“Deep roots are not reached by the frost.”
J.R.R. Tolkien


The afternoon knows one very important thing: You are stronger than you know.

If anyone had told me what the last eleven months had in store, I wouldn’t have believed them.

You know. You’ve been there, too. Life takes that “blind corner,” and well, the rest is history.

It is during these very tough times that we must have a deep-rooted faith. Why? Because you and I have to have something to stand on when it feels like the entire world around us is caving in.

Monday, June 4, 2013 was one of those exact moments for me.

Mom had been moved from Mary Immaculate Hospital (where her hip replacement took place) to Maryview Acute Rehabilitation Unit (where she would rehab her new hip). Post hip replacement her vitals plummeted (while I was in Kansas at my son’s college graduation) and after many tests and several blood transfusions, she was diagnosed with C-Diff. Little did I know, then, what would come forth as a result of this serious bacterial infection. I tried so hard to be present and celebrate my son’s great achievement, but the emotional tug-of-war ensued.


It seemed as though everything was under control.


The Sunday before. Everything seemed just great!

But early Monday morning, as I was recovering from the flight home and trying to prepare for the day, Mom called…frantic.

“Something is very wrong,” I heard from the other end of the phone.

“Okay, I’m on my way,” I assured her.

She was losing blood again. Lots. I finished dressing and quickly made my way to the hospital. When I arrived, Dr. M assured me everything was stable and that I didn’t need to call anyone.

Within the hour, everything changed. Dr. M approached me, “Janell, I would go ahead and call your family. I’ve called for Rapid Response Team, so don’t panic. It’s protocol. I need to move her to ICU..her condition is worsening fast.”

The dear psychologist, Dr. G., was right outside the door. Because of my mom’s C-Diff, everyone who entered the room could be at risk and therefore had to “suit up.” He kept eye contact with me the entire time.

“I’m here,” he said. “If you need me. Let me know what I can do.”

Trying not to panic, I took a deep breath. Then, I made those calls.

What happened next was a big yellow and blue blur, as everyone (I want to say 15-20 doctors/nurses) on the RRT had to put on those yellow coverings and blue latex gloves.


This dear nurse kept assuring me, “I’ve got this little spring that goes off inside when…you know…it’s only going off a little bit right now…” She kept assuring me all throughout the ordeal. A few days later, she came up to ICU. She said, “I haven’t been wrong yet.” All I could do was give her a big hug.

As they swarmed around my momma, she grew more and more anxious. I stood at the foot of the bed in the midst of it all. My eyes didn’t leave her eyes.

“What’s happening to me?” she cried out to me.

“I’m not sure, but I’m here. Everyone is on their way.”

She grew even more anxious. At that moment, I called out to the RRT team and asked them to please stop and explain what was happening to my mom.

“She doesn’t know what is happening. Please, please stop and let her know.”

Graciously, they did.

Still, I stood at the foot of the bed.

In that moment, I felt sick to my stomach. My knees weakened, my heart raced.

Flashing before my eyes were the last nine months. All I could think was, “Lord, not this way. Please don’t let her die this way. We’ve worked so hard to get her to this place. I don’t want this to be the end. Please, God, hear me.”

Soon my children arrived. Then, my sister.

I found myself facing my mother and then facing my children. Suddenly, I wasn’t only losing a mom, but my children were losing a grandmother.

At that moment, a strength washed over me that I didn’t know I had. Pushing aside my own fears, I summoned the courage to be there for my three children. They needed me. My mom needed me. My sister needed me. Doctors and nurses needed me. My brother needed me (via phone, as he lives in Japan).


Decisions had to be made, quickly and wisely.

Where does strength like that come from? For me, the answer is very simple.

“God is our refuge and strength. A very-present help in time of trouble” (Psalm 46:1).

“The Lord is with me. He is my helper” (Psalm 118:7).

“The Lord is my helper, I will not be afraid” (Hebrews 13:6).

“When I am weak, He is strong” (2 Corinthians 12:10).

God gives us a strength we didn’t even know we had.

Today, I share all this in hopes that it will give you strength for the unknown.

For the things in life that Afternoon knows all about.

For all the medical terms that sound scary and big.

For overwhelming swarms of fast-paced circumstances that make you weak in the knees.

For eyes that give someone else courage in their darkest moment.

My Prayer for You

May you know the God who is Strength.

May you rest in the God who is Courage.

May you abide in the God who is Almighty.


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