I (Mindy/Mom/Mimi) am posting for Christine tonight at her request. About two and a half weeks ago...after being at home for almost a month...her longest stretch yet in the last two years...she began to have another relapse. She worked hard to stay home as long as she could, but after five days straight of being violently ill, when she began to vomit blood, she decided couldn't wait any longer. She is in the hospital and has been for about a week and a half. However, this post is not one of sadness or fear...it is not one of hope lost...it is one of joy, and hope...in it's greatest form.
Early today, she opened her bible to Psalm 41:3. This would not be anything unusual if the circumstances had not changed today. Let me back up and share with you the events of the past 24 hours.
Last night, at church, the entire service was dedicated to a time of prayer for healing. Before the prayer time began, Rick, our minister, gave a few words about what we would be doing during our time together...praying for healing for those who needed our prayers so badly. And, from the pulpit, he mentioned Christine. How she could not be there last night, but needed the prayers of everyone. How she has suffered for ten years and how the doctors have worked so hard to find an answer for her and Matt and her precious boys. Then, during the service time, we had the opportunity to be prayed over by the shepherds of our church and Roy and I prayed with James and Ann Bankes. After church, many people told me that they, too, had prayed over Christine during that time together. I also found out today that Emily's small group had prayed for Christine specifically last night during their time together. Now, we have prayed...ALOT...over the years. But what makes this a little different is that so many prayers were lifted up for her just before what doctors thought could be a groundbreaking procedure. When a group of her sweet friends, the mommies of her babies' sweet friends, heard that she was in surgery, they stopped at that moment and prayed. We have really learned what it means to have friends who truly share in our sufferings and our joys.
Today, Christine had a procedure that is very rare; very specialized. It was done by the man who is said to be the best one to do it as well. And while they were doing it, they found something that could very well provide an answer that would be huge in Christine being able to resume life in a more normal way! While looking at her pancreas to see if it had suffered any injury or damage, they discovered that she has several stones in her pancreatic duct that are causing a serious blockage. The unusual thing is that she had her gallbladder removed 10 years ago during her 6 month bout of severe pancreatitis... at the same time this whole nightmare began to unfold. It is possible for the body to make stones even after the removal of the gallbladder if it produces a lot of bile, which her body does. But, it is also possible that when the gallbladder was removed that there were stones in the duct that stayed there. Although one specialist hinted at this possibility years ago, it was never followed up on. Tomorrow morning (Thursday), the doctors will do a procedure to remove the stones. There is also a possibility that she may need to have repeat procedures for her liver problems as well, something that was also noticed in her blood work yesterday. And once again, the doctor who has done those surgeries is said to be the best in the country...right here in Dallas...coincidence? I doubt it.
Will all this cure her completely? We don't know. But we do know this...that the removal of these stones should greatly improve the quality of her life by removing something that is known to cause great pain and illness. And while we were talking tonight, Christine shared with me that one of her greatest praises from today was not even what was found, but what was not. She has kept a personal fear inside now that when they finally did get to have this procedure they would find something life-threatening. And when one of the last words she heard the doctor say to her, before she was wheeled into the operating room, was cancer...that fear began to creep up again. She doesn't usually get nervous before surgeries, as she has had many...but she told me she was lying on that table and just started shaking and fidgeting. And, at that very moment, she said that the Lord brought one of her very favorite verses to mind...the verse that hangs right on the inside of her front door, so that she will see it every time she leaves her home to go out into the world...that verse in 2 Timothy 1:7, that says,
"For God has not given you a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind".
GOD has been faithful in granting Christine peace in the possibility that on some level she will probably deal with her illness for the rest of her life. And while we count her wonderful team of doctors and specialists and great advances in medicine as blessings from God...it is because of that spirit that only comes from HIM, that we will continue to hold to the belief that our LORD can and may choose to completely heal her in an instant...But either way...Christine has come to know Him intimately as her Jehovah Raphae.
I cannot tell you the last time I felt such hope for her. I have always believed that, through all her pain and suffering, God has a greater purpose for her. She has suffered for so long, and the depth of her health problems could have caused death on a number of occasions...yet our Father chose to spare her. Though I am her Mama, and may be a little prejudiced, I truly believe that God has used her life to bless others in ways that we may never know on this earth. We have all prayed for the day that she can get up and be what she has always wanted to be...a wife and mommy whose life glorifies the LORD. She has lived that role up to now, despite her health problems. But she wants more...and I believe she is going to be blessed with more than we could imagine.
And then there are her precious babies...they are her joys, and can put a smile on her face even on the darkest of days. Sweet Jack...he's been through so much, but through it all, he has loved his mommy, whether cuddling on the couch or in a hospital bed. And while he is getting to an age where he is asking more questions and knows that something is not quite right, Christine has believed for some time now that God is preparing in him a heart full of compassion...a heart that truly hurts with the hurting. And baby Sam...while some of the scariest times in Christine's health problems were while she was pregnant with him...they will forever share a precious bond because of that time filled with quiet whispers of hope for the great purpose she knew already existed for his little life. His life has been blessed by having Christine as his mommy, but I can just imagine all the wonderful memories they can make when she feels so much better.
Her verse today from Psalm 41? "The Lord will sustain you on your sickbed and restore you from your bed of illness" (NIV).
Christine said that she was especially touched by the wording in The Amplified Bible version which says, "He will transform you in your illness".
Christine told me earlier today that she believes that all she has gone through has certainly transformed her and will continue to transform her for years to come, refining her spirit and making her more of the person He wants her to be and that she longs to be also. When Matt and Christine got married, she asked her Daddy to say a few extra words before he "gave her away". To get his inspiration, he looked through her Bible. When he came to the passage in Psalm 31, he found these words in her notes..."I want to be the woman in Proverbs 31. I want to be transformed into the woman God wants me to be and to serve Him all the days of my life".
Even then, the LORD was preparing her heart for these trials and transformation, and preparing the heart of that precious young groom who would stand beside her through it all. I have said it many times, but not a day goes by without Christine's dad and I thanking GOD for sweet Matt Pinson...we watch with joy as he daily lives out the vows that he made to our oldest daughter just five years ago. They have weathered much in that short time, and will no doubt face many more trials. But we can say with great confidence that there is no man in the world that we could have chosen who would love Christine in the way he does...in that exact way that we prayed for since she was just a child...as Christ loves His church. We have all walked this journey together, and there have been many valleys. But I have a feeling that we are on the road to days that are much sweeter. I have a feeling that mountaintops are coming into view.
Christine also told me tonight that two words have been on her heart alot lately...words that she has heard often from the Jeffrey women (some of the wisest women we know!). I know that she will have those words in her heart tomorrow, and as this journey continues...They may be simple words, but they are words that can transform our thinking...so please join us and EXPECT BLESSING.