I believe in miracles and the power of prayer for I have seen wondrous things. Just last week I smiled at photos of a little boy named Holden in his football uniform and at his kitchen table preparing for the beginning of the school year. It wasn’t that long ago that hundreds of us were storming the heavens on behalf of Holden and his family. When he was only an infant he was diagnosed with leukemia. He spent much of his early life undergoing tests and treatments in Texas Children’s Hospital. His milestones were marked by chemotherapy and painful procedures. Somehow he kept a delightful smile on his face and his family maintained a remarkable strength and faith that in spite of all of their trials, everything would one day turn out well. His grandmother called him Holdie Pants and often declared that she loved him to the moon and back. His first friends were other very sick children, some of whom did not make it. Weeks and months and years went by and the hope for Holden continued unabated. One glorious day the doctors declared that his leukemia was in remission. A reminder of just how sick he was surfaces each time he must regularly undergo tests to determine if his cancer has returned. So far he has done well. Now he appears to be just a very normal little boy but those of us who know him realize that he is a heavenly miracle standing in front of us.
It’s been about four years since my dear friend, Linda, informed us that her youngest son, Brian, had been in a very serious accident. He and his buddies had been out on a weekend afternoon enjoying the adventure of riding all terrain vehicles. In an instant their fun turned to tragedy when Brian’s four wheeler went out of control and landed on top of him. Brian is a tough guy and kept insisting that he was fine but his friends could tell that his injuries were serious and they were right. Brian had severe and life threatening internal damage. His devastated family requested that we storm the heavens with our prayers. His condition was touch and go for a time and even when he was stable he still had weeks and months of recovery ahead. It was a frightening time but with the power of prayer and his own determination to fight his way back, Brian is once again enjoying a life that might have been cut short but for a series of small miracles that placed him in the hands of exactly the people that he needed to heal his broken body.
Around twelve years ago my youngest daughter, Catherine, was desperately attempting to have a child. More than one doctor had told her that she had so many problems that she would probably never successfully conceive and carry a baby to full term. She was determined to try every possibility but nothing seemed to work. After literally years of effort she was finally able to announce that she was not only going to have one baby, but two. At first things went smoothly but her body told her that she must be very careful. She had to quit her nursing job at Northwestern Memorial Hospital in downtown Chicago because the hours were too long and the work was too strenuous. She had begun to cramp and show signs of trouble. When she was midway through her pregnancy she was experiencing a sleepless night because of her discomfort. This proved to be a kind of second miracle for her because while she was tossing and turning she heard a repetitive sound coming from the hallway of her apartment building. When she opened her front door to determine what the annoying noise was, she realized that there was smoke coming from the floor below her and that the fire alarm was buzzing away while all of the residents continued to sleep peacefully. She managed to not only rouse her husband but also most of the residents in the building. As she stood in the street without even a pair of shoes she realized that some angel was protecting her and her babies and the loss of all of her worldly goods meant nothing to her.
Catherine’s story continued to be blessed with amazing miracles. Long before her babies were ready to come into the world she went into labor. There was great concern that her infants would be born with undeveloped lungs and possible birth defects. Nonetheless all efforts to stop the process appeared to be in vain. We prayed all day long while understanding that the premature birth of Catherine’s beloved babies was inevitable according to the doctors. Somehow what should have been a joyful occasion was terrifying. For reasons that the doctors were never able to explain Catherine’s contractions stopped as suddenly as they had begun. Her babies would have some additional time to grow before being born. She would spend an almost unbearable amount of time lying in the hospital and later on full bed rest at home. The babies were eventually born early but in a much better state of development. Their medical problems were minimal compared to what they might have been. They were and have always been miraculous.
Most recently Catherine was once again faced with a frightening possibility. A routine medical examination two years ago indicated elevated liver enzymes. The count eventually decreased and the doctor wrote the experience off as one of those random mysteries that sometimes happen. When the same thing happened again and then again the physician became more concerned. She sent Catherine to a specialist who ran a series of more refined and intense tests, what my doctor niece referred to as the million dollar examination. Surprisingly he found that in addition to the elevated liver enzymes she also had a high count of antigens. This combination generally indicates the presence of a very rare auto-immune disease that attacks and destroys the liver. There is no cure for the illness, only measures to treat the symptoms and hopefully slow down the inevitable process. The doctor told Catherine that there was only a one to two percent chance that she did not have the disease. He explained that people with the disorder generally live for five to fifteen years after the diagnosis.
Once again our beloved friends and even some who did not know us stormed the heavens with prayer requests for Catherine. Her main focus was on living long enough to raise her miracle children. Time was all that she really wanted and she endured an incredibly tense time waiting for the results of additional tests and mentally preparing herself for whatever may come. This week she was able to report to all of us that somehow both the enzymes and the antigens had returned to normal. An MRI showed that there was no sign of any kind of disease in her liver. All of the previous problems had gone away. The doctor was baffled as to how this had happened but happy to be able to tell her that she should expect to live a long life with her family. Like little Holden she will have to return periodically for tests to determine if any of the problems have returned but at least for now there is much to celebrate.
Catherine believes, and I agree, that this is yet one more beautiful miracle that has blessed her. She knows that so many good people spoke to God and begged for a good outcome for her. The power of prayer has once again set things aright and she and all of the members of our family are so grateful.
I’m not the most faith filled person that I know but many of the individuals from whom I requested prayers truly are vessels of God’s glory. I am humbled by the many loving responses that were offered for Catherine. Somehow I believe that there is something quite special about Catherine and her children. I can’t help but feel that God has a plan for them that has not yet been revealed. Who knows what He will one day ask of them! He is great! He is good! He is working through the wondrous souls who spread His word and His love.