Grounded Podcast

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Five Myths about End-of-Life Care, with Dr. Kathryn Butler

Stewardship of our God-given lives matters until the very end. Dr. Kathryn Butler joins us to share helpful, biblical guidelines for making end-of-life care decisions. You’ll walk through five myths surrounding this topic and gain confidence for giving God glory when you or someone you love faces death.

Episode Notes:

“5 Myths about End-of-Life Care"

Between Life and Death: A Gospel-Centered Guide to End-of-Life Medical Care from Kathryn Butler

“Christian Hope in the Face of Death, with John and Donna Avant” podcast series

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Introduction: End of Life

Erin Davis: Well, it impacts 100% of the human race, without exception, but it's something that we never want to talk about. Find out what that is in just a moment. I'm Erin Davis. This is Grounded—a production of Revive Our Hearts.

Alejandra Slemin: I'm Alejandra Slemin. And along with Portia Collins, we're here to give you an infusion of hope and perspective.

Erin: We sure are, every Monday. Today's topic might not feel that hopeful as we tell you what it is. We're going to be talking about end-of-life decisions. Maybe you don't think end of life and hope make a particularly good pair. But specifically, we're going to be considering that as followers of Jesus, which we are. We are women who believe that the Bible is our guide for life and death. We're going to think through some of the myths that we often hear and internalize about end-of-life care and end-of-life decisions.

Alejandra: Kathryn Butler is here with us this morning. She's a Harvard educated physician. She has a heart to just guide Christians through the guidelines for the end-of-life decisions. This is a very important topic for me, Erin, because my dad went home to be with Jesus about three years ago. 

He was he was young; he was only 58 years old. He battled with cancer for about five years. But I vividly remember the last three. The last year of his life, my brother and I made a point of always going to each of his appointments with him and my mom. The four of us became very close. That last year, I went to the Dominican Republic to be with him. As soon as I came back home, my husband David said, “Alejandra, I feel the Lord wants you to go back.” 

And I said, “David, my dad is fine. He's okay. He's doing good.” 

And he said, “No, I feel we need to buy a one-way ticket. You and the children should go.” 

So, what we didn't know is that those were going to be the last three months of his life. 

So for three months, I left everything here in Canada. We basically shut everything down. The children and I went down to the Dominican Republic to be with him. My mom and I became his 24/7 caregivers. And those days, as everyone that has taken care of someone like that knows, are very difficult days. They are a bit of a dance between joy and sorrow. Hope is very physically exhausting, but it's so spiritually rich.

The level of pain and suffering that you go through when you're watching your loved one is very deep, but Jesus becomes your lifeline. And it feels, Erin, as if you're getting empty, and at the same time, filled by the Lord each day. Each memory is a special treasure. And you face so many decisions that you have to make quickly. You don't have much time to think; you don't have much time to ask someone. It's painful. 

Erin: It’s an exhausted, grievous state often, which is why we're going to encourage some forethought today. Alejandra, there's probably some women that are watching live now or are going to watch or listen at some point that are right where you were. There's probably some women who are but these are issues that impact us uniquely as women. Statistically speaking, I can say that, statistically speaking, most of us will outlive our husbands, our parents. 

And so, I know that we have several widows who watch Grounded regularly. It’s time to know what you believe about decisions related to end-of-life care, and not just your own end-of-life care. But the example you gave all Alejandra, of a parent, a spouse. It's not when you have to call 911 because the emergency is upon you or not maybe even when your dad was then moving into hospice. 

We want you to turn to this episode of Grounded and feel better equipped and confident that you can make those decisions biblically, wise decisions, decisions in end of life, decisions that give God glory. You can make those decisions now, for when someone you love or when you yourself, faces death.

Alejandra: The Bible offers the hope we need—all the hope we need, all the strength physically and spiritually that we need to face those times. So, our friend Robyn McKelvy . . . yay, she's a Grounded favorite around here.

Erin: We love it when Robyn’s here.

Alejandra: She's here with us this morning, and she's going to tell us a story of a woman who she's been serving for more than 30 years at the end of life, care of people. So this episode is for everyone. So please share it with people just hit the share button. And let's have more girlfriends join us.

Erin: Yeah, let's hit that share. If you've read the regular news today, you know that former Secretary of State Colin Powell passed away today. So, this is something that impacts all of us. We do count on you to help us spread the word that we're talking about these important topics. But before we talk to Dr. Kathryn, we need to hear some good news. And I know just the girl to deliver it. Good morning Portia Collins.

Good News: “How Great Thou Art”

Portia Collins: Good morning. Good morning, sisters. How are you? 

Erin: Doing pretty good. How about you? 

Portia: I'm doing pretty well. You girls know I love to sing, right?

Alejandra: And you do very well. You do very well.

Portia: We’re actually a singing household. I always say I think Mikhail really wants to have a fourth baby so that we can have a quartet and we can travel all throughout and sing.

Erin: You need a bass or soprano in the mix. Yeah.

Portia: Well, today's good news is a singing telegram. I want you guys to listen in for one minute to this rendition of “How Great Thou Art.” I can't wait to tell you the story behind this song and this beautiful songstress.

Oh, listen, that wasn't the next winner of American Idol. Although I think she should be. But listen, that girl can sing.

Well, that is Allison Walker. As you can see from her dress and everything, she's a nurse at a hospital in Texas. She is committed to caring for the emotional and spiritual needs of her patients, in addition to their physical needs, so she often sings hymns like “How Great Thou Art” as she cares for them. 

One of Allison's recent patients, a pastor, was in the hospital with COVID. He experienced a dramatic turnaround when Allison started singing to him. He was so inspired. He shot that video that we watched to share with his family who were praying for his recovery. And as you know, most family can't go into the hospital. 

So he's able to share that with them and share this beautiful memory to feel connected and feel as if he has family near. Allison says, “it's a fearful time for patients. Sometimes I will be gowned up in PPE singing, and I'll give patients a hug, or I'll pray with them whatever it takes.” 

Now that is a dose of hope and perspective Alison girl. If you are watching, you are a Grounded hero. Keep on singing girl because I love this, and I love what you’re doing.

Erin: Keep on singing, because I got a little choked up, man, “How Great Thou Art” is so true. 

Good good news this morning, Portia. 

Well, I'm eager to hear from Kathryn Butler. She's gonna help us rethink 5 myths you may have heard; you may even believe, about end-of-life care and end-of-life decisions. Welcome to Grounded Kathryn.

Kathryn Butler on End-of-Life Decisions

Kathryn Butler: Hey, thanks so much for having me. First, I have to stop crying. That tweet, Alejandra’s testimony, and so I'm tearful. 

Erin: Hey Kathryn, tell us a little bit about yourself, how did you begin to think and write about end-of-life decisions?

Kathryn: So my background is as a trauma and critical care surgeon. It's a field that I loved and chose for the success stories. I loved coming alongside people when they were at their most vulnerable, and trying to usher them back to health and reunite families after a severe illness. It was just so rewarding. And you could see God's kindness at work. 

But what I came to see over time, of my years of practice, particularly in the intensive care unit, which I really had a love for, was that the measures that we use very often to save life, under the right circumstances, can also prolong death and suffering when we use them indiscriminately. It can pitch families into some horrible dilemmas of trying to discern whether or not to accept aggressive measures like ventilators and feeding tubes and dialysis for loved ones, when they're at the end of life. 

What I saw so often was that people will lean into their faith appropriately, to try to help guide them. But the technology and the terminology and just the environment is so unfamiliar and so daunting, that they would often really struggle to try to translate the truth that they would proclaim every Sunday in church, and about our hope being in Christ, to what was happening to someone they adored at the bedside with all this array of lines and tubes.

Erin: I've never had this conversation. I mean, I've been a follower of Jesus for many decades, talked to a lot of followers of Jesus. I've never had a robust faith-based decision discussion on end-of-life care. So, I think what you saw in practice, we are living. I read everything I could find that you've written. I want you to move to Missouri and be my personal physician, because I could just tell you operate from a bedside manner of compassion and truth, but you use this phrase that I hadn't heard before and I'm hoping you can define for us—Christian bioethics. What is that? And how do we develop biblical Christian bioethics?

Kathryn: So, bioethics is in general the field of how we apply science using ethical, moral principles and their secular ethics. But most actually, modern bioethics has a Christian background, if you look traditionally, of how these principles evolved. And in terms of the Christian worldview, it's taking a look at what the Bible guides us in terms of these big decisions of suffering, and death, and life, and how it all translates to these technologies that can be so unfamiliar and overwhelming to the layperson.

Erin: Yeah, I think there's certainly a cultural bioethics that's dripping into our hearts and minds all the time and the things we read and so this idea of laying Scripture informed by bioethics is really fascinating to me. 

I want to spend our time this morning drilling down on something you wrote, an article titled 5 Myths about End-of-Life Care. I would just love to hear you share truth. You've researched this, you've lived it, you research, you know what you think what Scripture thinks about each myth? 

I'd love to hear you counter these myths. Myth number one is, there is no need to discuss end of life care until the need arises. Really, that's my, my hope for this episode is that we start this discussion before we are at the bedside of someone who's breathing their last breath. So, why do we need to think about these things when we are alive and well, even though it's uncomfortable?

Kathryn: Just like you and Alejandra said, nobody wants to talk about this. There's no quicker way to stop conversation at a dinner table than to bring up death. Even for a Monday morning topic, no one wants to think about it. Death is the wages of our sin. Paul calls it the last enemy, you know, that's for a reason. It causes grief and despair. It hurts, and it scares us. 

But just like Alejandra mentioned, when we avoid the topic, what we risk doing, because the landscape of death and dying is shifted over the last 50 years so dramatically from the home, where it's something familiar and we're surrounded by the things that have shaped our lives and the people we love and the spiritual realities of death transition to life with Christ to the hospital, where it's very heavily medicalized and far removed from the things that we know and the people we love. What that does is that if we don't talk about it ahead of time, we risk undergoing treatments and experiences at the end of life that are objectionable to us and also pitching our loved ones into some harrowing situations of having to make decisions on our behalf when we can't speak for ourselves. 

Because the truth of the matter is that about 75% percent of people can't vouch for themselves at the end of life, because they're on a ventilator, and can't speak, because their illness abandons them and interferes with their ability to think, because the illness itself takes away their voice. As a result, when that happens, the decisions fall to those we love. But only about 25% of people in America have an advanced directive to guide loved ones and what to do. And without any guidance, the burden is so heavy. It's been studied that loved ones struggle with high rates of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder and complicated grief for up to a year after having to make these decisions for a loved one who dies in the intensive care unit.

Erin: Yeah, that math doesn't add up. 75% of us can't speak at the end of life. 25% of us or less have an advanced directive. So that leaves a lot of us in the middle not communicating. As you were talking, I thought about the beginning of life, when I was having my first son. I had no plan, and the birth went horribly. Things happened that I didn't want to happen. So, by baby number two, I had a plan. It was in writing, and it was clearly communicated. It went much better with babies two, three, and four, because of that forethought. I had never thought about translating that to end of life. 

Myth number two feels a bit like there might be some landmines here, but I'm glad we're talking about it. Myth number two is the Bible requires us to prolong life, at all costs, in your understanding, what does the Bible actually teach us?

Kathryn: Yeah, so this is a really tricky thing that I think a lot of us stumble into. We want to be God honoring, right. We see very clearly from the Bible that life is a sacred gift from the Lord, we see that in Genesis 1. We're called to steward it, and we're directed in the 10 Commandments not to murder and to protect life, right? 

On the other hand, death comes to all of us. Paul says, it's the wages of our sin from Romans 6, verse 23. And until Jesus returns, it will come to all of us. So, the sanctity of life doesn't refute the certainty that death is going to come to each of us. I think what a lot of people don't understand is the measures that we use that are called life support, at the end of life, can't cure you. They're meant to support your failing lungs, failing kidneys, whatever system it is that’s threatening your life, until we can reverse the underlying process. 

So, what I mean by that: a ventilator is meant to support your lungs when they're failing, while we treat the pneumonia, or give you medication to take the extra fluid off your lungs, etc. If we can't reverse that underlying process, that ventilator is not going to bring you home. It's not a cure. And so, the bigger question is, will a certain measure bring about recovery? Or is it going to prolong the dying process? I think that that's something that a lot of people struggle with. It's important to realize that doing everything at all costs doesn't translate all the time to recovery and going home. 

Yeah, and we can really rob people of the chance to commune with family and to pray and to reflect upon God's goodness, if we commit them in their final moments to a ventilator and an endotracheal tube in the hospital when it's not actually going to help.

Erin: Yeah, I've journeyed with some people through those last moments, some who were hooked out to lots of machines and things and couldn't communicate and some who were. It was a very different experience, really, practically. What would you say about a Christian having a DNR a Do Not Resuscitate?

Kathryn: I think it's helpful to have DNR forms. I think are especially helpful for someone who has a known terminal illness with a short life expectancy when the cures have run out. A DNR makes complete sense in that scenario, because if someone goes into a cardiac arrest, and they have a terminal illness, and we have no treatment for that terminal illness, and they're debilitated, they're very unlikely to survive that cardiac arrest. And so that makes complete sense. 

If someone however is very healthy and doesn't have any medical issues. I think a DNR and DNI form can actually be dangerous. What I would recommend instead is, I think we should all have, a living will, that allows us a narrative form, to outline what our wishes are from a biblical standpoint. 

So if I am suffering from a condition for which the physicians think that I can recover, then I would like these treatments. If I'm at the end of life and I'm actively dying, and there's no hope for me returning to the things that I need to walk with the Lord and to live out my calling as a disciple of Christ, then no, I wouldn't want these measures. I think that kind of language can help.

Erin: Yeah, that speaks to the third myth, which I'll just mention, then we'll move to myth number four is that the Lord, if I pray fervently enough, the Lord is going to heal me. One thing that sometimes troubles me about prayer lists in my own church and other churches, is we pray that a physical healing is the ultimate hope, when really, these are saints who if the Lord chooses not to heal their physical body are going to be with the Lord in glory. 

And so, even the way we pray, even the way we think about death, should be reflected in these kinds of decisions. I want to move to myth number four, removing a loved one from life support is wrong. You guys might be picking up on the fact that I'm pretty foggy brained today, and I'll probably tear up here, but we've got some decisions to make this week—not life support decisions, but end-of-life decisions to make about my own mom. We feel adrift. We feel like we want to do the right thing. But what is the right thing? So, if you've got a loved one on life support, what does Scripture say about that?

Kathryn: So related to the second myth, if there is hope for recovery, it's fine to keep going, that's appropriate. But it's important to also know that as followers of Christ, we're called to love our neighbor. What's the second greatest commandment according to Jesus? We're called to from Micah to walk justly and love mercy and walk humbly with our God. And that means that we care about the suffering that we inflict with our treatments. And there are times when the treatments that we offer, offer suffering that is way out of proportion to the benefit, meaning that the chances of someone recovering are slim. People struggle with post-traumatic stress disorder after a long spell in the ICU, at rates approximating that suffered by soldiers who fought in the Iraq war. 

These measures do cause tremendous suffering for people, robs them of the ability to speak. They will wake up and be delirious and be scared. CPR, while it's crucial to save life, also breaks ribs. And so, people who survive it have pain with every breath. These are not benign things. And so, if someone is on life support, they are actively dying. We have no way to reverse the underlying illness. It's okay to say, you know what, the loving thing right now is to say these treatments are not helping, and they're only hurting. And especially for someone who follows Jesus, we know that when the end comes, it's not the end. They'll be with the Lord. God can work even through death from Romans 8:28, for the good of those who love Him.

Erin: Man, there's someone in addition to me, Kathryn, that you just reached through the screen and held their hand when you said it's okay. We don't know how long to fight or should we take every measure available to us? And so, you are bearer of hope and perspective this morning. 

Myth number five, is another dose of hope and perspective, the myth is that there's no hope at the bedside of someone who's dying as a physician, as a follower of Christ. As someone who's probably walked this in your own life. What's God's truth about hope at that moment when somebody is crossing over from life to death?

Kathryn: I think when you see these horrible situations, and the grief is so heavy, you can turn though and say, this is why Jesus came. And then we cling to the hope that we see in Revelation 21, that when He returns, there will be no more death or suffering or pain. He will wipe away every tear from every eye. And when you look at the fact that Jesus has transformed death, He's triumphed over it. It's no longer something to fear at all costs. But we know that we have the hope, that when we pass from this life, we will be in the presence of the Lord. And that from Romans 8:38, through Jesus, nothing, neither life nor death, nor angels, nor rulers or anything else in all creation can separate us from God's love for us in Christ. And I think clinging to that, and realizing that not even what's happening at the bedside can take that away. As a hope that can buoy us through. 

Erin: You know, I'm sure you watched followers of Jesus die, and I'm sure you watched people who weren't followers of Jesus die. It's only those of us who are followers of Jesus who can sing “How Great Thou Art” at that moment, so there really is hope. 

Kathryn, thanks for being with us. I wish I could talk to you for hours and hours and hours about this such a fascinating and important conversation. We're going to drop some links Grounded family. You need to do your research on this. I need to do my research on this. I'm among those who doesn't have a will, doesn't have this information written down. 

So, we've got that article that I mentioned 5 Myths about End-of-Life Care, we're gonna drop that link. And a book that Kathryn has written called Between Life and Death, we want you to grab it, read it, and do the things that she's been telling us to do. It’s an important conversation.

Alejandra: For sure, Erin. It has been such a blessing to keep reading the the comments that people are making and how vulnerable they are being with this topic. We just returned from Revive ’21. I don't know if you remember that it happened just about a week ago. We're still recovering from it. And at Revive ’21, we shared the testimony of a wonderful woman. Her name is Colleen Chao. Would you please watch this with us. The Grounded team prepared this beautiful video. We can't show the whole thing, but definitely we can share a sneak peek. You can see how she's glorifying Christ as she's facing this difficult time.

Colleen Chao on Facing Death

Colleen Chao:

You keep me from all evil, He will keep your life.
The Lord will keep you going out and you're coming in,
both from this time forth and forever more.

The reality of wasting away in front of my son is hard. I've often thought or wondered if his strongest memories will be his mom as a chemo patient. And so, I've prayed that far outweighing those images and memories would be the joy that God has put into my life.

I've asked God, would you let me be living out of the heart you've given me to the very end. I'd like to be able to laugh and be a little sassy, crack a joke, and be joyful to the very end. And so, that's even something that would mark Jeremy's last memories of me and Eddie's, too. I hope they know. May they remember how much I love Jesus; how good Jesus has been to me. God didn't cheat me. He didn't cheat them. But that they would know that I love Him, and I trust Him, and I know that He is about good in the worst parts of this story. Worst, humanly speaking, I hope they remember my joy. Hope they remember my cackling laughter, yeah.

Portia: I was in the crowd at Revive ’21. I can tell you that there was not a dry eye when that video was played. Not even just that, I had the pleasure and the privilege of sitting behind Colleen a couple of times throughout the weekend. I just watched her just worship God so purely and beautifully. When she came on stage and just seeing her operate throughout the weekend, it reminded me that death and hope really can coexist because of Christ.

And so, Colleen, if you're watching this morning, I love you, friend. Thank you for your witness, to me and so many others. 

Well, we want to welcome back my friend Robyn McKelvy. I'm so glad that she's coming back to Grounded. She always has such practical insight for how to love others. So, Robyn, take it away.

Robyn McKelvy on Serving Others

Robyn McKelvy: Thank you so much, Portia. Good morning Grounded family. It's so great to be back. I want to give you a different hope and a different perspective. On the other side, I want to talk to you a little bit about those that are doing the caring. I thought about, how can I articulate this best? When I hear my kids say, “I want to be like you when I grow up.” Or if we hear kids in the neighborhood or maybe kids that we teach, when we hear that, it's a statement that we admire. 

But now that I'm a little bit older and matured, I have others I want to be like as I continue maturing as a woman of God and a woman of His Word. When my husband was in seminary, there was this wonderful lady. She was a godly lady, and she taught our MOPS class. Her name was Shirley Bryant. I loved the way she taught the Word of God.

I asked her one time, “Ms. Shirley, can you teach me how to teach others that same way? Can you teach me to study God's Word the way you do?” Because it just came alive when she taught it. And so, after a lunch at Cheddars, maybe like three or four hours later, I came out of Cheddars with colored pencils and a notebook and my Bible and a new way to delve into God's Word. And it became fresh to me every time I got an opportunity to study. I wanted to be the next Shirley when I was teaching hungry young women the love of God's Word. 

When it comes to caring for those at the end of life, I immediately knew who I wanted to pattern my life after. It's my sister Gail. For over 35 years, I've watched her care for those who are senior saints, or those who are at the end of life, with God honoring grace. 

When my mother got Alzheimer's and began to decline, I was still trying to deal with my mom as I wanted to do. I wanted her to be the same. I remember one time wanting her to be the same and wanting to fix her hair. I hurt her so bad by taking the dignity away, and it even hurt my dad. I remember him leaving in tears. But I wanted my mom to be the same. On the other hand, Gail handled Mom with dignity and served her the way she would have wanted to be served. I learned a lot that day. I wanted to follow Gail. I wanted to follow her as she followed Christ in this area.

I saw her cook food countless times for them. When she cooked for herself, my father never had to worry about what he was going to serve for the next meal. There was always something in the fridge or in the freezer prepared just for them. And this continued I mean, for years and years. My daddy could go right to the freezer and get a meal because Gail was committed to them. And she didn't think about, “Oh, this is going to be over soon.” She just took it a day at a time and loved them by serving them a day at a time. 

When hospice told my dad that he needed respite care and put my mom in a nursing home for a week, we all came to visit. I remember walking in the room and seeing that my mom had a roommate, but I went right over to where Mom was. I remember Risa laying in the bed with my mom, and I actually took a picture, and that's my memory of that place. 

But Gail, on the other hand, left with something more. She noticed that the lady in my mom's room had no one visiting her. So, she asked this lady to keep an eye on Mom. When she brought Mom food, she brought this lady food. Miss Sharon became Gail's family and Gail became Miss Sharon's family. Long after Mom left that nursing home, Gail continued to take treats to Miss Sharon and others in that nursing home. 

She never wanted to look past any of those other senior saints. She loved as many as the Lord would allow her to love. She saw the difference in their eyes that this love and care and she was able to give it to them wholeheartedly just as she committed to our own mom. She loved them as if they were family, and they did become her family.

But God in His infinite wisdom has called us all to different things. I have a calling on my life; you have a calling on your life. We all have something that we can give, to show reflection of who God is. It makes us want more of Him. If we live out this calling . . . Recently, I watched Gail serve 95-year-old Connie, and I called her Consolella Brookie. Because, you know, it was such a cool name. Connie called Gail one day and asked her if she could just have a ride to dialysis. Gail agreed. And one question allowed her the privilege of taking Connie to dialysis every Friday for years. 

A little over a month ago as Gail waited for Connie to finish her treatment, the technician found that the port had a problem. Connie was with Jesus the very next day. After years of transporting Connie, after years of shopping with Connie, after years of baking for Connie, loving on Connie. And all of this Gail did without saying, “What about me?” I just want everyone to know whatever God's called you to, God sees. He saw every single moment of the service that Gail gave to her. And this is one of many, and all of this was for Christ. 

One of the things that Gail said about the service to others is, “It makes my heart happy.” Do you want to have a happy heart? I am continuing to see those that Gail gives her all to. She knows God has called her to serve. She's another example of those who live by the golden rule that Matthew 7:12 says, “So whatever you wish that others would do to you, do also to them, for this is the Law and the Prophets.” I pray that's our prayer, that we would do to others as we would have others do to us. Amen.

Alejandra: Thank you so much Robyn. Serving others with compassion with the compassion that the Lord can put in our hearts. Thank you for sharing so many beautiful stories, how we can make this love practical as we face suffering and difficulties. Thank you, Robyn. 

The Good Stuff

We always want you to be ready. We want to give you some tools to help you stay grounded all through the week and some tools that you can share with people. So today we want to share our Revive Our Hearts podcast series with John and Donna Avant is called “Christian Hope in the Face of Death.” We're going to drop the link so you have easy access to it.

Portia: We're gonna drop links to lots of resources from our great guests today. I love that Kathryn is such a deep well, filled with God's Word. Of course, just the knowledge of being a physician, but also being able to take us back to God's Word. So, we're going to drop tons of resources from her including her book that Erin already mentioned, Between Life and Death: A Gospel Centered Guide to End-of-Life Medical Care.

Conclusion

Erin: Well, if this is hitting you all in the heart as we expected maybe that it would, many of you are telling us that you are nurses. We celebrate you. Maybe you all need to become singing nurses. They we could stand more of that. But you give compassionate care day in and day out. And you're affirming the things that Kathryn said.

I wanted to read Juanita’s comment here. She said that she got COVID in September, so not that long ago. But she said having gotten COVID September 13, “And being so very sick with it, I'm still on oxygen. That experience has changed me and brought me even closer to God. I'm so grateful for everything every one of you has shared today.”

So, you know that for the believer, that is the silver lining of the cloud of COVID. And the pandemic we're living in is that we realize there is death. But there is life beyond that for those of us who love Jesus. So, we've all been changed I hope, and that can inform our decisions. 

Hey, I got a text this week from a dear friend, and I wanted to read it to this group. I hope she doesn't mind. I don't think she does. We had talked a lot about keeping whitespace on our calendar. So that was the backdrop, but she said still utilizing whitespace on my calendar. “Today it's allowing me to sit with a friend who's dying of cancer with most likely a week left to live, while her husband takes a breath.” 

So that would be my encouragement to us that we would make space for the conversation. And I know it's hard. It's hard for me to think about and talk about this morning. I didn't realize how tender my heart was when we started talking. But make the space so that we can glorify God with our own deaths. And so that we can also minister, so we can be Gails who minister to those who are dying.

Portia: You know, this is why I'm always so thankful for the Grounded family, because we were not afraid to go into the tough topic area. And this is a tough one today. And I know that many of our hearts are tender. But God is near. I think that this has been so helpful for myself, and so many, especially from all the comments that I've been reading. 

Erin: Hold me accountable. I don't have one and I need one.

Portia: I got you. I got you. We're here. Look, I want to say hey to our new friends. I am sure there are some people here who are new to the Grounded crew, maybe your friend who found us at Revive ’21. We want to say again that we are so glad that you're here Grounded, as a family. And we expect to see you back here again next week.

Alejandra: That's right. And if you just joined us today, you might realize that we go from crying to laughing to just crying again. It's like, that is the woman thing. I think we're so thankful for that. But next week, girls, we're gonna have to bring some candy, because we are going to learn how we can share Christ. 

We are going to be talking how we can share Christ as we celebrate our different traditions.

Erin: But we don't wear costumes, girls. Wow.

Portia: I feel like I’m always in costume. 

Erin: We'll see if we’re talking about Halloween, we will see how we show up. We'll see how you show up. But we're going to be here. We're going to be laughing, we're going to be crying. But we're going to wake up with hope together next week on Grounded. 

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About the Hosts

Erin Davis

Erin Davis

Erin Davis is an author, blogger, and speaker who loves to see women of all ages run to the deep well of God’s Word. She is the author of many books and Bible studies including: 7 Feasts, Connected, Beautiful Encounters, and the My Name Is Erin series. She serves on the ministry team of Revive Our Hearts. When she’s not writing, you can find Erin chasing chickens and children on her small farm in the Midwest.

Dannah Gresh

Dannah Gresh

When Dannah Gresh was eight years old, she began praying that God would use her as a Bible teacher for “the nations.” When she sees the flags of many countries waving at a Revive Our Hearts event, it feels like an answer to her prayer.

Dannah is the founder of True Girl which provides tools for moms and grandmothers to disciple their 7–12 year-old girls. On Monday nights, you’ll find Dannah hosting them in her online Bible study. She has authored over twenty-eight books, including Ruth: Becoming a Girl of Loyalty, Lies Girls Believe, and a Bible study for adult women based on the book of Habakkuk. She and her husband, Bob, live on a hobby farm in central Pennsylvania.

Portia Collins

Portia Collins

Portia Collins is a Christian Bible teacher and writer/blogger who enjoys studying and teaching Scripture.  Portia is the founder of "She Shall Be Called" (SSBC), a women’s ministry centered on helping women understand and embrace true biblical womanhood through solid study of God's Word. To learn more about SSBC, visit www.sheshallbecalled.com.  Portia and her husband, Mikhail, have a daughter and currently live in the Mississippi Delta. 

About the Guests

Kathryn Butler

Kathryn Butler

Kathryn Butler is a trauma surgeon turned writer and homeschooling mom. She earned her MD from Columbia University, and trained in surgery and critical care at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, where she served on staff before leaving clinical practice in 2016. She writes regularly for DesiringGod.org and the Gospel Coalition, and is the author of multiple books from Crossway, including Between Life and Death: A Gospel-Centered Guide to End-of-Life Medical Care; Glimmers of Grace: A Doctor's Reflections on Faith, Suffering, and the Goodness of God, and the forthcoming Dream Keeper Saga, a series of middle-grade fantasy novels with Christian themes.

Robyn McKelvy

Robyn McKelvy

Robyn McKelvy has devoted her life to the care and building up of others—in her home, in the church her husband pastors, and through years of speaking for FamilyLife and at countless women’s events. Robyn has written SOS: Sick of Sex and a devotional book, Say It Loud!: Becoming Your Husband’s Personal Cheerleader. Robyn and her husband Ray are parents of seventeen children: seven in heaven and ten amazing souls here on earth.