Friday, March 26, 2010

The race was on. Suzie could key 120 words per minute, and I was always trying to best her. It always failed; 106 was the best I could do.

Our job was simple: sit in front of a keyboard with headphones and listen to doctors drone on and on about the various medical conditions of their patients. Sometimes the doctor would mix it up a little and try dictating patient cases while taking a shower or jogging.

43-year-old female presents today . . .(garble) . . . with complaints of chest . . . (garble) . . . and head con. . . (garbled) . . .

You get the idea.

The doctor that I transcribed for was a sweetheart. He never dictated through his showers, while jogging, eating crackers or chewing gum. Every cardiology term he said was clear and concise. So when I was having trouble with a racing heartbeat, I wanted to see him.

But I couldn't.

My husband was military and I was required to see a "free" military physician. Don't get me wrong -- these doctors do wonderful work for America's soldiers. Sometimes, though, it seems their heart is with the soldiers and not with the dependents. At least, that is what happened to me. Dependents can't pick the doctor they wish to see; in fact, we couldn't even request the same physician so that there was some sort of continuity. Dependent wife (me) would call in the morning between 6:30 a.m. and 7:00 a.m. and be thrown into a queue and hope that there was S/A (space available) for me to be seen that day. There was no being able to request an appointment the next day. If I woke up the next morning and still felt bad, it was either try again, same "Bat" time, same "Bat" channel or go to the base emergency room.

I managed to get an appointment and see a physician. I told him my main symptom: racing heartbeat. This was in 1994, and I was only 31 years old, but my dad had had problems with a racing heartbeat and I was concerned that perhaps I was undergoing the same heart anomaly that my dad had.

The doctor's stethoscope stayed around his neck and all the usual "visual" tools to peer in my ears and down my throat and up my nose stayed on the wall. His advice: Cut back on the tea and coffee.

I looked at him trying hard to "not lose it," and said, "I drink neither, but I get the hint. I apologize for wasting your time." He left the room without a word leaving me to pick up my purse and my new-found humiliation and vow not to return.

When I told my employer what happened, she was outraged. She immediately called the cardiologist that we transcribed for and I had an appointment within 48 hours.

The doctor was every bit as nice in person as he was over the "dictophone." He patiently listened to my one symptom and then put his "visual" tools to use. Then he felt my throat and said, "Do you know you have a knot in your throat."

No, I didn't know.

He placed two fingers of my right hand over the spot , and sure enough, there was a knot about the size of an M&M.

"That shouldn't be there. Let's get a scan."

Because he wasn't a "military" doctor, I had to go it alone paying for the test and $480 was a lot in those days.


There is never a pretty way to say that word, so there is no point in trying. It can't be softened; it can't be minimized; it can't be wrapped up in pretty paper with a beautiful bow and gift tag on front.

The results were faxed to the military base and I was quickly assigned a surgeon. He did a needle-aspiration biopsy and with my husband and I on one side of a large desk and the surgeon on the other with report papers spread out in front of him, he confirmed what the civilian physician found.

I had an aggressive, grade III cancer that had an established blood supply.

Now I know why patients seem to always ask -- how long? It is an instinctive question, and it blurted out of me with a life of its own. I asked the question without consciously forming it in my head.

"We don't really like to give time frames as that is not really indicative of cases."

I said, "How long? I have two young children at home and I want to think about all of this."

The hesitancy and deep breath he drew said more than the few words he spoke, "Let's see where we are in 18 months. That will tell us more."

The race was on and this race wasn't with Suzie to see who could keyboard the fastest -- it was with time, with my wits, and with my faith in the Gospel and bragging rights wasn't the take-away -- it was going to be my life.

Despite my bravest efforts, I couldn't think the first few days. I honestly couldn't put two words together in my head. I had surgery within two weeks, and it didn't go well. For some reason, my eyesight was terribly affected and it took two appointments to convince my surgeon that I had persistent blurred vision that was not clearing up. Surgery shouldn't have caused that, but sure enough an eye exam proved damage and I have worn glasses ever since (3.25+).

While I was recovering at home and getting ready to return to work, I begin to seek the Lord.

Until that time, I had gone to church twice a week: Sundays (both services) and Wednesday night. I had participated in choir, the occasional bake sale and VBS every summer. How could something like this happen to me?

I had dreams -- the big one was to own my own medical transcription service. I had jotted down business plans and had taken a number of medical classes at a nearby community college. I was gaining experience and had attended free seminars on how to obtain funding through grants and small business loans.

But none of that seemed important now.

I had no idea what to do.

The pastor one Sunday asked me to come up front and had the church form a line and walk past me and give me a hug and whisper encouragement to me.

It was a wonderful gesture, but I am an extremely private person, and this was very difficult for me, but I did it. It went quite well UNTIL the third "little-old-lady" came up to me and hugged me and whispered, "If you would repent of the sins in your life you would be healed." I watched in stunned disbelief as she toddled away.

WHAT do you say to that?

That night, alone in prayer I did look over my life to see if there was any "unrepented" sin. I couldn't find any. I felt worse than when I began to pray. I felt it was useless. I didn't know what to do.

Yet, I believe God loves me and cares for me and watches out over me. I don't know how to NOT believe that.

If it wasn't sin, then what was it? God wasn't mad at me -- I was certain of that.

I love the Old Testament. I love history and reading the accounts of what happened to the early Israelites. The next morning, I flipped open my Bible to read before going to work -- 2 Kings 18, 19.

Sennacherib the Assyrian sent a letter by messengers to Hezekiah of Judah. He was coming against Jerusalem and there was NO WAY Hezekiah's God was going to be able to deliver Hezekiah out of his hand.

And Hezekiah received the letter of the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up into the house of the Lord, and spread it before the Lord.

And Hezekiah prayed before the Lord, and said, "O Lord God of Israel, which dwellest between the cherubims, which art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth; thou hast made heaven and earth.

Lord, bow down thine ear, and hear: open, Lord, thine eyes, and see: and hear the words of Sennacherib, which hath sent him to reproach (belittle) the living God.

Of a truth, Lord, the kings of Assyria have destroyed the nations and their lands,

And they have cast their gods into the fire: for they were no gods, but the work of men's hands, wood and stone: therefore they have destroyed them

Now therefore, O Lord our God, I beseech thee, save thou us out of his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the Lord God, even thou only. -- 2 Kings 19: 14-19

Did the Lord ever answer Hezekiah!

A plague struck down 185,000 of Sennacherib's army AND Sennacherib was struck down with a sword by his two sons while he was worshiping in the temple of Nisroch.

What a powerful story of God's awesome deliverance.

I had no idea how it applied to me.

While at work, the Lord begin to deal with my heart. I cannot say what happened but all day long a "sea change" was occurring. I felt something stirring in my heart.

I prayed that night and begin to feel that the Lord wanted me to quit my job. I mentioned it to my husband. He looked over the bills and felt we could manage that, not entirely certain that my desire wasn't borne somewhat out of my difficult circumstances.

I gave my notice and within 3 weeks I was home.

Now what?

My two kiddos went to public school: Dan was in 6th grade and "Songbird" was in 4th. I would drop them off in the morning and rather than come back home and turn on the TV and watch Oprah and eat chocolates, I started praying.

And I didn't pray for healing -- I prayed for direction. What should I do?

I felt led by a sudden inspiration to write down what the doctor had told me on paper. I then took that "letter" to the place where I prayed and spread it out, like Hezekiah did with Sennacherib's letter and confessed that this was what I was facing and like Hezekiah I could do nothing. Would the Lord open His eyes and answer?

It was at that time I felt to read the first three chapters of Job. Satan rattled Job hard in EVERY area of his life. He lost his livelihood, he lost his children, he lost his health and he even lost the support of his wife. Satan wanted to prove to God that if a believer is shaken hard enough, what comes out is directed at God and not at the shaker. God had GREAT confidence in Job. He knew something that satan did not know: Job's heart. God knew just how "cemented in" was Job's confidence and trust in God.

And God was not proven wrong.

Then said his wife unto him, Dost thou still retain thine integrity? curse (renounce) God, and die.

But he said unto her, Thou speakest as one of the foolish women speaketh. What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil? In all this did not Job sin with his lips. --Job 2: 9, 10 (emphasis mine)

I got it! If there was no unrepentant sin in my life and God wasn't mad at me, then it must be satan rattling me to see what I was made of. That was the only thing that made sense to me.

Now was the time for defiance. Defiance not aimed at God but at satan. It became part of my way of thinking each day: If satan was so sure that I would turn my back on God because of what happened to me how can I prove him wrong?

Other than the evening news, I watched no TV. While the kids were at school I spent time praying and reading my Bible.

I begin to feel the Lord directing me to homeschool our 2 children.

This saddened me because I felt it was the Lord's way of preparing me to die.

That was a real show of faith, wasn't it?

It was February and the new school year would start in August. My husband's eyebrows popped up at this "direction" I felt, and then he looked uncomfortable when I told him why I thought the Lord was leading me this way, but, again, he supported this request. I had about 6 months to get ready. We agreed I probably would be able to get through one year and then we would make sure both kids would go to private school should that become a necessity.

I focused.

I attended seminars and conferences. I asked friends and went to book sales. I picked out curricula and sketched out lesson plans and included "life plans." I wanted Dan and Songbird to know how to do their own laundry and cook some easy meals and sew a button on. It was unreasonable to believe that my husband should have to remarry right away to help raise the kids -- they needed to be self-sufficient. After all, if it was true I was going to pass away, this was going to be hard on them. It would not be easy to adjust with me gone and it wouldn't be easy to adjust to a new "mom."

It was imperative then that I convey to them unfailing belief that God knows all, sees all, and is in control of all. He knew what was going on and I had NOT been abandoned, NONE of us had been. His purposes are higher than our own and we must trust even when we can't see where we are going. That is the whole idea behind the "valley of the shadow of death."

That valley is a dark place and scary. It is filled with sounds in the night and we can't see the path. We have to have the deepest belief that the warm hand holding our own knows the path and can navigate the trail and when we come out the other side we will either be in the gloriously bright kingdom of the Son He loves or we will still be here on earth with one dynamic testimony to tell.

A friend at church had introduced me to David Wilkerson's newsletter. I then ordered about 50 of his sermons on cassettes and decided that his sermons would be part of our devotions. Dan would pick a sermon one day and then Songbird would the next.

At the end of the school year, I felt well enough to plan for the next year. It was understood I might not make it through the year, but I would at least start.

The 18-month mark came and went. There were no signs whatsoever of any residual problems. In fact, most people who met me had no idea I was trying to recover from cancer.

Never at any time did I ever hear the Lord whisper to me what the outcome would be. I absolutely did not know if I was going to live or die, BUT live or die I was the Lord's.

The Bible is to be our example in ALL things. When we don't know what to say or what to do, default to the Word of God. It is accurate in all things, unfailing, unfaltering and, best of all, UNFLINCHING. The Bible tells it like it is.

I did not read Scriptures out loud and claim promises of healing and faith, AND I DO NOT FAULT THOSE WHO DO. The BIGGEST mistake Christians make is to assume that our walk with Jesus is a ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL walk. NOTHING could be further from the truth. That is what it means to be Spirit-led. When we free ourselves from paralleling someone else's walk AND dismiss any notion of holding our own walk up as THE STANDARD for others to walk by, then our eyes turn off others, turn off ourselves and turn to Him.

How would HE have me to walk this path I've suddenly found myself on?

There are times in life when we come to a crossroads and we have to make a decision -- which way do I go? We step up on tippytoe and shade our eyes against any glare and try to "foresee" down each path as far as we can then step back and think which path looks the best. After going down our own unique-to-us list of criteria of what constitutes a good decision and checking off as many positives as possible, we will pick a path. We would like to think our list incorporates a lot of "God criteria," but sometimes the list is no more than what caused skinned knees and bruised egos in the past and try to avoid the same-o, same-o in the future.

But other times, we find ourselves suddenly shoved through a door that is violently slammed shut and PADLOCKED behind us and no amount of banging on that door or cursing it or kicking at it will change it -- that door is slammed shut and it "ain't" gonna open back up. We have no choice. What has happened has happened and it can't be undone or redone. We have to start walking down the path we have abruptly found ourselves on, and brushing aside all frustrations and perhaps a few tears, we start in the forward direction trying to put on a brave face that hardly mirrors what is really coursing through the middle of our souls.

I truly believe Hezekiah and his response to Sennacherib's letter was my first turning point.

I found myself in a situation where I received a hard report and I had no answers. I searched deep in my pockets and pulled them inside out to show "I got nothin'."

But writing out what the doctor said and taking it to my quiet place of prayer and spreading it out before the Lord and confessing any sin but more importantly my complete and utter need for Him to lead me and guide me through this is when I begin to hear "this is the way, walk ye in it."

I fought against demanding of God to tell me what the outcome was going to be and resolved instead to ask God to help me NO MATTER WHAT I SEE OR WHAT I HEAR, to not doubt Him and to never deny Him. This is where my journey of faith began. Trusting that God loves me and cares for me and watches over me no matter what the outcome may be is what brought me into a garden that I firmly believe that a demand for "will I live or will I die" would not have brought me.

Knowing from the book of Job that satan does seek to rattle us and shake us and stalk us was my second turning point. Grasping that truth that this trial that had come upon me may be satan trying to use my life to "prove" to God that God isn't really God in my life sobered me. God wasn't the enemy -- satan was. When I begin to pray -- Lord, I trust you, even if that means Your plan calls for my death. I trust you with my husband and my kids. They don't need me as much as they need You. If I must be moved out of the way, so be it -- they are Yours and I can come home to you with great confidence that You know what You are doing. And when I see how all of this eventually played out, I will marvel and say: What a perfect plan! And if I am going to praise You THEN for such an awesome plan, then I might as well praise You NOW. Thank You, Lord, for such a perfect plan for my life!

During the TV-off time and Bible-open-and-in-my-lap time I learned much about how God worked through the lives of many in the Bible. In my prayer time, the Lord begin to show me, especially where my son Daniel was concerned, some events that would transpire in his life and for me to trust completely in Him. And those events did come to pass.

I look back now and realize that there is nothing wrong with owning my own Medical Transcription business or working outside of the home. I did not have unrepentant sin or wrong priorities. Instead, what I learned from the illness I had is that God had a plan and he used a "hard report" to get my attention. I shut down the noise from the "busyness" of life and got alone with Him. He needed my undivided attention and wasn't getting it, but a "hard report" sure did. That "alone time" worked in my life in ways I did not expect, such as developing an ear to hear what the Spirit is saying.

Do NOT let me mislead you -- I still make mistakes and wonder "what was I thinking?" I have missed opportunities to share the Gospel, to help a friend in need, to offer support and to discern the signs of the times. There is still a lot of work to do in me, and I am sure our Heavenly Father shakes His head at me sometimes and sighs and says, "So much work to do in her and yet so little time, but I love her." (Yes, there is NO time measure with God, but you get the idea.)

America has taken a turn for the worse. Our sins are rampant. The blood shed from the slaughter of the unborn is overflowing. Homosexual marches take place regularly, and pagan festivals and rituals are held openly. We have a president who encourages abortion and is a champion to homosexuals. He has great empathy for Islamic beliefs and keeps a charm of Hanuman (the Indian form of the god Mercury/Hermes) in his pocket, a 2-ft idol somewhere in the White House and in the past has had artwork of Hanuman upon the walls of his home (1).

Now, this president has turned his venom toward Israel. Many cheer this on and believe the president should "get tough" with Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and with his signature upon the "healthcare " bill on Tuesday, Israel will see an even deeper level of animosity from this community organizer from Chicago. The bump-up in ego will only cause Obama to no longer see himself as a transitional president but a transformational president, according to one analyst from the Woodrow Wilson Institute.

Chicago has come to Israel. Strong-arm tactics will be the norm as Obama, confident in his odd-defying deathcare win, will now have no reason to play Mr. Nice Guy with Netanyahu. Obama has chosen Hanuman as his silent, unseen tough-guy ally. Remember, in his book DREAMS FROM MY FATHER, Obama, as a six year old, recounts seeing a 10-story high idol of Hanuman in Indonesia and his stepfather told him that Hanuman defeats all his enemies.

Too bad Obama never looked higher than 10 stories or he would know that there is a God in Israel whose arm is much stronger than Hanuman's. It's embarrassing to even have to point that out.

In the days ahead, Americans in general and Christians in particular are going to be hearing more and more "hard reports." There will be NO one-size-fits-all plan that can be sent on an email chain around the country. What God would have a family of 5 living in the New Madrid region do will be different than a family of 2 in hurricane-prone Miami will do. What a family of 3 in the vicinity of Yellowstone will do will be different than what a family of 6 will do in Los Angeles.

It's going to take Christians taking that "hard report" and with the utter brokenness of Hezekiah going into our prayer closets and saying, "Lord, this is what I've heard. I can do nothing about it. I can't even pretend that I have a plan. What would You have me do?" Then once we hear Him speaking in that small, still voice, we have to say, "I trust you, Lord. Live or die, Your plan is best and I praise You! Blessed be the name of the Lord."

And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death. --Revelation 12: 11

And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto Him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood. -- Revelation 1: 5

1. A Couple in Chicago by Marianna Cook, July 19, 2009, newyorker.com/reporting/2009/01/19/090119fa_fact_cook 

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