Meet my friend, Sandy Miller.
Married since 1993 to Steve, she has one son of her own while her husband has a son and a daughter. All their children are now adults. Sandy worked at a local glass factory since 1973 until just a couple years ago. You may find Sandy if you are at a gospel concert. Sandy said she has always loved gospel music and is thankful she has a friend to go to concerts with her now.
Are you wondering how I know Sandy?
Last March, I was invited to speak at a church where Sandy attends. Before the service began, I milled around introducing myself to different women there.
However, I did not meet Sandy until after the service.
Have you ever met someone who leaves an immediate mark on your life?
Sandy wrapped her arms around me. As she did, I felt my heart grow warm. She told me to stay put, she would be right back. I was confused, but I kept my feet glued to the carpet where I was standing, overwhelmed already by her openness to embrace me.
In came Sandy with a carboard box in her arms. I could barely see her chestnut brown eyes over the box. Setting the package down, her smile beamed as she revealed its contents to me.
Never having met this beautiful lady before, she delivered 12 glasses with a D for Dibble on them to me, little ole me. I was taken aback. Honestly, if it weren’t for the Dibble initial, I may have politely passed … why you ask? Not sure, old stuff probably, but I did not feel I deserved such a nice gift. I had not done anything for this dear woman.
That’s the kind of person Sandy Miller is. She invites you into her world without hesitation. Once you are in, you feel you belong.
My husband and I have enjoyed our first official set of glasses.
Knowing a bit of her history after our talk last March, I invited her to tell her life and near-death story here on the blog.
We met in a coffee shop last week.
What a privilege to hear someone’s intimate story of their stroke, thoughts during recovery.
How humbling to hear Sandy give God “all the glory” for the “abundance of blessings” He provided throughout the healing process.
This is the story of a woman who feels saved by God many times, both physically and spiritually.
In 2006, Sandy was diagnosed with blood clots in both her lungs. She said, “they didn’t understand then why I didn’t die.” It was then she started taking a blood thinning medication.
Fast forward to 2013. Sandy took me back to the Thursday where she left her job at the glass factory because she wasn’t feeling well. She got home and laid down on the couch. She described her feeling like “everyone was at a distance from me but I couldn’t cipher out what they were saying.”
The next day Friday she never made it to work. Two women she worked with called her on the phone. Sandy said, “I was confused, slurring my words.” The women, Sandy referred to them as the “girls she worked with,” came over to see her. Before long, they called the owner of the glass company who said, “it sounds like she has had a stroke.”
In re-telling her story, Sandy said, “that’s what it was [a stroke]. They called the ambulance. There were ambulance people, cops and people from work … at first they thought I od’d on my pills. The bottles were laying on the kitchen table for my husband to take to get filled. I said ‘no.’ [Sandy did not take any pills]”
“The first place did an MRI and found a 3 x 3 pocket of blood on my brain … transferred me to a hospital. They gave me a shot to induce a coma so I wouldn’t have seizures. I knew I wasn’t going anywhere because I felt God’s hand on me. I wasn’t going anywhere.”
At this, I am amazed at His power and asked Sandy where did you think you might go?
“To hell for things I did and said …
I didn’t get to ask the Lord for forgiveness yet, but where would I be without God?
I woke up four days later in ICU, and they said ‘welcome back’ I think.”
The story of His power in Sandy’s life continues:
“Said to Steve, what about you and me? He said, ‘I love you, God taught me a lesson, I love you.’ He just started going to that church, right before this happened.Steve was taking the initiative to come to my church. He gave his heart to the Lord because of it, my health. He believed in God but he hadn’t take that step”
Sandy reiterated she felt her stroke happened for a reason, so God could “have his Hand in it”.
So far in this story, God saved Sandy’s physical life twice and her marriage after her stroke.
In regard to her therapy after the stroke, Sandy reported she had to relearn everything and would get frustrated. She was in rehab for a week and a half: “I had to learn how to walk, my abc’s and math. They would use a wipeboard.”
Sandy described a Dr. D from the rehab, said “that’s how all doctors should be.” She remembers holding Dr. D’s hand: “It was like God was holding my hand, and Dr. said,
‘Don’t give up, you fight. Sometimes when people have a stroke they want to give up, don’t give up, you fight.’”
I could hear the love and appreciation in Sandy’s voice as she described this doctor’s tender care. Sandy mentioned that “she felt a part of something there” at rehab.
When she was going home, her husband knew she would need help.
Sandy recalls she wasn’t allowed to use the stove. She still had to keep learning what things were called, like a fork for instance.
Then her friend Diane from the glass factory offered to help her at home.
“Who would know that God would use her?
My husband said, ‘I don’t know what I can pay you’, and she came over every day anyway.”
Sandy describes the friendship and the help from Diane with a full heart. She knew that Diane and her husband would talk about her at the end of the day. Sandy could hear things like, “She is making good progress.”
Physical therapy, occupational therapy and social work services all came to her home until Sandy had regained her ability to talk freely without effort. Still, Sandy was determined to return to her job. Unfortunately, that did not work out. She retired from the glass factory, where she had worked for many years.
With a diagnosis of Vascular Dementia, Impaired Executive Functioning and Frontal Lobe bleeding from stroke, Sandy has welcomed the changes in her life and finds much to be thankful for:
“Everything happens for a reason.
God doesn’t allow one door to close, you know, that He doesn’t open another door or window.
Found that to be true for so many things in my life. Like the glass factory[when she retired], now I get to help at church. [Now I go to] bible study, I help in junior church, I help Miss Diana with the kids once per month, doing more with the church. I am helping get the word out for the Harvesters quartet …
But I also got closer to the Lord myself, when they gave me that shot to induce the coma, if I would have went [died], maybe I would have went to hell …another chance at life where maybe I can make up for my past, you know?
Things I said or things I did.
In my mind, I am glad He didn’t take me, so I can tell my story,
to bring us both [husband and her] closer to the Lord.”
Do you feel the effects of God’s sovereignty?
Can you sense light shining in from Jesus on her life, on her marriage and into her heart?
It so moved me when Sandy shared that she was thankful for the second chance God gave her and how maybe she could “make up” for past mistakes.
I sensed her need to prove to God she was worth saving … almost like I struggled to feel worthy of Sandy’s generous personalized gift when I first met her.
Friends, we live side-by-side in this fallen world.
Shall we not open our hearts and souls to kindness from our human brothers and sisters, as well as from Our blessed Lord, Jesus Christ?
Ephesians 2:8 For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith-and this is not from yourselves, it is a gift from God.
Wow, the power of our story with God is universal. We all have one, and He will use our pain for His Kingdom work every time. Lives are radically changed, hearts are washed clean and blessed with love to feel and to give.
If anyone has any comments you would like me to give to Sandy, please leave them here. I will be sure to share them with her.
Stay tuned for a Spring Follow That Blog Contest, with another guest post this month!