Friday, March 13, 2015

God's Extraordinary Grace

113 Days of Experiencing God's Extraordinary Grace

This is not the way I had envisioned beginning this blog.  I have had the name for the blog for several years and have written and re-written the first blog many times.  But God continually said "Not now, be patient".  So I have waited and waited.  Now God has shown me that I have a story to tell about my relationship with Him and not about a relationship with someone else.

I have a story to tell you about the last 113 days of my life and how God's extraordinary grace has changed my life.

In 2002 I was diagnosed with Atrial Fibrillation caused from a congenital heart problem.  I have been treated with numerous medications all of which failed.  During the 12 years I have been shocked about 30 times. The object of being shocked is to stop your heart and let it re-start on it's own.  My heart is stubborn and does not like to be shocked and I have to convert on my own with the help of my Heavenly Father.  On Friday, January 10th of this year, I woke up at the usual time but I didn't feel well.  I was light headed and dizzy all day and very tired.  When I got home from work the first thing my husband, Bob, asked me was "any a-fib?" I told him no because I knew that I would have felt my heart beat differently if it was indeed a-fib.

The next morning, I had a women's leadership annual planning meeting.  I didn't really feel like going but it was at a neighbor's home and it was close by.  I was still having the same light headed and dizzy feelings.  If the team looked back on that day they would probably have sensed something was wrong because I was uncharacteristically quiet.  When I got home all I wanted to do was to go to sleep and rest.  I slept in the recliner for several hours that afternoon and was awake for a short time before going on to bed for the evening.  Bob had already told me if I wasn't better by Monday I was going to the doctor.  On Sunday morning when I awoke the symptoms were getting worse and I stayed home from church and slept.  When Bob got home he tried taking my blood pressure but we thought the machine wasn't working correctly because all it would read was "ERROR".  I slept most of the day and was getting worse by the hour.

On Monday morning I was unable to get out of bed without help.  Bob had called the doctor and we had an appointment at 10:00.  I was taking a shower when things really began to escalate.  I was leaning against the wall of the shower to keep from falling and when I stepped out of the shower I blacked out for a few seconds but was able to sit on the toilet seat and call Bob for help.  He helped me to the bed and again he took my blood pressure.  This time the machine worked and my blood pressure was 82/40 but the heart rate still read "ERROR:"  I told Bob that I needed to go to the ER.  I don't know how I got dressed or even how he was able to get me in the car.

I was having difficulty breathing and felt like I was coming in and out of conscientiousness.  About two miles from the hospital breathing became more difficult and within seconds I was unable to breathe.  I could not inhale or exhale and all I could hear was a gurgling sound.  I remember pulling up to the ER and that is where time stood still for me.  Everything began turning white.  I could not see anyone but I could hear voices and I knew I was in a wheelchair.  I don't know how I got into the wheelchair or out if it for that matter.  I knew I was in a room with two people.  A woman was on my right and a man on my left.  They were asking me questions and I was answering them but they couldn't hear me.  I have since found out that when you have a near death experience your mind doesn't stop working.  They were asking questions and I was answering them in my mind.  The white was getting whiter and brighter.  The warmth, peace and calm I felt are indescribable.  I have never experienced anything like this peace.  I could hear the man and woman discussing what was wrong; he said "I have never seen a-fib like this" and she said "it isn't a-fib, it's v-tack we may need a crash cart".  I began praying for the person who needed the crash cart not knowing that I was the one they were talking about.

The white was getting whiter and glowing brighter but at the same time there was a peace that was consuming me.  The next thing I heard was "we're loosing her where's the crash-cart?".  That was the last thing I heard.  I remember I told God that it was okay because I was ready to be with Him and I asked Him if this was what death felt like.  Then I heard another voice that had not been in the room.  The voice was soft, kind and gentle and the man said "God isn't finished with you".  I then felt a pain go through my body and it hurt so bad that it was almost more than I could stand.  They had shocked me.  Since time stood still for me I don't know how many minutes had passed and have never asked.  But, when I was able to open my eyes I began saying "God isn't finished with me" and everyone in the room just kept agreeing with me.  Then I asked who said that and no one knew what I was talking about.  I explained to them that a man said those words to me just before they shocked me.  The nurse said she believed it was my guardian angel because I definitely had one. One of the doctors said that when people of faith have near death experiences no one can explain exactly what happens to them because they are the only one who really knows.

One of the doctors told Bob that she thought he would talking to the funeral home instead of her and just a few minutes more it would have been too late to revive me.  You see the gurgling sound was me and I wasn't breathing. My lungs were filling with blood.  The human heart stops pumping and begins to quiver at 300 beats per minute.  My heart rate was 333 beats per minute.  We don't know for sure how long that rate was sustained and exactly when I stopped breathing.  But we do know this - on January 13, 2014 my Heavenly Father reached down from His throne in Heaven and bestowed on me more grace and favor than I deserve and for that I will be forever grateful.  I thought I would be able to describe what happened but words cannot do this event in my life justice.

I spent the next several days in ICU Step Down.  I was flat of my back and unable to get up or to turn over. God and I had several conversations that week.  Sometimes it was as if He was sitting on the side of the bed holding my hand and re-assuring me that everything was going to be okay.  The Holy Spirit filled that hospital room just as it had filled the ER room because I felt the same peace and calm over and over again.  I didn't make God any big promises.  I knew better than to do that because the promises I make to Him are too easily broken.  I just listened to Him and He told me what He wanted me to do.  He wants me to show grace to the people I come in contact with.  The same grace of God that I was shown. I told Him that I would do the best I possibly could to carry out His will for my life.  He isn't finished with me and we have a lot of work to do.

On February 13th, I underwent a 5 hour heart ablation.  Max Lucado has the same heart problem I do. When the ablation is done they go inside your heart and remove 'trash'.  Max asked his doctor if he could remove the lies, sin, and all the other trash while he was in there.  His doctor told him that was above his pay grade.  If it were only that easy.  I am on medication until my heart heals, which should be sometime this summer.  I am working again with fewer hours and I am enjoying life to the fullest.

One day my friend, Joyce Mills, told me that I had changed during all of this.  I asked her to write down the changes and this is what she wrote:  "Betty, I have noticed several changes in you since your life changing experience.  The changes have been - you are much calmer.  Things to do not bother you as much.  You take one day at a time (just like the song).  Relaxed might even fit here.  There is a peace.  Both with yourself and with God.  I see God in your everyday living.  I see a smile on your face, laughter from your voice and an overall happier person.  All the changes have been for the glory of God because all things happen according to Him.  Love You Friend"  Words cannot be shared with anyone on how much this letter means to me.  She knows me better than I know myself and will always be my friend and sister by choice.

I know God has called me to women's ministry and I don't know where I am going with Him but I am ready to serve and share His grace everyday for the rest of my life.  My first assignment was to share my testimony at a retreat last weekend with 48 women from our church, I did that.  The next assignment was to post this blog, assignment completed.  Be sure to watch my blog for things to come including a Bible study.  God has opened many doors for me in a very short period of time and I praise Him and give Him the glory for what He has done and is doing in my life.  He is the giver of life and He has given me a  purpose for my life in and through Him.  To God be the glory.

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