Monday, February 22, 2016

The Miracle on the Track

On Saturday, our family drove a couple of hours to watch Jackson run the 2-mile race at his 1st track meet of the season. His race was the 2nd-to-last race of the day. As he ran, his stride stretched far. He was in the front part of the pack of teenage boys. (As a little reminder, Jackson, by age, should only be in 8th grade, but he was running against varsity runners from all over the state. Seven schools were in attendance.) He had 8 laps to run around the track, and all 7 of us were screaming for him every lap that he came around. As the race continued, several kids started to pass him. We started to worry and screamed louder for him to lengthen his stride, to straighten up his body, and to reach farther with each step!

He finished the race strong allowing only one of his 5 teammates to stay ahead of him. At the end of the race, his coach yelled to us in the stands that he had beaten his previous time! Jackson finally made his way to us and informed us that not only had he ran his fastest 2-mile time, but he had also ran his fastest mile time. Two PR's in one race!!! (PR stands for Personal Record.) Kids don't usually beat their fastest times in their 1st race of the season!

We were so proud of him for running faster than he ever had. As I walked alongside him to the van, Jackson shared this spiritual experience with me:

Since Jackson's race was the last of the day, he had spent the ENTIRE day reading the Old Testament for his seminary class. He said that as he was running the race and feeling like maybe he couldn't keep up his pace, he heard the voice of the Lord speak to him saying, "Jackson, you studied about me all day. I am going to help you."

Both Jackson and I cried as he told me his story. The Holy Ghost fills my soul every time I repeat those words- for they were holy words spoken to my son who knew he was worthy of that help. We knew it was the Lord who helped him run his fastest times of his life. What a beautiful testimony of how the Lord blesses us for our sacrifices. He didn't give Jackson super-human strength. Jackson didn't need to come in first place to know the Lord had helped him. He knew the Lord had strengthened him even before he saw his times… because he heard HIS voice and placed his confidence in that message.

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

My Own "War Room"

The Gift Card

A little over a week ago Abe and I were preparing to go on our first date in a very long time. We had received some gift cards to restaurants for Christmas. In our move, I had put them all in a ziplock bag and placed them in a very "special" place so that I wouldn't lose them.

As I was fixing my hair for our date, Abe asked me where the gift cards were. My mind went blank. I had no idea where that "special" place was. I figured it would just come into my mind, so I said a quick prayer and continued to get ready. Abe continued asking if I had remembered where I had put them- I could tell he was growing more worried. I stopped fixing my hair and searched again in every logical "special" place… nothing… I began to get worried too. We really needed those gift cards to pay for our dinner.

After I looked everywhere I could think of and after I prayed, I continued to get ready as I pondered about what I could have done with the cards. As I stood in front of my mirror distracted by jewelry, make-up, and hairspray, the thought came to me very strongly to go pray in the right manner. I finally put down all my distractions, went into my closet, knelt down, and said a heartfelt prayer asking God to please help me find my "special" place of gift cards for our long-awaited date.

As I prayed, I felt the Spirit fill my soul, and I had an overwhelming impression that I needed to pray in this manner more often. I had an even stronger impression that my children and my husband needed prayers such as these offered on their behalf on a daily basis. What a difference it would make if I were mustering up this type power for those I love so dearly!! This power was not of an earthly nature by any means. I felt I had been doing my family a huge disservice by missing out on so many deep prayers. I reflected on a movie I had watched recently about a woman who had her prayer room. It was called her "War Room." That was the place where she fought her greatest battles. What a GREAT movie that was!! I could feel that this closet would become my own personal "War Room."

As I continued to pray for the gift cards, an image of the middle drawer of my nightstand came into my mind. I closed my prayer and walked straight to the drawer to the nightstand. Inside I saw an envelope that immediately made me remember the envelopes in my file folders. As I stood up from my nightstand, I knew, without a doubt, that my "special" place with my gift cards would be in that file. I had looked in the file previously… just not amongst the other envelopes.

I thanked God as I flipped through the envelopes and found my ziplock bag of gift cards. I knew God had answered my prayer because of the time and energy I had put into that prayer. I had been lazy before expecting God to cater to me. What a blessing this was to have received such direct guidance for something so simple and insignificant in the grand scheme of things… but an answered prayer and the opportunity to feel the Holy Ghost so profoundly is definitely not insignificant.

The Heavenly Presence

A few days later I was studying with my children. We were discussing history and what took place in different locations in the world. All of a sudden I was overcome by a piece of information that disturbed me greatly. I spent the following 2 hours researching the facts and trying to resolve my doubts. I couldn't believe my faith was under such a strong attack. I tried to push the feelings aside, but they persisted. I could feel myself becoming irritable with everyone around me.

I decided it was time for me to enter my "War Room." I desperately needed understanding and guidance. I didn't want to err in any way in what I was teaching my children. I entered my closet and knelt down. I have gone to God with anxiety about concerns. This was different. I knew God would speak to me. I had already a powerful experience there. There was not a drop of anxiety in my heart. My home was quiet. I entered my closet, gently dropped to the ground, and simply said, "Dear God…"

In the following moments after I said those simple words, I received the most beautiful sensation that rushed over me and through me. It is indescribable in human words. HE was there. Tears poured from my eyes effortlessly, and I sat silently for a while longer allowing the Heavenly rush to continue. When I felt it was time, I began to speak my concerns to my Heavenly Father. I felt my Heavenly Father so close that I fully expected to hear HIS voice. I did not hear a voice. I did not receive a direct answer in my head to the question I was asking. I did not need it. That peace carried me enough to know that God was actively guiding me in my teaching and that HE was aware of all that I wanted for my children. HE would not let me fail as I fought through those ugly feelings to bring my children the simple truths of Jesus Christ and of HIS Salvation.

The Facebook Message

Within an hour or so of that prayer, a dear friend all the way from Canada sent me a Facebook message. (I haven't seen her for about 20 years, but she has always listened to spiritual promptings and followed them. I have been blessed many times by her inspired messages.)

Having no clue about my most recent experiences but feeling that she "needed to pass it along," she shared this talk by Elder David A. Bednar from the 2008 General Conference. It was titled, "Pray Always".

The quote from his talk that continues to press upon my mind was this:

"Morning and evening prayers—and all of the prayers in between—are not unrelated, discrete events; rather, they are linked together each day and across days, weeks, months, and even years. This is in part how we fulfill the scriptural admonition to “pray always” (Luke 21:363 Nephi 18:15, 18D&C 31:12). Such meaningful prayers are instrumental in obtaining the highest blessings God holds in store for His faithful children."

It is not a coincidence that the message I had just received in such a beautiful manner was now being reiterated in this message delivered by a dear friend so many, many miles away.

The Invitation to Speak

The following morning I received a text message from another friend. She asked if our family would bear testimony and sing for their youth conference a couple hours south of us. I immediately accepted her invitation. She told me she had the assignment for several months to find a speaker, but she had just received a strong impression the night before that she needed to ask us. We continued to discuss the details of the conference, and then she told me the theme:

“Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life”

I had just felt the power of Christ in my heart so profoundly that I was bursting at the opportunity to share my testimony of HIM and to more specifically share of the hope and love that HE gives as we press forward in HIM… the invitation couldn't have come at a better time with a better theme.

God taught me to pray with more depth. HE confirmed that principle with a miracle as I did so. HE confirmed it upon my heart a 2nd time as I felt a Heavenly presence I had only felt a couple of times in my life. He confirmed it a 3rd time by way of a friend following a prompting all the way from Canada just moments after I had been experiencing that powerful prayer. Then the following day I received a phone call for the opportunity to speak on the truths that had just been confirmed 3 distinct times upon my heart… WOW! The Lord certainly is mindful of our lives.

HE is the Master of ALL. I testify to that.

HE wants us to draw nearer to HIM and to be HIS prayer warriors. My "War Room" is where I am choosing to fight for my family through mighty prayer to my Heavenly Father.

Saturday, February 6, 2016

A Stranger's Gift of Healing

Last weekend I didn't write because we moved to our new house!! We didn't have internet, beds, or our sanity yet. :-) We have now organized every room in our house except for the garage! We are very happy in our new home, and lots of people in our new church congregation have been very helpful.

As I wrote in a previous post, I dislocated my femur bone from my entire knee joint on Christmas Eve. Every time I explain what happened to medical professionals, they assume I am saying that my kneecap was dislocated. No, it was my entire upper portion of my knee joint. I know this because it slips out often… but only slightly and only briefly. I also had 3 long, red lines across my knee for a few days where my skin was stretched to the side so severely. As I wrote in my previous post, I heard at least 5, very loud, pops and cracks deep within the joint of my knee.

Three days after my injury, our family visited The Beaver Bar where my children were being presented some free guitars. I was barely walking with a stiff stabilizer strapped to my knee. I had been to the emergency room, but I had not been to the orthopedic surgeon yet. I was positive I would be needing surgery because of the extent of the dislocation I knew I had endured… and because it felt completely destroyed inside of my knee.

As our family was leaving The Beaver Bar, a stranger approached me. He asked me what happened to my knee. I told him my story. He asked if he could pray with Abe and me right then and there.

I honestly thought it was a little odd that we would be praying in the parking lot surrounded by a bunch of motorcycles. However, I am never one to turn down a prayer, so I accepted.

After his prayer, he then said he had a gift; he was a healer. He didn't know why or how he had the gift. He just had this gift. I was skeptical, but I thanked him anyway for his kindness. After the prayer, he confidently stated:  "You aren't going to need surgery."

Even though surgery would completely incapacitate me while my husband would be traveling, I was so certain that I would need surgery that I immediately claimed this stranger was as fraudulent as I had originally assumed.

My husband had also prayed over me for my healing. He had lain his hands on my head and had given me a priesthood blessing of healing. We both assumed the healing would come by way of surgery.

Also throughout this time, I received multiple messages from friends telling me they were praying for me to heal. I was grateful and truly felt strengthened throughout our move because of those prayers.

I finally saw the orthopedic surgeon about a week later. He ordered an MRI.

I saw him a 2nd time after my MRI. After analyzing my MRI and my x-rays, my orthopedic surgeon found a fracture on the outside of my knee, which would confirm that my upper femur bone did dislocate as I described. From the MRI, my surgeon saw that there was one location on the meniscus that could have been a possible tear, but he felt like it would heal without surgery. After my 3rd visit, 2 weeks later, my surgeon admitted to being quite perplexed by the fact that for such an evidently extreme dislocation, I should have had several torn ligaments… but I was showing signs of improvement. I too was perplexed by the diagnosis because I had felt and heard a lot of things tearing!! Those tears would have definitely required surgery.

After my surgeon talked for a while about all the possible scenarios as to how I could have escaped surgery, I finally said, "Well, I know why they're not torn."

My sweet surgeon seemed interested in the fact that one of us would have an explanation. I simply replied, "It's a miracle."

My surgeon didn't say much after that. I don't think he knew how to respond. Could the answer really be that simple? Could the stranger at The Beaver Bar have really felt and known all along or was he just lucky in his guess? I don't think it was a lucky guess. Miracles aren't always obvious, but they are always orchestrated by divine intervention.

My knee still doesn't bend all the way, and I still can't walk without a huge limp and a brace to support it. However, I know that God is working in my heart and in my body and through HIS servants around me.

Although full movement and full healing will still take a very long time, I am thankful for my husband's priesthood blessing. I am thankful for the man at the bar who was not afraid to bless me, to pray with me, and to confidently tell me the impressions he received from the Spirit of God. I am also thankful for the many prayers from friends around the country on my behalf.

I testify that it is by divine intervention… a true miracle… that my knee is not requiring surgery at this time. I am learning to move slowly as I patiently wait for full healing to take place. But in the meantime… I am grateful to know that I have seen and felt God's hand.