Today (January 13) is a day in history that we will always remember with many mixed emotions. This is the day that we remember a significant event that affected each one of our family in various ways. On January 13, 2010, our son, Austin (16 yrs.) was in the hospital and was waiting for a second heart transplant. Since his heart was in severe, congestive failure and we knew that he was running out of time, we were struggling with feelings of fear and discouragement. He had already been in the hospital for over two months and our hearts deeply yearned for the time when he would be able to have another chance at life and would be doing well enough for us to be able to bring him home and to be complete as a family again. My husband, Duane, was staying in the hospital the complete time with Austin while I was at a local rented apartment with the three younger girls. It seemed like eternity since things had been “normal” and the evening visits in the hospital cafeteria just didn’t seem to satisfy our desire for “family time” like they once had. Everyone was feeling emotionally drained!
Austin being the “forever optimist” was still in very good spirits and was truly enjoying his stay in the hospital and his time with his best friend…his Dad! Austin loved the lyrics to the song, “In Time, on Time, Every Time” because the words were so fitting for all the events that he had encountered in his life and now he was waiting for God’s perfect timing in his life once again. He got on his computer and then down loaded this song as a ring tone on his Dad’s phone. Little did we know how appropriate this song was for this day! (This song is recorded on our last CD entitled “Knowing What I Know About Heaven“.)
At around 2:00 pm, Austin and Duane called me at the apartment and as they put their phone on speaker, they excitedly told me that the transplant co-ordinator was in their room and just informed them that today was the day. A new heart was finally available! A mirage of various emotions came crashing down on us but Austin’s sheer excitement soon became contagious to each of us.
Austin was wheeled down to the operating room at 6:00 pm with a big smile on his face. The nurse said that they normally have to give some medication to help calm the patient for a big procedure like this. However, she said, “He has a calmness that we cannot give him!” He didn’t need the medication! When I asked Austin if he was scared, he commented..”No, Mom. Why should I be scared? The worse thing that could happen to me is that I die during the surgery or soon after and if this happens then I will be in Heaven with Jesus!” Wow! Talk about a peace that passes all understanding! Austin did come through the surgery alright and we were so over joyed with God’s timing and for answering our prayers in this way. I truly believe that Jesus was in the OR guiding the surgeon’s hand on January 13, 2010. As many of you know, our story doesn’t end there. But for today…We want to focus on and remember the God Who carried us through this day and granted a bit more time with our firstborn. We savor each and every memory and they become dearer with each passing day.
The strongest faith that I have personally seen in anyone was demonstrated so many times in the life of our dear son, Austin. He is my hero! I don’t believe that it is because Austin was so exceptional but because he loved and completely trusted his exceptional God. I could share many memories about the events of the next few days surrounding Austin’s transplant, but I guess you will have to read our book (Big Mountain Bigger God) for the rest of the details.
Because of Austin’s two different cancers, two heart transplants and our daughter Alisha’s heart transplant, severe allergies and chemical sensitivities, we have had many opportunities to depend on God. Most of our married life has consisted of us looking at life in three or six months increments and being grateful for the precious moments that we were experiencing. Most of the time, Austin or Alisha were struggling with a major life threatening or life altering situation and we had to completely put our trust in God for the out come. We always sighed a bit deeper when we had a check up and both of them were doing well or at least stable enough to believe that they would be fine until the next three month check up or procedure. Some times we went for routine check ups and ended up staying because one of them needed to be admitted to the hospital. At other times, we made quick trips for some alternative treatments because of some lab results that were alarming or showing signs of a returning malignancy. We did experience some good years while they were both doing well but usually one or the other was needing some extra attention. (We, however, are so grateful for each precious minute with each of our children and we never regret one stressful moment we have had to encounter.) This is just the way that our life has unfolded and we told our children many times that if we would have had the chance, we never would have wanted any healthy child more than the unhealthy two that God so graciously blessed us with! We will always thank God for how He has become so special to us and how our faith has grown BECAUSE of the heart aches and tears that we have shed. We have become aware in a much greater way that Jesus is really all that we will ever need. Are you living your life as if this is true for you?
We were so blessed to hear the report that we received last week. Duane and Alisha made the trip to Atlanta to have her EKG, blood work and Echo done. Her only medication (the one that she is taking so she doesn’t reject her heart) was able to be reduced and we were pleasantly surprised and delighted by what the transplant cardiologist told them. He said that by observing her tests, heart biopsies, artery condition, etc., he has come to the conclusion that we may be looking at decades for her to be able to have this heart rather than only at years. How amazing! Earlier we were told that Austin did well to have his first heart for 16 years and Alisha had hers now for 13 years so we knew her time with this heart was rapidly running out as well. But now with thinking of the possibility that she may go for decades…that’s a complete new way of thinking for us! It seems so foreign to us to not have anything big “hanging over us” right now. It seems so unreal and unnatural to think that some families go throughout much of their lives without the frequent and keen reminders of this reality. Of course, God alone is the only One Who knows the future and none of us know if we will experience tomorrow.
Duane and I have prayed for many years that God would use our children’s lives for His glory and to draw others to Himself. We have seen Him doing this so often and in so many ways. It hasn’t been in the ways that we would have chosen but I think that we have finally been able to thank God for the ways that He has answered this prayer. It is our natural tendency as parents to want to protect our children. We desire that our children will be able to live sheltered and easy lives. However, most of the lives of the greatest and strongest people in history prove that the opposite is true. Trials and extreme difficulties usually build character and are the true makings of a person. Don’t waste the opportunities that are coming your way!