Never Be The Same

Jesus, it has been an incredible morning – I am overwhelmed by Your grace and goodness! We celebrate Hannah’s 24th birthday today and we stand amazed at how You continue to use her life!  “I am still confident of this, I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait on the Lord, take heart and wait on the Lord.” Psalm 27:13-14  That is the first scripture You gave me when we headed to Greenville on the morning of May 10th after spending the night in the ER. You have continued to show me Your goodness.

This evening I begin a study on Spiritual Warfare with a dear friend. All morning, as I have been finishing preparations for this evening, I have been receiving messages about Hannah’s birthday and “never being the same.” Your timing is amazing as I knew it would be when I knew the study would begin on Hannah’s birthday! Of course it would!  It is a victory for You Father – that You are allowing me to stand up on this day and Bless Your Name and I do!!  Bless Your Name!!

A dear friend, the co-leader for this study, just sent this to me after receiving an inquiry about Hannah from a friend on facebook. She says it best. Glorify Yourself today Father through my life!  Amen!

i’m curious, who was Hannah to you and how did she change your life Sherree?

Donna, the question is a loaded one and one that I will attempt to answer but words are so inadequate to convey the impact of Hannah on my life.  Let me begin at the beginning.  After I married, Carl and I were in a newly-wed class that met together not only on Sundays but also another night for over 10 years.  These folks were family away from family for us and we went through a plethora of 1st with these folks (Children, miscarriages, stillborn deaths, sickness, death, aging parents, job changes, job loss, financial crisis,…you get the picture).  Really heart friends.  Hannah was the first child born in this group so we all felt as though Hannah was all of ours.  I watched Hannah grow up and our families were extremely close.  When we moved overseas we maintained our ties with the family and going back and forth we always managed to remain close and in each other’s lives.  Debbie, Hannah’s mom and I used to call each other once a week and pray together when I was overseas.  I never will forget the morning when my computer “rang” for our weekly prayer time and Debbie informed me that they had spent the night at the emergency room and that they were getting ready to leave in a few minutes to take Hannah to a dr. in another city b/c they were fearful she had a tumor.  She indeed had a sarcoma, a cancer.  Frustrated (because I couldn’t be there with she and her family to help) and with excessive attention I began to pray and follow her story on Caringbridge.  She had a huge following on her CaringBridge site.  She had surgery, the tumor grew, and she went to M.D. Anderson in Texas for treatment and was given a 1% chance of survival at one point in the ICU. She made a miraculous turn around after the doctors told her parents the news and was out of ICU into a regular room in less than a week after being told she had a less than 1% survival rate.  She recovered enough to return home to adoring friends and family who loved and were attentive to her.  She was elected homecoming queen at her high school and made her way out on the field on her father’s arm to a tearful, roaring crowd on their feet, to accept her crown.  That night after homecoming, she had to return to the hospital (her dr. had released her to go to the homecoming festivities and then to return that night to the hospital).  The doctor told her that her tumor was continuing to grow and there was nothing else they could do.  Hannah, during her whole journey, demonstrated continued faith and trust in God.  The whole community was captivated with her story but what captivated them was her faith through it all.  Her mom Debbie remarked to me several times that even though her physical body was wasting away her spirit was growing stronger and stronger.  Hannah was interviewed by the television station and spoke of how God had carried her thus far and how he was continuing to carry her.  Her mom said that Hannah was frankly surprised by all the publicity and interest in her story and specifically her response to what had happened to her.  Hannah did not question God or blame Him or turn her back on him or deny Him.  She THANKED Him for choosing her and stated, “I just want to know that one person has been impacted by my story.”

So that was the background…how I will never be the same?  I watched from afar this precious young woman go through the fight of her life.  Watching and at the same time having to examine myself and what I really believed about God.  Could He heal?  I know I believed He could, but WOULD He hea?  I mean the stage was set for a miracle, so many people were watching, the odds were so against her, I mean it was a perfect time for God to show his power and to show up BIG!!! What a testimony she would have, how He could use that???   But, what if He didn’t?  He took me through a journey of “What if He didn’t, Was He still Lord of my Life and Did I trust Him?  I delved into His Word, I prayed, I fasted, I sought Him.  I had to make a choice, either I trusted Him or I didn’t. Either I believed what He said in His word or I didn’t.  Everything I had been taught and had come to believe up to that point had suddenly been put in a very personal light and I knew that God was asking me if I Believed Him, if I Trusted Him.  Like I stated before, these are spiritual things spoken from the heart of God (Who is perfect to the heart of a human who is very imperfect).  Trying to communicate them in the form of words and a language are impossible because they are of something not of this world.

Hannah, just a little while before she breathed her last breath told a friend, “Keep believing!”  I have pondered those words and they haunted me for a long time after she went to live in heaven.  “Keep believing” Keep believing what????  What was Hannah telling others to believe?  I came to rest in the fact that Hannah BELIEVED.   Isn’t that what faith is, continually believing?  If it is seen it is not faith.  God through her journey was asking me the same question, Do I believe?  Without putting any qualifiers to the question that was the heart of my faith journey with him.  Do I believe? I came to the conclusion, like I said after much prayer, fasting, reading His Word and listening to His still small voice that I believe! It started in a halting, quivering, quiet voice, “I believe, Lord, help my unbelief.”  I kept on praying it, saying it and what started as a trickle of hope started to then turn into a quiet stream in the desert of my soul.  Sometimes it comes in the torrents of a raging river and I loudly proclaim “I BELIEVE!”  I am present continuing, I am believing.   There are many things in the world that I don’t understand and will never.  He is not asking us to understand them or to make sense out of them.  He is asking the question, do you believe?  It is intensely personal, spoken in and to the heart and expressed in our heartfelt response to His love and all that He has done for us.   As for me a resounding “Yes, I believe!”  And I will NEVER be the same.

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