Facing Death

It was a normal Wednesday night. Homework, dinner, choir. During the normal chaos, I got a simple text that changed everything.

“Kim is in the ER.”

My husband called her husband. Here are the words I heard him repeat:

Emergency surgery. Transported to a better hospital. It’s serious.

Kim is my dear friend. Let me tell you about her. She is the kind of woman who when she says she’ll pray, she actually does.

She holds me accountable. She gives me solid advice.

We joke that God loves her more. I swear, that girl and God are tight.

You can see her faith. She’s not all talk. Her actions and life model the faith and integrity in her heart. People are drawn to her.

And, on this particular night just a few weeks ago, the doctor frantically said at the emergency room, “We’ve got to get her transported quickly. She’s a young mother, we can’t let her die.”kim

She has three kids (five, three and eight months). And, a wonderful, faith-filled husband.

When her husband heard the doctor’s words, he fell to his knees (at her feet) and began to pray. Then, she looked deep in his eyes and told him she was ready to die. No time to think, peace was her gut reaction. Peace. She said goodbye. It was the conversation no one ever wants to have with a loved one.

The original CT scan showed her organs were failing because of a kink in her intestine. Her small intestine was actually knotted with the main artery that supplies blood to all the major organs. It was serious.

They searched for two hours trying to find a surgeon to take the case.

Her dad, a doctor himself, got on a plane in Hawaii before the surgery even started. He knew the odds.

We later learned only 8-10% actually survive. Of that small percentage, most have organ complications.

Immediately upon arrival to the more-equipped hospital, they began cutting her clothes to prepare for surgery. There was no time. Her husband was audibly praying with her and the surgical team, as they pushed her bed down the hallway. The doctor and his team nodded their heads and said, “You can’t go any farther.”

Then, the waiting.

Hours.

And, everything went in slow motion.

The doctor finally emerged and said, “It went way better than I expected. She is okay.”

Tears of joy.

Then, a gazillion texts. So thankful for the answered prayers.

The next day, the young doctor came to visit. He said, “As soon as I repaired the intestine, I watched your organs turn from gray to pink. It was amazing. I don’t use this word often, but it was a miracle.”

She responded, “All God.”

Several days later, she asked for the surgeon again. She had only seen him the day right after surgery. The nurse on staff said, “Sweetie, you were his last surgery in San Antonio. He’s relocated to a different town.”

Y’all. If I didn’t walk through this story with her, I wouldn’t believe it myself. They could find no surgeon to take the case, it took more than two hours to find this one. And now, he’s gone! God makes all things work together to accomplish His purpose.

She has a beautiful, huge scar. We call it her “God tattoo” – a reminder that God saved her that day.

I don’t understand everything about prayer. Sometimes, it’s answered the way I want. Sometimes, it’s not. But, this I know for sure, no matter the outcome… God is always by your side. Kim, even when facing death, had total peace. Only God can give that kind of peace.

“Indeed the very hairs on your head are numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.” Luke 12:7

Fully Rely On God (F.R.O.G.)

I remember reading my friend’s post that her five-year-old son wanted to grow a tomato. He was on hospice care, and she was sick to her stomach thinking … my little boy may not live to see this plant grow a tomato. They planted it, and she prayed.

Her son had been a healthy baby, full of energy and a bright smile. His favorite color was yellow. When he was only three and a half, he started having uncontrollable seizures and then brain surgery which revealed brain cancer.

And just like that … life was never the same again.

Throughout his two years of surgeries, radiation, chemo and being sick from side effects, Jaxon would collect toys and donate to other sick kids. In their deepest, darkest of days, they gave to others. No self-pity. No complaining. Just giving. That’s FULLY relying on God.

On Thanksgiving Day 2012, Jaxon’s first tomato was ripe enough to eat. Jaxon passed away four days later. Much to his mother’s surprise, when she checked the tomato plant on the day Jaxon went to Heaven, another ripe tomato had grown. As she calls it, a “God-wink.”

Jaxon was famous in our community. I would get stopped in the grocery store because someone spotted my “Team Jaxon” shirt. Because of this, there was a public and private memorial service.

I watched Jaxon’s parents graciously stand in front of a large crowd for his public memorial service. His three-year-old sister called his casket a “treasure box.” They spoke eloquently and shared fun family memories. I distinctly remember Jaxon’s dad describing his favorite sandwich hug.

Tears.

When we attended the private memorial service, we drove up to a horse-drawn carriage perfectly-sized for Jaxon’s “treasure box” — I bawled. I thought this small, private service would be much more difficult filled with raw emotions.

Yet again, Jaxon’s parents stood in front thanking us for our support. They shared beautiful, amazing stories of Jaxon loving Jesus, getting baptized and showing love to others. It wasn’t fake or a canned, medicated speech. It was a humble mom and dad who had pain in their eyes, but God in their heart.

“For I can do everything through Christ, who gives me strength.”
Philippians 4:13

Jaxon’s mom always has a smile. And, behind that sweet smile, I know there’s been unfathomable pain, heartache and tears. She’s been through the worst thing I can imagine.

Yet, she’s still standing.

Still smiling.

Still giving.

Still living.

She continues to FULLY. RELY. ON. GOD.

And, only God could give that kind of strength.

Jaxon leaves a legacy of giving. His parents continue their work with Jaxon’s F.R.O.G. Foundation (http://www.jaxonsfrogfoundation.com/). You can also follow them on FB @ Team Jaxon – FROG.

Just like that new tomato on his plant, Jaxon’s family welcomed sweet little brother, Maddox, on March 21st! God is not only the giver of eternal pain-free life, but He continues to give new blessings in this life.

Please Don’t Die

We had enjoyed a wonderful day together. We hiked, she beat us all to the finish line. We went to a carnival, I especially remember the fun on the water bumper boats. We rode horses on a beautiful trail. We had just finished dinner at Pizza Hut, then decided to play putt-putt before heading back to our hotel.

As we played putt-putt and laughed hysterically, she yelled, “Stop! I’m going to pee in my pants!”

So then, we began to plan her 40th birthday party. My half-sister and I joked that we would have “over-the-hill” signs everywhere!

As she stepped up to the eighteenth hole, something went terribly wrong.

She collapsed.

I caught her head, but she was unresponsive. My dad held her, and we went to get help.

In those moments, life seemed to stop.

I felt sick, like I had been kicked in the stomach.

Even now, remembering the memories, it plays in slow motion. SLOW.

I remember crying in the bathroom and repeating in my head, Please don’t die. I can’t tell your kids they’ve lost their mother.

That was 13 years ago on Father’s Day weekend. She was my step-mom. She had a massive stroke at 39 years old and died within 48 hours. It was a tragic and devastating loss.

There were no words for the numbness and pain.

Two weeks prior to her death, I was sitting in church and realized I needed to forgive both my dad and step-mom. It was in my heart, an urgent prompting like never before. Our relationship was not good, I was young and immature. To be quite honest, I was bitter and jealous.

I finally got up the courage to contact them. I apologized, and they did too. We cried. My gracious step-mom asked if we would like to go away for Father’s Day weekend.

She said, “We will start over as a family and re-build.”

That was the weekend she died. It was supposed to be a weekend of restoration and moving forward. It became even more.

I learned a major life lesson — Do what God asks now. Don’t procrastinate.

I was forever changed… the day she died.

God speaks directly to our hearts. The Bible tells us that He puts the Holy Spirit in our hearts to lead and prompt us, when we accept Jesus as our Lord.

In Acts 2:38, Peter says, “Change your life. Turn to God and be baptized, each of you, in the name of Jesus Christ, so your sins are forgiven. Receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.”

In Galatians 5:16, we learn to “let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves.”

Our human nature tends to ignore God. We don’t want the hassle, don’t have the time, we simply don’t want to deal with our issues. It’s not always easy or comfortable to do what God asks.

No matter what, follow God. Listen for His voice. Seek His advice. Do what He asks now, and don’t procrastinate. I know from experience, you may not get another chance.