Day 116: Helpless
"I only made it 4 miles. I am feeling terrible. There is a road in 3.5 miles from where we are right now. We are going to get to it in the morning and go to Harrisburg." - Katie
That's all Mom and I feel right now…helpless.
Katie, please do whatever it takes to get to the doctor to get a handle on what's making you sick. This is what we've worried about the most as you've been out there on the trail: sickness. I knew that the length of the hike or boredom (or both) threatened your ability to finish this thru-hike, but sickness (or getting hurt) was the thing that has worried me the most. The fact that you've been battling this sickness off and on for the last few weeks means that your body hasn't been able to fend it off. Mom told me that things didn't work out with borrowing Mary the Hostel Owner's van, so please do whatever it takes to get into Harrisburg to see a doctor. Don't worry about the costs…we'll dump money into your account. You need to get healthy!
Please text or call when you know something tomorrow. Mom and I are praying for you.
"O LORD my God, I called to you for help and you healed me." (Psalm 30:2)
Day 117: Watching Over You
"Though I walk in the midst of trouble, you preserve my life; you stretch out your hand against the anger of my foes, with your right hand you save me." (Psalm 138:7)
Let's face it. Most of the time "butt dialing" is an unwanted occurrence. While sitting down your phone in active mode or hanging up from another call…we can end up accidentally calling someone else. As I hung up with Uncle Doug tonight, I walked into the house from the front porch and laid my cell phone on the kitchen counter. That's when I saw that I was butt dialing you, Katie. I told Mom I'd cook dinner tonight...and I needed to get started…but when I saw that my phone was dialing you…I needed to hear your voice more.
It was so good…even though you sounded weak. I know you're sick, Katie…and I know you're up against the wall…feeling like just coming home…but as I said on the phone to you; hang in there. You're so strong and you will fight through this. Take the antibiotics you got at the Doc-in-the-Box at the grocery store…and don't forget that God is REALLY watching over you two.
Mom relayed today's story of your trail magic…that as you two waited outside the grocery store (with Bailey the Dog…because Homegrown was with Smoky at the hospital and couldn't take her) two ladies stopped to talk to you. You told them you were thru-hiking the AT…that your friend Smoky was at the ER getting help for the bug that's got him sick…and that you two had just gotten antibiotics in the grocery store clinic for the bug that Katie's been struggling with.
Two nice old ladies who stopped to talk to the young thru-hiking couple with the black dog.
And you had no idea what was going to happen next…no idea that in the midst of trouble (Katie's sickness)…God was going to stretch out His right hand to save you. This time…it happened to come in the right hand of those two, sweet old ladies who went into the grocery store and quickly returned…handing you a $100.00 bill…paying for your medicine, Katie. ANOTHER $100.00 dollar bill! The second instance of receiving a gift of $100.00 in less than a week! That gives me goosebumps writing it!
It's such an encouragement to see God caring for you two in ways none of us could ever imagine. All I can say and write is that it preserves my life…knowing that God is watching over you the way He is.
Day 118: Present Sufferings
He was in the worst condition of anyone I'd ever seen on a hospital visit--a young man broken and twisted from a motorcycle accident. I stood outside his ICU room with his dad, uncle and grandmother. We watched the team of nurses race around his bed; replacing IV bags…injecting him with medicine…reading printouts…and pushing buttons on the Christmas tree-like tower of monitors by the young man's bedside. While we stood outside the hospital room…watching the flurry of activity…we talked. We talked about the young man's life…his work…and his motorcycle accident. Eventually, his dad and I went to the young man's bedside and we prayed.
A week after that hospital visit, his brother and sister met me after the 9AM service at church. They came to church and asked if I could meet with them. They needed some help--help finding a few Bible verses that they could read to their brother as he lay in a coma in the ICU. We talked…I pointed them to the Book of Psalms…and we prayed.
Today I spoke to his brother again. Things haven't changed and now they have to make some really hard decisions…really, really hard stuff. The doctors have little hope for any kind of healing. The motorcycle accident has damaged the young man beyond repair. And short of a miracle…the family is trying to answer the kind of questions no one ever wants asked of them…the literal decision of life or death. So, Scott Nickell and I are going down to the hospital to visit and pray for the family before their next steps.
We all need a little perspective at times…especially me. It's easy for me to slip into a dark mood…consumed with worry, "what-ifs" and self pity. All it takes is for me to have one crappy day…and the next thing I know…I'm wallowing in that dark place. Then, God kicks me in the backside and sets me straight…like today's phone call from this young man's brother.
I've been worrying about you two on the trail…with Katie sick…wondering what's wrong with her and whether she'll be okay. The truth is…she WILL get better and you two WILL look back on this leg of your journey and relive how hard it was…and how good it was. Tomorrow's a different story for the young man in the coma and his family. Tomorrow's the kind of day we all fear as a family…but the kind of day this young man has been looking forward to. His brother and sister told me about his love for Jesus…and his love for Flatirons…and how he never feared this day. They told me he loved life…and that he also really looked forward to life with Jesus…and how he had already told them what to do in this very situation. He always chose Jesus.
And that's great perspective.
"I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us." (Romans 8:18)
Day 119: Crushed Spirits
"I am still feeling awful. It is almost impossible to hike right now with the heat and rocks. Trying my best and hoping it gets better. I love you guys and thank you for your prayers." - Katie
My heart sank when that text came through, Katie. Again, Mom and I feel helpless. I know this has to be the hardest part of your entire journey so far. As Mom and I talked about this tonight, we want you to know that you need to do whatever it takes to get healthy…whatever it takes. If you need to hop off the trail for a few more days to rest, do it! We'll make sure you're funded for that. I know you need to push yourselves, but if you're too sick to hike…you're TOO sick to hike, right? Don't think about what's ahead right now…just think about getting healthy.
"Smoky is still in town with his parents and Homegrown. He is not doing well. I think he may go home."
I know it doesn't help knowing that you're about to lose Smoky because of sickness. It must be as hard losing another friend from the trail as much as dealing with your own sickness. It's enough to crush your spirits. That's why I want to share a verse from Psalm 34. Scott Nickell read the entire chapter to the family we visited in the hospital this afternoon--the family I wrote about last night. I just want to share one verse from Psalm 34 with you. I hope you both find it comforting too:
"The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit." (Psalm 34:18)
Mom and I are praying that you feel God closer than you have on your entire trip and that…as you feel your spirits being crushed…you place your hope (on getting well and finishing this hike) in the only One who can save you…trusting and knowing He WILL!
Day 120: Fear, Obstacles and Adversity
We talked on the phone for awhile this afternoon, Katie, so you know how Mom and I feel about all this:
1) Your need to get to the hospital to get some real medical help
2) How you need to focus on one thing at a time…dealing with what's at hand…namely getting healthy
3) Letting go of things you have no control over like, how soon you'll be well enough to hike again and when Baxter State Park in Maine really closes for the season
I know it's hard to stay upbeat and positive when you're homesick and feeling crappy and sensing your dream escaping you, but try and focus on the things you can control. Get to the doctor…get a real diagnosis of what's wrong…get the remedy…and spend the time getting well. Then, you and Nick can reevaluate your situation and move on from there. That's all you two can really do and control.
I know it doesn't feel like it, but you two are learning some great lessons…especially right now as you come against the hardest part of your hike; this place that feels insurmountable. I know you're feeling scared and oppressed with your backs against the wall. But here's a few good words:
"Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal." - Henry Ford
"Courage is knowing what not to fear." - Plato
"All the adversity I've had in my life, all my troubles and obstacles, have strengthened me...You may not realize it when it happens, but a kick in the teeth may be the best thing in the world for you." - Walt Disney
"Heal me, O LORD, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise." (Jeremiah 17:14)
Don't lose heart. There are so, so many people praying for you and cheering you on. Stay strong and get well.
Day 121: Pants Off to You!
We expected to hear from you today. To hear whether you were able to hike to Port Clinton, PA and get a ride from your new trail buddy Snart into Reading, PA. Mom and I are trying to stay positive…trying to say, "No news is good news." Please let us know how you're doing. Good or bad…one way or another.
Today began with the text below from Ali. It cracked us all up and was accompanied by this picture:
"I just came downstairs to find Emery like this. And she was on her phone and I heard her say, "Hi Katie. Yeah. Pants off. Ok. Bye." Hahahaha! She is so weird!"
Mom said Em was talking on her toy cell phone the other day and was talking to Nick. I just wanted to let you both know that you're missed…by everyone…and some of us drop our pants to prove the point!
"A happy heart makes the face cheerful…" (Proverbs 15:13)
Day 122: Sustained
This will be short. We spoke on the phone this morning and it's very, very late.
I just wanted to let you both know how glad we were to hear that Katie's feeling better. She still needs to get to the doctor, but it sounds like the antibiotics she got last week are starting to kick in. Please call or text to let us know when you get to a place that will do some blood work on Katie. Our anxiety was eased a little by this morning's phone call, but we're still concerned about her getting a proper diagnosis.
Mom and I will try and follow what King David writes in Psalm 55:22:
"Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous fall."
We're praying for you...for God to sustain you and never let you fall.