Tag Archives: healing

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.

Journey to Heal: It’s time to live a better story

If you are a regular reader of my blog, then by now you probably know that I have a huge place in my heart for encouraging women who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse to speak their truth, find healing in God, and even restore broken relationships. My passion for this stems in large part from my own past, but even more so from my present. What I mean by that is the more I have shared my story, the more women who have confided in me their “me, too” story. The longer I have been involved in small group and women’s ministry, the more stories I have heard of women still battling for release from their past and healing in their present.

I long for every woman (and man) who has a story of childhood sexual abuse to know the freedom of repair that I have found in my life,through my relationship with God and the help of a wonderful counselor. It took me many years of hard work — sometimes taking one step forward, and two steps back — to realize complete healing and restoration, and I think that’s partly because for a long time I didn’t know where to go for help. There weren’t a lot of resources available to me 20 years ago when I started my journey, and I didn’t feel comfortable seeking help in the church.

Thankfully, things have changed. Today, more women are opening up about their pasts within the church and creating a safe place for others to seek help and support. There are also more resources available. One of these just hit book shelves last week, and it’s written by a friend, and fellow survivor, Crystal Sutherland. The book is called Journey to Heal: 7 Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse, and I believe with all my heart this book is going to be life-changing for millions of men and women around the world.

Now, before I go any  further, I want to say a few things. Firstly, I’m not being compensated in any way to share my thoughts on this book. Yes, Crystal is a friend of mine and I guest blog for her occasionally, but that is because I support the mission of her ministry. There are an estimated 42 million adult survivors of childhood sexual abuse today, just in the United States [source: National Association of Adult Survivors of Child Abuse]. And that estimate is just based on reported cases, so we know there are many more. Folks, it’s going to take thousands of counselors, women’s shelters, ministers, sisters, friends, mothers, writers, etc.to come together with the same mission to end this desecration of youth and lead the victims toward a place of hope and healing. Crystal is one of the many called and equipped to help with this.

Secondly, I am sharing about this book because I’ve read it and I believe it is unlike anything else currently available to survivors of childhood sexual abuse. Despite our friendship and shared ministry, I would not be writing about this book if I didn’t feel the urgent need to get it in the hands of as many women and men as possible.

Now, if you are a survivor of abuse, or know someone who is, or if you are in a position of counseling and ministering to others who have been victims of childhood sexual abuse, here’s what you need to know: only God can provide true freedom and healing. While God did not create the sin that is damaging so many young girls and boys, He can bring the men and women they’ve become out of the darkness from their past and make them whole again.

This is what Journey to Heal is really all about. It is a guide for survivors on how to allow God to come along side of them and walk them through this journey toward healing, toward freedom, and toward a new life. Because, true healing can only happen once we place our hope in Christ.

12803309_10207999783688341_6494978927723514172_n

The seven steps Crystal outlines in the book include: 1. Committing to the journey, 2. Facing the truth, 3. Sharing your story, 4. Settling the unsettled, 5. Forgiving and letting go, 6. Discovering your true identity, and 7. Establishing a new life in Christ. Crystal put these steps together based on her own personal journey, the journey of countless other women she’s ministered to, and based on insight and guidance from ministers and licensed counselors who have spent years helping abuse victims. Even though this book didn’t exist when I went through my own journey, I can tell you these seven steps are all things I had to walk through to get to the other side; and they were all essential to me eventually finding freedom and healing.

I believe we all know someone who was a victim, and chances are many of them are still suffering the effects of the abuse from their past: whether that be through depression, addiction, a need for control, mistrust of others, body issues, failed relationships, feelings of shame, fear or hopelessness, or just downright denial, these things keep us in a permanent state of victim-hood and they prevent us from realizing the life God has planned for us.

“God has bigger plans for us than we have for ourselves…[but] we tend to settle for less than God’s best for us, because we don’t recognize our own value and worth,” explains Crystal in chapter 3 of Journey to Heal.

But God’s word promises this: “Fear not; you will no longer live in shame. Don’t be afraid; there is no more disgrace for you. You will no longer remember the shame of your youth.” – Isaiah 54:4 (NLT).

It’s time for a movement. Time for the church to rise up and be the source of hope and healing. Time for victims to refuse to accept the lie that a piece of them will forever be missing, stolen by their abuser, and leaving a giant hole in their soul that’s led them to settle for a life of suffering, of fear, and of shame. It’s time to end the silence and take back the joy, hope, and freedom that was stolen, along with their innocence.

Because God promises So. Much. More.

Because only God has the power to heal our brokenness and lead us into a brand new life.

I know, because I have lived this story.

13015265_10208435078930450_8842766691024914593_n

If you or someone you know is still suffering from the effects of childhood sexual abuse, you can purchase Journey to Heal from Amazon.com, ChristianBooks.com or wherever books are sold.

In addition to the book, Crystal is finishing up an online, real-time study that begins June 1st.

journey to heal online study

I leave you all with this prayer:

God, bless the women and men who have suffered the unthinkable. May they know that the sin of their abusers is not theirs to carry and they no longer have to bear the weight of their past. May they admit they desire freedom and they are worth the effort it will take to get there. But most of all, let them know that they do not have to do it alone. Let them find their strength in You; let them stop believing the lies of their abusers and the lies of the enemy, and let them instead believe the truth that they do not have to be afraid anymore, “there is no more disgrace.” Instead, there is a life of healing and of freedom waiting for them, a life filled with the beauty and grace of Your love. Amen.

 

God is bigger than my pain

Spring has begun here in Winchester, VA. The temps are rising and the daffodils and crocuses in my yard have just started to bloom, looking like sleepy maidens trying to awake from a long winter’s rest. This time of year is a beautiful reminder of fresh beginnings, new starts, and of course the miracle of resurrection.

I can’t imagine better timing for the release of my friend Crystal Sutherland’s new book, Journey to Heal: 7 Essential Steps of Recovery for Survivors of Childhood Sexual Abuse. While we still have a little over one month to wait for Journey to Heal to reach stores, I am honored and blessed to be part of Crystal’s book launch team, and was recently given the opportunity to read the first few chapters of her book. As I started to read, the primary message that leapt off the pages and into my heart is that God is bigger than our pain. His ability to heal will far surpass anything we can fathom. Crystal emphasizes this truth by sharing some of her story of healing – the healing of her heart and soul, and the healing of certain relationships.

In my own life I have experienced similar circumstances and been humbled by God’s awesome power to heal, especially within my family relationships. I confess, I have not always understood the importance of working at healing and restoring fractured relationships. At times it has seemed much easier to just walk away. But by my mid-20’s I started to realize that even if I walked away I still had to carry the burden of hurt, anger and pain – in fact walking away just made the baggage I was hauling heavier. This was especially true for me in my relationship with my mother. I had spent years waiting to hear the words “I believe you” and “I’m sorry,” thinking these would be the magic words to cure all, and as time passed, without even realizing it, the seed of bitterness grew larger in my heart.

Click here to continue reading the rest at CrystalSutherland.org

 

Healing in Pine Ridge: Part Two

On October 3rd, 2015 ten of us landed in the tiny airport of Rapid City, SD. Four more were making the long drive from Virginia to South Dakota, and our group of 14 would be spending the week working on the Pine Ridge Reservation. Who knew so much could happen in one week?

This is part two of two. Click here to read Part One.

If you’ve ever been on a mission trip you know that the best part about missions work is you always come home having been more impacted, more changed, more spiritually full — just more — than any impact, change, or help you brought to the community where you served. This is the beauty of God and how He works. I knew this going to Pine Ridge, but I just never expected THIS.

The weeks leading to the trip had been hard…really hard. In fact I almost backed out of the trip at the last minute. So by the time we landed in Rapid City I was feeling very grateful that God had healed my body and enabled me to get everything done at home and work that needed doing so I could be here. I felt sure it was where I was meant to be and He had provided the way.

It’s a two hour drive from Rapid City to Pine Ridge. On the way we passed the badlands and stopped at an overlook to take in the view and snap a few photos. This being my first time to South Dakota I was inspired by everything I saw. I couldn’t wait to get a closer look at this endless horizon of rolling pinnacles and spires.

It had been raining when we landed, but thankfully stopped by the time we pulled off the side of Highway 40. The best view was just down a short hill, and a narrow dirt path led the way. Not really thinking about the fact that I was wearing my favorite Tom’s — great for flying, not so good for traction — I eagerly descended the narrow path. What I didn’t realize was the mud in South Dakota is not like Virginia mud. It is compact and sticky. While it felt pretty firm under my steps, it was sticking to the bottom of my treadless shoes, forming layer, upon layer of a thick, pasty mess. I made it about 1/3 of the way down the hill when I felt my foot start slide. In a moment of spontaneous reflex I shifted my weight to try and catch myself, and ended up rolling my left ankle and landing on the ground.

I felt something snap. I knew it was not good. My pride was bruised, my bottom muddy, but worse, my ankle was throbbing. I sat for a minute trying to compose myself. Some of the guys came over to help me up and I carefully tested putting weight on my ankle. Pain shot up my leg and I thought, “oh God, please. Don’t let this be serious.”

I managed to hobble down the rest of the hill (avoiding the narrow mud path), so I could get my tourist picture, while my internal dialogue said, “you’ll be ok; it’s just a twisted ankle, just walk it off.”

Jelise in front of the Badlands
This was taken a few minutes after my fall. Determined to get my tourist photo-opp, I kept telling myself I could just “walk it off” and tried to ignore the pain.

By the time I limped back to the top and removed my shoes to inspect the damage my ankle was already swollen, and by the time we arrived at Restoration Church in Pine Ridge an hour later, I was fighting back tears. The slightest movement or pressure sent lightning bolts up my leg. That’s when the reality that I was not going to be able to just “walk it off” set in.

A few hours later I was sitting in a pew with my foot propped up and ice on it. The rest of the crew was getting ready to walk over the hill to another building where the guys would be sleeping. I stayed behind and used the opportunity of being alone to call home. The tears came quickly as I told my husband what happened. I cried bitterly as I said out loud the words that I’d been carrying in my heart, “I don’t understand why! Why would God bring me here only for this to happen before we even get to the Reservation? I’m here to do a job and I can’t do that if I can’t even stand on my own two feet!” My husband comforted me the best he could and I dried my tears before the rest of the crew came back and saw me. But the frustration and anger began to form a bitter stone in my chest.

When everyone returned, Pastor Wade, the missionary we were working with, came over and asked how I was doing. I explained that everything was very tight and stiff and the slightest movement was incredibly painful. He then asked if he could pray for my ankle. I said yes and the rest of the team gathered around to pray over me. Wade placed his hands over my foot and ankle and began to pray. He said the exact words I had said to my husband moments before: “Lord, you have brought Jelise here to do a job. She can’t do that with an injured foot. Heal her so she can do your work.” Over and over he prayed, “I ask you to heal her in Jesus’s name.”

As he prayed I felt a deep heat start to form in my ankle and radiate out.

When he finished, Wade asked me if I could move my ankle. I hesitated, unsure of what to do, because I knew just moments ago I couldn’t. But slowly I started to point and flex my foot and was startled by the sudden mobility. Then I began to move it side to side and couldn’t believe that I felt little pain or resistance. I looked up at Wade and burst into tears because I honestly could not believe what was happening. I think everyone was stunned and no one talked for a few moments.

But it doesn’t end there…

…the next day was Sunday. I woke up and my ankle felt pretty good, albeit a little sore and I could still not put my full weight on it. But at least no lightning bolts were shooting up my leg. We traveled an hour to the church in Kyle where we’d be working and had Sunday service and shared lunch with the congregation. We did some light cleaning and assessed what supplies we needed to complete the work that was needed on the building. Then we drove back to Pine Ridge and a few of us went to the local grocery store. By the time evening came my ankle was once again swollen and hurting quite a bit. I felt it stiffening up again. Wade prayed over my ankle one more time before he left for the night and I felt some improvement immediately after, but told him it was still too painful to put weight on it.

Looking at the list of jobs we were going to be doing throughout the week — painting, laying tile, yard work, cleaning, etc., I wondered what I would be able to do that didn’t require either being on my feet all day or getting up and down often. And I felt the bitter frustration return.

At 10 p.m. that night I found myself alone in the sanctuary reading my Bible. Earlier that day Wade had talked about what it looked like to praise God. He talked about the many Hebrew and Greek words that were all translated into the single English word praise. He referenced the use of these different words throughout scripture, many of which are found in Psalms. So I opened my Bible to Psalms and started to flip through the pages. I settled on Psalm 18 and began to read:

“I love you, Lord, my strength. The Lord is my rock, my fortress and my deliverer; my God is my rock, in whom I take refuge, my shield and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold…In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears,” (Psalm 18:1-2,6).

I took comfort in those words, in knowing that God heard my distress call.

I continued to read until I came to verse 36: “You broaden the path beneath me, so that my ankles do not turn.”

The hair on the back of my neck stood up and I almost fell out of my chair when I read those words. In all of my years spent reading scripture I don’t ever remember reading a verse about an ankle. The words themselves, so specific to my situation — having rolled my ankle while walking a narrow path. I knew in my heart that it was no accident that I came to this verse, and I felt a sudden urging in my heart to pray that verse over my ankle.

I glanced around, thankful I was alone, placed my hands on my ankle and began to speak verse 36 like a prayer. “Lord, you widen my path so my ankle won’t roll. I believe you can heal me, and you can undo the damage because you make my path wide so my ankle won’t roll.” Over and over I prayed. Then I felt heat come into my ankle again. Tears slid down my cheeks as I kept praying the same words over and over again believing them more with each utterance. Finally the heat subsided and I stopped. I stood up and took a tentative step. I felt no pain.

I took another step and tested putting full weight on my left foot. Still no pain. I walked up and down the aisle of the church crying. I didn’t have to limp, my ankle felt loose and mobile, and there was no pain.

I spent the following five days scrubbing, mopping, laying tile and grout, assembling book cases, installing lights, and more. At the end of each day my back, my knees and my hands hurt from labor, but I had virtually no pain in my ankle.

Psalm 18:36

It was not until Saturday morning, as we departed Pine Ridge and headed for the airport, that I felt the familiar stiffening I’d felt days before. By the time we arrived at the airport I was limping again.

It’s been three weeks since I slipped on that narrow path and rolled my ankle. I know I did some serious damage because my ankle is still healing. But for those five days in Pine Ridge that we were working? My pain was gone. I know God healed me long enough to do what He’d brought me 1,500 miles to do.

Now, I realize some of this might be hard to believe. And that’s OK. I’ve been there. I’ve sat in your chair reading stories of healing and struggled to trust it was true. But the thing is God doesn’t need us to believe in order to perform miracles. His healing power is greater than you or me. He treats, and cures, and saves, and heals every day, whether our faith is big enough to accept it or not.

God will provide what we need in order to do His work.

“In my distress I called to the Lord; I cried to my God for help. From his temple he heard my voice; my cry came before him, into his ears.”

What area of your life needs healing? Relationships; physical health; emotional well being. Take your pain to Him. Trust in Him. He will hear you. He will heal you.