“He performs wonders that cannot be fathomed, miracles that cannot be counted” (Job 5:9).
My cousin Raymond is like a son to dad, and they spend tons of time together. Raymond is a master mechanic, and tinkering with dad is a treat for both of them. Last weekend their project was to replace the brakes on dad’s dozer. I’m not sure how long they’d been working on it, but mom had told stories of Saturdays spent tearing down, looking for parts, basically getting nothing done, but the two of them having a good time. They had taken side and front panels off the dozer, removed the seat, taken the brakes apart, stripped almost everything off of it. They had removed the gas tank and had it hanging up in the air with a come-along, and dad was using it for a seat.
They get the brake part on and want to test it out before putting everything back if they can, so they try to manipulate the place where the levers should be and put the dozer in gear to move forward. Oops, wrong lever slot – it starts going backwards, right towards a truck worth about $100,000. Dad is sitting on the come-along swinging gas tank, and he can’t reach forward far enough to try to get the lever into the right slot, and his were tangled in all the other parts and he couldn’t get them loose. Right about panic time, somehow dad reaches the brake with his foot and it works! They could have both been run over, or dad flung off the gas tank, the truck destroyed, you name it.
When dad is telling the story, he’s talking about how where he was on the gas tank, he knew he couldn’t reach this or do that, but his mind is racing through all the possibilities of how to stop this train they’ve put into motion. Praise God his mind works! How many almost-80-year-olds can take a dozer apart and put it back together to start with?
One of my favorite songs we sing at church talks about taking back what the devil has stolen, and when I think of this past year, how dad has been restored, I just praise Him! There are so many areas in our life that the devil has stolen - the drugs in this community that have stolen the future of young people, the health of so many, the marriages that have been destroyed and wrecked through selfishness, sinfulness, neglect, the depression that has taken over our state and country. I could go on and on. If we did not have the Lord, where would come our hope? I think the moral of today’s story is that our lives are purposeful – God has a plan for our lives, for all of us! Dad was so close to death’s door, and he was spared, once again – and why? Because God still had work for him to do!
Just a couple months ago, the church my parents attended in Florida closed down, and they gave ALL their possessions (chairs, hymnals, Sunday School literature, toilet paper, coffee pot, literally everything) to our new church here. Mom and dad drove to Florida and brought back a U-Haul full of things that we were desperate for, as we hope to close on the Around the Farm property this week, and we had nothing to put in it, not even the first chair. Nearly 80 years old and still being used of God……oh, how I want that to be my life, to not have wasted a single minute of it, but to know that God has me here for a purpose and He needs me to get to work!
I worked out in the yard all day yesterday, planting flowers, getting my fountain going, the usual spring drill, and the whole time I was out there, I was praying and thanking the Lord for the miracle he performed a couple weeks ago on our property. As I worked on getting things ready to enjoy for the summer, I realized that had God not intervened, we could have been in a place where we never wanted to sit on our porch or relax in our yard because it had become the scene of a terrible tragedy and loss – we probably would have moved just out of emotional guilt and grief.
To give you the background, I’ll tell you about our friend Tommy. Several years ago, I remember telling my Tom that I wish he had some friends, you know, people he could go do things with, hang out with, do whatever it is men do when they get together. All he did was work, go to church and be with the kids and I. He says to me, “What kind of wife would complain that her husband only wants to be with her and the kids? I could be out in some bar somewhere or doing who knows what!” And he was right, of course – what kind of wife does complain about that? That said, I still wanted him to have something other than us. Wives, watch what you wish for!
A little after that, Tom starting becoming friends with Tommy. Tommy went to church with us and was very quiet, but his wife cleaned for us and had become one of my best friends, so Tom and Tommy became more well-acquainted. They have a mutual interest in guns and target shooting, hunting, you name it. Around this same time, our son Tyler bought his first house, and I don’t know what he would have done without Tommy. My parents are extremely good carpenters, so grandma and grandpa were helping him with his remodels, but Tommy was right there for whatever Tyler needed. His gutters were a little clogged, so he thought he might need to clean the spouts out or something. Turned out trees had grown into all his underground piping system and his entire drainage system needed dug up.
Tommy to the rescue. He brought in his backhoe and tractor and spent a good week or two digging up Tyler’s yard, helping him with all of his projects for pretty much the next year. He has done so much for Tyler that you would think he was his father. And the thing is, Tommy does the same thing for his neighbors, people he goes to church with, even random strangers. He is a blessing to so many, it would be hard to keep track of all those who have had assistance on a project or a need by Tommy.
One of the weirdest things happened also – Tommy had this friend over in Ohio who he hunted on his property, and when Tom and Tyler bought this Ohio farm, they hooked up with Tommy’s friend and maybe hunted there, I’m not sure. When Talia began dating her husband Jimmy, we learned that his best friend was a 60-year-old man (that’s who he had as his best man in their wedding), and it was the same guy, Tommy’s friend! Talk about a small world! Tom says Tommy knows everybody – everywhere they go, in town, out of town, doesn’t matter, Tommy knows people there.
I give you all that background to tell you what a servant to others Tommy is – and his wife is the same way – she never stops looking out for people and what they need, and she just quietly slips in to offer her help, to raise funds for Gavin, to notice that a neighbor is sick and may need a meal, or someone at church has a need and she can fill it. They are an incredible couple that we and many others are truly blessed to have in our life.
Back to Tom and Tommy’s friendship – they started going to all these gun shows, and seemed like every time they went somewhere, it involved spending hundreds of dollars! I didn’t realize that gun shows weren’t like a car show where you go and just look at the pretty cars – oh, no, you see guns and you want to bring them home with you! I’ve told Tommy multiple times that this friendship is getting too expensive and it’s about to get nipped in the bud, I’m going to go back to wanting Tom to just stay home.
And now to our latest miracle. Tom and I live on sort of a level knoll on top of a hill, and our property line goes down to the bottom of the hill on all sides, but you can’t really see the sides of the hill, they are so steep. Turns out that this winter, some of the trees that were on our hillside property had fallen and they’d fallen over into someone else’s yard and across their fence. We didn’t even know it had happened as we can’t see down the hill, so it took someone asking us what we planned to do about those trees before we even realized it had happened.
Tommy is an expert tree taker-downer (if that’s a word) and he has helped Tom with trees before at both of our houses. Tom has no confidence that he knows what to do, so Tommy comes up with the plan and they’ll work together to take down what needs down. They had worked over the hill a couple days, and Tom and I were lying in bed and he says, “It is incredible how well Tommy gets around working on those trees, being almost 75 years old. He just scrambles up and down those hills like it’s nothing.”
The next night after he said that, tragedy occurred. They had a tree tied off and Tom was up the bank (very steep) with the rope holding the tree back, and Tommy was down cutting it. They had it angled to fall uphill and all was well – that is, until Tommy cut through most of the tree, and somehow it twisted or something, ripped through the remaining bark and just flew off the stump, hitting Tommy and knocking him down. It put a big gash in the back of his head, and somehow when it flew off, it kind of got attached to him, so Tommy and the tree began to roll together down this steep hillside, rolling, rolling, Tommy describing the tree as right on him, staying right with him. They finally landed in the creek below.
Tommy said he knew when it hit him this was probably going to be his time to go. There’s a term in logging for a bad tree called “The widowmaker,” and that’s because so many get killed in an instant when a tree decides to do something other than what you planned. Can you imagine this happening, rolling downhill with the same tree that could pin you to your death, gouge out your eyes or who knows what? They landed in the creek, and Tommy got himself untangled, stands up almost totally unharmed! He had to get 7 or 9 staples in the back of his head, but his back was fine, his neck was fine, his legs had no damage, his arms were working and not broken, his spleen was not punctured, lungs not punctured, he didn’t have a heart attack, he didn’t have a stroke, no panic attacks, nothing!
Only God protects in this way, keeping a hedge of protection around His people when they’re in danger, when they don’t even have time to pray for themselves. Our friend Helen has been praising God for her miracle that she did not die in her wreck, and she keeps talking about how your life can change in an instant, and that is SO true! I praise God that He is watching over us all the time when we are not even capable of watching ourselves. I praise God for sending Tom a friend that he loves like a brother, a friend who not only helps him with chores, but shares in his hobbies and the things he likes to do, but also a Christian friend who can pray for him when he needs it and encourage him in the Lord – God is so good!
I cannot believe I haven’t told this story already, as it is a HUGE miracle! Tom was telling this story to his sister Sally this week, and it reminded me of it. In November of 2000, Dad had carpal tunnel surgery. During the surgery, they drained a ton of fluid off his hand, sent it off and never found anything. Months go by, he is doing good, no issues, and then the ice storm came in 2001 (or so). Most of you will remember it. After the ice storm, he was doing so much with the chain saw, his hand began to swell up with fluid again. I mean, really swell.
They waited a couple months and went to an orthopedic doctor who couldn’t figure out why it was swelling, couldn’t make heads nor tails out of it. They drained some fluid, sent it off, and nothing came back. Months go by and it is getting worse and worse. He had no medication for it as no one knew what they were doctoring and wouldn’t give him anything. Mom and Dad were supposed to go to Germany in May with the Work & Witness missionary team, and they had to cancel their trip as Dad’s hand was so bad. It just kept swelling and swelling.
In May, they thought they were going to have to amputate his hand before whatever it was that was working on it spread to other parts of his body. They went in, split open several fingers and his palm, and got fluid out to send away again. This time the fluid was brown and sticky. Doctors were still stumped, and the hand continued to swell. It reminded you of the Pillsbury Dough Boy’s hands – all puffy and straight, with the fingers unable to bend. The orthopedic doctor in Columbus said all he could think to do was to split his fingers open individually, his palm, and scrape out this brown goo by hand and he just was afraid to do that.
By August, the hand was in severe shape and painful and basically unusable. We were going to family camp at the Nazarene campground in Summersville, and they always have a healing service one morning of the week. Dad decided that although he had prayed and others had prayed about his hand and it hadn’t improved, he was going to go to that healing service and get his hand healed. The service begins, and Dad approaches the altar and shows everyone his hand, gives a little ditty about what has happened to it and how no one knows how to fix it, but he KNOWS the Lord knows how to fix it.
The saints begin to pray, and you could FEEL the power of the Lord working. There are times you can literally feel the Holy Spirit in the place, and this was one of those times. The service continued, with others being prayed for, and we left the service probably around noon. By mid afternoon, dad’s hand had reduced in size to the point that he could bend his fingers halfway down to his palm. By evening, he could move his hand normally, just like he had months and months ago. The next day, it was OVER! Months and months of waiting and doctoring and worry of amputation and goo eating him up, and one touch of our Savior, and it was gone! Never saw a doctor again about it, and his hand has been working hard for another 15 years! Praise God that what the doctors don’t know and the surgeons can’t fix, He can step in on the scene and get it done!
My sister, Kim, is truly one of the best examples of “Jesus with skin on,” as she says, that I have ever seen. What she means by that is that so many times, when someone can’t feel God’s arms around them, they can feel ours. When God can’t reach a coat out of the sky to clothe someone, we can offer that coat. You name it – what God would want to do but needs to use a human to accomplish it, that’s what she calls “Jesus with skin on.”
She called me a couple months ago and says, “You just HAVE to hear this! I got mail from God!” At the time, Kim’s husband Ken had just been diagnosed with fourth stage lung, liver and spine cancer. They had kept the news quiet, preferring to deal with treatment and outcomes privately, praising God in the good times and getting through the bad times the best they could. Ken had previously had a lung transplant at Duke, so this new diagnosis was going to be managed by Duke as well. He was able to get his chemo at CAMC, and that was a blessing, and he really did phenomenally well with the chemo – didn’t get sick, had hardly any side effects at all.
In the middle of this process, Kim and Ken had made the decision that he was going to sell his airplane. He had kept the plane in the hopes that he would be able to pass the physical and fly again after the transplant, and before the cancer diagnosis, he was well on his way to being able to do that. As they drove down to Duke to check on the status of the cancer, they began to discuss selling the plane. This is a small private plane, and the market is not good for these sales. Kim is resourceful, so she began searching for every small airport several states around and made a list of them so she could send them a flyer for their bulletin boards, which is the easiest way to sell a plane like his was. They knew it was time to make this decision, but it was stressful thinking about dealing with the chemo and the illness and starting to try to sell things, as you can imagine.
She makes this list, gets addresses, etc. for these airports, and they do their appointments at Duke. The news was not good, but as is Kim’s way, she praised God for the good news and refused to let the bad news overcome her. They return home, she makes a flyer for the plane, and Ken takes it to the Ravenswood airport. A couple days later, she goes to get the mail. Now this is where you see the hand of God reach down into a life and just give it a hug, a touch that says, “I’m here, I know what you are facing, I am working behind the scenes, I am working ahead of you, I am in control of ALL THINGS.” In the mail is a handwritten envelope of some sort. She thinks it must be a letter or card to Ken of some sort, so she opens it with expectation of a nice personal note or something. Inside the envelope is a letter from a man who started off with a story of how his father had been a pilot, and he had become a pilot, and now his son was wanting to learn to fly. This family had done some research and found the plane that his father had learned to fly in, and they had traced it across the country to West Virginia, registered to Kenneth Rex, Kim’s husband. They had a sentimental attachment to this plane, and they were requesting that in the event Ken EVER DECIDED to sell his plane, that they be considered to be the first purchaser.
I can hardly type this without wanting to shout. I mean, really, what is the chance of this happening? What is the chance that as Kim and Ken were driving to Raleigh, North Carolina, discussing this decision that needed to be made, someone in Houston, Texas had been sitting down to write this letter, putting it in the mail to arrive immediately upon their return? You see, these are the times YOU KNOW that God is in control, and He knows what is before us, and he knows what we are facing right now, and he is preparing the way before we even know what we need. This is one of the best examples of God’s hand in the small details of our life that I have ever seen!
This family began to discuss finding Grandpa’s plane right about the time Kim and Ken get the diagnosis that death could be near. They have no idea what a blessing they are going to be to a family who is overwhelmed, not knowing where to turn. Two weeks from the time Ken Rex passed on to his reward, Kim had the money for the plane, knowing that it went to a family who had the same loves Ken had: Flying and family. She now has new friends, who once they heard her story, were incredulous about it as well. She has not only sold the plane, but she was able to sell accessories that would have been hard to sell, and she sold his sports car within three weeks of his death.
You see, GOD CARES FOR HIS PEOPLE. He never leaves you helpless, He never leaves you without a plan, a way out, a future with Him by your side. I’d ask you – next time you get news you just don’t know how to handle, ask God for a little mail! It may come in the mailbox; it may come by e-mail; it may come through a friend’s word to you; it may come out of your minister’s mouth….but it WILL COME! Thank you, Lord, for the promises that you will never leave us, you will never forsake us!
Our Christmas program at church this year was not the typical program – the kids didn’t want to just do “the same old thing.” The teens had a film we had made, with some live acting to go with it, and our dance team did a phenomenal presentation as well – but none of it was the typical baby in the manger story – it was more about a life that had been lived and lives that were forever changed by that baby whose birth we were celebrating. I had heard that the children were going to do something “different,” and I usually videotape our programs, but then it’s like you don’t really get to see it, you know? Kind of like videotaping your child’s football game and you have to watch it later to see what really happened as you were so busy trying to follow the action.
For the children’s program, the praise team began to sing the song below “You are Holy,” which is one of my favorite songs – I love LOVE the part where it talks about the train of his robe filling the temple – you can just see it happening as you’re singing. As the song began to unfold, the children walked in carrying a long purple cloth, very reverently, and they connected it to an altar type thing at the front of the church, and they held it gingerly in the air. As I was videotaping, I zoomed in on one of the faces of a nine-year-old boy, and he was crying, bawling, tears rolling down his cheeks. I began to feel the Spirit in the room, the composition of the air changing, and I put down the camera. I did not want to miss whatever was about to happen.
The children stood with the cloth, tears flowing, and the Pastor invited anyone who had a need to come forward and touch the cloth and pray for their need. We know these inanimate objects have no power – this cloth carried no healing power on its own, but the Spirit works through our faith and our prayers – like the woman with the issue of blood who knew that if she could just touch the hem of his garment, she would be healed. People began to stream toward the cloth and the prayer was truly one of the most powerful things I’ve ever heard – a chorus of voices rising in unison but distinct, each person praying for their need, or the need of the one next to them.
One of the couples who approached the cloth was the man I talked about last week who had given me the ”Radiating Faith” book. I don’t know them that well, so I really had no idea what they were exactly praying for, of course, but I did know that they had a grandchild on the way who had been diagnosed with cleft palate and cleft lip. We had been praying that while in utero, this child would be healed. I had not heard a recent update, and all ultrasounds had been showing no improvement so far. It wasn’t until a week later that I heard the news!
The baby boy was due in January, but right before Christmas, the mother went into labor, and the baby was delivered, healthy and whole – WITH A ROOF IN HIS MOUTH! The ultrasound the week prior had shown a gaping hole, NOTHING there. The man had gone to pray at the cloth, and he said later that when two of the other men put their hands on him, and he thought the hands were really hot – he literally acknowledged in his mind that “Boy, these guys are hot today.” He didn’t have a big shaking, a tremor all over, no tingles or chills – just felt a warmth when his brothers in Christ joined him to pray for his grandson and his healing.
The child was born with a cleft lip, but the palate was intact! No sucking issues, no feeding issues – able to immediately breastfeed with ease. It is a MIRACLE, one that is documented by medical evidence! Because we know a child cannot just close up the roof of his mouth by normal growth in one week. The divine hand of God reached down upon this child and healed him! Why not the cleft lip? I don’t know – was thinking about that last night. Was it so that God could show His glory, that what he touches is made whole, and what He does not touch is not? I have no idea – only know that a cleft lip is a much easier fix than a palate. Many of Jesus’ miracles, He said that they were done so the people would SEE the glory of the Lord.
We have SEEN…we have PRAISED…hallelujah to the Lamb of God! Look up this song and see if you can feel Him….He is here, still working on behalf of his people!
Today’s story is so inspiring and convicting, I cannot stop thinking about it! I was speaking to my friend who lost her husband two weeks ago this week, and she was praising God for all the miracles they’d seen in this situation. What an attitude! Her husband was killed instantly, and their daughter was critically injured and is still in the hospital, and she is thanking God for all He has done. She was telling me that their daughter’s seat belt basically cut her in two, crushing her abdomen and resulting in her losing a significant portion of her intestines, both large and small. She was on a ventilator for days and really had a bleak prognosis.
At one point in this situation, their daughter’s husband was told that they were going to have to amputate one of her legs because there was no blood flow getting to it. He instantly says, “No – give me two hours.” They agree to wait two hours, and he goes to the chapel in the hospital and prays for two hours for his wife and her leg. He returns and the blood flow has gone down her leg to her knee. The doctors say, “Okay, then we will only have to amputate from the knee down.” He says, “No – give me two more hours.” He returns back to the chapel and prays another two hours. Upon his return, the blood flow has reached her foot. I’m telling you, I can hardly type this without wanting to jump and shout!
They tell him, “Okay, now we will just have to amputate her foot.” He says, “No – give me two more hours.” Now, this man has spent four hours already on his knees in this chapel. He returns back to his “closet,” and he storms the throne of heaven once more. When he returns, the blood flow has gone into her foot to everything but the big toe. They began to talk about amputating the toe, and at that point, having prayed six hours, he agreed that she could live without her toe. And to the best of my knowledge, that toe has not been removed so far! She is doing well and was up in a chair yesterday – praise God!
What do you do when you get bad news? We get on the phone and we tell someone else – we share our misery. What do we do when we get bad news in the hospital? We sit with those that are with us and we share the misery. Oh, yes, sometimes we whisper a prayer…but how many of us have stopped EVERYTHING and gotten on our knees for uninterrupted nonceasing prayer? I have never prayed two hours at a time, uninterrupted, in my life. Why? Why haven’t I? I’m too busy. I’m always multitasking when I pray. Shame on me, shame on us! Do we spend two hours watching TV or looking on Facebook? Of course. And yet people are dying all around us, their very lives are being amputated by drugs and by hatred and by sin. And we sit and wring our hands.
I called my friend this week to check on her and to offer my assistance, and she gives me reason to praise, reason to repent, reason to CHANGE MY WAYS by her praise and her son-in-law’s faithfulness! This reminds me, again, of the movie War Room, which if you haven’t seen, please get it and rent it as soon as it comes out. Phenomenal movie, and an illustration of how the REAL work of the Lord gets done. It’s prayer! I speak on miracles to churches and women’s groups sometimes, and one of the main scriptures I use is the one where Mary is trying to talk Jesus into changing the water into wine. His first miracle. And he is resistant. “Mom, stop, it’s not my time.” “But they need it, and I know you can provide it.” “Mom, no, I’m not doing this.” Eventually she wears him down. Was that God-inspired? Did God tell her to nudge him into stepping into what He was capable of? Who knows? What we do know is that at first he said he wasn’t doing it, and her persistence paid off and He changed His mind. I do believe in the will of God – absolutely – but I also believe that what might have been the will of God at one time can be changed by the POWER OF PRAYER! Multiple examples in the Old Testament and the New Testament where God’s people begged for mercy, begged for a different plan, and He granted it.
I know for me, this story has been so convicting, has shamed me to my core, and I WILL be doing things in my life differently. I will not be taking my problems to other people to “vent;” instead, I will be taking them to the Lord in UNINTERRUPTED prayer, without multitasking, because those other things can wait. What miracle do you need today? I encourage you, find a closet, a quiet place (even go sit in your car) and reach out to the Lord. He WILL BE found. Praise His Name!
I almost died this week. That sounds like a drama queen, I know. But it’s true. Talia had asked me to come to her Bible study on Monday, and I was working with one of my reporters on new computer software, and all the sudden I realized it was time to go, so she scooted on home and I grabbed a handful of baby carrots to eat quickly before I left. About three or four carrots in, I got choked. I mean really choked. Tears immediately began to pour, and I couldn’t get my breath. I struggled and struggled and dialed 911. Right before I pushed the Call button, I tried to do the Heimlich on myself over the kitchen sink, and I began to vomit them up. What a relief! Wait. It didn’t open my airway. Still choked. That little flap in my throat was almost spasming, letting some carrots out and then closing back, like they were stuck in the flap and not allowing it to open or close. I struggled and struggled, alternating spitting some up and choking some more, tears pouring down my face.
I finally got myself in a shape I could talk and dialed Tom’s phone. He answers (thank God!), and I was able to get out, “Come home, I need you, I’m scared.” He says he wants to call 911 and I tell him I’m good, I just need him home. He got home in probably three minutes, and I just ran to his arms and cried and cried. I couldn’t stop. In all of my miracles, I don’t know that I have ever been that close to just being seconds away from death. As I was leaning over the sink, I’m thinking, “Okay, God, is this the way it’s going to go down, I’m going to die here at my sink with carrots hanging out my mouth?” There could be worse ways, I know.
I tell this story to say this was a pivotal event for me. I did not leave the house that night, but alternatively cried from joy and cried from fear and cried for no reason. I called my brother-in-law, Ken, who just had the lung transplant, because I know he had to do all these swallowing exercises that were so important in his treatment, and I knew he could relate to this. He sent me his exercises, and by golly, I’m either not going to eat so fast, or I’m going to be doing those exercises, because I don’t want to go down this road again.
Last night, I watched The Passion of the Christ, the Mel Gibson movie made many years ago. I remembered watching it in the theater, and as the beatings and the cruelty went on and on, I thought, “Will it never end? When is it going to stop? Why, why, why?” And last night’s showing was no different – I absolutely could not stand to watch probably half of the movie, but I felt I should force myself to so I remember the sacrifice and I don’t turn it into a trite little “Oh, Jesus shed his blood for me” that is so often said in church but we do not even think of what that may have looked like. The mobs and the hate that made no sense in this movie made me think of what our world looks like today. Our news is filled with killings and bombings and hate that has no reason, and the world today is still in a battle that began with the birth of one man who only lived 33 years and came to bring love and peace.
Never in the history of the world has there been a more pivotal event than the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. I ask you today – do you need a change in your life? Do you have a hole inside of you that needs filling, or needs forgiven, or needs revived? Now is your time. Today can be that pivotal moment that changes your life – see, because Jesus changes us from the inside – and the world can’t do that – pills can’t do that – alcohol can’t do that – relationships can’t do that…..
All it takes is a prayer to the Lord that you believe in Him, that you want Him to forgive you of your sins – it’s free, and it brings freedom like you cannot imagine.
My sister Kim is married to a great guy named Ken, and he is several years older than her. When they first were dating, I remember the first time I met him, asking him if he had his cane with him (she was 22 and he was 39) He was taken aback, and I laughed out loud, letting him know it was a joke. When they did marriage counseling, the preacher asked her if she was ready to change his diapers, and then she was taken aback. She says, "Well, what do you mean?" He says, "With him being 17 years older than you, the possibility is very real, that he will become old while you are still young, and it's something you better think long and hard about." We have teased about that as well over the years.
Kim is famous for taking on "projects," and Ken is usually drug right along with her, and he has been so giving and loving to see Kim's call to something (or usually someone) and to take up that call himself to help Kim meet the need of her call. For instance, when they were living in Spokane, Washington, Kim drove by and saw an old lady mowing her yard one time. She became sad, convicted, backed up and stopped and asked the lady if she could help her mow her yard. This lady had no one to help her, and she let Kim begin to help with her lawn care - a total stranger. Well, guess who else gets enlisted to help this lady with all of her household chores and needs? Ken began to work alongside Kim as they ministered to this stranger - that's just who they are, and they have been a couple throughout all these missions.
Our friend Sandy who died last year was one of Kim's "projects." She had met Sandy at a homeless shelter and just became her friend and helper, and before you know it, Sandy was a member of our whole family. All of us are blessed by Kim's callings, but Ken does the lion's share of partnering with his wife in adopting people, projects and ministries.
A little over a year and a half ago, Ken began to be short of breath - like really short of breath. Walking to the mailbox was an unbelievable ordeal. He kept quiet about it until it was just too obvious to keep under wraps. He began to seek medical help and ended up getting diagnosed with a disease called Idopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis (IPF). The doctors pretty much spent their time preparing him for what they consider a terminal disease with absolutely no hope of getting better or even slowing it down or stopping it. The way I understand the disease process is that your lungs just basically start turning into concrete.
As the days went by, Ken's condition progressed rapidly. He began sleeping a lot, spending his days making Kim this instructional book of how to do things when he was gone. He would take a picture of the four-wheeler, showing where the oil and gas caps were, then go inside and print up a document telling her how to change the oil and what the mixtures were. Then he would have to rest. The next day, he would do one on how to light the pilot light on the hot water tank. As I would hear these stories, my heart would just break - it's one thing to plan for your death, but to be making a book for your wife of what to do when you're gone.....yes, helpful, but still awful. Kim continued to go to work every day with a smile on her face and a peace in her heart. Only one time did she break down even a little bit when talking about it, and then her voice just began to crack, but she followed it up with "I have this incredible peace - a peace that passes all understanding. I don't know what the end of this journey is going to be, but I know God is with me and He is going to take care of me."
I lay awake night after night praying for the miracle, the truly God-honoring, fix-ya-up kind of miracle. Wouldn't God give Ken a miracle, to take those lungs that are slowing drying up and hardening and give them life again? As I would pray, I would have a peace also - kind of a "I'm in control, Love God" kind of peace. Ken began to pursue a lung transplant, knowing that was his only hope. He went to the University of Kentucky and had passed all their tests to possibly get on the lung transplant list, only to be told the wait would be too long and there are not enough donors in our area. At this point we knew it was totally up to God to work a miracle.
Ken's determination to "keep living" was inspiring even if he did have to drag oxygen tanks around while riding the motorcycle, fishing, changing the oil in the vehicles or whatever. He had impressed the Kentucky physician so much that he made a call to Duke University in North Carolina to ask them about his possibility of candidacy with Duke. He was then contacted to come for a visit to see if they would consider him for a transplant at 72 years old. Kim is telling me that before they went, Ken went and got a haircut, picked out dress clothes, just was making all these preparations to really look his best. She says, "Why are you doing all this stuff to try to look so good?" He says to her - broke my heart - "Because I need them to see that I am worthy of LIVING, that I'm not some old man who lays around on the couch, watching TV to end out my days - I am a grandfather who babysits by myself, I am a husband who takes care of my wife, I am a pilot who flies his own plane, I am a contributing member of my community, and they need to see that I am deserving of this chance!" Who could turn that down?
They made several trips to Duke, he was tested literally from head to toe, passed each of their requirements and then was asked to relocate. By then, he had done so much planning and exercising and all these requirements, he was getting more and more strength. Watching him "come alive" with the hope of a future was truly incredible. After they moved to Duke, he had a month of rehab and was probably in better shape physically than the rest of the family after exercising three hours a day. Once the minimum requirement of 23 days of rehab was met, he was placed on the national transplant list.
The VERY NEXT DAY he received a call they had a match (which is a miracle itself how fast it happened). He received his new lung (a gift from a donor's family during their time of tragedy) on December 19th. At his age, he was expecting there might be some complications but NONE, NOT A ONE. He came through the surgery and recovery with great speed. Tom and I snuck down to see he and Kim on Christmas Day, trying to sneak into the hospital room while singing "We wish you a Merry Christmas," but I was crying too hard to be able to sing too well. He was sitting in the chair, feeling good enough to go sit in the waiting room and have a little Christmas snack (he wasn't allowed to eat for about a month).
While we were visiting them, their friend Matt (22 years old and deteriorating daily) got his lungs, on Christmas Day! We had the pleasure of meeting his parents and hearing their stories, seeing what all they had gone through. Matt did not do so well - had complication after complication. Pretty much anything that could have gone wrong did go wrong, and he almost died several times. Kim was a rock to his family as well as another friend they made who was 49 years old and got his lungs while they were there. She began taking on "projects" even at Duke, staying up all night with these parents and other patients.
Ken had to do another month of post rehab but is now oxygen free and as his granddaughter said "hands free," back home in WV and ready to LIVE the rest of his life because of the generosity of a donor and the prayers of those who believed in FAITH - being the evidence of things not seen. One of the coolest things that happened is the morning Ken got his lungs in the middle of the night (Kim didn't even tell her children in case it was a dry run – and didn’t want them driving in a panic during the middle of the night). We got up to the news that he was in surgery and the lung was a match! However, that very night, our friend Edith Hayes, was woke up and couldn't get Ken off her mind and began to pray for him. Now, mind you, not one of us was woken up to pray - I had no clue - but Edith could NOT sleep, could NOT go back to sleep, was just pressed and pressed to pray for Ken.
About 10:00 a.m. the next morning, after he was out of surgery already, Edith texts me and says, "Is something going on with Ken? I couldn't sleep all night - woke up at about 2:00 and could not go back to sleep for feeling like I needed to pray for him." Wow, wow, wow! Only God does things so good - He has people everywhere! And what a gift it was for Kim to hear that! When she could be feeling alone, like it was only her praying for Ken's healing through this life giving surgery, your friend is lying in her bed, praying the desires of YOUR heart. God is SO GOOD! Praise His Name!
We had two miracles in the past couple weeks, one huge! My dad fell off a stool while working on a tractor or something months ago. His shoulder hurt very badly, then he thought it was getting better, then it got worse, and for several months now, he can’t hardly lift his arm up at all. He has avoided getting it worked on or pursuing surgery because he didn’t want to “go crazy” on us again like he did last time he had surgery after his lawnmower rollover. Some of you may remember, he was seeing bugs all over the walls, having mom and Kim and I do all this imaginary dozer work, you name it. His mind was overactive, you might say. Funniest thing is, he was in the room with a guy who was coming off drugs and really was a mess, and dad was nuttier than him. We can laugh now, but it was scary and exhausting at the time, as we didn’t know why he had gone bonkers. Thank God we’ve found out it was the meds, and now we know how to handle it if it happens again, but this is my dad: To keep us from going through that again, he has put off his shoulder surgery!
He finally made the decision to get it fixed, and they sent him for the normal workups to get ready, one of which was a stress test because of his pacemaker. Tom and I are headed to the beach Thanksgiving week to work on the new condo we had purchased and were renovating, and mom calls about seven hours into the trip. “How you doing? Where are you?” When she hears we’re almost there, she says, “Well, I didn’t want to tell you this because I knew you might not go, but turns out dad failed his stress test. They believe he’s had a heart attack he didn’t know about and the test showed he had damage to the back part of his heart, where he’s never had it before. They’ve cancelled his shoulder surgery and have scheduled him for a heart cath this week.” This is my mother: Always, always thinking about people other than herself. She knew we had a situation that needed taken care of, and in her mind, it was more important than us being with her. And Kim was out of town as well. She said she was fine to be alone at his heart cath, God would take care of it and no worries.
Well,I know she can take care of it, but……and of course, she was not alone – she had God with her and some wonderful ladies from church came down to be with her. Another reason having a church family is such a blessing! Someone is always there to help you through your troubles! The night before at church, one of our elders came to dad and said, “Roy, I truly believe they’re going to get into your heart tomorrow and there isn’t going to be a thing wrong with it!” Dad said, “Sounds good to me!” And that prophecy literally came true! The doctor came out and said, “Well, I don’t know what made them fail him on the stress test – this heart is perfect! You go back and tell the surgeon to get him ready!” Praise God, praise God! He is our healer, our deliverer, a ever present help in the time of trouble!
Surgery got put back on the books, and it was to take place this week. Well, snag in the works. They got dad medicated to get him into the OR and the surgeon called in and said he was too sick to perform his surgeries that morning. It was cute – there lies dad in his hospital gown, dead to the world, and they keep trying to get him awake now so they can get him sent home, and he opens his eyes up and looks over at us and mom quips, “Well, I bet you’re thinking you’re not even in any pain!” He says, “Yeah, I’m not.” So mom gives him the news that he’s headed back home. He gets this cute sad look on his face and he’s like, “You mean I gotta go back home and wait some more?” We laughed and told him he was like the atheist that dies, “All dressed up and nowhere to go!” We’re claiming the miracle of the heart healing and know God will see him through the shoulder trouble as well. He isn’t gonna waste a miracle on something He won’t see all the way through.
The second miracle was one of those everyday ones: Tal had a breakdown on Route 68 in the most safe way possible, and a random stranger literally took her under her wing, let her use her phone, her internet, stayed with her while the vehicle was towed and drove her all the way back to Ravenswood! She told her while they were driving that it was a miracle that she was home, as she never is, and neither are any of the other neighbors. She details her week from “you know where” in her blog post here if you have time to read a long story……..
Tom says Talia is the only person he’s ever known that takes ten minutes to order a pizza: “I’d like to order a pizza. Well, I’m not sure what kind we want – what do you suggest? See, last time we got one, someone didn’t like the sausage on it, so we thought we might do without that. What kind of pepperoni is it, turkey or pork? Hmmm, what specials do you have?” I could go on, but you get the idea. Gotta love her, or just interrupt her and scream, “Get to the point!!”
Thank you, Lord, for the everyday blessings we sometimes err and call "lucky." Forgive us, Lord, for not acknowledging yYOU when YOU show up time after time!
I had another miracle a few months ago, and it was so raw and so emotional, I’ve had to wait to tell the story. We had a major upset happening in our life – something just very wrong was going on, and it was one of those that it wasn’t your fault, there was nothing you could do about it, but bad, bad things were flowing, and there seemed to be no stopping it. I had met with the parties involved, talked things out, came to no good conclusion, and left the meeting just bereft, without hope, devastated. I cried all the way home, went to bed crying, woke up in the night crying, Tom holding my hand across the bed, and when I woke up the next morning, the tears began again before I even put my feet on the floor.
Now, this is not like me – I hope you know that – thus explains the level of the devastation I was feeling. I had let my mind go into the “How can this be happening, it’s always going to be this way, we’re never going to recover from this, the rest of my life I’m going to have to battle this,” blah, blah, blah. You know the drill – our minds can just totally run away with us, especially if we start negative thinking.
I woke up that next morning, and usually the first thing I do is turn on my cell phone. Since I go to bed so early, there is almost always that familiar whistle of something that has come in the night. That morning, there was one whistle, and I look at the message, and it’s from a man in our church, a man who I worship with but do not communicate with – wasn’t even sure how he had my number. That is where the God things began to flow. This man sends me a message that came in the night – the night I am devastated beyond words with the impossibility of my situation – and his message says, “I was praying for you in the night and God gave me a vision for you. He was directing an orchestra, and he says to tell Teresa it’s going to be all right.”
Wow. Wow. Wow. I began to really bawl then – because see, the GOD OF THE UNIVERSE had just spoken to me! Yes, it was as big as him taking Moses up on the mountain and giving him the words to write on the tablet – see, he took His finger and He wrote me a message that He knew I could see and read! Yes, he used a man, and he used TEXT MESSAGING – LOL – but He spoke all the same, just like he has over all these thousands of years – in an audible voice sent to calm His people. Oh, I praise His name!
The INSTANT I read that message, sent by this possible prophet I am privileged to go to church with, the angst left me – I mean LEFT ME! I just knew it was going to work out. And IT DID! The impossible situation became the enjoyable situation; the devastation turned into acceptance and love. Oh, only God, OUR GOD, can do jobs this big, can turn wreckage into perfection! I will NEVER NEVER forget the day my God text messaged me! Next time God puts someone on your heart or gives you a word of encouragement, DON’T DELAY – get it to that person immediately – you have no idea what you may be saving them from! Thank you, Lord, for that present day walk and another miracle!
My name is Teresa Evans. I am a wife to Tom, a retired Circuit Judge, and I am a court reporter by trade, a mother by God's grace and a lover of Jesus Christ. I've grown up in a family blessed with many miracles, and have received multiple miracles myself.