One Year Later and God is Still Good: Top 10 Reasons Why My AVM Was Not Wasted

Wow!  It’s very hard to believe that it was just one year ago (October 23rd, 2008) that this most interesting of years began for our family.  I can scarcely comprehend that 365 days have elapsed since we began this journey with a seizure that revealed a peach sized AVM (mass of intertwined veins and arteries) in my brain. 

It’s also Jared’s fourth birthday celebration which was largely ruined last year due to my theatrics.  

Thus began a journey for us that would take this family through the heights and depths…through good days and bad where my very life would hang precariously and tenuously on a precipice…between life and death. 

Little did we know then what lay before us!  But, I had a suspicion that there was going to be more to this thing than it first looked.  That’s why this blog was begun in November, 2008.  I wanted to allow all of you who were interested, to walk with me (us) through this trial. 

It also became a tool of inestimable worth in the dissemination of pertinent information…from a first hand source.

It also served as a bullhorn of sorts for prayer around the world when we needed it most.  On the day I underwent emergency open heart surgery there were more than 5,500 hits on the blog and no doubt thousands of prayers laid before the  throne of grace on our behalf.

Karla just entered the room to inform me that as of late I have been rather possessive of this blog…perhaps that’s because it is my blog.  However, after re-reading each of her entries yesterday I guess I can understand why she would think this way!  After all, there was a four week period in there where this blog was her baby and the last thing on my mind.

Along the way I have been honest with you all…sharing my fears and trepidations, all the while trying to maintain a sense of humor.  I would say “good”  sense of humor but I know some might question the adjective.

As I have been preparing a testimony I will be giving at the Word Fellowship meeting next week I have gone back and read all of the entries that Karla made on the blog between February 10 and the last week of March, 2009…that’s no small task!   

Karla and I have to write a book about the events of this past year…and the funny thing is I don’t really care if anyone reads it.  From Karla’s daily detailed blogs we have many of the details already there for the looking…but there are so many more Providential things that ocurred along the way that we just have to have some kind of more permanent record!

It is very humbling and surreal to read each of her entries along with the accompanying comments by some of you who stepped out from the shadows of anonymity, even if only momentarily, to leave a comment or thought. 

Karla was kept in a safe place during this entire ordeal.  She experienced, as she herself freely admits, “…the peace of God that passes understanding.”   Peace in situations like we found ourselves in is non-sensical. 

It makes no sense at all and is contrary to absolutely every bit of information that came her way during the darkest hours of this ordeal.  This is precisely the point.  The peace of God soared in Karla’s heart and mind even higher than the grim facts.

Top Ten Reasons my AVM was not wasted: (to borrow Pastor John Piper’s exhortation  not to waste such things in an article he wrote titled _Dont_Waste_Your_Cancer/ on the eve of his cancer surgery February 15, 2006…three years to the week of my own )  

1. Because there have been 122,600 times (and counting) where God’s goodness and faithfulness even in the midst of a great trial have been attested to by people accessing this blog.  The thing about God is that He is unchanging.  Regardless of the circumstances we face God is the same yesterday, today, and forever.

2. Because I was able (and continue)  to see the full force of wedding vows taken seriously 22.8 years ago.  Let’s be honest here… when I set my eyes on Karla for the first time 24 years ago I wasn’t thinking to myself  “When I’m 44 and find that I have had an AVM the size of a peach growing in my brain my whole life…and even before birth, is this woman going to take care of me?” 

No one signs up for these kinds of trials.  When I look at Karla now I see in her a beauty that transcends any earthly thing.  My love and appreciation for Karla has increased greatly…and I thought my love for her was well above average before this trial arrived one year ago!

3. Because I have now walked through the valley of  the shadow of death and found everything I previously believed about God to be true even as I was cooking in the furnace of affliction.  This trial didn’t change my understanding of God one iota.  However, it did serve to make me more empathetic with those enduring difficult trials.

4. Because I have now discovered a weight loss program that I can emphatically denounce as bogus.  Though quite effective at losing nearly 50 pounds in a very short time, lying motionless for days on end tends to create other problems…like blood clots, complete loss of muscle mass, and a cachetic (emaciated, malnourished) look. [sorry…always looking to use a new word.]

5. Because it was necessary for me to go through this trial.  I Peter 1:6ff. “In this you rejoice (i.e. that God is unswervingly committed to me and also promises to guard me by His power through faith), though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith–more precious than gold that perishes by fire–may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ.” 

I’m sorry if you find the thought repugnant…but with all my heart I believe that this trial was tailor made for me at this exact time in my life.  God is sovereign over every trial and heartache as well as every victory and joy.

As painful as it was I needed this AVM…and every single complication that came with it.  All of them!  They were all necessary and designed by the unsearchable, inscrutable God for me.   The grieving caused by this trial was a necessary suffering that served to sink down deeper roots of my faith.     This does not mean, however, that I am not delighted that it is for the most part over!

6. Because I have obtained an entirely new perspective on those who are suffering.  As I looked around me while I was at Mayo Clinic I couldn’t help but notice those who have illnesses that are not fixable… who are destined to a lifetime of suffering with little earthly hope of anything better…so many people with far greater trials and sufferings than mine. 

This new perspective on those who suffer should serve me well in the years to come.  My theology and faith have held strong for a full year now.  I can only extrapolate from this that it would have remained intact even if things had turned out very differently.  

7. Because I now have much more empathy for those who are paralyzed (for a few days on my entire right side),  paranoid pschizophrenics (ICU psychosis…) , pondering a perplexing problem (What should we do?), or those with perpetual physical problems (there are still neurological connections to be re-learned).  You’ll just have to accept my word on these things.

8. Because I have been humbled in countless waysMost of the bravado has been eradicated from my life…and has died a quick and painless death.  Physical suffering has a way of suffocating bravado.  Part of the suffering in those early days included the utterly helpless feeling of not being able to do the little things I would normally do for myself or doing those things that I would never do if I was in a right state of mind and body.

Perhaps the most encouraging bit of information is that my vertical leap is now nearly back up to what it was before the surgeries: seven inches as compared to ten.  Just kidding…I haven’t really measured.  Makes we wonder though.

9. Because I, and my family, have been forced to be on the receiving end of countless acts of kindness, compassion, and generosity.   From cards to cash to caring for our children while Karla and I were  in Rochester, to the gracious hosts (thanks again Ray and Connie Krueger!) who housed Karla for the 46 days we were there, to countless acts of compassion and kindness directed our way, and to those silent prayer warriors in the shadows…thank you for not being silent with God on our behalf!

10. Because we have come to appreciate even more the larger body of Christ, the Church.  Hundreds of you blessed my socks off as I read or heard of prayers going up before the throne of God on our behalf.  The fact that there were thousands of people praying for me and my entire family through this trial will never be forgotten!  I really and truly am eternally grateful.

Thanks for standing (and kneeling) with us! 

With much appreciation for you all,

Mike and Karla Evans

P.S. If you are still reading this blog please consider leaving a comment!  It would make us happy to hear from you!

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14 thoughts on “One Year Later and God is Still Good: Top 10 Reasons Why My AVM Was Not Wasted”

  1. I’m still reading in Colorado from Pastor Tom’s church. I cannot believe it has been a year!! Praise God for all the blessings He brought from your trials!!

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  2. Pastor Mike, I’m not sure if you remember me. But Sheila Streicher and I visited your church some years ago and you invited us for lunch at your home. I’ve been following your blog since the inception. I thank God for you and family on how you’ve given God all the glory for what you guys went through. It’s not an easy journey to go through. But only God can carry us to that kind of valley. Thank you for living out your faith and being a GREAT example to all of us.

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  3. Hi Mike and Karla,

    I am still reading your blog. Thank you for taking the time to write and to selflessly allow us to see your inner struggles during this past year. If I am called upon to suffer something so difficult, I hope that I will remember your story and take heart.

    Many blessings,
    Cheryl Dean

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  4. I read each of your blogs, Mike (and Karla!). It’s been really cool to see the Hand of God at work over the past year. I’m thankful that the LORD walked you and your family through the trials in a manner that resulted in His glory! And I’m glad that through the trials you and your family faced that I could get to know Ben and Luke. They are really neat, young men!

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  5. Mike & Family,
    Have continued to follow every entry (although they come straight to my email, so aren’t tallied in the web hits most the time), and also thank you for continuing to share the events of your life. I am so happy for you… so proud of you… so inspired by you.
    My personal relationship with Jesus Christ has been strengthened at many levels over the past year, and I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge that the impetus for this inner working was spurred on by your trials, and how you and your family so graciously faced these and used these for your own growth.
    Thank you again for sharing! You guys are awesome! Good bless you.

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  6. What?? You can’t edit your comments?? 🙂
    Obviously, I meant “God bless you.”

    Wishing you a great day today!!

    [Mike responds : Hey Tucker, I alone have the power to edit! Seriously, thanks for your consistent encouragements along the way…a way that has been also deeply influenced and impacted by grief in your own life.]

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  7. One this your first anniversary a few thoughts from an old worn out cowboy.
    How many times did we see God’s direct intervention on your behalf during the last 365 days? Here are a few.

    Your first seizure that allowed the doctors to find the AVM verses an aneurism or stroke.

    The change in your medical insurance several months prior.

    Kath and I having experience in how to “Manage the love” Sheila having experience with the blog.

    One of if not the best neurosurgeon in the world providing you care.

    A new $1,000,000 microscope to assist in the surgery.

    One of if not the best cardiologist in the world on call the day you needed him.

    Randy one of your nurses a believer, Pastor Randy located close to Mayo, Krueger’s hospitality, surprise visit by Bret, and many others that were part of your care and recovery.

    Just short of 50 years on this earth I have never witnessed anything like this before. Time after time seeing God care for every detail that allowed you to stay with us. This is truly a day to cry out to our Abba Father and thank Him for all He has done.
    Have a great day my friend as you reflect on the miracle God has performed in our midst.
    God Bless
    Dean

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  8. I think writing a book is a wonderful idea. Remember Mike, years ago when I told you that God had me praying for what would come next? Maybe the trial and this book is the “next” I was praying about. I agree with you statement that the trial wiped away you bravado. It has me too yet the past 7 and a half years have grown my roots deeper in Him and somehow my life is much less about me and much more about Him. May God cause all you plans to come to pass. Love, Donna

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  9. Grace and peace, friends. Still praying, still reading. Agreed, the book idea is a good one. We enjoy your Benj very much, by the way!

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  10. Mike and Karla, here are 10 reasons why I’m so glad you’ve been sharing your testimony through this whole ordeal:
    1. You were never angry at God.
    2. You never questioned God’s will.
    3. You were willing to accept His will, no matter what the outcome.
    4. You were humbly and wholly dependent on Him.
    5. You showed us that His grace IS sufficient.
    6. You let others help you and lift you up in prayer.
    7. You gave God glory even during the toughest times.
    8. You lived through all of it like you really believe what you believe. (To borrow a phrase from the Truth Project)
    9. You encouraged others even though you thought they were encouraging you.
    10. You constantly reminded us how great our God and Savior is!

    Thank You Both,
    Rhonda Turner Madzey

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  11. I have been built up in my faith as I’ve read, prayed and rejoiced over each of your update emails.

    Love that this technology has served to unite the larger body of Christ by being able to follow your story.

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  12. Mike and Karla, To God be the glory! You two have had quite the journey and we thank you for sharing it with us. It has been quite a testimony of your faith and love for our Lord and we continue to pray for you. God Bless!

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  13. Your current blog brought tears to my eyes and praise to my lips to our LORD. Thank you and Karla for sharing honestly and with “good” humor your experiences, always giving glory to God! Your faith has encouraged my faith hugely! By the way, I would love to buy a copy of your book when it is published!!

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  14. Mike and Family…

    I can scarcely write I am so humbled and awed by the weight of your challenges. I can say with all certainly that I would not have been able to handle this with the grace and aplomb in which you have born this mantle. Among the many amazing things about you and your family throughout all of this is the way that it only strengthened your relationship with God. After my sister was killed I was so angry. Part of me blamed God and I wanted to hurt him. The last 20 years has afforded me the opportunity to reform that relationship, but I have always feared the NEXT real challenge to my faith. I don’t know how you accomplished it, Mike, but your strength has inspired me. If God will give Mike that strength… maybe He will give it to me, too?

    Be well, dear man.

    Love,

    Eric

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