My journey to finding Jesus emanated from three answered prayers. You might think that those three answered prayers are my kids, but they’re not. I actually didn’t have a chance to pray for kids – we got blessed and they came soon after we married even though I was told at a young age that I would have trouble having kids – hence, don’t listen to everything doctor’s say. My kids are truly a blessing but these answered prayers that I’m talking about all came about at some critical points in my life when I was down on my knees, face on the floor (figuratively), asking for help such that the direction of my life depended on it.
The first answered prayer happened when I was working on a project in Chicago. I was at a place in my life where I had just gotten out of a long term relationship and had kind of lost who I was. I got wrapped up in the party scene or I got everyone else wrapped up in the party scene. I was the “party girl”. If you meet me now, I’m sure you could never imagine this. :-p
I had just gotten out of an 8 year relationship. Somehow, after being in a relationship for so long I had just decided that I was going to live life to the fullest. I didn’t realize that living life to the fullest didn’t have to mean sinning to the fullest. I was drinking too much and staying out way too late and, needless to say, that can lead to bad things. As they say, nothing good happens after dark.
A friend of mine happened to be a devout Christian. She ministered to me on our plane rides to and from Chicago since we were both from Houston. She didn’t forsake me or give up on me. She continued to minister to me and be an example to me and even quote scripture to me when we would go out for lunch.
Which, I, by the way, can still not quote scripture. I know everyone is supposed to be able to – that’s what my pastor says. But you really don’t want me quoting scripture – I would be the Tommy Boy of scripture quoting. Like, the only way a rich person gets to heaven is if a camel pokes itself in the eye with a needle type of thing. But I am familiar with scripture and could look up a verse that would apply to a situation maybe via Google then read it – that is within my realm of possibility. I just think some people have better memory than others. And maybe if I had learned more at a young age – I would’ve been able to retain more – but maybe not. Though, I do have really good situational memory but just not word for word memory. I digress.
All of her ministering finally sunk in. One Monday morning on a plane ride from Houston to Chicago (my friend was not with me on the plane that morning), I prayed that the plane would crash (no, I wasn’t thinking about the other people on board – shame on me – but I really didn’t think it would happen either) so that I could get out of this situation I was in. I told God that there was no way that I could do it on my own. I asked him to help. And thank God the plane didn’t crash – God had a better way (as he always does).
Three days later, it was announced that the multi-million dollar project that I was on was being cancelled. They were going to just scrap the work and write it off. We were to get a flight home effective immediately and find new projects. What a shock that was to everyone, especially me. But what a relief too – I had a way out that I never would’ve been able to create for myself! Sorry for all the people that lost jobs that day but I do believe everything happens for a reason – the good and the bad.
The second answered prayer happened when I met my husband, Bryon. I had just gotten on a project in St Louis and I knew no one. Well, I knew many of the people that I worked with already because we tended to be on the same projects but they were all from out of town so for the weekends I was alone. I had been getting lonely for a while with all the traveling around and living in hotel rooms out of my suitcase. The travel kind of wears on you after a while and I was looking for a place that would be more stable.
Nothing sounded more stable to me than a good mid-western town so I really liked the idea of coming to St Louis. Anyway, I prayed that I would find my future husband and I was open to whatever God had for me. Of course, I mentioned some of the qualities I was looking for which were reasonable not superficial and God actually brought me my husband and he had all the qualities I was looking for in my prayer. Actually, some of the qualities might be considered negative to others (frugal being one of them) but I felt like they were complimentary to me. It turned out my husband had also been praying before he met me. So, that’s the second answered prayer. Ever notice how it feels like finding a needle in a hay stack when you meet the right person? It’s got to be divine intervention IMHO.
The third answered prayer happened when my Dad got sick. He was diagnosed with stage 4 lung cancer. By the time I got to TX after I found out, he was in the hospital and he didn’t even seem to recognize me. He used to always call me, “Stinker”, and this time he seemed to look right through me. Well, it turned out that the cancer was already in his brain so that’s why he wasn’t functioning cognitively too well. He ended up having a seizure while I was in the room. I just remember 2 nurses jumping on him to try to keep him from hurting himself while he was having a seizure. But also in that moment, I saw a glimpse of the old him. His last name was Hellmann. When the seizure ended and he saw 2 women on him, he grinned and said to the nurses – “I’ve still got it – Vernon Hell of a Man”. His first name was Vernon. That was the good old upbeat attitude he always had. It always seemed he was unbreakable. And here he was broken physically but yet still not in spirit. That left a huge impression on me.
He never allowed us to see him broken – he always had a smile for everyone no matter what he himself was going through – that’s the epitome of strength to me. He was always our rock. The doctors told us he didn’t have long to live and that he wasn’t going to get any better from the state he was in – which was barely functioning. I prayed that night if we could have just 4 good (meaning he would be his old self) months with my Dad to say goodbye. My sister was coming into town from California and I was hoping we could just have a chance to say goodbye. God answered my prayer.
After undergoing radiation on his brain to shrink the tumors, they did shrink and he did return to normal. He could walk, talk, and do everything he used to do again. We were able to move him out of the nursing home and back into his trailer. They gave us seizure medication so he didn’t have any more seizures. He was back from essentially the dead. We got to spend almost exactly 4 months to the day. My dad took us on 4 wheel drives through his land and he took our kids as well. He showed us the farm and gave us a little history on his family. And we got the chance to take care of him in those last 4 months which was very therapeutic to give back to him at least a fraction of what he gave to us.
Then, he died the day after my oldest daughter’s first birthday – I think he held out so as not to die on her birthday. I was 3 months pregnant at the time with my second daughter – he didn’t get to find out what gender she was but I think he’d have giggled from Heaven – the reign of girls continues (he had 2 girls, my sister had 2 girls and now I was going to have 2 girls (eventually I went on to have 3 girls – girl power!)). He died in peace – he was in hospice care for the last 2 weeks so he didn’t have to feel any pain. My prayer was answered so that was the third answered prayer.
I now knew that God existed, but I had no idea about Jesus until I was given a book called, “Letters from a Skeptic: A Son Wrestles With His Father’s Questions About Christianity”, from my husband’s grandma. I know that’s not the most exciting way to have learned about Jesus, but that book laid it all out there on why he exists and why he needs to exist. We really got it after that. We decided it was time to attend church. And we eventually got baptized shortly after. Our journey with Christ continues and it’s a daily struggle between good and evil. We try to keep our eyes on Christ but of course every one falls short. The goal is to sin less but not be sinless because that only Jesus could do. I know not everyone’s prayers get answered and I’ve had many a prayer not answered but it’s like that country song says, “I thank God for unanswered prayers”. These three answered prayers were life changers for me – I believe he’s answered when he could and when he knew was best for me. God’s plans are greater than ours. We just have to trust that.