How God Gave Me Victory Over 9-11

September 2008

The clock was ticking.  One joyous hour had passed since my youngest son’s birth.  The process had been simpler than last time, and I was gratefully munching on delicious food.  While a nurse checked on me, Tim surprised me by asking her, “What is that dripping sound?”  The nurse replied casually, “Oh, it’s probably just something in the bathroom.” Nope.  It was me.

Suddenly I felt like an actress in a dramatic movie:

  • In one corner, my extremely concerned husband was talking with a doctor
  • Our room was suddenly filled with people, my hospital bed surrounded by worried nurses
  • The anesthesiologist (whom I had expected never to see again) was poised, ready to prepare me for surgery

Someone got down close to me and explained that I may need to have an emergency hysterectomy.  I only remember saying, “I don’t want to die.”  Praying that I would live to continue to be Tim’s wife and Bugga and Booga’s mommy, they pushed me down the hallway toward surgery.  I was lifted onto a table.  Then it all went black.

I woke up gasping for breath and shaking uncontrollably.  Tim and our pastor were standing next to me.  As the symptoms lessened, I was relieved to learn I had only needed a  D&C (a surgical procedure to clear out stubborn placenta that was causing me to hemorrhage). My uterus was in tact, but, my blood count was terribly low – less than half of normal.

That evening, when my Dad asked about what I had been through, I was startled by my sharp reply:  “I don’t want to talk about it!”  My heart had been stretched further than it ever had been before.  All I could do was think about my too-close-for-comfort brush with death and thank God for getting me through.

Hoping that the worst was behind me, I looked forward to going home and starting our new life with two boys.  But, my blood count was simply too low.  Thus, a miserable blood transfusion followed two days later.  They couldn’t find a vein.  I could think of a million places I’d rather be at that moment.  God sent a gentle nurse to pray with me. “I don’t like needles!” I tearfully admitted my dread. She sympathetically held my hand and sadly whispered, “I don’t either.” They tried again and again … finally, mercifully, a willing tunnel accepted the gift of life, and soon we were on our way home.

For months I struggled with the fear of dying.  Sure, I knew that whenever it was my time to go, I would go to be with God.  But, this solid fact surprisingly didn’t prevent the panic attacks I was experiencing.  It didn’t help that my weakened state was the ideal resort for every germ within a hundred miles.  I was sick more than I was well, and I kept getting weaker.  I felt like a helpless, hopeless, useless woman.  A few sweet friends from church and my sister came to help us. They were such an encouragement!  Sadly, I hardly remember having the energy to enjoy my babies.
Curiously, as the title of this post suggests, my fear manifested itself primarily in an obsession about September 11, 2001.  Every day I would have day-mares, reliving the horrors I had seen on television and heard on the radio.  It felt like I was chained in front of a video stuck on replay.  This wasn’t something on my to-do list: Think morbid thoughts.  
 
Truth be told, I was stuck and didn’t know how to get out.  To exacerbate my rut even further, it seemed like every time I looked at a clock it said 9:11.  Even though I prayed, went to church, and read my Bible, I felt like I was losing touch with reality.

A medical doctor referred me to a local Christian counselor.  She was a good listener, kind, and pointed me to God’s sovereignty.  Practically she suggested that whenever my thoughts started capsizing, I should immediately stop whatever I’m doing and walk into another room, completely changing my activity.  This diversion helped, but I needed something more powerful.  I desperately sought the strength of my Counselor. 

“For unto us a Child is born, unto us a Son is given; and the government will be upon His shoulder. And His name will be called Wonderful, Counselor, Mighty God,  Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.”
Isaiah 9:6

I cried out to God and asked Him to pull me out of this pit of death.  I thought often of Psalm 40 and waited for Him to pull me out of the miry clay and set my feet on a rock and establish my goings.  I sensed that God wanted me to be specific in my prayers, so I asked Him to turn my head clock-ward at eleven minutes after anything except nine: 2:11, 5:11, 7:11.  And I promised Him that every time I would see an “11” I would say, out loud, “God is faithful! Thank You, God!” 

Almost immediately, I kid you not, from that time forward nearly every time I looked at a clock I was rewarded with seeing 2:11, 5:11, 7:11, 12:11, and so forth.  For years I had known God’s power through His word and His work in my life.  But with this recent gift, I knew the power of God in a very personal way, and I could see the tender warmth of the Son burning off the fog of fear.  My toxic thoughts changed to praise and I poured out, “God is faithful! Thank You, God!”  It was particularly delightful when He would cause me to look up and see 11:11 – double duty praise and thankfulness!! 

After about a year, my health improved and I regained strength.  God had never left my side, and He became dearer than ever before.


With Joshua (2 weeks old) at Pikes Peak State Park

Why do I share this with you?  It is so tiny compared to what others have suffered due to the events of 9-11.  I do not pretend to compare my situation with others.  Nevertheless, I too, in a small way, suffered part of the consequences of sin and death in this world.  It was a dark time in my life.  God let me stay there, I believe, long enough to always remember what it felt like.  Then, when His timing was right, God pierced through my shadows with His marvelous light.

“The Lord is my light and my salvation; whom shall I fear? The Lord is the strength of my life; of whom shall I be afraid? When the wicked came against me to eat up my flesh, my enemies and foes, they stumbled and fell. Though an army may encamp against me, my heart shall not fear; though war may rise against me, in this I will be confident. One thing I have desired of the Lord, that will I seek:
that I may dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, to behold the beauty of the Lord, and to inquire in His temple. For in the time of trouble He shall hide me in His pavilion; in the secret place of His tabernacle He shall hide me; He shall set me high upon a rock.” 

Psalm 27:1-5

Whatever it is – from your past or in your present, it isn’t too big for God.  He can work in seemingly small ways to remind us of His huge faithfulness. Have you asked Him to show you His light?

If you have time, here is an amazing account of a Bible recovered after 9-11-01. 
 

 
Joyfully His,
Sara

P.S.  This morning (9-11-14) I looked to see what time it was, and the clock read 11:11 – “God is still faithful, thank You, God … God is still faithful, thank You God.”

His List Is Longer Than Mine

To be completely honest, I wish I were on a beach without a care in the world this morning.  Instead I have a list longer than an elephant’s trunk of things I need to do. 

Thankfully, I have something far better than a day (or week, or month!) at the beach.  And it is not dependent on location, weather, or my state of mind:  God never changes … aren’t you thankful?  So much in life is unpredictable.  Yet, God remains completely trustworthy!  As I stare at what needs to be done, and want to shrink back in my weakness and lack of “want to,” I am hopeful and revived, because God never changes!

The fact that God never changes means:

1.  I am always loved.

“The Lord has appeared of old to me, saying: ‘Yes, I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore with lovingkindness I have drawn you.’Jeremiah 31:3

2.  I am never alone.  He is always with me, as He promised.

“Let your conduct be without covetousness; be content with such things as you have. For He Himself has said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So we may boldly say: ‘The Lord is my helper;I will not fear. What can man do to me?’” Hebrews 13:5-6

3.  He is always holy – He never sins, never messes up.

“For thus says the High and Lofty One Who inhabits eternity, whose name is Holy: ‘I dwell in the high and holy place, with him who has a contrite and humble spirit, to revive the spirit of the humble,and to revive the heart of the contrite ones.'” Isaiah 57:15

4.  He always makes His innumerable resources available
     to me – His kingdom never shuts down!

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ,” Ephesians 1:3


5.  His mercy is unwavering, His grace immoveable.

“For the Lord is good; His mercy is everlasting, and His truth endures to all generations.” Psalm 100:5


6.  His forgiveness is always available for this saved sinner.

“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” I John 1:9

7.  I never stop being His child.

having predestined us to adoption as sons by Jesus Christ to Himself, according to the good pleasure of His will,  to the praise of the glory of His grace, by which He made us accepted in the Beloved.” Ephesians 1:5-6
 
Can you think of anything else to add?  I’m sure there is no end to the list (it’s much longer than our to-do lists!!!), but these are what stood out to me this morning.  Have a blessed day, basking in God’s faithfulness!

How Not to Thrill Satan

“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations,
I will be exalted in the earth!”
Psalm 46:10


I love storms.  I love the booms of thunder, reminiscent of Independence Day fireworks, that shake my house and the lightning flash that always takes me by surprise.  Not so much when I was a child.  But, somewhere along the line I became captivated by God’s power. My boys are also calmed during a storm when I say, “Listen to how powerful God is!”  They are still a little afraid, but they are also impressed. 

This morning during Bible study, I have the rare delight of sitting by my bedroom window as a storm comes in.  The weather radar on the website tells me soon it will be on top of us.

I’ve been working my way through Hebrews, and this morning I came to the last half of Hebrews 12.  Good stuff!  Will you join me for a few moments in His Word? You can grab your own Bible or read it with me here:

Hebrews 12:18-29

Mountain Tour

Let’s go back.  We find ourselves back at the foot of Sinai.  I AM presents Himself to Israel. And all around us we hear Israelites, scared out of their wits, crying and begging for the trumpet sound and His words to stop.  Terror of His might is only surpassed by their terror of His commandments.  Even brave Moses was “exceedingly afraid and trembling” (21).  Behold the power of I AM!

Let’s go forward.  In verse 22 we zoom to another mountain – Mount Zion.  We are situated in the realms of a new covenant, made possible because I AM came further down than the top of a mountain, to live among us.  We read here about how the “God the judge of all” (23) provides “Jesus the Mediator” (24).

“SEE THAT YOU DO NOT REFUSE HIM WHO SPEAKS.” (25)

From the halls of heaven to Mount Sinai, to Mount Zion, to our very hearts.  He is still speaking … are we really listening?

“Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God;  but exhort one another daily, while it is called ‘Today,’ lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.  For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end, while it is said: ‘Today, if you will hear His voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.’”
Hebrews 3:12-15

Satan and Self Don’t Want Me to Listen

I crave solitude.  But I don’t always like quiet.  Whenever I am presented with the rare gift of being at home alone, the first few moments I bask in the silence.  But, soon I turn on music or find myself humming as I work.  I’ve even been known to turn on the radio or TV just for “background” noise.  I like to watch Netflix while I’m working on my menu plan, play the piano, listen to the radio in the van, talk to my Mom or a friend on the phone.

Satan would be thrilled if we are too busy – to ever listen to God.

Jesus died and rose again to have a relationship with us.  How would we like a friend who always talks but never listens?  I love to read my Bible, talk to God as soon as I wake up, talk to Him in the evening before bed, and those sweet moments alone with Him in the dead of night.  But, I rarely take time to truly listen to God.

Why?  Partly time constraints, and the reality of homeschooling two noisy boys.  But, also I think I have to admit, I am afraid of what He is going to tell me.  I’d rather listen to those who say what I want to hear.  What feels good and fits my agenda.  What sin is He going to uncover in my heart?  What is He going to ask me to do?  If I am willing, perfect Love, God Himself, will cast out every fear … replacing it with Himself.

“For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God.”
Romans 8:14

Make An Appointment with God

It’s time to make an appointment.  Otherwise, it may never come to pass.  Get out your day timer or gaze up at your family wall calendar in the kitchen.  Let’s schedule some time, 15-30 minutes, either this weekend or next week just to listen to I AM.  Begin your time by reading His Word and asking Him to speak to you.  Like Samuel, “Speak Lord, for your servant hears!” Then, let’s try to get into a habit of spending time every week, even 5-10 minutes daily, just to listen to Him.  We will be changed by His presence and His power.

The soothing rain and booming thunder draw me in, grabbing my attention and feeding my senses as I sit here talking with you.  Let’s let God’s powerful Self draw us in!  God, in His graciousness, makes Himself accessible to us.  While basking in the riches of His grace, let’s not forget Who He is … and that He wants our attention, our reverence, and our obedience.

“My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me.”
Hebrews 10:27

Just God and Me

“Your words were found, and I ate them, And Your word was to me the joy and rejoicing of my heart; For I am called by Your name, O LORD God of hosts.” Jeremiah 15:16


On Saturday I listened to an inspiring Christian woman speaking about godly priorities while cleaning my room.  Later that same day, while I was folding underwear and sorting socks, I heard another famous woman interviewed on a highly revered Christian website.  As her voice streamed through my laptop, my hopes for a meaty message quickly faded.  I was left feeling parched.  Yes, she mentioned God, spoke about prayer as well as other true and good things, but never communicated God’s own words.  Most of her words were about her. 

More than any other time in human history, we have countless opportunities to hear and learn from God’s Word: radio, television, internet, books, church, CDs, Sunday school, small groups, conferences, magazines, DVDs, blogs, YouTube, email, Facebook, etc.  Certainly there are messages and interviews worth hearing that point us to God.  It takes some work, but we can wade through fluff and find solid biblical teaching.

My concern, as I get to know myself better and listen to others around me, is that we too easily depend on the testimonies of other humans.  Before realizing it, my own quality time with God slips away.  Unless the words of others springboard me toward further personal study in my Bible, munching from the crumbs of other people’s spiritual meals soon leaves me depleted, hungry. 

“And Jesus said to them, ‘I am the bread of life. He who comes to Me shall never hunger, and he who believes in Me shall never thirst.'” John 6:35

If I allow this spiritual malnutrition to continue, my starved self turns to my husband and children, friends and pastor, to feed me, to fill me.  I open my refrigerator, go shopping, listen to music.  My emptiness echoes in my soul, and when women come to me for counsel I give them my helpful opinions and good ideas instead of God’s.  At times my family feels the brunt of my ugliness.  I’ve allowed the potential fruit of the Spirit to wilt and rot.  Then finally, after the damage has been done, I end up where I should’ve been in the beginning: on my knees and in His Word.

Do you have a daily quiet time with God alone?  I understand, it can feel nearly impossible at times with the busyness of life.  Do you enjoy listening to Christian radio but sometimes let that take place of your quiet time?  What about church – do you tank up on the sermon and small group lesson, hoping it will carry you through your stressful week? 

Dear sister, we need “just God and me” time.  If it means getting up earlier, staying up later, shutting down the computer, getting away from the house for awhile, turning on a good video for our kids, declining an invitation from a friend, hiring a baby sitter . . . we will only be PEACEFUL and USEFUL when we spend time with God.  Alone.

“His (her!) delight is in the law of the Lord, and in His law he (she!) meditates day and night.  He (she!) shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that brings forth its fruit in its season, whose leaf also shall not wither; and whatever he (she!) does shall prosper.” Psalm 1:2-3

Stay tuned for ideas to help you develop a quality daily meeting with God.

Special thanks to The Narrow Gate for the picture above.

I Can’t Believe It’s Over!

We have one day left with our daughter Ama.  She leaves us on Tuesday . . . I can’t believe the year is over!

Ama isn’t a blood relative, but she has has lived with us for over ten months.  She’s seen us at our best and our worst!  Awhile back, when Josh asked if she was ever a baby in my tummy, I replied, “No, she is the daughter of my heart.”  Both she and Amira, who lived with us last school year, are so dear to me.  I am blessed to be their American mom! 

[Ama, my fellow woman on God’s mission just came into the kitchen looking for her camera. “The writing juices are flowing,” she observed, as she breezed past me.  After she explained her mission and we both said a prayer, she left to continue searching in her room.  I’m really going to miss praying with her.]

There were moments this past year when Ama and I felt like giving up.  But, God didn’t let us.  He faithfully gave us the strength we needed to grow through the challenges, produce fruit for His glory, and to end the year well.  He has given us the victory!

Ama will adjust quickly to her culture, but she will always be part of our family.  And I know that if I ever have the opportunity to visit Ghana (and I’m fully planning to go, if God and Tim will allow me!), I will find that I have a home and family there as well.

As we finish this two year journey of hosting exchange students, I am filled to overflowing with …

  • memories, LOTS of memories
  • humble thankfulness for the lessons I’ve learned
  • gratitude to God for His faithfulness 
  • joy when I remember the consistent encouragement, love, and prayers of friends and family
  • the fruit and growth God has cultivated in my life through amazing experiences
  • the gift of love I’ve received from two beautiful young women who are now permanently part of my heart and life

After the dust settles, I will tell you more about hosting exchange students; I feel like I could write a book!  For now, please reflect with me with thanksgiving to God for all that He has done!  Ama and I pray that God will continue to work in and through us as we part ways.  Ama, my precious sister in Christ, has already enthusiastically agreed to be the Representative and Coordinator for the African Branch of Women On God’s Mission! 🙂 

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen.”  Ephesians 3:20-21

Push the Pause Button: Taking Time to Evaluate

At this very moment I am enjoying a rare moment of bliss.  My laptop, Bible, calendar and I are sitting at a local coffee shop, in an air conditioned room with, ironically, a cozy fireplace flickering nearby.  It is doing it’s job well, relaxing me while I sip a blueberry Italian soda, nibble an M & M cookie, and reflect on life.  Yes, I’m spoiled.  A whole pack of thank you notes wouldn’t be enough to thank my sweet husband.

It is a break, yes.  But, it is also a work appointment.  As a wife and mother I take my job very seriously.  And sometimes I need to get away from the workplace I love to renew my perspective.

As a stay-at-home wife, homeschooling mom, host mom, writer, daughter, friend, and growing child of God, I must take time to pray, evaluate, and plan for coming days.  When I was single I needed to do the same thing.  It was tedious to face life’s ups and downs alone, besides being responsible for everything. 

We all need TIME to REFOCUS.

Here are some questions to help us check our path as we push the pause button:

1.  God – Is God still a priority in my life?  If so, what is the evidence?  When is the last time I was truly abiding in Him?  Have I poured my heart out to Him today?  How many times a day do I think about Him?  Do people know that I am His?

2.  Myself: God’s Temple – Is my heart soft or hard?  Am I where God wants me to be?  Do I need help?  If so, am I asking for help?  Am I a thankful person?  Am I taking care of my spirit, mind, emotions, and body?  Am I doing ____ for God’s glory or mine?  Are my goals in life reasonable or am I constantly defeated by unrealistic expectations?

3.  Others: Eternal Souls – Who has God given to me as priority relationships to help?  Am I putting them first?  Am I doing my best to help them in their walk with God?  Do I pray as much for others as I pray for myself?  Do I need to change my schedule to make more time for others?  Am I using my influence for good in my home, neighborhood, church, community, and beyond?

4.  My Home: God’s Embassy – Do I have too much stuff in my home?  Is taking care of things weighing me down and sapping energy better used elsewhere?  What do I need to get rid of?  How often do I have people over?  Is my home a refuge for my family?  Is my home a God-place?  Am I clinging too tightly to things?  Is my house a place of peace and joy?

5.  My Schedule: My Soul Test –  What does my schedule say about me?  About my view of God?  Is it too packed or do I need to add some things to use my time wisely?  What is causing me the most stress?  What about it is stressful?  How much time do I spend online every day? What is the first thing I’d like to remove from my schedule?  Why?  Am I dwelling in the past or future instead of today?

Jesus told us what our priorities should be …

“Jesus said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’This is the first and great commandment. And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” Matthew 22:37-40

But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” Matthew 6:33

“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” Hebrews 12:1-2

Blessings abound in us because we are daughters of the King.  Whether we are single, married, with or without kids, an empty-nester, a grandmother, or are standing at the end of life on earth, God wants to help us live with His heart.  All we need to do is ask Him! 

Be Thou My Vision

Be Thou my Vision, O Lord of my heart;
Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art.
Thou my best Thought, by day or by night,
Waking or sleeping, Thy presence my light.
Be Thou my Wisdom, and Thou my true Word;
I ever with Thee and Thou with me, Lord;
Thou my great Father, I Thy true son;
Thou in me dwelling, and I with Thee one.
Be Thou my battle Shield, Sword for the fight;
Be Thou my Dignity, Thou my Delight;
Thou my soul’s Shelter, Thou my high Tower:
Raise Thou me heavenward, O Power of my power.
Riches I heed not, nor man’s empty praise,
Thou mine Inheritance, now and always:
Thou and Thou only, first in my heart,
High King of Heaven, my Treasure Thou art.
High King of Heaven, my victory won,
May I reach Heaven’s joys, O bright Heaven’s Sun!
Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,
Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all. 
– Forgaill