Saturday, August 8, 2009

No matter what happens kind of faith

When you marry someone you expect to take their last name.
You expect to purchase a home together and become one.
But when you stand before your invited guests to become Mr. and Mrs.,
you do not expect to really have to live out certain parts of your vows.
Or you hope to never have to anyway. have and to hold from this day forward,
for better or for worse,
for richer, for poorer,
in sickness and in health
to love and to cherish...

The part about "in sickness and in health" really takes you to a whole new level of your faith in
God and what you believe He is capable of when you or your spouse are faced with health issues.
The last two years have been tough on Gene and I as a couple. I'm a "fixer" and I can't help my husband get rid of his constant pain. After the 2nd back surgery his back finally feels better, but we found out that he now has nerve damage which is causing excruciating, burning pain in his right leg. He has lost strength in his leg and can barely lift it up to walk. The thoughts of not ever being able to run again or being forced to live with this pain the rest of his life has taken its toll on this athlete's mind.

This week the frustration caused Gene to start taking the high dosage knock-him-out prescribed pain pills again that he had weaned himself off of a few months ago. I started to notice a little depression trying to creep into his mind and then God in all of His mightiness intervened.

In my last post about my son I mentioned our family friend, John Harris.
Here is a picture of John and his beautiful wife, Charlene.
Our families are very close and last week she and I were talking and sharing our prayer requests when she told me she wanted to introduce us to a couple from Missouri that she had just met.
A friend of hers that knows this couple called and asked if Charlene would welcome them to Nebraska as they don't know anyone in this state.

On Tuesday night John and Charlene stopped by to pick us up to go visit them and Gene
backed out because he was in too much pain. As I was leaving, I said, "Gene, I really think you should go with us. I know you're in pain, but this is part of your life right now and you're going to be in pain whether you are lying down or standing. I think you should come." He again said no and then quickly changed his mind. When we got home later that night, he kept saying, "I'm so
glad I went."

Let me introduce you to our new friends....
Randy and Shalana.

Randy is a 37 year old lawyer. Just made partner in his firm in December 2008.
Shalana is a 33 year old RN.
Married for 5 years in June.

Spring of 2008 was when there life would forever change as the normalcy of it escaped them...

Shalana became pregnant.
Randy started having debilitating headaches.
An MRI would reveal that he had an AVM which is explained this way:

Normally, arteries carry blood containing oxygen from the heart to the brain, and
veins carry blood with less oxygen away from the brain and back to the heart. When an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) occurs, a tangle of blood vessels in the brain or on its surface bypasses normal brain tissue and directly diverts blood from the arteries to the veins.

Road trip to the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota where Randy was treated with radiation of the AVM. They were told that over the course of the next year the AVM would continuously shrink.
After returning home Shalana would find out during a check-up that their 14 week baby's heart was no longer beating. A week later their blessing already in God's arms was surgically removed from her womb.
Prior to any of this happening, Randy had already "stopped running from God" as he put it when he answered the call God put on his life to enter ministry. The call to preach the Good News. He was already a successful lawyer and in the military and now God wanted him to preach. The last time he stood behind a pulpit, 5 people responded to the altar call and chose to accept Christ as their Savior.

Then March 2, 2009.

While at work Randy sneezed. Then he complained of not feeling well and said his head hurt.
Trying to stay at work long enough to attend a meeting, his paralegal recognized his slurring words and his confused state. 911 was called and Randy was rushed to the hospital.
Shalana met him there and scans revealed he was suffering a bleed of an AVM to the left side of his brain.

This happened on a Monday morning.
The night before after having worked three 12 hour shifts in a row all Shalana wanted was to sleep as she went to bed.
Randy wanted to talk.
He asked her if he could read her something and as she lay beside him she mumbled, Sure.
So he read her the passage about Jesus in the desert being tempted by the devil for 40 days.
A story of familiarity and so she wondered why he read it as it were his first time hearing it .
He then told her,
"That really spoke to me because if Jesus was tempted by the devil who are we to think we won't go through things and be tempted by the devil?"

Five months later, after much research, Shalana found out of an awesome rehabilitation hospital here in Lincoln just 2 blocks from our home. Not being satisfied with the care he was getting in Kansas, she had him transferred to Lincoln the end of July.
So on Tuesday as Gene and I followed John and Charlene into Randy's room, we had no idea God would meet us there.
Shalana shared their story with us and the tears flowed.

She shared with us some video she had taken of him preaching and our heads shook.

She has Randy surrounded with pictures of their life together before March 2nd, such as this one
on vacation in San Diego...
and a New Year's Eve ball keepsake...
and this one at the beginning of their journey when she surprised him with the news that he was going to be a Daddy....

She misses him reading to her. Being held by him. Hearing him laugh.
She misses their normal.

And yet, this beautiful young bride embraces the new normal that God has entrusted them with and everyday her faith in the Almighty One increases.
She misses Randy trying to convince her that he
knows God has something so big for you.
Something she now believes.

When the doctors say Randy can't, she voices her belief that her God can.
She lets the nay-sayers talk, but doesn't let her faith budge. Not one centimeter.
She believes that miracles isn't just something God did back in the days when donkey's were the main form of transportation. She believes that her husband is a modern day miracle and that God is only getting started.
She believes that the Bible is the Living Word, not just a storybook.
And so she praises God for everything.
For the times Randy whispers words to his therapist.
When he responds to the commands his therapists gives him.
When he gets to go outside.
She puts earphones on her husband so he can listen to the gospel music he has downloaded on his i-pod like he is doing in this picture.

She dances for him and tells him how much she loves him.
And she knows that no matter how different from before he looks that he is still the same, if not better on the inside because He is filled with Jesus Christ.
Before we left his room on Tuesday night Shalana said as she was holding his hand,
"Randy and I met on a cruise and I just keep asking God, why would you give me someone so wonderful to just take him away from me? I know He isn't going to do that, because you see, Randy isn't just my husband." And as her voice cracked she said, "This is my best friend."
We all gathered around his bed holding hands and each one of us prayed.
Later that night I received an e-mail from her thanking us for visiting and on Randy's care page, she described it saying, "we had church in his room".
God alone filled that room with His awesome presence.
If I was a non-believer, I honestly think I would have left saved.

For 2 years now Gene has endured much physically, but after visiting Randy and Shalana
he asked me,
"What am I complaining about? Lord, have mercy. Thank You Jesus."

Shalana and I have talked quite a bit this week and her love for the Lord is evident.
Here we went to encourage them and yet we are the ones feeling blessed by them.
She believes God has not forsaken her or Randy.
She believes in God and believes Him as she lets Paul's words echo from her heart...
the words that Paul penned as a prisoner when he learned to be content in every situation.
From his cell, he encouraged others with the truth that God finishes what He starts...

Phillipians 1:6
being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.

Lord, thank you for introducing Charlene to Randy & Shalana.
Thank you for Charlene's obedience to embrace them and also for sharing them with us.
In Randy's silence he has already blessed our lives in a loud way as we see once again that You are a Mighty God as he is still preaching the Good News.
Thank You for his wife's devotion not only to him, but especially to You.
And thank you for using them to show both Gene and I that you are in control and to praise instead of complain.
Please help me to keep focused on You and not the circumstances we face.
And keep giving Shalana the strength to live out the plans Randy knew You had for her.
You never cease to amaze me.

Please keep Randy & Shalana in your prayers.
If you'd like to leave them a word of encouragement, please do so in the comments and I will print them off and give them to her.
If you'd like to send them a written card, please e-mail me at and I will send you their address.

Thank you.

~Many Blessings~


Julie said...

Just prayed for them friend.

Thanks for the info.

Andrea said...

Oh what testimony of faith and love. What an example to each of us.
Blessings, love, and lots of prayers, andrea

Sita said...

Psalm 90:14-16
14Because he has set his love upon Me, therefore will I deliver him; I will set him on high, because he knows and understands My name [has a personal knowledge of My mercy, love, and kindness--trusts and relies on Me, knowing I will never forsake him, no, never].

15He shall call upon Me, and I will answer him; I will be with him in trouble, I will deliver him and honor him.

16With long life will I satisfy him and show him My salvation.

Lysa TerKeurst said...

Every now and then I come across a circumstance and think to myself, "This is not fair. Not fair at all!"

I don't understand it. I don't like it. And I certainly won't attempt some plastic Christian answer that sounds good in theory but falls flat in the face of such harsh reality.

But God.

You see when I can't wrap my brain around "why" I can make the choice to wrap my soul around "Who."

And the Who... God... is perfectly just.

God loves Randy and cannot operate outside that love... therefore I must make the choice to park my mind there.

Oh how I want to run around asking a thousand questions on behalf of my dear brother and sister in Christ. But running around only serves to add confusion and doubt to this hardship.

So, I sit here tonight and simply say, "God, you love Randy. God, you are just. God, I don't understand but I choose to trust."

Paula said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Paula said...

This reminds me of a lovely couple who attended my church when I was younger. The husband had MS and was unable to speak and walk. Every Sunday his wife brought him to church where he would sit in his wheelchair and listen and watch intently, letting out groans and grunts when the feelings of obvious joy for God were overflowing inside him. I recall that he attended church right up until he could no long be put in his wheelchair. I look back now and think of the love that his wife had for her husband. Despite the physical limitations and the loss of her able bodied husband, he was still there underneath and she still loved him and cared for him right up until he went to be with Jesus. What Shalana is doing for Randy, and what this wife did for her husband, is the epitomy of love in action in a marriage. Please pass this onto them and I will include them in my prayers. xo

Yolanda said...

What a beautiful, true testimony of God's grace and mercy. The strength to endure, to keep pressing on and the encouragement that radiates from a hospital room.

I will pray for them.


elaine @ peace for the journey said...

Thank you for entrusting this special couple to my prayers. And yes, I will lift them before the throne this night and as God brings them to my mind in the days to come.

God bless you and Gene as you continue to battle this ongoing pain.

peace, friend~elaine

Chris & Brenda said...

What a great example of God's love. How the Father God's heart must have hurt to see His precious Son suffering so much on the cross. Yet, it was all part of a greater plan. We can't always understand His plan, but we can always trust His heart.

Beth.. One Blessed Nana said...

Lelia - Please let her know that I am praying for her and Randy. I would love for you to ask her if I could put them on my prayer blog. I have many people that join me there and they would be lifted up by lots of prayer warriors!

Thanks for sharing this with us.

Susie said...

Lelia -- thank you. Inspiring, convicting, amazing, overwhelming. The sovereignty of God, the lives that He uses to show Who He is...again, thank you for sharing this. I am grateful and blessed by this.

Anonymous said...

From across the seas I will join you in prayer for this dear man and his beautiful wife. As tempting as it is to question 'why???', looking to the Father in faithfulness is the only way, and I'm so glad this couple have grasped that unfailing, healing and peace-giving love of God. You know, the common Christian response is often that God will not allow us to go through more than He knows we can handle, and that may well be true, and I hope it is, but it often doesn't help hearing it when your hurting in one way or another... BUT, WOW, He is being glorified in this through these faithful people; and when you think this life is temporary, that we have somewhere to go that is more amazing than our imaginations could ever conjure up, our life here on earth and the trials and tribulations we face while living here really make sense when we talk about building up riches in Heaven.

Lelia, I'm grateful you've shared this story; please pass onto this couple my heart-felt hope that we will all be witness to a miracle, for Christ's sake, and so they, together can know another 'normal' while here on earth... Bless your heart! I think of you often... Naomi xxx

Kristen said...

this was absolutely a beautiful yet heartwrenching story. thank you so much for sharing it for everyone!

Tammy said...

As I was seeking God for answers about a tragedy that I once faced, He whispered these word to me... "I Am the Creator and you are the creation, it's not for you to understand."

We don't always understand why God allows these circumstances in our lives lives. But it's these circumstances where our faith is reveled when others see no hope.


Jill said...

I am praying! What a wondeful story of how God works in our lives. Trusting He will continue to do just that! Thank you for sharing, Jill

2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Stay strong, Shalana. My nephew is a walking miracle that nobody believed could make it. Blessings on you. Sending love from Indiana.

StitchinByTheLake said...

Psalm 84:5-7 says,"Happy are those who are strong in the Lord, who set their minds on a pilgrimage to Jerusalem. When they walk through the Valley of Weeping, it will become a place of refreshing springs, where pools of blessing collect after the rains! They will continue to grow stronger, and each of them will appear before God in Jerusalem." This was part of the sermon at my church today. When our hearts are set on God we will be strong, even though we walk through hard times. Even in those hard times there will be blessings. And we will get stronger as we embrace both the hard times and the blessings. It seems to me that Shalana and Randy are experiencing both of these...hard times and blessings. God's words are true and His words will sustain them. I am expecting a full recovery for Randy and I am holding on to verse 11 in that Psalm for them, "He gives us grace and glory." blessings, marlene

Mari said...

All I can think of is 2 Corinthians 4:16-18

"Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen. For what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal."

Fon your story here, it appears they are living these verse out. I'll be praying for them.

Carla J Schuchman said...

Thank you for sharing and thank you being an encouragement to us all with this wonderful story of Randy and Shanda. I will lift them up in my prayers. I will see them In My Fathers Lap.

May God keep you!

HisPrincess said...

Thank you for sharing Lelia, and thank you Shalana for giving such hope and blessing to Lelia.

This is a lesson that can't be taught enough. I need to be reminded time and time again to stay focused on the Lord, to be thankful and content with what I have.

Blessings and prayers to you all.


Kelly's Ideas said...

What an awesome post - it brought tears to my eyes.. I am praying for everyone.. God be with you.

Jennifer said...

Oh Lelia! I have tears streaming down my face. What an amazing story. I am praying for them!!!!


Suzanne - Daughter of the King said...

I am always (ALWAYS) astounded when I stop by to read from your heart. I thank God for this awesome testimony. I will definitely keeping Randy & Shalana in my prayers.

God is so amazing when HE shows us who HE is in ALL circumstances. I thank God for Shalana's faithfulness to HIM and HIS Word and His promises that ARE for today.

I will continue to pray for you and Gene. Thank you for you walk of obedience. I pray that God ministers to each of you as ONLY HE can. He is so mighty and generous to come where we are and show us HIS glory. God bless you all. Thank you for your obedience in Your Words and VOICE. I thank HIM for using YOU to share Shalana and Randy's walk, journey and their total commitment to the KING of KINGS and LORD of LORDS!!

Anonymous said...

Please tell this amazing couple that I have lifted them up in prayer to OUR GREAT PHYSICIAN. I pray God will be with them during this valley.
Nancy in NC

Pamela (His maidservant) said...

What a humbling testimony of love and faith. God IS and will BE even in this. And in Randy's current circumstances he is still shedding God's light and bringing people to Him. That is awesome!!

I will pray for them and continue to pray for you and Gene. I pray that the eyes our your heart will be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of His glorious inhertance in the saints and His incomparably great POWER for us who believe (Eph 1:18-19). BELIEVE!

In His Graces~Pamela

lisasmith said...

Wow! What an amazing testimony of God's goodness and choosing to stay right there. God is good. All the time.

Lord, we wait for You.

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Yes, miracles do happen still today. I know because my life has been full of them. I have a 30-year-old son whom doctors claimed would not live more than a few weeks. (If a few weeks = 30 years, than I have a Methusaleh on my hands.) God put a dying Siberian child artist in my path; he is now an adult artist. (Ah, yeah, God uses people on earth to help out -- I know that, too, because I have seen a lot of God's angels and God has allowed me to help Him at times, too.) Most recently, my granddaughter was born open and disassembled. She has many more surgeries ahead of her, but she is in one piece, happy, and full of spirit now. Even the doctors and nurses at one of the leading hospitals in the country are amazed. I will pray that God helps this wonderful couple, but clearly they already have God's attention!

Anonymous said...

This is another situation where we as humans have no idea of what God's will is for us, or his plans for our lives. Letting go and letting God can be difficult at time, but when we truly trust in him we are enveloped in matter the situation.

My prayers are with your friends.

Our lives are beautiful tapestries that are woven by God. Sometimes, the individual threads and pieces of this tapestry are not as beautiful as we imagined or expected them to be, but they are part of a much larger thing that we just cannot see here from earth.

Thank you for sharing this with us :)

LisaShaw said...

I was deeply moved by this entire message of GOD's power, presence, peace, purpose and provision! He is faithful! He is loving! He is amazing! He is a miracle working GOD! I stand in prayer for this beautiful couple and for you and your husband.

Please send my love to this couple and that I amongst so many others are on their PRAYER BELIEVING GOD TEAM!!! Hallelujah!

Love and prayers.

Tomika said...

God works in ways we cannot see or understand and I know he will continue to move in Randy and Shalana's situation. God Bless!