I want to tell you about a miracle.
But let me begin by first sharing that my heart truly breaks for those who enter Mother’s Day grieving a loss in anyway. I sit with you in prayer, my brothers and sisters whose mothers have been called home with Jesus and those who bear deep maternal wounds. I’m reminded to share that it is from our God that all motherly traits are derived from. God is fully capable and eager to fill every motherly void that we might have in this world. And while I sit beside you in prayer to comfort all who may be mourning, I feel an urgency to share my mother's story.
6 months ago, we had every reason to believe that we had lost her. In December of last year, she was just 54 years old and in throes of nearly a year without a functioning liver or gallbladder. Her body shrunk almost half its size, her hair was falling out by the handful, and her skin had lost any color it once had. Her days and nights were spent in perpetual sleep and she trembled if she even attempted to stand. With most of her teeth now gone, she fed on daily medicine keeping her body from becoming toxic and occasionally an ice cream cone to wash it down. Her brain, filled with chemicals, couldn’t make much sense of the world around her anymore. Week after week, she was tested head to toe, inside and out, in preparation for a possible transplant. At this point the only thing that could save her life. And here I was: 2,000 miles away, fearful of every diagnosis and broken in tears at every phone call that ended in “Amen”.
Death was near to her, but God was closer. He had revealed His power and promises in her life and I’d become very familiar with this woman’s strength and His ever-powerful love. Now out of humility, she would never tell you this, but my mother is a true woman of faith. A woman who sees the brokenness in the world yet stands in courage and victory before every battle brought her way. A woman who has suffered unjustly, but knows to rest in the shadow of the Most High. A woman boldly speaking of countless personal miracles. A woman of faith as immovable as the God who is the object of it. My mother is a miracle and I know it well.
At the beginning of December, she had finished pre-transplant evaluation and been added to the list of patients in waiting. Depending on various factors, transplant patients typically wait months to years for an organ. However, my mother got an offer for a liver just a handful of days after being added to the list. (You could imagine how sick she was). She was called in and prepped for surgery, but complications arose and the surgery did not happen that day. So much false hope, but this warrior was not giving up. On December 27th, we helped her get ready to meet with her transplant coordinator as she regularly does. Now there is no measure for the time I spent on my knees praying for this woman. When I watched her struggle just to sit up that day, I wandered down to the basement and fell on my face in tears again. I cried out to our Father God, whom I knew desired nothing more than the health and prosperity of His precious daughter. The same God that parted seas for His daughter throughout her life. The same God that heals the sick and gives sight to the blind around the clock. I cried out for her health. I cried out for the redemption of the promise. I cried out for His presence. And then I picked up the pieces of myself that I left at the feet of Jesus and we took my mother to the hospital.
Later that same day she was offered a liver. Feeling death rushing near, she hesitated to accept. But with her last teaspoon of faith, she said “ok”. For the next 36 hours my brothers and I sleeplessly anticipated confirmation that surgery would happen this time. At 6pm on December 28th we walked through the hospital sending my mother’s bed to the operating room. We stopped outside the OR and said our “see you later’s”; not entire certain that we would in fact “see her later”. Fighting tears and clenching my fists around the only hope that remained in me, we waited.
The next 6 hours were the longest span of time I’ve ever experienced. Caught in a limbo of uncertainty. Praying and believing for the best yet simultaneously preparing for a turn of events. I physically felt my heart ache as I thought about what was happening on the other side of those OR doors. By 2am, the surgeon came out to speak with us in a tiny room with a closed door. The same hands that spent the last 6 hours lacing a new organ inside my mother were now right in front of me gesturing about the completion of the operation. It was finished. Yet because of mom’s critical condition the next stop was Intensive care. At 3am, we buzzed into the ICU 2 at a time. My eldest brother and I were first to enter.
In a small 8x10ft area laid my mother in bed 6, fighting as hard as ever. Tubes and wires coming out of her numbered more than the fingers on my hands. I was warned and (somewhat) prepared for the lifeless look that the ventilator produced. Her chest rose stiffly twice upward and then slowly relaxed back down to normal. As I approached the bed there it was again, the real, physical pain in my chest at the sight of my precious mother. My heart felt like it was grabbed and clenched tight in that moment. I became so sensitive and felt my weakened heart struggle to send blood to my body. My head was weightless and my ears heard only internal noises. I gently pressed into my brother as he comically said “K, I thought I was here to take care of mom, not you”. I tried to regain composure as the nurse talked about my mother’s status. It worked until my face flushed completely of color and I took a seat on the ICU floor. (gross, lol). I lasted no more than 5 minutes before nearly fainting. The next visit I last 7 minutes before I felt myself hit that threshold of what my heart could handle. My mother taught me to be a fighter, so I tried a third time, and strength was manifest in my ability to sit beside my mother for longer than 10 minutes. I share this part to show the debilitating effects that the sickness of others can have on us, so you might see more clearly the full magnitude of God's strength poured out for us.
For a week, we sat at our mother’s bedside praying, speaking sweetly, and singing over her. With no confirmation that she could feel us there, we held onto her hand for hours at a time. I think I can be bold as to say that the battle becomes hardest right before it is won. Intensive Care was a nightmare. Our good and gracious God had healed and renewed His daughter’s body, yet I watched as a spirit of sickness latched onto her mind and exhibited it's control in frightening ways. She awoke in rage every few minutes. She would stare at us blankly and try to raise the voice she couldn't find. We would place our hands on her forehead and try to calm her to sleep again. I sang over her, prayed over, read Scriptures to her, and commanded peace. We were physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually exhausted knowing this battle was more than against flesh and blood. Now faith as small as a mustard seed remained. I went home one night distraught because she started to trend in the wrong direction. Then I remembered, again, the greatest thing my mother taught me: to be a fighter. So, I went to my room and cried out, leaving shattered pieces of myself at the feet of Jesus. AGAIN. (I'm a regular here now, and I'd give this place a million stars on Yelp).
The next day was nothing short of another miracle. She woke with peacefulness and understanding of who she was. Her improvement was rewarded by taking her off the ventilator. The battle of her freedom and healing continued for an entire month as she recovered in the hospital. By February, she was sent home and her new life was slowly building. Scripture tells us that the same power that rose Jesus from the grave lives in us as believers. While, I’ve always trusted in that truth, I have time and time again seen it proven to be absolutely true. And I share it that you might be encouraged to know the indescribable love of our Father. A love that even sickness and death cannot separate us from. A love that bears all, believes all, endures all, and restores all.
I think I'm inspired to share this because the bottom line is [restoration]. Whether we have been physically hurt and uncovered a heartbreaking diagnosis, or emotionally hurt by relationships that fall short of our needs, or even spiritually hurt by a church that failed to feed our hearts with truth... we do have a Father who is ready, willing, and eager to restore us to a fullness of joy.
I must also emphasize that while this love is open for all to receive, you must accept it and be good stewards of it. My mom is a clear example of a woman who radically allowed the work of God into her life and poured it back out to others. She surrendered her brokenness and trusted in the King who makes all things new. Now, by His grace and through her faith, she has been saved. Saved in so many more ways than one. It takes a lot of strength to have faith. And my mother’s faith marvels me. I am brought to tears as I think of the love our Father has for us, all of us. In the hardest 2 years of my life, I witnessed the glory of the Lord so clearly and it is my prayer that each of us would know the true character of our God.
My mother’s life has been restored. And while we haven't exactly had the ideal mother-daughter relationship in the past, God continues to make beautiful things out of us by healing the brokenness of our relationship. By grace, she received a new beginning in this lifetime. Something not promised to us in this world, yet granted through an outpouring of God’s great love.
So, forever I will honor her for her strength and praise God for His goodness. And as I close this letter, I am praying for your restoration as well. That whatever ails your hearts, minds, or bodies will be cast out in the powerful name of Jesus so that you may be reestablished and found basking in the glory of the Lord as you were intended to.
"Nevertheless, I will bring health and healing to it; I will heal my people and will let them enjoy abundant peace and security. I will bring Judah and Israel back from captivity and will rebuild them as they were before. I will cleanse them from all the sin they have committed against me and will forgive all their sins of rebellion against me. Then this city will bring me renown, joy, praise and honor before all nations on earth that hear of all the good things I do for it; and they will be in awe and will tremble at the abundant prosperity and peace I provide for it." Jeremiah 33:6-9