“You changed the most in our family.” Imagine hearing those words from your brother. I had to sit back and think. I would agree with him and I want to invite you to come into my life as I share my testimony with you. In a world with Tic Toc I know people like information as fast as they can get it. There’s so much I could write about, but I want to highlight my twists and turns so you can see the bigger picture.
I was introduced to God early in life by my parents, grandparents, and the Catholic school I started out with. When I was in elementary school I have a special memory of Sister Julie, a nun, playing her guitar and singing to Jesus; I could tell she meant every string she played, and every note and word was sung with such meaning like Jesus was right there in the room. That touched my heart early on. After my mom would tuck me in at night I would pray to Jesus and I would ask Him to tuck me in. The room would then feel so warm, relaxed, and peaceful while I was going to sleep.
As time went on I went through middle school, high school, and college. Throughout those years I did not read my Bible unless I thought I did something really bad. I really only prayed if I thought I needed something. I didn’t really seek God or try to have a real relationship with Him. I believed He died on the cross for my sins; I guess I thought that was enough or I wasn’t intrigued to do more.
My parents were wealthy. I didn’t understand true pain, I couldn’t relate to most people having a hard time. I was attractive and learned to depend on my appearance because of other insecurities. It’s like I was walking around with no real purpose. I pretty much did what I wanted and I honestly thought I had a decent moral and ethical code, but this was determined within my own mind. I didn’t really seek Jesus over too many things. I didn’t really have any problems, this led me to believe I was doing things the “right” way.
Once I graduated college I started working my first real job. During this job I met my husband. We eventually got married a few years after I started working with him, and we went on to have two children.
I was trying to figure out what to do with our kids and I was trying to figure out how to be a mom. I started praying and asking God what to do with my first born. I looked so hard for a job and nothing would give and I realized I fell in love with being a mom. I didn’t want another person to raise my kids, I felt deep down inside it was my job even if that meant we took the financial hit and lived off of one income. I slowed down and I really began to see myself a little more clearer.
Who I Was Caught Up To Me
I always identified as a Christian. However, I want to take the time to explain what that identity meant to me. I was one of those believers in Jesus that asked Him to forgive me when I did a “big sin,” but I usually did it again and again. My eyes were beginning to open, the light was starting to break through. I was so disgusted with myself. I was self-centered. God didn’t have the throne in my life, I did. I could see myself a little more clearly. I was starting to see I created my own moral or ethical compass that didn’t measure with the Word of God. You know, if it makes you happy, why are you so sad? This was the first time I remember really wondering if I had done something too much for God to forgive. The accumulation of all my past sins all caught up to me. Can you call yourself a Christian and be far away from God? Yes! I saw for the first time how far away I was from God. I felt like I really had no excuse because I understood He was on higher ground, but I never searched for Him, I did it my way.
I remember laying on the floor with my Bible, I think that was one of the first times I read my Bible in years and I wasn’t just looking for forgiveness; I felt like a mess on the inside and I wanted help. I remember reading something in one of the Prophet books about God dealing with sin. That was the first time I experienced a side of God, through the Bible, revealing His heart about sin. As I continued reading I read how God wanted restoration, but sin had to be dealt with. In reading about restoration, that was one of the first times I remember experiencing the relational side of God through the Bible.
It wasn’t about going to church on Sunday, or reading the Bible, or titles in the church, or trying really hard to do something I didn’t want to do just to check it off on my list. It was like someone pinned this note on my heart forever – Repent – Turn away from sin. This cut me so much it brought me back to the Bible again and again. I could see I needed a savior for the first time in my life. I knew I was a dead person walking.
The wages of sin is death – that wasn’t just a piece of information to read anymore, I saw for the first time it applied to me. I could see there was a God who could see me and wanted to restore me despite all my filth. I felt like He was calling me out and handling the details of my life to move me to answer the door as He knocked on my heart. I can’t explain it to anyone. Everyone has their low moment that brings us to a point to search for something greater. My low point pointed me to deal with the sin in my life.
My parents moved back to New Orleans and I took my girls to visit after I graduated from graduate school. I was only staying for a few weeks, but it turned into almost 2 years. I left Pennsylvania on the note of wondering if there was still hope for me. There I was in New Orleans feeling like a mess, like a complete wreck, like I completely threw my life away. I felt like I had no real purpose.
I found myself living back with my parents, this was the first reality check I ever had as an adult. The kind of reality check that makes you take a hard look at yourself. I took the time to reflect on my past. I was the cause of my problems. I made some really bad decisions and everything just kind of caught up with me. The cookie was crumbling and the dust was settling. There in the midst of it all, all the pain, all the lack of understanding, I felt like Jesus was the only one still there. All this time had passed since I was that little girl that used to pray to Him to tuck me in at night. However, I felt like Jesus was there, like He was wanting to know if I was ready, really ready to follow Him.
Both of my parents worked so it was just me and my girls alone during the day. I think this was the best thing that happened to me. This time was precious because Jesus and I were alone without any distractions. I felt that calling on my life to walk with Jesus. It was like He let me see who I really was and I felt Him drawing me in still willing to forgive me and love me. I took Him up on His offer and it was like the scales fell from my eyes. I could not put the Bible down. I was so hungry and thirsty for His Word.
In the middle of the night on my parents couch I woke up and the words spilled out of my mouth from my heart, “Into Your hands, Father, I commit my Spirit.” I was ready to make the choice to really believe. There was nothing else to me, I was at the end of me. I knew I couldn’t put my life back together unless He got involved. In this moment I encountered real love. There I had a Father and friend that never left, He was waiting on me. I felt so ashamed, self-centered, and I saw so clearly for the first time in my life – I saw I needed a savior. I needed a relationship with Jesus. I knew He was knocking on the door of my heart, I finally let Him in. At the end of my rope I had nothing to show but a disaster, and in this moment of realty I found my True Love. All I wanted was to be forgiven and know Him. When I really gave my life to Him I fell in love and I wanted ALL of Him. I wanted to know everything about Him. I read the Bible nonstop, I couldn’t put it down. This was the first time in my life the Words in the Bible seemed fresh, alive, and refreshing like a cool drink of water on a hot summer day; while correcting me at the same time. I went so long living my life the way I wanted and kind of making up my own moral compass – I was so far off.
While in New Orleans I had the sweetest time with Jesus, it’s like He treated me like His only child for about two years. I felt like the woman at the well, He knew everything about me, everything I had ever done and He still wanted a relationship with me. He wanted to teach me who He was. This was the purest love I had ever known. Besides my earthly dad, this was the first time I found a Man who loved me and it wasn’t based on my beauty or what he thought he could get from me. I found a True Friend, not a friend only friends with me because we looked like this, had this kind of status, or knew the same kind of people – those types of friendships are shallow. I found a Father who stood there with all my wrong saying He loves me and He wanted to show me who He was. I disconnected with many people, but I had so much precious alone time with Jesus that changed my life and continues to change my life. Seeds were planted in me in this season and I am still watching the seeds bear fruit.
One night I had a dream, this dream left the impression on my heart that I needed to move back to Pennsylvania. I left New Orleans right after Christmas. Before I departed my sister noticed my left eyelid looked a little bigger than the right. I never noticed it. I looked in the mirror and saw a very subtle difference. I had a stye on my right eye in the past, so I knew for sure it was only a stye. I told her I would go to the doctors in Pennsylvania. We left there at the end of December or beginning of January. Now, to be honest, the last thing I believed Jesus told me, before I left New Orleans, was that He was going to teach me how to have faith.
I went to the eye doctor and they originally thought it was a stye. I began treating it and nothing changed. I went back and saw a different doctor and he examined my left eye and told me my eye was fine, but he wanted me to see an eye surgeon because he thought it was something going on behind my eye. I thought it was a strange comment. I remember thinking what is behind my eye would cause my eyelid to look swollen. I really thought nothing about it. I went over the CAT Scan with the eye surgeon and he told me whatever was causing the problem was extending past his region of expertise and he recommended I do a MRI with a neurosurgeon.
The neurosurgeon found the answer to the problem. I was diagnosed with a meningioma brain tumor at 31 years old.
Let’s Summarize My Timeline:
I graduated college when I was 22 years old, I walked down the aisle at 24 years old pregnant, started graduate school around 28, got pregnant with my second daughter around 29, was diagnosed with a brain tumor at 31, between 31 – 36 years old I had 3 brain surgeries to treat a meningioma tumor, I lost my mother to cancer at 36, around 37 I started radiation to hopefully stop the tumor from growing, and now I am 39 years old and I am still dealing with ongoing hearing and eye issues, but I have not had any new tumor growth.
Inner Healing to Outer Healing
Imagine sitting in the doctor’s office and he confirms it’s a brain tumor and then you hear, “I would give you about 10 years to live if you don’t do anything about it.” This was a slow growing tumor, but it wrapped itself around my sphenoid wing – an important area. The day I got the news I went home and just sat there on my floor in the bedroom alone and it didn’t feel real. I didn’t see this as part of my plan. I remember thinking, “Wow! Jesus and I were just getting close…what happened?” As I laid there on my floor the impact hit me and all I could think about was seeing Jesus face to face. I can not explain the intensity that gripped my soul. What did I do for Jesus? That’s all I could think about. I understood how separate my spirit is from my body. I finally got it! All of a sudden I could see forward looking back into my present state. It was like He was giving me a second chance to answer that question. Instead of being focused on, What did I do for Jesus? I was focused on, What can I do for Jesus? I can’t ever repay Him for what He has done for me. He laid down His life perfectly, I can’t do that. However, I can dedicate my life to Him and offer myself to Him to be used by Him. I wanted Him to take what was left of my life and use it for His kingdom.
My medical journey was definitely used as a healing experience. When I woke up from my first surgery, I was left with double vision, a bulging left eye, a left eye that would not look to the left (my brain would tell it to move and nothing happened), a tear on my left cornea, nerve pain so bad on my left side I couldn’t tolerate an eye patch, and I also had the feeling of an immense amount of pressure on my head. Not to mention when I came home from the hospital I collapsed (at home) after my first shower and did not wake up until the ambulance was there. I knew things could happen during the surgery, I just didn’t think it would happen to me. The ambulance rushed me back to the hospital and then I was released once I showed signs of improvement.
When I came home I sat alone and I asked God to take this away from me. When I went into surgery I believed I was going to receive healing. So much so, I was expecting a fast recovery and that’s not what happened. I asked Him more than once to take this away and all I heard was: My grace is sufficient in your weakness. I didn’t understand. I thought I was so ready for this surgery and the recovery. I didn’t see it happening like this. This was the beginning of me witnessing a physical healing as well as an inner healing. He took me all apart on the inside and taught me to depend on Him.
I went through so many chapters of my life: Acceptance, learning to have faith, believing the Words in the Bible were true for me too, letting go of depending on my appearance, learning to connect with others who experience difficulties in life, and still praising Him over the turbulence. I learned through looking through the eyes of my double vision we have two eyes, two spiritual eyes. Seeing Jesus is the Truth, but there is another picture that looks true but it’s a counterfeit. I was so hungry for His Word and I still am. I went from reading and believing the events in the Bible were true and real, to believing it for myself. That’s a different level of intimacy with Jesus. Either I was going to believe His Words were for me or I was going to believe the counterfeit (all the doubts and fears trying to rage in my mind.) This first lesson pierced my heart so intensely that I walked away knowing when the scene changes in our lives our response is to simply trust God and believe He is everything He said He is in the Bible. It’s so important to know all the stories in the Bible are not just stories like reading a history book, but the Words apply to you also. He is talking to you too!
After my first surgery the tear on my cornea really concerned me because it was a time sensitive circumstance. I was told I had three days for my cornea to heal, if not the doctors were considering stitching my eye shut so it hopefully would heal. They sent me home with a few remedies to try, but nothing was really working. The problem was I was in so much pain I didn’t think I could deal with another thing. I went in for my first two appointments and I believe they said my eye was only 30% healed. I kept praying, but I knew the chances of my eye healing 100% on the third day was almost impossible. The night before I had my third appointment I had a dream and I saw my eyeballs in mid air, everything was black but my eyeballs. Then I saw a light circling around my eyeballs and I woke up. My mom drove me to my appointment and I told her about my dream and I asked her what she thought it meant – she said she didn’t know. I went to my appointment and the doctor examined my eye and he said 99.9% healed! He looked puzzled and asked, “How did you do that?” He knew I was in only a day before when it was only 30% healed. I completely froze. I never witnessed a miracle in my life, I was speechless. My mom could hardly believe it, so she asked the doctor to repeat it again!
While I was excited the tear on my cornea was healed and the head pressure was beginning to go away, I knew the doctors didn’t remove all the tumor, the double vision was still present, my left eye still froze when I tried to look to the left, and my left eye looked like it was still bulging out of my head.
Like I mentioned earlier, I thought I didn’t depend on my appearance. Ummm…I think I was wrong. I think I knew the right way to think and I knew the right thing to say. You don’t know what’s really in your heart until you are tested. To make a long story short I didn’t like my appearance, I tried to wear sunglasses when I was out in public as much as possible.
I remember trying to wear them in the winter during the evening at my oldest daughters back to school night, but it looked so ridiculous so I decided to take the shades off. We were late of course! I really did not want to be late because this was an all inclusive parent back to school night; so all parents were in the room together to hear the teacher’s presentation. As I walked in I noticed some people noticed my eye and they stared of course. All I could do was stand there and try to smile or look the other way. At the end of the presentation the teacher told parents to stick around to ask questions and take a look at the classroom. I had a question but I didn’t want to talk, so many parents were circling around her, I wanted no attention on me at all. Either way as the room started to clear my husband and I moved closer to her and we stood there and the teacher began talking to us. I tried to shy away and I heard a voice within me say, “Raise your head, you are a child of the Most High!” The voice shook me inside, I wanted to cry. I felt so loved, I didn’t understand how Jesus could see beauty in me. I was so taken back. So I began talking too, I loosened up a little. This was just the beginning of me learning to talk and connect with people without relying on my appearance or relying on my husband to talk for me. My husband is a talker so it’s easy for me to take the back seat if I don’t want to talk. This process of connecting with people with sincerity meant that God was tearing me apart from the inside out. It’s been a long journey and I could share more but I believe He put me in uncomfortable situations at times to force me to dig deeper within myself, to find out who I was or who He was creating me to be without the superficial undertones.
The double vision was a nag! I knew to keep believing in Him to heal me how He wanted and when He wanted. I understood healing to be a very personal thing to God. If you look at the healings in the Bible they were done so uniquely. I believed Him to heal me however He wanted, even if He chose to do it on the other side (in eternity.)
One night my youngest, a toddler then, wouldn’t go to sleep; this wasn’t like her. I had a small lamp in the room and I held her in bed and rocked her, but she continued to look around the room. She finally looked at me and she began to say something, she still mumbled a lot at this age so I couldn’t understand everything she said. I kept saying, “What, what, what…” Finally I made out a word. I said, “He?” She nodded yes. She was so persistent and kept repeating herself, she forced me to pay attention. I couldn’t make out the last word, so she started putting her hand on her mouth and she kept pointing to my eye. As she continued doing this motion I could make out she was saying a “S ” word. I kept trying to understand her and then I finally got it. I said, “Are you saying, “He spit?” She nodded yes. Then she said, “Jesus.” I finally got it. I said, “Are you saying Jesus spit on my eye.” She said, “Yes.” I had been studying the healings in the Bible and I knew Jesus used His salvia to heal a blind man. After that day, little by little the double vision went away.
Additionally, the nerve pain went away and eventually my left eye began to move to the left. However, to this day I still can feel nerve pain every now and then on the left side of my head area where I had surgery.
A year after my first surgery I had two other brain surgeries. The doctors were trying to debulk what they could of the tumor without damaging the nerves around my eye and without sawing too much at my necessary bones. They told me from the second surgery till the last surgery, I needed radiation. I completed radiation and I wanted that to be the end.
Currently I continue to do MRI’s and there have been no signs of tumor growth. However, radiation has left my left completely dry, so I no longer produce tears in that eye. Also, I lost 40% of hearing in my left ear (due to fluid in my ear), and my thyroid and hormones are a little out of whack. My body has never felt the same. I have never gone back to feeling how I felt before I had these surgeries, but I am so thankful I have life and I can share what He has done in my life and what He is doing in my life.
This journey was evolving into a relationship and through these experiences I continued to grow closer to Jesus. I believe Jesus was spending time with me as He was teaching me His Word. The Words in the Bible were jumping off the page into my heart, I was getting filled. I was experiencing His Holy Spirit inside of me, like a lit candle that wasn’t going out.
All of these experiences were not in vain. As I continue to walk closer with Jesus, I believe He has called me to write and share pieces of His Word as an encouragement. I love encouraging others to get to know Him and to finish their race. I mentioned earlier in my testimony, “My parents were wealthy.” I want to be clear – my mom died a few years ago from cancer and my parents lost most of the wealth they had due to various circumstances over the years. However; this has positioned me to know God as my source (that’s another story!) I believe God has been trying to make me more relatable to other people and He has been trying to get me to learn to depend on Him.
I know so many people are suffering in this world, but it’s only for a moment compared to eternity. We all need to seek God, stay in a relationship with Him, and figure out what He has called us to do. It’s getting harder and harder as we go against the current in this world; so we need to edify each other and help each other along the way – as the goal is to offer our lives to Him, be used to serve others, and spread His Word in the specific way He has called each of us.