Posts tagged: 5 year anniversary
Two of my best friends are inside these pictures. During the SDSP 06, we were placed into Bible study groups to journey with together that summer. This was mine.
After, praying ardulously for me for those 2 weeks and trying numerous times to visit me in the hospital, my group finally made it up to OC to visit me. They brought the bible study to me.
It meant so much.
I missed these people.
They came up with several giant, poster board cards they hand made with all of the SDSP signing it. They also bought me a gift, a NASB Study Bible, with a note in it encouraging me.
I will always treasure these things.
They were shocked to see me in my state - but the very fact these non-Southern Californians braved rush hour traffic to drive the 5 North to come visit me - was a memory I’ll never forget.
It helped heal my heart and soul. God was very good.
These are photographic proofs of how God healed. Part of me wishes my parents would have taken photos of me in the hospital so I could see how close to death I really was - all for the sake of seeing how powerfully and miraculously God really did move, but none of us were thinking about that at the time. For story telling purposes, photos of my hospital visit would be amazing.
Notice how I look. Glazed eyes. Scrawny. And, look at my hands. My hands were stuck in a claw (this will be important eventually - promise).
God saved. God healed. Not instantaneously, but over 13 days and the next 18 months. I am so, so grateful.
I have never been happier to be home - but my days of sleeping for 22 hours a day had just begun. On a scale of percentages, at this point in time, I was 2% myself. I had a long way to go. Recovery would not be easy. My brain and body were both drained.
I would not be myself for a very, very long time..
For 13 days I writhed and wrestled in a hospital bed.
My time lying, dying, sleeping, healing, praying, waiting was not reminiscent of Job - but more in comparison to Jacob’s encounter with God, where he wrestles God, is left with a limp, his life is changed and so is his name as a result of it (Genesis 32:22-32). For 13 days, I was confronted with realities I never thought I would face. I thought being a Christian and being in the center of God’s will was the safest place to be (misrepresentations I was told over the years). God was here to bless me and make my life better (truths, yes, but not in the ways people usually think about it…). God, in a way, was a cosmic vending machine - all I had to do was put in the right amount of change and what I wanted would squirm out.
God called me to San Diego, to go on a Summer Project, with Campus Crusade for Christ. He called - I obeyed.
He also wanted me to get a staph infection of the blood. He wanted me to be in the hospital for 13 days. He wanted me on my death bed. He wanted me to be in recovery for 18 months (yes, you read that right). He wanted to heal me. He wanted it to not be instaneous.
On July 17, 2006, my fever was down for 48 hours (I think they stretched it a bit, as my restlessness was becoming rapid and they knew I needed out). I was discharged. This discharge did not mean I was out of Forbidden Forest, rather, I was just now entering it. If I would have had this disease several years earlier I would have been transferred to hospice and monitored for the next six weeks or so as they made sure the staph infection was gone and gave me my antibiotics. Thankfully, they found patients heal better at home.
My mother became my nurse. They gave us our own IV machine. They delivered the antibiotic to our house, that was over $1,000 a bag. I needed one of those a day for the next six weeks. I had weekly doctor visits.
I was healed. I was saved. But a new chapter began.
They warned, the staph infection, could come back inside the next six months. See, in order to fight the disease, they had to get rid of all my white blood cells too. I was weaker then I’d ever been before in my life. A common cold could lead to it’s return. If it returned the chances of me surviving it was under 5%. If I felt anything close to any of the symptoms of the staph infection, I was to come in immediately.
I had no idea what recovery would look like. Or how long. No one did. See, “When people get what you get, as bad as you get it, they die. Thus, we have no idea what your recovery is going to look like, or how long it will be…”
I was healed but my adventure had only just begun…
(The next posts will detail this part of my journey, what God did, why He did it and anything else important…)
(Sorry I have left the story of God’s movement hanging for a while. It has been a really busy time - but a really amazing time. Thanks for reading - I have left details and stories out. If you have any questions, any comments, please feel free to message me them. I’d love to get your opinion, questions or just be able to flush things out for you - to give you a full picture of how amazing Jesus is.)
On July 3, 2006, I never dreamed I would be in the hospital for as long as I was - I don’t think anyone in my family or community did. Especially after I survived the first several nights - I cannot imagine my family thought God’s movment and rescue would be extended and drawn out. I was expecting a magical finger snap and to be right back on my feet at 100%.
Why? Because those are the stories of God’s movement you hear. The testimonies you hear are the drug dealer whose life instantly changed. The alcoholic who stopped drinking the moment his life encountered Jesus. The promiscuous man or woman who immediately called off their bad relationship and devoted their life to kiss dating goodbye and to do nothing but hold hands the moment their life was placed in Jesus’ hands (please, read my sarcasm into this…). Yes, our God does move in these instantaneous, snap of the finger, miraculous ways - but they are the exception.
Abraham and Sara did not just give birth to a son - it took years. The Israelite’s wandered through the wilderness for years. Nehemiah didn’t build the wall in a day. There were 400 years of silence before John the Baptist. Jesus worked a job for 30 years before his first sermon. One blind man Jesus healed had to go through several steps to be healed. Now, we live in the now and not yet where we wait for Jesus to fully heal and redeem the world when He returns.
We are left in a time where we sit in wait, in restlessness. God works miracles, but too often we wait want God to snap his cosmic fingers - heal us now; give us a job now; let us get married now; cure me now; stop looking at pornography now; get rid of my depression now. God can move instaneously - but many, many times He chooses not to.
I will never try and explain it.
God always has a purpose in why His movement is not instantaneous.
At times, as is the story in my case, a healing is about more then a healing.
A healing is about the process, the journey. A healing is about making Jesus famous. A healing is about sanctification. When Jesus heals the man who is lowered through the roof by his friends, He says “your sins are forgiven” (Mark 2:1-12).
My healing, the miracle and movement of Jesus in my life, was to make me into the man I am today.
5 years later I am deeply humbled, grateful and thankful for Jesus giving me the staph infection of the blood and, conversely, healing me.
Before we delve deeper, there is one story I must tell. Honestly, it is one I do not have the privilege of fully knowing, for I was a continent and an Atlantic Ocean away, in Romania, on a mission trip. On July 3, 2005, my brother came down with a stomach ulcer.
He almost died.
I received an e-mail telling me the story. My parents called shortly later when we figured out how to make an international call work. I had no idea what to do. Did I stay? Did I go? If so, how would I get home?
Needless to say, I stayed. My brother was rushed to surgery and after that moment, all he needed was to heal. His life was safe. I had no need to rush home.
Romania was an interesting trip. It is what pushed me to get involved in Campus Crusade for Christ and thus go on a Summer Project.
My brother, went to the same hospital I was in. According to my sister, when I was let out of the DOU, she had a case of deja vu. For, I was placed in the same room my brother had stayed in a year ago.
Same room. A year a later. Deja vu. I was not there. I had no clue. Today, I find it humorous how God chooses to orchestrate His movement. At the same time, all of this, hit my family hard. The timeline, the deja vu’s, the story, all of it, was more then my family could have expected. My parents know that if it wasn’t for God’s guidance and miracles they would have lost both their son’s in the span of a year.
Think about what they must have felt.
This post though, is about my sister.
She is a rock. She is an amazing woman. She is one of my best friends.
I may have been the one lying in the hospital bed. I may have been the one dying. But, she was going through as much emotional and spiritual turmoil as I was. Today, this experience is probably why we are so close.
Despite her full time job, she faithfully came and sat with me, prayed over me, cried over me, grieved with me and served me - every day I was in the hospital. Every day. She would come, give my parents a break so they could try and get distracted. She kept my parents company - a very important job.
My time in the hospital was excruciatingly difficult on her. God used this time to shape and form her as well. All of my family for that matter. I’m thankful she was there. I’m so thankful God worked in my sister through this.
My sister is amazing.
My story is not a solo story; it took place in family and community.
My story is also her story.
It’s humbling to see, now, five years later, just how much God used this time to shape and move more then just myself. Because of my weakness, God made her better.
In a way, I’m thankful for that.
God is good. God is so, so, so much. In this post, good will suffice.
My silence has been purposeful. After July 7, not too much changed. The days blended in. Tests were my normal. Waiting, wailing, wishing, praying, hoping, longing, anticipating, were my routine.
Visitors came. They stared at me in horror. They had no clue what to make of the once strong man lying, writhing, in their midst. I saw their faces. Their uncomfortableness. What made it worse, was for the first week, no one knew what was wrong with me. No one. Thus, no one knew how to react.
After July 7, the tide began to change. Dr. Henson and his team began to narrow what it could be killing me. On about July 9/10th (I don’t quite remember), I was finally removed from the DOU. I was taken off of some machines and tubes. The recovery was happening - slowly - but slowly was better then nothing.
Let me give you some context:
In the midst of this, I was confused and lost. Yet never once did I think God had left me. At this point, God had kept me alive for more then a week - a week longer then any doctor could have expected or explained.
My days were filled with reminding myself of God’s truths, of prayer and petition, of worship. The song, Never Let Go by Matt Redman was my anthem. I was talking to nurses and doctors right and left. Each one of them was amazed by my family’s resolve, faith and trust. We had some fun conversations.
There are stories I’m forgetting - this I’m sure.
The next several posts, will begin to be evidence of God’s healing and saving.
The groundwork has been laid.
The introduction is over.
The story has only begun.
Abraham being told his offspring would number the stars - was just prologue. Joseph being given a coat of many colors - was a preface. Moses being placed in a basket, in a river, by a faithful mother - was mere warm up. Joshua leading the people across the Jordan - was simple inauguration. The Judges were preamble. Saul was a foundation. David slaying Goliath with a sling and a rock, was a beautiful foreword. Nehemiah begging his king to let him go rebuild the wall of Jerusalem, was faithful initiation.
God’s movements and stories usually begin this way.
Mine is no different. My lungs lived to breathe another day and another. My heart kept beating. My blood kept flowing. My body didn’t shut down.
The DOU was only my foreword. No one knew could have guessed it. God’s movement had only just begun.
My life as I knew ended in one short week; yet God was beginning something entirely new.
After July 5, 2005 the timeline get’s a little complicated. Like I said in the previous posting - a new rhythm was developing. My life was consisting of IV’s, MRI’s, CT Scans, Bone Scans, Bronchial Tubes, Ultra Sounds, X-Rays, blood work, morphine, Asthma treatments, visits by doctors, prayer, sleep, attempting to eat food, not being able to walk and so many other tings. Days begin to blend in after the first several. This may only be because it took time for new developments to establish.
There is a story, a miracle, a movement of God that I have not published yet. In fact, this may be the biggest miracle of them all, because it was entirely out of our control - or anyone’s control for that matter.
My life, will forever be indebted to a doctor by the name of Henson. He is a man with many degrees on his wall. He is the doctor of infectious diseases. He became my personal doctor for my hospital visit. This saved my life.
I was let into the ER on the Fourth of July - a holiday - a day in which most doctors, except for the ER and a few others, took it off to be with their families. For whatever reason though, Dr. Henson, decided to come in for a little while on his off day and do some paperwork.
He did not have to be there.
The ER doctor who was looking over me, heard Dr. Henson was in his office, so he took a shot and gave him a call asking him to come down and take a look at me. Dr. Henson willingly came down to see me.
He did not have to be there.
At the time, these details were insignificant and pointless. He was just a man with a bunch of degrees and a fancy title. A doctor is a doctor, right? They are all the same. In just a few short days, we would understand, he was not just your average doctor.
God chose to use him, to save my life.
God chose to use him, so he could meet my family.
No one knew what was wrong with me, until about July 8 or 9. I was on my death bed until they knew what was wrong with me. Even after that point I was not out of the quick sand until I was released from the hospital - even those days had their unique complications. Yet, this man, worked tirelessly and around the clock - to save my life.
He practiced medicine on me. He had many theories - I do not know what they all were. At one point, on July 6, all the doctors and nurses came into the DOU wearing bio-hazard suits. I thought this was a dream. I figured it was something I was making up. Clearly, I had to be George McFly from Back to the Future.
When I awoke in the morning, I remember my dad telling my mother the story of bio-hazard suits. The one line I will always remember to this day was “When they came in, I wondered when they were going to bring me my suit? Then, I got worried, because I figured it meant they thought it was too late for me and whatever he had, I already did. Then, several hours later, they all dressed back to the standard scrubs again…” They never did tell us what the suits were all about. At one point, I guessed Bird Flu (yes, this was around the time the world was scared of the Bird Flu).
By the grace and mercy of God, through the prayers of many Saints around the globe, Dr. Henson finally figured out what was wrong with me. After about five days of guessing, trying and failing, he found the right medicine to defeat this sickness.
Dr. Henson was a miracle from God. He did not have to be in the hospital on July 4, 2006 - yet he was. Looking back on it now, if he was not there, I am probably not here. He is an example of how God uses everything for His purposes - whether they know it or not. He was not a Christian, yet, God used him to help save my life. He was just doing his job, but God was using him for far more then that.
Dr. Henson, the Infectious Disease doctor, was a miracle. He is proof of God’s divine plan inside this period in my life. God wanted me in the hospital, stricken with sickness. God also wanted me to live.
God had big things in store for how He was going to use this sickness. Just wait…
I love my church. Is that a hip or cool thing to say any more? I love my local expression of the Kingdom of God, here on earth, that is my community and family of God. I love it.
Tonight, was one of those moments where being inside a community you love just overwhelms your soul with the way God works.
My weekend has been marked by remembrance and celebration. It has been one of contemplation, reflection and thanksgiving. After all, celebrating God saving your physical life, five years prior, is something that just radiates peace and gratefulness.
In an irony of Godly proportions, RockHarbor Fullerton, as we are going through the book of Mark, took the opportunity to preach on Mark 5:21-43 - the healing of an unclean woman and Jairus’ daughter. In our community’s culture of intentionality, we long for the words and stories of scripture to shape us. We long to be formed by this book, because we know the Kingdom is near, at hand. We know, one day Jesus is coming back and He will make all things right. But, we also know how He has given us His authority to go to the ends of the world and help usher in His Kingdom. Thus, we want to live expectantly, allow God to work and step into what He is doing in the world around us.
To sum the previous up in one sentence, we believe God is healer and still heals today. The story of the woman and Jairus’ daughter was not just a story of then, but one of now. The disciples healed. The believers in Acts healed. Church history since then is full of miracles and healing stories.
I am a story of healing.
I am a story of God’s Kingdom being near.
I am a miracle God chose to heal, save and make a testimony of how He still heals today.
Not because of anything I did.
Not because of me earning it.
Not because my community earned it for me.
God chose to heal me.
Don’t get me wrong, there was all kinds of prayer and petition. People I didn’t even know were praying for me. People all over the world were praying for my healing. (And I was, but more on that later…)
RH Fullerton hit me hard tonight. The only other time I have been hit this hard with the realization and truth of God saving my life, was on the one year anniversary. I was overcome with gratitude.
Five years later and I’m blessed to be alive.
Five years ago, God showed me He is still in the business of healing.
Five years ago, God healed me.
Five years ago, God granted me life.
Five years ago, my story got interesting…
So grateful five years later I’m alive, at RHF and stepping deeper into the reasons why God has me alive.
God heals, I’m proof.
Do you believe God heals?
The trip back up to San Diego, was simple and uneventful. Well, as opposed to what the rest of the next several days were set to bring. Me and Jason, along with our newly acquired Mexican pastor friends, drove to the border. We dropped off their van at their house, they gave me several bottles of Gatorade to help me out, and one of them continued our journey north, to the border.
If you’ve ever been to the border, you know how crazy it can get. Getting a car near it is not fun. So, he dropped me and Jason off about 2 miles away from the border so we could walk. The only problem was a good portion of that walk was up a hill. At this point, my body was struggling so bad that I could not make it up the hill to get to the border.
I was constantly stopping.
Trying to get energy.
Trying to push through the pain.
Trying to talk to Jason to distract myself, as he kept pushing me (as he knew, I had to keep moving, because stopping wasn’t going to help me) to keep moving.
But, eventually, the journey to the border was finished.
By the time we got across the border and to the SD trolleys, it was close to sunset. The temperature was dropping and I was good and ready to sit in the trolley and sleep inside the air conditioning as we rode it back to Mission Beach and our hotel.
Ironically, a year ago to the day - my brother was admitted to the hospital with an ulcer. It nearly killed him. So, as I was riding the trolley a voice mail was left on my phone, from my family, saying: “We know you won’t get this til tomorrow, but we wanted to let you in on our celebration of a year of life for your brother!”
Naturally, I had to call them. It was an interesting conversation. See, sitting in the air conditioned comfort of the trolley and the cooler weather began to make me feel better. So, when I called my parents they had me call the doctor, who advised me to get rest, call them in the morning and we could set up an appointment if needed.
But, see, my parents also asked me to call them back and relay what the doctors said. Only, I didn’t do that. Because, the moment I got back to my room, I threw my mattress on the floor and passed out/fell asleep.
Throughout the night my family called me upwards of double digits.
I didn’t answer once.
As they did, I was feeling so bad that I played a game of hopping in the shower and back to bed. I did this because I was trying to soothe my hurting back and this game helped alternate and mask how bad I was actually feeling.
It didn’t work.
I didn’t sleep.
I was getting worse.
I wonder, now, what would have happened if I stayed in Mexico…
I wonder, what would have happened without those Mexican pastors…
I wonder, what would have happened had we been able to get me back to SD earlier…
I wonder, what would have happened if I had called my parents back…
I wonder, what would have happened if I would have fallen asleep that night…
I wonder, what would have happened had I never been in SD…
I wonder, now, how this all began…
This leads us to July 3, 2006… Where my not answering my parents phone calls, is probably another miracle that saved my life…