Coming Home

Mike Moves Home & A New Life Begins

September 6, 2015 from Maria

Beloved intercessors,

Mike came home today.  I am delighted beyond belief.  My heart is full of thanksgiving to all of you for your prayers and to the Lord for His wonderful provision.

674316B5-B539-45FB-A7B7-9DABC456811APlease join me in praying:

  • For staffing—right people, right numbers, right time: an agency nurse will come tomorrow to assess needs for nursing, aides, and therapists to be covered by insurance.  We will likely hire additional CNA help.  The marvelous Immanuel volunteers will continue.  It’s a jigsaw puzzle that we need the Lord’s help with, especially considering that Mike’s brain and abilities are ever changing.
  • For the transition: we are all eager to find our new normal and get into a routine. Some of the care previously handled by the professionals is now up to me (good luck, Mike!).
  • For Mike’s continued progress, especially for his brain recovery:  he is able to converse beautifully about how he loves God and wants to teach you about the Gospel (man speaks from that which fills his heart), but not able to identify things like hand or spoon, and pretty inconsistent with following simple commands. 
  • For all those who continue to love us in practical ways:  our home has been prepared for Mike by a team of Immanuel saints who cleaned, moved furniture, installed gates on the staircases, and stocked the necessary supplies.  Meals arrive directly from heaven.  Volunteers stay with Mike so I can go to work, and colleagues bear an extra load in my absence.  More holding bread than my arms can bear.  May the Lord richly bless those who serve in invisible ways (like praying!) as well as visible.

92A16353-D934-4C32-9135-B1745CC21063And while we’re on the topic of prayer, over these past 15 weeks I have been thinking of that wonderful hymn/prayer, “Take My Life, and Let It Be.”  The petitions are simple and beautiful, asking God to use every aspect of our lives for His service and glory, and many of us have sung this hymn earnestly countless times.  “Take my life and let it be consecrated, Lord to thee … Take my intellect and use ev’ry pow’r as thou shalt choose.” Never would anyone have imagined that the Lord would answer this prayer with a severe anoxic brain injury for Mike Francis, of all people.  I realize that my work each day is to remember and believe that God is still working all things together for our family’s good, that this suffering is not without purpose, and that He will certainly be glorified in and through Mike’s brain injury.  Trusting God is the most important work I do each day, more than caring for Mike and the family’s needs, more than what gets accomplished at the front desk of the Stetson School of Music.  

So it’s time to sing the whole hymn again and pray, “Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.”  Would you pray this for Mike, Maddie, Luke, Lydia, and me?—and allow us to pray the same for you?

Thankful to be home with my better half tonight,



September 13, 2015 from Maria

Beloved friends and family of God,

We’ve been home for one week, and the bottom line is that it has been poopy. Diarrhea started in the early hours of Monday morning, but due to bureaucratic stupidity wasn’t diagnosed as C-diff (Clostridium difficile) until Friday evening.  As happy as I am to be home, it breaks my heart to see Mike even sicker after enduring 2+ weeks of UTI misery.  In my last update I wrote about the real work of trusting God’s goodness in this difficult providence, and that work has not gotten any easier.  Yet the alternatives are no comfort whatsoever (that God is not good, not almighty, not sufficient, or not loving).  Romans 8 never gets old:  “What then shall we say to these things?  If God is for us, who can be against us?  He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him up for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?”  We walk by faith, that God has given us just what we needed this week.

When Mike doesn’t feel good, he perseverates on the topic of sin:  how great is his sin, what is to be done about sin, and his burden for others’ sin.  We remember the Gospel.  We read Psalm 103 again and again and find comfort there:  “Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, bless His holy name. … As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us.”   We play Stuart Townend and Aaron Keye’s Psalm 62 song on repeat.  And I say, over and over again, “What is your only comfort in life and in death?  That I am not my own, but belong—body and soul, in life and in death—to my faithful savior Jesus Christ.  He has fully paid for all my sins with His precious blood … and watches over me in such a way that not a hair can fall from my head without the will of my Father in heaven …” (from the HeidelbergCatechism, Question 1).

So I write again to ask you to please keep praying for us.  Here are the big ones that come to mind:

  • For healing and comfort for Mike, physical and spiritual; for none of the caregivers or visitors to get sick. 
  • For our transition this week to hired caregivers (!) in addition to our fabulous Immanuel volunteer caregivers to allow me to work full time and, hopefully, settle into a regular routine.  There are also insurance-provided home health workers to get adjusted to.  Please pray for the paid and unpaid caregivers, Mike, and me as we get to know each other, that we would work together in a way that will maximize Mike’s recovery.
  • For Mike’s continued transition home:  given how sick he’s been, he has pretty much stayed in bed and doesn’t yet recognize that he is home.  Immanuel deacons do so much good work for our family, including renovating the powder room to include a much needed shower for Mike; please pray for them and all the related details.
  • For God’s fatherly care over Maddie, Luke, and Lydia.  The semester is underway and the work is both good and hard; they miss their dad.
  • For Mike’s full and complete recovery.

We continue to put ourselves to bed with holding bread, the many reminders that God has supplied the day’s needs and will supply for tomorrow.  The variety and extent of kindness shown to our family is absolutely astounding.  Thank you, all!

Finding comfort in God and all the evidence He has given us this week of His unfailing love,

Maria for the family

September 25, 2015 from Maria

img_5090Beloved friends and family of God,

I write with a full and happy heart today, marking four months since Mike’s heart attack and brain injury.  Since my last communication, the C-diff has cleared up, paid caregivers have gotten started, and we are starting to find a regular rhythm of life at home.  It is so very good to be home.  Even better, we have Lydia back from Washington, D.C. for a couple of days!

As we have been settling in to our “new normal” and finally able to concentrate on Mike’s brain recovery instead of his sickness, I have even more appreciation for the miracle of the body—not only the human body as Mike’s recovery has far surpassed initial expectations, but the body of Christ, His church local and global.  You are likely familiar with Paul’s writing about the value of each member in 1 Corinthians 12, and I am particularly struck by verse 18:  “But now God has placed the members, each one of them, in the body, just as He desired.”   There are the parts of the body I see, those who stay with Mike and bring our meals and fix and clean our home, and many more unseen who pray and write checks and serve invisibly.  All of you are part of the miracle of the Christ’s body, used by God for Mike’s healing and for His far greater purposes.  It is particularly beautiful to see how the Lord has given people specific experience and gifts particularly suited to our needs, be it medical training or loved ones with brain injuries or previous ADA-specific home renovations.  I look around and marvel at all the Esthers in our daily life whom God has brought “for such a time as this.”  Moreover, people’s generosity in all of this is astounding.  The Gospel is being lived out before us magnificently, an unfathomable amount of grace that we do not merit and can never repay.      

IMG_0620Please join me in praying:

  • Thanking God for His care and provision through the body, Immanuel and around the world. 
  • For Mike’s continued healing as people near and far care for Mike and our family in such diverse ways—for the big thing of Mike’s full and complete recovery and the small things of staying well and daily progress in doing and remembering.
  • For all of you, the body of Christ, involved in Mike’s healing.  May you find you joy in whatever your calling, knowing that “God has placed [you] … just as He desired.”
  • For the practical matters of renovating the bathroom, beginning legal action to establish guardianship, and the establishment of Immanuel’s Pastoral Care Fund.  (It is all too difficult for me, but nothing is too difficult for the Lord!)
  • For our children:  Maddie is with students  on an RUF retreat this weekend; Luke and Lydia are in the thick of writing papers and taking midterms. 


We are enjoying life at home tremendously.  Mike is enjoying eating (“I want seven more” rice krispie treats), conversing, praying, and learning, and he has plenty of funny observations and songs to sing.  After friends taught him that the way to remember my name was to sing “Maria” from West Side Story, he sings my name repeatedly.  “I can never say it less than ten times.” He stands and walks without difficulty, and it is a joy to watch his progress.  Many, many prayers have been answered to bring us to this place, and we are grateful.  

Amazed by this grace,

Maria for the family

October 9, 2015 from Maria


First field trip in the wheelchair – a surprise visit to our neighbor!

Beloved friends and family of God,


Thank you for your prayers!  Mike is making daily progress, and it is absolutely thrilling.  Every day when I get home from work, there is another exciting report from the amazing team of caregivers.  

In particular, things that the therapists call “automatic” are coming back—actions like tooth brushing and sequences like counting and days of the week.  The Scripture that Mike has hidden in his heart is coming back too.  One need only say, “There is therefore now,” and he will immediately chime in with “… no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus,” and so on for “This is the day the Lord has made …” and “For God so loved …,” etc. Many of us wonder what we would be like if the filters came off, and Mike is a walking and talking reminder that all the Bible teaches about keeping the heart, praying and meditating on the Word, and treasuring Christ is true.

Mike and his sister Kathie visited “the shed” (Mike’s backyard office)

Mike is more and more aware of not remembering and not knowing, and it bothers him.  We regularly talk about the same things I’ve preached to myself over these months, that every day is about trusting God whose character never changes and whose ways and timing are perfect and good.  We talk about God’s promises, that He has given us everything we need for life and godliness, that Mike can do all things through Christ who strengthens him, and that we should not be anxious but keep praying and thanking the Lord for his great progress.  Since he currently has no short-term memory, we talk about these things a lot!

In particular, would you pray for:

  • Mike’s memory:  more is coming back daily.  Please ask our Father to completely restore both his short-term and long-term memory.
  • Reading:  Mike has remarked that he remembers reading lots of books.  He has started reading (!); please pray for rapid progress.
  • Caregivers:  thank the Lord for the wonderful circle of people who care for Mike daily and ask Him to bless them and give them wisdom and every resource necessary to keep assisting in Mike’s recovery.
  • Continued care from Immanuel and extended family of God:  that the Lord would bless all who have given and it would be an effective witness to the watching world.  Truly, there are not enough words to describe the scope of this help and the encouragement to me that comes from daily gifts of meals, help with our home, and so much more. 
  • My mother and family:  another stroke has meant that Sara now needs additional care.  My twin sister, Kristina, has been handling a myriad of details related to moving my mom to an ALF/SNF close to her.  Please pray for grace and strength for all involved.
  • Mike’s full and complete recovery.

445E0BEF-E1A7-4FEE-951B-35320BAE8F12Recently I’ve returned again and again to Psalm 71, the perspective of an older saint who has seen hardship, but who still hopes in the Lord and asks Him to restore him and make him a great witness.  (Mike prays for himself more simply:  “God, help me to do and remember what you want me to do.”)  The whole psalm seems so fitting for us to pray for Mike, but for the sake of space, here are some of my favorite lines:

O God, from my youth you have taught me,
    and I still proclaim your wondrous deeds.
So even to old age and gray hairs,
    O God, do not forsake me,
until I proclaim your might to another generation,
    your power to all those to come.
You who have made me see many troubles and calamities
    will revive me again;
from the depths of the earth
    you will bring me up again.
You will increase my greatness
    and comfort me again.
My lips will shout for joy,
    when I sing praises to you;
    my soul also, which you have redeemed.
And my tongue will talk of your righteous help all the day long.   

Thank you again for your prayers.  It is exciting to see how God is answering them day by day.

Still amazed by His grace,

Maria for the family

October 15, 2015 from a friend sitting with Mike, “The prayers of Mike today, so beautiful, prayed over and over”

381968A9-36E3-4E38-AC8C-C28CF803F31DHelp me be a good husband to Maria.

That you gave me life and I’m not dead. Thank you for saving my life.

Thank you for our son. The best son

Thank you for for loving us and how you help us.

Thank you for the food that we will have for dinner.

Would you help our son Luke remind our son that we love him help him not to worry.

Help our daughters do the work that you are calling them to do. That you would give them faith and joy.

For giving us life. I’m not dead and I’m still alive. You saved my life. Thank you for listening to the prayers of your children. Thank you God. You love your people. Thank you God.

There’s a lot to be done. More life to do. Thank you God. I praise you in the name of your son Jesus Christ.

My wife and all the things she is having to do and remember to help our children. Thank you God for how you help her. To be as good a mom as she can be.

I pray for all our children’s needs  and me as their dad. I have a problem not remembering every thing thank you God for our children.

God will you help me. I love you. Will you help me to do the work you’ve given to me to do and to be a good husband to Maria. I pray I would do a good job. I know you’ll give me what I need. I trust you God. Everything I need will come from you. I believe you will give it to me. I trust in you. Thank you God. Thank you so much. I really want to be the kind of husband for Maria that loves her and helps her.

Luke:  sometimes school is hard for him. He loves you. He’s the best son I could possibly have. School is hard for him. His trust in you is amazing. I’m so proud of him.

My daughters are amazing. I’m so proud of our daughters. God they are beautiful. They preach the gospel with their friends. I’m so proud of them. Thank you for what you’ve done in our family. Thank you God.

Help me be a good dad for our children: Maddie, Luke and Lydia.

October 25, 2015 from Maria

Beloved friends and family of God,

The Lord hears and answers your prayers, and I’m so glad!  Mike continues to make steady gains cognitively and physically, and it is the Lord’s work from beginning to end, whether by means of the extended family of God who pray and help or by His supernatural power at work in Mike’s body. 

This week brought a vivid reminder of the miracle of Mike’s progress.  Friends retrieved his bike from the Lake Helen Police Department, and another was able to recover the data from the bike’s Garmin.  Between that and the 911 report, it appears that just over 14 minutes elapsed between when Mike stopped pedaling and his heart rate dropped and when the 911 report shows “WORKING A CODE.”  (I don’t understand all the medical implications, but hope to learn more.)  

Bearing in mind such significant oxygen deprivation, rejoice with me that over the last couple weeks Mike has gone to medical appointments, shopped at Publix, walked on the beach, attended the Stetson Symphony Orchestra concert, moved from the hospital bed to our bed upstairs, read whole passages of his Bible, and written his name and letters to his daughters.  Best of all, Mike took part in Immanuel’s Sunday evening dinner and Bible study tonight—the whole thing!—and he absolutely loved being back with his flock.  Was there ever a better occasion to remember the words of Psalm 126? 

The Lord has done great things for us;
   we are filled with joy.
Those who sow in tears

   shall reap with shouts of joy!
He who goes out weeping,
   bearing the seed for sowing,
shall come home with shouts of joy,
    bringing his sheaves with him. (verses 3, 5-6)

 Would you join me in praying for these requests?

  • The urologist capped the catheter last week, and we thank God that the plumbing works properly.  Please pray that the catheter could be removed this week and for a remedy for the very frequent urination, especially at night.  We have seen every hour on the clock for the past ten nights, and Mike is discouraged about being so tired during the day that it impairs his reading and other aspects of recovery.
  • We will also see our beloved cardiologist Dr. Liu this week to learn if Mike should have a defibrillator surgically implanted.  Please pray for us to learn how to live wisely in light of Mike’s heart condition.
  • As Mike reads the Bible he is more aware of not remembering.  Please pray that the Lord would restore his vast knowledge and understanding of the Scriptures.
  • My mom has moved to a facility close to my sister Kristina.  Please pray for their transition.
  • Our cup overflows with thanksgiving for all the help and care shown to us daily and for Mike’s remarkable progress.  What a great God, abounding in mercy and love for His people!  Please pray for all involved to be encouraged and for a powerful witness to unbelievers in our circles. 
  • Please continue to pray for Mike’s full and complete recovery. 

43385519-A943-4E67-93E9-06B7C3E9393EOne of the sweetest things about being with Mike these days is how and how much he prays.  He prays simply and spontaneously, night and day, thanking God for his life, or asking for help or to be able to preach the gospel again, or interceding for his children.  He prays for all who help him, and often asks how he can pray for whomever is near at the moment.  Then he forgets that he’s prayed and prays all over again.  We who have the privilege of being around him are learning something about rejoicing in the Lord always, thanking Him for everything, and presenting our requests to God in every situation (Philippians 4:4-7).  

Today marks five months since our world turned upside down, and I continue to lay my head on the pillow each night thanking God for supplying all our needs, above and beyond what we asked or imagined, confident that our heavenly Father will care for us tomorrow too.  I have to say, however, it’s sweeter now that my beloved lays his head on the pillow beside me.

With gratitude for your fellowship and prayers on this journey,

Maria for the family

November 13, 2015 from Maria

Beloved friends and family of God,

There is more good news since my last update, which is more evidence of your prayers being answered.  Thank you!—and please keep up the good work!

Medically, there has been great progress.  The catheter was removed while Mike sang the doxology in praise (certainly a first for this urologist); the hospital bed, wheelchair, and external defibrillator have been returned; he has been discharged from home health services; neuro meds have been significantly reduced; and Dr. Liu, Mike’s wonderful cardiologist, finds his heart well enough that there is no need for a surgically implanted defibrillator.  A joyful reunion with her (she calls him Miracle Man) was followed by equally happy visits with the CV-ICU staff and the Select Hospital team on the 11th floor.  It was a special treat that Brian, the nurse who cared for Mike his first four days, got to hug a walking-and-talking Mike after knowing him as a comatose patient (one on the Glasgow Scale).  As I write this, my heart fills with gratitude for the hundreds of people who have cared for Mike over these months.

Memory and cognition now that are Mike’s greatest areas of need, and although it is going slowly, he is making wonderful progress here as well.  For years, the theme of remembering in the Bible has interested me, and I have marked those passages over the course of my readings.  There are so many calls to remember God’s commands and His mighty deeds (cf. Psalms 77-78) and mentions of remembering people in prayer.  Remembering is such an important part of following the Lord, and more importantly, worshipping Him!  It’s inherent in believing the gospel, in repentance and faith, that we remember our brokenness and need for a savior and the great love and sacrifice of Christ to redeem us.  Without memory, how can we tell the stories of God’s faithfulness?  What does this mean for Mike, whose short- and long-term memory is so greatly impaired?    

  • Would you join me in praying for Mike’s memory and for all who are involved in helping him with this?
  • Second, please pray for the problem that persists with frequent urination as his body relearns this function.  He is anxious, and our sleep is still significantly affected.
  • Finally, please don’t stop praying for Mike’s full and complete and recovery.

43B2682A-5DC6-455D-B6B1-D5BAA5024E94Psalm 40 is one we have prayed often on this journey, beginning with the first verses— waiting patiently for the Lord—and I now return to verse 5:  

“Many, O Lord my God, are the wonders which you have done, and your thoughts toward us; there is none to compare with you; if I would declare and speak of them, they would be too numerous to count.”

Thank you again for your prayers.  Your work is significant, even if it seems invisible.

Counting my blessings, even if I can never finish counting,

Maria for the family

Picking up daughters at the airport!

November 28, 2015 from Maria

Beloved friends and family of God,

Thanksgiving is behind us on the calendar, but we’re not over it here on Covered Bridge Drive.  We are grateful to God for Mike’s continuing progress and for all of you, for your prayers, your fellowship on the #mikemarathon, and all your care for us along the way.

At Immanuel’s Thanksgiving Eve service, exactly six months after his heart attack and brain injury, Mike was the first one up to the microphone.  I wish all of you could have been there (but you can watch Lydia’s sneaky video here).  He told everyone that, although he “lost a lot from my heart attack,” the most important three relationships remained strong:  with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.  “I am a Christian man,” he said, and he was eager for everyone to know that the Lord has done this saving work, physically and spiritually.  I think he went around and spoke to everyone in attendance during the post-worship pie social, beginning each conversation with, “And what are you thankful to the Lord for?”  Mike reminded a number of people that the most important thing to be grateful for is having a good relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ.

so beautiful to see Mike’s delight in reading Scripture and stopping to talk about what he is discovering—and when your memory isn’t great, you get to be delighted repeatedly!  One of his favorites is Romans 8, and he loves to explain what it means that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  Towards the end of the chapter, it’s a great encouragement for all of us to remember, “If God is for us, who can be against us?”  Mike is increasingly aware of what’s been lost (for now), such as his knowledge of biblical languages and Japanese, and the many Bible passages he memorized.  We return to Romans 8 to restore our perspective:  “No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.  For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Today as we were eating breakfast, he said, “Even with my heart attack, I have a better life than many people.  I have a good relationship with the Lord Jesus Christ and a good relationship with my wife and with all three of my children.  Lots of people don’t have that.  I have a very good life.”

I asked Mike what we should ask people to pray for:

  1. That he would grow in his relationship with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
  2. That he would do a good job reading the Bible.
  3. That he would remember the things that he worked so hard to learn in the past.
  4. That he would be a good father and husband and get better.
  5. That he would be able to preach again.  “If God gives me the grace to preach again, I want to preach about the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.”
  6. That he would have a full and complete recovery.

In addition, would you pray for the next steps for assistance for Mike?  All who are involved with Mike are eager to help him advance, but we need wisdom and guidance for how best to proceed.  He will be evaluated for outpatient speech and occupational therapy this week, so please pray that the Lord would again provide the right people to help.  Would you also continue to pray for his memory and cognition and join us in thanking the Lord for all that he has regained thus far. 

My heart is full of thankfulness for all that the Lord has done and will do, and for all of you who join us on this journey.  We know neither the route nor the destination, but we trust the loving God who marked out this path before time began, and we rest in yet another promise from Romans 8, “And we know that for those who love God, all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (v. 28).   

Because in Christ we are more than conquerors,

Maria for the family

12304096_10208209492504473_5364672660431321380_oRead more here.

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