#180 Thankful Nevertheless

 Photo by Jeff Rogers

I met Rick my freshman year of high school. We dated in high school and married young. I was saved and baptized in January of 1980, and three years later, Rick was saved. The first time I heard him share his testimony, he said he couldn’t figure out why I would go to church not just once, but twice on Sunday, because that was our only day to be together since he worked six days a week. Rick said he wanted to know more about this man called Jesus who I loved more than I did him.

My husband loved basketball and coached a little league basketball team. He coached two little boys, Todd and Earl Reed, who went to my church. Every Sunday, between Sunday School and church, those two little boys would run to the church office and call Rick and ask him if he was coming to church. The boys were in two separate Sunday School classes, so they would both make calls to Rick as soon as they got out of Sunday School. They kept calling every Sunday and didn’t give up. They knew they were waking Rick up, but they didn’t care. They just wanted him to come to church. I cannot tell you how thankful I am that God placed those two little boys in our lives.

Rick was saved during a revival service at our church in 1983. He promised the two little boys that he would come to that revival service. When he came in the door that morning, they flocked to him and wanted to sit with him. When the preacher gave the invitation to come forward and accept Christ, he asked that we bow our heads and close our eyes in prayer. Rick shared with me later that he bowed his head, but he didn’t close his eyes. During that invitation, he saw one of those little boys, Earl Reed, pointing to him and then pointing toward the altar in the front of the church. Rick told me that was Earl Reed’s way of praying that he would give his life to Christ that morning, and he did! The Bible says a little child will lead them, and those two little boys did lead him. Rick got involved in church right off the bat, mainly working with the Youth. We didn’t have children of our own, so we had the time to devote to them.

My husband was a wonderful, selfless man, always putting others before himself. He was all about helping and ministering to people. He went on two mission trips a year; one with World Changers, an organization that goes all over the United States helping people who can’t afford the needed work on their homes, and one with Joshua Land Ministries to help build churches in Kentucky. In 2011, he was working with a crew to help put a roof on a new church in Mt. Sterling, Kentucky, when he fell off the roof and landed on his head. There didn’t seem to be any indication that he tried to catch himself, so we think he passed out before he fell off the roof. They flew him to the regional university hospital, and he stayed there approximately two weeks. He never regained consciousness and had two strokes during that time. After about two weeks, the doctors told me Rick’s brain was dead, and that I was going to have to make the dreaded decision to take him off life support. Immediately after the doctors telling me I was going to have to make that decision, my pastor called to check on us. I asked him, “How do you make a decision like that? I feel like I’m taking his life.” He told me, “You’re not taking his life. If it’s God’s will for him to live, even if you remove the life support, he’ll live.” God knows what we need and when we need it, and I needed to hear that. Rick’s family and I made the decision to remove the life support. The doctors explained to us that, after we took Rick off life support, it was possible he would live for a few days because, even though his brain was dead, physically he was very strong. He lived almost a week. I got to bring him home to our local hospital under Hospice care, and he passed away on July 17, 2011.

It was really hard and very lonely for me, but God was always there. You don’t know God is all you need until He’s all you’ve got. My family, Rick’s family, and my church family were wonderful, and my work family was too. They stayed with me at the hospital during Rick’s illness and for a couple of weeks after his passing. My church family came by often to see if I needed anything and tried to keep me busy. My job gave me a reason to get up every morning. But, it was during those times by myself, especially in the evenings and at night, that were my loneliest times. It was just me and God. At the end of the day, I would pray, “God, I made it through today. Tomorrow is another day, and I’m going to need you to help me through tomorrow”. In the mornings, I would say to God, “Your Word tells me that your mercies are new every morning and your grace is sufficient. I need your grace and mercy today.” I grew more spiritually during that time than I ever had. I know God was with me every minute. At night when I was lonely and sad, I would open up the Bible and it would give me comfort. I drew such strength from God’s promises.

“For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” (Jeremiah 29:11)

Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the Lord your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.” (Deuteronomy 31:6)

In September 2013, more sorrow began. My middle sister was diagnosed with cancer. She went through various treatments and surgeries, and we had to watch her suffer terribly. She passed away in February 2015.

Then God, in His infinite wisdom and perfect timing, sent someone to me. I had bought a new car and someone hit it in the parking lot of Food City right after I bought it. I called my current husband, who owned the body shop and had repaired cars for me before, to repair my car. We were married in January of 2018. He’s a wonderful man. God has blessed me doubly – with a whole family! My husband has two children, a daughter and a son, who are both married, and we have two grandchildren and one on the way.

I have so many things to be thankful for. First and foremost, I am thankful for my salvation. I’m thankful for the time I had with my first husband and for my new husband and new family. I’m thankful for the closeness I have with my mother, father and my sisters; for Rick’s family with whom I am still close today; for my church family; and for my job and my work family. God has given me many people to love, and who love, support and encourage me. He is so good!

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.

#145 Little Church by the Creek

Photo by Trevor Rapp

I grew up in a house where my mom was a believer but my dad not so much. There wasn’t much exposure to church or religion. I got married when I was 20 years old to my high school sweetheart. I was immature and apparently not really ready to be married. We had some rough times the first year of our marriage. We decided to separate. I stayed in our trailer and my wife moved out.

During this time, my brother and I played in a band around town and in bars. I did a lot of partying and drinking. This went on for three months. One night I sat on the edge of my bed and said in my head, “Why did I ever get married? This is the life that I want.” I woke up about four hours later, my eyes wide open and said, “What in the heck am I doing?  I’m screwing up my marriage, and I’m screwing up my life.” I called my wife and said, “What are you doing?”

She said, “I’m up. I’m at the apartment. Come up and see me.” I went to see her and when she opened the door we both started crying and hugged. I didn’t know it that night, but her dad had her scheduled the next day to file divorce papers. To me, this was God telling me that what I was doing was stupid, that it needed to stop, and that there was much in the future for my wife and me.  

That was my first brush with God. I was thinking the exact opposite four hours earlier. It wasn’t me that woke me up to transform the way I thought. It had to be God. There is no other explanation. That got the ball rolling for me to really believe in God. I feel like when God decides to work in you—He WILL do it. For me to change that much that quickly…it was like being hit by a truck, but that’s what it took—something really dramatic to change the way I was thinking.
The life I lived those three months is one of my greatest regrets. My wife has forgiven me but I hate that I hurt her. We have been married over 20 years and have a very strong marriage now. When I talk about it with my friends, I tell them I didn’t think enough of our marriage covenant.  It was like I was dating my wife. I didn’t see it as a covenant with God. But I do now and the experience has actually strengthened our marriage, showing us that with God’s help we can overcome anything. God has used it for good.
God wants us to know that even in our darkest times He is still there. He was speaking to me on the edge of that bed even when I wasn’t a believer. He speaks to all of us if we are only ready to listen. He changed the way I thought in the snap of a finger. It was a powerful moment for me and the beginning of my journey as a Christian. At first it was a slow incline, but the last few years it has shot up like a rocket. Once I started putting God first, everything started falling into place.
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.

#117 Simple Laundry Room Prayer

 Photo by Erin E. Photography

I overreacted. I know it now and I knew it when it happened.

My husband was getting ready for work and had made a comment that just hit me the wrong way. I don’t even remember exactly what he said. But it made me mad. He was nearly ready to walk out the door and I wanted to say something back to him to let him know I did not appreciate the comment. But I knew in my anger that my words would be harsh and it would not lead to a meaningful conversation. He was going out the door to work and this wasn’t the way I wanted to say goodbye for the day. I had been down this road before and knew that my careless, angry words in the heat of the moment could lead down a rabbit hole of more and more hurtful words—not productive, not constructive, but tearing down kind of words.

I needed God’s help to control my urge to say angry words that I would regret. I went to our laundry room and prayed. My prayer went something like this, “Lord give me your words, not my words. Help me see my husband as you see him, with love. Help me be loving to him.”

I walked out of the laundry room calmer and when I looked at my husband at the back door in his suit dressed for work, I was overcome with gratitude to him for the way he provides for our family. And I noticed how handsome he looked in his suit. With God’s help, I was able to pay my husband a sincere compliment spoken in love and gratitude. God heard and responded to my simple laundry room prayer to overcome my petty irritation and help me love my husband.

What a gift to be able to rely on Him in all things, no matter how small. God cares. God listens and He will help.  

For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love. Romans 5:5

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.