Determined Steps

Our lives never stray far from Proverbs 16:9.

In their hearts human beings plan their lives.
    But the Lord decides where their steps will take them. (NIRV)

Our plans for this summer have been determined by the Lord before we ever left Mexico. We’re only along for the ride it seems. So far, we’ve seen most everything we intended to do come to pass, but very few pieces of the logistical puzzle have come to pass the way we had planned it. We’re so glad too. God’s ways are higher than our ways and God’s wisdom infinitely surpasses our own wisdom.

Our main goals for this summer have been these:

  • to help Cameron in his transition of moving to the USA for college and beyond
  • for me (Alan) to find medical answers to my sleep issues and to have my heart condition evaluated by an American cardiologist
  • for our family to rest and recover from the stress that ministry, health, and life transitions have had on all of us
  • to connect with family in the USA as our travels allow

In early May when we arrived in Dallas, we had no idea that the sleep clinic would uncover the source of stress that caused the heart attacks that I experienced in early March. The physical problem was greater than we had imagined. To the praise of God, the clinic also discovered a solution in the form of the ASV device that I use now every night for sleep. From what was a dangerous level of nearly 26 sleep apnea events per hour of sleep, with the aid of this device, I’m experiencing less than 1 per hour on almost every night and have never experienced anywhere near as many as 5 per hour which is the minimal goal.

By the end of May, it was not just a goal to locate an American cardiologist, the results of the sleep study made it imperative to locate one who could monitor the sleep and medication situation. We realized that we would not be in Dallas for just a couple of weeks as we had originally planned. We would need to remain in Dallas through all of June. Where would we stay?

Of course, we have a God who does not reside strictly in time and space. He also resides in tomorrow and beyond in eternity. The Lord already had our steps determined and His plans were firm. Co-workers who were planning to leave Dallas for a couple of weeks to attend to their son’s wedding and some ministry opportunities out West, offered us the use of their rented trailer as they were happy to have us house-sit for them. By the time they had only been away for a week or so, their plans which had been also been determined by the Lord were being revealed to them by the Lord. They were clearly not coming back until early July. We then had a place to stay throughout our unexpected (to us) extended stay in Dallas.

The sleep clinic and the cardiologist at Baylor Hospital both were able to find the solutions needed in order for the recovery of my heart and health to continue. We hit the road and left Dallas immediately following the last follow-up with the cardiologist on June 30.

From there we continued north with our original plan to stay in a mission home in central Michigan, delayed but with the overall plan still intact. The timing was perfect so that we could arrive July 1st at my oldest brother’s home in New Albany, IN for a 4 day holiday weekend. This also worked out to allow my other brother and family to drive up from South Carolina and join us for a couple of enjoyable family days.

In those long weeks of June, I wasn’t sure just what our next trip segment would be. I contemplated spending time as family somewhere in east Tennessee near the Smoky Mountains. The weather is cool there and the mountains and streams are so relaxing. I couldn’t find a place that seemed right, so I ditched that idea for the more direct route north.

From there, we had the opportunity for Bethie to have a long-overdue appointment with the neurologist in central Indiana who she first visited last summer. This doctor has an amazing set of skills that meets Bethie’s needs perfectly, and while quite expensive, she has been a godsend for finding solutions to various health issues that seem beyond the reach of any Mexican neurologist that Beth has tried. Our friends who live nearby and who introduced Beth to this doctor were so kind to host us for the night and to even make it possible for the boys to enjoy an evening of tubing on a nearby lake with their teens and teen friends of theirs.

From there we kept to our original plan of visiting Beth’s sister and her family for a day in Chesterton, Indiana with just about 3 hours separating us from finally reaching our goal of the mission house in Michigan.

However, once again, the Lord had a different decision for our steps. The evening we arrived in Chesterton, I began to not feel well. By the time we reached our motel room that night, I was experiencing back and abdominal pain that I had not experienced before. Was it like the pain I experienced with the heart attacks? I wasn’t sure. It didn’t seem like it. My symptoms grew worse as I contemplated what to do. Beth searched the Internet quickly for a medical facility covered by our insurance, for just in case. She found one.

I finally decided that the pain was too great and too prolonged to wait any longer. We jumped in the van and I drove to the ER she had located. It was less than 2 blocks and one stop sign away from the motel. Within seconds of when I walked in and told them I was a cardio patient experiencing symptoms, medical personnel were literally running. Within a few more minutes my vital signs were evaluated. Everything seemed fine, except there was a problem in the blood work they took. I was having some sort of cardiac event. By this time they were administering medications, even while I was by this time vomiting (to my relief actually).

An ambulance rushed me to the hospital about 15 miles away. By the time I arrived there, I was feeling much better and the pain subsided almost completely. By morning the cardiologist there determined that there was likely a blockage somewhere in my heart that to-date had not exhibited signs of having any problems. I needed an angiogram that day to determine what was going on.

By early evening, the specialist had me in the room for the angiogram and within about 30-45 minutes, all was done. All was well. There was not only no blockage in the area of concern, he was able to determine that all my heart’s arteries were clear of any blockages as well as the stent. The conclusion was I had experienced an uncontrolled angina. The cardiologist also determined that I should have been taking a couple of meds that so far had not been prescribed. I was also prescribed nitroglycerin with instructions on how and when to take this medication and what decisions I would need to make when taking it. I couldn’t ask for a better turn of events.

In the meantime, my mother-in-law who lives with us in Mexico but who was also in Chesterton for a summer visit with her daughter and family made a phone call to a local church and discovered that the church had recently re-opened a house near that church to be used by their missionaries when stateside. They had also recently decided that they wanted to make it available to missionaries in distressed situations.

By the end of the day when I was released from the hospital, less than 18 hours after the angiogram, we had keys in-hand for this church’s house we can use for my recovery and rest. It appears that we will be able to stay here throughout the rest of our stay in the Chicago area in order to see Cameron off to Moody Bible Institute in Chicago in early August. During this time I’ll be able to followup with the local hospital and we’ll enjoy more time with family than we thought we could have. It’s a perfect place to rest and to spend together as family.

Along the recent way, Bethie stumbled across an Internet page for a cabin just a couple minutes from the edge of the Smoky Mountains National Park. A believer whose parents had moved to this cabin in recent years but had recently vacated the cabin due to the passing of the man’s dad and his mother being admitted to a local nursing home. To honor his dad’s godly life and ministry, amid renting the cabin out to help with his mother’s expenses, the son wants to allow a few full-time Christian pastors and missionaries to stay there for three nights at no cost. He didn’t have an opening for us until late July or mid-August. After contemplating this, we decided we could come right after leaving Cameron at Moody and arranged to also stay a couple extra nights at a relatively minimal cost far below local going rates.

Anyone still doubt the Lord’s goodness and ability to determine our steps beyond our plans and imagination?

Once again we praise Him. Once again we think through all of this and all that has happened and simply cry and thank the Lord for his loving arms which are firmly embracing us. Who can know the mind of the Lord? Who can tell Him what we are going to do in this life? His ways are truly higher than our ways and certainly better, wiser, and perfect in every way. We may plan our steps, but the Lord determines our path as we follow Him. Who would want it any other way?


About alanbeth

What’s up? or rather, ¿Qué pasa? Hola, I’m Alan. I’m a missionary living in Mexico. We have a heart for MK Education and so we teach at a local Christian school with MK students as well as nationals and foreign students as well. I occasionally write or have a pic to share with you at my blog, Knowing Your ABCDs, which you can read with a click on the button above. You can read my blog with a click on the button above.
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