#215. The Ultimate Father

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

I born to a 13-year-old mother. I came home from the hospital with my grandmother and was raised by her. I grew up in the West End of Louisville in a rough neighborhood with lower income white and black people. The parents wanted their children to have better lives than they did. I went to church regularly with my grandparents, which was an important part of building my Christian faith. 

I was in ROTC all four years of high school. I graduated on a Saturday and went to Marine Corps boot camp on Monday. The first trial of my faith was when I went to Afghanistan while I was in the Marines. The Muslim soldiers stopped five times to pray each day. These men were my age and were willing to put their weapons down to pray. I wondered if I would put my own weapon down for my faith. I was brought up in the church, but I had never seen conviction like that. I had never really seen someone who was willing to put their life on the line for their faith. 

A few months later, we were securing buildings to make sure they didn’t have weapons. We were going into homes and trying to speak to parents. I learned that they were just like us. They weren’t evil. They were just trying to raise their children to have better lives than they did — just like the parents back in the West End of Louisville. 

What helped me commit my life to Christ was the change I saw in the lives of people I grew up with. I saw people who were raised in sin and hate who, over time, experienced a change in their life. They began to serve God. Any questions I had about Christianity were resolved because I saw what Christ did in the lives of people when they accepted Him. Their lives were radically changed.

During my time in the Marine Corps I didn’t go to church a lot. I did do a lot of praying in combat. It is true what they say: There are no atheists in foxholes. Before we went out on a combat mission, we held hands and prayed together. I never met anyone in the U.S. Marines who refused to pray before a combat mission. 

When I was a young Marine, I came home on a weekend and went to a club. I met a young lady and six months later my grandparents told me that a young lady was looking for me. I was 22 years old when my son was born. Over the next eight years, I went through child support and visitation. I didn’t have more children until after I was married when I was 30. 

After my first daughter was born, when my son was eight years old, I did a blood test and found out he was not my biological son. But he is still my son. Here is how God worked this out. My grandfather was not my biological grandfather. My grandmother was divorced and he was my step-grandfather. But he loved me and treated me as his own child. That prepared me to deal with what happened with my son. I had no other way to treat him but the way I was treated by my grandfather. God prepares us for things coming down the pike that we don’t see coming. I have three wonderful grandkids now. They were just here Father’s Day. My son just got out of the Army himself. He is the older brother to the girls. We are all family. 

I always had a curious mind. I got my undergraduate degree on active duty and got my graduate degree when I got out of the Marines. I worked with Toyota for about 13 years in quality management and then another 10 years for Honeywell in corporate quality. In 2012, I left Honeywell and started two UPS franchises in shopping centers.

Prior to this, in 2000, I had a motorcycle accident. The doctor prescribed pain killers and this was the beginning of years of struggle for me with pain pills. In 2012, I had a second motorcycle accident. I was given more opiates. Opiates change the way you think. I had gotten in trouble before but it was nothing serious. There had been no real consequences other than money. 

By 2016, I was in real trouble and that’s when I lost my UPS stores. I had to short sell my businesses and face the consequences of what I had done. I went through the next three years going through that, then I went through a physical amputation. My right foot was amputated six inches below the knee. I got through my amputation on Tylenol and muscle relaxants. I committed to myself that I would not put another opiate in my body. Generally, pain won’t kill you unless it triggers a cardiac arrest. But I knew if I took opiates again, it would have destroyed my life. Right when I thought I had faced the worst thing in my life, then there was something worse. 

But everything that we go through is to make us who are are supposed to be. I am a man of faith. If you believe in the Bible you can’t expect that your life will be any different than the experiences of those people in the Bible. Job was a good man, prosperous and blessed and yet he suffered greatly. I came from the West End but had become prosperous with a six-figure salary, properties and businesses. And then it went away. I am 52 years old. I never thought I would be missing a part of my body. It is trying at times, even though I know there is good that has come from it. 

I am in training to become a minister. I talk to people about giving their lives to Christ and the change that will come from that decision. If I am doing something that is sinful or wrong and you are my friend, I want you to call me on it. And I do the same for my friends. I love them and stand by them, but I call them out when they are doing something wrong or sinful. One of the positives that has come from my amputation is that I have found that people listen to me more attentively now.

Everything that God teaches us in the Bible, is put there to protect us. Living life by the teachings in the Bible leads to a life of peace. Even though on the outside I am down one foot and receive disability, I am happier than I can ever remember being. I sleep well at night. The PTSD is even better. I have more peace than I’ve had in my whole life, despite how my outer body looks. As we grow and mature in our Christianity, we have internal peace. This allows me to conduct my life with more serenity than I have ever experienced before. 

I have discovered that God is the ultimate Father. Nearly every parent wants the best for their children. I believe that is what God wants for us as His children. That is why he has given us the guidelines in the Bible. He has given us everything we need to be successful. All I have to do is to accept His will and work every day to adhere to it. I won’t be perfect but I can try. 

I can do all things through Christ who gives me strength. (Philippians 4:13)

#201 Yet, I Will Rejoice: Part 1

 Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

I was born in Kenya in 1980, the last child in a family of three siblings. When I was six years old, I woke up late in the night and was looking for my mum. I asked my dad where she was. He told me she had left, and he did not know where she went. I was confused because to me, my family was perfect. I kept asking my dad where my mum went and would she ever come back? He kept telling me he did not know. My questions bothered him and at times made him very angry, so I stopped asking. But silently, I suffered deeply inside. I kept wondering why my mum had left me?I was so young. Why did she reject me? 

The next time I saw her was in court three years later. She had filed for divorce. She and I never really had a connection and, much later, I asked her why she rejected us? Why she left us? She told me that she had to leave because they were fighting a lot. She said she loved us and tried to look for us all those years, but my dad would not allow her to see us. I tried to accept her version of the story and worked very hard to establish a relationship with her, but it was so difficult. My relationship with my dad was so close. He was my hero and I loved him. I think I chose to believe his version of the story. 

My dadraised my siblings and me after my mother left. Growing up was tough without a mother’s love. I think dad was pushing himself too hard. I think he was afraid he would lose us. One time he mentioned his fear that the court could take us away from him. You could see that the thought of not having his children broke his heart. He provided everything we needed. However, he was very angry, bitter, and tired. So we grew up afraid. As loving and protective as he was, he would say some mean things out of anger. We learned perfection from him. Everything had to be perfect. From elementary to middle school (known as primary School in Kenya)we topped the class, and my dad pushed us even harder. Our grades had to be perfect. We were not even allowed to date. We were very involved in church, sports, extracurricular activities such as music and drama, but he monitored all that closely. By the time I was in sixth grade I could cook and clean for the whole family, and I could comfortably stay home by myself after school. He had taught us to be independent.

 

During college I visited my mother. We would bake, take walks, and try to do mother-daughter bonding activities to make up for the lost years. I was really starting to connect with her, but after a few months, she fell ill and died. It broke my heart. I was very involved in church and had a group of girls that I met with to pray and that got me through. Yes, losing her still hurt but the prayers and encouragement from my small prayer group gave me courage to keep moving forward. God gave me the peace and grace to continue focusing on school. I could trust Him despite the situation. I cannot explain the strength I had going through that situation, but I know it was only with God’s help. 

Both my siblings went to the US to build their careers, but I remained in Kenya and was among the first cohort in Kenya to train as a social worker. When I graduated, I got an internship at the United Nations in Nairobi. My first formal employment was in a research study for HIV prevention among high-risk women. I did not have much experience. It was a miracle that I got the job. I enrolled for a master’s degree in medical sociology. 

Having gone through a broken family and trauma, I was drawn to working with the kids from similar backgrounds and those going through abuse. While I was doing well in my career and working on my master’s degree, my father became ill. My dad began getting sick around fall of 2007, which was an election year in Kenya. When the election results were announced, violence broke out. This escalated cases of abuse and violence and kept me very busy at the violence recovery center. I could not go visit my dad because of the post-election violence. Tribes were fighting against tribes and political parties against each other and it was risky to travel.

 

Unfortunately, my father also could not travel to see his physician for medical care in another city. Instead, he went to a local hospital in a rural town in Kenya, but he did not make it. I remember the last time I spoke with him. I had left work at around 4 p.m. I talked to him and his phone went off. I remember him telling me to take care of myself and to tell my siblings the same. I asked him what he was talking about? I told him the violence would end, and he would get out of hospital, and I would go see him. I was told that the last thing he mentioned was that he wanted to take a short nap and rest, but when he slept, he never woke up. The next morning when I heard my dad had passed; I thought my life was going to end! I did not see how I would live without my dad because I loved him so much. He was my hero, my best friend. I was truly daddy’s girl. I felt like a part of me died when he died.

 

I didn’t date until I was an adult and got in my first serious relationship when I was 25 years old. I wasn’t experienced in relationships and I didn’t know about normal relationships because I came from a broken home. When my dad was sick, I met the man who would become my husband. He was there with me when I got the news about my dad’s passing. He saw how crushed I was and decided he would take me to the country to attend the burial/funeral. We were both risking our lives because there was still tension, due to post-election violence. I cried all the way from the city to the country. The seven-hour drive was very scary. You could sense the tension. We knew anything could happen, and we could get killed. This really brought me and my boyfriend close.

When I returned, it was very hard to get back to work and to finish my master’s degree. I felt empty. I wanted to die and I prayed to God to take my life. I drank a bottle of wine or sometimes two, to wash away the pain. My boyfriend was there for me during this time, and I was still involved in the church, but instead of turning to God, I turned to this relationship. After a few months of dating, we decided to get married. We really didn’t know each other very well. My whole family was against it. They thought I was still going through trauma of my dad passing and thought I should wait, but I did not care. I went ahead with the wedding plans. My siblings could not make it to my wedding. Only a few of my family showed up. I smiled during my wedding ceremony, but I was breaking inside. I had no dad to walk me down the aisle, as I pictured all through my life, I was getting married to someone I didn’t know well, and my family didn’t support me. 

The morning after my wedding, I looked at my ring and I remember thinking, “What have I done?” We went for our honeymoon in Mombasa, a coastal city in Kenya, but I was unwell and unhappy. One night we decided to go out to one of the clubs. When we were heading back, we were stopped and surrounded by a group of about 10 men. We actually thought they were police, but they were not. It may have been an initiation into a local militia group because they didn’t steal anything. They started cutting us with machetes. A man was cutting me again and again. I faced death. I had two deep cuts in my head, and blood was flowing like tap water. I was silently whispering, while holding my blood with both my hands, “Lord Jesus, forgive me. Please remember mercy. Save me!” 

 

I cannot believe I survived this ordeal! I had said my last prayer at the time because I knew I was going to die. Miraculously, they left us (probably for dead). People heard our cries for help and came to help us. A man offered to take us to the hospital in his car. I believe God intervened to save us. I really don’t know how I survived. From a beautiful bride a few days before, I lost all my hair. They had to cut all my hair with a razor so that they could stich my head. I almost lost my eye as well. I still have a scar. The next day we informed our family back in the city. They arranged for us to be flown back to Nairobi. That is basically how we started out marriage. With a traumatic experience and nursing wounds from our near-death experience!

 

My husband was drinking a lot and at times not coming home. I was also drinking my wine. I was depressed and felt stuck in the marriage. I did not know who to talk to because my family was against the marriage in the first place. I was too embarrassed to reach out for help. My siblings were far away in the US; I had no dad to talk to. My spiritual life was a mess. I felt very far from God.

 

We decided to go for counseling from our pastor, but we still had problems. We also went to talk to his family, and the aunts advised us to have a baby. They said having a child sometimes solidifies a marriage and makes a couple bond. I was scared and excited at the same time. I had stopped my master’s program; I did not graduate, taking a three-year break from school. I got pregnant but I had no one to take care of me emotionally. I felt alone. I spoke to my sister and explained how sad I was, and we decided it was best to go to the US. I applied for a scholarship and got accepted to pursue a master’s degree in public administration in Louisiana. My husband seemed okay with it. My plan was to go to Louisiana then transfer to Kentucky to be close to my family. I was only a few months pregnant. My husband and I agreed that we would try and apply for an F-2 visa for him as a dependent spouse. I traveled to the US and applied three times, but we were not successful. I also tried to transfer to Kentucky and was unsuccessful. I took a semester off from school and had my son. When I held my son, I felt blessed and happy. At the same time, I was scared because I did not know if I would be a good mother. I fell in love with my little boy immediately. He lit up some part of me that was broken inside. I decided that it was best to go back to Kenya, so my son could be close to his father. I did not want to go through a divorce like my parents did because I know the pain it caused me then, and I did not want my son to go through the same. 

When I went back to Kenya, my husband continued with his old ways, drinking, partying, and sleeping around. There was infidelity and neglect, and we reached a point where it was best to end the marriage. We ended up separating and later divorcing. It was so hard for me to divorce despite infidelity. I thought about repeating my parent’s history. All this time I kept crying to God. I felt unworthy because my walk wasn’t always right. I wondered if God really accepted me. But I realize now God loves me unconditionally. We are the ones focused on other things — focused on the pain or the lack, but He is always there.

Habakkuk 3:17–19 is one of my favorite verses and reflects how I was feeling at this time and what I still believe today. Through it all we should give thanks and Praise the Lord. It might be difficult to do that when going through pain, when the road is all foggy, and we are unsure of where we are going. Even when it hurts, we should put our trust in the Lord and rejoice because He gives us grace and strength to go through these seasons, whether good or bad. He is there behind the scenes. He is there carrying us, even though we do not “see” Him or “feel” His presence, He is there, putting every piece of the puzzle in place, where it belongs, and ordering our steps. 

“Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine, even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren, even though the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord! I will be joyful in the God of my salvation. The Sovereign Lord is my strength! He will make me as surefooted as a deer and bring me safely over the mountains.” Habakkuk 3: 17-19 (NIV)

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.

#198 Improbable Survival, Part 2

 

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

In the first part of my story I shared about my miraculous survival of a sudden cardiac arrest. My experience of that event, once I regained consciousness, is another story of experiencing the powerful presence of God. 

As I regained consciousness, while being carried down the trail and loaded into an ambulance, I knew where I was and that something significant had happened. I felt terrible, like a truck had run over me, and while I was able to answer the paramedic’s questions, it was a struggle to focus. I kept trying to shake the cobwebs loose, but they would not go away.

I do not know how long it took the ambulance to arrive at the hospital, but they apparently made a wrong turn coming out of the entrance to the property where we were camping, losing about four minutes. Another factor that likely added to the confusion, is that on the road near the entrance a truck was on fire. This all seems so bizarre, unreal, like something out of a movie: collapsing on a trail, burning truck, wrong turn, riding in an ambulance?

Even the ambulance making it to the property is an amazing story of grace, as the property has no physical address. Earlier in the week someone associated with Crossroads Man Camp figured out how to fool Google Maps into dropping a GPS location pin. Only four people at the Camp knew the “address” and Bryan Carter was one of the four.

Bryan is a Crossroads community pastor and had a central role in hosting Man Camp. He was a busy man helping shepherd a thousand men through registration and on to their campsites. If he had not been listening to the Spirit, he never would have come to the commotion surrounding my collapse. While he heard the cries for a medic, he assumed someone had turned an ankle or something similar hiking up the trail. He felt no urgency to investigate, until he felt an inner prompting of the Spirit to do so. If he had not been there to take the phone from Basilo Harley who had dialed 911, the ambulance driver would not have known how to find our location. 

And the same goes for Basilo having a cellphone. All of “the campers” had been strongly encouraged to leave our cellphones in our cars and “unplug” for the weekend. According to Basilo, when he saw one of his camping mates leaving his phone in the glove compartment, he had the thought, (was prompted?) “Maybe I should keep my phone with me in case of an emergency.” I did not know Basilo — he reached out to me through Facebook to tell me his story. I know he is from out of town, likely Ohio, but he had 911 on his phone to give to Bryan who knew the fake address of our location. Crazy, bizarre stuff — God stuff.

One of the most astonishing experiences for me was who showed up along the way. At almost every juncture, beginning in the ER, there was someone I knew taking care of me, all of them former clients of mine. These are people who knew me and I knew them. I did not always immediately recognize them, but they let me know and, of course, I remembered. In the interest of confidentiality, I cannot give specifics, but it was stunning how often in the course of my treatment  —five specific instances —former clients were taking care of me, or associated with someone caring for me. It was incredibly humbling. It was like God was saying to me “Don, you are known and loved.”

I know some might dismiss this as incredulous, but I received comfort and encouragement seeing these folks, reinforcing to me the intimate connection there is in the body of Christ. It was as if the Spirit was saying to me “Your life matters, and the work you do matters,” not as an ego thing, but as comforting, encouraging, and reassuring.

This experience, from the moment I collapsed and my heart stopped, and all through treatment and open-heart surgery, manifested as a deep experience of connection that runs through everything and everyone, that there really is no separation, just connection. Separation is the illusion, connection is reality. “Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword?” Romans 8:35.

I can only assume that God wants me to know this in an intimate and powerful way that only experience can impart. This is not an idea or an insight; it is a lived experience that has made a huge impression on me, and one that I am trying to sort through its meaning. How do I now live in a world where there is no separation but everything and everyone is connected? Maybe this is what the mystics call union with God.

One of the things that almost, without exception, people commented on, those who saw me in the hospital and afterward, either medical personnel or friends and family, is how well I seem and look. And my experience is the same. Somehow “I came back to myself” in the ER at St. Joe East, after my heart catheterization. It is as if everything cleared up and I felt like myself, no worse for the wear. Maybe the sedation from the heart catheterization relaxed me, helped my anxiety, I really don’t know. I just know I felt fully present and not worried, even though my diagnosis was serious coronary artery disease requiring emergency bypass surgery. 

There was such an experience of the presence of God that were it not for the sober realization that I was going to have my chest split open, my heart stopped for about four hours, my body put on life support, and then my heart started again, it was an exhilarating spiritual experience. And really it was both: An overwhelming loss of control and exhilarating sense of the presence of God.

I want to make it clear that I have also had experiences, and still do, where I felt the absence of God, periods of confusion and doubt, where prayers were not answered. I have experienced suffering and pain, with struggles that could not be overcome and those taught me as much, and maybe more, about God. Learning to trust God in the dark, when you can’t see a way forward, grows faith in ways that miracles or other experiences of the power of God never can. “Although He was a Son, He learned obedience from the things which He suffered” Hebrews 5:8.

One of my favorite passages in scripture is 2 Corinthians 1, specifically verses 3–11. Whether you are a believer in Jesus or not, these words are beautiful and will speak to a deep place in your soul. And these words seem especially pertinent to my recent experience of an improbable survival. Paul speaks of a deep and abiding connection with the life of Christ and our life, with His sufferings, my sufferings, and your sufferings; with His comfort, my comfort, and your comfort. This is from the New American Standard Bible:

3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, 4 who comforts us in all our affliction so that we will be able to comfort those who are in any affliction with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God. 5 For just as the sufferings of Christ are ours in abundance, so also our comfort is abundant through Christ. 6 But if we are afflicted, it is for your comfort and salvation; or if we are comforted, it is for your comfort, which is effective in the patient enduring of the same sufferings which we also suffer; 7 and our hope for you is firmly grounded, knowing that as you are sharers of our sufferings, so also you are sharers of our comfort.

And Paul then references specific afflictions they experienced in Asia in verses 8-11, as well as the deliverance from those afflictions that God provided:

8 For we do not want you to be unaware, brethren, of our affliction which came to us in Asia, that we were burdened excessively, beyond our strength, so that we despaired even of life; 9 indeed, we had the sentence of death within ourselves so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead; 10 who delivered us from so great a peril of death, and will deliver us, He on whom we have set our hope. And He will yet deliver us, 11 you also joining in helping us through your prayers, so that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the favor bestowed on us through the prayers of many.

When I listen to the stories of the men who were around me on that trail in Madison County, who jumped into action and saved my life with CPR and prayer, it is a similar story to Paul’s. The sentence of death (verse 9) was within me, my heart had stopped and they all saw it and felt it, this sentence of death. They felt the despair and fear that comes with death. And they experienced the joy and relief that comes from life arising in the face of death, “so that we would not trust in ourselves, but in God who raises the dead.”

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.

#197 Improbable Survival, Part 1

 

Photo by Jeff Rogers Photography

It is Thanksgiving, around 5 a.m. I am less than two weeks out from quadruple bypass surgery. I actually feel pretty well and have clients scheduled for next week, so not too much disruption from having your chest opened and your heart stopped for four hours, while it g

 

ets a plumbing job of rerouting arteries around blockages. I really have not paid attention to the details of the surgery, but my surgeon told me if I did not have the open-heart surgery I would be dead, again, within a month. There were precious few physical symptoms to indicate that I had such serious coronary heart disease. I take care of myself physically and I go to the doctor for annual physicals.

That’s right, dead again. Those words do not even look real. I had no idea I died Friday November 15 around 4 p.m. I just remember collapsing on the trail and waking up as I was being transported down the trail. I had a sudden cardiac arrest while backpacking up a steep slope. I was participating in a church (Crossroads) retreat for men called Man Camp. There were approximately 1,000 men attending a weekend camping retreat near the Kentucky River in Richmond, Kentucky. 

I had experienced what is called “ventricular fibrillation” (VF) in the lower left chamber of my heart. This causes the heart to vibrate so rapidly that it can’t pump blood. It was not a heart attack per se, but rather an electrical malfunction, where the heart loses normal rhythm and there is no pulse. Only around 10 percent of people survive VF, and most of those survivors are already hospitalized or in health care settings.

I would not have survived if I were not hiking with two men (Eric Curvin and Shane Porter) who knew what to do and immediately jumped into action performing CPR and mouth to mouth resuscitation. Eric is a nurse anesthetist and Shane is an Iraq veteran. They kept my heart and brain alive for at least 15 minutes, until the camp medics, volunteer medical personnel serving at Man Camp, arrived with a defibrillator to shock my heart back into rhythm. I was then transported to a hospital.

I would not have survived but for the grace of God. I am told that men immediately surrounded me and began praying out loud, calling on the name of Jesus. One of my best friends, Lynn Buckles, tells me my skin was ashen and my eyes were open, staring, like a dead man. I was a dead man — and he pleaded with God to raise me from the dead, as did others. Another friend, Bryan Carter said, “I have seen dead people before,” so he knew what a lifeless body looked liked. I can’t imagine what that was like for them, but it had to be traumatic; both of them have their own stories of dealing with death and near death.

So I am thankful I get to spend this Thanksgiving with my wife, Carolyn, our children, Seth, Danielle, and Isaac, and my brother, Trip, who flew from North Carolina to be with us during surgery. The gift of my life, to survive this, is a mystery. I could have just as easily died, as most do. I will die, someday … but why God allowed my healing is something to prayerfully and respectfully consider. There is more to this story, so many connections that cannot be explained as happenstance, and the telling of it will continue.

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.

#179 Chance Encounters

 Photo by Jeff Rogers

When our son was born, he was normal. At three months old it was like a switch was flipped. He started throwing up. Our first child had problems with lactose intolerance, so we thought that was it. We went to the doctor and he changed his formula. But he didn’t get better. Months later we spent six days in the children’s hospital running tests. They came up with a diagnosis of failure to thrive. This is basically a diagnosis that they give when they don’t know what is wrong but they know something is wrong. We battled this for four years. It was back and forth to hospital doing feeding studies and running tests. At four years old he was well underweight at 20 pounds. Every time he would gain weight, he would get sick and lose weight. The only thing that would stay down was his formula in the bottle. We stopped going to the hospital because it wasn’t helping.

It is amazing how God works. When our son was five he started going to a Methodist preschool. The mom of another child started talking about a severe illness her child had. As she described his symptoms, it sounded just like what our son was going through. We told her about our son—about his illness and all that he had been through. She said that she felt sure he had the same disease as her son, a rare disorder called eosinophilic esophagitis (EE). Not long after this, their family moved away. Her husband was a microbiologist and had taken a job at the college in our town but was only there for two months and then they moved away. But two months was long enough for us to have the conversation with his wife. There is no way we would have found out about the disease if we hadn’t met her.

We took our son back to the doctor at the children’s hospital. We told him that we thought our child had eosinophilic esophagitis. Turns out this hospital has the number one clinic in the world for eosinophilic diseases! After several months on the waiting list, we were finally able to get our son an appointment in this clinic, and they diagnosed our son with eosinophilic esophagitis just as we suspected. They told us to eliminate the 10 foods that most commonly cause allergies. We did this for several months, but the results of his scope came back worse than the first time. What could it be then? The doctor called me personally and said the results of his scope were very bad. He said our son had to have a feeding tube or he would die. They told me how they do the feeding tube and how they cut the stomach and put it in. I was so upset that I cried, but it seemed we didn’t have a choice. In 2011, he got the feeding tube. It was so hard on him because for four days he laid in the bed and he normally has lots of energy and is a people person. I worried that he was shutting down.

The feeding tube bypasses the esophagus (the tube that takes food from the mouth to the stomach) and goes directly into the stomach. For three months, he wasn’t allowed to have any food by mouth. All of his nourishment went through his tube into his stomach. We put a special formula into the feeding tube to feed him. In three months, he gained 10 pounds and his esophagus was healed so he was approved to eat some things by mouth. But what he took in by mouth was not providing his nourishment. We were still putting special formula into his feeding tube, and this is what provided the nourishment he needed to live.

We had another problem. The formula cost about $1,500 per month. Insurance wouldn’t pay for this and I had lost my job in 2015, so money was tight. We couldn’t afford to buy the formula.

I had read about a law passed in Illinois that mandates insurance companies to pay for the formula for EE patients who need it in their tube feeding to survive. In my mind, this was no different than insulin for a diabetic patient. Our child had to have this to survive.

Our state representative helped to get a bill passed in our son’s name that would ensure Kentucky insurance companies would pay for the formula needed for survival in EE patients. As a part of this process, our family testified before the state legislature’s insurance committee. There was a unanimous “yes” vote in that committee. A unanimous “yes” vote had never happened in that committee. We also testified in a House of Representatives committee and a Senate committee. So many prayers were being said. Everything fell into place, and the bill became a law in only two months!

Life is still hard for our son. He is 60 pounds at 13 years old and has had 27 scopes in seven years. But even after everything our son has been through, he is still is so joyful. God made him an independent and positive person, and we are so thankful for that. He loves people and sings and plays the drums. He is a blessing to many people.

Through all of this, we have realized how many people have prayed for our son and how God has answered prayers. One day we were at a rest stop and a woman saw our son and said, “I have been praying for you.” She was from another state, and somehow her church found out about our son’s struggles and he had been on their prayer list. At critical moments in our life, God has provided in some way—the mother at the preschool, the specialty clinic at our hospital, the law that passed in two months when we were out of money and couldn’t afford the formula. God’s provision and timing have amazed us again and again, and we are so thankful.

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.

#177 God Goes Before Us

 Photo by Chelsea Jo Photography

It is the Lord that goes before us. He is with us. He will never leave or forsake us. Do not fear or be dismayed.

Deut. 31:8

I had memorized this verse a couple of weeks before heading on our trip to Alaska . . . not knowing that we would see this promise in action.

We left for our 50th anniversary trip on July 31, 2018. Ardon and I were in good health and looking forward to visiting this “last frontier” of beauty and nature. We first flew to Seattle, staying two nights to become accustomed to the time change. Before leaving, I had contacted an old friend. I knew she lived in the area, but as we did not have a car, I knew the likelihood of seeing her would be slim.

On August 1, we purchased an all-day pass on the Light Rail that went from the south side of Seattle to the north side. We rode all the way to the end, determining sights we would see on the return trip. When we got off the train, we found we were at the University of Washington Huskie stadium. I remembered that my friend’s husband was a professor there and guessed they wouldn’t live too far away. I called her and found out she had the time to visit, and she picked us up at the university. We spent time in her home, went for lunch, and caught up with hours of good conversation. This friend and I had not seen each other in 54 years. God went before us.

Our trip continued on a flight to Anchorage, a train ride on the Alaska Railroad to Denali, an eight-hour tour through Denali National Park, then back on the train to Fairbanks to enjoy a couple of days and a riverboat Discovery tour that passed Susan Butcher’s home and a native village. Now we were homeward bound to the “lower 48 states,” but our Heavenly Father wasn’t through with us yet.

The next day we flew to Anchorage for rest before heading home. But that wasn’t God’s plan. During Ardon’s first void of the morning, he passed a one-centimeter kidney stone. The pain, the bleeding, and the shock of passing something that large put him back in bed for a half hour. I asked him if he wanted to go down for breakfast. He did and so we did. During the time we were eating in a very warm dining room, I noticed that Ardon was beginning to shiver. I asked him if he wanted to go back to the room and he said yes. Fully dressed, he got under the covers and said he was freezing. I recognized the “shocky” symptoms and said I needed to go get help. He said, “No, let me rest for a little while.” I could see that things were not improving and finally said that I was going to the desk to get help. I went down and asked if there was a physician in the hotel. He said no, but asked if I would like him to call 911? I said yes but would need a wheelchair to get Ardon down to the lobby. They had a wheelchair, and a staff member came to the room with me. I gathered my tote bag and Ardon got in the wheelchair. When we got down to the lobby, Ardon was shivering violently. I asked for blankets which were kindly provided. The EMTs arrived and Ardon was sensing that his body was failing. The ambulance took us to JBER (Joint Base Elmendorf/Richardson AFB) where the only VA medical center in Alaska was housed. Our ER doctor was a graduate of the University of Nebraska, our home state. God had again gone before us.

The doctor recognized the signs of septic shock (blood sepsis) and immediately started two bags of saline as Ardon’s blood pressure was going down severely. The EKG indicated the heart was being attacked and a PIC line was inserted with two kinds of broad spectrum antibiotic administered via IV. Four IVs were running simultaneously. Urinalysis, chest X-rays, and blood tests were also being done during the next eight hours. Ardon was at that point stable but in very serious condition. Meanwhile, I was contacting children and siblings, getting all the prayer warriors on board. Within six hours, prayer warriors from coast to coast were praying. Another of God’s provisions.

Ardon was transferred to ICU that evening. The social workers came alongside me to find out how to help. We were to have flown home the next day, and our suitcases were still at the hotel where we had paid for two nights’ stay. The social workers provided taxi vouchers to and from the hotel and said that I would be able to stay at Fisher House (a ministry to out-of-town vets and active-duty military and their dependents) as long as needed. Praise God. The social workers took care of all the cancellations and were able to get a percentage of our non-refundable tickets and hotel fee returned to us. God had gone before us.

After checking out of the hotel and returning to the hospital, hearing from the doctor that Ardon was still in very serious condition, an appointment was made for me to check into Fisher House. When I left the hospital, Ardon said, “If you come back to just a body, know that I am more alive in Glory and I will be waiting for you.” The confirmation and assurance of that statement was affirming that Ardon knew his eternal home was waiting for him . . . but it was also a shock to me who was accustomed to seeing him attack all his “medical emergencies” with a fighting spirit. I walked to Fisher House, introduced myself, got registered, received a tour and my keys, and told them about Ardon’s comment and our hope in Jesus’ finished and redemptive work on the cross. The social worker said to me, “We are all believers here, too.” It was comforting to know that God was continuing to go ahead of us.

At the hospital, Ardon was showing a little improvement. His blood bacteria levels were going down, but now I was seeing swelling of his arms. The doctor said the swelling was a part of the process and that in three days it should go down. Later in the morning, I received a call from a young lady I hadn’t seen in 20 years, a grand-niece of dear friends back home. She said she was married, was a nurse, and lived in Anchorage . . . and would I like a visitor? Of course I said yes—if she could get on the base. She arrived after lunch with her little three-month-old daughter. We had a good conversation and she asked if there was anything she could do. With all these antibiotics going into Ardon, I was concerned that his intestinal flora was getting upset and that he might end up with C.Diff. I felt he needed some probiotic and/or Activia yogurt. She said she would be glad to get that for us. During the time she was gone, I went to Fisher House and returned to the hospital, caught my toe on the well-polished tile and fell, cutting my chin with the key on my lanyard. The young lady returned with the probiotics and promptly took me to an ER off base. She surely was an instrument of healing and ministry to us that day. God was indeed going before us.

On Sunday, Ardon got word that his blood was clean and would be moving to the general ward if he reached some of the achievement goals. I had been using the public restroom on the floor and had started reading the bulletin boards there. To my astonishment, all the boards contained protocols and articles for sepsis. What would be the chances that this hospital had just finished their staff in-service with instructions on sepsis?!! Another of God’s provisions.

Ardon was moved to the general ward that night. The next morning brought more news. The nurse told him he could continue recuperating for a couple more days in the hospital or he could continue recuperating at Fisher House. Needless to say, when he heard that news, he was determined to be moved immediately. But Physical Therapy had to sign off that he would be able to be at Fisher House and walk around it safely. When the therapist came in, his first question was, “Where in Omaha do you live?” I said the northwest corner. “No,” he said. “I was raised there. Where do you live?” I said, “156th and Maple.” He laughed and said, “I went to Kiewit Middle School and graduated high school at Millard North.” I said, “Stop, you are going to make me cry. That is where our grandchildren go.” Again, God was letting us know He was going before us. Ardon passed his PT test and was transported via wheelchair to Fisher House.

Over the next five days, Ardon recuperated, gaining a little strength each day. His appetite was poor due to the antibiotics and lack of exercise, and he lost 11 pounds. One of the residents was a chef and made some lovely breakfasts and suppers. So with better food, exercise, fresh air, conversation (he was able to share the gospel with this resident), and sleep, Ardon was ready to travel by Sunday. During this time, I was able to pray with one of the female residents, and Ardon and I befriended a young mother and her three-year-old daughter who were in Anchorage for surgery. May God get all the glory—for who He is, for His ever-loving kindness to us, and for His leading in our lives. We could not do life without Him.

Since returning home, follow-up visits and doctors have all confirmed that Ardon is way ahead of the healing curve, and his strength continues to increase. We are so thankful. We wanted you to know with total belief and trust in the finished work of Jesus Christ, that you can have a Heavenly Father who goes before you and with you wherever you go. His love is extreme, abundant, and free. Place your trust in Him today.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life. John 3:16

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.

#161 In Awe of the Light

Photo by Brianna Rapp

When I was 21 I did something that I felt I had to do, something that I regretted the moment I did it. Afterward, every aspect of my life was shaken, and not one moment went by that I did not feel the repercussions in my mind, body, spirit, and every relationship of what I had done.

It was not until seven years later that I went to confession. The priest was so kind to me. I felt so liberated after praying the prayers he instructed me to pray and felt encouraged to talk to God. Now the gate was open.

A few months later at work in the hospitality industry, I was walking from the back toward the cafe counter via the seating area, and I saw a tall man of about nearly seven feet in a suit with neck-length, wavy hair talking to another man. I noticed him, not for any particular reason, but as I was walking past them I felt this man look at me—not in the way we normally look at people but as though he were looking at me through his spirit, and I felt him touch my heart.

As I walked to the barista counter, a latte came up with the docket number four. I turned, and there he was, sitting facing my direction with a black number four waving me in. I walked, looking perhaps a little embarrassed because of what I had felt;after all, this was just a man. But as I walked toward him he looked straight at me and said, “I believe you’re looking for me.” As I placed the coffee down on the table, I replied gently,“Yes, and I found you.” Although I did not look up at him, the power in that moment was magnetic; I felt like someone wanted to get to know me, wanted to talk to me, wanted to make me smile.

I walked away, did another round of clearing tables, and came back out. He was not there, but had left a half-finished latte. And as I approached our barista and asked him if he saw the man at table number four, he confidently said, “Nope.”

That day will live with me always. I know there is no physical evidence of who this man was, but it happened for a reason. I knew what he was saying and what the experience was saying to me. I was so inspired by this moment that I started reading true stories and testimonies of encounters with God, stories of miracles that have resonated with my spirit.

One day I lay on my bed, and spoke to God as though I were speaking to my friend—freely, without discipline in my words, and with no restraint, just purely myself. I fell asleep, and during that sleep He let me see something that is now burned into my mind and heart forever. I heard a voice—a deep, kind,trustworthy voice. In that moment, I did not know who it was, but I felt completely at ease. He said my name. I was in awe of the light I saw. It started off as a small circle like the sun and then grew bigger, slightly changing color in each domain,getting brighter and brighter until it filled my eyes. It was stunning. But that was not the best part. It was what I felt. He was pleased. Happy. Elated. I could feel how much He loves me, how much He loves the world—and it was breathtaking. No earthly pleasure could come close. I then woke up.

Now my soul isn’t as heavy and unbearable anymore. All I did was something simple: I reached out my hand, and in return He granted me His Kingdom.

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.

#158 Restoring a Sound Mind

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I was raised in a divided home. My dad was a party guy and drank a lot. My mom dragged us to church every Sunday and Wednesday, but was very angry. Her life didn’t end up the way she expected, and there was a very disappointing feel in our home most of the time. Growing up I thought I would much rather be like dad because he was having much more fun. He was eventually hurt at his job in the coal mine and there was no financial help for us after that. My mom worked with a direct sales company to make ends meet, and this meant I spent more time with my dad and we got even closer. After my dad got hurt, he got depressed. My mom began to resent him even more because he wasn’t providing for our family.

I was a good kid and made good grades, but I always compared myself to others. In high school, I pulled away from the good group of girls, and started hanging out with a different crowd. When I was 15 I took my first drink of alcohol and it was like I couldn’t go back to being good. My view of God was that He was harsh and you had to be perfect to come to Him. I felt like I had destroyed being able to be loved by Him, so I began a downhill spiral. When I was 17, I was in a car accident and got my first prescription for pain pills, and things quickly got out of control.

I used the MRI I had from the car accident as the “proof” I needed to get pain pills. I graduated with honors from high school and then went to college. When I was 19, I met a man at a bar and after knowing him nine days I dropped out of college and moved to Columbus to move in with him. I thought I was okay through all of this. I was using drugs daily, even though I had a job as a dental assistant. I lived with the man four years and the relationship was very abusive. His main source of income was selling drugs, and that became a big part of my life too. His mom died and she lived in Kentucky. So, we moved to Kentucky and were living in a car for six months. When it started getting cold out, I went back to my mom’s home. The man died a few months later.

 

After he died I started getting in a lot more trouble. The next year and a half I worked on and off at a gas station. I became an IV drug user and then could not function. It was then that I realized that I really had a problem. I could no longer hold down a job. I started stealing and getting arrested. In 2010, I was in a really bad car wreck and the money to pay my medical bills came to me and I kept the money. I became worse than I had ever been. I got arrested and then got a DUI and went to court. The prosecutor said, “I’m going to make sure you do a year in jail if you don’t get help for your addiction.” My mom stepped in and talked me into doing drug detox. On December 2, 2010, a residential Christian addiction recovery program opened in my town and I began my journey to recovery there.

I was really scared. I didn’t know if I would ever have a sound mind again. I had racing thoughts. I would read and not recall anything I had read. Things just didn’t click. I had been intelligent in school and it was terrifying to think I may not ever be able to function normally again. But it kept getting better. I can remember the first time I could remember a scripture verse and write it without going back to look at it. I finished the program and was offered and accepted a job at the Christian addiction recovery center I had attended. Eventually, I went back to college and finished my degree in psychology.

Recently, God has helped me discover more about who I really am. I have transitioned from working at the Christian addiction recovery center to a career in business, but there is still a lot of ministry involved in my job which I truly enjoy. I’ve discovered that I thrive in leadership, especially when I am provided opportunities to encourage and inspire people.  

God is so good and so loving and always working things out for good even when we don’ know what He is doing. He never left me through all of the dark days of drug addiction. He was there every step of the way, calling me back to Him. I am so grateful for the changes He has brought about in my life . . . and I am most grateful for His love.

For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind.

2 Timothy 1:7

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.

#157 All Things Are Possible

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

One Sunday, I met a new friend after service. He was sitting down waiting to chat, so I didn’t realize anything was wrong with his body. As we prayed, he explained the emptiness in his heart. I shared about the love of Jesus and he gave his life to Christ. Peace, love and joy flooded him! He then told me a story about his health. Five years ago, during back surgery, he had been left with constant pain that was a 10 on a 10 scale. The surgeon had nicked a nerve, making his left foot drag. Due to difficulties with pain meds, he chose not to take them. In the process of adopting two small children, he underwent yet another back surgery and had seven spinal fusions. His mobility was severely limited, but he was still convinced that God was going to heal him. I called my teammates over, and as we prayed, the pain decreased in half, then decreased again, and then was gone! He stood up to walk around, and his foot started coming back to life. As he walked, more motion came back. We stood and talked for a bit, which he had been unable to do without excruciating pain for years!! He wept with gratitude, joy, and relief. There were lots of tears all around. Praise Jesus! He came back to our meeting the next day and shared his testimony. He was able to bend and reach past his knees and had been on the floor playing with his kids all afternoon. He came back the next day and was able to reach down and touch his toes, which, with seven spinal fusions, is impossible. As Jesus said in Matthew 19:26, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.” I pray the same way when people are healed as when they aren’t. It’s a mystery to me why sometimes miracles occur and sometimes they take more time. But I’ll keep praying, believing, and celebrating the beauty of what only He can do. Our God is a healer, He is good, and He loves to restore. Yay Jesus!

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.

#152 Getting Kicked Out Saved My Life

 Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

I came from a good home. My dad was a coal miner and my mom worked in the school system. I was in church every time it was open. My experience with religion was one of rigidity, based on the list of things you do and don’t do. My understanding of God was that He was nothing more than a task master who was recording my rights and wrongs and keeping score, expecting perfection. I’m not sure I was taught this, but that is the way I interpreted it. The people in that religious system weren’t malicious, they were just doing what they thought was right.

In high school I played basketball, made good grades, and was valedictorian of my senior class.  I am inquisitive by nature and asked a ton of questions about religion—questions my parents and my church were not comfortable hearing and answering. The gist of their answers was “You just need to believe.” Because questions were not welcomed, I developed a level of skepticism. I was also bullied in school which created a sense of not being sure of my identity and self-worth. I started using marijuana my junior year of high school for two reasons, really—to fill a void because a relationship with God wasn’t a part of my life, and also because it impressed a certain crowd and I wanted to fit in. 

The first time I smoked marijuana, a switch flipped and I was immediately psychologically obsessed with getting high and changing my mental state. I wasn’t physically addicted yet, but psychologically the addiction was unleashed the first time I tried it. I do have a history of addiction in my extended family, so I may have been genetically predisposed for addiction. 

I had a scholarship to go to college. The only career options that I understood for my life in 1997 were to become a doctor or lawyer. I was only the second person from my family to go to college and I didn’t perceive a big buffet of options. I didn’t like history, so that seemed to eliminate law. I decided to go the pre-med route.

My first night on campus I tried alcohol for the first time. I loved it just as much as marijuana from the first drink.  By the end of the semester, I had experimented and fallen in love with every drug available in the area. Somehow, I was still making good grades. A friend from my hometown that grew up going to the same church as I did was at college with me and he also had a lot of questions about God and religion. He had a philosophy class and we started meeting with the professor. He was the first person who had an educated and non-confrontational conversation with us about our questions about God and religion. He identified as atheist/agnostic and I began to identify that way as well. Things started changing in my life. I continued to fill the void with drugs, alcohol, and women, and at some point, I began using prescription medication daily. I began to use OxyContin, as this was a new drug introduced in our area.

It became apparent that I would have to stop my lifestyle in order to pass organic chemistry, so I decided to choose a career that didn’t require organic chemistry. Medical school required organic chemistry but physical therapy did not. I got accepted into physical therapy school. While I was there I was a full-blown prescription medication addict and alcoholic. I graduated from physical therapy school in the top 25% of my class. I moved back home to start working as a physical therapist. I was making good money and the addiction went into overdrive because I had more money. I got married in 2005–2006 but it didn’t last long. In less than three years we were divorced. I lost my house to foreclosure and lost two cars. I was living in a house with no running water, no electricity, and five to six people staying the night—it was a drug den. But I continued to work as a physical therapist.  Eventually, I was living in my car, making $107,000 a year with barely enough money to get gas to get to work. I ended up moving home with my parents to try to get some stability. They didn’t fully understand what was going on with me but knew there was a problem. 

During this time, I met the woman who is my wife today. We married in 2011. I didn’t tell her about my past and she didn’t know about my drug problem. She just knew I used to be wild. About two years into the marriage, I stopped caring about everything. Anything that wasn’t nailed down would be at the pawn shop for drug money. Finally, my wife said, “I love you but you’ve got to go. You can’t stay here. I can’t help you anymore.” This was the day that she showed me the most love. I was sick and tired of living the life I was living. I constantly thought about killing myself. When my wife said, “You’ve got to leave,” I was actually relieved because it freed me to go get help. I went to my parents and they got me connected to a Christian addiction recovery residential home and when I walked in (still an atheist/agnostic) the people who were Christians weren’t judging my mistakes. They told me they loved me and they were glad I was there and that God had a purpose for my life. This was a new way of thinking about God for me. One of the pastors at the home taught us what prayer was. Up until then I understood prayer to be not much more than a list to Santa Claus. The day he taught me that prayer was two-way communication between the one praying and God, I was immediately frustrated that no one had ever told me this. I was baptized two to three weeks into treatment. My wife began to visit me at the treatment facility. The first Sunday I was in treatment she went to church and asked God for guidance about how to handle it—specifically if she should she stay married to me. In the message that Sunday the preacher talked only about forgiveness, especially about forgiving people who do not deserve it. She decided to give me a chance.

Even though I had my license to practice physical therapy, I decided that God was calling me to stay at the addiction recovery center and be on staff. After I successfully completed the treatment program, I followed God’s calling, and left a six-figure income to become an intern with the addiction recovery center for $75 per week. My pay for two weeks after taxes was $137. I brought the first check home and gave it to my wife and said, “I don’t care what we do with this, but $15 of this is going to a tithe!”

Miracle after miracle occurred to get us through the nine-month internship financially. Every random dollar that came, I attributed to God. When I reached the one-year clean and sober mark, I met with the CEO of the treatment program and he offered me a position at the corporate office. My wife and I prayed about it and I accepted that position as his deputy chief of staff. His chief of staff had had some health problems and wanted to spend more time at home. Within six months, through a series of supernatural events that I can’t really explain, I became the chief of staff of an organization with over 200 employees. I still serve in this positon and just celebrated three and half years of being clean and sober. 

Recently, my wife and I felt called to leave our home church, even though there was no problem. We told our pastor and asked him to pray for us. I felt like I was called to lead a new church but resisted it. My wife and I met with some families who also felt they were to do something different regarding church. We continued to meet each week just that small group of people, then opened to the public as a new church a few months ago. We are trying to let the love of God flow through us onto others. Public speaking was one of my greatest fears. In the past I would have been terrified and paralyzed in front of a crowd, but now God has helped me to get comfortable with speaking. We meet at a locally owned coffee shop downtown. We purchased a baptismal trough and have already had some baptisms which have occurred in the trough on the sidewalk in our little town. We are seeing God work in wonderful ways in the new church.

My wife is a fifth-grade teacher and she has children in class that have difficulties because of the drugs in their families. She uses what she has experienced with my addiction to help her students. She speaks from a place of deep understanding, empathy, and compassion, and students respond positively to her when they don’t respond well to others. 

I have hurt a lot of people and made a lot of bad decisions, but God is using it for good. I have learned about who God really is—that He is not the task master that I thought He was. I have discovered that He is a loving Father who sees us as His sons and daughters and He has a purpose and a plan for our lives. I am thankful for my wife and my family and for second, third, and fourth chances. I am thankful that God led me to a Christian addiction recovery center, a place that allowed me to encounter His true nature. I am most thankful that God is good and that He forgives. He has wiped away my shame and regret.

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.