(shown from left to right: Jen, daughter Kyra, husband Tom)
I was born with FSH, a type of muscular dystrophy.
During most of my life, I have attended church. But, it was not until my 50s that I felt a genuine connection to God. As it has turned out, and perhaps it’s the same for many of us, I didn’t find that relationship with Jesus until tragedy struck our family.
When my daughter turned one year old, I was able to retire from teaching because I was experiencing pain from my weakening muscles. God had our family’s back then as our two-salary income was reduced to one. The considerable stress in my life was greatly reduced just by my being a stay-at-home mom. At that time, I didn’t belong to any church, didn’t pray much, and certainly didn’t think about God much. My husband believed in a higher power but not in organized religion. I spent several years this way…mostly stress-free, mostly God-free. I still wouldn’t say that those were wonderful years because there was an emptiness that I couldn’t fill.
About the time of our daughter’s fifteenth birthday, my husband, Tom, lost his job. I felt dread. Soon after, he was diagnosed with terminal cancer. My dread turned to terror and immense despair. As he wasted away, my own body began to decline.
I began to pray. I felt something I had never felt before. A presence. I began to actively attend a new church with friends. Upon the first visit, I felt the power of His glory. The muscular dystrophy had progressed to a point that I had begun to fall. I felt fear creep into other areas of my life. Fear of falling when I was at church or running errands. But, as I prayed, asking God to hold me up or to keep me from breaking bones, I knew that He was with me.
I always managed to get myself up unharmed when I fell. Miraculous to me. My strong husband was no longer able to help me. He was battling his own fears of sickness and death.
I began to pray that God would forgive Tom’s sins as well as my own. I wanted Tom to know about Heaven. As Tom was nearing death, my own minister and a priest came to pray over him. On the morning of Tom’s last day on earth, I remember whispering in his ear to look for Jesus and to ask forgiveness for his sins. I told him to not be afraid but to go toward a light that would guide him. As Tom took his last breath, the family witnessed the opening of his eyes. He looked with wonder at something over our heads that only he seemed to see. We knew, without a doubt, what he was seeing. That, to me, was miraculous.
After Tom’s death, I began to join women’s Bible studies. I knew that I wanted to be baptized and to accept Jesus as my Lord and Savior. Because of my mobility issues, I never thought I would be able to accomplish this in the large pool used at the church. A few years later, I admitted this to a good friend. She made it all happen in her neighborhood lake just this year. What a wonderful experience it was to know that I was committing to Jesus and I knew that He is right there with me.
(Kyra and Jen’s mother Gayle)
When my daughter was accepted to the University of Nebraska (with an academic scholarship), I agreed to her going so far away from home. But fear that she would be living in a dorm so far away weighed heavily on me. With God’s grace, we managed the move. However, her time there was brief. Returning back to school after Thanksgiving, she became critically ill and collapsed in her dorm. I received a call from Lincoln’s hospital that she was in their emergency room and had gone into cardiac arrest three times. My mother and I were urged to get to Lincoln as quickly as possible.
I had just sold my home in Maryland and had moved to Pennsylvania to be near my mother. She and I got the earliest flight we could and arrived in Lincoln by mid-morning the next day, still unaware of what had happened and her condition. I prayed that my daughter would be alive when we arrived. We had no time to find a motel, rent a car, or pack more than one week’s worth of clothes.
We were met at the hospital by university staff, who became our guardian angels for the next six weeks. Nurses at the hospital and staff members from the university all openly talked about God and prayed with and for us.
It was a most miraculous and amazing six weeks. The university set us up with free lodging and some cafeteria privileges. I had only to rent a car.
The night we arrived, my daughter had to have thoracic surgery to remove multiple blood clots in her lungs. When I met the surgeon and shook his hand, I felt immediate peace. My daughter had an eighty per cent chance of surviving surgery and wouldn’t survive the night without it. I knew then that she would be all right. Six weeks later, I was able to bring her home by car from Nebraska to Pennsylvania.
God was with us all out there in Nebraska. I never fell. I had the stamina to get through the whole ordeal, as did my mother.
Back in Pennsylvania, when my daughter had her first appointment with a hemotologist, we were told that she shouldn’t have survived because of the severity of her case. She was and continues to be a walking miracle.
Life has calmed down, thankfully. My symptoms have continued to worsen. I recognize that empty, fearful feeling when I haven’t spent time working on my relationship with God. It is a constant reminder to me to call on Him, to talk with Him. I am still fearful about falling and now my inability to get up without help. But, instead of asking God to take away this muscular dystrophy, I ask Him to help me if I fall. So far, He has been there. I have had complete strangers come running to help me. I have found ways of getting up on my own, using my only good right arm. He is always there. I feel loved, comforted, and gentle pushes to keep going, to keep trusting in Him. I may always have this fear but it can be quelled. There is always a solution, as my mother tells me. God tells me, too.
Thank you to my friend and sister in faith for sharing her story. What did you hear in Jen’s post? A reminder? Anything new?
Feel free to start a conversation in the comments. Jen or I will respond 🙂
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Have a beauty-full Saturday.
In Christ Alone,