The Land Called Beulah

Where God Turns Ashes into Beauty

Month: January 2016

She was “Just” the Stamp Lady, but She Changed My Life Forever

Have you ever felt like a “Just”? “I’m just the custodian.” “I’m just the sound guy.” “I’m just a Sunday School teacher.” “I’m just a Sandwich Artist at Subway.”

It’s easy to feel that way sometimes, almost as if what we are or what we’re doing in life is of no value whatsoever. It doesn’t seem like anything you do adds to anybody’s life, and you start to question where you went wrong.

I wonder if Stamp Lady ever felt that way.

Stamp Lady was a woman who lived across the yard from me with her husband. You see, in the apartment complex I lived in, each apartment had a sliding glass door on the back that led to a fairly thin stretch of yard that ran between the two rows of apartments. Stamp Lady’s apartment was directly across from mine.

lovestampShe was an older woman, about in her 60s, who crafted as a hobby. One day, she noticed us kids at home and invited us over to join her in stamping. Oh what fun it was to make little cards, stamp an image onto the front, and put embossing power on it to make the ink rise up!

And oh what joy it was to have an adult who was friendly and felt I was important enough to spend time with me!

Stamp Lady didn’t know was that I wasn’t supposed to be outside. She didn’t know that I lived in an abusive home and that I wasn’t allowed to go outside in the daytime otherwise people would realize that I also wasn’t allowed to go to school. Or did she?

If she did, it made no difference to her. Each day that my father left and I opened the back door she would beckon me over, offer me tea and ask if I wanted to stamp. She would ask me about my favorite things, let me use her fancy crafting tools, and treated me like a granddaughter.

One day my older sister took a dare from the neighborhood kids and jumped into the creek behind the apartment complex along with a few others. When she went home to shower she discovered a leech on her leg. She panicked because she didn’t know how to get it off, but also because it would be proof that we went outside that day. I ran across the yard to ask Stamp Lady and her husband for help. Against my sister’s will (she was scared of getting in trouble) Stamp Lady and her husband took her to the hospital. It’s a good thing they did because heaven knows what would have happened if they didn’t. Unfortunately, all hell broke loose that night in our home.

That’s the night I think Stamp Lady found out for sure about our life. But once again, as each day passed she never treated us differently, with the exception of more love. I could see how much they wanted to help us, but since the police never believed us, nothing could be done. Every time they were called it just got worse, so we learned to stop trying. Stamp Lady and her husband couldn’t help us that way, but they could help us in the one way they knew how–offering love at any opportunity.

We were eventually rescued. I never got to say goodbye to Stamp Lady. Truthfully I don’t even remember her name. But she changed my life in ways she never knew. She didn’t know that she was the only person in that chapter of my life that made me feel loved. She didn’t know, each day as she let this little girl across the yard come into her home, that she was making a difference.

She was “just” the Stamp Lady, afterall.

What “just” are you?

I once had “just a Sunday School teacher” who prayed with me at the altar every service and who became a mom figure to me when my mother left and moved across the country. She was also “just” a newlywed and also “just a 20-something”. She didn’t know she was the world to this scared little girl who came to church every week.

I had another “just a Sunday School teacher” who gave me a Bible when I was little. That Bible was my prized possession, the thing that replaced my teddy bear when I went to sleep each night, and the thing that gave me hope through all my dark days.

There was “just a man taking a walk” who passed me on a sidewalk one day when I was 12 and said, “Why are you walking with your head down? Life’s not that bad, is it?” I’ve never walked with my head down since.

There were “just two men” who donated blood back in 2000, which was used to save my life during an emergency blood transfusion.

There was “just a history teacher” in my high school who told me I needed to find a church when I told him that yes, I was a Christian, but no, I didn’t go to church. I listened to his advice and my world changed forever as I gave my life fully to God.

There was “just a preacher and his wife” who took me in when I was a teenager. They gave me the family I dreamed of for so long.

There was “just an evangelist” who once told me, “I’m proud of you. I love you.” He didn’t know that I prayed just the week before that God would show me that someone in the world felt that way about me.

There was “just a pastor and his wife” who once said, “We believe in you” at a time when I wanted to give up. I kept going.

There was “just a guy” who came and sat next to me on the bleachers at a youth convention softball game, who was grumpy at the moment, who would three years later become my husband.

What “just” are you? Are you “just” a somebody who’s trying to make it in this world? Who wants to make some impact? Are you feeling discouraged because you feel like nothing you do is worthwhile? Look around you. You may be changing somebody’s life and not even know it. You are more valuable than you know, and you have more to offer than you know.

“And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” -Matthew 25:40

 

 

Can God Heal Me?

“It is physically impossible for her to be alive. I can’t explain it. If she hadn’t come in today there is no possible way she would have lived til tomorrow.”

I laid in my hospital bed pretending to be asleep so I could avoid having to talk to anybody. After an entire day of dealing with doctors and nurses, two bags of blood in a transfusion, and countless questions over what could be wrong with me, I was done. I heard the doctor speak these words to my mother and inside I cried out to God: “You can’t let me die. I’m backslidden right now! God please don’t let me die until I’m saved. Until I am old enough to go back to church on my own!”

beachI was 13 years old and had went in for a basic doctor’s appointment when a nurse looked down at my stats while checking my blood pressure and oxygen levels and declared that there must be a mistake. She took it several times and then told me to wait while she got a doctor. She came back with a lady who looked at the numbers and next thing I knew, I was being told I had to be taken to the emergency room immediately. I didn’t know why.

When I got to the hospital I was asked multiple questions–that were very personal for a 13 year old girl–to find out that it was not common for a woman to menstruate continuously for months on end. I thought that was normal so never said anything. Here I had bled for three and a half months straight (and continuous months prior to that with a short break between), I was pale, shaky and weak, but nobody ever believed me that I didn’t feel good. I just thought I was tired. They just thought I was being a lazy teenager. Truth was, even doing daily tasks was difficult, but I didn’t know anything was wrong so I never said anything.

I was given a blood transfusion but they couldn’t get the bleeding to stop nor could they figure out why I couldn’t stop bleeding. Conversations came up about having to get a hysterectomy at my young age. Discussions about whether or not I would ever have children came up. Potential diagnoses of endometriosis, PCOS, cancer–they were all brought up and I was subject to test after test. They finally settled on  trying to put me on birth control (which was embarrassing for a 13 year old girl practicing abstinence) with the hopes that it would stop the bleeding. If it did, great, I would just keep taking it and hope that when I eventually wanted to have kids that my body would function ok. Worse case scenario was that if it wouldn’t stop the bleeding, having kids would never be a possibility because I would have to come back for the hysterectomy.

God answered my prayer. I didn’t die in the hospital, although the doctor said I had so little blood that it was medically impossible to be alive. The pills helped and my “issue of blood” was under control.

Until three years passed, that is. Eventually my issue came back and I started bleeding profusely again. It became uncontrollable and I could sense that weakness and paleness coming back. I was determined I would not go back to the hospital, though. I had always wanted children and I didn’t want to be forced into a hysterectomy. I had just started praying seriously and coming back to God, and was preparing to start going back to church as soon as I had a way to get there.

So I acted on my faith. I grabbed my pills and said, “God, I’m putting this in Your hands. If the bleeding isn’t going to stop and I’m going to die, so be it. But if You want me healed, You’re going to have to do it without these pills.” I threw all of the pills in the trash.

The next day the bleeding stopped. My body healed up and I did not have my undiagnosable issue anymore. 11 years have since passed and I have never had another problem with it again. In fact, I ended up becoming a blood donor myself, thankful that God blessed me through the gift of blood before, and now I wanted to give back. I also loved telling my testimony every time I went to the blood bank.

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These past couple of weeks my husband and I have spent time in the hospital with his dad who was recently diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. His health is failing at a quick pace and as we’ve watched him go from being self-sufficient just a couple months ago to being in hospice now, unable to stand alone and barely able to eat, we’ve prayed for God to heal him.

God hasn’t healed him yet. We don’t know if He will. We know that everyone is appointed once to die. But his delayed healing hasn’t caused my faith to waiver. You see, I’ve seen God heal people many times. I know He can.

My own mother was diagnosed with cancer a few years ago. She was also backslidden at the time and when I got a phone call to go down to the hospital and pray for her, I considered her soul. As I waited in the hallway for the doctor to finish what he was doing, I prayed for God to have mercy on her and heal her. The doctor said it didn’t look good and that he wasn’t sure if she would make it through the night. He was about to put her into the ICU. She was not responding when I was got there and when I walked into the room the smell was so strong I felt like I was going to faint (and I’m not the squeamish type). I asked the doctor if it was ok if I prayed for her and he left the room. As I started praying she opened her eyes and looked at me, the only response I was able to get from her. She didn’t speak a word.

I went home after spending some time in prayer and the next day I found out that she was not put in ICU. Her stats got better and the next morning she was communicating. They scheduled a surgery to go in and try to get out some of the cancer. We waited at the hospital for news on how it went, and when the doctor came in to speak with us he informed us that they didn’t see cancer in there at all.

We knew God had healed her because she had a clear diagnoses before going in. The doctor couldn’t explain it but we knew.

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Another time, a friend of mine who had a stomach disorder his whole life was healed during a church service. He had to use a bag that attached to his stomach to process food and he had removed it before going to church. After the sermon, during altar call, he was praying for God to heal him. After the service he had informed all of us that the hole in his stomach literally closed up at the altar. God had healed him of his stomach disorder. Imagine the faith that was built as he showed people where the hole in his stomach was!

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A girl I used to go to school with was told she would never have children. God had a different plan. She gave birth to a very handsome little boy. They told her that was a miracle and that there was no way she could have another. She now has three children!

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Another close friend was also told she would never have children on account of a severe case of endometriosis. She and her husband tried for ten years to have a baby, never giving up hope that God would fulfill His promise to bless them with a baby. They acted on their faith. They built a nursery in their house. They filled the closet with baby clothes (all girl clothes as they asked God for a girl). They refused fertility treatments, believing that it was God’s will for them to wait and trust in Him. God blessed them with their baby girl this past fall. She is a gorgeous baby girl. During the delivery, the doctors said her body was so messed up inside that it was impossible for her to have been pregnant at all. But God isn’t contained by “impossible”.

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What about you? Are you waiting for God to heal you?

It doesn’t have to be a physical healing. Sometimes God’s healings come through emotional pain, broken marriages, or a child without a home. Sometimes healings come when we try to grapple with why God didn’t physically heal someone else. Sometimes, like in the stories above, healings come in the hospital room when the doctors say “it’s impossible”.

What we do know is that God made these promises in His Word:

“Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he have committed sins, they shall be forgiven him. Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” – James 5:14-16

“And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” – Revelation 21:4

Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed.” – I Peter 2:24

“But he was wounded for our transgressions, he was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon him; and with his stripes we are healed.” – Isaiah 53:5

“And when he had called unto him his twelve disciples, he gave them power against unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all manner of sickness and all manner of disease…Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out devils: freely ye have received, freely give.” – Matthew 10:1,8

“Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.” – Hebrews 13:5

“Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.” – I Peter 5:7

If you are in need of healing today, whether it be physical or emotional, know that God can heal You.