Saturday, January 21, 2012

God knows your prayers before they are prayed!

This morning, at 6 am to be exact, I was awakened with floods of thoughts for my next blog post. One thing in particular stood out to me since a year anniversary of this date just passed...

Around January 12, 2011 I got a strange message on FaceBook from my cousin  Barbara's son telling me that I needed to call my other cousin, who happens to be Barbara's twin, Martha. The number was there so I immediately picked up my cell phone and called "home". Home is Upstate New York where I was born and raised until the age of 11, for most of you that don't know where I am from.

So, I call immediately thinking that something is terribly wrong with my Uncle Larry, just knowing I am going to have to give my mother some sort of bad news about her brother. Turns out the whole thing has nothing to do with my Uncle and has everything to do with my cousin Barbara. I am shocked and in a frozen state. All I know is I HAVE to get to New York to see her because she is dying...

Yes, it is cancer, cervical to be exact, and she is dying!? Floods of thoughts just overwhelm me. Barbara is ONLY 2 years older then me! How did this happen? Oh my Lord, what about her kids, she has 5! What will happen to them? She is a single parent! Why would she wait until now to tell me? Doesn't she know that I love her and would have wanted to come spend time with her? If I had only known I could have prayed for her and asked my friends to pray, too! I have seen miracles happen! Is she born again? What if I don't make it in time!? New York is an 18 hour drive and I am definitely bringing my family, she has never met 3 of my 4 kids....I better hurry!!

Off we go to New York! My kids are super excited because they have never visited the place where I am from. They knew my cousin was sick with cancer  but none of us knew what we would see when we finally made it and it was going to change us all, forever. The rest of my story is not for the weak, this is my blog and I intend to keep it real! Read on with caution...

We finally arrived around 5 am the following day and we are greeted warmly by my cousin Martha and her husband Patrick. My uncle lives pretty close by and will be over soon. Barbara is lying in a hospital bed in Martha's living room and as soon as she hears us come in she wakes up and waits patiently in her bed as we all hug each other...since she is too weak to get up, she had no choice but to stay and wait. She smiled softly at me from across the room and I couldn't help but to shed a few tears. She had a knitted hat on, because her hair was all gone from the chemo, and her face was gaunt. Always a very strong personality when we were growing up and into her adulthood since she had to overcome a lot for personal struggles. Right now, she looks like a frail little girl. Scared to death, of death.

My whole ride to New York I said my prayers, "Lord, I know the Dr. is saying she IS going to die. Please Lord, touch her body and make her whole. Please Lord, not for me, selfish me But for her kids. They can't lose their mother, she is all they have! Lord, you have the ultimate say. No Dr. is above you! Jesus, heal her! Amen." Once I walked in I was confident in saying, "Oh yeah! I am here now and MY God can get you right out of that bed! Girl, you are healed in JESUS name!" My confidence lasted for about 30 minutes...

I don't know if you know what happens to a persons body when their organs start shutting down and all your food you have eaten and fluids you have been drinking have no where to go...Let's just say, they do go somewhere and it is horrific! After about 30 minutes of my being there and sitting beside Barbara's bed, holding her hand, she became nauseous. Something was about to change my entire prayer, Oh, ye of little faith! That was me, I am ashamed to say it but it's true. My cousin started vomiting and she was not vomiting that bile junk we all do when we have not eaten. She vomited feces. It was the most inhumane thing I have ever witnessed and I pray to God that I never witness anything so horrific ever again! It is unlike any gross movie you have ever seen. The smell will make you want to vomit yourself! My kids hit the front door running like nothing you have ever seen before. Martha just held the pan for her sister and rubbed her head until she was finished, got a cool towel to wipe her face and cleaned her up. Since this was my first experience with anything even remotely like this, all I could do is stand in a state of shock while my mind is telling me to get the heck out of there! I could hear me asking myself, "Why in the world would you want to stay and watch this!!??" In that moment my prayer became, "Please Lord, that is too much for a person to bear. I came too late to pray for healing. Please, don't let her suffer. Allow her to go in more of this. Amen." 

This went on for a few more days and I stuck it out. I wanted to be there for Martha. She had taken on the responsibility of caring for her sister. We all grew up in a family of nurses and CNA's and we have seen things and heard stories that would make your skin crawl! There is no way Martha would allow her sister to be taken care of by anyone else. She also had the daunting task of carrying out her sister's final wishes. Barb of course wanted nothing to do with the drugs that had been provided, well except for the stuff for nausea. She had several pain medications that would ultimately allow her to fall asleep and would shallow her breathing, but in turn keep her comfortable. Barbara and Martha are both CNA's so they knew the deal and Barbara was having none of it! She was not ready to die...she could beat this!

At one point we were all together in the living room and she cried out, "I don't want to die! Why is this happening to me!?" I wish I had an answer to give her. All I could do was cry when thinking about my prayer between me and God. I grabbed my laptop and plugged in some ear buds and searched for my worship music. I needed something uplifting. My head was spinning in a million different directions and my children were all by my side. Christian Jr. came and sat next to me and looked at me with the most beautiful, soft eyes and said, "Mama, I don't know what I would ever do if you died and left me. I love you, mama." I will never forget the look on his face. He was being sweet but there was also a fear in his eyes. I prayed, "God please, never let my children have to go through this. Amen."

It wasn't long before the nurse from Hospice talked Martha into giving Barb the meds her Dr. had prescribed because she was in extreme pain and very restless. I talked with her about it and told her it was the right thing to do. Nothing had changed for Barb and she was in an extreme amount of pain. She cried and I cried but we all knew we had to think about what was best. It wasn't right to keep her in pain especially if it was selfish because we didn't want to say goodbye. Early Sunday morning we all sat in Martha's living room and watched as Barbara breathed her last breath. She was surrounded by people that loved her and we all wished she didn't have to go. It was God's time to take her and at that instant I knew my very first prayer had been answered...she had her healing. I would rather it had been here on earth but God had other plans.

There was just one more thing that began bothering me, eating at me really. I didn't know if she was born again. I did know that we were raised in the same church but that is all I knew. When we did talk I didn't really talk to her about Jesus. Not to ask, "Are you saved? Do you know that Jesus died for you and that he just wants you to acknowledge that he died for you? Have you ever prayed the sinners prayer?" No, I never asked any of that. I know she didn't lead a life most people would say she needed to lead to merit her a ticket into heaven. Maybe God allowed me to make it in time so that I could be the one to actually witness to her and lead her to Christ? Did I not do what God had called me to do? I was disappointed in myself for not asking her these questions and ultimately could have been responsible for her unsaved soul. In that instant God gave me a smack upside my head and said, "Do you think I have to wait for you? Wait for you to get here to witness? Wait for you to get here to heal? Haha! I think NOT!" 

Barbara's children had been attending a local Baptist church. They had brought us food and had just ministered to us the whole time I had been there, I am pretty sure way before then, too. Coming in quickly with food, drinks, and anything else that we might have asked of them and then leaving. Since it was Sunday morning Barbara's kids, even though their mother had just passed moments ago, were getting ready for church. The Pastor came in with one of the deacons and sat with us while the kids finished getting ready. The deacon began talking about how he had a chance to speak with Barbara alone while she was at the hospital just before I had gotten my FaceBook message. He talked about an opportunity he had to ask Barb about her life with Jesus. She told him she believed in God and that she believed Jesus died on a cross for our sins. She was hesitant about the fact that she could ask for forgiveness and be born again. She just couldn't believe all she had to do was to say, "I am sorry. Please forgive me." and He would. After all she had done some pretty horrible things in her life. (HAHA! Haven't we all!?)  He went on to tell the whole story about that time they had shared at the hospital and how she ultimately DID ask Jesus to enter into her life and that she was SAVED! I couldn't have been any happier to know that God DID answer every single prayer I had prayed. He didn't NEED me to help Him out! Duh! He IS GOD! He can handle things on His own!

I know this has been a pretty long post and hopefully you have been able to sit and read the entire thing. The meaning behind it is just what the title says, "God knows your prayers before they are even prayed!" God is a faithful God...He answers before you even ask! Sometimes, the answer is no. My cousin had to leave this earth. Sometimes, the answer is yes. She had a saved soul and is now in the most loving arms of Jesus!! 

I love you, Barbara! Thank you for being a witness to me...
This is a picture of my cousin Barbara before cancer ravaged her body.
Barbara during my time of visiting with her before she went to be with Jesus.

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