Monday, June 8, 2015

A Phone Call Changes Everything...



The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to an end;
 they are new every morning; great is your faithfulness.  
Lamentations 3:22-23

Those who know me well have heard me say, "A phone call can change your life in an instant."   I usually say this in response to hearing about a dire or tragic situation.  It's not that I'm being maudlin, but more making an observation of how fragile life can be...

As some of you may know, I have suffered with fearfulness and anxiety for a good part of my life.  

If I were to give my top 10 fears , they would be as follows:

#1 Death of a loved one
#2 Serious illness of a loved one 
#3 Serious illness in myself
#4 Doctors
#5 Hospitals
#6 Surgery
#7 Driving long distances alone
#8 Flying alone
#9 A severed relationship of someone I hold dear
#10 Living alone

My fears seem to fall into two categories:  health issues & being alone, whether in an activity or in general.

My life verse, Deuteronomy 31:8, was born out of my fears.

It is the Lord who goes before you.  He will be with you; 
He will not leave you or forsake you. 
Do not fear or be dismayed.    

I hold onto this verse as if it is life itself...

His Words ARE Life itself...

My phone call came in 2008...

When my husband Michael was in his late 40s, he began experiencing severe headaches that were continuing off and on for a few weeks.  We just assumed that his typical sinus migraines were a little more ramped up than usual.  As the headaches persisted, my husband saw our family doctor who recommended a brain MRI, but the insurance company denied the test...

Michael eventually started having issues with numbness and tingling in his arms accompanied with visual disturbances.  At this point, our family doctor diagnosed "cluster headaches" and recommended that Michael see a neurologist.  The neurologist recommended an MRI which the insurance company then finally approved.

Incredibly enough, my husband continued working through the severe headaches.  Michael scheduled his MRI in the morning before work and planned on heading in after the MRI was completed.  I can honestly say I wasn't too concerned that the tests were going to find anything seriously wrong.

Then the phone rang...

   I answered the phone.  It was my husband who sounded upbeat and calm.   As he started to speak and I heard the words he was saying, I began shaking; it felt like the room was spinning.  The MRI detected something on his brain.  My mind started racing.  Was it a brain tumor?!?

Michael said he needed to be taken to the hospital as soon as possible and asked me to come pick him up.  (The Radiology Department didn't feel the situation warranted an ambulance.)

I remember thinking, "Karen, you need to hold it together for Michael, and for your children (who were 21 and 17 at the time).  You have to be strong."   On the outside, I may have looked like I was holding it together, but I was barely functioning as I was rushing to get dressed to go out the door to pick my husband up and bring him to the hospital.

It seemed all my fears were crashing down around me - possible impending death of a loved one; serious illness of a loved one; hospitals, doctors, driving alone - Would I become alone, without a husband?...

I got behind the wheel of my car, turned on the ignition, and started driving, not knowing how the day was going to end...

I then began praying God's promise to me, back to Him, "You go before me and are with me, you will never leave me or forsake me."   I fervently prayed for my husband, for his protection and healing.  I prayed for the doctors who would be treating Michael to have wisdom and understanding of the situation.  I prayed for peace for my daughter who was upset and waiting at home alone, and I prayed for strength from the Lord to carry me.  I knew I could not do this except only by His strength.

By the time I reached my husband, I started feeling this "other-worldly" strength and peace.  I no longer felt "out of control", but "in-control" and calmer.

 When my husband and I arrived at the hospital, the staff took Michael into triage right away.  I had to stay in the waiting room while they worked him up.  My son arrived at the hospital at just that time.  It was such a comfort to have him there - and later on, to know that he was in the waiting room...

The nurse called me in from the waiting room and I followed her to where Michael was.  It was surreal to see my husband on a hospital gurney in a johnny, critically ill, but I was still uncharacteristically at peace...

The doctors needed to run more tests, and I went to another area to fill out paperwork. A little while later, the doctor retrieved me and brought me to my husband.  As the doctor and I walked up the hallway, he started explaining the results of the MRI.  He said my husband had suffered a carotid dissection.  The doctor held up his two fingers and spread them apart four inches along his own neck to describe how far the carotid artery had tore.  The doctor went on to explain that Michael had suffered a stroke as a result of the carotid dissection.  The surrealness of it all was incredible!  Yet despite seeing the doctors fingers spread four inches apart and trying to grasp what he was saying, I felt such undeniable peace.  You would have thought I was walking up the hall at the mall without a care in the world!  

In the midst of this whole experience, the Lord did provide some moments of humor...

While waiting for  Michael's hospital room to be prepared, another neurologist came in to check on him.   He conducted several neurological tests.  The first one entailed my husband having to count back from 100 by 7's.  Well, Michael sailed along just fine.  I'm sitting there trying to do this myself - 100.... um... 93 um....   I thought to myself, "Apparently, I've had a stroke!"  lol.

Then the neurologist said to my husband, "Demonstrate to me how you nail a hammer."  Well now I'm thinking, "What does that even mean??"  lol.  My husband, without missing a beat said to the doctor, "Look, I've had a really tough day, don't you mean, hammer a nail."  We all had a good laugh after that.

It was then, actually, that the Lord glorified Himself through the tender mercies He had bestowed upon Michael and I through this intense trial...

The doctor turned to both my husband and I saying, "For a person who is only in their late 40s and just had a carotid dissection and accompanying stroke, you and your wife are so calm and have such a great sense of humor about the whole thing."

We both testified to the doctor that God is our strength and that through His saving grace, we have the peace that surpasses all understanding.

God's strength, wrapped in His mercy, clearly carried me and my husband.  I experienced peace like never before in my life while I faced the biggest fears of my life!  My husband remained calm and maintained an upbeat attitude which made everyone around him feel at ease.

But God had worked the most incredible mercy when we didn't even know it was happening...

Once the testing was analyzed, it was determined that the day my husband was supposed to have the first recommended MRI, which had been denied  by the insurance company, was actually the day my husband had the carotid dissection.  It was a miracle my husband survived AND with no lasting side-effects from the stroke.   Man may have made a bad call in denying my husband's MRI; But God...  In His incredible mercy, spared my husband's life.

When I say my husband had no lasting side-effects, I mean in the sense of those that come to mind such as impaired speech, vision and motor skills.  However, the area of my husband's brain that was effected by the stroke was the "planning and organizing" center of the brain.

You see, my husband was pastoring a church at the time of the stroke, and writing sermons required planning and organizing.  But God...  In His mercy, gave Michael the cognitive strength to plan and organize while writing and then delivering the sermons.

My husband did go on to make a full and complete recovery. Praise God!

I came across an article entitled, God's Mercy in Making Us Face the Impossible, on Desiring God's website which was written by Jon Bloom.  Excerpts from the article truly summed up how I saw the Lord working in my life and in my husband's life through what at first seemed impossible.

"God is not content for us just to understand the idea that nothing is too hard for the Lord [Ah, Lord God!  It is you who have made the heavens and the earth by your great power and by your outstretched arm!  Nothing is too hard for you.  Jeremiah 32:17]  He wants us to have the overwhelming joy of experiencing it."

"There are times when God orders our circumstances in such a way that from a human standpoint His promises are impossible to fulfill.  And if at that point, we find these promises almost unbelievable, as did Abraham and Sarah [when God promised that they would have a son in their old age], what God has exposed are the boundaries of our faith - boundaries He means to expand."

"Resting in the promises of God is learned in the crucible of wrestling with unbelief - seasons, sometimes long seasons, when everything hangs on believing that "God gives life to the dead and calls everything into existence the things that do not exist" and there is no safety net."

Jon Bloom closed his article by offering the following words of encouragement:

"If you are in such a season, [facing an impossibility and wrestling with unbelief] as difficult as it feels, God is being incredibly kind to you.  Because such seasons are when we really learn that nothing is too hard for the Lord.  And the joy in God that results makes any agony endured not even worth comparing.

Abraham and Sarah "grew strong in [their] faith" because God pushed them to believe more than they thought was possible.  For the sake of our joy, He does the same for you and me."

Yes, a phone call in 2008, did change my life in an instant -- to a life of faith that had grown exponentially; to a life of overcoming fears through the strength of the the Lord; and to a life of great joy - waiting expectantly for God's mercies.


You might find me on these link-ups:
Grace & Truth Link-upWoman to Woman Ministries,  Growing in Grace Link-up, 3DLessonsLif4eLivefree Thursday,Everyday JesusSDG GatheringInspire Me Monday, Titus 2 TuesdayA Wise Women Builds Her HomeA Look at the Book,  Sunday StillnessThe Weekend BrewSpiritual Sundays, Soul Survival,  Give Me GraceA Little R&RTestimony TuesdayWomen with Intention WednesdaysStill SaturdayGood Morning MondaysTell His StoryBlessings Counter Link-up Party,Faith & Fellowship Blog HopMotivate and Rejuvenate MondaysBe SaltyMonday's MusingsThe Art of Home-Making MondayTuesday TalkWaiting on WednesdayDance with Jesus Link-up

42 comments:

  1. The Lord was so faithful to your family in this situation Karen.
    I am happy along with you that your husband is doing well.
    Blessings from Shirley in Virginia

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    1. Shirley, Thank you for your kind words.

      I'm so glad you stopped by. :-)

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  2. Nail a hammer. Yes, God inserts His sense of humor in situations to alleviate our stresses and give us a dose of whimsy. Beautifully written!

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    1. Thank you for your kind words. :-)

      I'm so glad you stopped by!

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  3. Karen, I have just read your beautiful testimony of God's grace! I too have struggled with fear my entire life and I too received that phone in 2007 that my husband had fallen 30 feet out of a tree and was being airlifted to the nearest hospital which was 3 hours away from our home. The next six weeks are unbelievable how God gave me strength! Long story short, Butch was on life support for 21 days and no doctor ever assured me that he would make it and if he did if he would be able to walk! Within eight weeks of the accident, he was walking on his own! The miracles of the day of the accident and the weeks to follow are numerous, but God healed and restored him. Within 4 months, he was back to running his four miles a day!! To God be the glory! Thank you for such an encouraging post and praise to our Lord and Savior! Blessings and hugs, Pam

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    1. Pam, Thank you so much for sharing your story with me! Wow! You and your husband were covered in God's abundant mercy! Praising God with you that your husband has fully recovered.

      Thank you so much for your kind words.

      I have been blessed by your visit. :-)

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  4. Praise God, how beautiful how you held strong in prayer, held by God's word, and His promises! I'm visiting from next door #RaRaLinkUp. So glad read your encouraging story!

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    1. Kathy,

      Praising God that you were encourged by the testimony of God's mercy to me and my husband through this medical emergency.

      Indeed, God is so faithful to us in prayer, His Word and His promises. :-)

      Thank you so much for stopping by.

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  5. So thankful your husband is okay and that he fully recovered. What satan meant as evil, God meant as good. Dad used to tell me that Christian character is forged in the crucible of pain. Oh, how I have found this to be true throughout life! And even now, as we face such extreme trials, we are finding and gleaning many spiritual nuggets of gold. God help us all to be faithful to Him!

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    1. Cheryl, Your dad had much wisdom. Our true character certainly does come out in the "crucible of pain". There but for the Grace of God go I...

      We certainly do gain precious spiritual insights in the midst of trials. Praising God for your heart to remain faithful to Him.

      I'm always blessed by your visits. :-)

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  6. WOW! What powerful writing...I was right there with you every step...reminding me of a similar time in my life...many blessings to you ❤️

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    1. Beth, Thank you for your kind words.

      It's always so encouraging when we lift each other up with the testimonies of our loving Father which remind us of similar mercies in our own lives causing our faith to grow even more.

      So glad you stopped by. :-)

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  7. What a beautifully written post! How wonderful it is to know that the Lord is before us, beside us, and behind us whenever we fast the trials that come our way! The Lord just did something beautiful for me too just this past weekend, but nothing as traumatic as your situation.... yet He came and He fulfilled the need in my heart. I never cease to be amazed at how the Lord works in ways that we can't understand, providing us exactly what we need, JUST at the moment we need it! May the presence of the Lord be with you today in a very special way :)

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    1. Thank you for your kind and encouraging words.

      Thank you for sharing your story of how the Lord worked in your life recently. I was blessed and encouraged by it.

      I'm so glad you stopped by. :-)

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  8. God is Good :) What an awesome witness to His amazing Grace.

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    1. Amen! :-)

      Thank you so much for stopping by.

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  9. Very powerful. Thanks for sharing!

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  10. Wow, Karen! Thank you for sharing this incredible story. My husband is also a medical miracle, and I always love how his story is an opportunity to share Jesus with those who will listen. Thank you for linking up with #InspireMeMonday!

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    1. I'm happy to hear that your husband too is a medical miracle!

      Yes, stories like these certainly do provide opportunities to share about the love of Jesus.

      Thanks for stopping by.

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  11. Karen, Well, again, I am blessed your words and your testimony - thanks! I love your life verse Deut 31 and how God has made His promise and His words life to you. Praise God for His awesome wonders!

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    1. Sandra, thank you for your sweet words.

      I love my life verse too. :-)

      Indeed, God is wonderful!

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  12. Karen, thank you for sharing your powerful story with Thought-Provoking Thursday today. This was right on time for me and encouraged my battle-weary spirit so much! Thank you :)

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    1. Lyli, Praising God for His perfect timing in your life speaking encouragement to you through His testimony in my life.

      I am so glad you visited. :-)

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  13. Hi Karen, thank God for your testimony! This is amazing how much miracles God works in or lives through His mercies.
    How have you been friend?
    Many Blessings to you.

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    1. Ifeoma, I've always said that when we reach Heaven's gates we will be even more amazed when we learn of the miracles He has performed that protected us when we didn't even realize it.

      I am doing well. Enjoying this season of life having my daughter, son-in-law and precious baby granddaughter live with us. The baby is a joy and delight.

      How have you been?

      Thank you for stopping by. :-)

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  14. wow. Thanks for sharing this. This REALLY hits home for me. I got that phone call last year from my SIL 'Caroline, Kai has a brain tumor'. He was 2.5 years old and just 15 days later passed away.

    I'm so glad your story ended differently. Thanks for linking up

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    1. Caroline, Your story touched my heart. Thank you for sharing.

      It has been a blessing to have you visit.

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  15. What a beautiful testimony of God's faithfulness and love! Thank you for sharing it and extending hope through it for us all. Praising God with you today! Bless you! Following you at The Weekend Brew.

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    1. Julie, Thank you for your kind words.

      I am finding the more I share God's testimonies in my own life in the hopes that it will encourage others, my faith is bolstered in the remembering.

      I am so glad you visited. :-)

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  16. What a wonderful testimony about faith, and overcoming. I read, hoping that your husband would be ok, and I'm so glad about his recovery, but I also know that you and your children would be ok if things had turned out differently. Our God is a Mighty God and strengthens, and gives peace. Thank you for sharing this moving story!

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    1. Janet, Thank you for your kind words.

      Indeed our God if faithful in all circumstances.

      Thank you for visiting!

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  17. God is so good, isn't He? Wonderful to read the story of healing for your husband and peace for you.

    Thank you for your kind comment.

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    1. Indeed He is!

      Thank you for sharing in my joy.

      I am so glad you visited. :-)

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  18. Thank you for your testimony to the absolute goodness of God. Your life verse from Deuteronomy is such a good mantra to have when the phone call comes. Thank you for sharing these beautiful words at The Weekend Brew.

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    1. Mary, Thank you for your kind words.

      It is a joy to share at The Weekend Brew. :-)

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  19. Wow, this is such a beautiful and touching story! Thank you for sharing something so personal so that we could all find meaning and God's work in it.

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    1. Amy, Thank you for your kind words.

      My desire was to glorify God in all that He did in that experience. ๐Ÿ˜Š

      Thank you for visiting!

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  20. What a wonderful story, Karen. Just wonderful. All glory to God for his amazing works.

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    1. Dayle, I am so very sorry! Oh my! I only just noticed your comment today! I don't know why, but I'm only just realizing now that some people's comments are going to my junk email folder and I never see them. I need to get in the habit of checking my junk folder so this doesn't happen again.

      I so appreciate your sweet comment. Amen! All Glory to God indeed!

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  21. Thank you for this encouraging post and sharing your own trial to help us learn. You and I share a lot of the same fears! :-) I'm so glad the Lord spared your husband's mind through that situation!

    I love this poem by Annie Johnson Flint:

    God's Great Grace

    God's grace is great enough to meet the great things,
    The crashing waves that overwhelm the soul,
    The roaring winds that leave us stunned and breathless,
    The sudden storms beyond our life's control.

    His grace is great enough to meet the small things,
    The little pin-prick troubles that annoy,
    The insect worries, buzzing and persistent,
    The squeaking wheels that grate upon our joy.

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    1. Mary, Thank you for sharing your own struggles with the same fears.

      And thank you so much for sharing that poem! Wonderfully comforting reminders of God's Great Grace, ESPECIALLY in the trials of life.

      Blessings,

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Thank you for taking the time to comment.