What Brought Me to this place
A Walk in the Wilderness
One of my distant relatives wrote a book about a great tragedy in their life. In one of the chapters, she wrote, “Life before and life after.” I can relate to that statement, because I have experienced a permanent life altering injury. While my injury is tragic for me, it in no way mirrors her horrible tragedy, as she lost her husband and children in a house fire. What each of our tragedies had in common was that they were permanent, life altering, and they came out of nowhere.
This is my life before and life after story, and the fruits of the studies that sustained and saved my life during a time of great pain. By sharing with you, it is my hope that you will relate my story in some way to help you in your walk with Jesus.
Some of the chapters in this book are from a study the Lord had me do in 2000. Some are from my personal writings through the years. Some chapters in this book were sermons preached and lessons taught many years ago. I believe the Lord is using this book to ensure these truths are passed along to the present and future generations. Borrowing my distant relative’s statement, “Life before and life after,” I am led to share this part of my life with you.
BEFORE THE STUDY: 1996-2000
Before the study, my life was simply trekking along. When I first began dating Josh, the man who would become my husband, he brought me to an Assembly of God Church. Before that, I had never set foot into any church other than the Catholic Church.
By sitting in this Assembly of God church, I began to realize there was more to God than what I had thought in the past. I realized how few Scriptures I knew. Until then, I knew only that Jesus was my Savior, and that God had given me a gift, but I didn’t know what to call it. I certainly didn’t know what to do with it. It was slowly becoming clear to me that it was time for me to grow spiritually. What I did not realize would be the roads God would allow me to go down, and the people I would meet along the way.
As I began to catch on to the “church thing,” I started praying certain popular prayers, because it seemed like the in thing to do in church. I would say bold statements such as, “Bring it on, Lord!” or “Devil, you aren’t anything!” I began to copy what others were doing in the church thinking it was the right thing to do, but knowing in my heart it was not.
Today, because of the Lord’s refining fire, I know better than to say such statements, or pray prayers just because they are popular. Nevertheless, back then, my heart and my flesh began to do two very different things. My heart was saying, “Hey! No, no, no!” However, my flesh was overriding that and saying, “Yes, yes, yes.” I wanted to appear as if I knew what I was doing in church, but I was gaining conviction that this was fakery. Instead of following the Holy Spirit, I was following man’s actions so I could fit in at church.
Ultimately, we ended up leaving this Assembly of God church when a new pastor was hired. For a while after that, we had some home fellowships, but attended nothing on a regular basis.
Then life dealt my husband and I a shocking jolt of reality. In 1998, my husband’s life was suddenly on the line. It began with a common cold that turned into a condition called Thrombotic Thrombocytopenic Purpura or TTP. There are five risk factors for TTP, and my husband had four of them. (The one risk factor he did not have was that he was not a pregnant female.) From what I understand, his spleen produced a foreign antibody instead of an antibody to fight the cold he caught. This foreign antibody started attacking his blood cells and platelets. This attack on his healthy blood cells and platelets was killing him.
It began suddenly when he began to experience flu-like symptoms. After about six days of not feeling well, I took him to the doctor. He was told he had the flu and was given the “go home and rest; call me in the morning,” diagnosis. Two days later, I was calling an ambulance because he could not form a coherent sentence. The paramedics said he was having mini-ischemia attacks, or MIA’s. They took him to St. Luke’s Hospital in downtown Houston. It was the Memorial Day holiday weekend.
The Physician’s Assistant (PA) doing the work up on Josh came in and said, “The MRI showed some dementia on the brain, but we are still waiting for the blood work results.” They admitted Josh to the hospital, but said he would have to wait until Monday to see a doctor due to the holiday weekend.
My mouth went into overdrive at the thought of losing my husband because some doctor was on holiday. I said to this PA, “You had better start calling some doctors in NOW!” I did not care that they were on vacation; they needed to be there now! He started making the phone calls because, by that time, Josh’s blood work had come back, and they knew it was serious.
After admission, he received his first Plasmapheresis treatment that night. His blood work showed his platelet count to be 3000 when the normal range begins at 150,000. If the treatment did not work, they said there was nothing more they could do for him. I had a young son to worry about and could not stay overnight, so his father sat with him that evening. In addition, I could not afford to let the house go to pieces, and felt I needed to keep a balance between home and the hospital. I was glad that his father offered to stay with Josh and was grateful for the help.
Another reason I did not stay that night was that I knew Josh would be okay. Two weeks prior to him getting sick, the Lord had given me a dream about the whole thing. I had to place my trust and faith in God that what He had shown me was that Josh would be okay. Also prior to getting sick, his co-workers were trying to lure my husband back out into the world. He was tempted to go with them to the bars at lunchtime or after work, but God had plans for him. Those plans did not include becoming a drunkard.
I was never a person to allow anyone to help me, but at that point, I let go and let God and others help me. I dropped everything and stood on complete faith. When we do this, to some, it looks very odd. I was sad and scared, but I knew deep inside that he would be okay, and I just needed to stand still.
I mowed my grass a lot at this time because it kept me from doing what I wanted to do, and kept me focused on what God instructed me to do. Josh had a lot of time alone with God and realized that he was being sifted. He spent 3 weeks in the hospital, and it took 3 months to recover, but as God showed me, He was faithful in doing what He showed me in that dream. Through it all, his doctor told him he could never drink any type of alcohol because having had this condition it would thin the blood. God made sure he kept Josh close to his calling by allowing him to be sifted in such a manner.
“God allows us to be sifted. We all accumulate wood, hay, and stubble (sin) and the sifting takes it away. The more violent the sifting is the more of our self is removed. The husk is our flesh and represents the confidence in our own strength. The kernel is Christ in us. The sifting shakes the person and breaks up the husk, leaving only the kernel developing only a confidence in Christ Jesus.” (Read Luke 22:31-32).
After Josh recovered, we resumed our journey to find a fellowship by visiting various local churches in our area. We began to recognize a pattern God was working through our lives and learning His voice as we progressed along.
In 2000, I began to spend a lot of time alone with God. I would take my son to school, clean my house, and get dinner prepared early. By 9a.m. sharp, I was in the Word and, at times, just in my home alone praising God. I felt God drawing me in, and I was so captive in His presence and plan for me, I became consumed with Him. I did not watch television. I rarely answered the phone. When I was praising God, I couldn’t even hear people knocking on my back door. I hungered for this journey, and deep inside I knew I needed to be faithful and continue on this teachable road.
During this alone time, I began to study the Bride of Christ. In late January 2002, I felt an inner desire to improve my strength, so I began to exercise passionately, driven from deep within. Every day for the next seventeen weeks, with no breaks, I exercised before each Bible study. It took about an hour to do the routine I developed, and the rest of the time, I studied God’s Word. Then in June 2002, while walking down the driveway to get the mail, my life changed forever.
LIFE AFTER THE STUDY: June 2002 to Present
I had exercised for the day, studied, and had dinner cooking. I went out to get the mail, but on the way, my back muscles seized up, stopping me dead in my tracks and barely able to move. The pain was severe. With very slow baby steps, I managed to get back into my house, and went right to the couch. I made a call to my mother, asking her to pick my son up from school.
When my husband got home, I realized that my back was not doing its normal thing. The epidurals I decided to get while in labor caused a bad place in my lower back. If I overworked many days in a row, my lower back would swell and prevent me from being able to stand up straight.
In 1996, in desperate need of a chiropractor, I found Chiropractic Wellness Center in Humble, Texas. Dr. Marvin Watson, his wife and his staff are some of the most caring individuals I have the pleasure of knowing. They truly take the time to get to know who their patients are, a rare thing in the medical world. However, I knew that no amount of chiropractic care would fix what was taking place in my back. This was something completely different from what I had experienced in the past.
When my husband made it home, I asked him if he would help me off the couch, but at that second, his dad showed up and so we prayed over my back. I proclaimed that this injury would not stop me from moving forward in my search for what God wanted me to learn.
Josh met with his dad, and as soon as he left, he came over to help me off the couch. That is when I realized that my back was in bad shape. I could hardly move and the pain was almost knocking me out. When I stood up, my left leg spasmed up a bit, preventing me from straitening it out. To walk, I had to grab his neck and barely scoot along with my right foot. He got me to the bed, and I thought to myself, “Okay God, do your thing! Lord, heal me in the name of Jesus.”
As I had learned in church, you leave these journeys in God’s hands. For a period, I was just waiting on God to heal me as if I did not need to do anything else but sit and wait for my healing. The victory is only a fraction of our walk with Jesus. Because church focuses so much on that aspect, we fail to recognize when God allows a wilderness walk, to enter into our lives. Therefore, I did what most of us do, pray, sit and wait. God spoke to me a couple of years later about activation. Sitting and waiting for God to move is being idle and not actively walking in faith. It was not until then I realized God was sending me through a wilderness experience. The wilderness is a time of searching ourselves, admitting our faults, repentance and restoration. You will know you are in one if your situation is not progressing toward healing or changing toward a restoration, or both. Self-examination is vital in this part of our walk.
I was laid up in bed for a couple of months and things were not getting better. Josh took me to the doctor on several occasions, but it seemed as if they were clueless as to what was going on with my back. The x-rays showed nothing out of place. They would send me home with a prescription for pain medications and muscle relaxants.
During the course of the first year, my husband’s company closed, and we lost our health insurance. I needed it, so we applied for state help until he found another job. The doctors on state health insurance pretty much did the same thing with me. They would set me up on a little physical therapy program working with exercise bands, give me more pain medication and send me home.
Thank God, my husband found a job quickly and we soon had regular health insurance again. I was able to find a regular doctor who really tried to figure out what was going on. Her bedside manner was fantastic. I was avoiding getting an MRI like a person avoids the plague because I suffer from a panic and anxiety disorder. That stubborn will in me had to be broken and I fought it tooth and nail.
I ended up bedridden for over a year, barely able to do most things I had once done with ease. Getting along anywhere was a huge ordeal. I had to hold onto walls and doorframes to move about my house. My mother took my son to school and in the mornings would come over to cook me breakfast and to make sure I had enough water to drink. There I laid, holding on to the fact that God was going to heal me.
I needed to get an MRI, but I was having total panic and anxiety about it, which prevented me from getting it done. Therefore, I rested on, God will heal me. I found out a couple of years later, I had presumptuous faith. It is one thing to believe God can heal you, but it is presumptuous to believe God is going to heal you. James 2:17 says, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.” Faith alone was my error, because the prayer of faith does not presume upon God to heal. It is a prayer that acknowledges that God will be faithful no matter what He chooses for you.
For a time, I saw a new chiropractor because Dr. Watson had moved his office and it was painful for me to drive my car that far. The chiropractor I found practiced Kinesiology. He convinced me I needed an MRI. All he did was curl my toes downward and pain shot through my back like a rocket. I realized that despite my fear of having a panic attack in the MRI machine, I could no longer put it off.
He’d set up an MRI for me and by this time it was mid-November 2003. I felt I was coming to the end of myself, literally. The pain was washing over me. My left leg was barely working. I was not sleeping because of the pain and had cramps running up and down my legs and feet. It was a total nightmare. There were times when the pain was so severe that my body would just shake and a wave of fear would just wash over me. I would have to wake Josh up to help me because it was such an overpowering feeling of helplessness. My husband would get up, kneel by my bedside, and begin to pray over my entire body. Prayer is powerful! My body would begin to calm down and that terrible spirit of fear would flee. He would climb back into bed and tell me, “Close your eyes. I will watch you until you are sound asleep.” I walk up to him from time to time and say, “Thank you for all that you do.”
On the Wednesday prior to getting the MRI, I decided to try to take a bath by myself. I filled the tub with water and slowly lowered myself in, praying the entire way down. My back locked up, and the levels of pain I felt exceeded every other pain I had ever felt. I yelled for my older teenage son, Carl, to come help me out. I had to get to a hospital and fast. There was no waiting for that Tuesday to roll around (which was about six days away). Carl called Josh to come home from work. He also called my parents to come as well.
Above everything else I was feeling and going through, I knew deep inside that I had come to the end of myself, literally. I knew that this road was about to change. Josh got home and he called an ambulance, since I could not move, as my body was shaking from the intense pain levels and my mind was racing ninety to nothing, making me feel sick to my stomach. The paramedics put me on a backboard and took me to the hospital.
When I got there, I ended up getting sick and Josh helped me the entire time, as the nurses handed him some rags and a bedpan. I wanted to go to a restroom, but they would not allow me out of bed. When my stomach settled down, the doctor came in and rolled me to one side, pressed a little on my back, rolled me back on my back and told the nurse to give me a shot to settle down the pain. The doctor gave me more prescriptions and sent me home.
Josh got me home, but he was mad at the hospital staff. The shot they gave me was powerful, and I was able to sleep. It was about 3 a.m. when we got home. Josh needed to leave for work by 6 a.m., and he did. Around 7 a.m., the shot wore off. I was awake and in the same level of pain as I had been in previously. I yelled for my sons, Carl and Steven, to come help me. They called my parents and Josh again. Josh got home and called the ambulance again. Back to the hospital, with sirens blaring, my body was shaking in pain, my mind was loopy, and I was trying to fight off the escalating anxiety.
When I arrived, Josh was not there yet. They rolled me into a hallway and I listened to the paramedic talk to the nurse.
The paramedic said, “Claims she came here last night due to severe back pain. Was given a shot and sent home.”
“What, is she out of her pain meds?” the nurse asked.
“No, she was sent home with a new prescription last night,” the paramedic answered.
I was hurting so bad; barely able to move, and could not believe that I was being accused of looking for drugs! The nurse thought I was faking my pain. I cried out for help and asked the nurse to help me. My husband showed up shortly after I arrived.
This is all I can remember because after Josh arrived, I was out of it. I recall being in a bed in the hallway for a long time. They gave me an IV, and the nurse administered pain meds every so often. Josh helped me to the restroom a few times. About 7 p.m., Josh got mad because I simply was not getting help that I needed. He got firm with the doctor and explained to him that I had an MRI set up for the following Tuesday, and I was not going to make it until then. He demanded that they give me one right then, and there. After they realized the insurance had approved an MRI already, things went smoothly. They conducted the MRI. Afterwards I was wheeled right back into the hallway.
A man who had taken one of his family members to the ER was just finishing up with the doctors. Apparently, he had been noticing the lack of care and attention I was getting. He told the nurse that the room he was leaving was to be for me. My husband thanked him for saying that. They put me in that very ER room.
It was not long before the results of my MRI came in. The same nurse that had accused me earlier of just wanting prescription drug medication was standing in the doorway. Before the doctor gave the results to my husband, I looked up at the nurse to make sure she would be listening. The doctor told my husband I would not be going home because the MRI showed a severe back injury. I laid my head back down and do not recall anything after that.
I woke up the next morning in my room on the third floor. I was extremely loopy from the drugs I had been given. When the nurse came in, I asked if a doctor would be seeing me today. She said yes, that an orthopedic doctor would be seeing me later that day.
In walked Dr. J, an orthopedic surgeon, with my MRI films. He pointed out my injury, while explaining to me the course of action he would take. He had a sense of humor about him that made me feel at ease in light of everything going on. My parents were now in the room, and my mother had a ton of questions for him. She wanted to know why I had not received better care up to that point. He could not answer that, but explained my injury to all of us. All I wanted to know from him was if my back would ever be the same. His answer was not a surprise, but he said, no. Okay the mission was on. When he said the word no, I let it bounce right off me. I refused to let it penetrate into my heart and get into my inner being. It was off limits.
For the next five days, I was given IV drug medication every four hours and steroids. By the fifth day, they brought on a pain management doctor who thought a steroid injection might help. They took me to the surgical wing, and gave me two of the most painful shots I had ever endured. They did not help, even making my condition a little worse.
Dr. J no longer operated on backs, so he referred me to Dr. S, a doctor out of The Woodlands, Texas. I spent three more days in the hospital with Dr. J because they did not want me to go home before my surgery. He ended up releasing me a couple of days before, if I promised to take it easy. I laughed because I had no choice. My husband and parents were there, and he told them that he has seen this type of injury bring grown men to their knees. He was amazed that I could laugh and get along like I did. He did not realize that I had God on my side. Even though I was in pain and could barely use my left leg, my Creator was sustaining me. I had to place all I was going through in His hands, and I did.
They released me from the hospital, and a few days later I was admitted to The Woodlands Hospital on December 17, 2003 for major back surgery. I met Dr. S on the same day of my surgery—never before. Talk about having trust and faith in God! I had to, as there was no other option. He was a nice man, and it appeared he knew his business. I knew I was safe as they took me into the operating room because I felt the Lord’s presence with me. They were doing their best to put me at ease and trying to make me smile. Right before I went under, the anesthesiologist said, “Okay, the good stuff is going on board.” I looked up and said, “Jesus, I am in your hands.”
Next thing I knew I was waking up in the recovery area with a nurse by my side. I wanted to go back to sleep. The area on my back I had surgery on was hurting and I was very uncomfortable. I was so thirsty, my mouth felt like I had been licking the lint screen in my dryer. I tried to move, and the nurse stopped me, telling me to lie still. I asked about Josh, and she said she’d get him in a little while. I asked for some water, but given only a wet rag to moisten my lips.
Around 9:30 p.m., Josh came back to see me and told me he had been praying for me the whole time. He grabbed my hand and told me everything would be okay. The doctor came by to see me. He said my back was in bad shape, so the surgery took longer than he expected. I asked him if there had been any treatment option besides surgery. He said, “No.” A room finally opened up for me. My room seemed miles away from the recovery area. I wondered if we would ever get there.
I told him to go home and get some rest. We live a good drive away from The Woodlands, so I told him to call me every day, but he did not need to come see me. I knew he would be tired and I did not want him to have to drive all the way out there after work. If I needed him, I knew I could call him, and he would be there.
I woke up the next day with a breakfast waiting for me. I was super hungry. I tried to move around a bit, but I was in pain. The nurse came in to help me out and told me that a physical therapist would be coming by to see me. They also had a rack that ran the length of my bed that had a rectangular pull bar for me to help pull myself up. I asked if I could get out of bed, and she said I could, but to move very slowly. That is when I realized my left leg was not working with me. She helped me to the restroom, and then back to bed. Right before dinner, the Physical Therapist came in and explained what would take place the next day.
My doctor came in shortly after and explained a little bit more about what he had found in my back. My L4/5 disc was herniated as well as my S1 disc, which was severely herniated, and had been compressing my spinal column along with the nerve roots. The opening in my lumbar spine was also very narrow so he had to open it up more by removing some bone. Overall, he said my back was a mess.
When I filled out the paperwork prior to being admitted into The Woodlands Hospital, I placed a check mark by no, asking if I wanted a member of clergy to visit me. I chose no because I did not know who would be coming in. On my second day, I was eating breakfast when a member of the clergy came into my room. He was a Catholic priest. I was a bit surprised because I had checked, no.
He asked me if I needed prayer and I said, “I can always use prayer.” Before he started to pray, I felt the Holy Spirit begin to move and my mouth began to speak, but it was not me speaking. I cannot recall all that I said, only that God had me here for a purpose, and Christ was walking me through it. My body is hurt and injured, but my spirit is not.
I cannot say how long I talked but I can remember what his reaction was. He stood there and listened to the Holy Spirit minister to him through me and he said, “I pray that I have faith like that one day.” He prayed for me and left quietly. I knew from the past moves of the Holy Spirit that when He moves you can have a hard time recalling what came out of your mouth because it is not you speaking.
The Physical Therapist came in later that day to start physical therapy. It consisted of me trying to regain use of my left leg. I could barely put one foot in front of the other. I felt as if I was learning how to walk all over again. He placed a strap around my waist and held the other end so he could stop me if I began to fall. I spent three days in the hospital before being released to recover at home.
I thought part of my journey would be over and my life would be back to normal. I learned at my first check up after surgery that life would never go back to what my normal had been. God wants us moving forward in a constant learning phase. I was keenly aware of that, but I wanted my back, well, back. Dr. S checked my reflexes and said I would probably never get them back. I said, “Nope, my God is bigger than that.” I went in for my next checkup, and still no reflexes. I told my doc, “Nope just wait, God is not through.” At my next checkup, my reflexes were back, but weak and “backwards.” I laughed at this, saying, “God’s sense of humor.” God was reminding me that He didn’t want me to go backwards.
At my next checkup and the appointment to get my staples out, my reflexes had turned around and though weak, they were back. With the staples out and my reflexes back, I walked out of there thinking, “Okay, what now?” We walked outside of the doctor’s office and I said, “Okay, that’s over, let’s move on.”
It took a year to recover, and though my back is still a mess, I fully expect God will heal me when He gets ready to do that, if that is His choice to do so. I have gone through physical therapy many times through the years and have to manage pain with pain medication still to this day. I am slow in my movements, but I am moving forward.
I have a fantastic primary care doctor now, Dr. P. She genuinely cares for each of her patients, and takes the time to listen. I thank God for sending her into my life to care for my injured back, and to help me through my panic and anxiety disorder. Though driving even short distances is uncomfortable for me, I was able to go back to the Chiropractic Wellness Center. Though probably not as often as Dr. Watson would prefer.
I shared my story with you to get to this main point—If I had not been sustained by the Word of God and the revelations God had given me in the two years leading up to this injury, I know full well, I would not have made it through. I want to share all that God shared with me through those two years and beyond. Since 2002 I have enjoyed many teachable moments that quenched the barren desert of lack, and grew within me, the understanding of “why?”
“And when he had called the people unto him with his disciples also, he said unto them, Whosoever will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake and the gospel’s, the same shall save it.” (Mark 8:34-35).
Do I understand all that Scripture has to offer? No, we will never know all things Scripture offers until we are with Jesus in Heaven. We can know enough to qualify to share what He has done for us. I can say I am thankful for what I have gone through because through it all, He has never left my side and He has taught me so much more than I could have ever imagined.
I realize now, that yes, God answered many of my prayers through these experiences. One of my main prayers was, “Lord, I want You to talk to me in the same manner You spoke to Moses.” As a little girl, I used to pray, “Lord I want to be on the front lines with You.” For those who do not see the parallel, “I had to be removed before God could use me.” I can no longer ask God, “God, why did you allow this to happen to me?” I know why now, and I love Him so much more for it. For this very reason, I understand now the full ramifications of what the power of prayer truly means. Praying constitutes movement in the heavens in a magnitude one could never imagine. Remember, God’s thoughts are not our thoughts. This is one giant key to grasp!
As I write this part of my testimony, I admit that I still hold onto some residual anger. It is an honest admission and being able to admit it is the first step in walking into your healing. In the beginning, I directed my anger toward God because I lacked understanding of what God was doing with me. I questioned Him intensely on how He could allow such a terrible thing to enter my life. After all, I had immersed myself in His Word. Those understandings came slowly, but they came. I can praise God and thank Him for sending me through such a trial because without it, I would have missed what He called me to do. If I had done it, in my timing, it would not have been from Him.
My residual anger centers on my inability to move around freely as I used to do, and on having to endure days and nights of pain in my legs and back. At one time, I was so angry with God that the enemy had me believing that if I let this anger go, my injury would become permanent. The thing that really drove the anger nail in was the enemy sending people into my life who attempted to tie me up in grief and anger. I adopted this useful credo into my life, “You don’t have to entertain every argument you’re invited to.”
Anger had blocked me from accomplishing God’s call in my life. I came to believe that the lie of permanent injury was wrong, and I began to cover it with the truth of what God’s Word says. My father says, “God is large and in charge!” He tells me, “All the way to the grave, Pamela, follow Jesus all the way to the grave!” Amen! I thank God for my parents and the prayers they have sent up on my behalf.
If you seek God, you will find Him. You cannot imagine the roads God will take you on to mold you to into readiness for His service. (Just ask Moses, Noah, or Abraham!) God works in the lives of all believers the same way, the trials and tribulations are just different.
Moses had a speech impediment. Did God heal Moses? No, He sent his brother Aaron to help him speak. Will God choose to heal me? Only He knows, but He has sent me an aide as well, the Holy Spirit, to help me on the path God has set for me. Praise God and all glory to Him, amen.