No Strangers in God's Family
SALLY ESSEX • Georgia
In 2003, John Tomlin had bile duct cancer and had already been seeking a liver donor for over a year. Numerous church members and family had failed to pass initial rounds of donor screening but John’s neighbor, Becky, was interested and made an appointment at Quantico Naval Medical Clinic to explore the possibility.
The day Becky arrived at the clinic, Sally Essex was on duty as a medical assistant. The women chatted about John’s situation and the growing urgency. At that point, John was told he had only about a year left to live without a transplant. In the meantime, he was determined to recover and care for his wife who had brain cancer. John recalled, “It was like we both got hit in the head with a coal shovel.”
Unfortunately, Becky was medically disqualified from being a donor but that clinic encounter with Sally sparked something. Tests proved Sally’s hunch right. She had qualified as a donor for John. “It didn’t matter that I didn’t know him, because we’re all God’s children,” Sally said.
John’s donor search had also been fueled by faith in God. While trusting that “all things come to he who waiteth,” he believed in free will and working diligently toward recovery.
Although most donors are a close relative or friend of the recipient, Sally found herself on the phone with John just a little uncertain about whether her race would matter to him. She explained her own willingness as long as he, a 60-year-old white man, was okay with the idea of receiving part of a major organ from a 44-year-old black woman he’d never met. John was elated and grateful. A lifetime friendship began that day.
Sally and John agree that their lives were ordained to intersect in this way. “This is not about me, and it’s not about him, “ Sally said. “It’s about God. This is part of his plan.”
Both Sally and John remain healthy today. John’s wife, Jackie Tomlin, went home with the Lord 7 months after his transplant.
Teen Sees God Causing Cool Relational Intersections for Her
MOLLY • Minnesota
God is good and works in mysterious ways. Like for instance, my parents (both architects) are redoing a couple’s house and the wife mentioned needing a helper at North Memorial Hospital for their "lactation boutique." My mom told me about it and I called the woman the next day and made an appointment to meet with her. I got the volunteer job. I want to be a nurse so this was a blessing. Also, a teacher at my college works at North and the (woman from the remodeling project) is going to introduce us!
I am stoked!
Hurting Wife Recognizes God's Presence in Others
NAME WITHHELD • North Dakota
(We) had one of those "bumps in the road" (after almost 50 years of marriage). As the Hebrew children, I have had to go "around the mountain" over and over. God is called our Wonderful Counselor and there was much he had to teach me.
I will always remember God's comfort as I tearfully turned on the television and a minister was just speaking the words: "I have loved you with an everlasting love. I will never leave you nor forsake you." (See Jeremiah 31:2-4 and Deuteronomy 31:8.)
Another time I was sobbing and feeling under Satanic attack. The phone rang and it was our son-in-law. He didn't ask what happened...this kind, godly man just prayed a beautiful prayer over the phone that turned my tears of torment into tears of praise to God.
...(this) has given me a deeper empathy...my emotional pain will be worth it if God can use me to plant seeds of faith.
Father Receives Comfort and Guidance from God's Word
FRED • Minnesota
The Word really is our roadmap for living. Through losing a brother-in-law at 33, a daughter at 16, my wife at 56, and times of waywardness of a son and adopted daughter, I have found that what you say about the comfort of the Holy Spirit is indeed true. My late wife and I found comfort in 2 Corinthians 1:9-11 and also the declared faith of Shadrach, Meshack, and Abednego in the fiery furnace. Those three knew a little bit about trials as do you folks.
A Surrendered Comfort Zone Gives Lukas New Life!
ANGELA • Minnesota
I would like to share my story with you about what "getting out of a comfort zone" looked like for me and my husband. My husband and I started dating in July of '98 and were quickly married in June of '99. It was quick but when you know, you know. We tried for years to have kids and with no luck. We even tried fertility and still no baby. Well, life changed for us drastically in June of 2005. We learned that my husband had a child out there from a prior relationship before we met. He never knew about this child and this really was a shock to both of us. There were moments for me of confusion, anger, and sadness that I was not going to give him his first child. We went through the motions required to determine if this child was actually his. The day before Fathers Day we learned that he was indeed 99.99% the father of a little boy (7). He was actually born 3 months before we started dating.
We were determined to make sure that we would be part of this child's life since we finally knew about him. We still were not prepared for what would lie ahead of us. We finally got to meet this precious boy (Lukas) to find that he was wheelchair bound, non-verbal, drinking out of a bottle, not able to feed himself, mentally about 18 months, and many behaviors but boy did he have a heart of gold and the smile to light up the world. Okay, so now we find out about this boy and find out he has special needs. What a shock!! There was no diagnois at this time. The mother was not actively trying to find one nor was she taking him to any type of therapy. Relying completely on the school system to provide his care. We immedaitely starting having him over every weekend and as often as we could. We wanted to build a relationship with Lukas and to figure this out for him and see how we could improve his quality of life. There were so many unanswered questions and the mother just was not cooperative in working with us. After many doctor appointments we learned that we was being abused at home and not getting quality care.
We decided that it was time to get full custody of this child so that we could concentrate more time on him. We would make improvements with him while he was with us and it would all change while with his mother. We were sucessful in gaining custody and he came to live with us full time June 23rd 2006.
Since this date his mother has made no contact with us at all. In our 2.5 years of having Lukas in our home he is now able to walk, mentally about 3, less combative, drinking out of a cup, feeding himself, playing with toys, able to use a communication device to talk with us (still in the beginning stages), and we have a diganosis. We just found out in early 2008 that he has Angelman Syndrome with the deletion of the UBE3A gene.
Reading about your journey with Carly I could see how we have some of the same challenges and yet many of the wonderful moments of smiles, hugs, and a loving spirit. My son is now the same age as Carly (10).
We prayed for children and our wish was granted. Not in the manner that we thought would happen! God has a plan. I believe that with everything that I am. We are so blessed to have this little boy. It's not easy, as you know. Our support system is extremely small. Date nights do not happen. We spent many years married with no kids and the ability to do anything together. This has been a drastic change for us. But, we would not give it up for anything. Our faith has helped us through this time. I think that most marriages would not have made it through this. We were shaken out of our comfort zone, that is for sure. But, God is good. We have a wonderful child in our home who is thriving and improving each and everyday!
Family Digging into God's Word Together
JONA • Minnesota
My family has agreed to do a Bible Study — Praise God! Perfect timing because not all have agreed on what to study in the past.
Healing is Contagious!
KAREN • Virginia
Our daughter has autism. About four years ago, by the grace of God, I found my way into a neighborhood Bible study. This led to a great deal of healing on my part and where God opened the door to my heart and developed a passion to advocate, not only for my daughter, but for others with disabilities and their families. This September will begin the third year of the faith-based support group I started at my church for parents raising children with special needs. It is called "Living in Holland" (based on the well-known essay "Welcome to Holland").
In 2008, I started a community-wide interfaith organization called the Faith Inclusion Network (FIN) of South Hamptom Roads. The group's mission is to promote awareness and programs for people in our circumstances who miss out on the support of a church but do not even attempt to participate because of barriers of attitude and/or ignorance.
The “Kloster Challenge” Inspiring Couples to Pray Together
JOHN & DENEEN KLOSTER • Minnesota
With the Kloster’s permission, their family friend wrote to us sharing this inspiring example of faith and obedience in adversity:
“John Kloster, a well-known optomistrist in the Pequot Lakes area, went to the Mayo Clinic about his brain tumor on Friday and will go back to the chief neurologist tomorrow (Monday) for treatment options. He got up in church this morning and tearfully told that he had gone to visit his parents in Fargo and shared the overwhelming news. His parents told him they would do anything for him. So John asked them to get on their knees and pray for him out loud. He had never seen them do that in 48 years of marriage.
John wants all of this situation to glorify God. So he asked every married couple in church today to get on their knees and pray out loud. Singles, too, were asked to find a friend to pray with. He challenged the men to look around and find an accountability partner to check in with each week — to help each other stay faithful to praying with their wives.
Our Pastor then got up and asked all of us to get on our knees right then and there to pray together — Everyone."
In October 2009, John was diagnosed with Grade IV Astrocytoma, a malignant brain tumor. His prognosis suggested one year to live. The Kloster family embraced their days together in faith while John grew increasingly passionate about encouraging couples to pray together.
John’s wife, Deneen, wrote us saying: “God has given John a strengthened faith, courage and a desire for everyone to go to prayer, in all circumstances. Little miracles abound.”
John went home to Jesus on August 9, 2011 yet his legacy of faith and commitment to prayer remains celebrated today.