Friday, March 30, 2012

Sister/friend, Army/Navy, trials/blessings

My friend Kim and I hanging out in the hospital lobby.
I have pink highlights and though
Kim does not have olive green highlights in her hair, 

she's still a really good person
as you will soon discover. 
Last year Kim went in the hospital for routine surgery. As part of our Bible Study, she lifted the situation up as a prayer concern and we promised to pray for her. No big deal, I thought to myself. I've had a hysterectomy. Not pleasant but she'll be fine. I'll make her a meal, be a nice friend and we'll see her back in our group in no time at all.

But that's not what happened. The routine surgery became life-threatening as deadly pockets of infection raged in her abdomen. Soon she was too sick to return text messages and too weak to speak. Her husband took over communication and his emails were long as he detailed the troubles and asked for more prayers. Three additional surgeries later, Kim still was in the hospital gravely ill. Another woman in our Bible Study, a pharmacist, told us later that Kim was near death. A vital, young wife and mother of four daughters never expected these complications. Our group was jarred and we cried out to the Lord to save our dear friend and sister in Christ. More meals, more cards, visits to the hospital, we all wondered why this was happening. Kim spent 11 days in the hospital and it took months for her to remain her strength. As she lay in the hospital bed, baseball cap on her head because she was too weak to even wash her hair, Kim had time to talk to God about the purpose for her suffering. She promised to use her illness to minister to others and to not waste this trial...

13 months later - it was past one in the morning when the Hubs and I finally returned home from the hospital. My mom was in the throws of withdrawal from pain meds and at times it was like seeing a demon coming out of her body. Nothing could console her and we were at our wits' end as we left the hospital and to get some sleep.

While in the shower, in the wee hours of the mourning, I felt the Lord speak to me and remind me about Kim. "Ask her to come to the hospital," that's what God said to me...while in the shower...Later that day I called and without hesitation Kim heartily agreed.  On Saturday, a little over a year after her own ordeal, my friend walked back into the same hospital, this time not as a patient but as a woman victorious. 

The devotional Kim gave to my mom.
She brought my mom a beautiful devotional and recounted her days at the hospital. After Mom's visit, as I escorted Kim back to the hospital entrance, she remembered being wheeled down that  hospital corridor. She recalled the blossoms on the trees that she rolled by for another CT scan...reflections of how in the midst of despair, she yearned for another day of life, unsure of when and if she would ever leave the hospital or see another spring. 

Kim and I just before the Army/Navy football game 
as we sparred just before Bible Study
Though she is a Navy wife and I'm an Army mom, and many of us are familiar with the friendly banter shared between these two military branches, moreover we are friends and sisters in Christ. We brush past the fact that her hubs is a Navy grad and my oldest OS will soon graduate from West Point ;) Moreover, Kim has honored her promise to the Lord and actively searches opportunities to tell her story. God uses His people when we let Him. Some of the most shameful parts of my life, things Satan would say you can never discuss because people will judge you or hate you or call you names, the Lord told me to open my mouth and no longer let those chains shackle me. He has allowed me to share parts of my former life with thousands of people because those things point to His redemption, goodness and love. Kim has done the same although her content is different. She doesn't say no to sharing be it a large audience or the hurting grandma in Room 370 (my mom). 

Encouragement
When I prayed for my friend to get better, it didn't occur to me that I needed her, not just as my Bible Study buddy but as an encourager to someone I love. She is teaching me things because the Lord is her teacher. So how about you? Don't discount how YOU can be a blessing. Consider the ways your own story and suffering are touchstones intended to draw you and others closer to the God of All Comfort. Being Kim's friend has made me more sensitive to helping others and moving beyond myself. I pray the same for you, dear friends...more soon

3 comments:

Kristi Butler said...

God is so good to bring such precious friends into our lives!!

Thanks for sharing so beautifully!

Prayers and love!!

L said...

Friends are SO important! What a special story Kim has. I'm praying for your mom! (I hope you got my email about suggestions for your mom's liquid diet.) God bless!

QunBee said...

Mmmm, very good reminder about the way God works. His ways are not our ways...I can't understand His mind, I know that He is good.

Thank you for this account of our very real God.

Love, Jane Robinson
Sean, West Point 2012!