Monthly Archives: November 2015

It’s in His hands

Been thinking a lot lately about God’s provision in my life.   The times I prayed and He answered and the times I didn’t know to pray and He still answered.  I’m trusting Him now for some things;  and it can get discouraging to pray and not get the answer right away. That’s when I need to “encourage myself in the Lord.”  I thought I would write about a couple of (to me) miracles God did in my life and one He did in someone else’s, both as an encouragement to me and maybe to those reading this as well.

The first “miracle” is rather well known among the congregation of the church I attend.  My late husband’s sister was in need of roof repair;  there was a rather large leak in the ceiling of my nephew’s bedroom, a leak in fact,  that was dangerously close to an exposed light bulb. She couldn’t afford to get a new roof and I had no money to help her with it either. Bob had passed by then, as well and we had no other help.  Every time it rained, she prayed that it wouldn’t cave in or start an electrical fire in that ceiling lamp.  One night she says she cried out to God and He gave her peace about it.  The very next day, as she pulled into her driveway after work, she saw roof tiles scattered all about her front yard.  Her first thought was that the roof had finally given way.  She got out of her car somewhat in shock, to see a couple of men come around from the backyard.  One asked her if she was the homeowner to which she said yes.  He explained to her, rather apologetically, that there had been a mistake; they’d had a roofing job to do and had pulled half of her roof down before finding out they were at the wrong house!  As that bit of news sunk in, he further explained that since it was their fault, they would replace what they had torn down at their expense!  And of course, the side of the roof they had torn down was exactly the side she had needed replacing.  This story has gone far and wide across Facebook and in other churches in our area.  This wasn’t just a “miracle” for her, it was one for all of us—-God provides—He definitely does!

Years before that;  Bob and I lived in a trailer park on Rte 340 in Crimora.  It was one of the nicer trailer parks in the area and we enjoyed having our own place after years of living in the upstairs apartment of his parent’s house on Staten Island.  But there came a time when we wanted to try and buy a house.  One of the perks of living in VA was the lower prices for housing than in NY.  Bob had a good job driving for a beverage distributor and I was a cashier at our local Kmart.  We found a real estate agent and started looking at houses.  In the midst of this, my husband’s job cut his pay by a lot.  We were disappointed and decided to forego the house hunt figuring we could no longer afford one.  Right before that had happened, Nancy-our real estate agent, had told us of a small house in Crimora;  and we had plans to look at it.  But then he got the pay cut and we never followed through.  A couple of months went by and little by little, Bob started getting some of his salary back.  It wasn’t as good as it had been but it was enough for us to think we might be able to start house hunting again.  We decided to see if that house in Crimora was still available and Nancy informed us that the owners had never put it on the market but if we were interested in seeing it, they would be open to letting us.  We met her there and as we were walking around the property, Bob told me he really felt like this was our house.  We put a bid in on it and it was accepted.  Going through the process of applying for different loans, we found out that between Bob’s and my total income,  we were eligible for a first time home owners loan and that we didn’t need any money down.  If Bob had never gotten that pay cut to begin with, we would have made too much money and not been able to have gotten that loan!  So God allowed us to go through that pay cut and it was for a very good reason. One other thing worth mentioning happened while we were going through the process of buying the house that I reside in today.  We needed to furnish our last 3 pay stubs to the mortgage company; Bob found two of his, but couldn’t find the third.  We looked everywhere, in all the logical places but to no avail.  We had a spare room in the trailer, more of a junk room; we never really went in there for any reason.  But while looking for this pay stub, Bob went in there and saw a paper sticking out of a decorative stein he had sitting on a table.  He pulled that paper out and it revealed itself to be the missing pay stub.  To this day I cannot explain to you how it got there!  But I guess God knows.

Five years ago, in the fall of 2010, Bob got a promotion at his job that he never put in for. He was working at the Dollar store down the street from us–a job he had gotten in Oct 2009 after being out of work for a year.   His first manager was a really nice guy who Bob respected and worked hard for.  Bob had even helped him when the man moved.   That manager moved on to a different position within the company and Bob got a new manager in the spring of the following year.  Unbeknownst to Bob, when the position of Assistant Manager at the store came up, his former manager put him in for it.   And his present manager agreed!  So without ever applying for it, Bob got it.  He had been working mainly in the stockroom, unloading trucks and stocking product on the sales floor.  This new position came with other responsibilities, some he was less pleased with than others;  but we welcomed the raise in pay and the benefits that included health care.  He would have to wait three months to get the health care but we had no reason to worry about that or so we thought.  It was in the fall of 2010, that his back problems started.  He had never experienced a back ache or strain in his life but he was experiencing excruciating pain that September.  His family doctor put him on Vicoden, which did relieve his discomfort initially. It kept getting worse though and his doctor couldn’t figure out what was wrong.  We went to a chiropractor but that didn’t help and seemed to make matters worse.  He went to the emergency rooms of both local hospitals but all they did was give him more painkillers and even then, somewhat begrudgingly—one doctor all but accused Bob of being there for the drugs.  All the while my husband got worse and worse, until finally, he couldn’t get up off the couch and walk.  To go to his last doctors appointment before we finally found out what was going on, my formerly robust and active 47 year old husband was in a wheelchair.  But do you know when we finally found out that Bob had a very rare form of blood cancer?  We found out after the health insurance became active and because it was not a pre-existing condition, his insurance covered all the treatments and 80% of the hospital bills.  Can I say that God did that?  Can I tell you that it’s without a shadow of a doubt in my mind that God knew we would need that insurance, so He got Bob a job he never applied for?  That He didn’t let a diagnosis come through until we were covered by the insurance?  We had lost my sister by then and she had left me some life insurance money which ended up paying the difference between what the insurance put out for his 9 day hospital stay and what was left over.  Again—God’s timing is something else.  I think about it now and it just amazes me—how if this had all happened when he had been out of work for that year, I don’t know where I would be at the moment.

God does provide.  These are some of the bigger ways in which He came through for me; but He comes through for me everyday in small ways too.  I don’t always understand what He’s doing;  and there are some things I will never understand.  But sometimes it takes looking at the big picture to make me see that His hand was always in the situation; working it out in ways only He can!

slivers of light in a dark place

I was mad at her for a long time.  I was mad that she chose to take herself out of my life. That she chose to let my dad lose yet another child.  That she, who had so much trouble throwing things out….tossed herself out of our lives, so easily.  I was mad because I was the last person to talk to her;  and she gave not so much of a hint of what she was about to do.  I was mad because she chose to do this three weeks before Thanksgiving, when she should have been making plans to visit us as she did every year.  I was mad that she did this a month before our birthdays in December—(I was born 3 years and 361 days after her)—we always celebrated our birthdays together, in our childhood home and later, on Black Friday when she would drive to Virginia to spend that weekend with us.  I was mad because I didn’t understand.  I wondered if she hated me, how could she do this to her little sister?

Before we found out what she had done to herself, we only knew that she was missing. She had “gone” missing once already, four months before as a matter of fact.  That time, she had told me that she’d over medicated herself with the medicine she took for her epilepsy–Dilantin.  Because she had taken that particular medicine since she was 12, I had some skepticism but not enough to probe deeper.  It did not help that she was in New York and 8 hours away.  She said, “don’t come, I’ll only be in the hospital a couple of days.”  When I couldn’t get in touch with her on the day of her discharge;  I grew worried.  Hours turned into days and even her boss emailed me, concerned that she would lose her job if she didn’t get in touch with her company.  I started to get frantic then.  Why couldn’t we reach her?  I cried out to God and finally, she managed to let her company know that she was still in the hospital.  It took a lot of digging to discover she was in the psych ward;  that they understood her to have attempted suicide with the extra Dilantin.  However, she denied that to me and I stuck my head back into the sand. I was so relieved to have found her that I let it go.

When Bob and I first moved to Virginia back in the summer of 1993;  my sister and I would talk on the phone every Friday night for at least an hour, sometimes on her dime, sometimes on mine.   We did that for a long time, years;  but as is the case with life, somehow we drifted away from it and stopped. But after this episode with the Dilantin, I told her we needed to do that again and we did. With renewed interest,  I looked forward to Fridays and talking with her about whatever was going on in our lives.

On Friday,  November 5, 2010, she called me, just as she had done countless other times. We discussed all manner of things, from the pain Bob was in with his back that wasn’t going away;  to a game on Facebook we both enjoyed called Treasure Isle.  I have replayed that conversation over in my head at least a dozen times and I can find no hint that she was entertaining the thoughts that would take her out of our lives.  The next day, a cold rain pelted Staten Island, there might have even been sleet mixed in.  I sent her a message on Facebook that she never responded to.  I took my nephew to a showing of a movie at a local church, that was ironically enough, about losing a friend to suicide.  I remember telling him on the way, that she was coming for Thanksgiving and he was happy about that.  The next day I had to do a rare project on a Sunday and still I had not gotten any response back from her from the day before.  It didn’t concern me as I figured she might have gone into work, as she had been known to do on other weekends.  But Monday afternoon, as I played on my laptop, and checked my email, I just happened to see something in my Junk folder. It was an email from my sister’s manager, explaining that she hadn’t shown up for work that day and had I heard from her?  I immediately tried to call her cell and got no answer; neither email or Facebook messenger garnered a response.  I started feeling that panic from four months before.  Was she in the psych ward again?  I knew they wouldn’t tell me if I called because of patient confidentiality.

Days went by.  I was numb, but I continued to get up and go to work.  It was on a drive to Woodstock, VA, on I81 that I cried out to God as to her whereabouts.  I felt an immediate sense of peace flood my spirit and a deep down knowledge that wherever she was, she was right with God and I didn’t have to worry.  Figuring she was in the mental ward at Staten Island Hospital, I wasn’t sure how she had managed to give her heart to the Lord there; but I believed it all the same.

But as the week wore on and after my dad got the NYPD to check her place (where they found neither her or her car),  dread started setting in.  Something in my gut told me she wasn’t in the hospital.  The cops told us they couldn’t put out a missing person report on her as she was an adult and might have just left for awhile.  But I knew she wouldn’t let us worry like that, either.  Finally on Sunday, November 14th, my dad got the call no parent ever wants to get.  The NYPD had a body at the morgue, which they believed to be my sister because her car was found nearby, and we were summoned to New York to identify her.  Next only to the time me and Bob had to drive to NY after my mom died;  this was the saddest visit to NY I have ever had.

At first the cops seemed to say they thought she’d been murdered, but then they turned it around to where they believed it was suicide.  Unbeknownst to us, she had called for an ambulance that time four months prior and told 911 that she’d tried to overdose on Dilantin, and they had heard that recording.  As it turned out, all that time we were trying to find her—she was at the morgue.  Seems the cops on her side of the Island didn’t have contact with the ones who had found her and the pieces didn’t get put together until they found her car.

There was an unfortunate picture in the Staten Island Advance of a sheet covered body found at Wolfe’s Pond Park.  My sister was a private person and she would not have liked knowing that her last picture would be of that.  But Wolfe’s Pond Park is where she chose to take her own life;  more than likely on that cold rainy Saturday the day after I talked to her. They found her on Sunday November 7th however and that is her official day of death.

I didn’t want to believe suicide.  I didn’t want to believe she knowingly chose to leave. There was however, a sliver of light in all of this.  The day after we had driven to New York, as me and Bob and my dad and step-mom all sat in the breakfast area of the hotel we were staying at;  my dad told me something interesting.  He said that after he had gotten off the phone with the police on Sunday;  he had felt a sudden fear but that peace had come over him just as suddenly and that he heard a still small voice say—“Don’t worry, she’s with me.”   I told him of the experience I also had, as I was driving to Woodstock a few days before.  I was glad that God had reassured us both as to her real whereabouts—it’s been one less thing to worry over.

But still I was mad and it took a long time for me to stop being mad at her.  Yes, I grieved too, I cried a lot over a long period of time.  I missed my sister and it took quite a while for me to stop thinking she was going to call every Friday night that rolled around.  But I was angry at her for leaving too.  I was angry because my dad had already buried his son, and his wife and now he had outlived another child.  I was angry because my husband was very sick and I could have used my sister to talk to about it, but she wasn’t there.  I felt she had been selfish and cowardly and I didn’t want to feel those things but I did.

After I lost Bob 20 months after losing her;  I started to understand a little better.  My hard and harsh feelings abated.  I knew what it felt like to have a crushing and somewhat hopeless outlook on the rest of my life and yes, there were times when I wanted out.  I wasn’t thinking of anyone and what kind of heartache they would experience from my desire to be free of the endless sorrow.  Unlike her, I knew I would never do it—take myself out of the game—I knew there were people who counted on me and I wouldn’t let them down.  But I stopped being angry at her and I accepted that she chose to do that not because of me or in spite of me—but because she didn’t see any other way.  Suicide is never the answer—-it devastates the ones left behind—sometimes people do it to stick it to people but those aren’t the people affected.  It’s the ones that love you—the ones you would never want to hurt in a million years—they will blame themselves—they will think they could have stopped it somehow.

So if that thought ever gets too intense, please call someone or call the hotline for Suicide prevention–1 (800) 273-8255.  There were and have been slivers of light in this dark place—but I wish she could have seen them for herself.  There is always Hope—God is but a prayer away.