Three and a half years ago, in the winter of 2016, I found myself sitting in a wheelchair, in the waiting room of the Neurology Department of The Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minnesota. I’d been suffering from bizarre, stroke-like episodes for months that were so severe that I’d taken a leave of absence from our business to focus exclusively on finding answers.
We’d gone to every doctor and specialist we could get into see in our city, but no one could explain or diagnose what I was experiencing. In the meantime, things worsened, and in the blink of an eye, I could no longer function well enough to drive, had spells where I couldn’t move my arms, legs, or tongue, and was bedridden. David, my husband, became a single parent to our three children. The twins were five and our older daughter was nine.
At Mayo, we had an amazing experience, but at the end of a week’s worth of every test imaginable, we were no farther along in achieving a diagnosis. Our last afternoon at Mayo felt desperate. We had one, final meeting with the neurologist. As we sat in the waiting room, I decided to pray – for the worst. I closed my eyes and prayed that I would have an episode – right then and there – so that the neurologist could see with his own eyes what I was like in the midst of one. Until then, no care provider had actually seen me have an episode, and when I did have one, we didn’t have access to labs in order to perform tests in real time to determine what was happening.
So, I prayed, essentially, to have a stroke. I was willing to do something I never thought I’d do – to die in hopes of living. In that moment of prayer, I surrendered myself to God, and committed to Him that if He would save me, that I would change… that I would devote myself to Him.
About ten minutes before the neurologist called us back, the symptoms came over me like the cresting of a wave. It happened. Whereas I’d seemed clear in mind and stronger in my limbs the first time the neurologist saw me at the beginning of the week, I couldn’t walk without assistance, couldn’t focus my eyes on him, and whispered out words because I couldn’t speak. Each of my arms felt like twenty-pound weights.
At 5 pm on a Friday, we were rushed to the labs on the ground floor of the hospital. When we met with my neurologist again, early the following day, he gave me a working diagnosis: hemi-plegic migraines. As it turns out, these were very complex headaches that mirror a stroke in all ways except that they didn’t leave an imprint on my brain, which explained why the CT and MRI scans all came back clean. In terms of the triggers, those were still a mystery; however, the neurologist did say that Mayo had seen similar cases due to rapid weight loss. (Before the symptoms, I had lost thirty pounds over three months’ time on a special, shake- and fasting-based regimen.) I also had a brain injury sustained from a car accident 18 months earlier, and that, too, played into their theory. Basically, it sounded like the perfect storm – a snowball effect of sorts that caused my brain to go haywire.
Within six weeks post-Mayo, I had faithfully taken a slew of medications and vitamin supplements, and felt miraculously a lot like myself again. My muscles were normalizing from atrophy, and although I’d struggle with memory and fatigue issues for a good, long while, the rest of me, physically speaking, felt miraculously healed. God, through an answer to prayer and placing me in the exact location I needed, with the best doctors I could have ever hoped for, had rescued me from the brink.
In those weeks of healing, before I returned to work, I felt as if something was shifting in me. I couldn’t name it or describe it, but I told a good friend that it made me think that I was supposed to do “something else” with the new life I’d been given.
Within a matter of days, the same friend texted me, saying that she and her husband were teaching a class on healing prayer at our church and would I be interested in attending? To my own surprise, I never hesitated and immediately said yes. I’d never done anything like that in my life, but for whatever reason, I knew I was supposed to.
Fast-forward to today: It’s been three years since that class. My life, and my family’s life, have radically changed. I mean radically. If I tried to count all of the ways and instances that God’s re-directed my life, I’d be challenged to name them because there are so many.
But, what I can say is that one of the first outcomes of saying yes to a full, Spiritual life in Christ was this blog. Yep. We *just* launched The Daily Dove, but God instructed me to do this nearly three years ago. At the time I received this vision, it was so clear – so undeniable – that I suppose I could have said no, but it felt like a mission/calling – “the call”, as I later learned – and so, much like the healing prayer class, I never hesitated.
What has that yes meant?
- It’s meant that I had to undergo a pruning process of trials, challenges, and experiences of suffering, so that I could be ready to communicate the way God wants and needs me to with all of you.
- It’s meant that I was given the gift of the Holy Spirit actively working in my life, transforming me and renewing my mind, so that I can become more like Him and, in turn, discover the me that He created me to be.
- It’s meant that my family members have experienced the power of God as they never knew was possible, and now have a deep and abiding relationship.
- It’s meant that my husband, David, has come alongside me to share his voice and story of transformation (another instruction from God that I’m certain we’ll tell here).
- It’s meant that my children pray openly, and we pray together as a family. We are working on a family mission statement and learning to love one another in different ways.
- It’s meant that God’s groomed me (and us) for a new kind of life.
- It’s meant watching dreams I’ve always had fade, and new life goals take their place.
In short, being sick was the best thing that probably could have ever happened to me. It was a rite of passage, from the old way I have lived to the new way that’s only possible through that narrow gate Matthew speaks of.
13 “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. 14 But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.”Matthew 7:13 NIV
Saying yes has been a life-reckoning decision. Mine was a big yes, but what has followed has been a hundred more, seemingly smaller yesses that’ve been followed by impacts I both see and do not see. I’ve realized that once I said my big yes, God began speaking to and through me, and that it’s up to me to continue to obey if I want to go deeper and live out His plan for me.
I’ve never felt the sense of relief as the day my dear friend, Kristan, told me that The Daily Dove was live. God paved the way: from the very first seed He planted for me to do this; to a coffee conversation with my friend, Geoff, who, afterward, told me he felt called to build this site for me; and to Chris, an incredibly talented man, who devoted personal time on nights and weekends to develop the site with us.
This is part of my story. There are many other stories to tell about our journey, and we’re just getting started here. I pray for great blessing on this endeavor, and that our words can be Spirit-breathed, just like Paul describes to Timothy.
To God be the glory,
Love this Jamie. Absolutely love it.