Five Lessons the Pediatric-ICU Taught Me

Editor’s Note: The following is from Sue Tell’s weekly blog at

Two years ago this month, the text came. Ezra suffered a seizure and is in the ER. Twelve weeks in pediatric-ICU, five ambulance rides, and four hospitals later Ezra came home. Many of my blog readers continue to ask about our precious “grand.” Thank you so much. Your care and your prayers mean so much. He is doing well.

Ezra is a delightful two-and-a-half year old (as you can see in the picture to the left, along with a picture of the two of us when he was a newborn). His hyperinsulinism is controlled by two injections daily. He takes them as well as his numerous pricks to check his blood sugar levels in stride. He has a g-tube permanently affixed to his belly, which allows him to be fed during the night and keep his sugar levels steady. There were no visits to the hospital PICU this past year.

As I look back at those long 12 PICU weeks, I hear God’s loving whispers. Five lessons surfaced, offering perspective and comfort.

Often God’s perfect doesn’t match my perfect. Ezra was prayed for. He is fearfully and wonderfully made, perfectly knit together in his mother’s womb. I’m choosing to trust God’s perfect. The six weeks I spent in California with our kids I slept in Ezra’s nursery as he was sleeping in the PICU. The words on the picture on the left greeted me and reminded me each morning that Ezra is God’s answer to our prayers.

The Lord is our help in uncomfortable places. Los Angeles is surrounded by hills. As I drove those crazy LA freeways to the hospital, I gazed on the hills in the distance. As I sat in Ezra’s hospital room the view from the window was hills. Playing with big brother Judah and big sister Naomi . . . especially when we went to the park, the hills in the distance caught my attention. God was reminding me, “I lift up my eyes to the hills. From where does my help come? My help comes from the LORD, who made heaven and earth” (Psalm 121:1, 2). As the psalmist looked up to those hills, he knew the dangers hidden there. The wild animals and the thieves lurking there reminded him that his help was from the Lord. During Aubrey’s (Ezra’s mom) long days in the hospital PICU, she cross-stitched this for me. It hangs above my desk, a reminder.

There is a difference between fulfilling a role and dispensing love. It was the middle of the night in the hospital and Ezra’s cries woke me. The nurses were trying unsuccessfully to give him a bottle. I turned out of the rollaway bed, gathered Ezra in my arms, and settled with him in the rocking chair. He contentedly snuggled in eagerly draining his bottle. Ezra knew me. He trusted my gramma love. He relaxed in my arms. The nurses were trying to do their duty, fulfilling their responsibility; I loved Ezra and he knew it.

“Healing happens in a quiet place,” the tall sign standing outside the PICU proclaimed. I knew the message was requesting physical quiet, but I also recognize the spiritual implications. God asks us to be still (quiet) and know that He is God (Psalm 46:10). He tells us that our strength often resides in quietness (Isaiah 30:15). Many times my best conversations with God happen in  the quietness of the wooded paths. The sign by the entrance of the PICU surrounding our home. And so one of my spiritual disciplines is to start my day in quietness, sitting and readying myself to hear.

Jesus’ yoke fits well. In Matthew 11:29, Jesus offers an invitation, “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” As I listen to those words I hear, Sue will you respond with humility and trust accepting My will? Will you believe that this yoke is Sue-sized and gentle? Will you believe that I’m carrying the heaviest part of this yoke? I’m learning that God’s ways are always higher than mine (Isaiah 55:8-9).

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