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       Standing on Faith

 

It was late December 1998;   I was feeling rather sorry for myself from my recent divorce, my second. I received a late phone call from my daughter, Amy, who was married and twenty years old. She told me that she had a terrible headache. I asked her if she wanted Nikki, my younger daughter to come spend the night with her as Amy’s husband worked third shift and wouldn’t be home with her. She assured me that she would be okay. I told her the old proverbial, “Take some aspirin, drink plenty of fluids and go to bed.”

 

Amy and I worked at the same printing company. She would call me every morning when she got ready to leave. We would leave at the same time and walk into work together. I cherished those times and the time was soon coming when those times would seem threatened.

 

Morning came and I didn’t get the call from Amy.

“What could be wrong?” I thought. I was very concerned. I called to ask if she was okay.

 

Her husband had just gotten home from work and answered the phone, “Something is bad wrong with Amy!” he said. “I found her curled up in the corner of the bathtub, shower running, talking out of her head.” 

 

My heart began pounding! I had to get to her quickly!  I didn’t know what kind of condition I would find her in, but I knew I had to get to her. I hurried to my car and drove to her house. When I got there, her husband had managed to get her out of the shower and into the bed.

 

 I ran over to her, took her hand and asked, “Amy, Amy, are you okay?”

 

“Oh, Mom!!” and then all kinds of gibberish. Every time I would pat her hand and ask if she was okay, she would holler out as if in pain, “Mom” and then gibberish.

 

We knew we must get her to the hospital. We tried to get her out of bed, but she would jerk away from us and yell as if we were hurting her.

 

 “Call an ambulance” I told her husband, fearing that time was of the essence.  

 

The ambulance got there and I found myself following the ambulance carrying my lovely daughter to the hospital. I knew something serious was going on. As I mentioned earlier, I had gone through a recent divorce, so I was feeling very alone. I thought of my mom, but she was out of town. I thought of my sisters, but they were either at work or on their way to work. I started myself a little pity party.

 

But that didn’t last very long as I heard that small still voice saying, “I will never leave you nor forsake you.”

 

So I spent the trip following the ambulance talking to God. It is a good thing that God knows our heart. I could only cry out, “God, please let my little girl be okay!”

 

“God, please take care of her, I don’t know what is wrong with her, but you do. I beg of you to watch over her.” I can remember saying “Please” over and over through tears. I am sure I was talking to God in sometimes broken sentences that might not have made sense to anyone else, but God heard and understood.

 

I can look at that time now and say, “Thank God that all my family was unavailable at the time. If they had been there, I would have been spending my time pouring my worries and concerns out to them instead of pouring my heart out to God.”

 

I got to the hospital and they took Amy right back to examine her. The emergency room doctor began questioning me. “Does she do drugs that you know of?”

 

My answer was, “No, not as far I know, but a mother doesn’t always know, so test for whatever and do whatever you have to do to help her!”

 

“Tell me about Amy,” said the doctor.

 

“She is married, never misses a day of work, attends church, and seems to have her life together.” I said, describing Amy the best way I could.

 

“This doesn’t sound at all like someone that would do drugs.” He said. “Let me check something real quick”

 

He came back, after looking in her eyes and said, “It is definitely not drugs. Her vitals are strong, but something is going on and we are going to find out what.”

 

After a series of blood tests and lots of other tests, he came to me and told me, “The only thing left to try, is a spinal tap to check for Spinal Meningitis. There are two types of Meningitis, Viral and Bacterial. We are expecting Viral, it is bad, but it usually runs it course and is gone. With Bacterial, they usually don’t make it to the hospital. If they make it to the hospital they usually go into a coma and many die.  It can be as little as six hours from onset to death”. With assurances that they expected Viral Meningitis, they took my lovely daughter away to do a spinal on her.

 

It wasn’t long before they came back. I noticed the look on the doctor’s face. I have to admit, I was shook up. He came to me and said, “I am so sorry. It is Bacterial Meningitis. I am so sorry. That was the milkiest fluid I have ever seen.”

 

 I quickly realized that her spinal fluid should be clear. In my mind, he was telling me that this was the worst case of Bacterial Meningitis that he had ever seen. No mother ever wants to hear a doctor say to her, “I am so sorry” when speaking of one of her children.

 

 I could feel a deep panic start to bubble up. “Is he telling me that my daughter is going to die? Is she not going to make it? I can’t lose my baby! No, No! My mind and my heart screamed” 

 

Then I heard that wonderful still small voice speak to me again, “You claim to be a woman of faith. You can either stand on legs of faith or you can crumble. Which is it going to be?” 

 

I thought back to the trip to the hospital where that same still small voice said, “I will never leave you nor forsake you” I knew then that everything was going to be alright. I felt the most wonderful peace that my God was in control, not the doctors.

 

It wasn’t long before my faith was put to the test. They were going to run a culture on the spinal fluid because there are three types of Bacterial Meningitis, Streptococcus, Haemophilus and Neisseria, with Neisseria being the worst. They needed to determine which strain she had to determine treatment.  

 

After the conclusion of these tests, I heard these words again, “We are sorry, it is Neisseria.”  How many times would I hear the words, I am sorry?  Now they were telling me that she had the worst of the worst. Panic or Faith? I chose faith.  I knew the Great Physician was handling her case.

 

The Neurosurgeon came in, examined her and said, “We are pouring the penicillin to her. We hope she will react to this, However if she does it, it still may be five days before she even recognizes you.”

 

Well there was definitely a higher power at work than any neurosurgeon.  In a matter of hours, not days, she not only recognized me, but was holding a conversation with me. The same God that healed the blind and made the lame to walk had touched my daughter! There are no words to describe the awe, the amazement, and the gratefulness that floods your whole being when you have witnessed such an event!

 

Her first words to me were, “Oh, man, I missed perfect attendance by two days!”  This means that not only did she recognize me, but she understood where she was and she understood time. What a miracle God had performed. I don’t mind telling you, I did a happy dance!!

 

With Bacterial Meningitis, there are often lasting effects. There are some that even have to have limbs removed because of dying tissue. Survivors can suffer long-term complications, including hearing loss, mental retardation, paralysis, and seizures. The healing of Amy was complete, no lasting effects at all!

 

Life is full of choices. We are given that free will to choose how we live our lives. That day, I had to choose standing on faith or drowning in fear and despair. So if I ever had to give advice to anyone who is going through a hard time it would be this….Above all…STAND!

 

A MODERN DAY PRODIGAL SON

As much as we may just think a lot of the stories in the bible are just that, stories to help us see the Silver Lining at the end. This is a about a family that lived the Modern Day Prodigal Son. The end is a glory that God is still alive and working in lives to show his will and strength. Several years back, my son Joey and I was pretty tight. Fine young man who just adored me and truly loved me. Joey while in the public school started hanging around some kids that was a real bad influence on him. That is when the trouble started. As with any parent you do not want to see the worse in your child what they are doing. When Joey entered High School things got really out of hand. Drugs and all kinds of stuff. One morning we thought he had taken an overdose of something because we could not wake him up. Booze was nothing to him. Joey would stand up and fight me with his hands and fist. It was becoming a horrible, horrible situation. Joey quit school his Senior year and left home. Moving in with some young man that did the same as him. Brad was his name. We did all we could to bring him home. We lost contact with him. Not knowing where he was are he was doing. My greatest fear was not that he had died but that he did not have anything to eat. As we know now Joey wondered around from home to home. Living with whoever he could. More drugs and booze. He sold all that he had. During these two years as a father and man, I had some of the most hard decisions you could ever make. I heard from my wife everyday on this. Wanting me to find him and bring him home. Standing alone (or thought I was-Christ was always with me) I was called some of the most horrible names from my parents, sisters, my wife side of the family. From unfit father to no good daddy. At nights while traveling and working for the Railroad as a bridge foreman, I would stand in the window from my hotel room and think of Joey. Praying to God why and just keep him safe. This went on it seem forever. Finally when I just about to give in I just told God he belong to him. That Joey was dead. That to me he was in the ground now. He belong to you God. Do as you wish. After that night, sleep became easier. Oh the devil's hell that I kept catching was coming from all around me but I knew I had made the right decision. More and more people was praying for Joey. About four months after that night I got a phone call. As a foreman I had to answer a number I did not know. It was Joey. He said dad I want to come home. I told Joey he did not have a home. I ask where he was. He told me was in a Mission Shelter (Angel of Mercy) in Louisville. I told him I would make a deal with him. I knew of a school and home for him to go to, too get his life back in order. If he did that I would let him come home. He agreed. I made some calls to a friend and he help me get Joey in. A year later I got a call from Joey telling me he was about to graduate from the school. He wanted me there. I told him I would be there. His mom and I. Joey met his future wife there. She is a real treat. When Joey came home I gave him one month under my roof with some very hard rules. After that time he had to go. After that one month Joey had his own apartment. He had a job and he has not looked back since. Joey married Pabi and got a wonderful young son. Joey and Pabi just brought a home with the help of course from Dad and Mom. Joey works as a lead man and just got promote to part time/feel in supervisor. The greatest part is not that Joey and I have a wonderful relationship again, but he has a relationship with God. Yes that is right GOD. His desire to serve him for the lost time he spent out in the wilderness. This story proves just one thing. GOD is real. His love for his own is real. So if you feel like you have to give in or give up on God, please don't. Mostly you men. Stand strong. Take the arrows and cuts. Someone has your back. His name is JESUS. As the bible tells us "he will never leave us or forsake us". Stand strong. If you ever need to talk. Let Bro Chuck know and I will help all I can. Remember it is not us but him. The one who died on that cross for me and you. With God's Love Richard Hardin