Latest Update

June 11 (7:35 AM)

Thank you for reading our updates and for your faithful long-time prayer for Pastor Esposito. It's been a month now since the trach removal. Overall, Pastor is doing well. He's been more alert, and his voice seems to be getting stronger. We're very thankful that speech therapy is still working with him on his voice and swallow. He's definitely getting stronger. He's able to use his tongue to press back against the stick, move his tongue side to side, attempt to lick his lips. These are all evidence he's getting stronger in that area. One thing still lacking that's important (and most of the reason he was on the trach so long) is that he still can't seem to figure out how to clear or cough intentionally. His reflexive cough has been there for a while, but it's still really important for him to be able to do this on purpose. I don't know what's working or not in the throat. Please pray it all wakes up! I talked to one family and their loved one has been told that some of the muscles in there are paralyzed. I was worried this past week since he was very congested. They did an X-ray and blood work to make sure it isn't pneumonia. This morning though he still sounds very congested. They said the X-ray revealed no pneumonia. We were praying for that! Thank the Lord. I think it sometimes sits in his throat and he can't process it, but thankfully it's not in his lungs. We pray God gives us the next miracle and Pastor is able to have the feeding tube removed and eat again. As he gets his feeding tube feeding, we thank the Lord that his organs are able to work and digest food at all, but we also pray for the miracle of eating and removing the feeding tube soon.

Therapy is going well. He was lifting his left leg all the way, moving it forward, and setting his body weight on it in the walking frame. This is an improvement over just moving it forward while someone helps lift it. We've seen a bit more on the right side. Praise God for allowing us the opportunity to attend High Hopes Head Injury. I pray each time as he's in various equipment that God will use it. I realize it's only God's touch that heals.

Pastor has his very alert days, which are much more alert and communicative than ever, and he has his days like yesterday where he is just exhausted. I think he gives all he can until he just can't give any more. He's in very good spirit just about all the time. He smiles and laughs a lot. Yesterday, he couldn't keep his eyes open for speech therapy and wasn't opening his mouth. I whispered, jokingly, "Don't be stubborn" which he found to be very funny and he was laughing out loud. We laugh mostly at the sign language he attempts to use, but which I can't understand! I say all the time, "We can laugh or cry–may as well as laugh." (Not that I never cry ). On the medical side, I do hope to ask the neurologist soon if he thinks it's safe to remove or lighten the Keppra more. Besides that, the only medication is a light "non-drowsy" allergy medication. I did notice a new level of distant awareness recently as he was turning his head toward the hallway on the right (he tends toward the left) and even asked what someone was doing out there.

One of my concerns, at least sometimes what I wonder, is what my husband is thinking Spiritually. So often I ask him little questions to see what his responses are. The other day I played one of our family's favorite songs, "I Have Been Blessed." When it said, "arms that can raise, legs that can walk," I wondered what He was thinking. I asked, "Can we still thank God without the arms that can raise and legs that can walk?" To which he gave a sincere nod of his head.

In another example, I listened to Pastor Fugate's message on moms on Mothers' Day. I told my husband the thing that stood out to me was when he said about praying moms that the most influential prayer that his mom ever prayed was a prayer that wasn't answered. Then he went on to talk about how his mom prayed for his dad's healing and God said no and his dad went to heaven. He talked about how his mom continued to trust God anyway. When I told my husband that lesson I'd taken from the message he raised his left arm as high as he could and with a closed fist did three "fist pumps" as in AMEN.

Those moments are such an encouragement to me knowing my husband praises and thanks God still in spite of his confinement to his body for so long. That's what I want for Him and for our family to know God's in control still and to be able to see all the goodness of God. We were blessed to be moved in a middle bed when we left sub-acute (I'd have wanted a window bed.) between the two most encouraging patients here. One said yesterday, "Have I told you how I know if it's a good day?" "I woke up!" (I did talk to him about the potential of waking up in Heaven one day.) Today I said to him, "It's a beautiful day, isn't it? But every day is a beautiful day, right?" He said, "Yes, every day is a beautiful day if you just open your eyes."

Thank you again for your prayer and encouragement!

May 18 (3:43 PM)

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

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

May 6 (6:16 AM)

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

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

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

Thank you for your faithful prayer.

April 28 (10:12 AM)

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

Let me share some examples of alertness and progress:

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

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

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

A few other updates:

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

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

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

March 7 (5:38 PM)

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

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

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

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

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

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.