update on gabe the babe

“How is Gabe doing?” I get asked this question more than any other these days, and I’m so touched by everyone’s concern. Lots (and lots and lots) of prayers going up for my husband in the past couple months, and man alive, have they made a difference.

I have some cool stuff to share on the Gabe front, and I’ve been putting it off, because there’s A LOT, and it’s overwhelming, and I had no idea where to start.

I still don’t.

How about October 29th, 2011? Many of you know that as the date my 34-year-old husband had a heart attack that nearly took his life. His LAD (left anterior descending) artery was 100% blocked. They call it the widow maker. And by God’s grace, I am not that widow today.

Here’s my little update from the hospital a couple of hours after Gabe’s life-saving surgery. And here’s the whole story so I don’t have to repeat it here. Here’s where we got to chat with the firefighter/EMT’s who took Gabe to the hospital and hear more about the whole experience from their perspective.

Before we left the hospital, Gabe’s cardiologist gave us the go-ahead for our 5-week trip to Cambodia (December 11 to January 13) provided that everything checked out fine at his follow-up appointment on November 28. It did. Glory hallelujah. And except for the one scare we had in Cambodia, those five weeks were relaxing and full of good health and good spirits for Gabe.

And now for some stuff you don’t already know (about time, huh?).

In a nutshell (because this post will be 60,000 words long if I don’t nutshell a few parts of it), I’d say I’ve had a bigger heart for Cambodia than Gabe if you were to lay our hearts out side by side on the table. I’ve wanted to take a trip there since our old church first started sponsoring the orphanage through Asia’s Hope. Gabe didn’t really have a desire to go, so I prayed about it. A lot. And one day in 2010 Gabe asked me if I still wanted to go, I said yes, and away we went (nutshell version).

Then I wanted to go back, and he said okay, and we saved up a lot of money and sold a bunch of stuff and went again. For five weeks. With our kiddos. And in the back of my mind (and sometimes the front), I’ve always thought, “I would love to live in Cambodia.” But I knew it was more my baby than Gabe’s, and I knew it wasn’t God’s plan for him to be a trailing missionary husband.

This all has to do with the update on Gabe, I promise.

Three weeks into our stay, I was over Cambodia. Yeah, God, I’m glad you didn’t talk Gabe into moving here, because, wow, this would be a hard place to live. I think I’m probably cut out more for life in America. It was fun to think about for awhile though.

Except I couldn’t shake the feeling that God was saying, “I want your family in Cambodia.” What the what?? I had just told him I’d changed my mind.

It was a Saturday night, New Year’s Eve actually, Gabe was asleep, I was typing journal stuff on his laptop, praying, and crying. Gabe never wanted to move to Cambodia, and now I didn’t want to either, so why was I feeling this strong, strong sense that God wanted us here?

The next morning, we were getting dressed for church, and Gabe says, COMPLETELY OUT OF NOWHERE, “I know what I could do if we moved to Cambodia.”

Excuse me, WHAT??

He went on to explain his idea of taking teenage boys who basically have no future and training them to do web design and photography, getting clients from the States, and paying these boys a living wage, keeping them from a life on the streets and inevitable poverty. He had already had the opportunity to work with a couple kids, and it just felt so right to him.

Holy cow.

Our last two weeks in Cambodia were filled with many, many discussions about this new direction our life seemed to be taking. When we landed on snow-covered American soil in our flip-flops on January 13, our plan was to pay off the rest of Gabe’s school bill (our only remaining debt besides our mortgage), sell our house, and move to Cambodia.

Two weeks later, we were in the emergency room. Gabe was having chest pains. He knew it was a heart attack.

17 hours and a few thousand dollars (that we still haven’t paid) later, they sent him home with no idea what was wrong with him. Two weeks later, we were back in the ER. I asked the doctor if it could possibly be anxiety/panic, because he’d been so, so anxious and scared and worried lately. She said that’s absolutely what it was.

Three days later, we were at a crisis center, a free alternative to the ER (yes, please) for mental health patients. Three days after that, Gabe started counseling. Then he took 3 weeks off work.

The next 8 weeks were just one dark day after another. Lots and lots of panic attacks (which mimic heart attacks, so imagine if you’ve already had one of those for real). Lots of anger and crying and exhaustion and worry about how we were going to make it through this alive.

Someday I might give you a little peek into my journal during that time, but I can sum up all those thousands of words into two: NOT PRETTY.

We received an outpouring of love and encouragement during that time, boatloads of advice (much of it conflicting), and tons of offers to help (but we really had no idea what we even needed). I didn’t blog about it a ton, but here I talked about Gabe crying, and here’s a post he wrote himself.

And here’s a post I forgot I wrote: my right-now story where I shared a bunch of stuff I just wrote up ^ there. Coulda saved myself some words.

We really just felt overwhelmed. We prayed for complete healing, and when God didn’t immediately choose that route, we knew we had to take some action steps ourselves (while continuing to cry out to God). Gabe took his medicine, saw his counselor, read his Bible, quit his job (a story for another time–basically, they asked him if he was 100% on board with the company, he answered honestly that he wasn’t, he quit out of fairness to them and because he felt God telling him to).

And I begged God to please, please, please give me my husband back.

Cambodia? No longer on Gabe’s radar. And understandably so. He just wanted to get better. I went from resenting Gabe for “ruining” our plans to being mad at God for letting it happen to accepting that his plans are better than mine and surrendering the whole thing to him.

At some point, Gabe’s mom threw something out there, and I wasn’t sure what to think. She said that she thought there was a connection between Gabe taking thousands of pictures of monks and Buddhist temples (even having a canvas and photo book made) and his anxiety. She sensed a spiritual attack above and beyond the post-traumatic-stress/anxiety that often affects heart attack survivors. She said that God has big plans for Gabe and his camera, and the devil had used that same instrument for evil.

“You need to get all that stuff out of your house,” she said.

I knew Gabe would never, ever go for that. His photography was a big deal to him. Those photos were art. And really, really good art. We talked about it a little, but then dismissed it.


(See you tomorrow for Part 2. It’s, um, really good stuff.)

30 thoughts on “update on gabe the babe

  1. Pingback: in sickness & health {day 1} | Marla Taviano

  2. Ben

    I’d get annoyed at Marla for giving us a cliffhanger… but that gives the Taviano’s an excuse to get annoyed at God for giving them a cliffhanger… it’s just my cliffhanger will be resolved in the next blog post, life isn’t as neat as blogs.

    Maybe there’s a tangible lesson in this cliffhanger.

    This is one of the BEST cliffhangers I’ve experienced in many years. Good job Marla!

  3. Megan Bradford

    Reading blogs is not considered ‘recreational internet’ so I’m here and happy to be! Also so happy to be walking with you through this journey! Stay tuned people, it gets even better and I don’t even know ALL the details!!

  4. Marcy

    Wow! I am on the edge of my seat here! I haven’t read all your past posts to know that your story contains more than your words can express. My heart is with you b/c I know how it is to have a husband who deals with mental health issues and is in the ministry…not the heart attack thing (thankfully)…but still. My heart goes out to you. I can sense a big “ending” in this story. I can’t wait to hear the rest of it!!

  5. Lesley

    uugghh! now you got me at the edge of my couch! btw just finished “Once Upon the Internet” thank you! Thank you for your genuine positiveness!

  6. Julie S.

    Ah man! I was reading this through my email and when I got to the end, I thought, “maybe this was from yesterday and part 2 has gone up this morning…” NOPE! :) I started following your blog when you started with 7 (I don’t even have the book yet, so I’ve just been reading the posts/comments and not chiming in). It’s been obvious that your family has really been thru it recently, and I’ve been curious and concerned. Thank you for the update and I’ll definitely be tuning in tomorrow. I can’t wait to hear how God has worked things out for his glory!

  7. Sarah Farish

    I am new to Marla fandom – I just signed on to read 7, and then I subscribed to her blog. So, as I read today’s post, I had to click on all the blue links to catch up on the story that is Marla’s. Wow. I am just sitting here in…Wow. Just when I think I am all caught up and “in the know,” END OF POST. WHAT the what? (My favorite Marla phrase that I often employ in everyday conversation now;) Til tomorrow…

  8. Sarah Hubbell aka MainlineMom

    Um, WHAT THE HECK? I hate cliffhangers. Even though I just put one on my blog last Friday, hehehe.

    Well know that I am STILL praying for Gabe and you and won’t stop for a long time.

    Regarding spiritual attack, an interesting thing happened to me when we finally agreed to adopt. But I’m not gonna hijack your comments with my story…I’ll have to write it on my own blog. Maybe. Someday.

  9. Jeremy Reger

    AHH!! NOO!! I can’t wait!

    But Seriously, you guys have been in my prayers every day for months and months, I figured out when I came back from Lent on Facebook, that I knew why you guys are my “favorite family”.. its because your whole family culture is after God.. even though it may not seem like it on your side sometimes.. the Taviano’s are seeking him from the outside! I love it!

    You guys will be in my prayers.. and.. I am praying you have an hour today, to finish part 2..

  10. Marla Taviano

    You all are too much. Kudos to you for plowing through 1200+ words, but no way was I going to make it 2500. Besides, that took me 90 minutes to write and done wore me out.

  11. Nancy

    Agghhh!! Part 2?? Maybe God’s way of telling me to get off the computer and get to work!!

    I’ve been saying all along that there’s a spiritual attack going on at your house! I should send a couple of the guys from my Bible Study group down there….they’ve told many stories about driving out demons.

    Praying for you all!

  12. Keri

    Seriously??? I was writing all kinds of different endings as I was reading along and now you tell me I have to wait?? Can you just give me a hint?

  13. Sharon


    Thanks for the update. That’s amazing that you guys were ready to move to Cambodia. Seriously, amazing! Can’t wait to hear the rest of the story. And, your MIL? I think she’s brilliant.

  14. Rhonda

    Can’t wait for part two. Again, thank you for your opening yourself and sharing so honestly. When we were on the mission trip in Arizona a man there working with the Navajo people told about how their daughter began suffering serious medical problems for no known reason. They were at a loss when a lady came to their home and told them that they needed to get a Kachina doll given to their daughter as a gift out of their house. When they did, their daughter’s medical problems immediately ceased.

  15. Yalonda

    I can NOT believe you threw out a cliff hanger right here! Now I’ve got to stay up til midnight to catch part 2!!??

    Can’t wait to read it!

  16. Krysten

    Oh no you didn’t! I don’t think I can wait until tomorrow to hear how this little reel of your life’s movie played out! Thank you for this update… It’s kind of weird to pray about situations and have your heart ache over struggles in the lives of people you’ve never even met (yet) but that’s exactly how I feel reading this. I definitely think there’s something to that spiritual attack thought… I had some similar weirdness when we were in India. (Remind me to tell you about the “beehive thing” sometime) much love from the Father to you & your man.

  17. Ruth

    Until?! Until?!?!? Lol! You’re mean. 😉 Honestly, though, I don’t like reading blogs that are really long, but I always wish yours were longer. Can’t wait til tomorrow!! It’s so crazy to see what all God has done so far. He’s got big plans! Praise Jesus for healing & getting you through tough times!

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