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Good Enough for Heaven?

One day, my college women’s bible study decided to meet in the lounge of my dorm, where I happened to be studying.  Their topic for that week was on Heaven and Hell.  As I eavesdropped, I heard one of the students say, “I think I’m good enough to get into Heaven.”  The rest of the students gave a little chuckle.  But, I was deeply disturbed.  Did not one of these young women know about grace and that you cannot work your way into Heaven?  Should I interrupt and explain to them what the Bible actually says on this issue?  Sadly, I did not.  Instead, I “chickened out” and left a dozen or so young women carry on a discussion inconsistent with biblical truth about Heaven, hell and salvation. Years later, I still regret not asserting myself into the discussion.

Ephesians 2:8-9 says, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.”  I grieve the reality that many people, including Christians, believe that they must perform good deeds or “works” to earn the gift of salvation and Heaven, escaping hell.  To me, this seems like a miserable way to live, with the questions that would plague your life daily: What does “good” even mean? How good is “good enough” for Heaven, 51%, 66%, 99.5%?  Does one significant sin (like adultery) disqualify us from Heaven?  What kind of God would torment us with this state of eternal uncertainty? 

 So, what does Scripture says on this subject? First, it is not possible for anyone to be “good enough” for Heaven because even one sin is enough to separate us from God.   Romans 6: 23 says,  “For the wages of sin is death...” However, the verse does not stop there, “…but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” Scripture does NOT say, “For the wages of very very bad sin (like murder) is death, but the wages of sin (alone) is death.  Furthermore, Romans 2:23 tells us, “all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.”  We are all in this boat together. We all need the saving power of Christ and nothing else to get the free gift of salvation and Heaven. (For a more in-depth discussion on Heaven, I recommend the book Heaven by Randy Alcorn).  

Certainly, Scripture addresses the importance of good works, primarily in the book of James.  The Bible is riddled with commandments for good works, including visiting, caring for, and/or defending the orphans, foreigners, widows, and prisoners.  And, the second most important commandment according to Christ himself is “love your neighbor as yourself” (Mark 12:30-31). Indeed, my family and I would not have survived the past 19 months of fighting cancer without the kindness and good deeds of so many people, from all different faith backgrounds.  Scripture teaches us that our obligation to conduct good works is a result of our salvation, not that we must earn salvation through our works.  (Ephesians 2;10).

While we would like to think that everyone goes to Heaven, this is not what Scripture teaches.  Christ is the one and only source of our salvation.  “Jesus answered, ‘I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.’” (John 14:6). Because God also gives us free will, people who do not accept the free gift of salvation in Christ do not go to Heaven. I know this may sound offensive and arrogant to many, but I feel the greater disservice is to withhold this critical knowledge I have acquired.

Additionally, we know Hell is a real place. One of the most tragic stories in the Bible is the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31).  The rich man in Hell desperately begs God to send Lazarus to warn his brothers to they “will not also come to this place of torment.”  This story also tells us that after death, we cannot change our minds and accept Christ. In other words, “wait and see” is not an option. Verse 16 in this story says, “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us."

When we accept Christ as our one and only salvation, the death sentence for sin is lifted, and our hearts are changed, so that we want to perform good works and tell others about Him. Not that we perform perfectly all the time; we certainly don’t.  Even the Apostle Paul struggled daily with sin: “For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good.  As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out.” (Romans 7:15-18). The good news is that there is NO sin that can disqualify us from the free gift of Christ's salvation, if we choose to accept it.  “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (I John 1:9)

Herein lies the challenge: If you have already accepted Christ as your personal Lord and Savior, but feel you must work your way into Heaven, first know that it is not your fault that you have been mislead.  Misconceptions about the sufficiency of grace abound in churches today.  If blame is to be placed, its on the church (little ‘c’) and Christians in general. If you are in this position, don’t just take my word for it. I encourage you to read the New Testament yourself.

Of course, none of this will prove anything to you if you do not believe in the veracity of the Scriptures or in the existence of God, or if you are uncertain that Jesus is God.  In this case, I encourage you to pray to God and ask him to reveal himself to you in a way only He can, so that you would have no doubt. I believe He will. After all, it can’t hurt, can it?

Finally, I hope you will consider the importance of seeking spiritual Truth as soon as possible.  I never expected to be diagnosed with a grade 4 Glioblastoma brain tumor at age 35, with only a 10% change of living past two years, but when I did, I was grateful I have worked out my theology. Before my brain surgery, I had the peace of knowing that if something were to go wrong, I would be in Heaven with Christ. As a side note, I’m now at 19 months post-diagnosis, and doing very well. Thanks to the healing power of Christ and the support and love of many friends and family.

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Embracing Change

This afternoon, I finished the first book on my nephew’s summer reading list for homeschool. A Gathering of Days, by Joan W. Blos, is a journal following a young girl’s life in New England for 17 months.  I realized that it was about 17 months ago, that doctors discovered a lime-sized tumor in my brain.  One line from the book reads: “And that is what life is all about—changes going on every minute, and you never know when something begins where it’s going to take you.” The book proceeds to follow this young, courageous Catherine through changes in her world—the remarriage of her Father, death of her best friend, and move away from her familiar New Hampshire home.

 

The past 17 months have brought significant changes in my world as well. Throughout my journey, I’ve gained new friends, and reconnected with old ones. I have lost too. I lost my grandfather. I lost newly made friends to cancer. I’ve read new books, taught at conferences, prayed at meetings. I lost my hair. I received dozens of hats. I received life-saving medicine daily. My veins were poked with needles almost daily.

 

I’ve had some of the greatest pain and the greatest joy of my life.   I had one 8-hour surgery, 40 days of radiation, 105 days of chemotherapy. I received hundreds of cards and gifts.  I made up my mind to be a better friend. I sent 133 birthday cards. I moved. I adopted a cat.  I became a homeschool teacher. And, with Christ, I beat cancer. I gave God the glory. “…and you never know when something begins where it’s going to take you.” And yet, I still do not know where this journey will take me. 

 

But right now, I’m just grateful to still be on the journey. Looking back, I can start to see the blessings that the journey has brought:  The abundant kindness and generosity of family, friends and strangers; the love of parents whose lives were radically derailed to care for me; the love of the 11-year-old boy who would not leave my bedside for a week after my surgery; the brother and sister-in-law who managed my medication and opened their home to me; the pro-life leader who raised tens of thousands of dollars for my medical care; the encouraging nuero-surgeon who still hugs me every visit; the  love and care of former professors; the prayers of thousands; the words from God spoken directly to me; the hope that comes only from trusting in Christ. Again, I don’t know where this will ultimately take me. And nothing in this post is particularly profound. I’m just embracing the change, the good and the bad, knowing that something even better will come.  After all, that is life, isn’t it?

 

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To Listen and Follow

       Have you ever felt prompted or felt an irresistible urge to do something that you know is coming from the Lord?  If you are like me, you have felt this many times during the course of your life.  If you are like me, you have also followed this prompting—at times—and ignored it—at many other times. This prompting is the Holy Spirit speaking to us, usually because God wants to do something meaningful.  Learning to discern the prompting of the Holy Spirit and then obeying God is a discipline in our Christian faith that is as challenging as it is critical. I can say that mastering this discipline is has been one of my greatest struggles in my faith. When I was in high school and again in college, I had opportunities to share my faith with close friends of mine.  Perfect opportunities, as if God had placed the baseball on a T-ball post in front of a Major Leaguer, all he or she would have to do is swing and hit the homer.  But all too often, I’ve refused to take my turn at bat because of fear: What if I strike out?  Will I be ridiculed or embarrassed?   Am I really hearing from God?  All too often I have ignored that prompting, and have regretted it deeply. Other times, I have obeyed, and obedience has never been a mistake.  These are stories for another time, because something amazing happened today.  Today, in a Whole Foods parking lot, I experienced one of those moments--when you know that if you ever start to doubt God, you can look back, remember, and restore your faith.

       Today, I did not feel the prompting of the Holy Spirit, but I witnessed someone who did, and I was blessed. Mom and I stopped at Whole Foods for lunch.  Mom had noticed a man in a three-piece suit who had been, in her observation, “lingering” near me, as if he wanted to say something.  I was oblivious to it, perhaps because I’ve been used to people staring or wanting to talk to me about the wires flowing off my head (I wear a device called Optune which helps obliterate cancer cells). I’ve become used to being stopped by doctors, fellow cancer patients, children, or generally curious people.  As mom and I drove away she saw this man walking near us, lets call him Tony (names are changed to protect the innocent), and said she believed he had a “Word” for me. For you who do not understand “Christianese,” a “Word” is means a message from God.  I didn’t think much of it, but decided to smile at him, as I often do to people who look at wired-headed-me to make them feel more comfortable. Then, I saw THAT look. I know it well.  The look of self-doubt combined with reluctant compliance: “I don’t want to do this, but I can’t resist anymore…Okay, here it goes...”  As Tony approached the car, I speculated he was a doctor, or related to a cancer patient, and that he was curious about my Optune device. 

       Mom rolled down the window. Tony asked if he could pray for us. Of course, I always welcome prayer and consented, but then he said he had a “Word” for me.  At this point, I had my doubts about this strange man, because, like many cancer fighters, I’ve been burned at times by the words of others.  Instead of encouraging me with a vision and hope for my future, I’ve had people speak unwelcome negativity into my life and cast doubt on my healing or remind me, in one way or another, of the likelihood of death for patients with glioblastoma. Similar to the experience of Jennifer Garner’s character in the 2016 movie “Miracles from Heaven,” I’ve even had Christians tell me that sin or un-forgiveness in my life was preventing my healing.  Fortunately, I know scripture and God’s will in my life, which has empowered me to ignore such statements. Still, my trust in others, especially a stranger, has been bruised.  Still, I agreed to hear what he had to say, knowing in the back of my head that I might have to chalk it up to another misguided attempt to be helpful. Then he said it plainly and directly: “'You shall not die, but live, and declare the glorious works of the Lord.' Stunned, I stared at my mom and she back at me, with our jaws open.  You see, Tony’s Word was the first scripture (Psalm 118:17) on healing we had received, from a close family friend, after my diagnosis. Ever since, this same scripture would come to me in various ways and from time to time, always when I needed to be reminded of God’s strength and provision. And I needed to be reminded again today. 

     Tony’s prayer continued with confirmation after confirmation of my healing and of promises God had made to me.  I knew undoubtedly that God was speaking to me through this man. That very hour, I needed to be reminded of God’s power and promises. Even though yesterday we received great news of another clear MRI and were given a clear end date for chemo and Optune (an end-date I had been agonizing over and praying about for the past several weeks); Satan was still planting those questions of fear and doubt:  Is ending chemo in a year really the right thing to do? What if the tumor recurs? How will my family survive if I don’t make it? Will my nieces and nephews be permanently scarred?

     I won’t lay out stats, but if you Google glioblastoma grade 4, you can read the statistics for yourself and understand why I would be fearful. But, God reminded me today that, when we are weak, He is strong. (See 2 Corinthians 12:9-11). And that His word is sharper than a two-edged sword (See Hebrews 4:12).  And that we can take up the shield of Faith to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. (See Ephesians 6:16). And that even when we are weak and faithless, He remains faithful. (See 2 Timothy 2:13).

   We learned Tony is a gentleman from Kansas, who was in town for a training with State Farm Insurance. He happened to choose Whole Foods for his lunch, and he felt the prompting of the Holy Spirit. Tony bravely chose to follow the prompting rather than ignore it.  He stopped our car, bent down on the pavement in his suit, and asked to pray for us. That took courage. Boldness. I’m sure Tony questioned what he was feeling, and likely feared how two women might react to this boldness from a stranger. Perhaps he even attempted to excuse his way out of it somehow—it would have been easy to let us drive away; but I’m so grateful he stopped our car. God clearly orchestrated our timing and location, having us both at Whole Foods at the exact same time, and parked close enough to one another that Tony could stop our car.

    So where does that leave us? I don’t have all the answers. I certainly don’t know why God chooses to heal some and not others.  My family knows this more directly than most.  We lost my first nephew to a heart condition when he was just a baby.  I had never prayed so hard as I did for my little Elijah, yet God still took him. I’ve resolved that I may never understand this until I am in heaven with him, but I imagine that the reasons won’t matter as much then as they seems to now. But my point today is this, I have seen the power of obedience to God. For us, we should simply pray for the opportunities, and the courage, to share Christ to others. When you feel that prompting to share or pray for another person,  remember that Christ went to cross for him/her; Can we not muster the courage to obey God’s prompting and speak to him/her?  Knowing that even if we have failed to do this in the past, God has abounding opportunities in the present and future. We only need listen and follow Him. I’m so glad Tony did. 

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Westminster CollegeYoung Alum Achievement Award Acceptance Speech

Remarks by Jeanneane Maxon

Thank you Frank.

President Akande, Board of Trustees, faculty, fellow bluejays;

I am honored and proud to be here with my fellow awardees Alan, Bob, John, Neil, Greg, and Scott. I am so impressed with your accomplishments and honored to be a fellow alum.  Especially you Scott, because yesterday I realized that when I graduated from Westminter you were probably still in middle school.

The day I learned I was to receive this award, that had just resigned from my position at Americans United for Life because of unbearable headaches.  We didn’t know until two months later that I had grade 4 malignant brain cancer.  Frankly, the fact that I am here today is a miracle. And even though I still have a long way to go. I believe I will return here every year until my Golden Legion Anniversary and beyond.

My friend, Peter Dobelbower, who one a Lifetime Alumni Award two years ago, is here. Peter, the courage and commitment that you and countinue to display to protect the religious rights of all of us is inspiring. When I think of you I think of what Winston Churchill said, “Success is not final, failure is not fatal, it is the courage to continue that counts.”

Dr. Jamie Kondis, my college roommate, (I too have a hard time saying that). Jamie, last year when you received this award and talked about our friendship, you remarked about the coincidence that we would be both end up fighting in the area child advocacy. I have to disagree with you on that point.  Your presence in my life was no coincidence.  God knew I needed some Jamie Spurrier in my life—and not just to sing me Elton John songs to me during finals week, and show tunes during finals week.

You challenged me to be a better student and a better person. 

President Akande, I stand here feeling profoundly inadequate. I owe a debt to this college and its faculty a debt that I will never be able to repay. This college and its character, history and most importantly, its people, notability, like Dr. Perry who became one of the most fundamental influences and mentors in my life, which would continue with Melinda Delahoyde and Charmaine Yoest, and  Dr. Langton, who encouraged me to be bold and allowed me to be myself even though we did not see eye to eye on everything. And others like Dr. Shapiro and Dr. Jefferson who both gave me the courage to be myself.  You all have made so much of my success possible.

I chose a controversial career path. Since I left WC, I have been ridiculed and rejected for my positions, I have even had death threats, I but that is not the example of Westminster. TO the contrary, Westminster allowed and encouraged me to intelligently defend my beliefs, even if they were different than those my professors and peers. That is the very essence of the John Stuart MIllsian concept of the Marketplace of Ideas. Yes, I did learn something in class Dr. Langton. The result is that I can have friendships beyond political and ideological differences.  That is why I can get well wishes from Ted Cruz and John Langton on the same day. The strength Westminster gave me to be myself also gave me courage.  This courage, and the example of professors who poured into my life, inspired  me to serve others and pursue the cause of human rights for the unborn unabashedly.  It has now given me the ability to fight my illness.

Mom and Dad, last time you were here on my graduation day, you were living a parents greatest dream, and now I know you are living a parent’s worst nightmare. Along with my siblings Nathan, Cathy, Bonnie and Scott. My nieces and nephews Isaac, Ava, Olivia, and Noah.  Thank you for being strong when I was weak and for saving my life.

I know that this is a difficult speech for some here to listen to, because you have lost loved ones to cancer or other illnesses. All I can say is that I don’t know why God chooses to spare some and not others.  But, I have walked a similar path. You see, there should be a 11-year-old boy sitting with my family today, my nephew Elijah.  These tragedies are  beyond our understanding. 

But, I take solace in the words of another young person, a young man who succumbed to my disease in a prisoner of war camp in China during World War II, just 5 days before liberation at only age 43. Olympic champion Eric LIddel, portrayed in the movie Chariots of Fire, said this, “Circumstances may appear to wreck our lives and God’s plans, but God is not helpless among the ruins. Our broken lives are not lost or useless. God’s love is still working, He comes in and takes the calamity and uses it victoriously, working out His wonderful plan of love.” 

There is a Hope. A Hope for us, and for the next generation, And if you don’t know God the way I do. I believe if you pray and ask him to show himself to you, you can have this hope too.

Thank you President Akande.  It is, indeed, great to be Home again!

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Big Brain Cancer Blog Part 1: Background

 

Therefore we will not fear, though the earth give way
    and the mountains fall into the heart of the sea--Pslam 46:2 (NIV)

In preparation for the prayer event on Thursday, I am providing this background per my friend David Heatherly’s request.  For those of you who don’t know me well, I hope this gives you more insight into who I am as person. Before I even start, I must  acknowledge that so many people have gone through worse things. For me, loosing my baby nephew Elijah to a heart condition in 2004 was more painful than anything I’m experiencing now. Still, this has its own challenges. I am grateful for the many people who have poured into my life in the past 36 years. My life has been formed and blessed by so many others(friends, professors, mentors),  that I will never be able to repay, although I would like to try.I’m seeing more and more blessings each day as I walk through this challenge.  I have been moved by the stories I have heard from others and blessed by their encouragement and experiences. While I know our suffering has not been identical, I have walked and am again walking a path similar to many of you.  I also must acknowledge that in spite of the circumstances, I count myself among the fortunate ones because I have such a great, caring family and enormous support network of prayer and friendship.  I also know God is calling me to be transparent about this experience so that others might be helped.  For me, the worst thing about the brain cancer diagnosis is not fear of death (I know I have eternal life if Jesus Christ), nor is it getting sick from chemo/radiation (I’ve dealt with feeling poorly for a while now), nor is it loosing my hair and my youthly beauty (I can get that  back), its about the pain and damage my illness  inflicts on my  family ( a kind, generous, hard-working faith based middle-class American family) who means the world to me—that is the hardest thing.

I am 36, unmarried without children (although I count my nieces and nephews as my kiddos).  By the grace of God I have had some amazing opportunities in life.  I have served the past ten years in executive non-profit leadership in the pro-life movement.  Serving first as the General Counsel of Care Net from age 27 through age 32, where I helped pregnancy centers navigate through legal challenges and led coalition efforts to fight over a dozen  pro-abortion attacks against PRCs. These efforts kept hundreds of PRCs open and able to give women alternatives to abortion.   Even at my young age, I have routinely have been invited to speak at events and conferences and have had my op-eds featured in major media. In 2012, I then felt a calling from God to make a change and serve Americans United for Life, the legal architects of the pro-life movement, which I did from January 2012 until my health forced a resignation before the start of 2016.  At Americans United for Life (AUL), I worked with a team that created model laws resulting in a tidal wave of pro-life legislation being enacted across the country in the past few years--which have been statistically shown to result in few abortions and more lives saved Before my career, I graduated summa cum laude with a perfect 4.0 GPA from Westminster college in Fulton, MO, and was accepted into Harvard Law School.  I opted to attend Boston University School of Law where I received a full tuition scholarship, graduating cum laude.  I have served as a summer clerk for two state Supreme Court justices (in Missouri and Massachusetts).  More importantly, I have strived not to live by accomplishments, but to serve others, which is why I dedicated my life to the pro-life movement.  My parents have been pro-life activists since I was a small child.  My mom ran the crisis pregnancy center in Amarillo Texas for over 20 years (now running a pregnancy center in Charleston West Virginia), and my dad, a hard working employee of General Electric for 30 years, was very involved in pro-life activism and church ministry as well. We were that family that would bring by diapers formula and money to a mom in need in the middle of the night, so she could care for her family.  When I was 13 my parents relocated to Wichita, KS for several weeks so we could participate in the Summer of Mercy protesting late term abortionist George Tiller.

Most importantly, I have strived not to live by accomplishments, but to serve others, which is why I dedicated my life to Christ and the pro-life movement. The most important things in my life have been:  loving Christ and following my calling in the pro-life movement, loving my family, being good to other people. In all aspects of my life, I have sought to be the best Christ-follower, daughter, sister, aunt, employee, student and friend that I could be in every situation; and while I know I have failed many times, I’ve tried to be kind and generous to others while simultaneously ferocious in my defense of Life, and fully obedient to God. I’ve always tried to do better be a better person to others in service of Christ.  While I’ve been adamant in my stane on life and on my values and faith, I have always strived to not let disagreement stand in the way of my love for others, or the need to do the "right" thing, regardless of controversy or hardship.    My biggest fault is that I have never allowed my self to trust or rely on anyone for much of anything…Until now.

Those who know me well, know just how difficult a decision it was for me to leave my position at AUL and relocate to Dallas. I cried for three days straight, still I knew it was what God was requiring of me, I just didn’t know why yet.  I love and continue to love the work of the pro-life movement in DC and across this country. Pro-life people are the most selfless and generous people in the world.  When asked how I knew it was time for me to change positions, I would tell people, God was not giving me no other choice. I took great solace in the fact that I was able to secure work for some fantastic pro-life groups doing great things to save women and children from the destruction of abortion. My larger dreams turned into simpler ones. I wanted to be able to help my brother and sister-in-law with rent so they could start college saving funds for their kids, or so they could save to visit my sister-in law’s family in Taiwan (she has not been home for 10 years); I  dreamed of being able  to help my oldest nephew with his homework, to take my niece to get nails done, and to chase my toddler nephew around the house.  Assuming all worked well, I was considering adopting a child and giving a home to another.  I also was pondering God's command that we w honor our mothers and fathers and had concluded that means caring for them as they age.  My hope was that I could save enough money to get an affordable home in Texas that I could share with my dad as he gets older. I felt blessed that all these would be possibilities while I would still be able to serve the pro-life movement, even a wider range of pro-life movement by having multiple clients.

At the time I made the decision to transition from AUL, I didn’t quite know why God was calling me to a new season,  even though I was daily living with the pain of an extremely large tumor which was causing debilitating headaches, we had not yet identified the tumor.  Still, my family and I started to feel something more was wrong.  I had seen three different doctors who each identified me as having a sinus infection without ordering scans.   My family even thought I was hiding something from them. I started praying to God that if there was something more serious we were not catching that something dramatic would to force medical attention to my situation. God would soon answered my prayer and my world would be rocked, and my faith shaken, but it may have very well saved my life. 

The week I planned to move to Dallas, I checked into the emergency room having gone temporarily paralyzed on my left side.  Ironically I was at the hospital for a routine doctors appointment, but God allowed me to have a dramatic reaction to catch the tumor at this time.

I knew it was bad news when every doctor or nurse let out a huge sigh before pulling the curtain to my bed in the ER.  The doctor who broke the news to me that they found a mass even started to tear up.  Every doctor said they wished they had "better news," or "any good news." They started to prepare me for the worst.  The decision was made that going to Dallas for the surgery would be the best for me given that the situation would mandate long term care. It was shocking to go into a doctor’s office in Dallas and then be told you had the largest tumor they had ever seen, be told its likely malignant and aggressive, and then be immediately wheeled into a hospital bed.  I had to face the reality of my situation quickly and with the help of a very good attorney friend of mine, I was able to secure the proper advance directives I needed, then I asked my family to leave my room, so I could give funeral instructions to my best friend, just in case.  These are the things people don’t normally have to face, or even think of at age 36. I have now learned that my tumor was the size of a lime, and while my surgery was a great success, the pathology confirmed I had a malignant grade 4 cancer that was the most aggressive form of brain cancer. While I was praying for a miracle along with so many of you, I had suspected bad news, because I knew bad news means God can do a greater miracle. There is some good news, people do beat this, and I am young enough that I’m better positioned to fight.  I have a gene mutation that responds well to chemo and radiation. I don’t actually think this will kill me, but I do know it means I have a long road ahead with a lot of physical nad emotional pain, and a complete and permanent life-style change. For better or worse, I will never be the same.

As far as my move to Dallas, by God’s grace, I had already wrapped up my work for AUL (with my personality, I would have felt bad leaving work incomplete), I had packed my truck, cleared out my apartment, and even found a home for my cats.  But instead of doing a three-day drive to Dallas with my best friend—complete with a stop by Graceland in Memphis, I was wheel-chaired onto  a last minute flight to Dallas so I could undergo emergency brain surgery. I was in a total state of shock, PTSD really.  2016 was supposed to be the “Year of Jeanneane” where for the first time in my life I focused on myself, my health, and those simpler dreams I had always wanted, but now those seemed impossible.  The Bible says Satan comes to “steal, kill and destroy,” and he does, and he doesn’t wait for you to recover from brain surgery or to "process, or to  to have any  peace.  Satan immediately started to implant thoughts about lost dreams and uncertain future and pain that were a struggle to fight.  He told me this would be my last Christmas, that I would never get married, never have my own children, and that even my dreams to serve the pro-life movement would somehow be compromised.  I now know that I don’t have to accept Satan’s lies.  For the first time in my life I was grateful I had no husband or children, because it meant fewer people in pain over my situation. The most significant lessons I’ve learned so far are:

1.     Work out your theology now. When you are going in for emergency brain surgery, you do not have time to suddenly  “get right with God.” We don’t tend to feel the need to think of these things when we are young, but tomorrow is not promised.  When I was going into anesthesia, I didn’t know whether I would wake up in heaven, wake up in a vegetative state, or wake up normal.  Praise God, I had the best surgical outcome thanks to God, your prayers, and the stellar neurosurgical team at UT Southwestern.  I imagine the possibility of death is a very scary thing for many people to face, for me I was comforted by the fact that if the worst happened, I would be in eternity with my Savior.

2.     Kindness matters,  so many people, even people I don’t know have sacrificially through prayer, support and in other ways—the local pro-life group that has been delivering food weekly to my family, the Facebook friends who have encouraged me and organized prayer events, the friends that have traveled long distances to see me, the Dallas non-profit that ensured my family had a Christmas meal, the friends and corporation who made sure I had Christmas gifts for my nieces and nephews and the corporate Chaplin who sat with my family through my seven hour surgery, the generous board member who gave my sister and her family flight miles so they could be with me.  The childhood friend who set up my medical bills fundraiser, the friend who organized my money bomb, and so many others.  I feel the great love and it means the world to me. I would not be doing as well without it. 

3.     For some reason God has called me to be the one to walk through this. This is a comfort to me because I know just how weak I have been in the process.  But, our God delights in weakness.

Admittedly, everything is still very raw for me, and in time I will write more about my experiences, until then, I will continue to post small things on Facebook. But, I wanted to put something out now to say mostly that I have been so blessed by the love, prayers and encouragement I have received from hundreds of people. I am truly blessed, and more important for me, my family also feels very blessed.  Thank you all.  Please keep praying for my healing daily, for God's Provision and for shin to be in in the details of every aspect of this process.   I believe God will get me through this (I have seen so much of his hand already), and someday so many of you will be able to share in this miracle with me as a testimony to His majesty and grace and glory. I look forward at continuing this journey with you, and am so blessed to have you all in my life.  Thank you!!

 

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