Dear Pebble pals,
I would like to share something very personal with you.
I would like you to think about the following. We will continue our study of the Gospel of John next week.
We are in the midst of the most important weekend of the Christian calendar. For years I have asked the Lord to teach me something new about the Cross every Easter. This year and the end of last year has not been smooth sailing and many things happened that I could never have foreseen.
For many reasons I have been more away than home since we celebrated the start of 2018.
I would like to share one event with you and the circumstances around it, as a testimony of the work of God in our lives and especially His perfect timing. I am deeply convinced that next to the Word of Scripture itself, the most powerful words in this world are those of a testimony of grace and outcome.
On February 11 this year my sister died. She is much older than I am, but we were very close. I am the youngest of four siblings. We had two brothers. My one brother died years ago in a freak accident at the age of 31. My eldest brother is closer to my sister in age and I know he misses her very much. We all serve God with conviction and commitment. Sometimes when we got together it was like a blessed church service as we shared the wonder of God’s work and grace in our lives.
My sister had several health challenges in her life, amongst others breast cancer at the age of 35 when her two boys were just seven and five years old. She fought bravely and with radical surgery that left her quite scarred, she has lived cancer free to the age of 75.
Throughout last year we noticed that she walks slower and becomes more and more inactive. It was worrying and I know she tried to walk more and move more to fight the tiredness and sluggishness that she was experiencing. She lost her husband in 2011 and was living alone in a cottage in a beautiful retirement village where she could take walks, close to shops where she could shop for herself.
One day towards the end of September last year she went to the Mall nearby to do grocery shopping. She said she decided to walk through the whole Mall for exercise and then do the shopping and drive home. She did it all and was approaching her car with a supermarket cart in the undercover parking garage when everything went black.
The next part of the story has to be told by the two testimonies that I am going to include for you. It is written by people who are called angels in our family, sent by God to be at the right time at the right place to do what it took to save my sister’s life for an extension of only four months, during which she could enjoy all her children and the rest of her family over Christmas and New Year.
The first account is the husband and the next one is that of the wife of the same event. He is writing the letter to my sister’s sons.
I am writing this letter to record something that can be passed on to your children and your children’s children.
This is not a mystical story of fantasy but an account of how God works in our lives, and if you doubt there is a God then try and analyze the possibility of this account being coincidence. Your mother and my wife were players in God’s plan that you all would have the time over Xmas to get together as a family almost like there was unfinished things God wanted answered.
I am a Scot and was brought up leaning slightly to the right as a “Presbyterian” with both my feet planted firmly on the ground and definitely not belonging to the group who analyze our daily living looking for miracles, and God’s signs, so it is only fitting that I should write this account.
Starting at the beginning, and looking at the events leading up to my wife and your mother getting together, has to be looked at in detail to begin to understand the exquisite timing and finite detail that was in place.
I am not a lover of modern technology and my fancy I-phone was giving trouble. I had to revert to shouting as no one could hear me. My wife insisted I get it seen to, and as there was a I-phone shop in the Mall, off I went. The Mall is a real mess and the underground parking is badly lit and very, very confusing and I ended up parking miles away from the shops which did nothing to alleviate my already short fuse. I patiently stood in a queue like a lost sheep. When I eventually got to the front of the queue, I was told that I needed to make an appointment.
Needless to say this did not end well and I stomped out telling everyone who was prepared to listen that I was moving my loyalty to Samsung.
It took me over an hour to find my car and by that time I was a wreck.
Where are we going with this screed well have patience and all will be revealed.
The next afternoon my wife insisted that I go back and get my phone repaired. I was not prepared to admit that to go back to that hell hole was bordering on me going insane and I asked her to please come with me. We have a mature relationship and I was told in no uncertain manner that she had better things to do than hold my hand in the underground car park.
In the next few moments the power drops out at the house. My wife is interrupted in her work and I haven’t left. We stay in a fancy estate and seldom have power problems but on this occasion we had two in quick succession and after the second one it didn’t come back on.
Once again I ask in a pleading voice for her to consider my plight and come with me to which she concedes providing I behave myself.
Normally a trip to the Mall is solid traffic and takes up to 50 minutes, but on this day and at this time there was no traffic and we flew there. We had stuff to deliver to our daughter, which I wanted to deliver first but my wife insisted we go the Mall. To try and make her understand why I was gone the whole afternoon the day before I wanted to show her exactly where I went in to the underground car park and just how confusing it is.
As I went down the ramp your mother was pushing her shopping trolley along in front of me and as I looked she fell. Of all the people in the Mall to be in the right place at the right time my wife is by far the person you want as she takes over and has a God given talent for knowing what to do in a stressful situation.
Both of us were concerned about security as these circumstances lend themselves to unscrupulous criminals taking advantage. My wife had started CPR, which she is very proficient at, and I was trying to get help from the centre. After 10 minutes plus and no life signs I told my wife that I thought it was over and nothing could be done. Still she persevered and one of the highlights of my life was to see your mother come back to life, flicker her eyes and the colour come back into her cheeks.
No words can express when you are in the presence of God and the crowd gasps at the miracle we were witnessing. Time stood still for me as I looked in wonder as my wife and your mum started to talk. When you read of the miracles that Jesus performed it doesn’t quite sink in but on this day it really sunk in and all of us felt the presence of God.
To finish this account of one of the most beautiful things that I have been privy to see, I feel it was a privilege and honour. I know that whatever the reason for the extension of her life for a few months, it was God’s desire that she spend the time with you.
She now is by God’s side.
Finally try and work out the odds leading up to our meeting your mum at that exact time with all the background. You cannot rationalize it and let the doubting Thomas’s try and fathom it out.
We thank you for inviting us to the funeral and I could not but help thinking that this was a joyous occasion and that she would have agreed whole heartedly with the gathering of the family with fond memories.
What a pleasure it was to be a small part in God’s plan.
The following is his wife’s account of the same event.
God has a PLAN!
Sometimes God uses us in really amazing ways. I was used by God just recently. And trust me, I was worse than Jonah. I ran and ran. God won the battle with me and this is the story.
It was a Monday last year in late September. My husband has an I-phone and every day I marvel that a person more unsuitable to this type of technology was persuaded to think he could master this device. Shows how branding and advertising really pay off!
To get to the story. His phone was giving him a really hard time. I suspected a software upgrade was required. Anyway the whole of the Monday he yelled into his phone. I suffered this throughout the day. Eventually, I said ” Sweetie, please go into town and get it fixed.” If you know anything about our nearest Mall, it is a nightmare. The road from our house to the mall is around 24 kilometers of which six kilometers were under construction for the past two years.
So off he went. After about two hours I got a frantic phone call. (He had used my car). “What is your car registration number?” I gave it to him. “I have lost the car” he said. “The parking is chaos and under construction and I have been walking around for the last hour and I can’t find it”
Now there are six brand new parking levels, none of which are marked or signposted and no entrances are yet marked. It is still under construction.
“Call the security guards and they can help you,” I suggested. Around 7 pm that night he arrived home. He was in a truly foul mood. And, you guessed it, the phone was still not working. That is a story for another day.
Tuesday he yelled into the phone. Actually he couldn’t hear anyone and they could not hear him. Wednesday was unbearable. He yelled and yelled.
On Thursday morning I woke up to no electricity. This is a very rare occurrence where we live. I was not in the best of moods as I had listened to yelling for three days solidly and now I could not do my work. This was really the last straw. I did all the tasks that did not require any electricity. (Walk the dogs, make breakfast on a gas stove, make beds, dust, mop etc.).
By 9am the electricity was back on and I could get onto my computer and work. I also had curtains to finish for my daughter who was expecting her first child. So I worked solidly with my husband yelling around the house.
We have lived here for five years and we have never had two power failures in one day. It just does not happen. I had finished my work on my computer and I was just settling down to do my work on my sewing machine. My husband appeared behind me. “Please come with me to town”, he said.
“I need to sew and finish these curtains,” I said. Just as I said it the power went out again.
“Well,” said my darling husband. “Now, will you please go with me”. “All right,” I reluctantly agreed.
We loaded washing into the car that I had done during the week for my other daughter whose husband had an accident and broke his neck a few years ago. She and her husband are always so cheery that I love to help them in these small ways.
The ride to the Mall would always be around 50 minutes to one hour because of the road works. We flew to the Mall in under 20 minutes. As we turned into the road for the Mall, my husband asked; “Shall we drop off the washing first”. “No,” I said. “Go straight to the Mall and we can drop off the washing afterwards”.
We turned into the Mall and he went to the same entrance where he had parked on the Monday. In the far distance, I saw a lady pushing a trolley. She was walking extremely slowly. I admired the beautiful way she held herself and she was beautifully dressed. Then my attention was drawn back to assist in looking for a parking bay.
“The lady has fallen,” yelled my husband. I looked forward and she had indeed fallen straight backwards and was lying immobile on the road. Two security guards rushed up, grabbed her by her arms and started dragging her along the road. I jumped out of the car and raced up to them. “Leave her,” I yelled. They put her back down on the road. When I reached her, she was clearly dead. Her eyes and mouth were open. Her pallor was dreadful. She was a deathly grey colour.
My husband, who had pulled the car alongside got out and looked down as she lay there. “She is gone,” he said.
I knelt down and felt for a pulse. Nothing. I put my ear on her face to feel for breath. Nothing. I don’t know what made me do it. I pulled her head back gently, pinched her nose and gave her a deep breath. I then started pressing down on her chest doing compressions. I was counting. At about 20 compressions, I breathed again. Still nothing. I carried on. By this time a crowd had gathered around. They were all watching.
I saw one man in the crowd filming me as I came up to give her another breath. “Stop him,” I asked my husband. He walked over and spoke to the man.
Another man sidled in on his haunches. “Give me her jewelry and I will look after it,” he said. “Sir,” I said. “If you can’t help me, go away”.
I gave her CPR for about 15 minutes. She was completely unresponsive. My husband kept telling me that she had gone. Suddenly a light came on in her eyes and she gave a very gentle little sigh. “I have her back,” I said. I carried on the compressions as her heart was still very fluttery. I was then asking about the paramedics. Nothing. I could hear sirens but they were a long way away.
A little lady came along to me and said: ” I am the hairdresser from the shop above, can I help.” I asked her to look for the lady’s cell phone in her handbag which was next to me. “Take it up outside” as there was no signal in the parkade. “Look for any number that she dials a lot and call it.” Ask for her details. My husband was nowhere to be seen and I presumed that he had gone out to get a signal to call the paramedics.
I continued with the compressions. When I felt her heartbeat settle down, I turned her into the recovery position. I had been talking to her all the time. I continued talking to her but she was unresponsive for about another 10 minutes. I remember saying things like “don’t worry sweetheart, you are going to be all right”. I had kept talking. Now with her eyes closed I saw the tears on her cheeks. She whispered:
“Where am I, am I at the airport?”
” No” I replied, “you are in a parking lot.”
“In Canada” she asked.
“No” I replied ” In the Mall. What is your name?” I asked her.
She gave me her name. She opened her eyes and stared into mine. I continued talking to her softly telling her the ambulance was on its way. I could hear sirens blaring.
By this time my husband was back and I asked him to get me something out of the car to put under her head, which was at a very strange angle to the ground. He got me some of my daughter’s washing.
Then finally the paramedics and ambulance arrived. I immediately got up and told them that she had had no vital signs for approximately 15 minutes and that I had continued CPR for the entire time. I told them that she had collapsed about 45 minutes before. They nodded and took over. They put her on a defibrillator and oxygen. My husband and I moved off and went to our car. We waited and watched from a distance.
A young woman who had been watching the whole thing came over and grabbed me and gave me a huge hug. “I have never seen anything like that. Are you professionally trained?” she asked. “No,” I said and did not elaborate. “You saved her life. It is a miracle.” She stood there with her arms around me crying. I really felt small.
God was the only way that she survived this. Yes I knew what to do, but if God did not have a plan for her life, I could not have saved her.
The paramedics were busy with her for a long time. In the meantime her cousin who had been called by the hairdresser arrived. Such a really lovely person. I asked her where they were going to take her.
My husband and I left and went upstairs and got a cup of coffee. I was emotional, filthy from the parkade and I was doubtful that she would make it. So very sad. I phoned the hospital the next day and asked if she had survived. Yes, was the answer. I asked if I could visit her and they told me she was in ICU but that I was welcome.
I went to visit her in the hospital that day. When I walked in she said to the doctors and nurses. “This is my angel I was telling you about. She saved my life.”
Now I really felt small. ” No, I said, I am flesh and blood and worse than Jonah and the whale. I did not want to go to town, but God even put the lights out to make me go and be at your side.”
We both smiled. “You are my angel” she insisted.
Tragically she passed away four months after the incident. However, she did spend wonderful quality time with her family who all flew in and spent Christmas with her.
I visited her a number of times in hospital where she underwent major heart surgery. She was a truly beautiful soul and I will always think of her with love in my heart.
My dearest readers,
Isn’t this story something wonderful and beautiful? From my side, God gave me the privilege to be with my sister often during this time of illness, even though I live overseas. We always buy our tickets on sale and plan far ahead. I was with her through her surgery and again in January this year for three weeks before she died. I was less than 12 hours home, when I received the news of her passing.
Through all the tears, I felt the grace and the peace that surpasses all understanding. Our God reigns.
In that day sing to her,
A vineyard of red wine!
I, the Lord, keep it,
I water it every moment;
Lest any hurt it,
I keep it night and day. (Isaiah 27:2,3)