Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Miracles STILL Happen

   Image result for miracles

     Nathan is an extremely hard worker.  It seems natural for him to rise before daylight, silently get ready for the day, & slip out of the house without a peep.  Usually he's walking to work right across our yard or either headed out on his next hunting or fishing adventure.  It all depends on the seasons & the weather.  Either way, he's not much on sleeping late or being lazy.  He learned to work ridiculously hard (& overwork) from an unheard of young age as labor on his family's watermelon farms.  Sadly, according to every doctor we have seen, those sacrifices cost him tremendous damage to his joints.
     Nathan loves most every outdoor activity & sports.  He may be just a tad bit on the competitive side.  ;)  He has never been one to sit on the side lines.  He enjoys getting in on the action at whatever event is going on, especially with the church youth & of course with our 5 too.  Even the south GA heat doesn't stop him either.  He'll just chug down water & keep on going!
     Once Nathan reached his teenage years, he began experiencing pain in his wrists & knees that would be common for a man 4 times his age.  He worked right on.  He was never taken the doctor to address the issues.  He just wore a brace from time to time.  The pain would come & go.  Not long into our marriage, he broke his ankle getting off a tractor.  This was the 1st time the situation was addressed.  In a local ER, x-rays confirmed the break in the joint.  That night after he finally drifted off to sleep with the aid of pain medicine, I lay wide awake.  I didn't know what we would do without him being able to work for the rest of the summer in the fields.  We were practically kids ourselves raising 2 little bitty girls with not a dab of savings.  I cried & I prayed.  I begged God to heal him.  The next morning we drove about 3 hours away from our rural area to a specialist from one of the best hospitals around.  After the doctor confirmed the break, he ordered more x-rays.  He explained that he needed to see different angles in order to come up with the best possible plan for surgery.  Nathan was wheeled out.  I sat & waited.  He returned.  Soon the doctor came in carrying the new x-rays, displaying them on a white board side by side with the others.  To all of our amazement, the new x-rays showed no break at all!  It was a miracle!!!  Yes, his ankle was still hurting, swollen, & black but no longer broken!  They allowed us to bring both sets home.  You know how in the Bible days they would erect an alter & name a place in remembrance of a particular time God moved for His people?  We keep them as a sign from God that He is able.    Needless to say, we left amazed!
     Several years passed by.  In an after church basketball match with the youth, Nathan injured one of his weak knees.  Immediately, we gathered around him in prayer.  As the years rolled on, his knees became easily injured.  Playing volleyball with church youth would regularly end with another injury for Nathan.  When we snow skiied, you could count on a major knee injury occurring.  Finally, the pain became an every day challenge.  His knees regularly give way, & he falls just walking around.  We sought opinions from several different specialists & he's been prayed for more times than I can name.  We knew God was able but seemed like surgery was going to be a must this time.  The scariest part was the recovery time of 1 year.  We finally accepted the fact that he would have to hire extra workers for his business instead of being the main guy all the time.  The dates were lining up.  We picked out a doctor.  Our insurance has even approved the procedures.  We would wait until after CHYC since he was the night speaker.  We had one empty week to rest up at home the holiday week of the 4th before the final plans would begin to take shape for him to go under the knife...
     Normal people would just relax at home & enjoy the holiday, right?  Right!  But not us...what do we do?  We unpack from a fun filled (but exhausting) week of youth camp & pack up to head north!  There was a campmeeting with a great children's church program to attend, messages from the Master to deliver, & great friends to fellowship!  Just because Nathan had an upcoming surgery, that doesn't stop him!  We thoroughly enjoyed ourselves at each church!  We were even invited to attend somewhere we had never been before only to experience the power of God touch lives through the message & move in a mighty way in the alter service.  We planned a big 4th for the kids in Helen since we were up that way.  We had tons of fun tubing, picnicking in the park, wading the mountain streams, eating ice cream, & watching an amazing firework show to boot.
     We were encouraged although the surgery seemed to loom on just ahead of us.  Everyday I could tell it stayed on Nathan's mind.  He gave in prayer requests everywhere we went. Even I dreaded going home as the days counted down for I knew what lie ahead.  One night during alter service at a church full of hundreds where we don't regularly attend or know many people, Nathan was approached by an elder gentleman asking his permission to pray for his knee during the alter service.  People were all around the alters praying with one another.  Nathan said no one else gathered around them.  The gentleman just humbly prayed for Nathan's knees.  There were no fireworks, no lightning flashes, no Hollywood sound effects, nothing.  I never even noticed myself.  Soon we all were back at our pews & dismissed.
     A few phone calls came in which called for a change in our schedule & meant for a hard Sunday.  We would now be rising extra early to pack & get the 7 of us ready in time to attend Sunday school & to minister in the morning service in a church in Athens, eat after service with friends, & hit the interstate for a 3 1/2 hour drive west to minister at a youth service in Alabama.  The only thing that made this possible was the hour we would "gain" crossing state lines.  Our minds were focused not only on carrying the messages but also on surviving our day.  At this point, all of us were over tired.  As much as we love to travel, 7 worn out passengers can make for misery.  To be openly honest, $ we had allotted to cover trip expenses were dipping way below our comfort level which also added a dose of stress.  Nothing blew up on the road though.  No one fussed.  It seemed as if a silent fog of sadness entered our van.  Disappointment came tagging along to.  We were doing everything we knew to do & our circumstances were looking bleak.  Quickly, we rolled into AL.  We rushed around in a frenzy getting everyone ready & barely made it to the service on time.  I could tell during his preaching that Nathan wasn't his usual self.  Not only had the long day taken it's toil but no doubt the upcoming days ahead worried his mind.  It was as if a great storm were brewing & we were heading into it instead of away.  After the youth service, we stayed for the supper & games in the gym.  It was after midnight before we headed off to bed.  The next morning we awoke to the frenzy of packing & loading up for the drive home.  Not much was said 'til Nathan broke the silence...
     All of a sudden it just dawned on him that his knee hadn't bothered him a bit since the man had prayed for him.  He began to tell us all what occurred.  He began reminiscing the volleyball game he participated in the night before, how he played harder than he had played in years with no pain.  Suddenly, our long faces turned into smiles of rejoicing.  Only God can do that!  He began poking where his ACL was torn & would normally cause sharp pain.  He was pain free!  Our van filled with praise!  He began calling those close to him that were keeping up with his situation to deliver the amazing news.  Our cell phones began ringing off the hook.  The 4 hour ride home seemed like no time at all.  We rejoiced together!
      Right now I am blessed to watch Nathan & all 5 of our kiddos running around playing ball in the yard.  Their laughter abounds.  He's running & falling in the grass with them.  The smiles are priceless.  It's been several weeks now & still no pain.  He's cancelled his appointments.  No need in going now.  PTL from whom ALL blessings flow!  I can't thank Him enough!  I don't understand why bad things happen but I do know a God who can handle it all!  He is more than sufficient!  He has never let us down!  Our faith is increased in Him!  Whatever you are facing, don't quit before your miracle arrives!  Today could be your breakthrough day & your life could change forever!

Wednesday, July 8, 2015

CHYC 2015

     Just a few pictures from our local youth camp!  We all look forward to attending!  The kids make a countdown calendar each summer in anticipation.  It's basically a full week of morning VBS classes, fun daily activities, & nightly youth services.  For the past 2 years, Nathan has been honored to be the night speaker.  This year hit a record attendance of 433!  I can't say enough wonderful things about it! What can be better than spending a week every year learning, laughing (definitely TONS of laughing), drawing closer to God, & watching hundreds of children & youth establish their relationship with Christ!?!  Nothing shy of our most amazing week of every single year!!!