I took a sip of my mother’s iced tea from her hospital tray, since we were about to throw it all out. She was coming home today, after being hospitalized four days due to Colitis. It is an excruciatingly painful intestinal illness, but (the doctor told us) was not contagious. She’d cooked a delicious Thanksgiving dinner days before, but was then too ill to eat anything but mashed potatoes. I was relieved to finally be taking her home this December afternoon in 2011.
I’d visited Mom every day while she was there, hating to see her in such pain. Mom had only been in a hospital one other time in her life… for a triple bypass heart surgery that saved her life in 2009, following three heart attacks in a two-week period. Mom, a committed follower of Christ, has a strong faith in God’s power (and willingness) to heal His people when we pray. She’d witnessed countless times where the Lord did just that — in her own body, and in we five children as we grew up with no health insurance.
Mom found herself very frustrated and even angry that “God didn’t heal me this time. Why??”
Three days after taking my mom home, I developed a high fever and severe stomach pain, and ended up in the emergency room. Sure enough, I had contracted the same ailment my mother had – even though they thought it was not contagious. It was so painful, they put me on a Morphine drip.
Doctors ordered an ultrasound of my stomach to rule out anything else, and were shocked at what they found. My husband had gone home to care for our children, and hadn’t made it back to the hospital yet, so I was alone when the doctor came in to tell me the news.
“We found a large, eleven- centimeter tumor on your right ovary. It is full of gnarly-looking teeth and hairs; it doesn’t look good. We’re referring you to a gynecologic oncologist who specializes in female cancers. I’m so sorry.”
The compassionate female doctor patted my leg as she gave me the frightening news. It felt like a death notice. Both she and the attending physician on duty the night before agreed on what they found, and said, “We don’t want to touch it.” Suddenly feeling like a small, helpless child, my tears began spilling out. When she left the room, I began talking (and crying) out loud to my Heavenly Father.
“Lord, You know I’m ready to go to Heaven, but my family needs me!
Our four children still at home were only 15, 13, 12 and 6. From our older five children, we had four darling grandchildren and one on the way. I was only 44 years old, and had so many things I still needed to do on this earth before I left. I explained all this to God, just in case He didn’t know that;)
It was December 3rd, but we postponed the surgery– a complete hysterectomy and tumor removal – until December 27th. I didn’t want to ruin Christmas and not be able to do everything I normally did – wrapping, decorating, cooking, and holding my grandbabies. I was extra careful, though, now cognizant of the bulge just right of my navel — partially masked by a few extra pounds. We hugged a little longer in these days, and, noticeably, none of our children complained about taking a family photo this year. (See below.)
Our son Josh, serving in the US Air Force, even flew home from Hawaii to be with me that Christmas — not knowing if it would possibly be the last time. After my sister drowned a few years before, we took nothing for granted. I’d resigned my full-time music teaching position in 2007, dedicating my life to my family, ministry endeavors and mission work to which God had called me. My aim was to spend my life on things that I felt truly mattered – and which would have an eternal impact.
Now, quite possibly, my time was short.
Nationwide and even in other countries, thousands of people began praying for my healing. My sweet momma cried so many tears for me. She confessed that as she laid in the hospital the week before, questioning WHY she had to be in there, that she was impressed with a thought by the Holy Spirit: “You’re not in here for YOU. You’re here for someone else.” Had I not contracted Colitis from my mother (possibly from drinking out of her tea glass, perhaps from being nearby during her illness), the doctors wouldn’t have discovered my 11 cm tumor.
Surgery day finally arrived. Smothering my natural fear, the peace of God by the prayers of His saints carried me and my husband that day. The surgeon, Dr. Woo, had told us during the pre-surgery consultation, “You know, this means you cannot have more children.” Hank and I looked at each other and laughed. “We’re good, Dr. Woo. We already have NINE children.” That’s a lot of kids by most people’s standards, but about knocked this kind Chinese doctor off his chair! I guess we all needed to laugh.
Dr. Woo extracted some of the gelatinous matter from the large tumor, to perform a biopsy before deciding how to extract it. If it was cancer, he would have to make a larger incision in my stomach to remove it whole, not wanting the cancer to spread throughout my bloodstream. If it was not cancer, he could cut it smaller and extract it without a large incision.
Before the surgery, I had asked the doctor to make me a promise. “Please, doctor, let me not feel anything, or remember anything about this surgery. Thankfully, the doctor and anesthesiologist kept their word! While I was hanging upside down (practically), the biopsy was completed. There was NO CANCER!!
Of course, I didn’t know this until hours later, but they told my husband, Hank, and he let our family (and friends praying at our church and on Facebook) know the good news!! Whether the “cancer” diagnosis of the first two doctors was wrong, or whether God had miraculously healed me — it didn’t matter! I was going to live!
In recent months, I am dealing with several mysterious medical / health issues, and several doctors have administered tests to find out what’s going on. I find myself in waiting rooms too often, it seems. Usually, I play Words With Friends or check email on my phone while I’m waiting. At a recent visit, however, I picked up the Gideon Bible in the waiting room, and began to read in the Book of Job. I’m endeavoring to read through the whole bible in one year, and that’s where I’d been reading at home.
When they called my name to see the doctor, I asked the nurse if I could take the Bible to my room with me, knowing that I’d have to wait – again – to see the doctor. When the doctor finally came in, I laid the bible down on the chair next to me. She immediately smiled and motioned toward the bible.
“Ah. I see you’re reading the bible.”
“Yes, I’m behind on my bible-reading plan, and thought I’d use this time to catch up, instead of playing games on my phone, haha!”
The next five minutes, as she typed in my responses to medical questions, we talked about spiritual matters. I asked if I could read aloud one of the scriptures that I’d just read, that just blew me away,
“Yes, please!” the doctor replied.
I read these words out loud:
“10 Ice is formed by the breath of God, and watery expanses are frozen. 11 He saturates clouds with moisture; He scatters His lightning through them. 12 They swirl about, turning round and round at His direction, accomplishing everything He commands them over the surface of the inhabited world. 13 He causes this to happen for punishment, for His land, or for His faithful love.” (Job 37:10-13 HCSB)
My doctor and I were each in awe of this vivid display of God’s power, wisdom, and love. Living in Oklahoma, especially in the heart of tornado season, we both had witnessed these things. Then, tears welling up in her eyes, my doctor confessed to me these words.
I’ve had a bible laying on my nightstand for six months that I haven’t touched. After talking to you today, I know I MUST start reading it again! I’ve missed it and been wanting to, but just haven’t done it. WE WERE SUPPOSED TO HAVE THIS CONVERSATION TODAY! You’ve encouraged me so much; I’m so glad God sent you!”
In that moment, my loving, kind and all-wise God reminded me of a great truth: Life (with its ups and downs) is not all about us. It’s often about someone else, and we’re just part of a greater plan with farther-reaching ramifications. God is weaving together a beautiful tapestry in our lives, including the ugly and boring parts — not just the flashy or beautiful parts.
Similarly, an exquisite stained glass window is made up of small, often unremarkable pieces. A skilled and patient designer and craftsman uses fire, heat, melting, shaping and cutting to make the collective pieces into something beautiful and breathtaking. That is what our loving Creator is doing with each of us, as He knits our lives together for His grand and marvelous plan.
Life is not just about us; we're part of God's greater & farther-reaching plan 2 bring hope & healing 2 others. Trust Him in hard times & shine JESUS. #inspiringhopeblog #Cancer #Prayer Click To Tweet
One of the most riveting personal testimonies I’ve ever witnessed is from a woman named Debra. She was one of the guest artists (painter) and speakers at our annual Staff Gathering of Artists in Christian Testimony, International, my ministry headquarters in Brentwood / Nashville, TN. Debra Lynn is one of the very best painters I have ever met! Her creations are truly breathtaking, and always have a biblical parallel in meaning and purpose.
She told her inspiring story as she painted, and we hung upon every word. Along with the obvious talent and humble attitude, Debra and her 12-year-old daughter were actually homeless when we met.
After the conference, I gave Debra my worship CD, and she requested paintings, called “The Power of Brokenness”.
I asked Debra to make prints of it available to my readers and ministry partners, and I designed and added (with her permission) the corresponding scripture passage. (You may order a frame-able 8 X 10″ print HERE. This makes a PERFECT Mother’s Day, Father’s Day or graduation gift, and helps us raise much-needed ministry funds! Thank you for your support!)
2nd Corinthians 4:7: “But we have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us.” (NIV)
Going through a hard time? Have unanswered prayers, and lingering questions?
Use this opportunity to shine for Jesus! Someone needs His hope today, and you’re just the person He sent!