Seth Esvelt

April 10th 2014

Update on Seth (and his dad)

April 2014

 “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to be born, and a time to die; a time to plant, and a time to pluck up what is planted.” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-2)

 Here in the Pacific Northwest we are emerging from the wettest March on record, having received nearly nine and a half inches of rain when a typical March only drenches us with something less than four. This obviously factored in on the devastating mudslide that occurred a couple of weeks ago about an hour and a half north of us, which everyone has been kept abreast by the media. April promises to be warmer and drier, and I’m looking forward to getting Seth out in some sunshine, perhaps on one of the local paved walking trails.

 Spring also means the proliferation of color popping out everywhere against the fading winter’s backdrop of evergreens and gray skies with the coming-in-bloom of cherry trees, rhododendrons, forsythias, azaleas, and the like. As a landscape architect, I enjoy working outside—in my own yard (for others, my landscaping is just designing on paper, where the dirtiest my hands get is from a little graphite under my fingernail). In years’ past, after the lean winter months, I always looked forward to spring when the calls would begin coming in from landscape clients and I could make up for lost time financially. But the increase in my design business and yard work this time of year is now added onto to the housework, pastoral responsibilities at my church and, of course, day to day sole care of Seth’s various needs. To put it in perspective, it’s like handing the roles of a part-time landscape designer and pastor to a single mother who has the care of a newborn, along with all the necessary housework and yard work, the only hitch being that a hundred and seventy-pound “child” is not quite as easy to take along on errands as a baby. It’s a trite but true statement that you tend to appreciate a person more once they are gone (and not just for the assistance they provide). “Seth, do you think about your mother a lot?” (rapid blinking of his eyes). “Me, too.”

 Seth’s younger sister, Kirsten, will be married in September. She and her fiancé, Wes Ray, will be married in the backyard of Wes’ parents who, ironically, had me provide a landscape design plan for them about 15 years ago (they attend the same church that our kids grew up in and where I served as associate pastor for 20 years). I will officiate at the wedding and hope to provide some extra splashes of color with the flowers I am currently growing in my greenhouse. This time Seth will be present to watch the ceremony, whereas when Holly was married in April of 2005 Seth was still at the nursing care center. It saddens me that Mary is not here to do the motherly things she would have loved doing for and with our daughter in preparation for the event.

Both Kirsten and Wes purchased their own homes a few years back, and they will move into Kirsten’s place—only ten minutes from me—while Wes rents out his house. I am grateful that both of my daughters remain close by (along with my grandson, naturally) and have been enjoying watching those special years of courtship, early marriage, and the blessing of children, years of my own life that I now look back upon with particular fondness. May the Lord enrich these years for them as He did for Mary and me!

- Craig -

Craig

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October 31st 2013

Update from Craig

October 31, 2013

Sing for joy, O heavens, and exult, O earth; break forth, O mountains, into singing! For the Lord has comforted his people and will have compassion on his afflicted. (Isaiah 49:13)

Exactly one year has transpired since the Lord called my dear Mary to her eternal home. Frankly, I’ve been looking forward to getting past this particular day, because throughout the past year I have found myself frequently wondering, “What were WE doing exactly one year ago on this very date?” and I would often thumb through my last year’s calendar or Mary’s old appointment book to see what we may have been doing on that day. I tried to relive in my mind what that particular experience was like, a clinging attempt to maintain some kind of connection. Just as I had feared the inevitable loss of memories of the ordinary times and conversations I had spent with Seth during the 23 years we had connected as father and son prior to his brain injury, so also do I presently dread the toll that time will surely take on many of the little, day to day remembrances of the wonderful woman who blessed and nourished so much of my life.

Seth is doing well, having had (to my knowledge) only one seizure in the past year which was quickly brought under control with medication I am able to administer. I’m always a bit apprehensive about being away from him when I am working in the yard or taking the dog for a walk. Whenever I have to leave home for errands and appointments I must rely on care givers to be here to stay with him in case of such an emergency. Sometimes they are friends who have volunteered to help and a couple of others are paid by the hour by a care-giving organization that receives a portion of the monthly allotment of hours I receive from the Department of Social and Health Services. The rest of those hours now take up most of my time and make up much of my own income. How could I ever have imagined that my son would be (passively) supporting me at this time of life?

I am fortunate that both of my daughters live close by and Seth and I are able to make frequent visits to their homes (my grandson is a special attraction), or they are able to drop by our place. Holly and Kirsten are both far better cooks than I am, a skill passed down from their mother. Kirsten, in fact, drops by most every Thursday evening to cook a meal for us and beat me at Scrabble. I know that Seth also enjoys my hosting other couples over for a meal and listening in on our conversations (I do remarkably well with Papa Murphy’s pizzas!). A couple of weeks ago I took him for an outing to a nearby walking trail (I push and he rides in the wheelchair) and we stopped on an old railroad trestle to watch the red backs of the salmon spawning in the Cedar River below.

It’s hard to know how he has coped with the loss of his mother. I’m sure he misses her cheerful voice and her bustling about and must resign himself to listening to the radio or stereo or watching TV while his dad is necessarily preoccupied elsewhere. For my part, each day is taken one at a time. For the past year and a half, since the day we discovered Mary’s tumor on May 13, 2012, I have dropped into bed each night and prayed the same three things: “Lord, I trust in Your unfailing love” . . . “Lord, help me to (continue to) trust in Your unfailing love” . . . “Lord, show me Your unfailing love.” And He has been faithful. Ten years ago, just a couple of months after Seth’s accident and on this very day of October 31st, I highlighted a paragraph from Oswald Chamber’s My Utmost for His Highest, which read: “Faith by its very nature must be tried, and the real trial of faith is not that we find it difficult to trust God, but that God’s character has to be cleared in our own minds. Faith in its actual working out has to go through spells of unsyllabled isolation. Never confound the trial of faith with the ordinary discipline of life; much that we call the trial of faith is the inevitable result of being alive. Faith in the Bible is faith in God against everything that contradicts Him-I will remain true to God’s character whatever He may do. ‘Though he slay me, yet will I trust Him’-this is the most sublime utterance of faith in the whole of the Bible.”

 

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June 11th 2013

Update from Craig

June 10, 2013

 “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” (2 Timothy 4:6-8)

 Years ago on this very day (June 10th) Mary and I stood side by side in her parents’ backyard overlooking a panorama of forested hills and rolling wheat fields and recited our wedding vows. She was absolutely stunning, we were both deeply in love, and we looked forward to spending our lives together. Today would have been our 41st anniversary.

 Fairly early in our marriage Mary purchased a small journaling book with the idea of recording the events of each wedding anniversary. Realizing that we couldn’t even recall the way we had celebrated our first several anniversaries, she wanted both of us to write down, every June 10th, where we had gone to eat, movies we might have seen, or other places we had stayed for an overnighter or two. In addition to the events of that special day we also wrote a page or so reflecting on the previous year, specifically, the happenings that had made that year significant (both positive and negative) and which had a part in shaping our lives and adding to our treasure chest of memories. We were open and honest in sharing our feelings of joy, anticipation, and (most notably in 2003 with Seth’s accident) our disappointments and grief. That little blue book was one of the best investments we ever made, for such memories often otherwise fade to a few fleeting images or are lost altogether, and those pages became a source of enjoyment each year as we not only made our respective entries but would often read back, out loud together, over the many recollections of job changes, children’s milestones, trips and holidays, the physical challenges brought on by Mary’s rheumatoid arthritis, and so forth.

 Our last anniversary in 2012 had only one entry, mine, since Mary was at a rehabilitation facility recovering from brain surgery and did not have the opportunity to write in the book. I had brought her home for a few hours that day, ordered lunch out so we could enjoy a good meal together, and then had taken her back to the rehab center. Later, I remembered the book and made my own entry, citing (as you might expect) the emotional highs and lows of the previous months. The year had begun with multiple blessings of our eldest daughter’s pregnancy with the anticipation of our first grandchild, our younger daughter’s purchase of a home, and a new and seeming ideal position for me on staff at a nearby church. Life had taken an upswing, and after some difficult years we were experiencing some renewed optimism, but then we were blindsided by the news of a malignant brain tumor in Mary on Mother’s Day. I ended my entry that day with the words, “So, this has been one of the hardest years ever, not unlike 2003 with Seth’s accident. What will the next year hold? Hopefully, . . . the Lord will give us many more years.”

Several weeks after Mary’s passing on October 31st I was taken with a bout of nostalgia and decided to retrieve the little book out of its drawer and read some of my precious wife’s words from years gone by. Imagine my surprise to discover she had made a final entry, unbeknownst to me, several weeks after our anniversary when she had finally returned home from the rehab facility! Now, months removed, I was brought to tears as I read a final communication from my beloved, who penned, “There is no way I could love or respect Craig any more than I do at this moment in time. We have been hit hard and we’re still standing. His strength, drawn from the Lord over years of discipline, has held our family and lives together. I pray God gives us MANY more years to minister together and even the most fruitful would still be ahead.”

 Apparently, in the providence and perfect mind of God, He had other designs, and in His plan a blessed marriage and life were necessarily coming to completion. And ironically (if not fittingly), after pages and pages of the years of the chronicles of our lives, Mary’s final words that expressed her anticipation of the birth of our grandson—“Can’t wait to meet Holly and Matthew’s little boy soon”—completed the last line of the very last page of that little blue book! She could have written “The End,” but for her it was soon to be the beginning of something new and greater and more enduring.

 Mary’s ashes were laid to rest on June 2nd at a little cemetery at Dartford, just north of Spokane, where my great-grandfather had settled in the 1890′s and where most of my clan is buried. At the small graveside gathering I read the words of an 18th century Italian priest, Ugo Bassi, which seem to sum up her life quite well:

 “Measure thy life by loss and not by gain;

Not by the wine drunk but by the wine poured forth.

For love’s strength standeth in love’s sacrifice

And he who suffereth most has most to give.”

 -Craig-

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May 22nd 2013

Update from Craig

May 2013

 “Teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom.” (Psalm 90:12)

 It was just a year ago this month that my family’s life was turned on its head, so to speak, with a second major upheaval. The first one occurred nearly ten years ago, in August of 2003, when Seth suffered a near-fatal car accident that left him in a severely and permanently disabled condition with a brain injury. Then a year ago Mary was diagnosed with a malignant brain tumor, suffered through a major brain surgery, radiation and chemo treatments, and finally succumbed in October. The sadness and sense of great loss goes on, tempered by the grace of God, Who “comforts us in all our affliction.”

I am heartened by the fact that Mary’s influence continues on in several ways. First of all are the kind words of friends and acquaintances who have shared how her life impacted their own lives by her godly example and practical counsel. Happily, this will not necessarily cease. A few months ago I was looking through some old boxes of cassettes and found a ten-week series of Sunday lessons she taught the ladies at a former church entitled “Teach Us to Number Our Days,” one of her favorite Bible verses and a statement that well-expresses the intentionality of her life—informative messages on various biblical disciplines, of being a wife and mother, and ministries that were drawn from her own life experiences. Having not attended that class myself, I was impressed with the practicality of it all and was blessed by being reminded of many scenarios from our family’s past. I’ve transferred them to CD’s in hopes of perpetuating her teaching ministry and am pleased to hear that a former church will use them at a women’s retreat next fall.

Finally, the balance of the donations from Mary’s well fund (over $32,000) have been sent to Charity: Water—an organization that installs water wells in areas of Africa that desperately need clean water (most of the diseases in that nation stem from impure water). With the monies we provided, two deep bore wells will be installed in the Tigray region of northern Ethiopia, one being a community well and the other a well and other sanitary facilities for a school. From start to finish the projects will take about 18 months; information on the progress of each well will be provided from time to time and ultimately a GPS coordinate will be assigned on each well and their respective sites can be viewed at www.charitywater.org. Also, a bronze plaque in Mary’s name will be installed at each well. Hopefully, at some time in the future my son-in-law, Matthew, who served as a nurse in Ethiopia a few years back, will be able to view these wells with our grandson, Andrew (a fitting tribute to his grandmother).

 Charity: Water informed me that an anonymous donor has offered to match any funds for work in that area at this time, so an additional community well and school project will be provided beyond that sponsored by Mary’s well fund—four deep well projects total, all because of a desire Mary had last fall for our family to collect loose change up until Christmas and donate the proceeds to some charitable organization for digging a well somewhere in Africa! Not only so, my youngest daughter, Kirsten, organized a combined birthday party for her and friends last week that raised over $2,000 for another Charity: Water project.

 Otherwise, Seth seems to be doing well. With warmer weather on the horizon he will be able to sit outside and enjoy the sunshine he loved in former years. He remains remarkably fit for one in his situation, with daily routines in the Quadriciser, a passive exercise machine, and episodes on a tilt board that is designed to keep his leg bones strong and his feet properly straight and flexible. I am grateful for the friends who offer to come over and stay with him when I need to get out for errands and appointments.

 -Craig-

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January 28th 2013

Update from Craig Esvelt

January 2013

“When through the deep waters I call thee to go, the rivers of sorrow will not overflow;

For I will be with thee, thy troubles to bless, and sanctify to thee thy deepest distress.”

(old Christian hymn)

People continually ask how I am doing since Mary’s eternal home going. The loss of my beloved wife, compared to—in a manner of speaking—that of Seth, by virtue of his traumatic brain injury over nine years ago, has impacted me differently. Even though we did not deal with an actual, physical death with regard to our son, the grief I experienced after Seth’s accident has been of a sharper, more devastating kind of pain, for it not only entails a loss of companionship with the son I had known but the horrible realization that (for him) life as he had known it was effectively over at age 23, that he would never experience so much of the good things it had to offer. His was a life cut prematurely short, one of so much potential unrealized and dreams unfulfilled. Mary, on the other hand, ran the course of her life very well, having enriched more people’s lives in a very positive way than most women who live well beyond the 62 years that was given her (and I think those who knew her well would agree). I loved her more deeply than anyone this side of heaven and I certainly miss her presence and grieve the loss of her companionship, her encouragement, and so many other ways she blessed my life, but she first of all belonged to her Savior and I accept that she was “on loan” to me from the Lord. Part of the way I deal with the grief of her absence is in purposing to thank God for the 40 great years He gave us rather than succumbing to resentment for the loss of the 20 or so years I presumed I still had coming to us. The assurance that she is very much alive in a very real place that transcends anything this earth has to offer—and that we will be reunited someday—is truly a wonderful benefit of my faith in Jesus Christ, a great source of comfort. To put it another way, I grieve over Mary (my loss, my pain), but not for her (since she is better off now), whereas I have grieved both over Seth and for him. Surely the prayers of so many of our friends have, as well, cushioned the blow my family has been dealt, and for that I am grateful.

Aside from the predictable emotional ups and downs, life has also taken a turn so far as activities and responsibilities are concerned. Much of my days are now spent having to do what Mary did so well and what was too often taken for granted—doing the laundry, cooking dishes, house cleaning, as well as the daily routines of Seth’s care, e.g., bathing, food preparation, adjusting his position, changing pads, getting him in and out of his passive exercise machine, and so forth. Although he cannot communicate in any meaningful fashion, I find that just having another person in the house is comforting; it would be more difficult to endure Mary’s absence if I had been left all alone in this house. Seth affords me another reason to get up each morning. The downside is being so utterly homebound; each time I need to leave home for various appointments, church, groceries, and any other necessary errands, I have to plan ahead and secure someone to be here with him, and even then for only a matter of hours. I am blessed by the friends who have stepped in to help. Such a restricted lifestyle is a far cry from the anticipated “empty nest” years Mary and I had envisioned together years ago. And who would have thought, at this stage of life, that I would be assuming the role of a “single parent”?!

Seth seems to be doing well, although he and I recently had a nasty virus to deal with despite our having had flu shots. He still smiles frequently and gratuitously at my lame attempts at humor, and is probably looking forward to sunnier days to come when he can spend more time outside on the patio. I regret that so much of his social life is now limited to the presence of only one parent; undoubtedly he misses his mom’s loving care and bright spirit. Visits with my six month-old grandson and Seth’s nephew are a welcome event; Andrew is a happy little fellow and we often sit him on Seth’s lap in the wheelchair.

My daughters and I have been supremely blessed by the response to the Mary Esvelt Well Fund, by which we intend to support the digging of wells to provide fresh water for Ethiopians and perhaps others as well. Donations have exceeded $30,000 so far, which far surpasses anything Mary envisioned in the month prior to her death when she asked us as a family to begin collecting loose change in water bottles that would be cashed in at Christmas. She who refreshed so many spiritually in this life will continue to refresh others physically though she now resides in heaven! Donations can be made to: Valley View Christian Church, at 25605 124th Ave. SE, Kent, WA 98030, to make her influence ongoing.

If you haven’t yet viewed the 9-minute video of Mary’s life and snippets of her teaching that was shown at her memorial service, you can click on to www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGuxr_UxByQ

-Craig-

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November 23rd 2012

November 22, 2012

A Husband and Father’s Perspective

On November 1st, the day after his mother passed away, Seth had a pained expression on his face that generally means something hurts. I usually ask him, “Seth, if something hurt’s, blink your eyes and I’ll get you some Tylenol.” This time there was no response until I said, “If you’re feeling sad because of your mom, blink your eyes,” and he immediately blinked several times. For him and me, there will now be a “new normal” around the house, without the precious woman who had been so much the very heart of our family, whose love and daily sacrifices were too often taken for granted. On this Thanksgiving Day, I am particularly thankful for the 40 wonderful years the Lord granted me to spend with such a special lady.

Mary’s memorial service drew over 600 people, even filling the balcony of the large church with folks standing two deep in the back, and many others were viewing it on the internet. It was a tribute to a life well-lived, for she had obviously touched many lives. Mary had instructed me a few months earlier that she didn’t want anyone to preach a sermon at her memorial service, she just wanted meto share some thoughts and memories. Somehow I managed to do that. Many friends and acquaintances had written in to offer their condolences and memories of her as well, and two pastors and an elder from the three churches we have been part of read about four pages of these testimonies, selections that had been whittled down from about 35 pages of cards and emails I had accumulated during the previous couple of weeks. One that was read had been sent from a woman in our church. She said, About two weeks before Mary died, I was listening to her tell a few of us what she had been telling Seth. She said that she had been telling him that she would be waiting for him in heaven and that she couldn’t wait to hear EVERYTHING that he had been thinking over the past years. She was so excited to be able to sit with him and LISTEN to him. Her sweet mother’s heart was so evident. Dying really meant nothing to her, but getting to communicate again with Seth meant so much. It blessed my heart!!

I presented my two daughters with a ruby each, something that Mary had also requested I do. These will be placed in a setting of the girls’ choice to remind them of Proverbs 31:10-“Who can find a virtuous woman? For her price is far above rubies”—an encouragement for them each time they look at these gems to be that kind of woman and to bring to their minds their mother, who was such a woman.

We had hoped to record the memorial service but, due to unforeseen limitations, we were not able to do so. Our hope is that someone who may have viewed the service online may also have saved it onto their home computer (let us know if you are out there!). Aside from that, a nine and a half minute video of Mary’s life and video excerpts of her teaching that was shown at the conclusion of her memorial service will soon be made available for downloading for those of you who knew her. In the meantime, this video may be viewed at: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oGuxr_UxByQ&feature=youtu.be

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November 15th 2012

November 14, 2012

A Husband’s Reflections

It was two weeks ago this morning that my beloved Mary went to be with her Lord after struggling for five and a half months with the effects of a malignant brain tumor. The flurry of activity of preparations that need to be made, friends dropping by, and the day to day care of Seth and other routines have kept my mind and body occupied. Still, with time to reflect on our immense loss, my daughters and I are amazed at the sustaining grace of God, and we can truly say that we are rejoicing in the midst of our sorrow that Mary, who was the very heart of our family, is now relieved of all suffering and is herself rejoicing in a far better place. For us, days of loneliness will surely come.

We have been incredibly blessed by the cards and emails from friends who have shared how Mary impacted their lives. They will be saved for our grandchildren, to provide them with a fuller portrait of their grandmother whom they never had the opportunity to become acquainted with.

A memorial service for Mary will be held this Saturday, November 17th, at the Kent Covenant Church in Kent, Washington, 12010 SE 240th St., at 4:00 PM. Of course, we are planning to have Seth in attendance along with the rest of the family. For any of you who would have liked to attend but are unable to, we are planning to have a live streaming of the service on the internet, which can also be accessed later. Here is how you can watch the memorial service of Mary Esvelt: The service starts at 4:00 PM Pacific Standard Time; the streaming of the Service will begin 10 minutes before the service starts. Click on the following link:

http://www.ustream.tv/channel/mary-esvelt-memorial-service

If this does not work, copy the link and paste it into your web browsers address bar. If you are unable to view the live broadcast, the memorial video will be recorded and stored online. Follow the above link to the page and scroll down. You will find the video towards the bottom of the page. Click on it to begin playing. Ustream requires you to have ‘flash’ installed on your browser to view the wedding. Most browsers already have flash installed. If you do not, you can follow the below link to install it. Click on the following link:

http://get.adobe.com/flashplayer/

If this does not work, copy the link and paste it into your web browsers address bar.

Mary always enjoyed hearing our son-in-law, Matthew Rollosson, relate stories of his time working with the underprivileged in Ethiopia. Shortly before her death, Mary indicated her hope that our grandson, Andrew, and his father could someday return to Ethiopia for a short-term mission so that Andrew could catch a vision for helping others who are more disadvantaged than us, and she initiated setting aside the resources for such a trip.

Mary’s second wish was to largely forego gifts this holiday season, and she instead asked family members to begin collecting loose change in water bottles which would be combined at Christmas and donated to a relief agency for the purpose of digging a well in Africa, perhaps even in Ethiopia. After Mary’s passing, some friends suggested expanding Mary’s wishes beyond her own dream by setting up a foundation with World Vision, Inc., that could actually be used to fund the installation of such a well in Ethiopia as well as assist in other relief work in developing countries. Such a foundation can be implemented once $25,000 is provided to World Vision, from which funds may then be drawn for such specific purposes. To that end, tax-deductible donations can be sent—and made out to—Valley View Christian Church, 25605 124th Ave. SE, Kent, WA 98030, designated as “Mary Esvelt Well Fund.”

What a tribute it would be to Mary that her grandchild(ren) could one day visit a well in Africa that was funded by those who knew and loved her!

-Craig-

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November 1st 2012

October 31, 2012

A Husband’s Reflections

“We do not want you to be uniformed, brothers, about those who are asleep, that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope.”

She was my love, my strong companion, my encouragement, and the most precious thing to me this side of heaven, and God blessed us with 40 wonderful years together. But my dear wife left us this morning to meet with her Lord Whom she has loved and served so faithfully these many years. This loss for me and the girls, so unexpected this soon, hasn’t really sunk in at this point, and I don’t know how much Seth is able to process her leaving.

Mary awoke as usual this morning, and after helping her get dressed and stand up, she said she suddenly felt sick. Nothing hurt, but she just felt really bad and it continued to worsen until she said I should call 911. The medic unit and paramedics had difficulty finding her blood pressure and she became increasing agitated until they finally took her by stretcher out to the aid car parked outside on the street. By that time she had become unconscious. Prior to leaving for the hospital, the paramedic said her heart was “going in and out on her” and he suspected a pulmonary blood clot. The seriousness of the situation took on an even greater gravity as I passed the back of the aid car at the hospital and saw the medic pushing rhythmically on her chest. After checking in, I was taken to the emergency operating room while I held her hand and a team of hospital staff continued to work on her until it became apparent that her heart would not come back on its own. The physician said it had all the signs of a pulmonary embolism and there was nothing that could have been done under the circumstances.

The last MRI on her brain, a couple of weeks ago, had showed a slight decrease in the tumor, most likely due to the new medication, and although this provided some encouragement we realized it just bought her a little more time, unless God intervened. I had prayed some time ago that, should the Lord’s intention be to take her home to be with Him rather than heal her outright, she would not have to waste away physically and mentally with the brain tumor but that He could somehow take her more quickly. She would have wanted that as well, and apparently the Lord has granted our wish.

We are tentatively planning a memorial service for Mary Esvelt on November 17th (Saturday) at 4:00 pm at Kent Covenant Church in Kent, Washington.

Mary’s stated purpose in life was “to make the invisible God visible.” She did not fear death, she was confident of where she was going based on her faith in Him who died and rose for her. We were even reading a book by Randy Alcorn, “Heaven,” as a sort of preparation for what would likely come. Yet one of Mary’s sorrows was that she would not be there for our grandchildren (she would have made a fantastic grandma!). I want our grandchildren, as much as possible, to know what kind of wonderful, godly woman their grandmother was. So, any of you who knew Mary and were somehow impacted by her life, please share your impressions or memories with me (concisely) by email. My daughters and I will read through them and will have some of them read at Mary’s memorial service (for sake of time we probably won’t be able to read them all) and, in any event, they will all be compiled for our grandson, Andrew (and any other grandchildren that come along later) so that they may know their grandmother a little better, as seen through the eyes of those her life touched. You can send your emails to: cesvelt@juno.com or mesvelt@juno.com

In the meantime, I would appreciate you keeping me, Holly, Seth, and Kirsten in your prayers. Much thanks for your support.

-Craig-

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September 15th 2012

Update on Mary (with reflections)

Sept. 14, 2012

“My father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you will.” (Matt. 26:39)

A number of months after Seth’s accident, and when it had become clear—barring a miraculous intervention—that he would never regain most of his functions, I was speaking with a person who had known both of us well, who remarked, “How can I believe in a God who has let this happen to Seth?” I’m sure that that was not an isolated opinion. My response was something to the effect of, “I don’t understand why God allowed this tragedy to happen, and I certainly don’t like it, but at least the fact that I believe there is a sovereign, loving God who has a divine plan and purpose for it all gives me hope and comfort, because if there was no loving God Who ultimately was in control of all things I would be left with nothing but a feeling of senselessness and despair.” And so we trusted God in spite of the confusion and pain and were given grace to move on.

Today, nine years later, we ironically find ourselves in a similar circumstance in that we are enduring a trial that we certainly would not have wanted, but nonetheless believing that God is in control and has His own purposes for all that transpires. The irony extends even further, to the very reasons for our trial (though from different causes)—damage to the right side of the brain in both Seth and Mary. Sadly, an MRI revealed this week that the radiation and chemo treatments have failed to kill off what was left of Mary’s aggressive brain tumor, and the tumor is actually growing back. More surgery is probably not an option because it could cause severe neurological damage. The only medical recourse left is to begin bi-monthly infusions of a drug called Avastin, which inhibits the formation of blood vessels, including those that would feed the tumor. If the drug works as hoped, it could extend her life for a year or perhaps a little more; if not, she may only have a few months left. The infusions will begin next week, and in six weeks another MRI will reveal whether the drug is doing any good. In the meantime, her dizziness has gotten worse, due likely to the effects of the tumor and as well as a cataract on her right eye that has accelerated its growth due to all the recent medical activity. She will most likely have surgery to remove the cataract in a couple of weeks and that, plus any good the infusions may accomplish, might at least reduce her dizziness and help restore much of her vision. Her frustration in not being able to do even simple, day to day functions and having to depend on others for so much of the time is a reminder of what Seth has most likely had to endure to an even greater degree these past nine years.

We had always encouraged and comforted each other with the notion that, although Seth’s care and condition was an ongoing weight to be borne and continual source of sadness, we at least had each other to share the burden. Now, for the future, we can only trust in God’s faithfulness; He was there to dispense necessary grace when it was needed nine years ago and will surely do the same in the days ahead. We are so very grateful for all of you who have been lifting us up in prayer; we realize that God is still able to turn things around if it suits His glory and so we continue to covet your intercessions. How I would love to see our Lord step in and (this time!) confound medical science! Yet we bow to His will.

“When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and through the rivers, they shall not overwhelm you; when you walk through the fire you shall not be burned, and the flame shall not consume you. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior.” (Isa. 43:2-3)

-Craig-

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July 29th 2012

Update on the Esvelts – July 28, 2012

The period of five-day a week radiation treatments and daily chemotherapy dosage for Mary has been completed; she will now get a month’s rest before beginning a new regimen of chemotherapy. These treatments were designed to attack the cancerous cells of the remaining portion of the brain tumor and render them unable to divide, in hope that the remnant of the tumor will continue to shrink and die off over the next couple of months. As mentioned earlier, there is no guarantee of this; as her oncologist remarked, “This is one of the worst kinds of tumors in one of the worst possible places.” And so we continue to hope and pray that our desire for healing and God’s ultimate glory would coincide.

In the meantime, Mary continues to deal with the effects of the tumor, the surgery, and the subsequent treatments—a reality of the “crushing” she alluded to in one of her former updates. Although her speech is relatively unaffected, her ability to translate her mental/thought intentions into physical/mechanical processes has been compromised. She has all but given up trying to type messages on the keyboard (her last couple of updates were transcribed by me from her written notes). Formerly simple procedures such as normal household chores, making a sandwich, getting dressed, etc., have become daunting tasks. Everything she attempts to do is harder and takes much more time than before. A continual frustration is dizziness, the result of a damaged muscle from one of her eyes making that eye a split second slower than the other. That, coupled with a loss of peripheral vision on her left side, makes it impossible to take in things at a glance, so she misses a lot. She can (carefully) walk around the house because there are things to hold onto, but she cannot walk unassisted outside the home. Her short-term memory has also been affected to an extent. At this point it is unknown as to whether these, and other symptoms, are the result of the original tumor just putting pressure on her brain—in which case they may gradually return, or whether they are the result of the tumor actually invading parts of the brain, in which case the damage may be permanent. You cannot imagine the difficulty of being so restricted and just wanting to be “her old self” again, particularly at a time when we were hoping to be involved in our new church and ministry.

One ray of light in this otherwise “dark night of the soul” has been the July 13th arrival of our new grandson, Andrew Craig Rollosson, who has become a joy to his parents, Matthew and our daughter Holly, and to us. When I held him up in front of Seth for their first introduction, Seth began making shapes with his mouth as if he wanted to talk to his little nephew.

“Relent, O Lord! How long will it be? Have compassion on your servants. Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may sing for joy and be glad all our days. Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, for as many years as we have seen trouble. May your deeds be shown to your servants, your splendor to their children. May the favor of the Lord our God rest upon us.” – Psalm 90:13-17

-Craig-

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