#120 Undeserved Kindness


Photo by Trevor Rapp

Growing up I didn’t have a good example of living a life of true faith. My mentality was, “God’s up there and He’s hard to please.” And I continued this way of believing into adulthood. I didn’t feel like I could count on anyone. I felt like I could do it myself, on my own. I didn’t know I had Jesus to go to.

When my second child was born, I started to really put pressure on myself to provide for my family. I felt a new sense of urgency and commitment to “do my best for my family,” and to me that meant I needed to work more. I am a very competitive person by nature, and although I knew some people were more talented than me, I felt my strength was my ability to outwork others.

But working more resulting in being away from my family more and this was NOT a good thing. I put all the responsibility on my wife to take care of the children. We spent less and less time together as a couple. Our roles as parents supplanted our roles as husband and wife. My family history included a lot of divorce. My parents, grandparents, and aunts and uncles were divorced. I went into marriage thinking, “If this doesn’t work out, we can just get a divorce.” My wife’s parents were happily married and they were very involved in their church. They were great models for me.

Someone at work began to pursue me. I think about the story of Joseph and how Potiphar’s wife pursued him but he resisted. I wish I could have been like Joseph. I wish I would have resisted. But I didn’t, and because I didn’t, my wife and I went through a very difficult time. I hurt my wife so badly. Fortunately, because of my wife’s family, she did not give up on me. I went to talk to her father about what I had done. I was ashamed and embarrassed. He came out to my car, sat with me and showed me love that I didn’t deserve. I will never forget the unconditional love he showed me. It still moves me greatly to think of the grace and undeserved kindness he showed me.

It was a tough five to six years after that. I didn’t know if I would ever get back the confidence and trust of my wife. During this season, I met the man who led me to Christ. We met through a work project. I remember the first time I walked into his studio. There was so much peace there. He invited me to coffee to talk. I thought, “What does he want from me?” But he just listened as I poured my heart out. He asked if he could pray for me. We were still in the coffee shop and I was worried someone would see us. It just felt awkward, like everyone was looking at us. But I said “yes” and he prayed a beautiful, powerful prayer for me. This coffee shop meeting was a turning point in my life. I thank God for this man because he helped me to understand who God is and what it looks like to live a life in relationship with Jesus.  

Over time, my relationship was restored with my wife and family. But there were other changes I needed to make. I had fallen into the trap of defining myself by my job. I needed a change in how I viewed myself at work and a new understanding of my true identity and worth. For years, I had been working for the same company and I really wanted to leave and start my own business, but the time wasn’t right financially. I asked the Lord to show me how He could use me in my current work situation. God provided opportunities for me to be a light to others at my work. I began to understand why I was at work, that it was about serving God and people and letting God use my talents for Him. My desire became to glorify God in what I was doing professionally. Eventually, the time was right and I started my own business. Although it has been really hard at times, I know God will use it all for something better than I can imagine. God has brought clients to my business who pray with me—we even pray together about our work. This has been such a blessing to me. I am trying to offer every part of my work day to God. Before I go into a meeting, I will often pray, “Lord, I don’t know what this meeting is about, but let me be what You want me to be.”

Throughout this journey, God has brought many people to love me and help me. I have a wonderful church, where there is excellent teaching and many tools and support. I joined a Saturday morning men’s group at our church where I found a community of men who encourage me and help me grow. For the last six years, I have been in a Bible Study Fellowship group where I have continued to learn. I am so thankful for the blessing of community that God has provided. I still struggle and there is much more to be written of my story, but this I know: I have a Father who loves me unconditionally, who restores my brokenness, and who provides for me and guides me. He is available to me every moment of every day. I don’t have to do life on my own. 

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#119 Let Go and Let God

Photo by Lynnesy Catron Photography

Right after we got married, my husband and I began trying to have a baby. I got pregnant but had a miscarriage at 10 weeks. My husband and I prayed often about our desire to have a child and we continued to try, but after 18 months we sought a fertility specialist. For six months I was on fertility medicines, hormone injections, and for three months we tried intrauterine fertilization. Nothing was successful. We decided to let go and let God handle it. We knew He had a plan for us.

Three months later, with no fertility intervention, I became pregnant. My pregnancy was normal, with no complications or sickness. It was truly a joyful experience. Close to my due date I went into labor and was admitted to the hospital. I was hooked up to a monitor and the doctor began to go over what to expect. Then she just stood there and watched the monitor. She told us every time I had a contraction the baby’s heart rate dropped drastically. After about one minute she said, “We need to do a C-section NOW!”

They rolled me down the hall and the anesthesiologist came up behind me, put his hands on either side of my face, and told me to just look at him as he gently explained to me what was happening. I believe that God sent him to me in that moment of uncertainty, as his words were so comforting to me. There was no time for an epidural. They gave me general anesthesia and I was out.

I thought once our baby was born, he would be okay, but when I woke up I saw that the nurses around me had on royal blue scrubs. I work at the hospital and I knew that royal blue scrubs meant they worked at the Children’s Hospital. The neonatologist confirmed this. “Your son is very sick.” Our son, Henry, had a bowel movement (meconium) while he was in utero and had inhaled a large amount of this. His lungs were coated and he had no lung function. The doctor said he had never seen a baby survive with that amount of meconium in the lungs.

In the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) they struggled to intubate him, trying three times. The doctors tried standard treatments but all failed. That night we saw him for the first time in the NICU. I took pictures of him and talked to him but I have no memory of it. God protected me from seeing him that sick. It would have been too much for me to handle.

When we got back to my room that night, my husband I prayed out loud that God would save him. We knew it would take a miracle. The last resort was to put Henry on extracorporeal membrane oxygenation, or ECMO. This is the machine that people are put on when they have a heart transplant. They pump the blood out of the body, put oxygen in it, and then pump it back into the body. This comes with the risk of the brain bleeding and permanent brain damage, but Henry’s chance of survival was very low without this treatment. We prayed about what to do and with God’s guidance decided to proceed with ECMO.

At 2 a.m., the surgeon placed a cannula in Henry’s neck and hooked up the ECMO machine. Henry improved immediately. After seven days, he had improved so much that they were able to discontinue the treatment. After one month in the NICU, Henry had recovered and we took him home. Henry is now two years old and has no developmental delays. Everything is perfect physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Throughout this whole experience, I never felt scared or hopeless. I felt very peaceful. I knew that God had brought us to that point and there was no way He would abandon us. God’s peace and hope transcended the fear. 

Looking back now, it is clear how God worked in advance to save Henry. In December 2013, I was offered and accepted a job in administration at a large university medical center. This was just six months before Henry was born. This allowed me to have new insurance that would cover the care. The total cost was $500,000 and my out of pocket cost was only $200. More importantly, because I switched jobs and insurance plans, Henry was delivered at the university hospital where there was a team of highly trained medical providers, with experience and training in the very procedures that were needed to save Henry’s life. The neonatologist was very experienced in lung problems in newborns. There was a surgeon available who was experienced with ECMO at the very time Henry needed him. There was an ECMO technologist available to ensure the machine worked properly. Because the ECMO treatment is so expensive and risky for newborns, a leadership team from the university hospital has to vote on whether or not to allow the treatment. This team was available to vote and they voted yes. The ECMO treatment itself was not even offered at the hospital where I would have delivered had I not changed jobs. In fact, I believe that there is only one other hospital in the state that offers ECMO. Everything fell into place for Henry to receive life-saving care. God gave us Henry and then God saved Henry. He is a pure joy and blessing to us.

Our second child was born a few months ago—a healthy baby girl. May God be glorified for everything He has done and continues to do for our family.  

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.