Tag Archives: god’s will

Guest post: The doctors said my son might never walk again

[One of the great blessings I’ve experienced since I started writing is getting to connect with men and women all over the world who read my words. Oftentimes it’s something simple like, “thank you, I needed that” or “me, too”. Sometimes I get asked to pray over a situation someone is going through, which is a true honor. And sometimes, someone reaches out and says, “I’d like to tell you my story.” A few weeks ago a reader I’d never met, named Lauren Findley said those words to me via Facebook. But I wasn’t prepared for what she was going to tell me. Her story, and that of her little boy, moved me to tears. Only a God as great as ours could do these things.

Lauren was gracious enough to let me share her story with all of you.]

My name is Lauren Findley, and this is a picture of my family.

Lauren findley 3

If you had told me a year and a half ago that I would be asked to write about the gift of trust, I would have thought you were crazy. I have struggled with crippling anxiety my entire life. Proverbs 31 haunted me when it talked about “She was clothed in strength and dignity and laughs at the days to come.” I didn’t understand how anyone could laugh at the future.

On the morning on August 6th, 2017 my son, Ethan, and his cousin were running around our house playing tag. Ethan fell down and wouldn’t get back up. It wasn’t long until we realized that he couldn’t get up. He was hysterical and tried to tell us that he had sand all over his body. We realized that he was numb.

Robby, my husband, and I carried him to the car and rushed him to Cook Children’s Hospital. Ethan was immediately rushed into a sedated MRI. We then sat around waiting for him to wake up to find out what was going on. There was a lot of prayer and asking people to pray, but I was in denial that anything was really wrong with him. We were brought into a little room in which they made us sit down and the doctors began explaining that Ethan had a stroke.

They had no answers for us.

We walked into the Pedi ICU to find our precious boy screaming and not being able to see, sit up, or use the right side of his body. Later that day we were told that he had a stroke in the motor skills part of the brain, and they had no idea what type of a recovery he would have. They told us that they didn’t know if he would be able to walk again, have short term memory struggles, or get his cognitive skills back. They also ran more tests than I can count and every one was found inconclusive for what caused the stroke.

Lauren and Ethan

It was at this time I felt God ask if I could trust him even for a minute. I told him that I could trust him only for that long. He was going to have to handle the next minute. The Holy Spirit placed Matthew 6:34 on my heart “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will have enough trouble of its own.” I told the Lord He was going to have to do it for me.

He gave me the strength.

A friend sent me 2 Corinthians 12:8-10 (NIV) “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”

I clung to this passage. I begged the Lord to make me strong, because I was at my weakest. He followed through in amazing ways. He kept me going when I could not go anymore. These were some of the worst days of my life. God showed me that I needed to take every thought captive. I had to constantly fight the “what ifs” and live for the moment.

It was also at this time that I felt led to start posting exactly what was going on to Facebook, which seemed crazy to me, but I chose to trust. We quickly began seeing the goodness of God not only in the Holy Spirit but also through the kindness and loving encouragement of others.

Ethan opening presents in hospital

We were finally moved out of the PICU and into the Neurorehab floor of Cook Children’s. We started seeing progress in Ethan’s motor and cognitive skills, but we were told not to get our hopes up. He was in speech, physical, and occupational therapy three hours a day. My parents had been stuck in California due to bad weather, so we had to rely on others for help with our other son and everything else. This was a blessing, because we were able to see God work out every little detail when we didn’t have our family around. And Ethan’s sweet friends loved on him in ways that reminded me of God’s goodness.

On August 8th, my mom’s birthday, my parents arrived. My devotion that day was about waiting for God and my lack of control. It touched on the fact that God is in control, and He is so good, things that I desperately needed to hear. On August 12th I was given Psalm 130:5, “I wait for the Lord. My soul waits. And in his word I hope.” On August 16th, we were shown how to work with Ethan to help him walk. We kept seeing huge progress, but we were told not to keep hoping.

After hearing that he may never walk over and over again, I felt God just saying “watch me, trust me.” On August 28th, Ethan looked and me and said, “Mom, look what I can do.” He proceeded to stand up and walk out the door all on his own.

The hospital staff freaked out and told me to stop him. They didn’t know what to do, because he shouldn’t know how to walk. I didn’t stop him.

On Sept. 1st, long before we were supposed to be released, we were allowed to take our boy home.

Not long after that we started him in an outpatient rehab for PT, OT, and speech therapy. I was asked what my long-term goals were for Ethan. I told them that eventually I would like for him to walk without a brace. They told me that wasn’t realistic, and once again I felt God tell me “watch this.”

A few weeks later, they asked Ethan to take his brace off and see what he can do, because his progress was so good. And he started running! The Physical Therapist started crying. She told me she had never seen any child with his type of brain injury heal like this before. She even admitted that it must be God.

We had many more scares that made his doctors believe that it was very possible that he might have another stroke. We scheduled a trip to the Mayo Clinic. Everyone was in a panic trying to figure out what was going on. Almost every day for a while I had to decide whether to take him to the ER or not. They knew us well in the ER. It was a dark, extremely emotional time. God gave me Psalm 94:18-19 “when I said my foot is slipping, your unfailing love, Lord, supported me. When anxiety was great within me, your consolation brought me joy.”

One day, our neurologist told me that he was going to try a medicine that probably wasn’t going to work. Since that day, we haven’t had a real scare. When I asked the stroke team why the medicine worked, they had no idea. I believe God made it happen.

Every time I ask the Lord why he did these miracles, He tells me it’s for His glory. So here I am telling you that He is amazing. He is able to do more than we can ever ask or imagine.

May we never forget the goodness of our Lord. I saw first hand that God cares and provides for the crazy huge things and the details of life. He cares about all of it and wants you to rely on him. He won’t disappoint. He is good, faithful, and fully worthy of your trust. Fully trusting the Lord is true freedom.

Psalm 66:5: “Come and see what our God has done, what awesome miracles he performs for people!”

 

Lauren Findley is from Fort Worth, Texas. She has an amazing husband and two sweet boys that she stays home with.

 

Wheelchair photo credit: TheExplorographer.com The View via photopin (license)

All other photos and video courtesy of Lauren Findley. All rights reserved.

My soul is crushed

He told them, “My soul is crushed with grief to the point of death. Stay here and keep watch with me.” (Matthew 26:38)

 

I had the privilege of teaching the message at our church this past Sunday. The message was on Jesus’s prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane.

I love this story.

Oh, I know that might sound strange. After all, it’s not an uplifting passage, like the Sermon on the Mount or one that demonstrates Jesus’s mighty power, like when he calmed the raging seas. In this passage our Savior is admitting how crushed his soul feels and praying to God to “take this cup from me”. (Matthew 26:39)

I believe it is probably the most vulnerable, raw example of Jesus’s humanness. And that’s precisely why I love this story so much.

I know what it feels like to have my soul crushed with grief. I know what it feels like to be on my knees, in complete agony, sobbing and sweating and crying out to God to take away the suffering. (Luke 22:44)

About 12 years ago my marriage hit a very difficult spot. I was pregnant with Daniel and Olivia at the time, Hannah was only two and I honestly thought my marriage was over and our growing little family would be forever fractured. I was so overwhelmed with despair and the crushing reality that my marriage, my life as I knew it with the only man I’d ever loved, was not what I thought it was; that our story was not going to end the way I had always planned and hoped for.

I remember one night lying on our bed just sobbing in the most ugly way you can imagine, barely able to breathe through the tears and it actually felt like I was being suffocated because the grief and despair was pressing in on me so much.

In that hour of desperation I cried out to God and prayed similar words to what Jesus prayed in the garden: “Dear God, please take away this pain. Take away my suffering.” And then I prayed, “Tell me what to do! Please tell me your will.”

And I heard God so clearly in that moment…and I think maybe we never hear him more clearly than when we are in this place of soul-crushing pain and despair…but He said to me: “Stay.”

Of course, I don’t know what Jesus heard when he was praying in the garden that night. But given that on the second and third time he prayed Jesus said: “If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done,” (Matthew 26:42) I believe Jesus heard God. I believe God confirmed what Jesus had to do. I believe God spoke to his heart and told him that his agony would be relieved, but only after he walked through the pain. He couldn’t go around it because God had a bigger plan, and Jesus’s death and crucifixion was the cornerstone of that plan. He was to become the “spotless lamb of God” to take upon the sins of the world. (John 1:9)

When I heard God that night telling me to stay, it was because He had a greater plan for my marriage, for me and my husband, and my children. It was greater than what I could see in that moment. We would have to go through months and years of struggle and pain before it was fully revealed. But now, today? I really can’t imagine my life having taken a different path.

Of course Jesus’s anguish was much greater than anything that we could ever imagine or even go through, and I don’t mean to belittle it by comparing it to my own struggles. But if you’ve ever been in a dark place, if you’ve had a season of extreme pain and brokenness, you know how hard it is. So we can take that and imagine how much deeper Jesus’s anguish would have been. Yet he submitted himself to God’s will. He trusted God to take the lead, even if it meant leading him directly to the most brutal, humiliating pain imaginable.

I think maybe we never hear God more clearly than when we are in a place of soul-crushing pain and despair.

Jesus prayed to God in Gethsemane, which was actually an olive grove on the Mount of Olives. Historians believe that there would have been olive oil presses in this place. In fact the Hebrew word for Gethsemane literally means “press of oil” (gat shemen).

While I was preparing for my teaching I did some research on how olive oil was made in Jesus’s time. The olives were placed in a large circular basin in which a great wheel-shaped millstone rolled in a circle crushing the olives — pit and all. The pulp was then collected in baskets, which were stacked several layers high in stone pits. A stone weight was placed on top of the baskets, and a heavy wooden beam, with one end in a hole in the wall nearby (often these presses were found in caves) was placed across the pile of baskets. Stone weights were hung from the beam, applying enormous pressure to the olives and squeezing the oil from the pulp. It was a multi-step process so that every bit of oil could be extracted and used.

[Here’s a great video if you want to learn more about this process].

The olive has to be crushed and then pressed with an enormous amount of pressure — multiple times — before it can produce oil.

Sometimes we have to be crushed before we can fully deny ourselves and rely wholly on God. Before we can fulfill God’s predestined plans. But we are never required to do it alone.

Jesus had to suffer and die on the cross before we could be saved, but God was with him in the garden and on the cross. (Luke 22:43, 23:44-46)

My marriage had to go through a period of brokenness to get to a better, stronger place, but God was with me and David in our darkest hours.

God is not in the business of giving us easy.

God is in the business of redemption.