Saturday, December 13, 2008

I'm still alive...

I know that I have such a huge following, and you've all been worried sick wondering where I've been. The truth is there's several reasons, the least of which is that our camera's been in and out and back in the shop. We finally got it back today, so I promise to get back on track asap! Until then, I will have to update you with little to no pictures.

The highlight of my week had to be when my mom and I went to visit my grandfather in the hospital. Here is the short(ish) version that I sent in an email, I think it sums it up best...

First I wanted to thank all of you who have lifted my grandfather up in prayer the last few weeks. I wanted to also update you on his condition and some of the answers to those prayers as well as some new ways you can pray. Here is a quick re-cap of his condition:

After falling and breaking his hip, he had to have surgery on it. While recovering from that, the Dr.’s realized that he was having issues with his bowels (which he’s been dealing with for months if not years) so they ordered a colonoscopy. It was through this procedure that they discovered that he had colon cancer. They then decided to do another surgery to remove the tumor and run further tests on it to see the type and severity of the cancer. We are still waiting on the pathology reports from those tests. That was almost two weeks ago. He was recovering well enough for them to send him to Health South late last week for rehab care. It wasn’t long after that he began having trouble breathing and they discovered on Tuesday that he now has pneumonia. They were very concerned for him and were afraid he wouldn’t make it long.

My mom and I went to visit him today and bring him some pictures that the boys had painted to cheer him up. My mom has been burdened with our lack of assurance regarding his salvation and asked me to pray before we went into the hospital. I prayed that he would be alert and able to communicate with us with a clear mind. I prayed that he would be receptive to what we had to say and that his heart would be ready to receive Christ. He was raised catholic but never really even a half-hearted committed Catholic, had a very difficult childhood and spent much of it in an orphanage, and has been very hard and closed minded about our evangelical faith. My mom has tried on several other occasions to share the gospel with him, but his response has been anywhere from a blunt ‘I don’t want your Jesus’, to ‘That’s nice for you, hun.’ But, lately we’ve all seen a little softer side of him as he seems to be realizing his mortality.

My mom began talking to him, and presenting the gospel in a pretty straight forward way. She was trained with the “Roman’s Road” evangelism many years ago, and was doing a good job, but I was afraid some of the terminology was lost on him. After letting her talk for a few minutes I walked over and asked him what he thought about what she was saying. He answered by saying, ‘Well, I think I have a lot of changing to do.’ To which I said “Why do you think that? Do you feel like you’re not good enough for the grace that she’s talking about?” ‘Well, no..I guess not.’ he said. I went on to explain to him that it didn’t matter what he’s done in his life, that there’s no difference between him and a five year old coming to Christ. A five year old hasn’t done much in the way of sins, at least not compared to someone who’s been around 80 years or more, but God comes to you and forgives you the same way he would that five year old child. He loves and accepts you just the way you are. All you have to do is ask for his forgiveness and He will do it. I asked him what he thought about what we were saying and he said something like, ‘Well, that’s good.’ And my mom asked if he would want to pray right now and he said, ‘Okay’….I was in SHOCK! My mom lead him through the prayer, and we were able to lead him to Christ, right then and there! It still seems a little sir-real to me, mainly because I never thought he would be that receptive, that willing to listen, let alone actually pray the prayer!

It’s like I told my mom…even if he doesn’t have full comprehension of what that commitment means, I believe that he heard, understood and received God’s grace and forgiveness. This was also the first family member that I’ve had the privilege of being a part of their salvation process. It’s not something you can put into words.

I know this has been long-winded, but I hated to just say he received Christ and leave it at that. Please continue to pray for him as he thinks on what his decision really means and future conversations we hope to have with him.

I'm still in shock when thinking back on this whole scene. I am thankful beyond words that I was able to be a part of something so amazing. I'm sort of ashamed to admit that this is truthfully my first time to really "witness" to someone and then have them make a decision right then and there. You see, I've always thought of myself as the "live by example", "witness to everyone, and if necessary use words" kind of Christian. But when it comes right down to it, I'm terrified of literally presenting the gospel to people. Even in this case, after I'd said all I could say, I tried to let him off easy and was like..."Well, you just think about it, and talk to God about it and he'll tell you what you should do next." or something to that effect. But my mom was like..."Would you like to pray right now?" Oh, if I could have a tenth of her boldness! Now he has an eternity that he might not have had if left with my-don't feel pressured, take as much time as you need, don't want to push him too hard-approach. The craziest thing about it was, it all came so naturally, flowed right out of my mouth and the things I was saying made perfect sense. Looking back on it, I realized how present and real the Holy Spirit was! Giving me confidence, clarity of mind and a way of explaining exactly what he needed to hear. I give myself none of the credit. All I know that same spirit is alive and active in my grandfather's heart and life and nothing is ever going to change that! Praise the Lord!

My prayer is that not only did the Lord plan this divine appointment for my grandfather's eternity, but that it was also to create in me a new found confidence and willingness to share my faith with others.

UPDATE: As I was working on this post I got an IM from my mom. She said that my dad was at Kindred (the new long term care hospital he was moved to) and was able to see the doctor. He told my dad that his pneumonia was improving rapidly and that he should be able to go home in two weeks to a month. This was shocking on several levels for my dad. First because we were told that it would be unlikely, due to his aggressive form of cancer that he would ever be able to live on his own again, that he would need constant care up until the end of his live. Because of this fact, my dad and uncle had just moved all my grandpa's belongings from his apartment at the assisted living place, back into his house that they were in the process of cleaning out in hopes of selling it soon. So now they will be moving him back into his apartment...he was super thrilled about that prospect.

Now for the most shocking and amazing part...After hearing this news, my dad asked when we were going to be getting the pathology report(s) from the oncologist? "You won't" he said. "What do you mean, why not?" my dad asked. "Because there is no cancer. The oncologist has been taken off of his case." WOW! Our God is AWESOME! From what I understand, the tumor and the cancer were self-contained and after numerous tests, there is not cancer in his lymph nodes nor anywhere else in his body! Crazy huh!

When my mom saw him a few days later, she asked him what he thought about all this good news. He said, "Must have been all those prayers and Jesus." I'd say that would be a great increaser of my faith, only days after putting my trust in him! Thank you Lord and thanks to all of you for your continued prayers for him.

Even though that is a tough act to follow, here are a few highlights from the past several weeks, and a taste of what's to come;

Day worked with Cooper on learning to ride his bike w/o training wheels. He did pretty well so long as he didn't have to turn or slow down;)

Off to a good start!

Look at him go!

Needing a little pep-talk!

Practice makes perfect...

Finally I wanted to share our picture with Santa. We have a tradition of going to the Gaylord hotel to visit Santa and take in all the beautiful sights, lights and trains. I believe this was our fourth year to go. I thought you'd enjoy comparing this years to the one we took two years ago. We all look pretty different, I'd say! We didn't get to see Santa last year because he had already gone home for the day.



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Alicia said...

Just wanted to let you know that I'm glad you're still alive :)
Seriously, though, your post gave me goosebumps. What an awesome God we serve, right?!

McCullough Family said...

Michelle! You are beautiful! I love the family Santa pic.

Natalie said...

That was a very long post but I am so glad that I took the time to read every word! I am so glad that you were able to be a part of his salvation experience! What a great way to grow your faith too!!!

Oh and yes, what a difference a year makes! The boys have all grown and you have shrunk! yeah!!!