By: Pamela Lester, We W.I.N. Ministry
I truly thank God for my church family and all their love, encouragement, and prayers that lifted me while I was away taking care of my mother.
In December of 2016 my mom had a heart attack on her way to the grocery store in Memphis, TN. I left on Christmas Eve to go and be with her while she recovered and to take care of her personal and household needs. I came home after the New Year when she was doing well. In August of 2017, I got a call from my mom who informed me that she had to have another major surgery. Very concerned, I kept it together because we had to decide what the best course of action would be because she’s 80 years old, tired, and thinks she’s too old to undergo anymore surgeries. During each of her appointments I spoke to her doctors and we decided to proceed with the surgery. I assured my mom that everything would be alright and that I would come to Memphis and stay with her again through her entire recovery period, which was six weeks.
God was already setting things in order before I even left Chicago. She was blessed with Dr. Santoso, the best Oncologist (cancer doctor) in Memphis TN. A few weeks prior to her diagnosis my mom saw him on television talking about his surgical techniques and the positive outcomes of his patients. When her Primary Care doctor sent her to Dr. Santoso it was already predestined. During her appointments I spoke to Dr. Santoso and he explained her options, the surgical procedure, and her recovery time. He had a wonderful bed side manner and a delightful sense of humor so I was comfortable and confident that he was “God Sent.” I asked him the age of the oldest patient he had performed this surgery on and he told me she was 96 years old and is still doing well today.
On the day of surgery, before they took my mom to the surgical suite we all gathered around her bedside and had prayer. I knew the nurse was a Christian lady because after everything she did, with her southern Tennessee drawl, she’d say, “Praise the Lord”. The family and nurses all held hands as I laid hands on my mom and prayed. God brought to my remembrance the scripture in Matt. 18:20 “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” It was very spiritual, and you could feel the presence of God in the room. I had no doubt that everything was going to be fine.
We were told the surgery would take two hours so my brother, sister-in-law, sister, and I left and went to IHOP to have breakfast. Wouldn’t you know it, our waitress was from the west side of Chicago. She took good care of us and made us feel at home. She was so happy to see folks from her home town that every time she walked by our table she would say, “West side.” After we were seated and ordered our food, my phone rang and it was the hospital. I got nervous and my heart was beating out of my chest. My first thought was something went wrong. It was Dr. Santoso telling me that the surgery was over, mom did very well and “NO CANCER.” Praise the Lord! What would have been a two-hour surgery was done in one hour! My mom came through with no problems and No Cancer. My mom was discharged after two days with no pain or complications. Won’t He Do It!
HELL AT THE HOUSE
I’m the oldest of my mom’s four children. I knew the majority of the responsibility of taking care of my mother would fall on me. Especially since I have a brother in prison in Alabama, my youngest brother lives in Arizona, while my sister and I live in Chicago. My family is a trip and my sister is a “hot mess.” She also stayed the entire 6 weeks of my mom’s recovery, but we had two different agendas. I nursed my mom and she nursed a liquor bottle. We bumped heads the entire six weeks. Every day was more challenging than the previous one. It felt like Deja vu (a feeling of having already experienced the present situation). It was as if time stood still and we were teenage girls at my mom house arguing and fighting because we never got along. I’ve never liked drama, but I’m sure I cussed more in the month of November than I did all year long. Sometimes family has a way of pushing your buttons and taking you to places that others dare to tread. Whatever this was I was tired of it and couldn’t take it any longer, but I knew I couldn’t leave my mom.
After my mom’s two week follow up appointment and the doctors said she was doing well I was ready to come home. I was already counting the weeks, days, and hours before I could return to Chicago. Four Weeks to Go. I felt like I was being tested and I’m not ashamed to say that some of the tests I passed, but some I failed. Fed up, I then started to question God. Lord why are you testing me? Why am I dealing with the mess I’m dealing with? Why did you take me away from my family and put me in the middle of this chaos? Lord, I want to go home because I have taken all I can take!
I already knew the answers to those questions. God gave me an assignment, which was to take care of my mom. I had to be obedient and do what I was required to do. God didn’t say it was going to be easy, but he did say he’d never put more on me than I could bear. So, I had to trust His word, exercise patience, and pray without ceasing. Yes, I did a lot of praying. I had to realize that I’m not in control of everything. I can only control what goes on my own house, but I can’t control what goes on in someone else’s house.
Sometimes God takes us out of our comfort zones and allows us to be vulnerable, which develops strength and endurance. He wants us to humble ourselves and exercise restraint because not every situation warrants a fight, it might require love.
In the 37 years I’ve been with my husband I’ve never been away from him, my children, grandchildren or my church family for six weeks. I was messed up and trying to hold it together. Although I thank God for the time I spent with my mom and the fellowship we shared cooking together and watching her television programs, I was still lonely and missing my family. Needless to say, I was experiencing some serious separation issues. Just when I felt like I couldn’t take it anymore, then I would get a call from Mrs. Wheeler, who prayed for me and my mom. Deacon Barnard also encouraged me because he understood exactly what I was going through, because he was away taking care of a sick loved one as well. Pastor Epting and Lady Felicia would call and check on me and tell me to “Hang in there.” My sisters in the We WIN Ministry held everything together and called me, texted me, and prayed for me each week on our prayer calls. Roberta, Suzette and Bro. John Heard called and checked on me and said they “Missed me”, which really touched my heart. And for all of those who thought I backslid and left the church I say, “not a chance, I love and miss my church too much to leave on purpose.” To all of those who thought of me and prayed for me and my family I truly say, “Thank You.”
OUR CHURCH APP
I thank God for our church app and for Pastor. Epting, who is not afraid of change because he knew modern technology was just another means to bless God. When the Hope app was first introduced to the church I upgraded my phone to make sure I kept up with the times and stayed connected to my church. At times, when I was really lonely, I would go on our app look at some of Pastor Epting’s previous sermons, listen to testimonies, and read articles written by some of our members. Two of the things I was most grateful for was being able to submit prayer requests and being able to pay my tithes through Push Pay. Even though I was out of town I was still able to fulfill my obligation to God and to my church. The app kept me connected to my church family even when I wasn’t physically able to be with them. I felt a little less home sick when I was able to see and hear some of my brothers and sisters at Hope church. I thank God that I am in Christ and He is in me and even though I went to church every Sunday while I was in Memphis, I can truly say:
“THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOPE AND THERE’S NO PLACE LIKE HOME.”