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Our Miracle of Healing! Pt. V: In the Stillness Before the Miracle

Elijah, age 2--healthy and happy just a few months before being stricken by the parasites.

Elijah, age 2–healthy and happy just a few months before being stricken by the parasites.

(This story is much too long to share in one blog post, so I have divided it into parts. Be warned that it deals with a sickness that was so severe I must occasionally delve into graphic descriptions of the symptoms. This is necessary for the telling of the story.)

Then came the confusion.

People began to gather around me and question me. Some said, “You’re going to have to do something.” Others said, “You need to take him to the emergency room.” The Huddleston’s cell phone rang, and it was my mom. Her friend who is a nurse had told her frightening tales of strongyloides and said to let her know if I decided to go to Duke or Baptist Hospital because she knew some people who could possibly help. My parents were very worried.

I sat on the pew in a daze, seeing an ocean of concerned faces above me, all offering advice. They loved me and were only trying to be helpful, but I felt so confused, so dizzy. Tracey sat down beside me and touched my hand. She, too, felt the confusion and knew I must be about to go crazy. She said softly, “Why don’t you go on over to Rusty and Vicki’s?” She felt that I should get out of there immediately.

Joy sat down behind me and put her hand on my back. She began to whisper, “Lord, give her faith. You are not the spirit of confusion, Lord. Help her be strong.” Those two calming hands on me—Tracey’s and Joy’s—were what I needed right then. I stood up and said, “I’m going to Rusty and Vicki’s.”

As I walked to the back door, I paused to read some pages Polly had printed off the Internet regarding strongyloides. When I got to the part about the itching sores in the hinder parts, which is where the parasites make their exit in the night hours, I stopped in my tracks, my eyes large. I grabbed Chelsea and yelled, “Keith, come with us to the bathroom!” The three of us nearly filled the tiny nursery bathroom. We examined her and found the evidence of the parasites in open, bloody sores—just another sign that the original lab technician was right about his diagnosis of strongyloides.

Everything in the paper fit us to a tee—nausea followed by a remission followed by more nausea, primarily at night when parasites are most active. Strongyloides migrate from small intestine to lungs and lay eggs with each migration in each place. Respiratory symptoms often follow the abdominal symptoms. We had also noticed that very thing in our case.

We spent the afternoon in the peace and quiet of Rusty and Vicki’s house. At last, I felt a calming stillness that allowed me to regain my faith and strength. The children rested while we four adults sat around the table and talked. Our assistant pastor’s wife, Teddi Lane, had put in a call to her doctor in Kernersville whom I had liked immensely when I had met her months ago. We were waiting to see if perhaps that doctor would meet us at her office.

I wanted the ELISA test—a special blood test which detects strongyloides by a blood serum antibody level without all of the mess and time lapse of yet another stool sample. When the call came that only a nurse on call was available, my heart sank again. Elijah was getting weaker and weaker; his stomach was distended with bloating, a sign of the third and critical stage of parasite infestation.

Then Teddi called back with a suggestion. Her daughter, Tanzy, worked for a doctor at Baptist Hospital. That doctor was on her way to the hospital at that very moment and had suggested we take Elijah to the Pediatric Emergency Room to see if the attending physician, whom she highly recommended, would administer the blood test. My interest was sparked. Elijah could simply go in, have blood drawn and come home without being admitted and used as a guinea pig.

Keith agreed and took off with a pale Elijah in his arms. I thought my heart would be torn from my chest as I watched them leave. My little boy needed his mommy with him, but baby Abigail still relied solely on me for her food, so I couldn’t leave.

The rest of the afternoon was a tortuously lonely time for me. Rusty went outside to work on a car, Vicki went to the basement to get some rest and the children watched a movie. Poor Vicki had been up all night helping Robin deliver the baby at the hospital. She had unselfishly come to church that morning just to pray with us.

The whole time we had been at her house, she had been talking about the labor she had just witnessed. At first, I was puzzled. Here we were going through the biggest crisis of our lives, and Vicki wanted to keep talking about a woman I didn’t even know having her baby?!!

Then I realized that Vicki wasn’t being insensitive at all. She saw a genuine parallel with the labor and our situation. When Robin’s epidural wouldn’t take, and the pain was intense, she had to travail for the entire night. When Vicki prayed about our sickness, the Lord told her to tell us to push on through—no matter what.

He also spoke to her saying, “What will you do when the epidural won’t work?” Like Robin, would we keep pressing on through the pain toward deliverance or give up? Tears welled up in her eyes as she told us what the Lord wanted us to do. Here was all of this proof that God wanted to do His sovereign work; my faith was increasing steadily.

As I sat upstairs, all alone, the phone rang. It was Keith, and he was upset. They wouldn’t even let him go back to the Pediatric ER without full admission to the hospital. He told me to call Tanzy and see if she knew what the deal was.

Tanzy was puzzled; she said Elijah’s name had been given to the attending physician who was waiting for their arrival. When I called the hospital back, the Pediatric ER nurses told me this was true; they had my son’s name and wanted to know where he was. And still the front desk people wouldn’t let Keith go back to the nurses until he went to registration and admitted the little buddy.

I was again stunned! We were being hindered everywhere we went. As I hung up the phone from talking to Keith, whom the hospital had located for me, he sounded resigned and said, “I’m headed to registration to admit Elijah.”

At that moment, a van pulled into the driveway. It was my herbalist friend, Barbara Whaley. We sat on the front porch and talked awhile. She had brought me some herbs that could possibly help us feel better. As we went inside to the dining area, I suddenly got an overwhelmingly strong feeling in my gut.

“Barbara,” I said, “I just talked to Keith at the hospital, and he’s in the process of admitting Elijah. I don’t want that. I want the blood test and that’s all. I don’t want him in a hospital bed in a room without me there, with him so sick and hooked up to machines.”

Barbara nodded in agreement. “Call him back,” she said, “and tell him to get Elijah out of there even if he has to boldly pick him up and walk out.”

Instantly the phone rang. It was Joy. She read me some scriptures in Hebrews that spoke of rest; I was comforted. I asked her to help me pray and explained to her that I was about to call the hospital one more time. She agreed to pray. As I dialed the Baptist Hospital number, Barbara sat at the dining room table, praying in the Spirit as hard as she could pray.

When the front desk finally located Keith, he had already admitted Elijah and was waiting in a room for the doctor to come in. I told him to insist on the blood test and not to let them keep him, no matter what. He agreed. Hanging up the phone, I felt relieved. At least I had done my part to bring Elijah back home.

(NOTE: I am not against hospitals; thank God for the purpose they serve and for the many great doctors/nurses there! I cannot explain why we were led this way in this case, but when you feel a strong leading of the Spirit of God, you need to follow that—no matter what.)

After Barbara left, Vicki woke up from her short nap. I decided to pray in her bedroom while she got ready to take her daughter, Ashley, to church for youth choir practice. Vicki and I had decided to wait for Keith to get back from the hospital before going to church ourselves.

I had prayed just a little while, asking God to guide us, when Vicki knocked softly on the door. She came into the room, looking apologetic for bothering me. She said, “I felt like there was something I had to tell you, but since you were praying, I decided to take Ashley on to church then come back home and tell you then. But when I passed this closed door, I felt I needed to tell you right now.”

Needless to say, I was intently listening. Vicki smiled and said, “When Robin was laboring early this morning on her hands and knees, determined to finish having the baby with no more medicine, the anesthesiologist came in and said, ‘I recommend you have a second epidural.’ Robin, in intense pain, said, ‘No thanks.’ After a while, the anesthesiologist repeated firmly, ‘I think you need another epidural.’ Again Robin replied, ‘No thank you.’ She was weak but determined to travail to the end.

“When Robin’s doctor entered the room, the anesthesiologist, probably thinking she now had an ally in this effort to get Robin to take the medicine, said arrogantly, ‘It is my recommendation, Doctor, that she have another epidural now.’ The doctor looked calmly at her and said, ‘Thank you, but we won’t be needing your assistance.’”

Just as Vicki paused with a smile on her face, the phone rang. The timing was perfect. It was Keith. He said, “The doctor thinks Elijah is in bad shape and needs to stay here overnight with I.V.’s and the works, even though he admits we’ve done a good job of keeping Pedialyte in him, and he’s not dehydrated yet. When I hesitated, he left the room and came back with two other doctors, including the head of the department. They recommend that Elijah stay here and be turned over to the infectious disease specialist who will be in on Monday morning. They don’t know anything about strongyloides and don’t even have the ELISA test. Leslie, the pressure is on me. What do you think I should do?”

I quickly told this to Vicki. She merely smiled and said, “Tell him to tell them, ‘Thank you, but we won’t be needing your assistance.’” I then hurriedly told Keith the story about Robin and the epidural, but he was too stressed to really listen.

He said, “Pray for me. I don’t know what to do. I guess I’m coming home. I’ll tell them if Elijah isn’t better after church tonight, we’ll be back tomorrow morning.” I hung up the phone and sighed. There seemed to be stumbling-blocks every way we turned. Little did I know, the doctors were stern with Keith and made him sign a paper saying he was taking Elijah home against their recommendation, and they were not to be held responsible if anything bad happened to him.

While we waited on Keith to come back, I got on the phone to Chapel Hill and then to Duke. Neither of them could do the ELISA test in-house. They would have to send the blood work to the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta and wait perhaps a week for the results. For some reason (probably the fact that I wanted to go on Oprah Winfrey’s show to tell how our doctors misdiagnosed us so that others with parasites would take heed and get help), I was determined to find someone to do that blood test.

Rusty was back inside by now and sat silently at the table. He had indeed been at church that morning and had been very much affected by what took place as we went to the altar with our family. For the rest of the day, he had been extremely quiet. I suddenly desperately wanted him to go with us to church that night. I began to beg while he shook his head no. I followed him around the house begging, even when he went into the basement. I was crying and desperate. I knew that tonight was the last hope for us. My little boy was possibly dying.

Finally Rusty shook his head yes. He’d go with us to church, but he wouldn’t carry Elijah to the altar as I was also asking him to do. As he went into his room to get dressed, I went into the kitchen and fell to my knees at the table. I had never been more desperate in my life. Keith and Elijah were back, and everyone was waiting for Rusty. It seemed to take forever. As we walked out to get into the car, I tearfully asked him one more time to take my son to the altar. He didn’t answer.

To this day, I’m not sure why I felt that Rusty had to carry Elijah into this second service. Perhaps it was the ultimate act of humility on Rusty’s part—a man who was running from God at that time—which would help remove hindrances to our healing.

All the way to church, Keith and I prayed in the Spirit. The night service had been going for a good while, so we felt the need to hurry.  As we all parked in the back parking lot, I was still crying and praying. No one knows desperation like a mother, at the point of total exhaustion, who feels she is about to lose her child. As we approached the door, Rusty quietly said, “Give Elijah to me.” I thought I’d faint right then and there.

TO BE CONTINUED…..See Part VI at https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/our-miracle-of-healing-pt-vi-the-visible-miracle/ .

I just realized tonight that there will be 7 parts of this story. I did not plan that; it “just happened” to end up as God’s perfect number 7. I simply divided it up into readable increments, and this was the result.

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Our Miracle of Healing! Pt. IV: Hindered But Not Halted

(This story is much too long to share in one blog post, so I have divided it into parts. Be warned that it deals with a sickness that was so severe I must occasionally delve into graphic descriptions of the symptoms. This is necessary for the telling of the story.)

Chelsea, Elijah and Baby Abigail--just weeks before the parasite crisis began.

Chelsea, Elijah and Baby Abigail–just weeks before the parasite crisis began.

Somehow, I forced myself to go to bed, but there was to be very little sleep for me. I lay in bed alone; Keith was sleeping on the couch in the den. My body was so tense that every move the kids made, I jumped. For 17 days, I had heard little feet hit the floor and go running to the bathroom to throw up or have diarrhea. The habit of listening intently for those running footsteps was a hard habit to break—one I had trouble with for weeks afterward.

But the night passed quietly. I prayed almost nonstop, strangely enough not asking for the healing of my children but for the peace of my children. At the same time, I felt the need to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. (Strange, I’ll admit.)

When morning finally came, I was up and on the phone. I began calling the lab to see if the pathologist had arrived yet to look at the parasites. “No,” they continually replied, “he’s not.” One lab tech (the helpful ones from last night were off-duty now) was very arrogant with me and said, “How can anyone prove those parasites in your bathtub really came out of you?”

Well, DUH! In all of these years of my life, I had never found parasites in my bathtub. Now, just when we have what seems to be a parasitic illness, we find them, and the lab says, “You can’t prove they came out of you.” It made no sense whatsoever.

I had even called “Joe,” the friendly lab tech, in the middle of the night to ask him once more, “Are you sure those are strongyloides?”

He said, with no hesitation, “Yes.”

Keith had looked at them under the microscope and said they had horrid teeth and monster faces like something out of “Star Wars.” He helped the lab techs look through their books and charts and compare the worms to the pictures and descriptions. He, too, was sure they were strongyloides. Now if you found strongyloides crawling in your bathtub where you had been cleaning out the bowls you had thrown up in, wouldn’t you say chances are good the parasites came from your body? They are primarily an animal parasite, and we had no animals in our home.

I spent at least one hour on the phone that Sunday morning, calling all around just to see where the medicine Ivermectin could be found. I was determined to go to church that morning, even if we had to be carried in. I was believing God for a miracle, but at the same time, I wanted to know where the medicine was—in case we needed it later. (Some faith, huh?)

Meanwhile, God saw my doubts and began to systematically close every door I tried to open. I called every pharmacy in the area, including the ones at all hospitals from Winston-Salem to Chapel Hill to Duke to Raleigh. No one had Ivermectin nor could tell me how to order it. One pharmacist finally told me I’d have to get it from the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. I even called there, but they said my doctor would have to call with a prescription. I felt so helpless, knowing that my doctor wasn’t about to call.

My cousin, who is a pharmacist in Walnut Cove, said he was giving his horse Ivermectin for strongyloides right now. If horses in Walnut Cove can get them, then they are definitely in our soil here. Our pastor even thought that was what his dog had had some years ago.

When the time came to leave for church, the pathologist was still not in the lab. We didn’t have a cell phone in those days, so we left Mike and Annette Huddleston’s mobile phone number with the lab so they could contact us at church. Annette, a close friend for many years, had called me earlier that morning, quite agitated. She had been praying for us when God told her to call and read Ephesians 6:12 to me: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against wickedness in high places.”

Annette didn’t know why I needed to hear that, but I did. I, like Pastor Eaves in Mississippi, and the friend who had called to ask if we had taken anything into our house since the sickness began, felt an evil stronghold here. This was more than just sickness; there was a demonic component. You may laugh that off, but if you had been walking in my shoes since October 8, you would believe it.

We dressed the children as best we could. We were all so weak that we looked fairly pitiful, with Elijah in purple sweatpants and a Lion King sweatshirt. I was pale and plain, but at this point, fancy clothes and makeup didn’t matter to me. I needed the Lord to move for us, and I needed it NOW.

We crowded into our little blue car, kids stacked on top of each other in the backseat–towels and throw-up bowls in hand—and off we went. Because of my last phone call with the lab, we were running behind schedule. Suddenly, about five miles from home on an empty country road, there was a roadblock. I couldn’t believe my eyes! They were doing roadwork on a very minor road on a Sunday morning. To my memory, this had never happened to us before on a Sunday.

I began to panic, but Keith was strangely calm. He just looked at me and said, “I expected this, so calm down. We are going to be hindered getting to church. It’s not over yet either. But don’t worry. God’s timing is exactly right.” Finally, the man in charge let us drive on through.

We went another five miles on our usual route and suddenly saw a big sign that read: “ROAD CLOSED. MUST DETOUR.” I looked at Keith in total disbelief. Since he had felt this was coming, he just smiled. We had to hit Interstate 40 and go a totally different route. By now, I was certain we would be late, but I finally had confidence that God would be right on time.

The closer we got to our church in Winston-Salem, the harder we prayed. When, at last, we saw that huge white steeple stretching high into the sky, the relief was intense. I began to cry, sobbing, “I have never been so glad to see that church.” I had always loved Christ Temple, but now it seemed like such a refuge.

I knew service had already started, and for that reason, I dreaded walking in late—just us alone. Thank God, when we pulled into the back parking lot, our friend, Lisa Stevens, and her family were pulling in right beside us. They had been praying around the clock for our family for days, sometimes even getting up in the night every hour to pray, setting their alarm clocks to remind them. When I saw them, I began to sob even more—out of pure relief.

As we opened the door to the church, we could hear the music swelling and voices raised in singing. It was a beautiful sound, and we all began to weep even harder. We opened the door to the sanctuary and marched up the aisle, Elijah laid out in Keith’s arms like Isaac in Abraham’s.

Little did we know, something supernatural was going on with Tracey. She had been worshipping God with all of the others for about 10 minutes. Suddenly, she began to pray for God to dispatch His angels to the altar—that it was time. As she opened her eyes, we walked by her to the altar.

Needless to say, even with all the detours that morning, God was right on time.

As Keith laid Elijah on the altar, pretty much the entire church left their pews and gathered around us, praying with heartfelt fervency. I fell onto my knees on the altar steps as the preachers anointed us. Our praise leader, Steve Marler, led the praise team in “I Have A Friend” and other worshipful songs to help usher in the presence of God. We prayed for a while, then gradually people returned to the pews so the service could move on. Our friend, Sarah Widener, in tears, whispered in my ear, “God told me Wednesday that something marvelous would happen today.”

Periodically, I had to leave the service to answer a call on Mike and Annette’s cell phone. At one point, the doctor’s office called to say that the pathologist wouldn’t even look at the parasites because there was no written order to do so. They were faxing one to the lab at that moment. I was so flabbergasted. This whole thing was like a twisted and sick comedy.

I sat in the hall just outside the sanctuary, mouth open, phone in hand—unable to believe the hindrances set up against us. At that point, I felt hope oozing out of me. We had pushed ourselves to come to church, obey God and lay our child on the altar. Yet it seemed that nothing had changed.

Suddenly, the special singing group for the morning, led by my dear friend, Tammy Crawford, began to sing. Tammy’s voice rang out: “If when you have done your very best, And it seems you just can’t stand the test, Keep holdin’ on, The darkest hour is just before light, God said He would make things all right!” That was the very song they had sung in December 1995, the first service I attended after Elijah’s birth. I had been very down at that time (postpartum blues), and that song seemed to heal some of the hurt. Now, October 25, 1998, they were singing the same song, and I took it as a welcome sign.

(NOTE: Click on the link below to hear Tammy singing this song, backed by my daughter Meghann and me, at the healing service we held on Saturday night, Oct. 24, 2015, as commemorated the 17th anniversary of our healing.)

Keith sat on our pew with a still-sick Elijah in his arms. The girls sat wanly beside him. Then came the call from the doctor that the pathologist couldn’t positively identify the parasites, but that he didn’t think they were anything to worry about and probably hadn’t even come out of our bodies. I sat in stunned silence then asked, “So what are you going to do?”

“Well,” said the doctor, “bring Elijah back tomorrow, and we’ll start all over—maybe some new stool samples.” I smiled grimly as I hung up the phone. The medical field was closing all doors on us. I had never seen anything so ridiculous in my entire life.

The physician’s assistant who had called Keith yesterday to check on Elijah had already seemed upset with us that we didn’t immediately start the antibiotic and Zantac. Now they were telling us they wanted to start all over again. The girls and I probably had time to start over; Elijah did not. If we had given him the antibiotic, he probably would’ve been dead already, since Septra would’ve killed the few good bacteria that were left lining his intestines. An antibiotic can’t differentiate which is good or bad bacteria, so it wipes them all out. And who knows what Zantac would’ve done to Elijah had we given it to him?

Just as our pastor, Bob Williams, was starting the sermon, I walked back up to our pew and whispered the doctor’s news to Keith. He just stared numbly at me. The doctors were no help, and none of us seemed healed yet; what more were we to do?

Then we stood with the congregation to read the Scripture, II Kings 20:1-11. When I heard the name “Hezekiah,” I perked up, then began to smile. It was too uncanny. Our pastor was preaching on Hezekiah being sick unto death, and Pastor Bob had stated that this was something he had been planning to preach for a while. In other words, it had nothing to do with our situation. (Oh, but it did!)

As the Word spoke of Hezekiah turning his face to the wall to weep and remind the Lord of how he had been a faithful servant, Bob pointed to us and said we had the right to ask for healing. I knew he was right. We had not been perfect, by any means, but we had diligently tried to serve the Lord all these years.

I kept reminding the Lord that today, October 25, was a very special day for me. Seventeen years ago that day, He had baptized me with the Holy Ghost. I kept saying, “Jesus, this is my Holy Ghost birthday. I want healing as my birthday present.” As I sat there praying that, I thought how Elijah had been born on the 17th. This was my 17th “birthday.” This was the 17th day of our sickness. Then Bob told of how Hezekiah asked for 15 more years. I realized that Elijah was two years old and in 15 more years would be 17. All of these seeming “coincidences” were gathering together in my mind to increase my faith. (Note: It hit me as I began to publish this blog in 2015 that it was going online for the first time ever at the 17th anniversary of the healing. Another 17!)

Then we read verse 7. Isaiah the prophet told the people to place figs on Hezekiah’s boil. I almost gasped aloud. I had just read that figs are one of the best foods to combat parasites. This was too much to deny!

Then came verse 8 where Hezekiah asks, “What shall be the sign that the Lord will heal me?” Isaiah said that since it was a hard thing for the shadow to go backwards, that would be the sign. I nearly came out of my seat in astonishment! This day, October 25, was the day that Daylight Saving Time had ended, and the clocks were turned backwards one hour. This was absolutely not coincidence! I was flying high now. These things HAD to be the sign of our healing.

But still I didn’t know what to do. When altar call came, I walked to the front and sat on the front pew. I bowed my head and repeated over and over again, “I need you to talk to me, Lord. I need you to talk to me, Lord.” Then our organist, Chuck Lewis, began to lead the praise team in the song, “We Need to Hear From You.” I began to weep with the knowledge that even the altar song fit exactly what I was praying at that exact time. Everything was fitting together like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle. Surely the healing was coming!

TO BE CONTINUED…..See Part V at  https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/our-miracle-of-healing-pt-v-in-the-stillness-before-the-miracle/ .

I just realized tonight that there will be 7 parts of this story. I did not plan that; it “just happened” to end up as God’s perfect number 7. I simply divided it up into readable increments, and this was the result.

Our Miracle of Healing! Pt. III: A Breakthrough At Last

(This story is much too long to share in one blog post, so I have divided it into parts. Be warned that it deals with a sickness that was so severe I must occasionally delve into graphic descriptions of the symptoms. This is necessary for the telling of the story.)

Elijah and Abigail about 2 months before the parasites struck.

Elijah and Abigail about 2 months before the parasites struck.

We spent a while packing up our things, including sleeping bags and pillows. Keith was finishing up last-minute cleaning around the house, and I was anxious to leave. The three sick children had been bathed, but I had decided to wait until we got to Vicki’s to bathe baby Abigail.

Just as Keith began to pack up our little blue car, the phone rang. It was a very disturbed Vicki. She said, “You’ll never believe this, but the lady I’m going to be coaching at the hospital has just gone into labor. I’ve got to go to her home to help her.” I was stunned. What timing this was! Vicki said, “You can come on over if you’d like. Rusty will be home later, and I’m sure he won’t mind you all spending the night.”

I hung up the phone in a daze. When I told Keith, he immediately said, “Then let’s stay here. I didn’t want to leave in the first place.” Normally I would’ve fought him on this one, but strangely enough, I pondered the situation for a few minutes then agreed with him. We’d stay here one more night. I was disappointed that we wouldn’t be able to spend the evening with our friends, but I felt an unusual peace about staying home.

I arose from the couch with a resigned sigh and said, “Well, I guess I’d better go ahead and give Abigail a bath. Watch her for me while I clean out her little baby bathtub.” She had been bathed by other methods for the duration of our sickness, so her little baby tub had been unused for some time. It was stored in the regular bathtub when the shower was not in use. Since we had been cleaning out our throw-up bowls in the tub, I was afraid that the baby’s bathtub had perhaps been contaminated by all the splashing. I knew I’d better Clorox it before putting her into it.

As I walked into the bathroom, a feeling of helplessness swept over me. I looked into the mirror, lifted my hands and said, “Lord, you’ve got to help me! You can show me what is wrong with us!”

I walked over to the bathtub, opened the shower door and picked up Abigail’s little white tub. In the foam backing, which was still damp from the constant rinsing of bowls in the bathtub, were tiny black worms, burrowing into the foam. Where the backing had dried out, the worms were dead; where there was moisture, they were alive and trying to burrow. I gasped in absolute shock. I ran into the den, telling Keith, “I know what’s inside of us!”

He looked inside the tub and said, “Oh, my!” His eyes were huge with amazement. I immediately picked up the phone and called my pediatrician. Since it was Saturday night, I only got the answering service people. I told them I needed to speak to a nurse ASAP.

Meanwhile, the wheels in my brain were turning. I called the laboratory where Elijah’s stool samples were being monitored. The lady at the front desk, by the grace of God, connected me to the lab technician in Microbiology, something not ordinarily done. I talked to the man whom I will call “Joe” to preserve his anonymity. I told Joe all about our case and how I had just found these parasites in our tub. He was extremely interested.

Since the lab policy is to act only on a doctor’s written orders, he advised that I call my pediatrician. I hung up the phone, very disheartened. Still the nurse did not return my call, which I was to find out later was divine intervention.

In my agony of indecision, I had a sudden brainstorm (Spirit-inspired, I’m sure). I knew the doctors would tell me to wait until morning, and I knew I needed to try to sidestep them. I called Tracey and asked her to pray quickly with me that when I called the lab back, Joe would agree to look at the specimens I had found.

I took a deep breath after prayer and dialed the lab number once more. This time I knew the lab technician’s name, so I asked specifically for him. I told Joe that my doctor had not called me back, and I asked if we could please run the worms out there for him to look at. He hesitated, knowing it was against policy, then he said, “Sure, bring ‘em on out.” I was overjoyed! Keith left immediately.

While he was gone, the doctor’s office called back, and I told them what had happened. They said a doctor would call me back shortly. I called around to a bunch of church friends and told them how God had answered my prayer and let me see the parasites in the bathtub.

Then I walked the floor and prayed. The children were in bed, sleeping well for a change with no obvious sickness. Of course that usually didn’t come until the wee hours of the morning. All I could do was pace and pray.

About an hour later, the phone rang. It was Keith from the lab. He and Joe were looking at the parasites under the microscope. He said “Well, we’ve identified it. It’s strongyloides.” I had just read about that particular creature in the parasite book Joy had loaned me! Then his next words threw me for a loop: “They can be fatal.”

My heart sank, even as I tried to have faith. He assured me that the lab tech was on the other line even as we spoke, talking to our doctor. He’d be home shortly, presumably with medicine. At that point, I was ready to take medicine, even though I knew in my heart this whole thing had been orchestrated somehow to teach me something about faith.

I picked up the phone and immediately began to call the faithful prayer warriors who had not let me down thus far. I prayed as best I could while the phone rang over and over again. Polly called after she researched strongyloides on the Internet. She was very solemn. “This is dangerous,” she said.

After so long, she told me, the bowels close up and the intestines rupture, thus opening the door for septicemia—deadly blood poisoning. We discussed the different drugs used to treat the parasite, the best one being Ivermectin. I was just sure Keith would come home from the hospital with it.

Time passed rapidly. My pastor called a few times, worried about us. My mom kept calling to see if Keith was home yet.

Then Heather called, nearly in tears. She said she had been on her knees praying ever since I called to tell her what the parasite was. “You’ll think I’m crazy,” she told me, “but when I got up off my knees, the Lord told me to call you and tell you that He’s RIGHT ON TIME—not to worry about your children—that He is going to do something miraculous that will set the church on FIRE!” Then she began to cry, and I did too. I was so blessed by that.

At that moment, my call waiting beeped. I said, “Hang on, Heather.” It was Joy on the other line. I told her I’d call her right back. Heather and I talked some more, then hung up.

I called Joy back, and she was all excited. She said that as she got up off her knees from praying for us, the Lord spoke to her. (Sounds familiar, doesn’t it?! This probably happened at about the time God spoke to Heather.) He told her to go to the Word—James 2, to be exact. She read it once, and it was about not having respect of persons and about faith. She didn’t understand. She said, “Lord, is it that we don’t have faith, or what?”

Then she reread it. When she got to verse 21, the words jumped off the page at her. She knew she had to call and read verses 21-22 to me for some reason: “Was not Abraham our father justified by works, when he had offered Isaac his son upon the altar? Seest thou how faith wrought with his works, and by works was faith made perfect?”

When Joy read these verses to me, I nearly came unglued with excitement. All day I had been visualizing taking Elijah Blue to church the next morning and carrying him to the altar, not upright, but lying down in Keith’s arms. I knew we were to lay him out on the altar as a sacrifice. I had told no one this, so Joy reading me these verses hit me very hard. Abraham laid his only son upon the altar, and his faith shone true.

I said: “Joy, if the ram in the bushes had appeared too soon, Abraham’s faith wouldn’t have been tested. Had it appeared too late, Isaac would’ve been dead already. Would you say, Joy, that by God putting the ram in the bushes at exactly the moment He did, He was right on time?”

Joy replied, “Absolutely. He was right on time.”

I continued, “When you called me, Heather was on the other line, telling me that God had spoken to her during prayer and told her to call me and tell me He’s right on time.” We both nearly went wild! By the mouth of two witnesses, the Word came, and I can’t adequately express how much it encouraged me.

I hung up from Joy to call Rusty to see if there was a way I could reach Vicki. I had spoken to her once earlier while she was at Robin’s house, helping her labor before going to the hospital. But now it was too late. They were already at the hospital. Little did I know, Robin’s labor was to parallel our healing process.

Meanwhile, I told Rusty the whole story, and I believe it very much moved him. I said, “You’ve absolutely got to come to church tomorrow morning, even if Vicki is still at the hospital. You don’t want to miss this. Something great is going to happen.” At this time, Rusty was not a churchgoer, although he believed firmly in God. He wouldn’t give me a concrete answer, but I knew he was deep in thought about all of this.

I had been in contact with Pastor Kenneth Eaves in Mississippi earlier in the day. He and his church were in prayer for us. He had promised early on that he would go before the Lord with prayer and fasting. He had noted that October is a month when Satanic powers are at a peak due to Halloween. He had advised me to have Keith take authority over this demonic infestation, because he felt strongly this wasn’t just a physical sickness but a stronghold of some sort. He had prophesied that when we came out of this, we’d be more on fire than ever before.

I called him on this breakthrough Saturday night to tell him the disease had been identified. He assured me we’d be all right and that he was earnestly praying.

Kristi, Joy’s sister in South Carolina, called to encourage me and let me know she and some faithful prayer warriors at her church were binding together for us. They were praying around the clock. Heather had posted the situation to an online Apostolic prayer list, and people were praying around the country. I was so lifted up and encouraged by the fact that these people who barely knew us—or didn’t even know us at all—were actually fasting and praying for us. It’s hard for me to fast even for my own needs, much less the needs of someone I don’t know. What good saints the Lord has!

Then I heard Keith pull into the driveway. I met him at the door, but he just shook his head grimly. “No medicine?” I asked, nearly panic-stricken. (Oh, Leslie of little faith!) He shook his head again.

He said that our doctors didn’t believe it could possibly be strongyloides because they’re rare, so they wanted to wait until morning when the actual pathologist came in to work at the laboratory. I was absolutely furious. I immediately called and spoke with the doctor on call, who assured me this couldn’t be what we thought (he had not even seen the parasites) and who said the stool sample from Elijah was still negative.

Joy’s book on parasites informed me that strongyloides were indeed rare, found only in Southeastern Asia and the southeastern United States—exactly where we lived! The book also said they were one of the hardest parasites to diagnose because they cling so tenaciously to the intestinal walls that they rarely surface in stool samples. In fact, in about 70% of the cases of strongyloides infestation, the stool samples are negative.

In my anger, I called another doctor from the practice, who was, of course, deep in sleep by now. I woke him up and told him my situation in a very friendly manner—only to be fed the same hogwash. He even said he must be crazy to be talking to me at 12:30 in the morning. I thanked him calmly and hung up, determined never to visit his office again.

I felt absolutely betrayed. No one would listen to me, much less believe me. (Now of course I see how God was shutting all fleshly doors in order that He might work.)

Meanwhile, Keith was working furiously in his closet in the den. I turned to see what he was up to and was stunned. As fast as he could, he was throwing videotapes and audiotapes into bags. I said, “What on earth are you doing?”

He said, “Cleansing my home,” and he continued to work. Now of course we didn’t have any awful videotapes, nothing pornographic certainly, but we did have a few R-rated movies. He was ridding the house of them all, and I was glad.

He also had lots of music tapes he’d bought to learn better guitar techniques—no real heavy metal or music with satanic lyrics, but a few rock ‘n roll cassette tapes that he felt were too worldly. Gone they were, into the trash bag. I was overjoyed. He said, “What right do I have to ask God to help us when I have this ungodly stuff in my home?”

TO BE CONTINUED…..See Part IV at https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2015/10/21/our-miracle-of-healing-pt-iv-hindered-but-not-halted/

Our Miracle of Healing! Pt. II: Going Downhill Fast

Me with Meghann (left), Chelsea (right) and Elijah--just a couple of months before the parasite crisis--down at my parents' farm which you will see mentioned in this story.

Me with Meghann (left), Chelsea (right) and Elijah–just a couple of months before the parasite crisis–down at my parents’ farm which you will see mentioned in this story.

(This story is much too long to share in one blog post, so I have divided it into parts. Be warned that it deals with a sickness that was so severe I must occasionally delve into graphic descriptions of the symptoms. This is necessary for the telling of the story.)

Another Sunday arrived, yet again with only Keith able to attend church. I had suddenly become positive that we had a parasite. I knew it was more than the typical worms that kids get from playing outside barefoot where animals have defecated. We had a serious infestation of SOMETHING!

Back in the summer, a close friend from church, Joy Brown, had loaned me a book about parasites and how incredibly common they are. Whenever Joy gives me a book to read, it is usually for a purpose. In nearly every case before when she had loaned me a book, I ended up dealing with a problem similar to what the book was about. I remember when she handed me that parasite book. I smiled politely but was thinking, “Why on earth is she loaning me a book about parasites?” Then I rolled my eyes and said, “Oh, great! I guess I’m going to be needing this knowledge!” Little did I know just how soon that would prove to be true.

At Sunday dinner at my parents’ house, the kids only ate mashed potatoes and bread, but I ate tiny portions of other food. Although they looked pale and had dark circles under their eyes, my children played outside with their cousins and even walked down to Belews Lake. Meghann did have to carry Elijah part of the way, due to his weakness. Later that night, Chelsea began throwing up again; she had been the only affected person NOT throwing up with us in the wee hours of Saturday morning.

Monday, October 19, followed the pattern, just a minor diarrhea day with weakness. According to this pattern, I assumed Tuesday would be a rough day, and it was—all of us sick in the night once more.

By now, people were calling us, truly worried. My parents knew something really bad was wrong. Our assistant pastor, Mike Lane, came out to pray for us. He anointed us with oil, according to the Biblical example, and we all prayed for healing. He mentioned how Elijah Blue had fallen away to nothing. That was my biggest worry. I was constantly fighting a battle to keep fluids in him. We were going through Pedialyte like crazy!

On Tuesday afternoon, October 20, Keith took Elijah to the doctor. The physician’s assistant sent him home, recommending that we keep him on the BRAT diet and get Pedialyte in him every 10 minutes. I was absolutely exhausted from lack of sleep and nausea, plus having to nurse baby Abigail and continually monitor Elijah’s intake. He was hungry but didn’t want the things he could have. We were all starving….literally.

That night when Elijah had diarrhea, we mixed it with chemicals in three little vials which we took the doctor’s office the next morning to be sent to a lab for stool sample culture tests. There was nothing to do but wait and pray.

Wednesday was a weak day again; we skipped church once more. We were missing everything. The girls had missed dance the day before. We were praying so hard yet felt totally blocked—as if we weren’t able to break through.

Thursday, October 22, dawned with screams from Elijah who was sick again. He even threw up his Pedialyte. I was so desperate that I pumped some breast milk, although I was running low, and tried to get him to drink it, hoping it would coat his intestines with good bacteria. He simply threw it up.

Megh was sick again in the night, too. Two of my dearest friends, Vicki and Tracey Moses, came over and anointed us and prayed for us. It was so good to simply see someone new. Elijah even perked up and sat on Tracey’s lap, talking to her. But once they left, so did the joy. I stood in the driveway on a brilliantly sunny October morning and watched them drive away, wondering if my life would ever be the same again.

I had to call my parents to come up at one point, because Elijah was uncontrollable. He was screaming for spaghetti, of all things. My faithful friend, Heather Hampton, called at that point. Later she called another of our close friends, Lisa Stevens, and told her about Elijah screaming for spaghetti. Lisa felt strongly like calling me and telling me to let him eat anything he wanted, but she didn’t.

Friday, October 23, didn’t give us the break that the sickness pattern usually afforded us. Elijah was very weak and screamed if you even touched him. Keith was working for the first time in a while, and I ended up calling him off the job in the afternoon to get him to take Elijah to the doctor again. They wanted to weigh him and make sure he wasn’t dehydrating.

It was yet another beautiful sunny day, and I wanted so desperately to just see my children able to go outside and play. I carried Elijah to the front porch and rocked him in my rocking chair. His bones were prominent where he had lost so much weight. He screamed to play basketball, so I carried a beach towel out to the basketball goal area and tried to get him to sit on it and eat Rice Chex cereal. He didn’t want any food at this point. He actually tried to shoot the basketball twice but got too weak.

Keith rushed home and took Elijah, with Meghann in tow, to the doctor. I tried to pray the whole time they were gone. I lay in the floor beside Elijah’s little bed and beseeched God to help me somehow.

I had been researching online anything I could think of that had to do with our sickness. One website from a hospital in Iowa said the BRAT diet was not good for an extended period of time—that children only get 25 percent of the nutrition they need from it. The research said there was no basis for the BRAT diet anyway.

I called the 800 number and talked to the actual researcher in Iowa. She was extremely helpful and told me to give my children some real food as soon as possible. I feel as if God let me make that connection, because my kids were slowly but surely starving to death on that bland diet. I determined right then and there to give them real food once again.

Soon Keith was home with our little buddy who had lost a pound since Tuesday and was down to 28 lbs., 12 oz. Still the doctors said, “Take him home. He’s not dehydrated. The stool samples are still negative.”

The physician’s assistant sent home two prescriptions—one for a powerful broad-spectrum antibiotic, Septra, and another for Zantac, an ulcer medication. Keith was all for getting the prescriptions filled, especially the Zantac to line Elijah’s stomach.

All I could do was cry. I didn’t want Elijah to have the medicine, and I didn’t really know why. It was a deep gut feeling of knowing that you know that you know. Keith kept following me around the house, asking me why not and what he should do. I couldn’t even talk about it.

I just kept remembering when Elijah was 11 months old, and we thought he had pneumonia. As I sat rocking him in the nursery, crying and praying to God to send angels and healing, the Lord spoke to me and said, “Do not trust him to the ways of man.” I knew then that I was supposed to trust God and Him alone for Elijah’s health.

That night as Keith held him in the den, Elijah perked up and started waving to something in the corner of the room. His little eyes followed “it” as it rose up to the ceiling. He smiled and waved as it departed. I am sure God sent an angel that only his little eyes could see.

The next morning as I nursed Elijah, he lost his breath from the mucous in his chest and began to turn blue. Disregarding what the Lord had told me, I rushed to the doctor where they sent him for a chest x-ray. His lungs were totally clear, and by afternoon, he had made a turn for the better. I have never gotten over the feeling that I had failed God on that one; He told me not to trust Elijah to man’s ways, and instead I subjected him to needless radiation.

(Note: I am not against doctors and modern medicine; Elijah’s situation is an unusual case based upon a leading from the Spirit of God which I do not question.)

Now almost two years later, I had the same feeling. TRUST GOD. But I felt blocked—as if there was something in the way of our breakthrough. Keith agreed we’d wait until Monday to decide what to do about the medicine.

Saturday, October 24, came, and we all felt rough. Elijah was so limp and weak that I had to carry him even from his bed to the potty then out to the den. He lay on the floor on his pillow and sleeping bag, too listless to even watch a movie. I had been able to entice him to eat by feeding him Ortega’s refried beans. I know that sounds like a strange food to feed an invalid, but that’s what tempted his taste buds, as well as the taste buds of the other kids.

In the afternoon, Mama came to get us to go sit in the sunshine in her yard. She had bought a pedal toy for Elijah to ride. He just sat motionless on it for a few minutes, then went inside to lie in the floor. I fed him a few refried beans, and he had a small diarrhea bowel movement. That was to be the last one he had for a long time, and it was a very minor one.

I could tell Mama and Daddy were extremely worried about us all, but especially the little buddy. He was fading away to just pale skin and bones, with dark circles under his hollowed-out eyes. He was extremely irritable and screamed much of the time. If I asked him how he felt, he’d say, “Not good. My belly hurts.” I was nearly beside myself with worry.

All day that Saturday, my phone rang. All kinds of people called to check. I was so exhausted and numb I could barely talk to them. Polly Marler, Leisa Rollins and others said, “You don’t sound so good.” I was too tired to put up a front. I simply said, “I’m not doing well.”

Some called to say I needed to put him in the hospital, but that brought such confusion to my mind. For some inexplicable reason, I didn’t feel right about it. The physician’s assistant called to check on Elijah and was a bit disturbed when he found out we had not yet put him on the antibiotics and Zantac. He was also displeased when Keith told him we had stopped the BRAT diet.

I frankly didn’t care; I knew the BRAT diet was not what you eat when you have a parasite. And I was positive in my mind that this was parasitic in nature. It fit all the criteria. The sickness came primarily at night or early morning when parasites tend to be most active. We’d have long lulls in the sickness as our bodies tried valiantly to overcome—again, a characteristic of parasites. And our appetites never left us completely.

But still the stool sample showed no parasites.

Then came a phone call that started the ball rolling. A precious saint of God called to say she had been praying and felt impressed to call and ask me if we had taken anything into our house right about the time the sickness came. I didn’t even have to think about it. I immediately said, “YES!”

This was a confirmation of something I had been thinking about that very morning when I woke up. I had suddenly gotten a funny feeling about something we had taken into our house the week of the fair, the very week we got sick. The item was nothing immoral, but I, for one, believe that objects can be accompanied by evil spirits which of course cannot possess Christians, but which CAN work to oppress and hinder them.

Because I had awakened suddenly feeling very uncomfortable about this very object sitting in my house, I knew without a doubt that when the woman called me to ask me that simple question, she was on to something. I thanked her profusely and told Keith to please dispose of that object immediately. Instead of arguing with me and thinking I was being ridiculous, he agreed wholeheartedly—another sign to me that it was indeed the will of God that we rid ourselves of that object since Keith had been the one who had so desperately wanted it.

He got rid of it, then spent the rest of the day doing anything he could to eradicate the source of our sickness—Cloroxing the basement floor, cleaning out a window where a bat had flown into the house and roosted a few months back, laundering rugs, etc. I felt so sorry for him as I watched him feverishly work. He was the only healthy one, doing anything he could to find out what was wrong.

I began to have a little more hope on that Saturday once the mysterious item was gone. My parents were adamant that we get out of the house for a few days to see if that made a difference; they thought perhaps something in the house was making us sick. So I called our dear friends, Rusty and Vicki Moses, to see if we could spend the night in their basement. Rusty was hunting, but Vicki told us to come on over. . .

 TO BE CONTINUED…..See Pt. III at https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/our-miracle-of-healing-pt-iii-a-breakthrough-at-last/

Our Miracle of Healing! Pt. I–The Sickness Begins

(This story is much too long to share in one blog post, so I have divided it into parts. Be warned that it deals with a sickness that was so severe I must occasionally delve into graphic descriptions of the symptoms. This is necessary for the telling of the story.)

Me holding newborn Abigail, with Chelsea far left, Meghann far right and Elijah in front--about 6 months before the mysterious sickness struck.

Me holding newborn Abigail, with Chelsea far left, Meghann far right and Elijah in front–about 6 months before the mysterious sickness struck.

My life seemed to be going just fine when the sickness struck back in the fall of 1998. On Tuesday, October 6, our family went to the Dixie Classic Fair in Winston-Salem, N.C.—enjoying the rides, the food, the petting zoo and more. Wednesday found us tired but satisfied, ready to forge ahead with normal life.

It was the next day that our world flipped upside down, propelling us into a catastrophic free-fall that would forever change our lives.

On Thursday, October 8, I spent a lot of time in our basement, working to clear out clutter. By late afternoon, I ran my hand across my forehead and headed upstairs. I told my husband, Keith, “I’m calling it quits today because suddenly I don’t feel so great. I’m achy and feverish.

In the wee hours of the morning, I woke up, feeling nauseated and queasy. I determined to fight it off mentally, feeling sure I would be able to do that since stomach viruses rarely affect me. (Note: I did not understand faith for healing back then the way I do now, or I would’ve prayed, stood on His Word and claimed His promises for healing.)

It was only a few hours later that Elijah Blue, my 2 1/2-year-old son, woke up screaming with his stomach hurting. We rushed him to the potty where he simply had a case of diarrhea. Throughout the next day, his problem seemed to clear up, as did mine. “We’re simply tired,” I rationalized. But later that night after a supper of pizza, Elijah threw up, although his appetite had been great during the meal.

Another night’s sleep was disrupted shortly before dawn on Saturday when Meghann, my 11-year-old daughter, began to throw up. “Oh well,” I thought. “This stomach virus is going to work its way through the whole family, I guess.” (Note: We do not have to receive such negative thoughts! I know that now.) At this point, we were all certain that it was simply a stomach bug….until Sunday morning.

When Elijah woke up before daylight on Sunday, again he was screaming in pain and had to be rushed to the potty where he began to throw up. This was extremely puzzling to me. He had never in his almost three years had a stomach virus that made him throw up. Only once before had he ever thrown up, and that was due to a high fever from a respiratory infection.

“Okay,” I reasoned. “He has somehow reinfected himself.” So I took extra precautions, washing his bed linens in hot water, sterilizing everything he touched. Keith went to church without us that morning, asking special prayer for Elijah. That night, I attended service without the rest of them; I felt better but not up to par.

By now the pattern was set—never a night’s sleep for anyone! In the predawn hours of Monday, my 8-year-old daughter, Chelsea, was up vomiting. Still, I assumed this was a regular bug that was just passing slowly through the family. Keith and 6-month-old Abigail were feeling fine, although Keith had a sense of dread that he was surely next. He was the one of us most susceptible to stomach viruses.

Tuesday, October 12, was a blessed day for my family. Although we were all very tired and strangely weak, the day passed with no vomiting and just light diarrhea for the four of us affected. The girls even went to dance class and then on to the county 4-H Talent Show in Danbury. (In retrospect, I believe God intervened and gave us that Tuesday free of sickness because the girls had looked forward to the talent show for an entire year. They both performed and placed well, with Meghann being chosen as one of the two best acts overall to go to the District competition.)

Since we had been on the BRAT diet (Bananas, Rice, Applesauce and Toast) for the past few days, we gobbled up some refreshments after the talent show. We were starving for real food again!

The blessed Tuesday was soon over, and as Wednesday crept in, I heard bare feet hit the floor in the girls’ bedroom. Sure enough, Megh and Chels were flying to the bathroom, holding bowls to their mouths. They fought over our one toilet all night, alternating with bouts of diarrhea and a bit of vomiting. All too soon, I heard that familiar scream from Elijah’s bedroom as he erupted with vomiting all over his bed. I, too, felt queasy but managed not to throw up.

By this time, I was worried. Perhaps the girls had reinfected themselves as I had assumed Elijah had done over the weekend. But Elijah reinfecting himself for the third time? I didn’t think so. I racked my brain to think if we had eaten something at the fair that would’ve led to food poisoning. The problem was that we had all eaten from different booths. I, especially, had eaten nothing in common with the children.

Nonetheless, I researched food poisoning on the Internet. Everything I read told me we should’ve gotten sick all at the same time and shortly after eating the infected food.

As we faced the daylight hours on Wednesday, the nausea was gone, and we recovered. But again, I missed church on Wednesday night, staying home with the kids and sending a request for prayer.

Thursday was a better day, and Friday, too. We were unable to do any heavy activities or go anywhere much, but the vomiting had ceased. The diarrhea was sporadic. The BRAT diet had long lost its appeal. I thought if I saw another bowl of rice, I’d jump off the roof!

So I cooked a big supper on Friday night—pintos, cornbread, mashed potatoes. We ate good portions, but no one overloaded. The curious thing about this sickness was that the appetite was not diminished. With a normal stomach virus, food makes one queasy even by thinking about it. Not so, in this case. We wanted food continuously, even immediately after throwing up.

I crawled into bed late Friday night, excited about the coming day. An old-timers’ softball game that I had organized for my dad was scheduled to take place. I had dreamed of doing it for years and had worked feverishly for the past three months to put it together. To see my dad play softball once more with his old team from the 1970’s was something I was yearning to experience.

At 2:30 a.m. on Saturday, October 17, nausea awakened me. For the first few hours, I simply ran back and forth to the bathroom with extreme diarrhea. Soon I was arguing over the toilet with Megh, who had gotten up shortly after me and casually vomited all over the bathroom floor.

Before long, Elijah woke up screaming. I knew this thing was really bad when I finally gave up the fight and threw up—something that had only happened a handful of times in my entire life. Since having a mild stomach virus at the age of 11, I had only thrown up one time since from a sickness-related cause. This time was especially severe. I felt such heart palpitations that I began to worry I was going to quite literally have a heart attack.

With the help of my parents, I was chauffeured to the ball field where I was able to watch the first few games before I had to be driven home. Mama assured me that out in the open air, I wouldn’t infect anyone else. I didn’t say anything to her, but I was almost positive now that we weren’t going to infect anyone; this thing wasn’t contagious and I knew it.

This strange sickness had an all-too-familiar pattern by now. We would be sick in the night, spend the next day recovering, have one or two fair but weak days before waking up sick in the night again. Would it never end? I began to wonder.

That Saturday night, I was supposed to go to our annual Richardson family reunion in Walnut Cove. I felt an especial urge to attend, because of a dream I had had the previous year. I had dreamed that I was at a picnic shelter at a park with many relatives around. As I walked and talked with them, I was fingering a pair of glasses in my right pocket. I knew that I was supposed to be wearing those glasses, but instead I just walked and reminisced with my cousins. The only cousin I remember specifically in the dream was one who attends the Richardson reunion.

Suddenly I heard glass breaking, and I felt the glasses in my pocket shatter beyond repair. My heart was burdened with such a sense of guilt and shame, and immediately I repented to God that I hadn’t put on those glasses when I was supposed to. Immediately—in a single second—with my hand still in my pocket, I felt the glass splinters re-form into a perfect set of glasses once more. It was a total miracle.

In the dream, I couldn’t see the faces of my cousins, but I could hear their dear voices calling to me—almost as if we were children again, calling each other to come and play. I reached into my pocket and put the glasses on. They were thick, Coke-bottle-lensed glasses that made my surroundings go blurry. I couldn’t see well enough to distinguish objects even a few feet in front of me, but when I looked up at the sky, everything snapped into distinct focus.

The sky was brilliantly blue, and suddenly I realized that I was seeing colors in a way I had never seen them before. I began to rise into that breathtakingly beautiful panorama. I could see snowcapped mountains to the west. The buoyant feeling was like nothing I had ever felt before. Then I woke up.

God spoke to me later about the dream and told me that at the time of the reunion, He would set my eyes upon Him. Not focus, but SET.

I was desperate to go to the reunion, especially since my mom had called to tell me that for the first time ever, it would be held at a picnic shelter at a local park rather than the usual place. And of my great-grandparents’ 11 children whose descendants rotate annually to host the reunion, THIS was the year that the branch of the family hosting it would be the one that included the only cousin I clearly remember in the dream. And I had dreamed the dream LONG before these decisions were made. It was too uncanny.

As it turned out, I was too sick to go to the reunion, but I see now that it didn’t matter. The timing was what was important. This sickness was one of the most important things that had ever happened in my life. It would truly SET my eyes upon Jesus.

TO BE CONTINUED…..See Pt. II at https://timesofrefreshingontheoldpaths.wordpress.com/2015/10/20/our-miracle-of-healing-pt-ii-going-downhill-fast/

An Abortion Story–well, sort of but not really

abortion--beating heart“We now know when life begins because the test-tube baby proves that life begins with conception. What do you have in the dish? An egg and a sperm. What do you add to it to get a baby? Nothing.” (Former Surgeon General Dr. C. Everett Koop)

Today, on the 42nd anniversary of the Roe vs. Wade decision to legalize abortion, I don’t want to get into an argument about this controversial issue. But since it is a subject I am intensely interested in, I feel the need to speak out–in love always.

Last night at the church I pastor, The Well, we studied the Biblical view of when life begins. We concluded that the Bible leaves no doubt on this subject. Of course, we read the typical Scriptures in Isaiah and Jeremiah; both of these men of God wrote that God had ordained them to be prophets in their mothers’ wombs, and yea, even BEFORE conception.

“Before I was born the Lord called me; from my mother’s womb he has spoken my name. . .” Isaiah 49:1

“Then the word of the Lord came unto me, saying, 5 Before I formed thee in the belly I knew thee; and before thou camest forth out of the womb I sanctified thee, and I ordained thee a prophet unto the nations.” Jeremiah 1: 4-5

Once I got home from church, got the kids in bed and kicked my feet up on the reclining couch, I had some down-time to really ponder the aforementioned verses. They reminded me of my own experience with pregnancy in the case of my third-born child, Elijah Blue. If I was even tempted to accept the idea that life does not begin at conception, what happened to me in that pregnancy would convince me otherwise.

Megh and Chels at Easter 1993

Those two little daughters who were also appointed and anointed of the Lord!

You see, back then, I had gone through a long stretch of infertility. Although I already had two healthy, beautiful daughters, I did not feel complete in my childbearing experience. So every month when the evidence came that I was not pregnant, I would weep in utter discouragement–year after year.

One night in the fall of 1994, I was at my church during a particularly anointed service. As the congregation sang, “Look What the Lord Has Done,” I was praising the Lord with abandon–not even thinking of my troubles or anything negative. Suddenly, I heard the Lord’s voice clearly. He simply said, “Look what I have done.” It was so shocking that I stopped singing abruptly and stood stock-still. I knew that He was talking about my childbearing situation.

A bit puzzled, I looked down at my young daughters sitting on the pew and thought, “Oh, okay–He’s telling me to be content with the children I have.” But immediately that thought was supernaturally struck down, and everything became as clear as Waterford crystal to my amazed mind.

He was telling me I would bear another child.

I know what you’re thinking: He used past tense in His Word to me. Yes, He did. But without a doubt, I knew He was instructing me to stop worrying and trust Him, because to Him–it was already done. He doesn’t exist in time as we do. He sees the future as if it’s already “a done deal.” I was to change my attitude and begin to praise Him for the coming baby because it was already COMPLETED in His mind.

Oh, the rapture that hit me at that moment of revelation! I began to weep with joy and praise Him with a heart of thanksgiving. It didn’t matter that I didn’t get pregnant the next month or the next or the next. No more tears every 28 days. God’s promises are “yea and amen.”

About six months later, I went back to my bedroom for a time of prayer. My “prayer closet” was behind my door at the heat duct so I could be warm in winter. Although this was a spring day, still I knelt behind that closed door out of habit. After a short time of prayer, suddenly I had an experience that I had never had before and have never had since. Out of the blue, a strong anointing flowed through my being as though it were warm, soothing oil. My entire body went tinglingly, numbingly aglow. (I can’t explain the feeling of pinpricks of glowing anointing all over me; I have felt the anointing many times since then, but never again like that.)

Immediately, I knew I was pregnant. No audible voice, no still, small voice–just an unshakeable inner knowledge. I had had no clue–no missed menstrual cycle or symptoms. The 28th day of my cycle wasn’t even close yet. But I knew that I knew that I knew that I was with child.

As I basked and almost dared not breathe in that “glow,” I at last heard God’s voice down deep within. He asked me if I was willing to bear a son (yes, the sex was specified) that would have a very special call of God on his life. Without even thinking, I cried out, “YES!”–weeping with joy.

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Elijah Blue has arrived!

Sure enough, I was a few weeks pregnant with Elijah at that time but hadn’t even considered the possibility nor suspected it when I innocently knelt to pray that day. He was born December 17, 1995, and was, from the first, very cognizant of the Spirit of the Lord. Still, I pretty much kept my mouth shut about what had happened during that spring prayer session. I wanted Elijah to exercise his free will, as to his walk with God. I didn’t want to influence him in any way.

In other words, I didn’t want to affect what God could do very well without me.

So although I did train Elijah up in the Word and in prayer, at the same time he grew up as any other normal kid–sports, schooling, dance classes, youth groups. As a homeschool mom, I also prepped him for the typical educational path–do college-prep classes, take the SAT, win a scholarship if possible, go four years to a university, get a good job, live a good life. I even offered to send him to public high school so he could have a better chance in the sports world, but he made the decision to stay at home.

In the past year, my son has begun to move more and more in the power and anointing of God. With some hesitation (fearing my disappointment), he recently confessed to me that he doesn’t necessarily feel he is supposed to attend a typical four-year university. He instinctively and urgently feels a different path for his life–a headlong commitment to Christian ministry/service.

I’m embarrassed to say that when he first told me, my pride rose up, tempting me to urge him to go the normal route that he had been educated in preparation for. How would he succeed in life without that college degree? Were all of those years of pushing the college-prep agenda wasted? Wouldn’t he make such a great leader on a college campus? What if he could walk on to play baseball for a college team?

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Elijah opening up the STOKES STOKED Youth Rally at Lions Park in Walnut Cove on Aug. 30, 2014.

But before I opened my mouth to say a word, my gut instincts kicked in. They reminded me of that day long ago in my prayer closet. Hadn’t I known all along deep down that he wouldn’t take the well-worn path but rather the one less traveled by? Didn’t I feel with absolute certainty in my spirit that he was absolutely correct about what he was feeling?

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Elijah and I on the evening of his induction into the NC 4-H Honor Club.

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Elijah and I, with our friend James, getting ready for the opening blast of the STOKED STOKED Youth Rally on Aug. 30, 2014.

I have thus had to say, “God’s will be done.” And now an intense joy fills my heart each time I think of my son working side by side with me in my hometown of Walnut Cove, as he has indicated he feels to do.

So what does this have to do with abortion? It has a lot to do with the “uncertainty” of when life begins–a critical component of the abortion argument.

The evidence is clear now that God indeed ordained this path for Elijah even before he was formed in my womb. God told me he was coming six months before he was conceived. God told me he was in my womb when he was probably too small to be seen with the naked eye. God told me what his future held–a call to minister. So I cannot believe that the egg/sperm mixture in a womb is a “fetus” that we can choose to either keep or terminate; it is a living child already.

If you don’t subscribe to the Bible, this probably sounds like baloney to you. I understand that. I truly love you just the same because I don’t get mad at people who don’t agree with me; how un-Christian is that?

But if you DO have a Biblical worldview, please consider my point. When I was two weeks pregnant, Elijah was NOT just a nonviable mass that I could choose to have suctioned out of me with an electric vacuum pump if I felt I couldn’t handle a third child. If God was already telling me what Elijah was predestined to do, then that two-week-old “mass” floating around in my uterus was already a PERSON with a future and potential.

Based on my experience, as well as the Bible, I have no doubt of one critical fact in the abortion argument:

Life begins at conception, although in the mind of God, it actually starts BEFORE THAT.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made. . .My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.” Psalm 139:13-16

children are rewards

Peace in the Valley

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My front yard is not really a yard at all, but it’s lovely!

My heart is overwhelmed on this late June evening to be sitting on MY deck–not the landlord’s deck anymore, but OUR deck. The journey to this monumental day of home ownership started about six years ago….

It was 2008. I was a struggling mom–separated and headed toward divorce–who lived from paycheck to paycheck on my meager salary as news editor of our county newspaper, The Stokes News. I was desperate to find a place to live that would be appropriate for my children. One day after covering a county commissioners’ meeting for the paper, I went up to Commissioner Leon Inman, who is also a realtor, and said, “Leon, I need you to find me a house.”

Helpful as always, he smiled kindly at me, “Tell me what you’re looking for, Miss Leslie.”

At first, I simply said, “A place big enough for my kids and me.” Then almost unconsciously I shared my heart, “And I’d like a bigger-than-normal lot with a creek and woods.” I was taken aback by my very specific and idealistic request, but then I thought, “Why settle for less? Ask for the best.”

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The entrance to the property

The VERY NEXT DAY, Leon called me to say, “I have just the place for you.” I drove to Danbury where he took me to a little house, sitting on about 2 1/2 acres with a creek in the backyard and big, beautiful trees everywhere. He admitted to me that the house was rough and needed a ton of work, and boy, was he right! It had been in the hands of his realty company for quite a long while and had not sold yet.

It was nothing to look at really, but somehow I took a “violent fancy” to it. That is the phrase Almanzo Wilder used to describe what his “Little House on the Prairie” wife Laura Ingalls Wilder felt when they first spotted the deteriorated farm they later bought and turned into a paradise in Missouri. Almanzo said, “. . .coming from such a smooth country, the place looked so rough to me that I hesitated to buy it. But wife had taken a violent fancy to this particular piece of land, saying if she could not have it she did not want any because it could be made into such a pretty place. It needed the eye of faith, however, to see that in time it could be made very beautiful.”

When I saw the property in Danbury, I felt like Laura, one of my favorite people who ever lived. I had “the eye of faith” that she had; I saw that the property had the potential to be a veritable paradise. I could even visualize what the rundown house could be turned into.

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The meadow I look at every day!

One thing that struck me was that the house had an exquisite view of a lush green meadow where a beautiful black horse roamed. One meaning of my name “Leslie” is “from the meadow.” I thought in amazement, “My name even fits this locale.”

Yes, I’m a Walnut Cove gal–that is my hometown where I have been called to minister primarily. But I was born in Danbury, our county seat, and have always been captivated by that quaint little “Gateway to the Mountains” town. For years, when we’d ride down Highway 89 through Danbury, I’d point over to the general area where this beat-up house was located (couldn’t see the house from the road) and  say to my family, “Man, I wish I could live over there!”

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Tucked away in the valley!

So here I was with a chance to live by that very meadow, and I couldn’t afford to buy the little house, even though it was a steal of a deal. In desperation, I found a way to get the owner’s name, and I called him, asking if he’d consider a “rent to own” deal. He said he would’ve, but that the house was in the hands of the realty company. My heart sank, yet I held onto the faintest silken strand of hope.

At the end of many county commissioners’ meetings in Danbury, I’d ride down to the deserted little house, sit in the driveway and let the peace of the valley it nestled in overtake me. I watched the leaves turn brilliant colors all around it. I watched its bare trees caress the winter-blue sky. I watched spring begin to awaken in that valley all around the little house that seemed as vacant and lonely as I felt some days. The longing in my heart to live there was overwhelming.

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Guineas from the meadow paying us a visit!

Months went by, and then one day, the phone call came. The owner contacted me at The Stokes News office and told me the realty company’s contract on the house had run out and he was willing to rent to own. Overjoyed, I leapt at the chance. My daughter Meghann was now a college graduate with a full-time job, and she wanted to move into the downstairs area and pay part of the rent.

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My personal “Rivendell”!

The landlord, being a very conscientious and super guy, put new carpet in two rooms upstairs, painted the walls and replaced some of the ceiling tiles, so the house didn’t look quite as bad as it had originally. We moved in on July 1, 2009. The house had a multitude of issues, as any house that has been sitting vacant for a long while does. But nothing dimmed my enthusiasm for it.

I remember the thrill of seeing the golden late-summer/early fall flowers burst into bloom all around the perimeter of my new yard. Opening my windows and hearing the pleasant gurgling of the creek was pure pleasure for me. The black horse grazing in the velvety meadow became known as “Jet” to my daughter Abigail. When spring came, I didn’t even mind push-mowing the huge yard, because the lush green grass was full of yellow dandelions and purple violets to feast my eyes upon. From my yard, I could see the curvaceous mountains we Stokes County folks call “The Three Sisters.”

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You can grow some good watermelons down by a “crick.”

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The hubster’s garden spot!

I finally remarried, and the hubster moved in on Sept. 1, 2010. My daughter Meghann gladly relocated to another rental house with my other adult daughter, Chelsea; Meghann had never been fond of my little house since we found a black snake and assorted lizards in the downstairs area where she slept. The hubster, however, quickly fell in love with the place and teasingly used Almanzo’s words to describe me: “The wife took a violent fancy to it.”

We tried unsuccessfully over the next few years to buy the place, but no mortgage company would touch it, despite our good credit and accumulated savings for a hefty downpayment. The house was indeed built very oddly, like an eccentric and unusual vacation home; therefore, no comp values could be found for it. In other words, nothing comparable to it was selling in the area during the recession, and comp values are absolutely necessary in this era of new and stricter mortgage laws.

There were times I felt downright desperate–realizing we were futilely throwing money down the tubes via monthly rent payments. I felt angry as well–agonizing over how unfair it was that two people with good jobs, good credit and a nice savings account couldn’t get a loan just because their house was a strangely-built one with no comp values to be found. I still owned half of a house from my first marriage which I had the right to move back into, but I wasn’t sure I wanted to live there again after all the heartache of the broken marriage.

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Life at “Deer Creek Cottage”!

In the meantime, my kids had also fallen in love with the little house by the meadow. My teenage son begged me to stay there, saying he had grown immensely fond of it and enjoyed its proximity to the 4-H office, somewhere we spend a lot of time. My little boy also said he wanted to keep living here. My teenage daughter was a bit more reluctant about it, mainly because her cousins live next door at the former house. Eventually she too admitted how much she loved what we sometimes called “Deer Creek Cottage”–after a Thomas Kincaid painting and because multitudes of deer frequent our creek.

For nearly two years, I was petrified to apply for yet another loan–to be approved until the end, only to hear the underwriter say, “No, we don’t want to take a chance on this weird house.” I was paralyzed by a fear of being disappointed yet again.

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Paradise even in winter!

Finally, in the summer of 2013, I wrote on a piece of paper, “Buying our house,” and put it in the big family Bible at “The Well,” our ministry house in Walnut Cove. I placed the little note strategically at Psalm 55:22–Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved.” I literally cast that burden on the Lord, and I determined not to worry about it any more–to simply trust Him with the house situation.

AT LAST, we found a company that agreed to finance, although they made us jump through what we felt were crazy, unnecessary and aggravating hoops (expensive structural inspections and all sorts of extra stuff). My poor hubster earned even more of my respect as he dealt with the issues singlehandedly. He handled every bit of the financial side of things and the loan application which was all-consuming for many months. There were constant delays, due a dishonest appraiser who seemed to delight in coming up with complaints about the house, which made the mortgage company delay the closing time and time again as they nitpicked about trivial things that ended up not even mattering at all.

The stress of it was wearing on Alan, although he kept telling me to not worry about anything. But I knew he was eaten up with the burden of it.

My turning point came one day in May as I stood barefoot in the morning sunshine in our garden near the creek. I turned to look at the little house, and my heart felt positively pinched with love for it. Suddenly, I felt Him comfort me, and I said aloud, “The Lord will provide.” A peace settled over me, and I repeated that phrase for the next few weeks….until at last, the loan went through, as satisfactory comp values were finally found in the area.

Today–June 27th, 2014–we closed on our little house. Despite a respiratory virus that was trying to attack me, I felt a deep joy all day long. Now we could begin to repair the little house. Our wonderful landlord had done some great things while we rented–even put on a new roof. But there is much more yet to be done; we hadn’t wanted to spend money on something we didn’t own.

I may not stay here forever, but why pay rent when you can own and resell one day if you choose? And if I ever decide to sell out my half of the other house I own, the hubster and I will use that money to pay off this house that we got for WAY under tax value. Then we will pretty much be debt-free. We would be able to travel extensively if we so chose and live out our dream of visiting every MLB stadium in the country, God willing. Not many people our age can already be debt-free.

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Our frequent visitor to the creek

More than one family member has said they have no idea why we would want to buy this fixer-upper house. I simply reply that the hubster and I adore it, the kids have BEGGED us to buy it, and the house isn’t as important to me as the lovely lot on which it sits. Several of my friends, when they drove down here for the first time, breathed deeply and said (and I paraphrase), “Wow, I feel such peace down here in this lovely little valley.”

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Jet has provided much viewing pleasure for us, particularly Abigail!

Yep, tonight it’s peace in the valley for me. We are homeowners at last–in a historic and picturesque town with a gorgeous state park just minutes away and the mighty Dan River within walking distance. But I’m content most days just to stay here and listen to my little creek meander merrily along and watch Jet graze in the sunshiny meadow. My beloved Walnut Cove is just 12 minutes away down a beautiful highway, and I’m there nearly everyday at another house I love–“The Well.”

Doubly blessed? Yes, I am. And I thank God for it all. You think He won’t give you the desires of your heart? Think again, my friend. Delight yourself in Him and watch Him work!

My "front yard"--growing richly in the blessings of God that hover over us!

My “front yard”–growing richly in the blessings of God that hover over us!

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