Saturday, September 17, 2011

God Appearing

Throughout the Old Testament we read the words “…and God appeared.” Among the most familiar recipients of these appearances are Abram, Moses and Hagar. Since "no man has seen God at any time," I take it these Divine Interventions were through His still small voice, an audible voice, or a Christophany, an appearance of Christ in the Old Testament.
August 29, 2011 was a God appearance for me. After a night of chest pain, my husband Robert insisted that I go to the ER, concerned I was having a heart attack. After the initial testing, the EKG and blood work concluded there was no “cardiac event” going on. The doctor continued to try to find the source of the pain, which had subsided greatly by then. I remember looking at them and saying "It's my lungs.”  I had had a cold that had turned into an asthmatic bronchitis the previous couple of weeks. I had been treated with antibiotics and steroids, but I thought maybe this was pleurisy, an inflammation of the lining around the lung that can follow an infection. They came and gave me a GI cocktail, a mixture of stomach meds, designed to calm down an angry digestive track to see if that are was the culprit of the mysterious symptoms. No real change occurred. The doctor came in and said that the blood test did reveal an elevated enzyme that is usually present when clots are somewhere. Suspecting a pulmonary embolism, he ordered a chest X-ray and a CT scan.
I remember waiting for the results and thinking to myself  “this is no big deal," and having an extraordinary sense of peace...so much so it seemed to flood the room and  Robert and I even nodded off. Once I stirred and looked at him and thought how much I love this man who was still clutching my purse after being handed it by the nurses on my arrival. Truly, he is “my favorite” and I have been so blessed by his faithful care for me for the last 29 years.
Soon, the doctor came in and said “We didn't find a blood clot, but we did find a mass."
He went on to ask me some questions and said he was calling back the pulmonologist on call to take a look at the test results. After a bit, they both came in and began to ask more questions, beginning by saying they thought this was valley fever.  It made sense. We had just been forced out of our home for 6 weeks due to a monsoon ripping our roof off. During the first few days after that disaster, there was a lot of dust etc, floating around and they said that that was about right for the incubation period for valley fever. They sent off some of my blood to be tested for that and said it would be 5 days. 
That night when I got home I remembered that about 5 years ago, I had gone to the ER with a very irritated cough and chest discomfort. They also had done a CT and discovered a small nodule. The doctor said it looked like a valley fever nodule, but that because it had been discovered, I needed to have follow up CT scans every few months to monitor it. This was 2006. In late 2008, they noticed a very, very slight increase, so they sent me to a pulmonologist. He looked at my chart, told me this was no big deal and to go live my life and forget about it, (he was NOT a good doctor) but I had no symptoms, so I followed his advice.
Remembering this history, I went to a file I had, and found that last CT result page. What jumped off the page to me was not the info about the node, but another line that talked about an area of opacity (shadowing) that had enlarged in the exact same area where they had found the mass. A small increase from 8 mm to 10 mm, but now (Aug. 29, 2011) it was 3 cm or 30 mm…3 times the size. The next day, I felt worse and went to an allergy asthma doctor I know who gave me some stronger antibiotics because I just kept thinking, "why didn't they treat this with antibiotics if they think it could be an infection?”
On my way home from that appointment, the ER doc called and asked how I was. I told him worse, he asked if I wanted to be admitted and I said no but he agreed that it wouldn't hurt to try antibiotics. I told him about the CT scan page I found, and he asked me to call him back when I got home and read it to him. I did. He told me he was going to get all those years of CT’s copied and over to the pulmonologist by the time I saw him    at the end of the week.
On Friday, Sept 2, Robert and I went to the pulmonologist. He met us and told us the initial valley fever test was negative. He then took us to three different computers and showed us this questionable area beginning with 2006. A tiny shadow, then a tinier bit bigger shadow, the last screen revealed a golf ball size shadow. I felt like I had been kicked in the stomach and I started to cry. The next few minutes were blank as he talked about cancer…different kinds, treatments etc. I snapped to and asked what the next step was. He said a PET scan and then a biopsy. I asked if we could do those that day. He and his staff swung into action and the soonest they could schedule me was the following Tuesday for the PET and Thursday for the biopsy. I later rescheduled the biopsy until Tuesday the 13th, because I realized I would not be able to be mobile at our Women's Retreat Sept. 9-11.
The PET scan revealed a glowing mass (this kind of glow is not good as malignancies glow). Next came the needle biopsy, done Sept. 13. Two days later, the doctor called and confirmed it was cancer; the type has yet to be determined and will take a few days.
We have appointments with oncologists next week.
You might be wondering what this has to do with a “God appearance.” I see God's fingerprints everywhere. I am stubborn...it took pain (that was unrelated) and a persistent husband to get me into the E.R. The hospital I asked to go to was not the closest one, but I totally see God's hand here. First, I got in right away. Secondly, the doctor is one of the nicest, most conscientious physicians I have ever met. It's been a long time since a doctor called me the next day to see how I was doing. This mass would have laid undetected had I not gone then. Also, the pulmonologist that happened to be on call has been referred to as the best.  He also is so, so kind.
We are never out of the Father's sight. We may think we are protecting ourselves or controlling things, but He appears at distinctive moments in our lives to intervene and direct or redirect…to show us His love...and His power.
Many thoughts have swirled in my mind these past few days, but when I am quieted, I hear His still small voice assuring me that He is my Father. Tender, strong compassionate, loving and ever faithful. He is watching over me, and you- His child, of this I am confident.
"How great the Father's love for us. How vast beyond all measure. That He would give His only Son, to make a wretch His treasure."

29 comments:

  1. Praying always for you Lees! and your whole fam!

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  2. Thanks for sharing this....Lots of praying going on.
    I am eager to see what the Lord will do in yours...and all our lives, as we put ALL our hope...and TRUST in HIM!!! Love Love!

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  3. Lisa, you are amazingly strong woman and example to me. I love you and your family and will be in continual prayer for strength for all of you and healing in His will <3
    -Maricella

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  4. Praying fervently for you Lisa!

    XOXO

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  5. Lisa, I have known you for several years and yet only those truly closest to you KNOW you well, and share your personal life details. I thank you so much for sharing this personal experience with a more public audience.It must be God's design and call for you to do so. I can only ponder that it is through this, that He will reach others.Love and prayers to you always.
    Crystal

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  6. I love you so much. Best sister anyone could ever have. Praying for you always. Love, Debbie

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  7. Praying for you and your family Lisa. Thank you for sharing. Love in Christ,
    Barbara Chronister

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  8. My family is praying for you and your family Lisa!
    In Him,
    Kelly Stevens

    Below is a favorite quote of mine from this blog: http://www.mymeanderings.net/569387386/item/

    "YOU EITHER BELIEVE GOD IS SOVEREIGN OR NOT. His control over my life is very real to me. I trust Him." ~ Jeff

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  9. And still the best friend anyone could ever have! Can't stop praying for you. May Jesus continue to bless you with His strengtth, peace and comfort. Love you very much!!! Delfina

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  10. Lisa,

    We are praying for you and your family!
    ♥ ~Jeannie Bouchard~

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  11. You don't know me, but my friend Teresa shared a link which shared your blog link. I am praying for you, beloved of Christ, that in all ways you would continue to feel God's touch during this event. God is always good and He is always faithful. May He faithfully grow you through all of this.

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  12. Thank you for sharing what the Lord is doing and encouraging us by your faith. We are praying for both of you and your family. The Lord uses these times to teach or to redirect us. Your congregation is holding you up. We are also praying that the congregation will be faithful in trusting the Lord for what he holds for us as a gathering in His name.

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  13. Thanks for sharing this with us Lisa, I continue to pray for you, Robert and your family daily and often. May God graciously comfort you moment by moment. Thanks for all you did to make retreat a very meaningful experience for me. Love, JoAnn

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  14. Thanks for sharing, Lisa. Have been thinking about you and am praying, praying, praying...

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  15. Thank you for sharing, we love you and are praying for you. We need you God knows that. He wants us to pray, and we are.

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  16. Lisa

    You're in my prayers...
    I finally (after 20some years) wrote about Holly's cancer this past year. It always amazes me how God turns hard times into beautiful glimpses of Him.

    hugs.
    cheryl@sweetwaterstill.com

    cheryl ellicott

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  17. Thank you So much for your openness and honesty to share with us what is going on. Your whole family is in my prayers.

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  18. Lisa,

    I only met you once last year at the East campus Calvery Women's bible study. You probably don't remember me, but I want you to know that you are such a great lady, and that God is using you to show us that we must have Faith that he is there with us all the way in our troubles and trials. You are a great example of a faithful women to me, and such blessing to know you. My heart is so troubled to know what you are going through, and as I pray for you, I know the Lord is with you. May he carry you in his sweet arms. Love you God Bless you, I will continue to pray for you and Pastor Robert and your children. Lucia

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  19. Though you don't know my wife and I, you are on our prayer list and the prayer list at both CC Jacksonville and Christ's Church Academy where I am head of school.

    You already know we are called to rejoice in all circumstances. I pray this is a season that grows your marriage, your family, and that you bathe in God's love. Remember Jesus was in the fire with the three in Daniel 3 and He is with you and will deliver you too. We are praying for a complete healing. Be strong.

    In Christ's love,
    Steve & Robin Blinder

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  20. Lisa -- Our family went to CC Tucson before we moved to Colorado 5 years ago. We have kept up with Robert and the ministry there via Facebook and our Calvary Denver Radio 89.7Grace FM. We are praying for you as you face this trial. I have been a witness to your strength and your courage as I knew you from a distance, sitting under your teachings at conferences and retreats, just gleaning so much from your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. He will use this trial in your lives to continue to shepherd and encourage women under your care as your light for Him shines brighter than ever! You are an amazing and beautiful woman of God and a true testament of the grace and mercy He showers over all of us! God bless you always1

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  21. Lisa, you have been on my mind lots lately. I have been praying for you and your husband and family. I do not know what you are going through with cancer. I do know how faithful our God is to lead us through the unknown. When our family was going through tremendous trials in 2008 and 2009, I asked for scriptures to lift me up and you blessed me with Hebrews 4:15-16 "For we do not have a high Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses but was in all points tempted as we are yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need." Then my cousin sent me John 11:35, "Jesus wept." Those two touched me so much as I knew that Jesus could relate to my sufferings. I did not know how things would work out; however, I knew that God would show me the way even as difficult as it was. I grieve with you and your family and will continue to lift you up to our precious Lord who will faithfully guide you and give you a wonderful opportunity to give Him the glory. Grieving with you, Toni.

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  22. Lisa, I have been thinking of you and praying for you and your family. You are a strong person and have been such a blessing to others. May god bless you and continue giving you His peace as you go through this trial.

    Hugs xoxo Dayle

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  23. May the Lord bless you and keep you, may He make his face to shine upon you and be gracious to you; May He lift up His countenance upon you and give you peace! Your husband often quotes this to the congregation and now we pray this blessing for you! As you and your family muddle through the outskirts of the unknown...may you continue to do it with the grace and strength of our Lord Jesus Christ! I am blessed to see your faith that is being tested...standing firm in Him. You are a terrific example of faithfulness to Christ. I have been so encouraged to see you open up to the body, as I know so many women long to know you more and this blog is such a great way to pull so many in. Thank you for your candor...for opening up and allowing us the privilege to learn as we observe you wade through what most of us pray will never reach our own homes! We know this trial is unknown, scary, challenging and even at times frightful, and yet, God in His infinite wisdom, must know something we don't and has a plan and a purpose with it. As we follow along with you, even though at times most of us will have no real concept of the depths of this thing. We partner where we can. We intercede for you...on your behalf, we go before our Father of Lights in whom there is no variation or shadow of turning and we ask petitions for you! We ask for the grace and strength to be granted you, to allow you to be faithful to Him in your sufferings, we ask for wisdom from above to lead your every step. We ask for Him to do exceedingly, abundantly above and beyond what you could possibly ask or think of Him. We ask that you would not miss, even one small detail, of what He wants to show you through this. We ask for you to bring Him glory through the grace and peace that He supplies to you. We ask for a miraculous healing! We ask for peace, joy and hope for you and every member of your family. We ask for His will to be perfected in you and we trust that He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. We lift up your arms through our prayers, if that is all we can do...and we walk "with you" in this journey! So when you feel alone in this, remember...you have a multitude of us taking turns, holding up your arms in prayers!
    Many Blessings to you! :)

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  24. God's word indicates that even during periods of challenges and adversity we are to rejoice during difficulties. This does not mean that we must be glad about the hardship or trials,but, we can be joyful because we know that God is using the circumstances to prepare and grow us. The Lord teaches us endurance so we can receive full benefit of whatever He has for us, this way our faith is always being strengthened. Lisa has such an unwavering faith.Hebrews 4:16 says, “Let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need.

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  25. My Dearest Lisa: We all are praying for you and your family; you're strong, my dear, He will continue give you the strenght that you need. You've always been in my heart, you've always been beautiful in so many ways, you and your beautiful family!Love in Christ; always Ana "honey".

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  26. Thank you for sharing your story of faith and His appearance. Though I have never met you but only seen you from afar, I know we are family. Sisters in our Father, Jesus Christ. I have sent out prayers for you and your family to my family and friends. I pray often and I believe He will give us all what we need to continue believing. Thank you and your family for sharing the word of Christ and being a instrument of God. He has used you to enrich my life and I am forever grateful for this. Continue prayers and strength to you and your family. In Christ, Angela

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  27. Lisa,

    We are so sorry to hear of your health issues! We left Tucson and Calvary almost ten years ago but think of you and your wonderful family often. We are so happy that Chad and David reconnected and renewed the friendship from their adolescence. We heard about your circumstances when David called Chad and told him.
    You and Robert have always been such an encouragement to us and to our family! Traci wanted to remind you af a song called "Healer" by Kari Jobe http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RvIEJ_PmqJ8. It was the first thing on her heart when she heard about you. She thought the lyrics would minister to you. We hope and pray He will continue to cover you and to heal you as He perfects His will in your lives.
    May He bless and keep you all in His abundant grace and peace always! Our prayers are certainly with you and yours.
    The Sershen Family - Bill, Traci, Chad, Parker & Karlee

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  28. Sweet Lisa...Michael and I met Arthur last evening here in Scottsdale and as we talked realized our CC connection...then he shared about this trial - hard trial that you and Robert and the CC Tucson family are going through. I - we are joining those who are standing along side you and praying..

    Love u woman....Lylah Ledner

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  29. Lisa: I don't know if you remember me or not. I am Noreen's friend from high school with the twin daughters, Ashleigh and Amanda. We lived in Tucson in 1993-94 and attended Calvary Tucson (in fact, Robert dedicated my girls). My mom sent me the link to your blog and told me about your cancer diagnosis (she attends Calvary Chapel in Albuq.). I just wanted to tell you that I am keeping you, Robert, and your family in my prayers. The Lord has seen me through so much in the past few years and I know He will be there for your family as well.

    I have subscribed to your blog so I can receive your updates.

    God bless you!
    Love,
    Donna Lyons and family

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