Eli’s Having Surgery & You Can Help

Eli and Matthew Newell, director of The Family Hope Center

It is becoming more and more difficult for Eli to stand for long periods of time.  He doesn’t complain, but I can tell when he starts to get uncomfortable on his feet.

We were happy to be attending our home church on Sunday.  It’s always nice to be home!  PCC’s Sunday service kicks off with a high-energy, beautiful time of worship.  Eli remained seated at first, but I know, it really wasn’t his preference.   I was standing next to him, focused on the words that I was singing.  I was wrapped up in my thoughts, my own feelings of love for our awesome Lord.  And then, out of the corner of my eye, I saw Eli jump out of his seat, raise his hands, and sing his heart out!  As a few tears escaped from my eyes, I sensed God telling me what He has told me over and over again; “Stop your worrying!  I’ve got him.”

God is so faithful.  And yet we doubt Him sometimes.  I’m learning why it is so important to write down these moments, when God proves that He is faithful.  We so easily forget.  I was particularly worried on Sunday morning and had even lost sleep because of it Saturday night.  That day, John and I had noticed that something looked different about Eli’s left hip.  I was afraid that it was getting closer to dislocation.

The Backstory

About a year ago, we learned that there was an issue with Eli’s left hip.  The bone was starting to come out of its socket.  At that time, it wasn’t an urgent problem, but one that needed to be monitored and addressed by an orthopedic surgeon.

Fast forward to this summer, and the bone has moved further away from where it should be, and surgery is recommended.  The doctor explains that he will cut a wedge out of the bone that is currently angled instead of straight.  Then he will angle the top part of the bone back towards the hip socket, using cadaver bone to hold it all together.  Of course, this will shorten his left leg some, which is already shorter than his right due to this problem with his structure.  And then, the kicker… he will need to be in a body cast for 6 weeks, and, well, he may not ever be able to walk again.  Please, no….

So, I’m thinking, “This is the best that you have for him?! “  The doctor understood our tears and frustration.  He made the comment that we were at a crossroads with lions on one side and bears on the other.

We then  knew it was time to return to the Family Hope Center in Pennsylvania.  We discovered this team of professionals in 2005 when we were looking for more answers and more hope to treating Eli’s brain injury.  They have been able to teach us how to administer treatment at home.  Many of these treatments we had never heard about.  No one else had ever told us that there was something else.  As a result, Eli made improvements in his recovery far beyond what any of his previous doctors thought he would.  The “program”, as it is called, was very demanding and required much of our time.  When we launched Tiller Family Ministries, we did less and less of the program, but feel certain that it was God’s will.  Our focus needed to change for a season.  But now, we needed answers again.  We just knew there had to be a better way to fix Eli’s hip.

And there is hope.  Matthew Newell, director of the Family Hope Center, explained the situation to us.  The problem begins in Eli’s feet.

Eli and Matthew Newell, director of The Family Hope Center








He’s worn various orthotics and braces over the years, which may have slowed down the progression of this problem, but it wasn’t enough.  Now, because his feet are mis-aligned, this leads to a chain-reaction up to his hip, which is now mis-aligned.  By fixing his feet, we can potentially fix his hip.  The good news is that there is a relatively new, completely reversible surgery that can begin the process.  It’s explained at hyprocure.com, but essentially, a titanium stent (it looks like a small screw) will be inserted through a small incision made below the outer ankle bone of both of his feet.

The Surgery

Surgery is scheduled for Sat., September 14 with Dr. Joe Picciotti in New Jersey.  We’ll then spend a few days at The Family Hope Center doing some therapy before following up with Dr. Joe and then coming home.  Eli will need to be completely off of his feet for three weeks after surgery.  After that, we’ll begin to get him in the pool and do some partial weight-bearing activities.

You Can Help Encourage Eli

We have a favor to ask.  Eli’s birthday is on September 10.  Would you please leave a comment below for Eli?  Whatever you’d like to say to him to wish him a happy birthday or offer some encouragement for the surgery.  

I’m going to print all of those comments and create a great big birthday card to read to Eli during his surgery.  One of the cool things about Dr. Joe, is that he is able to do the surgery at his office, with the help of some hospital staff.  This allows us, the parents, to be in the room with Eli.  Dr. Joe has found that having a parent with the child makes for a much better experience for all involved!

I’ll be posting regular updates throughout this process.  I hope that it will benefit other families who may consider this surgery.  We realize that there is no guarantee that this will fix Eli’s hip, or that it will fix it in time.  But it just makes so much sense.


Also, please pray with us.  I know God’s got him.  Eli sings about it often:

There’s a peace I’ve come to know, though my heart and flesh may fail.  There’s an anchor for my soul.  I can say, it is well.”  

- from “I Will Rise” by Chris Tomlin

Please note: We reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • bethstoddard

    Eli, my friend – HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOU! If I could be there with you today, I’ll play the piano with a lot of excitement (and probably really loud) and sing to you. So just imagine it:: HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOOOUUUUUU HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOOOOUUUUUUU HAPPY BIRTHDAY DEAR ELIIIIIIIIIIIIIII HAPPY BIRTHDAY TO YOOOOOOOOOUUUUUUU.
    I love you, you big fourteen-year-old handsome man. I’m so proud of you and the way you are developing your talent as a singer and an artist. I’m glad God has blessed you in so many ways, and so happy that you always give Him credit for all things. You are THE MAN and I love you! Happy birthday!

  • Debby Patteson

    Praying you have a wonderful birthday, know that are a lot of people praying for your recovery. Thank you for inspiring us with your faith and determination.

    • Bob and Emily Frick

      Happy Birthday Eli!! You are always inspiring to me as I watch you praise our Lord. Emily and I will keep you in our prayers and wish you a speedy recovery. Happy Birthday young man, Soldier Hard!!

  • kyraskandles@yahoo.com

    Happy Birthday Eli. God has this in his hands, you will be in our thoughts and prayers as always. We love you and can’t wait to see your handsome face soon. I will light a Birthday Cake candle for you. :)
    HAPPY BIRTHDAY !!!!!!!!!!
    Love the Lombardo Family

  • Tracey Dean

    Happy birthday Eli!!!!!! You and I share the same birthday :-) You are such an inspiration toso many!!! I will be praying for you as you take this next step. God is carrying you sweetie. Love you and God bless!!!!!

    Tracey Dean

  • Laura K

    Eli Tiller. You cannot possibly be fourteen. Seriously? FOUR-TEEN? You better have the happiest birthday on the planet. If you guys ever come to New York, there is a cool cupcake store called “Cupcakes by Melissa” And they have a tie-dye cupcake. I thought about mailing you one, but it would probably get squished by the time it gets to Virginia. Gross. On that squishy note, have a happy birthday Eli!!!

  • The Pendleton’s

    Happy Birthday Eli!! We pray many blessings for you on your birthday. The Lord has done miracles in your life and He will continue to do more. Keep holding on to Jesus and he will carry you through. There is power in the name of Jesus. Thank you Lord for complete healing for Eli in Jesus name. Amen!!! Blessings, The Pendleton’s from Clover Hill Assembly of God

  • Marie Taylor

    Happy Birthday Eli! You’re on this Earth for a reason. Continue to inspire others with your life and your singing and may God continue to bless you and your ministry!

  • Linda Rose

    Eli, may you have a very happy birthday!! You are such an inspiration to so many people. May your surgery go well so you can get back to blessing others!

  • Lori

    Think about it this way… most people have hip surgery when they are in their 80s. Now think of the cool things you’ll be doing instead when you’re 80!! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!!

  • Susan Hughes

    Happy 14th birthday Eli! I think 14 deserves something special. Maybe 14 pieces of cake? No, no, that’s too much. Maybe 14 new drawing pencils? Yes that sounds much better! Brian and I will be praying for you as you recover & look forward to seeing you back at PCC worshipping with us soon!

  • kmamalorenz

    The best is YET to come. We lift you up, to the Master, Creator, Savior and Healer to minister to you, Eli, your family, and all your medical team. Praying for a super-cali-fragilistic-ex-pe-alidocious birthday, young man! –Tom & Kimery Lorenz & family of Celebration Church

  • Abbey

    Happy Birthday, Eli! It was a pleasure to hear you sing a few years ago at Grace Fellowship in Paradise, Texas. Your faith is an encouragement to us all.

  • Teresa Gourley Farris

    Eli, remember when you were in a deep “sleep” years ago, and when you woke up you said God had told you “The Lord is my Sheppard” ? Well, you already know He is still your Sheppard, and He is still watching over you. So, for the moment, I say HAPPY BIRTHDAY, ELI! Get well, and hurry home. I think it’s a grand idea for us to have a birthday party when you return home and get stronger. In the meantime, I will save some dollars for you. Go Eli, GO!!

  • Amanda Gunn

    Happy Birthday Eli!! You are such an inspiration to so many people. I will be keeping you and your family in my prayers and hope your surgery and recovery go well!! God bless you!!

  • Jeannie Pino

    Happy 14th Birthday, Eli. How’d you get so old so fast? I guess that means I’m old, too! So now we can be old together. :-) I’m praying you have a great birthday, & that your surgery is 100% successful & your recovery is speedy & complete so you can come visit. Jasper, my cat, is still waiting to meet you! Love you, & you will always be my hero.

  • Margie LaRue

    Happy Birthday Eli!! I greatly admire your strength, your immense courage, and your closeness to God! Thank you for reminding me that He never leaves us nor forsakes us!

  • Susan Lloyd

    so good to hear from you again. will be praying for you and Eli! I talked about him last week at Small Group (or the week before that?) but anyway, the he was just such an inspiration to so many people and probably had no idea how much! prayers! Whoops! Happy Happy day to you!~ tell them they have to really spoil you when you feel up to it!

  • Paula Bean

    Happy, Happy Birthday to you, Eli! I am sending you much love on this birthday and I want you to know that I am going to be praying for you as you go through your surgery. You have touched my heart and have taught me how to have faith no matter what! My thoughts and prayers are with you, Eli, and I’m definitely wishing you the happiest birthday ever!!

  • Sherry Rowe

    Happy birthday Eli..I’m not sure if you remember me but we danced one night at church, and I would love to do that again when your ready..You just let me know…I hope you have a blessed birthday and were praying for you and your mom and dad…

  • Sherry Elwell

    Hey Kiddo, Didn’t realize it was your birthday. I hope you had a great day and have a wonderful year. May God bless you always. May you find peace and comfort in Him. Know that you have many that will be praying for you as always.
    Sherry and Kevin Elwell

  • Pete and Peggy Tucker

    Eli, You are our inspiration! Happy birthday buddy! I’ll cut you a little slack because you have to have some surgery, but I want you back at PCC very soon. I expect to see you back on stage, walking and singing or I’m going to come looking for you! Remember that God has great plans for you!

  • Carol Simpson

    Happy Birthday, Eli. You are a brave warrior, and you will rise. (Met you at Commonwealth Chapel, formerly Trinity AG) Saying an Amen to all the prayers for a successful procedure, and patience during your soon-to-be-spectacular recovery.

  • J. Paul Myers

    Eli, dude, you are awesome. I hope you have an awesome birthday! Amanda, Caleb, and I will be praying for you, and we’ll hope to see you real soon. Much love brother!

  • Beverly Blair Hendrich

    Happy Birthday Eli!!! We wanted to let you know we are thinking of you and pray for you often! You have left a mark on our hearts and we have already shared your story with many of our friends! You are a hero and a true artist! We are so proud of you for pursuing your dreams and for your strength. Remember, God is always with you and with Him you need never to be afraid! We love you and look forward to seeing you again soon! HAPPY BIRTHDAY!

    “And we know that all things work together for good to them who love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose

  • Ginny Olsen

    Happy Birthday, Eli. God loves you and is with you as you go through this surgery. Thoughts and prayers for you.

  • BeccaWilliams

    I can’t tell you how much of an influence you are to me!!

  • Cheryl Tomandl

    Eli – Happy 14th Birthday! You are a real inspiration to Tony and me, and we LOVE to hear you sing. We’ll be praying for your surgery and recovery. God has you safely in His hands, and will be guiding your doctors. You’ll have another story to tell everyone about, and maybe even write a song! Blessings, dear Eli.

  • Penny George

    Happy Birthday Eli!!! 14 years old, and infinite strength of spirit! May your birthday be filled with blessings!!!

  • Lisa Dowdy

    Eli, I hope you have a very happy birthday. And I will be praying for you to have a successful surgery. You are a strong boy and God will see you through!!!
    Lisa Dowdy

  • Cats

    Happy 14 Birthday Eli!!! Hope you enjoy it! I’ll be praying for you! God Bless!

  • The Guthrie Family

    Eli – we wish you a happy happy birthday – you are an amazing you man! To see how far you have come and the strides you have made and the impact you continue to make – you are far from finished with your mission – but now it is time for YOU! Take some time and “chill” as Anna likes to say- we pray for you buddy! We love you and your family so much! As soon as you are able Anna and I would love to some and say HI and give you a hug!

  • smoothstones

    Happy Birthday, Eli. So thankful for your life, your heart for Jesus, and the source of inspiration you are to so many. I’ll be praying about your surgery and specifically for the alignment of your hip. I know God has great plans for you! -Brandee Shafer

  • Kathy Snyder

    Happy birthday to you!!! I pray for God’s blessings over you, and strength for your parents! You will come through this smiling on the other side!!

  • Samantha

    Happy Birthday, Eli! I mostly only know you from your music and smiles at church but you always make me happy when I see you. May this next year be the best one yet and may it be full of blessings, joy, and adventure.

  • Brenda Green

    Eli, the ROCK STAR… I hope you have a VERY good birthday celebration with lots of pizza and CHOCOLATE!! AND……as your buddies, Rascal Flatts would say, “My wish, for you, is that this life becomes all that you want it to,Your dreams stay big, and your worries stay small, You never need to carry more than you can hold.” Happy Birthday, Eli!!! – Brenda Green

  • Gail

    Happy Birthday, Eli! I cannot believe you are already turning 14!!! I wonder what you wonderful pictures you will draw in your fourteenth year? I will be watching for them in Facebook. Hugs and Hugs to you on your birthday! Gail

  • Joyce Hawk

    I pray you have a birthday filled with blessings and happiness. I am David Hawk’s mother and He told me about your great ministry. I know your surgery will become a wonderful testimony when it is over. My husband had a true miracle this year and we know it was because of prayer.Praying for you and your family. GOD BLESS YOU.

  • Wendy Horton Blankemeyer

    Happy Birthday Eli! I have a picture you drew and signed hanging on my refrigerator. I smile every time I see it! You are an amazing young man and GOD has very big plans for you! You and your family are such a blessing. So have a very happy birthday and remember how much you are loved!

  • Jessie Stinnett

    Hey Eli! I had a lot of fun when I came over to play with you a couple months ago. I hope you had fun to! I hope you have a very HAPPY 14th BIRTHDAY! I think you should get some friends together and come up with your own birthday song! I hope you enjoy your birthday and all of the presents you will get for your birthday! HAPPY BIRTHDAY ELI!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
    Don’t eat to much cake(:

  • kim jennings

    Hey Eli!
    Happy 14th Birthday! You are an awesome person and I hope your birthday is as awesome as you!! Be well and enjoy!

  • Tim Lawson

    Happy Birthday Eli! I hope you have a wonderful day. You truly are one of God’s blessings and such an inspiration to all of us. Stay tough and hang in there. We’ll be praying for you……Tim Lawson

  • Tim DeMoss

    God bless you, Eli, as you continue to put your trust in Him even at your (relatively) young age. It is an encouragement to me as an adult to see your faith in the Lord. God is good & He is faithful all the days of our lives through every day and every season. Keep building on Him as your foundation!