trach allows a direct way to suction the lungs/airway. I have been told my husband is definitely not ready to remove it. I have looked up multiple internet sites for the "criteria." He is "not there yet." Now the longer he can tolerate the PMV, the better and closer he gets to that point. However, the onsight doctor has said in the past that until she sees him able to very clearly communicate, "I am in distress!" she wouldn't order it. And again, "he's not there yet." What we need to pray is for him to become stronger in his swallow and cough and for his brain to always tell him to do it automatically. He still needs some suctioning, and doesn't automatically swallow when he should. Often I tell him he needs to do so. The man in the next bed speaks and even eats now, but had an emergency the other day where he couldn't breathe and needed to be suctioned for a blockage. The RT told me of another patient that had gotten his out, then became very ill with pneumonia and then they didn't have the option to clear the lungs and easily treat the pneumonia. I hope this gives some clarification. Basically, he still needs it and isn't ready to remove it at this point. Pray, please for progress and strength.

Last, I wanted to take the time to give a prayer request for a gentleman, named Raul, and share how God used it in my own heart. First, I want to backtrack to my son's Sunday School class lessons. The previous Sunday, God had spoken to my heart as Joseph taught about Esther and making a difference. One of the points was that though she was comfortable in the palace, she was willing to allow her heart to be stirred. Then that following week, he spoke of ways to take a stand and make a difference. He gave one point that I didn't take too personally, having been saved 37 years and reading God's Word from the start. It was, "Be ready to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason" (He talked about at work, etc.) The final point was, "Win souls." (With that I was convicted thinking that I hadn't noticed any specific situations recently at my husband's place and thought certainly I just wasn't looking!) That second Sunday, I was walking my husband down the street right by the facility where he stays. A big gentleman in a big truck turned the corner, and rolled down his window and shouted to my husband, "Keep on fighting!" Then he turned to me and said, "You better get the most out of life, it doesn't last long." I don't remember my exact response but I thanked him (thinking he was just trying to encourage us) and said something to the effect of wanting to fulfill a purpose greater than just getting what I can. (Whatever it was it seemed the right answer at the moment and from the Lord.) At that, right in the middle of the street in his vehicle he began to greatly weep. He told me how he is dying from a disease and hopes his wife can get to the USA from India before he dies if he doesn't get a transplant. He asked what is purpose, and why do we live to die. He told me how he cries himself to sleep every night (crying to God). I told him sometimes that's the purpose that we might cry to God in Heaven and know Him, because life is short here, but there's an eternity awaiting us. I was able to talk with him quite a while, and he had to go, but asked that we come by his home around the corner. Several of us have stopped by. Please pray he would personally accept Jesus as his only way to Heaven. He doesn't have long.

What went though my mind driving home weeping was the point about being stirred. I thought of how God uses pain to "stir us" but sometimes it's easy to feel weary and as if the burden is too heavy to carry and want a break from being stirred for a while or more accurately to close our eyes for a bit. Sometimes it seems easier to be a bit numb. (Though deep in my heart I do cherish the lessons God has taught me.) Then I thought of the other point that we may give an answer to every man. This broken dying man didn't stop us on the road because everything was ok with us. It's because God is using something in our lives to stir us so that we could "give an answer" to such a one as this. I thought how a year and a half ago, I couldn't have answered many of the questions because I hadn't gone to the place where I'd be able to give those answers. And I even thought of questions I still struggle with, and how I can't stop allowing God to teach and stir me, or I will never be able to help someone else who hurts and struggles with the same. (I know I am not supposed to struggle but take consolation in the fact that David, the man after God's own heart did, and Job, the one man God pointed out as perfect and upright, struggled with their trials.) I thanked the Lord again for bringing me here, and for opening my eyes once again to a purpose for pain. Somehow it makes it worth it. Please pray for Raul.

Thank you for allowing me to give a long update, and thank you for continuing to pray.

Here are a few specifics:

  • General good health
  • Extended use of PMV and that it would make him stronger
  • Wisdom in choosing activities that will promote best healing of the brain
  • Reconnection of neurons to promote more function
  • That he'd keep trying to speak and do other things and not be discouraged (that I'd be a good cheerleader, too)

Thank you so much again!

January 16 (8:58 PM)

PRAISE THE LORD, PASTOR ESPOSITO SPOKE HIS FIRST AUDIBLE WORDS TODAY!

"That they may see, and know, and consider, and understand together, that the hand of the Lord hath done this, and the Holy One of Israel hath created it." (Isaiah 41:20)

"Help me , O Lord my God: save me according to thy mercy: that they may know that this is Thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it." (Psalm 109:26-27)

Thank you so very much for praying over the past fifteen months for Pastor Esposito. And thank the Lord for His goodness and His mercy. For how far Pastor has come—God gets ALL the glory.

Someone asked me the other day if I think the changes are due to a new medicine. I said, "No, it's God." (Really he'd started two new medications, and one natural remedy that I'd been seeking approval on since the start and also a different method.) I replied that anything that "works" is because of God.

I have written this before, but humanly speaking, Pastor Esposito wasn't supposed to make it off the operating table, wasn't supposed to "wake up", wasn't supposed to move, and I am sure speaking was never anywhere near a slight possibility in any doctor's mind. We were given no hope (well, no more than a 10% chance on waking from coma, but not with functionality.) From the start and along the way, anything at all anyone could do, any therapy, any medication, any method—none of it was ever promised or expected to make any significant difference.

A long while back in the earlier days, while praying about a certain decision the doctor was waiting for me to make, I was really struggling on what to do at that moment. I picked up my Bible, and I read, "In the morning sow thy seed, and in the evening withhold not thine hand: for thou knowest not whether shall prosper, either this or that, or whether they both shall be alike good." At that moment I felt that God impressed upon me to go ahead because who knowest whether shall prosper? I sort of made a decision along the way that anything God sent my way that seemed right and safe and reasonable and I was able to get a doctor's counsel and okay on, I would try. We've prayed that God would direct me in this way. (For minor type things, I didn't think it was necessary to bother the doctors, like a certain cream. We just added those to the daily routine on our own.)

Every day, there are a multitude of different things on the schedule we follow. (Honestly, there are so many ideas we have found by researching or folks from all over have sent us that some are still on the waiting list!) Even this diet, we've sought approval to change, but it was a "no" many times. Then due to high blood sugar, it was changed. Now today due to other circumstances, it seems a good possibility we may be able to get a "yes" on our prayer. We just trust that God knows what's best at the moment, and trust His timing as well. (I'm not pretending that we don't feel impatient many times or that God doesn't have to bring us back to that place frequently as we seek Him.)

As Pastor has already progressed so much further than predicted, we have no idea what God has chosen to use physically speaking. We simply know that a whole bunch of you have joined us in prayer that God would work a miracle, and we have seen God little by little bring bits of healing at a time and many miracles. It doesn't matter to us what He's chosen to use. We know that He alone is the Great Physician, so to God be the glory.

Now I know folks want to know the specifics of what happened. As I stated in the last update, Pastor has been trying to lip words and even trying to get sound out while unable to get more than air out. Today, my soon to be daughter-in-law was there. I had tried to explain the new method to her and the underlying philosophy of helping his brain to become aware again of the working of the body. She decided to experiment with the method (We are always trying to do something new and creative to "wake up" the neuron connections!). She talked to him about the logistics of breathing when she took flute lessons and the working of vocal chords. She placed the back of her fingers against the vocal chords as she asked him to do "ahhh" and out came the voice! She was so excited that she wanted to ask a real question requiring an answer. I had told her that this morning as I was playing a speech video for him (they were going through colors), I had asked him what color my hair is. He had looked up and said, without any sound, "brown." So she asked, "Preacher, what color is my hair?" And in an audible voice he replied, "black." She was excited and went to the hall to get the RT outside the door to come hear him say something. She also asked him to say, "Mary" and "I" "love" "you" (practicing for me), and he did each. Soon he was tired, so she let him sleep. A while later, Bruce came in to replace Cindy and also the RNA. Cindy said, "I want to show you something." I don't remember all the details, but Bruce asked Pastor how he is, and in a clear audible voice he said, "I'm fine." That's when Bruce called me and said, "Preacher spoke, he said, 'I'm fine.'" I text the family at that point without knowing the whole story. Eventually, many staff were in the room and heard him say words. Cindy said he had a big smile. AGAIN, Praise God. This was our main prayer in the last update (that he'd make sound). Thank you all for praying.

You might also like to know that last night my son Timothy told Pastor he was going to do something different for his finger exercises, so instead of "lift this finger or that" he asked him to put up the right number of fingers. He asked him simple math questions like 2+2, and Timothy and Benjamin said that he got 100%. How neat! It's exciting to see that God has allowed him to have various levels or areas of cognizance like distinguishing color or the reasoning required to do a math problem. (The three younger children were actually playing the "Bible Challenge" DVD game a couple weeks ago and said he was trying to use fingers to answer the multiple choice questions, but I hadn't watched him as he did.)

Another exciting thing was on Sunday afternoon some out of town guests came up the sidewalk outside and said, "Hi Preacher, how are you?" He lifted his hand way up with a "thumbs up."

A Few Specific Prayer Requests

  • Speech to get stronger
  • Continued waking of neuron connections between the brain and rest of the body
  • Continued healing of damage where the rupture took place
  • God's will in the best feeding for him (We'd like to get the insurance to cover a completely natural one we found through research or even that I could bring natural vegetable juices recommended by a nutritionist as it finally seems at least a possibility right now.)
  • General good health
  • Strength for the journey
  • Isaiah 41:20 and Psalm 109:26-27

Thank you again for laboring for us all in prayer! God is good…all the time.

P.S. I do want to thank all of the doctors, RN's, RNA's, CNA's, RT's, Neurosurgeons, Neurologists, Physiatrist, Pulmonologist, therapists, and a host of others (I am sure I am missing some) that have done all that they could do to care for my husband and advise us the very best they could under what has been a worst case scenario. I fear in some way I may have at times sounded ungrateful for all of the effort and care many, many have given to my husband at points when we've wished they could give us some hope that really only God Himself could give. I am sure that many are the times that family members like ourselves want you to be miracle workers and have all the answers! We are very grateful for each of you! We don't know what we'd have done without this huge team of people that have taken part from the first night when no doubt God gave us some of the best neurosurgeons there are to save his life to where we are today. I believe God hand-picked each of you and used you in the way He has seen fit. Thank you for being used of the Lord!

January 8 (11:22 AM)

I read last night from Colossians before going to sleep, "Epaphrus, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, ALWAYS LABOURING FERVENTLY FOR YOU IN PRAYERS, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you." (Col. 4:12-13) I was reminded how important my own prayer for others is, and also reminded of so many folks that "labor in prayer" for my husband and family and our church. I wanted to take a moment once again to say, "THANK YOU, SO VERY MUCH!" One of the greatest encouragements we have is to know folks are praying. It means the world to us.

I hope your holidays were good. We spent Christmas morning, after going to breakfast with the children, with Pastor Esposito. We packed up our gifts for him and one another, and set up "Christmas" under the gazebo on the patio at the facility. We enjoyed it, and I believe he did as well. It was a great idea that my daughter-in-law had as we were trying to plan out the day.

I also went to the mountains for our annual teen camp with the children New Year's week as is our custom. I missed it last year, and we decided it would be good for me to go last minute this year. I think it was very good for me to get away those few days. I also had a lot of alone time to take snowy prayer walks in the forest and to plan for the new year. My daughter, who is a senior this year, said spiritually speaking it was the best camp ever.

Daily, I am amazed at how very far God has brought us over the last year. Lately, I have been telling my husband, "Joe, do you realize that a year ago you could do nothing? That doctors never expected you to wake up? God has brought you SO FAR you are doing so well." Yesterday, when the nurse came in to bathe him, he was exercising his own left arm, bending it at the elbow up and down as if lifting weights (it's one of the daily exercises we do with him). I told him just a little over a year ago he was in ICU, and his hands were lifeless and cold as ice.

A couple of days ago our own missionaries, the Vong Family, came to see Pastor. (What an encouragement they were to me!) Bro. Vong told Pastor that they were done with deputation and leaving the following day for Cambodia. He said they had traveled over 100,000 miles. Pastor was looking at him and listening intently, and to that he mouthed, "WOW!" Not just a simple "wow." It contained all of the expression and personality of Pastor Joe Esposito. That was a big "WOW" to all of us. (I remember our excitement when he first raised his eyebrow a tiny bit—his first facial expression.) Lately, he had been repeating, "I love you" if I asked him, and often trying on his own to lip things we can't figure out; but this was so clear and so expressive. The Vong children spoke to him one by one, and he looked to each of them in interest. What a blessing! Thank you, Vong family. Our church folks who have been to visit, have also been excited at the increased responsiveness and ability to turn his head and eyes and be attentive. He has responded what looks like "fine" and "good morning" to nursing staff as well. Praise the Lord.

He is doing well with holding himself up straight when we sit him up with minimal support. He is getting stronger, it seems. Last week, I asked him to tilt his head up and down putting his chin to his chest, and he did it very well. This is a big step. He is also turning his head while sitting. He still seems to have some sort of balance problem or something that causes him to tense greatly on his left side. We can get him very relaxed and looking out the window, then when we tilt him forward and side to side he tenses up—particularly his left arm stiffens and pushes. We continue it each week day, and it seems to be helping him. I am hoping he will be allowed to stand again soon.

Most everything that we ask Pastor to do (reasonable requests that push him just a little bit as the physiatrist encouraged), he will try to do like with bent knee – tip it in and out, put your tongue out to the left or to the right, push my hand away, etc.

We are continuing daily with the PMV valve, and he is doing very well with it. He doesn't act distressed as he used to, only for a moment. His cough and swallow seem much better and more reflexive. He tries really, really hard to make sounds when I ask him to do an "ahh" or "mmm," but thus far no voice has come out. I hear the voice in the cough, so I know it's still there. Please pray for him to be able to make some sound. The speech therapist had said a while back that it would be good for him to hear his own voice and maybe motivate him to do more.

I plan to have the practitioner that I mentioned in the last update come again. I waited for the holidays to pass and e-mailed her yesterday to see when her next available time is. We are also checking into getting the device that will track his eyes and allow him to communicate. Joseph asked him yesterday if he thinks he can do that, and Joseph said he lifted his head way up and looked right at him and nodded in a big way. Joseph also practiced having him look at different places on the computer screen to test how he thought he'd do with it. Hopefully, we will be able to do this very soon. I joked that he will finally be able to communicate with his wife that probably really frustrates him on a daily basis—not knowing what he wants to communicate to me and guessing wrongly. Sarah had said we needed to buy the 20 questions game. Sometimes I know he's trying to "tell me something," but I can't figure it out; and we both give up eventually after I ask him many things and he shakes his head no to all of them.

On New Year's Eve, I glanced back through my Bible at verses I had marked where God showed me something. I came across Psalm 109:26-27. "Help me , O Lord my God: save me according to thy mercy: that they may know that this is Thy hand; that thou, Lord, hast done it." Like Isaiah 41:20 that has been hung above my husband's bed for the last 15 months, this is our prayer. That God would do something extraordinary…that all would know that it was HE who had done so…that He'd receive the glory. Thank you for joining us in this prayer.

December 23 (3:17 PM)

This Christmas season we'd like to thank our Savior for coming to earth to be born to die that we might have life… but not only life, life abundantly, a life of "peace on earth." Praise God we can find peace in Him while on this earth! We'd also like to thank you once again for following this site and for your faithful prayer this past year.

Please forgive me for having taken way too long to write this update. I have thought much about it, and about all those of you who read to know how to pray and to praise the Lord. Partly, I have procrastinated due to extreme business, partly because I have thought round and round in my mind about how to write this update and what to say. So I'll do my best to be open and give you a better view of what is happening. I may be a little long in order to be thorough.

Over six months ago, the neurosurgeon (based upon the response he saw, and the need to do something proactive) wrote an order for Pastor Esposito to see a physiatrist (fĭz′ē-ăt′rĭst or fĭ-zī′ə-trĭst). I suppose we looked forward to that appointment with both anticipation and hope as well as a bit of hesitation not desiring to be disappointed by unfulfilled expectations.

Finally, on December 8th, the appointment came. Pastor Esposito, as I said in the brief update that week, was very responsive. It was exciting, while at the same time it broke my heart, to see how very hard he tried to do what he could to show the doctor, "I'm in here, and I hear and understand!" She asked if he could raise his eyebrows, and you wouldn't have known that anyone could raise them that quickly or high up. She asked him to point his toes up, and though he pressed the wrong direction, he quickly pressed both of his feet far forward, including the weak side that has little movement still. He raised his arm at her request, tried as best he could to open his mouth to "say hi," and opened his hand all the way up, etc. The physiatrist asked the history, asked many questions, looked at his medications, etc.

She then focused on the topic of medications:

  1. She said the present brain stimulant needed to be changed to early morning and again at noon rather than at wake and at bed time. This should give more day time alertness while we are trying to work with him in other ways to wake his brain and body up.
  2. She then told me that she'd like to try one more medication that is not FDA approved for waking up the brain, but rather as an anti-viral, but which has had success as a "wake up" medication. She would write a one week delay to first change the other medication.
  3. She also felt the need for a minimal dose of a muscle relaxant at bed time. This would help two fold. First he'd sleep better (she suspected he'd been awake at night from the other medication, and possibly pain from being tight) and also that it would help us to get more daytime movement from him since it would relax the muscles enough to be worked more. A patient in this state tends to get what is called contractures (muscle is permanently tightened or (contracted) or shortened, most often caused by spasm or paralysis). As we work with him, his body often wants to work against us.

I don't know how to describe what my hope or expectation WAS. Perhaps a test with a grade that placed him on a rising scale? An evaluation that gave me some prediction based on his progress so far? A name for his present state? The physiatrist said that the various coma or brain injury scales, etc. don't really "fit" his present situation, though she did tell me he is NOT considered in a coma any longer (some have asked). I guess I knew that my expectation of those types of answers was unrealistic, though I still hoped. And I was reminded once again that God remains the only one in control and only He knows our future and what He has planned for us, and what He has planned is what is best. For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith the LORD, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you an expected end. (Jeremiah 29:11)

If I were to recap the appointment, it would be to continue what we are doing, take a few more steps, push just a bit harder… seek progress. She mentioned some ways to do so. For example to have him in the chair twice per day for two hours instead of 3 hours once per day.

I asked about the tracheotomy as well. She said it was not her area of expertise, but that I should talk with the pulmonologist at the facility that sees him regularly about potentially trying the pmv valve for longer periods of time. (I did speak with the pulmonologist since and this has begun, So far, he has seemed to do well with it other than a slight decrease in oxygen, according to one RT, but within safe range. Doing this should strengthen his lungs and diaphragm.)

The physiatrist then asked me if I had any questions. It was one of those moments that are hard to know what to say. I have a million questions that flood my mind endlessly every day, to which I wish I had answers. I hesitated and asked her, "what questions should I ask?" I tried to explain to her that I have been hoping and looking for some answers, at least guidance. She helped me to step back and see that #1 the neurosurgeon was proactive in writing the order for me to go there. Then the neurologist was proactive in trying the earlier medication. And now she had laid out a few steps we could take to try to push forward a bit in various areas. She said let's try these steps and then bring him back in two months to evaluate. I tried to smile and I asked, "are you telling me to 'be patient'?" (It seemed so.) She responded basically that I had been very patient, but that we needed to take the steps we could.

Rest in the Lord, and wait patiently for Him! The verse I have quoted to my husband countless times.

I also asked her perspective of going home, same answer. Be patient (in different words). Focus on the steps you can take and take them rather than looking at where you want to be. Help him to get strong. (my translation)

Seems on the surface the answer is an oxymoron—wait, be patient…take steps, push. God brought to my mind the verses "Stand still and see the salvation of the Lord." I looked them up. If you read the places that was written, they weren't standing still in the sense of not moving forward, it was a resting, depending trust in the Lord while taking the steps he gave them to take.

THE SECOND APPOINTMENT was on December 11th. It was with a practitioner using a different method. I was referred to this method by the author of My Stroke of Insight which I was recommended to read when we were in the ICU initially. Insurance will not cover this method, but having read the related book Children Without Boundaries it seemed very much that it may be something helpful to try giving the brain awareness of parts of the physical body it seems unaware of. (It was mentioned that perhaps he has "right neglect" though sometimes it seems so but not others.) I plan to have the practitioner see him at least a few times. The first appointment the practitioner seemed to just be trying through movement to get to know him and the movement he does and does't have. Please pray that God will use this method if His will to bring him along as well.

Early this morning, surgery was done to replace the feeding tube. The procedure went well, and there are no restrictions. Praise God one of the technicians who traveled in the ambulance to the hospital with Pastor excepted Christ as Savior this mornng! I won't give the details here, but it was God's perfect timing. I believe even including all the delays to getting the peg replaced… Pastor would have called it "the season of the soul." I told Pastor the angels were rejoicing in heaven as he lay on the table.

Now a few general updates, which are praises to the LORD. Pastor Esposito's right hand and arm movement are more frequent. He shakes and nods his head more frequently. He has seemed to want to move his mouth to talk recently on several occasions. He tried a lot yesterday to do "mmmm" and "ahhhhh," but I only hear air; although, he is definitely trying. Hopefully with more "try" he can become stronger, and get enough air through the windpipe to make sound. I have him blow the razor each morning for the same purpose. For some time he has been watching "GEMIINI" a type of speech therapy I found online. His general responsiveness/alertness is growing little by little. His balance seems better when we sit him up. Today we barely held him after we sat him on the side of the bed and put the PBC 25 Year Anniversary video on for him to see. Praise God once again for our little miracles. Praise God for giving us baby steps. Praise God for growing us along the way…teaching us to trust Him more, to depend upon Him more. God is good.

Thank you for your prayer, love, encouragement, notes, e-mails. Thank you for allowing God to use you to encourage us.

May you have a very MERRY CHRISTMAS,

The Esposito Family
P.S. As I am sending this e-mail Pastor is in the chair waiting to go outside. I placed his hat on his lap. He is trying to lift the hat up and tilt his head down!

December 11 (7:00 AM)

Thank you all who prayed for our physiatrist appointment. It went well, and Pastor Esposito was extremely responsive. I will type a more detailed update on the appointment very soon. For now, please pray for another appointment at 11:30 today. It is with a practitioner who uses a specific method that's been very successful to help the brain learn. I believe the way I came about finding her was from the Lord, and pray He will use her to help. I will give more details on that along with the detailed Physiatrist update. I am sorry to keep everyone unposted life has been extremely busy the past week including a long night in ER with one of my children, who is fine, and I have been spending extra time trying to fill in some for one of our church employees who has been very ill.

Pray for a miracle from the Lord on Whom we depend,
Mrs. Joe Esposito

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.