{"Keeping it Personal" Radio Interview!}

Good afternoon We are His daughters, friends!

About a week ago now Keeping it Personal Radio personality, Teri Johnson, approached our president, Mandy Hill about being a guest on her Thursday afternoon radio show!

With excitement, Mandy agreed to share a bit about her faith journey and touch on some of the unexpected circumstances that she has faced in her life so far.

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We would be so honoured if you would join Mandy and Teri at KIPRadio!

www.kipradio.com

Have a wonderful day, friends!

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{Turning tragedy into thanksgiving} Nancy's story.

Written by: Nancy Wright

He gives more grace…

I was honored recently when Mandy asked me to share our family’s journey, (largely surrounding our experiences with our second son). When I agreed initially, I thought this would be easy and quick. God has been so very good to us over the years, that talking about his faithfulness comes easily, what I never imagined was just how difficult it would be to put His goodness into short sentences!

When I think about the way God has worked in our family’s life – a line from an old hymn comes quickly to mind – “He giveth more grace when the burdens grow greater”. That has certainly been our testimony.

The story begins with the birth of our second son.. At the time, we were happy young parents with another toddler at home. Everything seemed wonderful and normal until the day he was supposed to be discharged. On that morning, as we were preparing ourselves to pack up and leave the hospital, we were informed that there had been at first a complication, and then a deep concern over something they had discovered. The concern and complication quickly turned into a crisis – that caused our son to be rushed to Halifax by ambulance.

When we arrived in Halifax, we met with the cardiologists at the Isaac Walton Killiam’s hospital for sick children who informed us that our baby’s heart was on the wrong side of his chest and that the main ventricles were sharing one chamber of his heart, and that there was at least one hole. The doctors were gravely concerned – and our family doctor warned us not to be too hopeful, or to get too attached because at the time it was suspected that he could only live for one year at the most. Of course, it was impossible for us not to be attached to this beautiful blue-eyed baby boy that we knew God had given to us, and so began our journey of faith.

When he was admitted to Sick Kids Hospital, we immediately needed a place to stay, and we were so glad when the assistant pastor from Faith Tabernacle, a church we would later pastor for 7 wonderful years, took us in and cared for us. Their love was the first of many unselfish gifts we received as we went through this dark valley.

While I wrestled with the questions of why us? and why our son? God lovingly and gently carried and provided for us .

The medical aspect of our sons care was one of our first challenges. His health situation demanded us learning how to give numerous medications to an infant as well as learning to do tube feedings. In the first two years of his life, he spent more time in the hospital than at home and included two major open heart surgeries. All of which took an exhausting toll on us – but in the midst of our hard seasons – God again sent grace.

I remember so vividly the day when Bob and I were in the ICU during his first surgery. We were exhausted with worry, trying to rest and be patient – when all of a sudden 2 college students who had started attending our youth group in Truro appeared with a picnic basket. They knew the day was going to be long for us, and so even though they didn’t have much themselves as students, they went out and purchased a picnic lunch and then sat with us as we waited for the results.

On another occasion, shortly after our twins were born (we now had 4 children under 2 ½ years of age), a lady from our church came to me, knowing that we spent most of our free time in the hospital in Halifax or trying to care for our growing family, and said she would come and clean our house every other week. I was initially taken back by that – and so I always tried to clean the house before she would arrive so that she would know I was coping well, but she gently sat me down and told me not to rob her of the blessing of being able to serve Jesus in this way! Jesus had visited us yet again.

When our son turned 2, he began to show signs of going into cardiac failure for a second time. We met with our doctors and they informed us that he was going to have to have a second major open heart surgery. We braced ourselves and tried to prepare our son who by this time was very aware of what was going on in his life, having had repeated hospital visits, needles, tests etc. Finally the day arrived, and my husband carried our little boy down to the surgical floor of the hospital and handed him over to a nurse to prepare him for surgery. As if sensing what was about to happen, our generally very happy son, turned and stretched his arms out to us and began to cry out. It was the beginning of one of the hardest days of our lives.

In the midst of that surgery, as we waited in the ICU waiting room, alarm bells went off and doctors came running from what seemed to be every direction. Shortly thereafter, the surgeon appeared and explained that the surgery they had planned couldn’t be performed because he had begun to bleed out – they had stopped the bleeding and would now need to do a different surgery – a more complicated surgery which they had never done in exactly this way in their hospital. They were going to have to contact a specialist in Ontario who was going to give them instructions over the phone.

The doctor then asked for permission to do this new surgery. They then explained that the new procedure cut off the main valve the brought blood to the lungs. When my husband asked the doctor how the lungs would get blood, the doctor shrugged his shoulders and said, “I don’t know – by the grace of God”. I’m quite sure he had no idea what he was saying at that moment – since as far as we knew he had no particular faith – but God knew what we needed to hear in that moment – and he used the mouth of a surgeon to speak faith to us.

Instantly my husband replied “I believe in the grace of God – go do it!”

From there the grace of God really did demonstrate itself. Our son who was supposed to not live 1 year – is now 24 years old.

There were too many miracles that happened over those 24 years for me to write them all down.

From what some might call coincidences like the fact that the Maritime District Conference for pastors from our denomination was having it’s conference while we were facing surgery, and how when these our friends and colleagues heard that things were going poorly in surgery, stopped what they were doing midday and mid conference and fasted and prayed for us and our son to the many special people whose hearts God moved upon to help us, call us, encourage us and pray for us – God showed Himself faithful.

Through that dark time, God revealed himself through casseroles, smiles, bold prayers and pray-ers, babysitters who learned how to run a feeding pump and insert an NG tube and on and on!

I thank God today for his faithfulness, because today our son is a strong, passionate young man.

God is faithful and His is good! He supplies what we need when we need it, and teaches us in the process what it means to trust Him, and he gives us this one more grace – He gives us the ability as Paul said to comfort others with the comfort we have received (2 Cor.1:4). And that is what I hope I have done in sharing my story for you today.

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Nancy Wright lives in Brampton, Ontario, where she and her husband are the lead pastors of New Life Community Church. They have 4 amazing sons who are each pursuing God’s call on their lives. She is also a maternity nurse and now the writer of a blog (this one!).

{Turning tragedy into thanksgiving} Sarah's story.

Written by: Sarah Cousineau

​I think most teenagers feel at some point like they are invincible. Never for a second thinking something can come and threaten their lives, at least I thought that way. I never once thought that I would have to fight a battle as large as the one that was placed in my path when I was only 14.

​It all started October 2006 when I suffered from an unusual and excruciating headache. I thought that a good nights sleep would cure it, but found out the next morning it wasn’t so. My mom took me to the clinic just in case but the Doctor claimed it was just a virus. I was to take some Advil and rest. After a few hours it passed and I felt normal again.

​A few weeks later I was attending my brothers football game when the pain returned. Only this time it was stronger and was accompanied by neck pain and vomiting. The next day we went back to the clinic. My mom was starting to worry. Based on the symptoms she wondered if it could possibly be Meningitis. When she expressed her concerns the Doctor laughed it off, claiming again that it was just a virus and all I needed was Advil. However this time it took four days before the feelings passed.

​A month later it came back with a vengeance. I could barely walk on my own. I spent almost a full week in bed. Something was definitely wrong and it most definitely was not a virus. My mom took me to our family doctor. He took one look at me and noticed that something wasn’t right, thus began my nightmare.

​A cat scan was ordered immediately. The results indicated that there was an abnormality in my brain and I was sent for further testing. The MRI revealed something that we were not prepared for. An aneurism was discovered on the right side of my brain.

​I was 14 at the time and had no idea what a brain aneurism was. I assumed it was serious but yet wasn’t overly worried. I guess you could say ignorance is bliss.

​Once the results were in I was sent to a local neurologist. He wasn’t overly worried at first; he even went on to say that it might not be an issue until I was much older. A week later I went in for more tests and again everything seemed fine.

​On January 3rd 2007, my parents got the call that changed everything. They were instructed to pack my bags and head straight to the sick kids hospital in London immediately. With no real answers I still had no idea the seriousness of my situation, but there was a nagging feeling inside that this was far bigger then we realized.

​Once we arrived it was a flurry of activity as they admitted me and started to run tests at an urgent speed.
When all the tests were completed I was set up in a room, where I just laid and cried. I was so confused and uncertain of what was to come. It wasn’t long before I had all the answers.
The next morning I met my nurse practitioner who explained that I would need to have an angiogram, a procedure that would determine exactly where the aneurysm was located and the size. All these details were necessary as they planned out the surgery.

There it was. I was scheduled for major brain surgery.

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​In a weeks time I had seen over 15 different doctors/ specialists. Each one of them reiterated how rare this was for a person my age and that I was “lucky” to have had these headaches because they acted as a warning sign which most people with aneurisms don’t get. Even though I was young they didn’t spare me any details. This was an incredibly dangerous surgery with a 10% chance of never waking up and a risk of a stroke. After a week of tests and waiting that day finally arrived.

​“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God… Phil.4:6

​Surprisingly I was very calm that morning because I trusted in God and I knew he had a plan. He had taken care of me this far and I knew he wouldn’t stop there. There were SO many people from home and from churches all around praying for me. My family never left my side. I was never alone.
I had an amazing team of doctors doing the surgery.
It also didn’t hurt that I was promised a puppy when I woke up 🙂

​After about 6 or 7 hours in surgery the surgeon greeted my parents and said that the surgery went very well and there were no complications! Praise the Lord!
The road to recovery went exceptionally well. I was out of the hospital about a week and a half later, which is unusually quick.

All the doctors and nurses that I encountered were in awe through the whole process. Always stating that I was a miracle and had a guardian angel. They hadn’t seen a case like mine; most patients took much longer to recover and had so many complications. It was an incredible testament to the powerful God we serve.

​Through it all I never thought to myself “why me? Why is God punishing me?” which is strange considering that is usually the first thing people think. Instead I had a peace through the whole experience that could only come from God alone. Even when I was told that I may not live, I could have chosen to fear the worst, but I knew that I had to just trust in God and that he would get me through this.

And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

​It has been almost 8 years since my surgery. I still have a very small aneurism on the left side of my brain, which requires me to have an MRI every two years. But I’m not worried. God holds me in his hands and He is the one who has the final say. So I just pray and trust that He will continue to heal and take care of me in every way.

​God is and always will be good. He deserves all the glory and all honour!

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Sarah lives in Essex ON with her parents. She works at Libro credit union as a service representative. She’s the youngest of 4 and is a proud auntie to her niece, 3 nephews and one on the way!

{Turning tragedy into Thanksgiving} Elizabeth's story.

Thankful: Because I Know He Will Never Fail Us!

By Chrisitanne Williams

I was watching my four year old daughter draw this morning. She was singing her version of Kari Jobe’s ‘Breathe On Us’ and eating Cheerieos, while she worked very hard to depict a super hero. I felt like I was captivated by the whole scene. I have four children so this shouldn’t have had this effect on me. I had a list a mile long of things that needed to be done but she was stealing my attention.

I couldn’t help but think back four and a half years when the words, “There’s something significantly wrong with your baby’s heart” turned our neat little world, where everything ran along relatively smooth, completely upside down. It changed our lives. Forever. The birth of a baby is supposed to be surrounded by joy and excitement not fear and anxiety. This was something we were not expecting.

We met with a cardiologist who explained to us that our daughter’s 19 week heart had not formed properly- she had Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome and right now they didn’t think that she would survive to birth. They told us of the options we had if she were to be born, which was unlikely, and they terrified us. (1) Keeping her comfortable until she died, which would happen within a week of birth; (2) put her on a transplant list, but that would be a long shot as an infant heart would be rare to find; (3) or allow them to perform a series of open heart surgeries, taking place at different times during her first three years. The surgeries came with risks and the strong possibility of developmental delays that could be significant as well. Then there was the doctor who kept telling us, “You should terminate this pregnancy, she’ll never be right”. We chose life, and the surgeries that would help her to survive.

Psalm 139:13: For You formed my inward parts; You covered me in my mother’s womb.

We really believed that God had a purpose for our baby, even if we didn’t understand why she would have to go through all that she would. During the remaining months of my pregnancy, I prayed for healing and I really believed that God would do it. I watched each ultrasound they did looking for a perfectly formed heart, but each time we heard the same result. Trying to prepare myself and my three boys, then 8, 6, and 4 was so hard. My husband and I really didn’t fully understand what we would be facing and so how do you ready children so young for the possible loss of a sibling?

At times, it all seemed too much. One evening, I was so distressed I sat on the shower floor (because the kids couldn’t hear me cry in there) and begged God to intervene. I told Him I simply wasn’t strong enough to weather this, I would die under it. I went through times when I questioned if God even heard me or cared.

Psalm 61:2: From the end of the earth I will cry to You, when my heart is overwhelmed; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I.

Elizabeth Anne was born two weeks early and weighed almost 7lbs, which is very good for heart baby. She had a rough road and we handed her over to the surgical team at just three days old. When we watched her go, we had no clue if we would ever see her again but we prayed that God’s will for her would be accomplished. She had a 60% chance of surviving. Seven hours later, we were informed that she had made it through. During the next 8 days I watched her tiny heart beat under a clear plastic bandage because her chest was left open. Those were the most difficult days in all our life thus far. She had complications 24 hours after surgery that almost took her life, and again three days later. They also thought she may have had a seizure that left her hand weak.

Fifty-six days later we brought her home. I mastered inserting a feeding tube, giving medications and watching for any sign of complications. My mission for the next 5 months was getting her to grow strong enough and big enough for her second surgery, which she flew through, coming home after just 6 days.

At times, I struggled with loneliness. There were people who just didn’t understand that her health was fragile and assumed I was using her sickness as an excuse to avoid things. I lost a few friendships because I couldn’t always take the role that I once took. One night close to Christmas, the boys went with their dad to see the Christmas display at our local hardware store. Elizabeth and I couldn’t go because too many germs hang around in public places. Even grocery shopping became an ordeal because I had to get in and out quickly as I wanted to decrease my chances of bringing home a bug. I felt like I was missing out on so much and yet I knew that my job was so important.

I was also completely blessed with some very compassionate hearts. Ones that prayed for us and became an extension of God’s hand. The calls and encouraging words of life that people spoke to me at times when I felt like I was failing.

We are now a year past her final scheduled surgery and she is doing amazing. She is a living, breathing miracle. She shows no sign of any type of delay, from physical to mental. When I see her running around being Spiderman with her brothers, or doing a puzzle, or like this morning, singing and drawing, I am so full of thankfulness! From the darkest time in our life, has come the greatest blessing and reward. I could write a book about the lessons we’ve learned as we walk this road but the main thing, the sum of it all is this, you will never go through anything in life that God hasn’t promised to walk through with you. He will uphold you with His mighty hand. He will not let you fall. You may feel like you’ll never make it through, like the load you’ve been given is just too much, but you haven’t been asked to go it alone. I can look back and see that even though it’s been hard, it hasn’t been fruitless. I have a greater appreciation for my family and for the little things in life. I know that if things are going badly now they will get better. Mourning may endure for a night but joy does come in the morning! I understand that difficult situations don’t mean that God has forgotten me or that He’s imputing judgement on me, they mean that He’s allowing me to grow. I look at my daughter and see the mercies of my Saviour, even though it didn’t go as I would have planned it, He has used it to show us His faithfulness. I am thankful because I know He will never fail us!

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Christianne is mom to four beautiful children. She and her husband live in Windsor, NS where he is a pastor. They are not only a “Pastor’s family” but also a “Homeschooling family” which earns them lots of funny looks. She loves sharing about how God has used their circumstances to teach them about His faithfulness and love.

{Turning Tragedy into Thanksgiving} Kim's Story.

Written By: Kim Young

My husband Johnny and I had been married less than a year when we found out we were expecting our first child, a little sooner than we had planned, but we were thrilled no matter the timeframe. This news was exciting and nerve-wracking all at the same time. We both wanted children but now we were faced with the typical worries….would we be good parents, would we be able to afford this new member of our family etc, if you are a parent you can certainly relate!!

It was not too far into the pregnancy when those worries became the least of our worries. I was very sick, morning sickness my doctor told me, but this was beyond typical morning sickness…. I wasn’t able to keep anything down, not even a sip of water, for days on end, 24 hours a day. I was in and out of the hospital, having test after test to determine what was causing this issue.

They found, what they believed to be a cyst on my ovaries that was growing larger and larger, which was keeping our unborn baby from growing, and they feared it would eventually cause problems for our baby’s proper development. We were told that the only option to guarantee our baby (daughter) would develop and grow the way she should was to have surgery done at 22 weeks along in my pregnancy to remove the cyst. So we agreed, and the process began. A flurry of blood work and more tests, surgery dates and consultations with the surgeon consumed our days. During the consultation with the surgeon, he took us into a private room, looked at us gravely and proceeded to inform us that my recent blood work had come back with abnormally high protein levels, which typically means there is a birth defect in the fetus. He continued on, telling us there could be many problems and defects but the most likely was that our child would be born with spinal bifida. The next words out of his mouth rocked us to our very core…. He suggested that rather than proceed with the surgery as planned, we could certainly terminate our pregnancy, as no parent would want to deal with, nor make our unborn child endure the lifetime of sickness that our child was so surely going to endure. Without even skipping a beat, my husband and I looked at each other, then back at the doctor and together told him we fully intended to proceed with this pregnancy and we would give our child the love and care she deserved no matter what her health issues. The doctor was almost annoyed at our decision, telling us he thought we were being extremely selfish, but in the end accepted our decision and surgery went ahead as scheduled.

The day of my surgery came and I was so calm, I knew God had everything in His control. I remember the nurse waking me up, to give me a valium and “calm me down” before surgery…. People who are sleeping are not generally in need of calming down… just saying!! The day after my surgery my surgeon came into my room, asked our visitor to leave, closed the door and again gave us that grave look he had given us just weeks before in his office. He told us that what they had thought was a cyst, was not a cyst at all, but it was a twin baby (that we later found out was a boy), who, although was growing larger everyday had not developed. He showed us a picture of our baby and pointed out some areas on the picture…. the eye sockets, the beginnings of the ears and the beginnings of the arms could be seen, but otherwise there had been no other development. We were devastated, and to add insult to injury, our doctor told us, given the developmental issues with this baby, he was more certain than ever that we had made the wrong decision in choosing to keep our unborn child. He prepared us for what was, in his mind, going to be one of the roughest roads we would ever travel. This news discouraged us, but we both felt that God was in control, I cannot explain the calm we both felt as we waited for our daughter to be born.

November 7, 1993 was the end of our wait…. Catherine Gail Young was born, weighing 8lbs 6ozs, a perfect little bundle of joy, happy and HEALTHY! I don’t know if I can properly convey to you what it feels like to be told your child is going to be born with multiple birth defects and to have them be healthy and whole…. It is beyond words!

The next day, during a routine check-up they discovered a heart murmur, and sent Catherine for a few tests. My first thought was “here we go again”! When they brought Catherine back to us, we were told we were being discharged but would have to come back the next morning to see a heart specialist “just to be sure all is okay”. I was thrilled, if they were sending us home there must not be anything serious to be worried about, right!? And off we happily went! On our way to see the heart specialist the next morning we stopped into the church to show Catherine off – after all she was a little miracle and we were proud parents. We told Pastor Tom Ettinger, our youth pastor at the time, and who was also a personal friend of ours about the appointment we were on our way to with the heart specialist. As we were leaving, I will never ever forget what happened…. Pastor Tom took Catherine in his arms and he prayed for her. The words he spoke over her touched us both, however, one sentence in particular would become so very important to us in the hours to come – he said “I pray the specialist will look at Kim and John and say “I do not understand, but what they saw yesterday is completely gone”! I remember saying to Johnny once we got in the car “All they saw was a heart murmur, I wonder why he prayed for Catherine like that”….. little did I know!!!

We arrived at the hospital, and were immediately taken in to have the EKG done. The heart specialist then came in and he kept going over and over Catherine’s little chest, back and forth, back and forth, clearly looking at something quite intently, and with each stroke of the doppler, I became more and more anxious!! And then, he looked at us and said “Good news Mr. and Mrs. Young, I do not understand, but what the doctor saw yesterday is completely gone and your daughter will not require surgery”. Well I nearly fell off my chair, for two reasons… firstly, because he had said the EXACT words that Pastor Tom had prayed he would say, and secondly, “my daughter was not going to require surgery” say what?? I thought she had a simple heart murmur, after all, they sent us home from the hospital just the day before right!! We are not sure at what point the system failed in Catherine’s case, but when they completed the tests the day before, they had actually found a hole in Catherine’s heart not just a heart murmur, she should never have been sent home, and she was scheduled to have open heart surgery that very morning – none of which we had been told about!! Did I hear that correctly?? She was supposed to have OPEN HEART SURGERY and we knew nothing about it?? I often think back to that moment, the very moment we realized, that what could have been such a heart wrenching, tragic moment for us, was actually a miracle happening before our very eyes.
We are so thankful for God’s perfect peace in the many situations we faced during that pregnancy, over and over again, when we could have quite easily fallen apart, we felt His peace – does that mean we didn’t shed some tears or ask “why”? Absolutely not, we did all of those things, but in the end, we always felt His peace. We are thankful for His hand of protection and healing over Catherine’s little life and for turning what could have been such a tragedy for our family into a moment of thankfulness, celebration, and a testimony of His awesome power!

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Kim Young, has been married for 22 years and has three children Catherine age 20, Courtney age 18 and Josh age 4.5. She lives in Hubley, Nova Scotia and has been the manager of the local high school cafeteria. In her spare time she likes to read and scrapbook.

{Turning tragedy into Thanksgiving} Mitch's story.

Written by: Mitch Horner

Though this house may burn, I will stand firm. This statement when taken in its literal form bears to question my sanity. But when taken in the context of my life, brings purpose and meaning.

Context is everything; it can change how we view our landscape and situations. My life, as does yours, requires context to fully understand and appreciate each subtle word, and each simple step.

I’ve always said that life is a journey, even though we don’t always understand the path. My life is a journey, and I’ve spent far too much time trying to understand the path. But I trust the One that directs my steps.

Proverbs 16:9 “A man’s heart plans his way, but the Lord directs his steps.”

Proverbs 20:24 “The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way?”

Let me first establish this, God is a good Father, it’s who He is. Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

I’ve always struggled with my identity. And like many, my identity has changed and evolved in many ways. Evolve: to develop gradually. I use the word evolve because it’s fitting. Each stage, each progression in my life helped me to evolve towards the man I am, and am becoming.

Culture pushes us to want to become something, but like many, my path led where my eyes couldn’t see.

At the age of 10 I felt the call to pastoral ministry on my life. At the time I didn’t fully understand what that meant, but as the path led on, I would one day discover the significance of this calling.

Life went on and the call on my life remained, but I tried to hide from it. As life continued to progress I started to give serious thought to becoming a history teacher. In High School I was offered a Rugby scholarship and had dreams about pursing Rugby at a higher level. I thought that I finally understood the path that I was on. A scholarship would greatly aid in my scholarly endeavors and I would actually be encouraged to hit people.

I thought that I finally understood the path that I was on… then it happened. In the final minute of a meaningless game I blew out my right knee trying to make a play for my football team.

Reality didn’t set in for a few weeks, that’s when all the reports came back saying that I’d be “lucky” to walk normally, let alone play sports.

Six surgeries later, and many more pending, I’ve learned to stop trying to understand the path, and just trust that God is good.

Satan tries to defame God, and tries to get us to believe that God isn’t who He says He is. And truthfully, for a while I believed those lies.

Everyone has different circumstances and trials. I know that the biggest trials in my life are likely still ahead of me. But I believe that I can use previous and current circumstances to determine my outlook and results.

I can’t see into the future, but I have a God that knows my future, and so I put my hope and trust in Him.

When I was in and out of physical rehabs and recovery, it was very easy for me to focus on the problems, and loose sight of the reality all around me. But I quickly learned that God has purpose for everything we go through. I started to go to physiotherapy at an inner city practice where I was able to become a light in a dark place.

Through relationship and prayer I was able to lead many of the workers to Christ. I’m not saying that God blew out my knee to cause a few people to follow Him. But when I allowed God to work in my circumstances, suddenly I found peace and hope in the midst of trials and adversity. I found purpose.

Now I’m married and pastoring at an amazing church. Though I struggle in the physical, my soul rejoices like never before. I have numerous opportunities each week to impact the lives of many. I’m blessed and privileged.

You may be going through way more than I’ve gone through. But it’s important to keep things in context. Though this house may burn, I will stand firm. Though trials and circumstances may come my way, nothing is going to sway my faith.

Psalms 23 “The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures: He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul: He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the Lord for ever.”

I will stand firm.

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Mitch Horner is a student ministries and worship pastor in Chatham Ontario. He is married to his lively wife, Amanda. Together they have a cat and rooms waiting to be filled by children. Mitch isn’t a walk along the beach kind of guy, he prefers long walks in the bush to one of his hunting locations. An avid sportsmen and servant to Christ sums him up pretty well.

{Turning Tragedy into Thanksgiving} Darryn's story.

Written by Wayne & Renee Mills

We want to share with you what we call Darryn’s Story. Darryn is our third child. Our other two children are Ryan and Michelle who were 7 and 5 at the time of Darryn’s birth.

As all parents do, we prayed every day for our unborn baby’s health and development (especially since Renee had miscarried twice before). Things seemed to be progressing along normally and the day finally arrived. On May 19, 1995 Darryn was born, but seemed to be struggling to breathe and looked a little grey to us. With an oxygen tube in front of his face, he would pink up a little bit, but then soon after the greyish colour would reappear and he continued to struggle to breathe. Upon our continued insistence that he was in trouble the nurse took him to the NICU to be “observed”. Little did we know that we would not be bringing our baby boy home until he was two months old.

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Once brought to the NICU Darryn was intubated and would remain on a ventilator for the next 19 days. Numerous tests were done and it was discovered that his kidneys were not working. It was decided that he would need to be sent to Children’s Hospital of Western Ontario (CHWO) in London to diagnose the reason his kidneys were not working and to try to remedy the problem. This is the point that we realized how critically ill he really was. At three days of age Darryn was transported to CHWO by helicopter while we drove the 2 hour trip white knuckled, praying all the way.

At CHWO Darryn underwent many more tests and procedures to try to challenge his kidneys to work, but to no avail. When he was 12 days old his doctor decided that a biopsy needed to be done. It was determined that his kidneys had not developed while he was in the womb, and that they would never be able to function. We were told that he would have to be put on dialysis until he was big enough for a kidney transplant, or we could let nature take its course. In simpler terms, we could intervene or let him die. Darryn underwent another procedure to insert a dialysis catheter and started dialysis that very same day. We didn’t yet know all this would entail, but leaving our precious baby to die was definitely not an option for us.

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With each day of dialysis performed Darryn’s blood was cleansed from the harmful poisons that had been building up from his lack of kidney function. Two days later we were able to hold him for the first time since his birth. Even though he was still on the ventilator, the nurses took the time to make sure that we were able to bond with Darryn now that he wasn’t as critically ill.

Once dialysis was started he was able to receive breast milk through an NG tube. Up until this time he was only receiving tiny amounts of IV fluids because his body could not eliminate fluids on its own.

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As time went on, Darryn’s lungs developed enough that he was able to breathe on his own and the ventilator was removed when he was 19 days old. Then came the daunting task of seeing if he would be able to breastfeed or bottle feed. The majority of babies on dialysis do not have any desire to do either and are fed through a permanent G tube. The fact that he was able to breast feed is a miracle and almost unheard of.

During our time in the hospital we experienced a gamut of emotions. Not knowing if he was going to survive when he was being airlifted to London. One older nurse mistakenly telling us that they cannot do dialysis on babies. His doctor telling us that Darryn would not die on his shift. These were the days where we also felt the peace that cannot be explained or understood. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:7

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It is something that can only be experienced while going through difficult times where you know God has you completely in the palm of his hand. It is a time when you can approach the throne of grace at the bedside of your child in the NICU. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Do not let your heart be troubled, nor let it be fearful. John 14:27

Once Darryn was healthy enough to be discharged from the hospital we were trained how to do the dialysis at home. They loaded us up with our dialysis machine and filled our van full of supplies to take with us. That day couldn’t come soon enough for us to bring our sweet baby home.

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As time went on Darryn had to overcome many obstacles like minimal growth, physical delays, infections and hospitalizations, but through it all we knew that God was holding him in the palm of His hand.

Throughout this time we were constantly praying for our MIRACLE – that Darryn’s kidneys would miraculously be healed and begin to function as they should. The thing is – we aren’t able to see God’s big picture – and as we look back we see many “smaller miracles” that God definitely performed for our son.

When Darryn was 3 and one-half years old he was finally big enough to have his transplant. Wayne was able to donate one of his kidneys in a 7 hour operation at Toronto’s Sick Kids Hospital. Darryn was in the hospital for one month and we needed to stay in Toronto for an additional month while his anti rejection meds were regulated and his new kidney was monitored to make sure it was functioning well.

Another blessing was having willing family members to take care of our two older children, both when we were gone when Darryn was in London and when he had his transplant in Toronto.
We have often wondered “How can people go through things like this without the Lord?” Not a day goes by that we don’t see the grace of God since we have a walking miracle living in our own home.

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The years have come and gone and our lives have changed dramatically. We are not the same people who drove to the hospital in Windsor just 19 years ago hoping to be home a couple days later with our newborn baby. Our journey continues and we find ourselves stronger and more appreciative of the blessings in our lives. Things that used to be important just don’t seem to be a priority any more. Our marriage is stronger and our children know that our God is alive and still working miracles. We are so thankful to the Lord for walking our journey with us.

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Wayne & Renee Mills have been married for 28 years. They have 3 children: Ryan (27) who is married to Faith, Michelle (25) who is married to Jeremy, and Darryn (19). They are also the proud Papa and Nana to 2 beautiful grandchildren: Dillon (3) and Emma (22 months). They are always happy to share about their journey with Darryn so that someone else might be encouraged.

{Parenting} Blessed is the one….

By: Sarah Oates-Walker

“If the basis of peace is God, the secret of peace is trust” – J.N. Figgis

“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord,
whose confidence is in him.
They will be like a tree planted by the water
that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes;
its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought
and never fails to bear fruit.” Jeremiah 17:7-8

It can be so hard to have peace, peace that passes all understanding. There are so many times when it seems impossible not to worry or stress about situations in our lives. As I have been reading and studying my bible, it amazes me the promises that God has in his word for me! Promises about my well-being, promises of his peace, promises of wisdom, promises of a change of heart and the list goes on! Man, my God is a GOOD God!

My one-year-old son recently had surgery to repair a minor birth defect. Once we had the surgery date I felt my heart drop into my stomach and it stayed there for months! I felt like God showed me the outcome of the surgery in advance, which was a perfect surgery and a smooth recovery. Even though I felt confident in the procedure, the “Mom” inside of me was stressed and worried about my little man being put under anesthetic and placed in the surgeon’s hands for hours. In the weeks leading up to the surgery, God planted verse after verse about his peace directly in my path! As I continued to diligently study those verses and beg God to keep him safe, a supernatural peace entered my heart. The last three days leading up to his surgery were stress- and worry-free! There is no way to explain this other than God was faithful to keep his promise of peace to me!

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After the surgery, life quickly became busy with post-operative care and our regular day-to-day activities. For a few weeks, my quiet time with God went on the back burner. Worry and fear crept back into my life. I found myself worrying about the silliest things! Were we going to make it through a shopping trip without one of the kids having a melt down? What if I couldn’t get the house cleaned, dinner cooked and everything picture-perfect? These are ridiculous things to worry over! My kids are feisty toddlers, so yes, someone will almost always get upset during errands! Of course the house and dinner and myself and the kids will not look and act picture-perfect! I just couldn’t help but worry over the impossible!

When I read Jeremiah 7:7-8, it spoke volumes to me. When I was invested in my daily relationship with God, he was there to comfort me during times of trial. When my relationship with God was neglected, it’s shocking how quickly I withered in fear of the unknown. With some diligence, I was Jeremiah’s tree, not thirsty, not fearing, perfectly thriving in every season!

It showed me how important it is to be invested in my personal relationship with Jesus daily! There are so many promises for us to claim in God’s Word, but we are the ones who have to choose to press into them! We have to be the ones who are praying, and learning, and growing in our understanding of who Jesus is – or else we will get caught up in ourselves and the world around us, distracting us from the blessings we are promised!

{Faith} Divine Healing II: Why do you want to be healed?

By: Rev. Nathan Hill

Why do you want to be healed? For some the answer to this question might be quite easy. I want to live. I do not want to continue experiencing pain. I want more time. I need reprieve from my misery. These and many other answers motivate us to pray for healing…and these are honest motivators!

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A second question will bring some clarity to this. Why did Jesus heal people? The answer might be a little less obvious and of course it is not easily settled into one sentence. However, a major theme surrounding the healings of Jesus was that they were to make his name and his ministry famous amongst the people and to draw attention to his Father.

DOES JESUS CARE?
Did Jesus care about relieving pain? Yes, I am sure that he had compassion for the sick…but he did remind us all “…in this life [we] will have trouble” (John 16:33). Did Jesus want to give people more time to live? I think he preferred that they have more time to repent rather than more days to live. Even Paul reminds us that to live is good but to die is to gain.

I do not want to condemn our past and present motives for healing prayers. Instead, I want to help us adjust our thinking about divine healing. I attended a conference a few years where Dr. Van Johnson (of Master’s Pentecostal Seminary) suggested that the reason we do not see more of our prayers for healing answered is that we are praying with the wrong perspective in mind. Dr. Van suggested that if we are praying simply for our own well-being and to be saved from pain and suffering our heads and hearts are in the wrong place (my paraphrase of what he said). Miracles (such as divine healing) occur as a sign to unbelievers. In the aftermath people ought to be brought to Christ or brought deeper in Christ.

Notwithstanding what I have already stated about the frequency and occurrence or divine healing in Part I of this series, something in my heart resonated with what Dr. Van suggested here. I was convicted of my own perspectives and I was challenged to do something about it.

MY STORY
You see, while Dr. Van was speaking at this conference I was sitting in my chair with an appointment card in my wallet to see a surgeon…and I really did not want to go to that appointment. A few years ago I began to notice a lump on the left side of my back, up near my shoulder. The lump grew fairly quickly and caused a small amount of concern for my wife Mandy and I. My family doctor sent me for an ultrasound and confirmed that it was likely a benign mass (phew) but I should likely have it surgically removed.

I have never had surgery before. I am a little bit of a basket case when it comes to illness, especially when it affects my own body. I did not want surgery! I wanted to be relieved of the pain and suffering of this experience…not to mention the emotional turmoil of it all. So, I had the leadership and prayer team at our church pray for a month that this mass would shrink and disappear. Unfortunately it did not change.

The morning of my surgical consultation I prayed that this whole situation would receive closure that morning. I think I was ready to have the doctor cut it out that very day in his office if that is what it took! I prayed that whatever was required would just happen so that I could have closure. When I saw the surgeon he examined me and said that the mass would likely decrease without medical intervention and may actually be irritated and made worse by surgical removal. I was never more relieved. I received a measure of closure that very morning. My prayers were answered.

I am currently still praying that it would be completely gone some soon day…for now it is still there. I just checked.

CHANGED PERSPECTIVE
The reason I am blogging about this is because I am attempting to change my perspective. I am attempting to position myself so that healing in this area of my life will not simply save me the pain and suffering of surgery but also be a sign of God’s blessing and therefore make him famous amongst people. Blogging is my way of changing my perspective…and so I challenge you to consider how you can change the way you pray for healing also.

{MOTHER’S DAY SPECIAL EVENT} Whether We Can Feel His Presence or Not.

By: Christianne Williams

I remember the day I found out I was going to be a mom for the first time. It was a day that had been a long time coming and I was elated. We grew from a family of two to a family of three, adding family members four and five within a few years. We went about our daily life, enjoying the excitement that three young boys bring to life. We began our homeschool journey, moved to a new town, and found out we were again going to be blessed with another baby. This time it was a girl. But, it brought with it one of the most difficult times we had faced as a family thus far, and sent me as a mother into a desert, feeling as though I had been forgotten by God.

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“There’s a significant problem with your baby’s heart” are the words that changed our familiy’s lives forever. Our baby girl would be born with a defect known as Hypoplastic Left Heart Syndrome, which means that the left side of her heart was severely underdeveloped and would leave her with only a functioning right side. This meant we had a decision to make. We could do nothing and let her go, she wouldn’t last very long. We could have her put on a transplant list which would mean moving to another province to wait and infant heart which would be a lengthy wait that she was not guaranteed to survive. We could have her undergo a series of three open heart surgeries that would enable her heart to function with just the right side, although palliative. At this point, however, we were told that the likelihood of her making it to birth was extremely low because her heart was already in bad shape.

We felt deep in our spirit that God was blessing us with this baby and believed that His will would be done in her life. It was up to us to trust Him with her. We dedicated our sons back to God in a service, but now we were actually giving our daughter back to God before she was even born. Jeremiah 29:11 was on my heart for her from the first day. He knows the plans He has for her. Plans for good and not harm. Whatever came our way, however long He chose to allow us to have her, we knew He would be with us and that He would use her life and our experience to encourage others.

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Our precious daughter did make it to birth. She had her first open heart surgery at three days old and faced multiple challenges. We almost lost her a few times and I was a fixture at her bedside for 14 long days as she lay in the PICU fighting for her life. Seven of those days I could watch her tiny heart beat beneath a thin, clear patch because she was too tiny to close her chest. It was the worst possible thing I have ever endured. I watched her, held her tiny hand, and sang You Are My Sunshine and Jesus Loves Me in her ear almost constantly. I couldn’t bring myself to leave for more than an hour at a time. For me, I didn’t know if she had any idea that I was there but I needed to be near her just in case.

We went through two more surgeries, that last being in August 2013, and I am happy to say she is a well-adjusted four year old despite living with oxygen saturations of between 75 and 85%. We see a miracle in our children everyday but when we look at her we are reminded of just how strong our God really is. She has overcome so much in her short life and I know that God is the one who brought her through. He used doctors in some instances and chose not to in others. This experience has stretched me as a mother, it’s allowed me to not only experience the highs but also the lows. It’s showed me a lot about God’s love and faithfulness to us.

Even when we feel alone, like God has forsaken us, He hasn’t. His word says He never will. No matter what valley we go through, what enemy we face, God walks with us. He is our protector and our shield. He showed me this clearly not too long ago. I was feeling alone again, like He wasn’t with me. In that moment I saw myself sitting by my baby’s hospital bed, holding her tiny hand and singing songs in her ear to try and bring her comfort. I realized that God is always there, whether we can feel Him or not, holding our hand and singing songs of comfort and peace in our ear. We grow more in the desert than we ever could on the mountain peak and we see His faithfulness and feel His peace more too.

We still pray for complete healing because we know we serve the God of the impossible!

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Christianne is a stay at home mother who homeschools her four beautiful children. She enjoys scrapbooking, baking, music, and dating her husband for the past 16 years. She serves alongside of her husband who currently pastors a PAOC congregation in Windsor, NS.