Wednesday, December 21, 2016

This is my son

It has been a year and two weeks since Roma left for Heaven. In that time I have shared many experiences that God has used to comfort me. I have began many new posts that I have not completed. But I am moving ahead, considering all I have shared, I believe it might be time to start that new book that has been revealing itself over the past decade. My first book, But the Greatest of These is Love concluded in 2003, at the year anniversary of Roma's arrival. My editor added "The end and the beginning" at the close of the book. I could not comprehend that the story was truly just beginning. And it hasn't come to on end yet. 

In a effort to bridge that gap from 2003 to 2012 when the book went to the publisher, I shared one story from 2009 at the end that would be a glimpse into our lives over the years, and summed up Roma's personality. It is the story that follows. I hope readers will read But the Greatest of These is Love and the blog posts that followed over the years. I was even instructed in a dream to write it all down. The documented experiences are priceless to me now, and protected against the effects of my fading memory. I am thankful to God for unmistakably telling me to write it all down, and then giving me the words. 

A logical beginning blog post is The Hound of Heaven Winks, when God made me hyper-aware of His presence. The links at the bottom of each will advance the reader to the next post, and cumulatively will serve as my abridged memoir. The unabridged story, I will be working on. Blog posts by definition are short and designed for quick reading. My next effort will be to tell the whole story as I know it, as it has been given to me, as I have lived it, and how I understand it. 

In spite of the grief of losing Roma this side of heaven, I am comforted by the knowledge that he is not gone forever. He just went ahead of me. So like Roma to have to be first. 

This is the ending of my first book. Enjoy, and be inspired to read the whole book and prepare for the second book. All profits have always gone to orphan care.

This is My Son

When I heard his bedroom door slam with force, I stomped to my own room and resisted the urge to do the same. I reminded myself that I was the adult.

As usual, I didn’t see this skirmish coming. It started benignly, with me reminding my fifteen-year-old of his responsibilities.

As usual, Roma replied absently, “I’ll do it later,” while watching TV.

“Roma, if I had wanted it done later, I would have asked later.” I chose my words and tone deliberately, to sound calm, reasonable, and in charge. “You are done with TV for now. When you have straightened up your room, you can go out and help Dad shovel snow.”

What?” Roma barked at me, his green eyes bulging with hostility. “There is too much snow to shovel! It is like ten feet deep.” Roma’s hyperbole is legendary.
“Roma, I am not arguing with you. If you have any hope to watch TV later, you need to do your chores, now.”

My early resolve to remain calm soon failed, and we ended in full blown verbal combat.

Adolescence has been difficult for Roma. We all suffer when he fights for control. He can be defiant, argumentative, and manipulative when he demands to have his way. When he is less determined to be the boss, he reverts to the little boy I remember who is delightfully witty and charming, with a sweet spirit and a generous heart.

Bruce and I adopted Roma from Russia when he was seven and three-quarters—old enough for a strong personality to set. Until God plucked him from the orphanage for our family, he was pretty much in control of his young life. It has been hard for him to hand the reins to us.

When I felt God’s not-so-subtle call to adopt an older Russian child, I expected a shy, hurt little boy in need of gentle encouragement and acceptance. What God sent us was an assertive, confident little dictator! And God had a bigger surprise for me: I could love an adopted child every bit as much as I love my other three children. Little Roma was so cute and smiley, our older soft-hearted children often let him have his way. I was determined not to spoil him, especially when our son Taylor, twelve at the time of Roma’s adoption, said that until he could think of him as a brother, he was going to consider Roma an “exchange student from God.” Rearing a boy sent from God was a responsibility not to be taken lightly.

A determined mom and a headstrong boy often butt heads. This, like most of our battles, was a power struggle over who gets to be the boss. Once in my room, I fell to my knees and prayed through clinched teeth, “Lord, you sent him to us; pleeease help me deal with him. Please teach me patience and wisdom to mother Roma. And Lord, please give me hope that, in the long run, he will be okay.”
I phoned a close friend that evening who I knew could provide hope. Her sons, age twenty-six and twenty-seven had challenged her similarly in their younger years, but were beginning to show signs of genuine maturity.

“This is so hard,” I confessed. “I am praying that I keep my sanity, what little is left! But I am mostly praying that Roma will grow up to be a functioning member of society.”

My compassionate and wise friend assured me that Roma would not always be fifteen. I ached at the thought that we might suffer another ten years before relief, but hope was hope, and I knew God’s timing wasn’t my timing; otherwise, Roma would be acting like an adult by now!

The next morning, I remembered a dream from the night before … Was it a dream? Bruce and I were talking to Roma outside in intense sunlight. Roma was like a dazzling white statue, yet he was moving and talking like normal. I had to squint to look at him. His essence was bathed in a white, unearthly brilliance. Bruce and I were talking about the bright light but were somehow not amazed by it.

The dream was so vivid; it lingered with me throughout the day. I even asked Bruce, during a break from his and Roma’s marathon snow shoveling, if we had indeed talked to Roma outside the day before, and had he been so bright we could hardly look at him? It almost seemed plausible because a record snowfall had begun days earlier. In the surreal time that we were trapped at home after the blizzard that week, our suburban neighborhood had been transformed into a winter wonderland. Everything was buried under four feet of snow after “once-in-a-hundred-years,” back-to-back blizzards. When the sun reappeared, the whiteness of all that snow was truly blinding. Sunglasses were as essential as snow shovels. Despite the outside brilliance, Bruce’s blank expression told me that no such thing as a conversation with a glowing white Roma had taken place.

That evening, having forgotten about my dream, I was catching up on my Bible reading. I began where I had left off, at Matthew, chapter seventeen, the Transfiguration. “His face shone like the sun, and his clothes became as white as the light … and a voice from the cloud said, ‘This is my Son, whom I love; with him I am well pleased.’” (NIV)

Hairs stood up on my neck and chills raced down my arms.

Now don’t get me wrong—I don’t think for a moment that Roma is Jesus returning! But in the same way that we are all God’s children, Roma is one of God’s boys.
I had prayed for hope. Empowered with divine encouragement, I have lightened up with Roma and try to cut him some slack when he behaves like the adolescent that he is. It is his job as a teenager to test me at every turn, and he takes his business very seriously! Many of his strong-willed leadership “skills” will be assets to him when he grows into them. We need to be on the same team instead of on opposite sides at tug of war.

God is in control of Roma. Jesus was about thirty when he came into his ministry, not fifteen! The only knowledge we have of Jesus as a youth was that he was a determined lad, who didn’t ask his parents’ permission when he stayed behind in Jerusalem when they returned to Nazareth. Mary and Joseph reacted much better than I would have! Jesus was taking care of business, taking charge of his life. Like Roma does.

Roma is not stingy with his apologies. After another clash fueled by cabin fever, he came to me, humbly, like a little boy and confessed, “I just want to say I’m sorry.” His repentant “I’m sorry” always mystifies me, from a confident boy who knows everything about everything. I am encouraged by the character it represents.

“Roma, I wish I could open the top of your head and pour in some of this wisdom I have gained in the years that it has taken me to become a dinosaur. Dad and I expect a lot of you because you are so gifted in so many areas. Before we are ready to let you go, you will be leaving us. We want you to be equipped to make it on your own. Kids leave home and forget the lessons their families try to teach. Many even walk away from their faith in God,” I warned.

Roma’s eyes narrowed as they met mine. “I could never not believe in God, after what He did for me,” he said with that faint Russia accent that most people no longer detect.

I stared at my beautiful, angelic son, stunned. Roma was thankful after all. On some level, he got it.

God has renewed my hope. Even when slammed doors separate us, I still consider Roma one of my favorite surprise blessings.

I am clinging daily to God’s promise, that He who began a good work will see it though, in Roma, and in me.

Thank you, Lord, for giving me hope. And Roma.

Monday, October 31, 2016

Our God is . . . (Day 31)

This is the final post of our Write 31 Days series. If you’ve missed a post or would like to re-read some, you can find each post on the landing page: 31 Days of Miracles. Today's post written by Anna Smit. 
In September, Debbie and Anna sat chatting, time zones apart, but in Spirit joined, as God led us to this beautiful series. As we prayed over our ideas and plans for 31 Days of Miracles, God both closed and opened doors, leading us to who He wanted to share and our writers to the stories He wanted told. We have watched Him recover beautiful memories, grow a vulnerable strength and deepen our trust in Him. What a blessing this month has been to stand in awe and be amazed at our God as He’s worked in and through each one of us, writers and readers alike.
He has revealed Himself as a God who sees us, knows us so intimately and never ever stops pursuing us. A God whose love is powerful, compassionate, tender, gracious, merciful, kind, empowering and an anchor through each and every storm and heart wrenching loss.
Thank you to each one of you who has linked hands with us to pray over and through this series. We have known our God’s Presence each step of the way and feel so privileged to have been entrusted each of the beautiful stories Jesus has written on His people’s hearts. We pray that our God will continue what He has begun here.
LORD we thank You for each and every one of our readers and writers. We thank You for the stories You have written and are continuing to write upon their hearts. LORD we thank You that You are our God who has knit each one of us in our mother’s womb, who is working each and every piece of brokenness within us into Your healing wholeness and whose plan is not to harm us, but to prosper us. We thank You that even now You are sending us out to bring Light and hope into the darkness.
We thank You for the privilege and honor of serving in Your Kingdom, for pouring out the love, joy, faith and hope You have sown within each one of us. May the words You have blessed us with continue to be a blessing to those around us, near and far. Send us and our stories, where You can set captives free, bind up their wounds and lead them in the path of righteousness, of life-giving truth. This we pray in Jesus’ Mighty Name, Amen.
NOTE: The two graphics above include my answer to and answers some of our writers sent me in response to the question: Who is your God? Special thanks to Wendy L. Simpson (chriswendysimpson. for the stunning artwork. And also a special thank you goes to each one of our contributing writers and faithful readers.

Sunday, October 30, 2016

I Have Plans for You – Yes, YOU (Day 30)


This is the 29th post for our Write 31 Days series 31 Days of Miracles: Who is Our God. Today, Michael Chardavoyne (see below for his bio) shares his story.
It was summer of ‘07; I was your typical teenage punk with an attitude wider than my long board. I was still bitter about being kicked out of school for a fight I didn’t start and never wanted to be involved with in the first places. I didn’t know that the bully that instigated the fight still had such an impassioned vengeance towards me. I didn’t know that on that ordinary, heated summer day, the course of my life would be completely altered.
I was on my skateboard, traversing on a sidewalk next to a main road when my attacker found me. His brawny figure was accompanied by his seemingly ever present posse. They surrounded me in a “U” shape pattern, advancing on me quickly. I tried to back up and use my skateboard as a shield, but as I was backing up, I tripped over the curb falling backwards. They first kicked me and then held me down, preventing me from getting up. The main attacker proceeded to punch my skull, alternating
from his left to right meaty fist, each finger adorned with rings that amplified each hit. He left me in a fetal position, but before he finally exited in his car, he threw a beer bottle at my head. When he left, I pushed my body off the ground not knowing the extent of the damage caused. I was thankfully only a couple of blocks away from my house. I opened up the door with someone in my family frantically exclaiming “Oh, my gosh!”
That’s the last moment I remembered until I was transported to a sterile hospital room with a nurse carrying a Caribbean accent softly saying, “You’re lucky to be alive. You should have been hooked up to a machine like a vegetable or dead.”
The events of the time are so sharply vivid, yet the timing has been covered in a haze of pain and prescription drugs to alleviate said pain. Now I’m left with disjointed pictures to confusingly sort out the time frame. One of those disjointed pictures is a time that has left me as a different person yet it’s one snapshot that I’ve been reticent to share.
I can join with the Apostle Paul and say, “And I know such a man–whether in the body or out of the body, I do not know; God knows.” 2 Corinthians 12:3. Many believe Paul was referring to his own near brush experience with death. I still remember my own. I saw my body laying lifeless as I strangely came out of my body. It felt like I had almost stepped out of time, then I was jettisoned into a type of tunnel that led me to a place that was cloaked in colors I had never before seen. There was a massive, yet shrouded figure in the distance I could not see, but I did see the beauty surrounding this being and I heard his words. “The life you lived was a lie. I am going to make you a new creation. I have plans for you.”
You have to know, at this time in my life, I was a foul mouth skeptic who was uncertain that such events could happen to a person. God literally had to allow something so otherworldly that the
skeptic in me could simply not explain in human terms, yet had to surrender as conceivable since I witnessed it firsthand.
I awoke sometime later, compelled to look at a box of letters written by my deceased dad and my dusty Bible that I had mostly treated as a superstitious dream catcher. In his letters to me, he wrote about his favorite book of the Bible, Revelation. A type of holy curiosity emerged in me after the heavenly encounter, so I opened up the long stowed away Bible to Revelation, pouring over the Scriptures that echoed the encounter I had. Realization struck me as I was reading that I was not directly headed to this majestic place. I was a sinner that fully lived out the livelihood of a sinner.
Words spurred by conviction spilled from my mouth as I repented of my sin and placed my faith in Jesus- the One who personally spoke to me.
It was a miracle yes, that I was alive, but it was an even bigger miracle that I entered into a new life of salvation.
After I was connected with a local church community, a message on forgiveness was preached. That stirring I felt inside of me that I knew to be from God was prompting me to forgive my attacker. Not long after the message was preached I was faced with a redemptive opportunity from God. My attacker showed up at the church I was singing at one night with the choir. After I was finished singing, I saw my attacker. With tears in his eyes he offered me a hug and said “Merry Christmas.”
Even though I’m thankful to be alive to see a glimpse of the plan God has had in my life, I still have repercussions from the incident. Medically speaking, I had a contusion of the brain (bruising of the
brain) that’s made learning more difficult. A miracle divinely came to me in a different form to help remedy this issue. A former teacher was ushered into my life who became an owner of a brain
training center which used state of the art neuroplasicity techniques to change the brain. After the initial testing process, it was found that my long term memory and short term memory were greatly impaired. Even though the training would be a beneficial solution to my problem, we simply did not have the budget for the roughly $15,000 of training. My wife prayed that there would be some solution to this to allow for the opportunity. A year later, the woman felt a tug on her heart from God to offer me the brain training, free of charge.
My wife helped me write this article because I still have issues reliving the experience. Even though I forgave my attacker, I was still diagnosed with PTSD from this trauma (as well as others in my life).
I know that those several experiences were miracles from above because I could not produce them myself. Now, I’m forever changed from that one summer day that brought life to a decayed soul.

Michael and Sarah Chardavoyne have been married for three years now. A year after they were married, Sarah’s health took a turn for the worse. Michael sought to do whatever he could through prayer and action to restore her health. They chronicle their journey of longing for the miraculous at

Friday, October 28, 2016

We'll Be Okay-God Is With Us, Even Now

This is the 29th post for our Write 31 Days series 31 Days of Miracles: Who is Our God. Today, Richard Leakey (see below for his bio) shares his story.
My Dad was an amazing man; unconditional love, humility and such a learner. He wasn’t perfect but he was real and genuine. The pile of humanity is me and my brothers wrestling once again with the man we could test our strength against. So many people told us stories when he passed. "I was in a tight spot. I didn’t know what to do. Your Dad turned up and prayed for me. God broke in."
The photo above is Mum and Dad when he was deep into Alzheimer’s. Words can’t capture the horror of this disease that gradually strips away all you knew and leaves a shell. It’s like death by a thousand cuts. A hundred goodbyes when the person is still in the room. 

Teaching and realising the man who mentored you didn’t understand what you’d just said, watching the man who loved family shuffle out of the room because his brain couldn’t keep up. Despite this if I had one word to describe this season I would say beautiful.

One of those moments was giving back Dad's allotment. We think he first had his own vegetable plot aged ten. More than sixty years later we stood in a small plot of land he had hired from the local council on his retirement and realised he had not managed to grow anything that year. Alzheimer’s sufferers have a typical behaviour called phasing. Simple tasks that were tacit, no longer have a brain connection to go with them. The brain tries desperately to understand what’s next. The person just stands and stalls. Getting dressed can take an hour. Dad phased his way through a whole growing season and did very little.

I flew home to help Mum close up the plot. None of us were looking forward to this.
Dad was at a stage where he could no longer follow abstract concepts but we felt it was at least important to talk to him about what we were doing. This usually involved a long and frustrating sentence by sentence wrestle. Not that morning. With Alzheimer’s there are golden moments when the person is suddenly back in the room with you. As Mum, Dad and I sat round the breakfast table to talk he was suddenly with us. Not the Dad we knew and loved but the man from a year earlier who understood. He was able to agree it was time to stop. What a relief, an unnecessary grace.

Emptying the garden shed of his tools, giving away plants and pots was deeply painful. I stood on the threshold of his second hand hut and wept. Returning the key to the simple lock rendered Mum and the co-renter speechless. How is God able to turn beauty into ashes in this place of defeat and loss?
He did though. My best solution was to create a couple of raised beds in the small garden of my parents’ house so Dad could at least potter in the soil. God's was to give Dad a bigger allotment, friends and a place of ministry.

Unbeknownst to us just around the corner from Dad’s plot was a small charity Grow for Giving that had a double plot. Their vision is to accompany people with Dementia and Alzheimer’s and give them a therapeutic activity. As we gave back the keys God had prepared a solution for us and we discovered it almost simultaneously. Dad could be part of a community for hours every day. Where he was cared for and understood. Until he became too sick to leave the house he was able to go several times a week to garden.

Psalm 145 v 17 say the Lord is righteous in all his ways and kind in all he does. Experiencing that kindness in such a dark place was amazing. As I look back onto that season it feels like so many things have been realigned about who God is. In the midst of suffering he met us. Deep inside there was a sigh of relief, we’ll be OK. God is with us.

Richard Leakey was raised in the UK in a Christian home. His father was a pastor in the Anglican church. At 16, he got a calling in missions. He got a degree in agriculture and he and his wife Elaine joined YWAM. They’ve been in Switzerland with YWAM for seventeen years. Richard is now also seeing a dream come alive in different parts of Africa, helping subsistence farmers.
Five years ago, his father was diagnosed with Alzheimers. He died last summer in his parent’s living room. Here is the ministry that helped his father with gardening & memory care: Steps to Senior Care.
If you'd like to hear more of Richard's story, visit the inspiring Re-Story podcast Mary DeMuth did with him in June this year.

He Sees, Knows and Loves You – Let Him In (Day 28)


This is the 28th post for our Write 31 Days series 31 Days of Miracles: Who is Our God. Today, Julia Putzke (see below for her bio) shares her story.

I don't know how I sat in that kind of pain all day. By the time my mom came home from work, the swelling in my legs had tripled.

"It hurts!" I cried as she came into the living room.

"Let's get you a shower," she said calmly.

I remember the ache in my legs as she pulled me up to my quad cane. I've always felt slow in my body because of cerebral palsy, but this made me feel my helplessness. My weakness. Without my mom there, I know I would've sat in the pain. As we continued to walk to the bathroom, all I felt was this burning sensation like fire. I remember standing in the shower staring at the maroon wall, crying. I wanted to stay there, to sit in it. The pain was so much.

All my memories after this are foggy. I remember the doctor we went to see telling us he didn't know what I had. He gave me a shot to see if the swelling would go down. It must have been a few days later when the doctor told us we would need to go to the ER. Fear set in as soon as I heard this. I didn't know what was going to happen.

During the car ride over, I stared at the blue sky. Everything was as if nothing was wrong. People were going places, doing things with those they loved, and I was stuck in pain. Or at least it felt that way. When we arrived, I remember being wheeled into the emergency room, being parked up against a purple wall. I looked out at all the other people waiting. I felt so small and helpless. I wanted to go home. My family didn't understand, but the sympathetic looks and strong composure of my dad helped a little.

"We'll get you a room soon," he had said.

A room became available at 11PM that night. After I was all settled into the room, and my mom had taken my brother and sister home, a nurse asked if I wanted a Sunny D. I think she then came back with the drink and a brown paper bag, and I think my dad told her, “Thank you.”
I just know I was so drawn to the kindness in her eyes, the compassion. I felt seen, known, and loved. It felt like looking into the eyes of Jesus, even though the nurse had no idea what was wrong. That night, my dad encouraged me to eat, though I had no desire, and the Bologna sandwich with mustard was a balm to the burning within my body.

The rest of the days were a blur. I remember nurses coming in to change my IV at night, the terrible heart burn, no desire to eat or drink, my mom giving me showers, my dad rushing me to the bathroom, my mom telling me I needed to rest, being asked if I wanted to eat a pretzel, trying to stay awake to see the end of Sweet Home Alabama, going to the hospital's library or computer lab, the doctor telling us he wouldn't have to lance my leg, my grandma telling me they'd come if it got worse, being told I was I could go home.

I was in the hospital for a week. I don't remember being told I had Streptococcus, a flesh-eating disease. "They told us you had Streptococcus on the third day,” my mom told me. Looking back on this, I see how Jesus was holding me the entire time. Caring for me in the ways my parents came together through their presence, making sure I was clean and fed.
Protecting me from another form this bacteria can take. I could've had gangrene, which comes from opening an opening in the skin as Strep does, but the symptoms seem to progress to more than heat and loss of appetite. Gangrene, the wet kind, comes with swelling and severe pain as I had with cellulitis, but I never experienced pus or oozing that occurs.

I was so loopy on antibiotics I didn’t know what day it was, or that this could of been much more severe.

This was surrender I had no choice but to give into because there was no way I could fight this on my own. Jesus' love rested on me, and I let him in. I didn't know him then in 2009 as I do now, but the beautiful thing that gets me so overwhelmed:


He remained faithful. In my doubt and fear and pain, he loved me in my weakness. Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness. Now, I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me." (2 Corinthians 12:9, NLT version).

When I think of how much worse the infection could have progressed, I'm so thankful God allowed that week to let me see how he's always been there and always will be. Even when I couldn't see. That was the miracle.

wordswag_1477583137177Though I couldn't see if I would make it, I saw his love through the nurse and my parents. It wasn't just the healing of my legs, but the way I simply received help. I allowed myself to be in the struggle without trying to run away. I resisted a little, like not always wanting to rest, but God's love was stronger. I needed the pain to see: his faithful love endures all things. Forever.


Julia Putzke lives in Georgia in the United States. Her view on life may be sideways to some, quiet and contemplative even, but it may have something to do with staring at the sky for long periods of time. She also loves life talks and Chai tea. She blogs at Crippled at Your Table, has written a book of poetry entitled He Bled, My End and can be found on instagram at jspar002.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

I Have Always Loved You (Day 27)

This is the 27th post for our Write 31 Days series 31 Days of Miracles: Who is Our God. Today, Lisa Murphy (see below for her bio) shares her story.

I was about fourteen years old when I encountered the first miracle in my life (that I am aware of). We lived in a sleepy southern Virginia town at the time, back in the early eighties. Cars were made differently then—they weren’t the “new, economy” type vehicles you see now. They were built like tanks. Our family’s “tank” was a two-door, chocolate brown Buick Electra. The doors on this vehicle were heavy. And I mean heavy. I still remember the seat belt buckles that were rarely used back then, and the cigarette lighter that was probably used more than the seat belts. Those were different times in our world.
It was a winter night, and though it didn’t snow often in our parts, it was snowing lightly at the time. Snow mostly ended up as ice on the ground. My parents had gone for dinner with friends, and the last thing they told my brother (who is two years my elder) was not to take the car out in the bad weather.
The problem was that I wanted to go to my friend’s house. It didn’t take me—a rebellious and willful one—very long to nag my brother to the point that he was on the fence. And then I pushed him just enough to make him hop over. Before I knew it, we were in the car driving to my friend’s house, which was only about ten minutes away, but through winding and hilly roads.
We turned left onto my friend’s street and began the climb up the road she lived on. There was a golf course behind us. As we began to make our way though, something happened and our tires began to lose traction. The car started to slide backwards. In a sheer panic, I asked my brother, “What should we do?” To which—as a relatively inexperienced driver under duress—he replied, “Jump out!”
I noticed a car parked on the side of the road, and I feared we’d hit it since our car was sliding backwards directly towards it. And as I finally managed to push open the heavy door and climb out (with gravity pushing it back towards me), I became literally pinned by my passenger door against the front grill of the parked car—with the powerful force of our Buick Electra still sliding backwards on the ice.
My brother—who hadn’t yet jumped out—pumped the gas pedal a few times, but nothing—no forward movement whatsoever. We both screamed for what seemed like an eternity. The streets were so eerily quiet. My brother ran to my side, trying with all his might to pull the car door away from my body. But he couldn’t. He couldn’t possibly muster strength to do such a thing, and we knew it was no use.
My stomach was being completely flattened by the car door, and I wondered how much longer it would be before I lost consciousness and would lose my fight to this vehicle of over a ton of curb weight. I began to feel that I was going to die. Both of us started to cry, and I whimpered apologies to my brother.
Finally, in a desperate last attempt, I said to Andrew, “Try it one more time—it’s our only chance.” Deep inside, I knew it was. My brother ran around and jumped back into the driver’s seat. He slammed his foot on that accelerator harder than he knew how. And a miracle happened. That car, somehow, plunged forward enough that I was able to worm my way out from its trap.
By that time, nearby neighbors had finally heard my screams. We made our way, in complete shock, to my friend’s house, which was only a short walking distance. No one could believe what had happened. Her father was a doctor, so he took my vitals and was obviously concerned. I was under his observation for an hour or so when my stomach pain miraculously subsided. We never even went to the hospital.
Would you believe my body didn’t suffer a single injury?
We waited for my parents to get home—there were no cell phones back then. They came to pick us up at my friend’s house, and many tears fell. Most of them mine for disobeying their orders—and for almost making them suffer the loss of a child.
It was a miracle that I’d survived and also that I was completely unharmed. There was no possible explanation of how my life was spared on that snowy night. I guess maybe that’s the first I became a believer in guardian angels, and Lord knows I had one watching over me then. Matthew 25:13 says “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
The compelling part to me now is that—at the time—though baptized as an infant, I was just an immature teenager who grew up without virtually any practiced religion or spiritual compass, and I certainly wasn’t “keeping watch.” That, to me, is a profound example of God’s pure and unconditional love for us.
It serves as proof that we don’t have to “earn” His miracles, and they are not reserved for just the “good” people and devout believers! They are a gift for all of us, and a miracle was certainly a gift to me that night. What a blessing to know that God was walking beside me that night, even before I realized He was there for me. Take heart in the truth that we don’t walk alone!
It’s fascinating how my mind had “shelved” this memory for so many years. In fact, I’ve only voiced this story a few times since it happened. I’m not sure I even knew what a miracle was in my youth, so this incident is even more meaningful to me now, as a found Daughter of the King, having truly discovered my deeply profound faith just ten years ago.
As I reflect on it now, thirty-five years later with tears streaming down my face, I wonder why—why was I saved when so many other innocent people die from accidents every single day?
Then I’m drawn to Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” My attention shifts direction to my loving husband of twenty-four years and the five precious children we’ve been called to adopt over the past ten years, and I know exactly why. I believe with all my heart that the Lord had an extra-special mission prepared for my life, and that was simply not my day—it was not my hour. Lord knows, I am so eternally grateful for that miracle and for the extraordinary plan He designed . . . just for me.
Lisa Murphy is the author of With an Open Heart (available on Amazon – all proceeds to orphan care ministries), the memoir that journals life and loss with their son, Daniel, adopted from China in 2010. Joy of the Spirit Within and Widow’s Manna were privileged to interview Lisa about Daniel for their joint blog series Breaking Light earlier this year.
Lisa enjoys being a mom to four beautiful children and wife to Jim, a Realtor with a servant’s heart in Delray Beach, FL. Lisa and Jim are practicing members of the Catholic Christian faith since 2006. Lisa is a sales consultant for Juice Plus + nutritional products and finds it a privilege to keep families healthy. Through sales of her book, Lisa’s mission is to share an inspirational message of faith and to help support orphan care ministries with the proceeds. Lisa recently started a charitable organization called Open Hearts for Orphans. The website is

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Seek Me With ALL of Your Heart – You Will Find Me (Day 26)


This is the 26th post for our Write 31 Days series 31 Days of Miracles: Who is Our God. Today, Kathy Marcolin (see below for her bio) shares her story.
Jeremiah 33:3 "Call to me and I will answer you, and will tell you great and hidden things that you have not known."
My life has been many seasons of deeper longing for God to reveal Himself to me in ways beyond my scope of understanding. From the time I first believed at the early age of 6, I knew God was the one whom I owed all for the priceless gift of salvation. I feared Him, I worshiped Him and I longed to know Him more. Yet, as a teenager, I struggled to find my identity in Christ. I was constantly driven to earthly successes academically, and I learned early on that in my self-inadequacies I could earn praise for the honors I achieved. And I grew to rely on these for self-worth and happiness. I yearned for adulthood prematurely.
At 18, I married a new believer I met in my sister's church. 10 years older than myself, he was more than ready for marriage and so merely 4 months into the relationship I married.
If you asked me if it was God's will, I would adamantly say, "absolutely" After all, wasn't my primary role as a woman to be married, have children and be a worker at home?! I threw all of my self into being the best homemaker I knew possible. I yearned for a large family and a happy, loving marriage. I devoted myself to making my husband love me at any cost. Our marriage, initially established within the church walls, soon drifted world's apart.

Promptly nine months into my marriage, I gave birth to the most beautiful baby imagined. Amber Elisabeth was instantly my joy and happiness. Nothing made me happier than giving all my affections to her. I went from teenager, to wife, and mother before I fully realized what I'd committed to.

But the large family I so deeply desired never came to fruition. Through ongoing efforts and long-suffering, I waited 9 years before I would again be pregnant. I was elated. My family shared in my joy. My daughter anticipated growing up with a sibling. But, I did not feel right physically from the start of conception. Nearly eight weeks into the pregnancy, and several weeks of excruciating pain like none I've ever felt before and never to this day, I lost this precious baby to an ectopic, or tubal pregnancy. My world at this point began to cave in on me.

What I'd thrown all of hopes and dreams into was destroying what joy I had. My greatest passion was motherhood. I found myself barely functioning. By outward appearances, I seemed successful as I threw myself into growing my husband's new business. It gave me self-worth to see him succeed financially.
Three years after the tubal pregnancy, I was ecstatic beyond words to learn we were pregnant again, this time with a baby boy. These were the most joyous nine months that I carried little Benjamin Levi. This, I was certain, would restore my joy. All seemed perfect until mid-day June 21, 1999 (the longest day of the year and of my entire life), when again my little world came crushing in on me!

My beloved son was born with Trisomy 18. He was resuscitated upon birth and kept alive for 6 additional days. When doctors give you that look, with tear-filled eyes, you instantly know your hope is gone. It literally feels like a dagger to your heart. I went into a state of numbness for nearly 3 months, in a state of total emotional shutdown. I remember very little. My daughter carried her own deep pain through all of this. My husband threw himself deeper into his work, friends and lifestyle.

Never have I felt so alone.

Ten years later I was suffering sporadic episodes of intense unexplained pain. While residing in Northwest Florida, we made several trips to Orlando seeking direction in re-establishing our business. On our last trip there, I began hemorrhaging profusely, nearly passing out. I was weak and scared. Upon return to our home in Santa Rosa Beach, I checked myself into the hospital and soon learned I had several fibroid tumors, one especially large that was causing the excessive bleeding and discomfort. With no insurance, I felt helpless to the situation and was relieved each time the symptoms would subside, generally weeks later.
Shortly after, we returned to Arizona, upon the news our daughter, now married, would soon be giving birth to my first grandchild. My joy returned in experiencing the love I once had with my own daughter. In August 2010, I went to a Hebraic Messianic service, not fully understanding what was coming next. During this time, I again began experiencing the same health condition, but to a lesser degree. The tumor remained but symptoms were unstable.
As I remember it like it was yesterday, I was in an intense state of worship this Erev Shabbat service (healing service).

wordswag_1477403437640During that year, which I've come to identify as my Spiritual Awakening, I literally came to the end of self, in total surrender, and cried out to the Lord. I wanted more of Him.

This season in my life found me digging into His Word and the Scriptures came alive in a way I'd never known before.
I had received the baptism of the Holy Spirit and from that time, nothing was the same. My intense passion for the Lord created joy I can't begin to put into words.

That night during the healing service, I recall Rabbi Picker calling those of us needing healing forward, and I stepped across the line, from doubt to confident faith in the God I'd come to know in a deeper way. The Scripture, Jeremiah 11:13, is how I best describe this season. "When you seek me with ALL of your heart, you will find Me." I knew the Lord had touched me and spontaneously felt the warmth and peace that the tumor was gone.


I recall my eyes connecting with the rabbi and elder, with sheer joy and excitement in that exact moment. I was anxious to schedule a follow up with my doctor. He ordered another ultra-sound, per my insistence. Just weeks later it was confirmed medically that the tumor and surrounding fibroids were completely gone. I had it now, the proof from both medical facilities.

From that day forward, I have not operated as before. Jehovah Rophe, the Healer, made Himself real to me, and because I've been given much, much is required. To God be ALL the glory.

From the previous years of deep emotional and physical pain, God worked things for my good. What the enemy meant for evil, God has used me to testify of His goodness. Countless lives He has connected me with to minister love and healing in their similar struggles. He will never leave you, nor forsake you. He is faithful. Once you've tasted, the goodness of the Lord you can't go back. He birthed a passion deep within my soul for people-longing to see salvation, deliverance and healing in Jesus' name.


14311321_1196887247000191_267381905580235492_oKathy Marcolin is a patient care coordinator in Orthopedic Specialty with Providence Medical Group in Spokane, Washington. She enjoys running, hiking, spending precious time with friends and family. She is a grandmother to Summer Alexis, and twin boys Joseph William and Benjamin Lucas. But her greatest passion is serving Christ and she gets excited when she thinks back on all God has done for her, and wants to do in the lives of those she comes in contact with.
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