“I just heard back from the doctor at Mayo clinic and he thinks you need to come back to the States for a bone marrow biopsy on your daughter.”
I was not expecting that on this phone call. I had spent the entire afternoon with my three kids at the pool. We had just been enjoying one of our last playdates with a friend before they were going to move back to the states. I had pulled into the driveway of our house I was going to run the clothes up and then we would head to meet up with my husband and have dinner with the team that was in town. Then my phone rang. It was the medical director and she explained to me what the doctor at Mayo Clinic shared. We determined I didn’t need to leave the country the next day but within the next two weeks, I would need to fly to the States.
My daughter was five months old at the time. I had discovered a bump on her head when she was around 2 months old. That bump was found to be a sebaceous cyst(nothing to worry about). When we went to the doctor about the cyst they recommended blood work to be done. Her blood work revealed elevated platelet levels. We had been watching her platelet count ever since and sending the results to our medical director who then shared them with a doctor at Mayo clinic.
Within two weeks I was boarding an airplane with my 3 kids who were ages 4 and under to fly to the states for an appointment at a Children’s hospital to discuss if our daughter needed a bone marrow biopsy. My husband stayed in the country we were living in as missionaries. God answered so many prayers the day of my flight! We made it to the States and the kids did well flying. I had people helping me along the way. Besides some tears, a busted lip, and a kid needing to poop as they were about to board the plane, it was a pretty smooth flying day.
Once we were stateside, the appointment with the hematologist went well. She chose to do a bone marrow biopsy and aspiration and also some genetic testing to try and find some answers before telling us we could go back. Everything came back normal from the bone marrow test. Her bone marrow showed it was producing too many platelets and producing giant platelets but the doctors don’t know why. They said I could fly back and wait for the genetic test results.
I did not have peace leaving the States so the kids and I stayed waiting on the results of the genetic tests. Waiting for the genetic test results took a while. In the waiting, I spent much time in God’s word and reading Bible studies. During this time God was growing me and speaking to me. When things were happening and no one had answers I wondered why? Why did God put the cyst on her head? Why did we discover she has elevated platelet levels?
God spoke to me through my time in His Word, listening to sermons and reading other people’s Bible studies. I may never know the answers to my why questions. So instead of asking all these whys? I can start asking How’s. How can I use this situation to bring God glory? How can I glorify God where I am? How can I grow in relationship with Him? How can I use where I am to encourage others in their relationship with Christ? How can I be a light?
When I don’t understand things taking place I’m learning to ask fewer why questions and more how questions. In asking How instead of why I have found more JOY. God continually shows me ways I can be a light to my children and others, especially during difficult times.
Now we are living in the states and our daughter’s platelet level is close to normal! Praise God! God has grown me so much during this time and I’m so thankful for where my relationship is with Him and how He is using me in other people’s lives. There have been tough days, there have been many tears but our God is faithful and has provided for our needs along the way.
Some verses that I held close during this time was: “Consider it pure joy, my brothers and sisters, whenever you face trials of many kinds, let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4
Something that really helped me to encounter true JOY from Christ was being thankful and praying prayers of thanksgiving toward God. Even when things are difficult, I can find things to be thankful for. “Praise the Lord . Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good; His love endures forever. Who can proclaim the mighty acts of the Lord or fully declare his praise?” Psalms 106:1-2
I hope that no matter what you are facing right now, you can know that God is good and His love for you endures forever!
I remember exactly what happened and how I felt when it happened. The day I gave my life to Christ was one I will never forget. But before I tell you about it, I’m guessing most of you don’t know who I am. So, let me introduce myself and give you a shortened version of my testimony.
My name is Caleb Wubben and I am currently a JH teacher and a JH football, HS boys basketball, and HS boys track coach at Manson Northwest Webster. I grew up in Manson my whole life. I graduated from ICCC with my A/A degree in December 2014 and then graduated UNI in December 2017 with my Bachelor’s Degree in Elementary/Middle-Level Education and started teaching at Manson.
Throughout my whole life, my family has attended church. When I was 5, my family started going to a Baptist church in Fort Dodge and my parents sent me to the Christian school. Going to a Christian school, I heard anywhere from 5-7 messages a week from church to Sunday School, to chapel, etc. So I had been instructed in God’s Word and received a Christian education. When I was in JH, I lived somewhat of a double life. Around my parents, the adults at church, and in public, I was this great young man that everyone liked. However, around some of my classmates I acted like I didn’t care about God and that being a Christian was boring and wasn’t for me. It took about two years, but I finally realized I was wrong and admitted it to my parents. In high school, I made a profession of faith, but it was more like a fire insurance policy. I treated God as an on/off switch that I ran to when things were bad but when things were good, who needs Him right? Outwardly, I was still this amazing young man that everyone liked and thought highly of because of what I knew about God and I didn’t party, smoke, drink, do drugs, etc. It made me feel weird knowing how I was using God and so when I went to college I thought I’ll get my life on track there.
In college, I really dove into figuring out what I believed. I thought I had given my life to Christ and I can honestly say my knowledge of God and the Bible grew. However, that’s what it was. It was just knowledge. When I got my first teaching job, I started going to my parent’s church again. At this time, my dad was one of the men teaching in Sunday School for the adults along with some other men of the church who were on staff. For two weeks my dad talked on salvation and then the next two weeks another man taught on something similar. Immediately after that, Billy Graham passed away and we discussed how he lived his life for Christ in our FCA. Throughout this whole time, I was convicted that I wasn’t actually saved and only had the knowledge of God, and that deep down in my heart I hadn’t given over my life especially some of the sins that I had hidden throughout my life.
Finally, on Friday March 22, 2018, it all came to ahead. I couldn’t take the guilt and the weight of my sin anymore. I was sitting in the classroom I was teaching in at the time about 7:30 at night and called to tell my dad I was giving my life to Christ. I remember going to my apartment and asking Jesus to save me and forgive me for all the sins I had committed. I vividly remember after I prayed and accepted Christ that for the next half hour I listened to two songs on repeat and cried so much that I couldn’t cry anymore. I listened to ‘I stand Redeemed’ by Legacy Five and ‘I am Redeemed’ by the Dills. Both of the songs talked about being redeemed and how when God looks at me now He sees the nail-scarred hands that bought my liberty because I accepted Christ as my Savior. All I had to offer Christ was a broken life, and He forgave me and gave me hope. It felt like a weight had been lifted, and I didn’t have to carry my burdens anymore. From that moment on, I was determined to live my life for Christ!
However, as you can imagine, it hasn’t been all sunshine and rainbows. Because I belong to the King now, Satan knows that when I die I’m going to Heaven so he has to try and get me to be a bad example here on Earth. I have had to rely on Christ to help me stand against the temptations of Satan pertaining to some of the sins in my past. I’ve also had physical obstacles to overcome. This last summer, I was diagnosed with Testicular Cancer and underwent a couple of rounds of chemotherapy. At first, I was upset as to why me? But then I realized I didn’t have a right to be mad at God and that He would use my story for good. It has opened doors for me to connect with people I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to and has given me opportunities to then share my faith!
I know this life hasn’t been promised to be easy and it’s going to be full of struggle. However, I do know that when my time comes to pass on to the other side, after my last breath here I will take my first breath in Heaven. It’s an amazing feeling to have that assurance. I will continue to live my life for Christ relying on Him to guide me and get me through every step of the way! I’m thankful for Calvary and that God never gave up on me!
I hope this gives you encouragement to continue to live for Christ and to never give up on someone who may have walked away from Christ because tomorrow could be the day they say yes to Jesus!
My sister Lynette fought cancer for 9 years. During those nine years, there were a lot of ups and downs. Times of sadness and times of joy. Things that I wish that I could change. I can’t go back in time and change those things. So I will focus on one thing that is always true, God’s faithfulness. He is always with us. The bible doesn’t say “if you have trials,” but when you have trials. We will have trials in our daily lives. We can have the assurance that he walks with us. We can always trust in him. My favorite bible verse is Phillippians 4:6. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” During hard times, it is easy to try to do things by ourselves. By giving it to God, we can have peace that can only come from Him.
In 1997, at the age of 25, my sister was diagnosed with breast cancer. She endured chemotherapy, radiation, and multiple surgeries. She was cancer-free for about six years. During this time, she started classes to receive her nurse’s degree. However, cancer came back in her bones and lungs. For the next three years, she fought and endured chemotherapy again. She worked as a CNA on the mother and baby floor. She loved her job! However, she was slowly losing mobility in her left arm and hand due to radiation of the lymph nodes, so she had to quit her job. In May 2006, she was told that chemotherapy was no longer an option. Her body just had enough.
She made a comment to a friend that one of her regrets was not taking her kids to Disneyworld. Her church learned of this, and a trip was quickly planned so she could fulfill her dream to take her kids to Florida! She really wanted the trip to fall over July 4th, but due to schedule conflicts, her flight was scheduled for July 6th. I saw her on Father’s Day and we talked about how excited she was! The plan was for her two children, Lynette, Charlene (my twin sister) and our mom to fly to Florida. Michelle, the coordinator of the trip, made all the arrangements. During the next several weeks, her health got worse. I received a phone call from Charlene to come to Omaha because mom needed a break to get ready for the trip. I decided to go and help my family. Even though Charlene had warned me, I was not prepared to see Lynette in the condition that she was in. When I arrived, mom was feeding Lynette and she was very weak and she fell asleep very easily. However, she still managed to make jokes and give me a hard time! She laughed with me when I had trouble getting her oxygen tubes inserted correctly. I wasn’t that great of a nurse!
I was so impressed by her children, Amanda (15 years) and Justin (9 years), and how well they interacted with their mom. They treated their mom with so much compassion, gentleness, and love! Early the next day we headed to the airport. Even though Lynette was nervous, she was determined to make this trip a reality for her kids! At the airport she needed a wheelchair, so they were first to board the plane. When it was time for her to board the plane, dad and I said our goodbyes. She was confused and got upset because she thought we were coming along. I told her that I was not going because I had to go back to Iowa. Dad told her that he had to work and take care of the houses. I later found out that it took several minutes for her to calm down once on the plane. As I left the airport, I couldn’t help but wish that this trip had been planned weeks earlier or even the summer before!
As I pulled into the gas station on the way out of town, I received a phone call from Charlene. She shared with me the events that were unfolding. As they were exiting the plane at their layover, a stewardess had come up to them and told them that a man wanted to talk to them. Of course, mom and Charlene were baffled! They walked down the terminal a bit and the man who sat next to mom had witnessed the exchange at the Omaha airport. He wanted to buy my dad and me a plane ticket to join them in Florida. Mom convinced him that I had to go back to Iowa to be with my family, but he insisted on buying my dad a plane ticket. He even asked to speak to him on the phone, but my dad still politely refused and told him that he had to work. However, the man went ahead and bought him a ticket anyway. He had it available at the Omaha airport. A complete stranger who “happened” to witness the exchange at the airport and “happened” to sit beside them, bought my dad a plane ticket!
My mom again called my dad and told him that this man was adamant and for some reason, he needed to join them. Finally, my dad talked to his boss and he decided to accept the man’s offer. The next morning was his flight to Florida. When he arrived at the airport, he had missed his flight. His flight was two hours earlier. So, he had to take a later flight with a different layover. During his layover, he “happened” to see his sister-in-law while walking to his gate. He had enough time to talk to her about the trip and about the man that bought him this ticket. The next two days they went to the Magic Kingdom, went swimming at the resort, went to a Disney character lunch, and went on some rides. On Sunday the kids told grandma and grandpa to take a break and get away by themselves. They could take care of their mom with Aunt Charlene. How sweet was that!
While they were gone, Lynette’s condition got worse and the hospice nurse came. Dad rode with the hospice nurse and mom rode along in the ambulance. Before leaving, Amanda told her mom that she had fun. Lynette replied, “me too.” This left Charlene and the kids 30 minutes away from the hospice center. So, my parents called Michelle so she could arrange a ride for them. She simply looked on the internet for a service to drive them to the care center. On the way, the driver asked who they were visiting. He asked if their mom would be fine, Charlene told him no. After dropping them off, he called Michelle and told her that he would pray for the family. On Monday, my parents decided that they needed a rental car. So again, they called Michelle. She called a car rental service and explained the situation. He picked up my dad at the hospice center and they drove back to the rental station. Before driving back, the man gave my dad a map so he could drive back to the hospice center without any problems! He then called Michelle and told him that he would pray for the family. Of all the companies that she could have called, she “happened” to call these companies with caring and compassionate employees! The next day, Lynette passed away with her family by her side. They flew back to Omaha later that day.
Lynette and my parents wanted this service to be a celebration. It was bittersweet, but just what she wanted. I got to know Lynette a bit better that day. Several friends of hers spoke about how she helped them even though she was going through her own struggle with cancer. A friend talked about how she had been put on bed rest when she was pregnant and Lynette came over with a meal for her. Her pastor spoke about Lynette’s involvement with an annual Christmas pageant that the church puts on each year. Lynette had always wanted to be involved with this ministry but was always too busy with work to be able to attend all of the practices and performances. So, when she couldn’t work any longer, she applied to be in the performance. He read from her application on how she wanted to be an angel. She wanted to be a flying angel, but she knew that due to her arm she could not do this. She ended up being an angel that stood right behind the manager. She so wanted to be able to move both arms together, but she was only able to move one arm. She and a friend prayed that she would be able to move her whole left arm. During one performance, she was able to move her left arm! When she got to the backstage, Lynette and her friend teared up because they knew that they had just witnessed a miracle! Lynette wanted the song, “Come to Jesus” to be sung at her service. The words remind me that we can always go to Him. We can reach out to him in times of sadness and times of joy. He is always there for us.
Even though this journey was incredibly hard, I know that God was with us every step of the way! The trip was not so much about the fact that a man purchased a plane ticket for dad, but about someone listening and following what God had placed on his heart. For without this man obeying, my dad would not have spent those last few days with Lynette. Through this journey, His power was made so evident that I know without a shadow of a doubt that he is the great director of our lives. I don’t believe in coincidences. We can only see now, but God can see what is ahead and orchestrates events for His glory. Some of the things he does for us may not be very obvious, but other times he makes his presence very known! We can have the assurance that God is with us and that he will never leave us! Without faith, there is no hope. But with faith, there is hope.
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
I still miss her. I still wish that she was here with us. I can have peace knowing that she is with our risen Savior and that someday I will see her again!
I was so mad at God for abandoning me. I was not interested in having a relationship with a Creator who had the ability to rescue me from the pit of darkness, but who chose to allow me to remain in abject despair. I refused to pray. I would not speak to him. He had forsaken me, so I would return in kind.
I was four years old.
For years and years I was sure that since God is God, and I am but clay, He needed no justification for abandoning me. If a master potter smashes a pot that he finds lacking, what is it to anyone else? I wrestled with my identity in Christ, being overcome by my circumstances, and allowing them to dictate my identity as God’s daughter – forgiven, freed, redeemed. I battled constantly with the narrative that God keeps tally of my rights and wrongs, my good moments and my bad moments, like a cosmic Santa Claus.
For years I was sure that there was a line and you needed to stay on a certain side of it to get to heaven. I tried finding satisfaction in so many empty wells. I was the good girl, terrified of stepping out of line, perfect to the point of disbelief. But inside, I was starving. Starving for love, peace, acceptance, compassion, safety, stability, loyalty, reassurance, kindness, generosity, provision.
And like an animal, I was willing to mangle myself as long as I could ensure my own survival. As if I could fight my way out of hell and climb high enough to ascend into heaven. What else could I do? God had abandoned me, and so I could either rot, or save myself. God did not find me valuable enough to waste the effort himself. If he did, why would he allow me to be subject to such crushing pain and agony? I must have lost his love and favor. I could not rely on him to take care of me. There would be no presents under the tree from him.
And then, when I was about 22 years old, Michael Gatlin who is one of the pastors at our church, the Vineyard in Duluth, told a story of a friend’s experience with deer eating his grapevines. The friend planted two grapevines. The deer came and decimated one. They ate it down near to the stump of the plant. The other plant, the deer left alone. It flourished and grew full and green. The next year, however, the vine that was not pruned by the deer produced no grapes, while the vine that had been razed to the ground by the deer feeding on it produced the most wonderfully sweet fruit.
Romans 8:27-28 says. “And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.”
2 Corinthians 4:13-18 talks about how this leads to us giving witness to God’s provision and blessing in our lives and how in turn, this testimony of God’s grace in our own lives carries over to others and then glorifies God.
God works all things for our good and for his glory! The devil never wins. God’s plan is so grand, so full redemptive for me personally, that the totality of all of my suffering and pain pales at its sight.
Now, my reassurance is in the anticipation that comes from expecting God’s miracle. And from the peace that assures me that regardless of the pain and suffering I experience, regardless of how my life unfolds, I can be assured that it will result in good for me. I may taste the fruit tomorrow, or maybe in a month, or maybe a decade from now. Maybe not until the other side of heaven. But yet it comes.
Can I trust God? I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t asked myself that question over a million times. Walking by faith and not by sight is no easy task, and even though I grew up in a Christian home, it’s something I still struggle with. I’ve always believed that “God will carry you through the storm” (Isaiah 43:2) and I’ve heard countless testimonies that confirm that He will make good on His promises, but I lacked that one-on-one experience with God, which made it so hard to trust His word, to trust Him.
The time between 2015-2017 was filled with some of the best and hardest times in my life. I graduated college, moved from Iowa to California, and got married. In the midst of those big life-changing events, I was having a really hard time finding a job. In college I discovered a passion for journalism and TV production. I worked hard to gain experience while in school that would hopefully propel me to an amazing work opportunity following graduation. Internships and assurance from professors and mentors that I would be just fine, made me feel confident that I wouldn’t have an issue finding a job. Boy was that not the case.
When I first got to California, my now husband and I moved to his hometown, and after a month of us living in the same city, he decided to move an hour away to live with his dad. So there I was, in a small town by myself, living with strangers I met through a Craigslist ad, and struggling to find a job. After months of rejection e-mails, I was blessed to have gotten a job working at a popular fast-food chain in the West Coast (Jack in the Box). At the time, it didn’t feel like a blessing. I felt embarrassed. Embarrassed that my first job right after college was frying chicken nuggets and mopping bathroom floors. My friends were off achieving big things, and I was dealing with rude customers and getting paid minimum wage. It was an extremely humbling and confusing time for me. Humbling because I felt entitled to bigger and better things, and confusing because I thought God had a purpose and a plan for my life. None of it made sense to me. I felt abandoned, ignored, and hopeless. Suddenly, I found myself questioning God.
My mom has always been all-in on Jesus, but I can’t say the same for me. I had relied on my mother’s prayers and closeness to God for my own benefit for many years, and I reached a point where I knew that was not going to work on its own anymore. I had to turn to God because this was my journey, not hers. Quite honestly, I felt like that was my only choice. I was ready to walk by faith, and I was hungry to hear God’s voice. I was ready to have my own experience with God and witness His power and His love on my own.
I remember texting Emily a lot at that time. Em knew my background and knew I had strayed from God. She would send me suggestions of churches she found online that were walking distance to where I lived at the time (I didn’t have a car back then). I think she knew it was time for me to get serious about my spiritual growth, and so did I. I found a church, committed to working on my spiritual life, and prayed this simple prayer everyday, “God, I want your will to be done in my life, whatever that is”.
After getting married in 2016, my husband and I moved in together and started a new chapter in our lives. I moved to where he was living and got two part-time jobs at the local mall. We joined an incredible church and slowly but surely I felt a change in my path. Spiritually, I never felt as close to God as I felt then. But with all the incredible changes that were happening within me, there was still resounding doubt and fear in my heart. At that point it had been almost three years since I had graduated, and still, no offers for a job in journalism. That was hard to grapple. “God, I am doing everything I feel like I should be doing. I’m applying for jobs, and I’m pouring myself into you. What is left for me to do so that you keep your promises?” All I got from those pleads was silence. Stillness. Absolutely nothing.
In the many months where I felt so close but so far away from God, I rediscovered the story of Abraham and Sarah. Sarah laughed when God promised her a baby, for which God said to Abraham, “Why did Sarah laugh and say, ‘Will I really have a child, now that I am old?’ Is anything too hard for the Lord? I will return to you at that appointed time next year, and Sarah will have a son.” (Genesis 18:13-15). That right there reignited my faith. With tears in my eyes, I prayed, “God, do to my life as you did to Sarah’s – what seems to be the impossible.”
On December 13, 2017, I was on my lunch break at one of my part-time jobs and while checking my inbox, I came across an e-mail from a recruiter at a big TV network. The e-mail read, “I sourced your resume off our job website and I would like to move your profile to the next step in the interview process. I am scheduling 30 minute phone screens for this position next week on Monday. Can you please send me a reply with the time that you are available to chat?” I was floored. All the hours and tears I put into applying to over 500 jobs over the course of 2-3 years, and I was being invited to interview for a position that I didn’t even apply for? I knew that was all God’s doing. On February 16, 2018 I got offered the job.
Even a non-believer would agree that that was a miracle, something with no logic behind it, something that did not make sense. A girl whose first job out of school was working in a fast-food restaurant and most recent work-experiences included folding clothes and selling body lotion – that girl getting offered an extremely competitive job at a big company? What CAN’T God do? And the way He did it really showed to me how perfect He is. He prepared an opportunity for me better than any other job I had applied for. He set it all up so that I didn’t have to lift a finger. He carefully and lovingly wrapped this gift and gave it to me when the He felt I was ready to receive it.
I haven’t lived much, but I have witnessed the miracle-maker God that loves us unconditionally, moves mountains and parts waters. The hardest part about being a Christ-follower for me is realizing that God operates on His time, and no matter how impatient we get or how hard things become, that won’t ever change. Every single thing He does has a purpose, rhyme and reason. It may not make sense to US as to why we’re in a middle of a desert with no end in sight, but it does to GOD. I believe God wanted to teach me to have the faith and patience of Sarah. I believe I was being crushed so that I could be created.
I’m reading a book by T.D. Jakes, and this stood out to me, “Could it be possible that your current predicament is the winepress God uses to transform your grapes into His wine? Could being crushed be a necessary part of the process to fulfill God’s plan for your life? Could you be on the verge of victory despite walking through the valley of broken vines?”
God never promised the journey would be easy, but if there’s one thing that is certain about the journey we’re in, is that we can trust God because He’s a covenant-making and covenant-keeping God. His love never fails and neither does His promises. If He performed a miracle in my life, I know He can and will perform one in yours.