Thursday, October 24, 2013

My Testament to God's Faithful Loving Care

Faith (n):
: strong belief or trust in someone or something
: belief in the existence of God : strong religious feelings or beliefs
: a system of religious beliefs

For me, that does not quite cover my personal definition of faith. Leaves too much uncertainty or question of existence.

Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.
 Hebrews 11:1

I was born and baptized a Roman Catholic forty-something years ago.
I was raised in a loving, Catholic home and attended Catholic elementary school.
I never wandered away from church for long {did a brief hiatus in my early twenties as most do from time to time}.  
I married a good Catholic man and am raising godly Catholic sons.

I always had faith, but, never truly "got it" until three years ago.

Three years ago was my first conversion, when God called me by name to be closer to Him and I answered the call.  Most likely He was probably a little weary of my walking the walk mostly at the most needed times of my life.  Like I mentioned, I had always been a good, faithful Catholic girl, but, never quite grasped the full and powerful intention of His faith to me!

It began innocently enough during Lent when I picked up a daily Lenten devotional.  You know the kind.  You most likely see them sitting there at your church collecting a little dust at Lent.  Well, this time I picked it up and actually read it...daily...scripture readings and all!  I have been reading it daily for almost four years now and cannot tell you what a difference it has made in my life.

Well, I guess I am about to tell you, aren't I?

That simple call from God was just a mere private message per se.  Nothing more than a teaser now that I think of it.  I have been so happy and filled with His grace over the past three years.  

My little efforts have produced tremendous grace for my family.

It is a simple cycle of the more He calls, the more I answer and the more grace is poured upon all of us.
It is such a lovely cycle too.  It opens my heart to the wants and needs of others and really makes me think more like Jesus and *try* to be kind and childlike in His presence and caring of others.

Now this is just my "backstory", my precursor to the absolutely Earth shattering experience I have had over the past two months.  If I had not personally experienced it all, I am not sure I would have actually believed my own story, but, each and every word of it is true and He has prompted me to share it with you.

I want to warn is not a pretty story filled with hearts and flowers and actually gets mighty icky at times, so be prepared. 

Okay here goes...

I am perimenopausal.  Isn't that a lovely word.  Big word for saying that pretty much everything in my life has been changing physically for the past two years.  Everything that I have known is slowly changing and not always for the good :(  I wish I could say that I have been having hot flashes, night sweats and have been a little moody at times.

Oh how I wish (or maybe not).

No mine has been  weird and as my gynecologist tries to reassure me "it is common, but, not normal."  Just what any woman wants to here about all of the havoc being wreaked in her body, right?  I have always been very predictable in my cycles and never suffered from PMS.  I have had two natural childbirths and a pretty easy C-Section as well.  

I can joke now and say that all of the hormones had to come out somewhere.

Well, on August 19th they came out! 
I thought I was done with my period, but, instead found myself in the emergency room scared to death and bleeding profusely.  I was tested for anemia and if I had been anemic, was going to have an emergency D&C to stop the bleeding.  I was not anemic, was sent home with a prescription for Provera and a diagnosis of Menorrhagia

I had never had such a terrifying experience ever and truly was scared to death!  As we left the hospital I weakly walked to the car and told my husband that I am really over being a girl!  I was too.  I had been through alot in the past two years and the thought of this happening on a regular basis terrified me.

I had heard about this from people, but, like the C-section, never ever thought it was going to happen to me, right?  Well I was wrong on both accounts!

So I spent the next week laid up in bed, exhausted just trying to regain the strength, remain calm while this continued for FIVE more days!  As I laid there terrified, exhausted and very confused, I prayed....ALOT.

It was all I could do that week.  

I prayed for healing.  I begged God to make it stop.  I sat there not wanting to take the hormone medicine that I had heard horror stories about because I was afraid that it would not work and that it would make my Crohn's disease much worse too.  The Crohn's was already in overdrive with all of the anxiety of this and my stomach was twisted for weeks!

August 24
Finally Saturday (day10) I stopped bleeding. I decided over the weekend to call my gynecologist ask to have a D&C just to have peace of mind that this profuse bleeding would not happen again soon and to check the tissue out.  I had wanted to have an ablation done that would pretty much ensure that it would not happen again, but, my doctor did not do them. So I called  and of course he is on vacation! He is always on vacation when my body falls apart!  I told the nurse what I wanted to do and to come in for a consult with him when he got back since God knows how long it is going to take me to get the ablation. She told me that he took a culture at the ER last week and it showed I had a polyp and that I would need the D&C and the ablation. I told her I wanted him to do the D&C asap because I am terrified that I am going to bleed like this again in a few weeks. She said he is booking six weeks out and chances are that I can't undergo anesthesia twice in such a short time. She also said if I decided to take the Provera, once I was done that I would start bleeding again and it takes about three months for it to begin working.  I just started crying on phone with her.

None of this sounded very good to me as the biological clock keeps ticking on and I really felt like a time bomb just waiting to go off again next month!

Again, things were out of my hands.  I was left with no answers, no Earthly help in sight at all.  I was waiting for a referral to a doctor for the ablation and the appointment was nowhere in sight.

August 28:
As I was trying to regain my strength after the fall, my sweet mother-in-law was telling me to eat raisins since they are full of iron.  Well, I love raisins so I did and I ate alot of them.
Note to self:  If you have Crohn's and your tummy does not like alot of fiber, do NOT eat raisins!  I was up all that night with a terrible tummy ache, but, that's okay because I chatted more with Jesus. God really does work in mysterious ways stomach aches and all :-)

I was chatting with Jesus and asking him to stay CLOSE to me and hold me and comfort me instead of asking for him to make this STOP, NOW! While I was thanking him and begging his closeness 
I could hear him say "I love you."

I loved that and it makes me feel SO good. Also...I have been getting feelings about scripture saying "Your faith has set you free" so I Googled it and it led me to Mark5:34 about the woman with the hemorrhages for 12 years. Talk about AMAZING! There are no coincidences in life, just God's Divine Providence and He is SO good to me right now.

She said, "If I but touch his clothes, I shall be cured."
Mark 5:28
This phrase became my mantra of sorts!  I found myself meditating upon it repeatedly for the following month.

September 10

Over the next few weeks, my body stabilized and I felt good again and went to work on my mission to find a doctor who would do the surgery before this happened again!  I was on the phone crying {literally} with each and every doctor's office I could get in touch with and still waiting for that original referral a month later!

I made an appointment with another doctor in town who I had never heard of, but, needed this appointment...desperately!

I just could not do this again.

September 13 
I began having flashes of light in my right eye, but,was going to go to the optometrist on Monday as this was the weekend.  More about this later. 

Feed your fears and your faith will starve.
Feed you faith and your fears will.
~Max Lucado

September 17-19

I was supposed to see him on 9/19, but, they called me with a cancellation to come in on 9/17 and I grabbed it and we were good to go.  He wanted to use a Novasure equipment that of course my hospital did not have and they were going to request it.  I told him that I would take any type of ablation they could do and he said they would call me when they knew.

More waiting....

But, God was again playing His hand for me with that cancellation because I began bleeding the next day and would have never made it in for my appointment on 9/19!  There is no way.  I was laid out again in bed.  Just me and Jesus, but, this time I called on some more friends.
 I decided to storm Heaven.

 I called on every saint I could get my hands on to intercede for me and bring my prayers to the Blessed Virgin Mary to give to her loving Son.

I also was {still am} saying Mother Teresa's emergency novena, which is the Memorare. 
It was not so much a novena as I have been saying it for over a month now followed by the Our Lady of Lourdes Novena as well.

I had already been offering up my suffering with Crohn's on behalf of several people and the salvation of my family, but, also figured this was a good thing to offer up as well as *best* as I could with a good, but, not so happy heart at the time.

September 24
Feeling well enough to call the optometrist and get the flashes, dots and spots in my right eye checked out I made an appointment to be seen that day.  After a long and thorough examination I was told that I had torn the retina in my right eye.  I just broke into tears.  I really could not take any more at this time.  My poor optometrist had just heard my story of the recent suffering.  By the grace of God it was a small tear and he told me how very fortunate I was to catch it in time and not lose the sight of that eye!  Right there and then I had 162 lasers in that eye to repair the tear.  It was a painful experience and I had an excruciating headache the rest of the day {and this comes from a migraine prone momma!}

September 25
I received a call from the gynecologist's office telling me that I was scheduled for surgery on 10/14 for a thermal ablation as the special equipment had not been received.  I ran throughout the house praising God, was so incredibly thankful and while dancing with my kids for joy!

October 3
I went for my pre-op appointment with my doctor only to be advised that not only had the hospital received that special equipment, but, they were moving my surgery off another week until 10/21!!!  I was not a happy person at all.  I did not want to wait another week seeing we were coming to "that time"  again and I really truly did not want to endure more suffering.  I told my doctor as nicely as possible how I just could not do this again and he wanted me to take the Provera to make sure I would not get a period. My entire family had a cold running through the house for the past month and I was telling my kids not to sneeze all over mommy because they won't take me if I am not well.  It took me longer to get over the cold than usual due to my compromised body.

I left upset and with more decisions to make...yet again.

So...faced with more decisions to make...I prayed more fervently.

I truly did not want to take that medicine.  It scares me and I have been so fortunate not to have to take any medicine {even for the Crohns's}.  I have always tried to live as naturally as possible, so all of this was going against what I strive to do.

I talked to many people and most of them said that they "were fine" on Provera.  Not staggering positive advertisement as far as I am concerned!  Most people said that they had terrible migraines and stomach distress.  Again...things that did not appeal to me.

I was spent, tired and depleted...
physically and mentally.  

I had very little to offer anyone during this time.  I was suffering and needed it to end, because I wanted to go back to what I had and what I had foolishly taken for granted for so long. I longed for the busy days with my sons loving and learning and having carefree fun!  I longed to feel well and worry free. I longed not to think twice about what time of the month is was and where I was in my cycle in order to plan my days. I never realized how good good was.  I mean I *know* that I am incredibly blessed, love my life and my family so very much, but, we all tend to take these things in stride in our dailiness just trying to make it through all of the normal challenges in the day, never mind being in survival mode.

 I just longed for my parents who are up in Heaven.  I felt like a little girl just wanting her Daddy to scoop her up and make it all better.  To make all of the decisions and not to have to worry about any of it.

That is what I had, but, did not realize it until after September 17th.
I had asked my Father to carry me, hold me and make it all better.
I asked for the impossible as far as I was concerned being the mere mortal going through all of the suffering.

I could not do this by myself, so I had to rest in Him...completely.
It was the only way to make it through.

So that is what I did. I took a total leap of faith and rested in Him. At day 17 of my cycle I rested in Him that He would carry me through all the way to my surgery and get me through this whole ordeal.

I did not take the Provera and *knew* this time that I would not get a period before the surgery.  I should have.  If I did the math, which I neurotically did daily, I would have.  It was just a matter of time.

I wasn't going to worry.  I was just going to rest in Him and I did. 
The week before the surgery was sacredly delightful.  It was filled with God's continued grace. 
"It's what you'd always dreamed but never expected.  It's the too-good-to-be-true coming true.  It's having God as your pitch hitter, your lawyer, your dad, your biggest fan and your best friend!" 
~ Max Lucado

We were blessed by many beautiful days leading up to my surgery.
We had a week's worth of absolutely gorgeous sunsets in which he painted the sky my favorite color of pink.  We had hundreds of geese flying overhead and stopping in the field near our house for an overnight rest.  We had an amazing day celebrating where my husband proposed to me and it was all gorgeous, sweet and comforting in a time that could have been dark, frightening and uncertain.

I knew He was with me.  There was absolutely no question about it.  I could actually feel Him and the many prayers being said for me.  I have never had that type of experience before and let me tell you it is truly amazing.  I was so calm and peaceful before, during and after the surgery.  I was relaxed and making jokes at the hospital and thanking everyone I came in touch with for taking good care of me.  It was all good and for that I am very thankful.
I went into the idea of having the surgery praising and thanking God.  I sat in church the day before and cried tears of joy and thanks as it all finally hit me that this was almost over. If we are filled with Thanksgiving for the day to day blessings (which may sometimes be hard to find) there is NO room for the emotions which seem to interfere with our relationship with God - anger, fear, jealousy, complaining and despair.  I truly believe that is why I was so calm.  

God meets us in our mess.
He meets us on our knees,
in our beds,
in our cars,
in our kitchens making dinner for our family,
at work and at play.

He meets us in our brokenness and our lowest points. 
He will find us and rescue us, if we let Him in.

All He asks is for a mustard size seed of faith.
He will add the water and grow faith in your heart the size of a Sequoia, if you let Him!

We must come to God humbly and trust that He will greatly bless our little faith.
We need to come to Him thirsty and drink deeply in His loving kindness.  He truly wants what is best for us and nothing makes Him happier than to help us with what He wants for us. He knows what is best for us and will never abandon us.  No struggles come our way without His presence, purpose or permission.  There is no fate or chance, just His Divine Providence to guide, comfort and see us through the many storms of life.

Faith is not the belief that God will do what you want.  It is the the belief that God will do what is right.  


  1. Wow, what a heart-wrenching saga, Ann-Marie. And yet Our Lord is so very faithful. Thank you for doing the hard work of sharing your story. /i will continue to hold you and your whole sweet family in prayer!

    1. Thank you so much, Sarah! You are too sweet!

  2. God has certainly transformed your test into test-imony, Ann-Marie! What a beautiful witness of TRUST that you share, giving such magnificent glory to Him:) Hugs and prayers continue, my friend!

    1. He really has, hasn't He, Tiffany? You've been there for the whole thing sweet friend and for that I am very thankful :-) Hugs and continued prayers right back at you!

  3. What a ordeal you went through, Ann-Marie! Your perspective on it is an inspiration to the power of Faith. God bless you, and I'll be praying for continued healing. Thank you for the update!

    1. Thank you so much, Celeste. I appreciate your prayers.