Friday, August 26, 2016

God Works in Mysterious Ways

God Works in Mysterious Ways
Darryl Bloodworth

Anyone who has been a Christian for more than a day recognizes that God works in mysterious and unpredictable ways.  Sometimes, however, the full extent of just how mysterious and how unpredictable God intervenes in our lives is not fully apparent until later - sometimes years later.  As one who has passed his 70th birthday, I am only now able to fully recognize how the trajectory of my life was altered by certain key events. I am convinced that they were orchestrated by God to bring me to where he wanted me to be and married to the wife he had for me.
For the past 44 years I have been a practicing attorney in Orlando, Florida, married to Mary, for nearly 50 years.  I have thoroughly enjoyed practicing law, and Mary has been the love of my life, but this is not at all the life I imagined for myself growing up.  In high school I became interested in the Air Force Academy and looked forward to having a career as an Air Force pilot.
I did receive an appointment to the Academy, and did well enough to have my choice of assignment to any of the eight pilot training bases following graduation from the Academy.  Long before I had to officially tell them my choice, I had made up my mind to choose Williams Air Force Base just outside Phoenix, Arizona. At least that was the plan until the night before we were to choose our pilot training base.  That night our squadron received a letter from a former cadet saying how much he was enjoying pilot training at Moody Air Force Base in Valdosta, Georgia.  One of the things he enjoyed most was going to Tallahassee on weekends and dating girls at Florida State University.  Having grown up in Apalachicola, Florida, I was quite familiar with Tallahassee; I even had relatives there.  The letter changed my mind: the next day I chose Moody AFB. Looking back on it now, I realize I would not be in Orlando today nor married to Mary had I chosen Williams AFB.
The next key event that changed my life (although I did not realize it at the time) came early in pilot training.  The aircraft in which we initially trained was the Cessna T-37, a small twin engine aircraft that had side-by-side seating. The first check ride that we took required us to make simulated single-engine landings with a full fuel load.  I totally blew that portion of the check ride.  However, after attempting the simulated single engine landings, as we were climbing to a higher altitude for the other portions of the check ride, an engine fire warning light came on.  Both the check pilot and I were pretty sure there was no fire, but we had to abort the flight and return to base.  Because we did not complete the check ride, it did not count.  After a few practice flights with emphasis on single-engine landings, I retook the check ride, and had the highest score in our class.  I went on to have the top flying scores in our class and got a highly sought assignment as an instructor pilot in the T-38, the Air Force's advanced trainer, at Moody AFB.  Had my original check ride not been interrupted by the fire warning light, however, I would have had a failing score which would have ruined my chances of becoming a T-38 instructor pilot.  That fire warning light was the only one I ever experienced during my five years as a pilot.
Following additional instructor pilot training in Texas, I returned to Moody AFB and Valdosta.  Soon thereafter, I began dating Mary who was in her last semester at FSU, and we married shortly after she graduated.  Three years and two children later, and after much prayer, we decided I would resign from the Air Force and attend law school.  Following law school we moved to Orlando.   Looking back on it now, however, I realize that but for a letter the night before I made my pilot training choice, and but for a false fire warning light, I would not be here, and would not be married to Mary.  Some might say that those events were just serendipitous, but I do not believe it.  God does have a plan for each of us, and will intervene to bring his plans to fruition.  I am deeply grateful that God intervened in my life.  His plans for me have far exceeded anything I had imagined for myself.


Friday, August 19, 2016

Family of Believers

Family of Believers
Lavon Shelley
      Many years ago God blessed me with a very close connection to a church family.  My life was not only centered on worshipping at the Church of the Good Shepherd, but also focused on the caring flock led by a very special priest, Father Al Durrance. It was during this time that I received the baptism of the Holy Spirit. 
      Not long after receiving the Holy Spirit, I began to sense the physical presence of my Lord. I felt His presence so strongly that I would even move over so He could sit beside me in the church pew.   It was a sensation I'll never forget!  It happened on a number of occasions, and I became accustomed to His being next to me.  How wonderful it felt to have Him so close as we prayed together!
      Being a member of this special church family gave me such joy!  I was delighted to serve on the prayer team and to assist at the altar.  The baptism of the Holy Spirit service was held on Monday evenings.  Even ministers and priests from other congregations would come to participate in this service. Many, many other people were drawn to this service as well.  In fact, I can remember people lined up outside to come in.  One evening the service lasted so long I didn't get home until after 2 a.m.
      So many people were attracted to this church that we soon outgrew our small chapel.  A larger church was needed.  Father Durrance was extremely influential in its construction. Under his guidance, the planning and the building of the new church was accomplished.  The project became a united effort of all those who attended.  This new church was truly made possible by the hard work and love of the tightly knit church family members.  We even helped in the making of the stained glass windows.
      When Father Durrance left, I began attending another church.  I was away from the Church of the Good Shepherd for more than 35 years.  Now at the age of 93, as the passing of time would have it, many of my friends there began moving away - or passing away.  I was so saddened.  I decided that I would try returning to the church which I had felt very attached to so long ago.  As soon as I walked in the door, I knew I was "back home.”  The new priest, Rev. Sarah Bronos, welcomed me with open arms.  Today I am sitting in the same pew I used to sit in - feeling the same love I used to know.

      I am so grateful that the Lord has kept me in His family of believers!

Friday, August 12, 2016

Blessings - One After Another

Blessings - One After Another
Mary Ellen Ferderber

            On November 19, 2009, my mom went home to be with the Lord after struggling for seven months with pancreatic cancer.  Unfortunately, numerous other health issues prevented her from attempting any treatment for the cancer.  Because I had worked in healthcare since 1980, I tried to guide her to make informed decisions each time a new challenge arose.  I soon realized she was not interested.  It made me so sad to think she had no hope for this life.
            As time went on we talked and reminisced.  Through our discussions she became reassured that as a believer in Jesus she would be made whole when she finally reached her heavenly home.  She was looking forward to this promise.
            Before the tragic event of my mother's passing, I was a very healthy person - never sick a day in my life.  I was very happy as well - made joyful by my fellowship with the Lord and by my having a wonderful marriage.   However, the following year after her death, I was consumed with the nagging thought of pancreatic cancer.  I decided to have a CT scan to ease my fear of having cancer myself.  The doctor called with the results. He said, "All looks good, but you have a cyst in one of your ovaries.  You should probably have an ultrasound to make sure." 
            For the next three years we kept a close eye on the cyst.  Then it started to change.  I decided immediately to have both ovaries removed - foregoing the biopsy step - since cancer is prevalent throughout my family tree.  
            On December 13, 2013, the doctor called to see how I was doing following the laparoscopic procedure.  "I'm doing well," I replied.  Then the bomb dropped.  He said he was sorry to have to inform me that I had a rare form of ovarian cancer known as "clear cell."  He then referred me to an oncologist.
            During the next month my life took a 180-degree turn. In February I had laparoscopic surgery performed by the oncologist. I feel very blessed that neither one of the surgeries caused me any pain.
            Three weeks later I began having 21 doses of chemo.  Blessings from God - one after another - got me through this time. During most of these treatments, I had enough strength to work.  During the last few weeks, however, I did become very weak making it hard for me to even get out of bed.  My blood count was very low.  I lost my hair; I felt very cold a lot of the time.  Although this period of time was brutal, God stepped in to rescue me.  Godly women friends- some I hadn't even seen in ages - surrounded me with their loving care.   They fixed meals for me, watched me while my husband was at work, drove me to appointments, and read scripture to me as I was being infused. In addition, someone in Tabitha's Treasures, a ministry group at the Church of the Good Shepherd that makes and gives blessed caps to cancer patients, gave me a very soft one that provided me with much needed comfort and warmth at night.  My wonderful husband never once complained.  Hundreds of people were praying for my healing.  I felt a peace that surpassed all understanding during the entire time!
            Interestingly enough, I had a scripture verse on my work desk - one I had gotten when at chemo treatment -which is one of my favorites:
            All things work together for good to all those that love the Lord, to those that are             called to his purpose.

            That verse happens to be Romans 8:28.  As I noticed this reference, it suddenly came to me that my mother's birthday was August 28 which also happens to be referenced as 8.28 - the same numbers that corresponded to that Bible verse.   How wonderful to have that connection with my mother! Coincidence.  I don't think so.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Answered Prayers

Answered Prayers
Deborah Brittain

            Have you ever had one of those years when something challenging constantly happens - either with your health, finances, or concerning your loved ones?
            2015 was one of those years for me from start to finish.  During this time I was comforted and supported by the prayers offered for my family and me by the many prayer warriors in our congregation at Good Shepherd.  Every time a new challenge came up, I requested prayers for my issues and EVERY TIME my prayers were answered above and beyond my expectations.  I know I would not have made it through without the healing power of my Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ!
            In January of 2015 I was diagnosed with a brain tumor.  Fortunately it was benign, but something needed to be done for two reasons.  It was causing increased deafness in my right ear, and it could also potentially cause facial nerve pain and/or paralysis on the right side of my face if left untreated.  The doctor originally wanted to do brain surgery to remove it.  However, since I already have balance issues due to a neuromuscular condition (technically called Charcot Marie Tooth Disease/Peroneal Muscular Atrophy) and the surgery could potentially result in more instability for me, surgery would be a terrible option. 
            My first answer to prayer came when Reverend Sarah, the priest at Good Shepherd who knew someone who had been through exactly the same thing, suggested that I seek out radiation treatment instead.  I did. The gamma knife type of radiation I received was directed specifically at the tumor - shrinking it. Hopefully, it has also “killed it” and not affected anything else around it. So far, my results have been very good.  I have MRI’s every 6 months.  Currently, it appears that the tumor is dying in the center and everything is going exactly as hoped and prayed for. Thank you, Lord Jesus!
            A few months later, I had my third colonoscopy in six years.  My past colonoscopies had always revealed problems: polyps and possible Crohns Disease or colitis.  The doctor had wanted me to have a colonoscopy a few years ago, but I couldn’t afford it due to my $10,000 deductible.  However, because of the treatment for my tumor, I met that deductible in 2015 and could finally afford a colonoscopy .  For the first time, the doctor had positive news for me.  He said everything was fine and there was no need for another one for 10 years.  A second answer to prayer.  Praise God!
            In the next few months, due to uncertainties about other health concerns, I decided to get my affairs in order and hire a lawyer to prepare my will.  I was referred to a lawyer who, due to my circumstances, prepared my will and other pertinent documents, pro bono.  Unbelievable! Praise the Lord once again. What an absolute blessing!  I could never have afforded to get this taken care of on my own.  Third answer to prayer!
            Because of all that was going on with my health and finances, I received a message from God to “sell my house and move in with my mother.”  From mid- August till November my family, friends, and I totally cleaned out my house and got it on the market. I would have never dreamed of making that change without receiving that message.  Although I felt content and happy, I’m sure that below the surface, my financial responsibilities were beginning to take their toll.
            Moving in with my mother was an unexpected blessing and has been a positive experience for both of us.  In spite of our health challenges, getting to spend quality time with my 93-year-old mother is a blessing beyond belief.  Fourth answer to prayer!
            My brother-in-law helped me to move.  As a result, he ended up having some health issues and went to the doctor.  As it turned out, that was not the actual cause of his health problems.  It was discovered that he had bladder cancer.  Because he went to the doctor for the wrong reason, his cancer was discovered relatively early and a full recovery is expected.  He had surgery and each exam since is showing him cancer free.  Fifth answer to prayer!
            To finish out 2015, in the last few weeks of December I had a mammogram.  A suspicious area was found. I had to have an ultrasound, and finally a biopsy.  The great news is... the biopsy was benign, and all these procedures were still covered under my $10K deductible that had already been met earlier in the year.   Sixth answer to prayer!

            God has stepped in at every twist, turn, and challenge in the last year, as he has always done in my life.  He has lead me through it all and taken me places I never expected to go.  I praise Him constantly for all of my blessings. I appreciate all the intercessory prayers being added to my own.  All glory, honor and praise to our precious Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ! 

Thursday, August 4, 2016

All in God's Timing

All in God’s Timing
Terri  Sims

            When I was a small child, I experienced bad headaches. As I got older, they became more frequent, and by the time I was 13 I began to get migraines. I didn’t do much about it, except take Excedrin all the time (and burned up my tummy!).
            When I became a Christian at 22, I joined a faith community that believed in the gifts of the Spirit that include healing. I began to pray and have others pray for the healing of my migraines. In spite of their prayers, the pain continued to be bad. I would have only two or so days of relief before another one came on. I tried going to faith healers, "healing crusades", etc.  I had heard the usual... “All you need is faith”, or “Are you doing something wrong?” A number of times during about the next 20 years, doctors had prescribed MRI's.  Each time the results showed nothing wrong in my brain. Eventually I started taking daily medication which reduced them to about 2 a month. but nothing was helping them to go away. I was getting really discouraged, so I stopped praying for my miracle healing.
            About five years ago I started attending the Church of the Good Shepherd, and I began to pray once again for my healing. Fifteen months ago I began having Botox treatments (32 shots in one sitting!) that would lessen some of the pain.
            Then one day, Rev. Nigel Mumford, a well-known Christian healing minister who is the  founder of "By His Wounds" healing ministry, came to our church for a visit and to have lunch with the Order of St. Luke* members here at Good Shepherd. I asked Nigel if he would pray for my migraines after lunch.  As we were eating, he asked if there was a generational link in my family to this malady. We determined there was; my grandfather, both his daughters, both my mom’s daughters, and my daughter got migraines!
            After lunch, Nigel prayed individually for those of us in OSL.  When it came to be my turn, he prayed to the Lord to break this generational pattern and to heal my migraines. I actually did have one that afternoon, but by the end of my work day, it was gone.  
            I began to wonder if I was completely healed. Nearly 40 years later? I waited for a few weeks to see if I would get a migraine. I did not! I got excited and thought, "This is it!!  He has answered my prayer!" When I went back to my neurologist for another Botox treatment, I told him how God had healed me. I told him I would no longer need the treatments, and I wanted to be weaned off my daily medication. He was skeptical at first, but finally agreed that we would stop treatment gradually.
            Here I am a whole year later, and NO MIGRAINES! The Lord healed me! I know my prayers at last were answered… decades later.  I am so grateful for my healing.  It gives me such joy to tell my story to both my believing and non-believing friends.
            Jesus told his disciples a parable to show them that they should always pray and not give    up (Luke 18: 1)
I am so very thankful that I never gave up.
            Thank you, Jesus!

*an inter-denominational religious order dedicated to the Christian healing ministry