Carla shares an inspiring story in this month's Carla's Column reminding us all of the power that can come in small packages and in small prayers.
*a special post from special guest Dr. Rachel Davis-Jackson* I was a little black girl born to a custodian and a laborer for a cement factory. At nine years of age, the Lord put a dream in my heart and I told my mother I was going to be a doctor. My father and mother divorced but my mom was a tough single mother. She made sure I stayed on track with grades. We weren’t rich but we weren’t poor either. My mom worked three jobs at times to give me all I needed and most of what I wanted. My mom brought me to church on Sundays and I went to catechism school. I completed all the lessons and ceremonies required by the Catholic church.
I was raised to be strong and independent. I have been working since I was 15 years old and obtained my license on my 15th birthday. I went through college without a break; working and studying. Looking back, I was driven. Didn’t realize at the time it was God’s dream in me driving me to fulfill my destiny.
I met my soon-to-be husband in my sophomore year of college and we were married by my 1st year of medical school. I knew of the Lord, because of my upbringing but did not have a relationship with Him at that time in my life. That goes to show you; God had a mission for me and He drove my life, my actions and my interactions from behind the scenes. He knew I would need a partner like Kevin.
When I met my husband, Kevin, I was at a point in my life that I didn’t want a boyfriend. Kevin knew way before I did that the Lord put us together. Even when I would tell him, “I just want to be friends.” He would always say, “I’m going to make you mine.” Obviously he did what he said. We were married for over 25 years.
The Lord revealed to me that not only had He placed in Kevin everything I needed to help me achieve my destiny, He also had placed in me, everything that I needed to give to Kevin. God placed in me all the love, patience, understanding and caring to repay Kevin for sufferings he endured early in life.
Kevin and I were married on December 29, 1990. Our marriage was filled with ups and downs. One of our biggest trials came on March 10, 1993. Our first child together was born at 26 weeks, 1 pound, 8.5 ounces. The doctor gave her less than a 50% chance of survival. I was devastated and knew she would die.
Not my husband. He worked with some God-fearing, praying women. He went to work and they prayed together. My husband heard from God and from that time on all he would say was, “ She is going to be fine.”
She is better than fine. She is a smart, beautiful Baylor college graduate. During those times, I doubted Kevin’s faith and his relationship with the Lord. However, while my faith was tested and I was the one doubting God, Kevin had enough faith for both of us. We both had been raised in the church and had strayed away but through trials the Lord brought us back to Him.
We had two other children and I was on bedrest for months for both pregnancies. My husband worked and took care of me and the baby. With God’s help and strength we both survived very troubling times. I completed medical school, pediatric residency and a pediatric subspecialty training by 2002 and had three babies during this time. All of which we could not have accomplished without the grace of God. Kevin used to say, “Baby, it’s me and you against the world.” God’s Word says He will supply all your needs according to His riches in Glory by Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19). Christ has always been there for me, even when I didn’t even acknowledge His presence as I do now.
My relationship with the Lord grew as we went through all those trials. After specialty training, I was working in a small NICU; definitely not being able to use all my skills and training. I had been praying for some time for the Lord to move me. His answer was to be content where I was and in due season He would move me. I did just that, I made the best of a less than opportune situation and early in 2006 things changed. The Lord told me to turn in my resignation and tell my job that I would be gone in six months. I obeyed and then started looking for another job.
I went on several interviews until the last one scheduled was in Oklahoma. I had never even considered Oklahoma as an option. My husband and I went on the interview. My prayer was, "Lord if this is where I’m supposed to be please tell Kevin too." I was sure he would never agree to move from Louisiana, after living in New Orleans for greater than 10 years, to Tulsa, Oklahoma. That showed me that what God has planned will come to pass, no matter what. After the interview, I asked Kevin what he thought. Without hesitation, he said, “Let’s try it, Bae.” I was floored. Long story short, we moved December 2006 and since being here, God has blessed me and my family above and beyond our wildest dreams. I started as just another newborn intensive care doctor with the group and the Lord promoted me to medical director of one of the two largest newborn intensive care units in the state of Oklahoma. I was doing what I loved to do, taking care of sick babies and being blessed by it.
My family and I have had our trials over the past 10 years but we also have had so many blessings and so much favor bestowed on us. For example, my oldest son was diagnosed with a brain tumor. He went through two surgeries to remove it. I was terrified but I trusted God. I kept having to say, “Lord I believe, just help me with my unbelief.” (Mark 9:23-24) God does answer prayers. My son recovered from both surgeries with no deficits and he is healthy and cancer free to this day.
Remembering my trials and my blessings reminds me of what the Lord told me before we moved from Louisiana. “I will bring you into your land of milk and honey.” He also told me that He would give me the man of my desires in my husband. God did all that and more. My relationship with the Lord continues to grow and my relationship with Kevin just got better and better. My prayer was “Lord, bring Kevin and I closer together and closer to You.” We didn’t have a perfect marriage with no problems, but the last 10 years were the best of our 25-year marriage.
It seems the closer I got to God the more trials I have to endure. But His Word says, to whom much is given much is required (Luke 12:48). I have to say that God is requiring a lot of me since He called the love of my life home to Him on July 26, 2016. Kevin had just made 52 one month prior.
It was unexpected and almost unbelieveable. My husband’s presence was always larger than life. He lived a blessed and highly favored life, especially the last 10 years. His absence was felt like a tidal wave in a calm sea. The love and support that I and my family received after his passing, was immense. To look back now, I know I could have not made it through this ordeal without the Lord supplying me with all my needs through so many wonderful people.
During this time, I have also had two beautiful grandchildren born, such a bittersweet blessing. They will never get to know PaPa who loved them before they were born. This has truly been the hardest trial of my life. I miss my mate of 30 years and husband of over 25 years. My children miss their father, who has always been father and mother to them when mom was working. By God’s grace and mercy, we are all hanging in there. Our broken hearts are mending slowly. My prayer is “God heal my broken heart and bind up my wounds.” (Psalm 147:3)
My God has never failed me and I know with time and His presence in my life, I will be healed. I thank God for the time I had with Kevin and the three beautiful children we conceived and the one beautiful girl that is my child because she is Kevin’s. I know one day I will see my love again. In the meantime, I stand on God’s words, “I will give you beauty for ashes and double for your trouble.” (Isaiah 61:3-7 The Message)
A Little Thought From Heather:Our lives speak a message. I have half a blog post composed on that thought alone. But Dr. Jackson's life is a message I've received from for years now. I first met her during nursing school gaining some insight into the world of NICU Nursing as an extern in the summer of 2011. In addition to the beautiful views from our unit, another one of the "pros" on my list to work there was this neonatologist who took time to routinely write words of inspiration for the staff. I watched her gown-up for a lumbar puncture and after all protocols were followed for a time-out she paused, closing her eyes to pray. Not too much time passed till I was working as a NICU nurse caring for a terminally ill baby. Dr. Jackson came in the room, motioned for me to give her my hands, and we stood together and prayed over that little life together. Dr. Jackson has ministered to my life as I've observed hers. And the message she speaks through it is a beautiful testimony of God's strength and faithfulness through all of life's moments-- the ones of rejoicing and the ones of pain. I cannot express how grateful I am for her to share her story with us. I pray the Lord continues to use the words of her journey to encourage and strengthen you on yours. He is faithful.... in every season. ❤ Heather
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We had a celebration on Saturday. Our youngest child, Gavin turned four. Friends and family came to his pirate party and enjoyed a time of swimming, snacking, games, gifts and laughter. It was a fun day. When birthdays roll around in our home we spend some time reflecting on the actual birth day. Even on my own, my Mom will reminisce back at specific times of the day which mark moments of my birth. The time the nurse walked in and mentioned the big family who were having a party in the waiting room with donuts and coffee, and you guessed it, that family was ours; the time they wheeled her back to the operating room for her scheduled C-section, the time they woke her up and told her she had a baby girl. My Mom just beams when she speaks of the day of her child’s birth.
As joyous as Gavin has made our lives, unfortunately, his delivery was anything but. At 35 weeks gestation, I began having stroke like symptoms. I described these in my post, A Meaningful March. July 11th 2009, we were on our way to Oklahoma City for my best friend, Amber’s bridal shower. This woman has been my friend for 20 years. She was my maid of honor, and I was serving as her matron of honor. And considering that, I felt terrible that I didn’t want to go. I just didn’t feel good, but was ignoring it in order to be there as I should for my dear friend.
As the story goes, we didn’t make it to Oklahoma City. My husband took me to the hospital despite my protest. Upon arrival, the labor and delivery nurse instructed me to put on a hospital gown and leave a urine specimen in the restroom. I did the latter, but had every intention of going home to allow my baby more time to grow; therefore, the hospital gown stayed neatly folded at the foot of the bed. The perinatologist who saw me and delivered all of my children, came in and explained his plan to induce labor, and deliver our baby. I begged him to try something else which would allow little Gavin more time. My doctor delicately informed me that if he allowed me to even get up to use the restroom that I could seize and risk my baby’s death and my own death. I knew that despite every intention I had to prevent another one of my babies from going to the NICU that that is exactly what was going to happen.
Lying there that night, with my Pitocin and magnesium running, tears ran continuously. I looked at the clock the entire night, and I prayed and prayed. What I requested of the Lord was what I needed most. Peace. I asked Him to give me peace when the NICU team took my baby. I asked Him to prepare me for the situation and the emotion I would experience. I knew what lie ahead. It was something I never imagined when we went through it the first time, five and a half years earlier with our second child, Jaron. I simply wanted to feel okay with the unnatural, but necessary process of my baby being whisked away.
Is anyone surprised to know that God did indeed answer my prayer? Approximately thirty five hours after arriving to the hospital and a sufficiently difficult delivery, my Gavin made his entrance into the world. At 6:32 a.m. Monday, July 13th 2009. He was a scrawny little 5 pound 4 ounce, 19.5 inch long baby. And I was completely at peace as he headed to the NICU. Due to being on magnesium, I didn’t see him until about twelve hours later, but I had supernatural peace through it all.
What makes this story so incredibly special for me is, obviously, the fact that it’s about the day one of my little miracles came into the world, but that it’s also about God using one of our most difficult times to give me a personal passion for the care our family benefited from, twice. Our two NICU experiences were a night and day difference. The attitude and climate had changed drastically between our first visit with Jaron and our second with Gavin. I knew when Gavin was born that God’s plan was for me to become a nurse. The Lord began stirring that in my heart two months after Jaron was born. But I had no idea that the NICU would be where I was to minister. Not until our experience with Gavin. A seed was planted in that time that had me prayerfully explore the possibilities of becoming a neonatal nurse.
I marvel at the awesomeness of God. For how mighty and powerful He is. For how holy and righteous. How magnificent. And in all His majesty, He speaks and moves, and uses us in our humanity to accomplish His plan. My joy is infused from the fact that my Heavenly Father used one of our saddest moments to get us to where we are today. The fulfillment and sense of purpose today came out of a time of helplessness and sense of failure. It is so true, He makes all things good!
Isaiah 61:3 “and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair. They will be called oaks of righteousness, a planting of the LORD for the display of His splendor.” (NIV)
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