There is a bench at a Bible Camp, not far from here, dedicated to my niece Kara. More of Kara’s story is in the link My Niece’s Heart Transplant and My Awakening at the bottom.
Kara’s bench is one place on the grounds where leaders take kids to have one on one talks with them. The importance of that bench other than to memorialize Kara’s life and giving the kids somewhere to sit, is to remember that Kara was saved at that camp.
Why is it important to be saved you might ask? God’s original plan was that we live in a world with no sin or corruption in it. That is how He made it. He also wanted us to have choices and not be as mere robots doing as he said all the time without having our own opinions. That is where people made the mistake and went against God’s best directions to live in this world in a peaceful and loving manner. The results of that was that sin and corruption entered the world. So people messed it up but God knew that people were going to do that and He made a plan to purchase our freedom back again for us. In the Old Testament sins were covered with a blood sacrifices. The only way God could buy our freedom back was to come to earth as a person, never sin, and pay the penalty for us with His life.
So how do we get saved? God made it easy for us. We need to accept that Jesus paid the price for our sin or bad deeds so that we wouldn’t have to pay for them ourselves. He was a whole lot braver than I would have been.
All we have to do is to accept His free gift. That sounds easy. He has forgiven our sins and made us so we are righteous in God’s sight we just need to accept that and that Jesus rose from the dead and is still alive. He also wants to have a relationship with Him. So He wants us to ask Him into our lives (our hearts, some people would say) These are the first steps to experiencing Him.
I love that Ev and Matthew, and our whole family know that Kara is in Heaven. She is probably waiting for us and between enjoying Heaven and spending time with other loved ones she is looking forward to spending time with us when we get there.
John 3:16 (NKJV) For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
Romans 1:16 (NKJV) For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes, for the Jew first and also for the Greek.
2 Corinthians 5:21 (NKJV) For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
Ephesians 2:8-9(NKJV) For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
I had been seeking help from God for a couple of years, but hadn’t seen, heard, or felt His presence yet (excluding an experience I had when I was a teen and didn’t know it was Him). Then I prayed for someone else and experienced something amazing.
When my sister Evelyn was pregnant she learned that her baby had a heart problem. Shortly after birth, Ev’s baby Kara got a pacemaker and did okay for a little while. She was tiny for her age. At six months of age, her parents were told she was in congestive heart failure. We were all so concerned for her and her family. After a year of visiting doctors, a doctor in Winnipeg had told Evelyn and Matthew to take Kara home and make her as comfortable as they could, and essentially gave them no hope.
Kara’s family and many other kind caring people around the country began to pray and we put Kara on every prayer chain we knew of. I loved my sister and couldn’t bear the thought of her losing her baby girl. I had three little girls at home and couldn’t fathom the loss she was facing. So I prayed.
A new doctor came to the area, he was originally from South Africa. He said that Kara needed to be sent to a transplant center. Toronto was the newest in Canada and she was put on the heart transplant list. In Africa transplants are more frequently done than they were in Canada. He arranged the needed referrals.
Months later Kara was in the Hospital for Sick Children in Toronto and Ev was staying at Ronald McDonald House. They had been there for three months at this point, when at home Kara’s health nurse put on a benefit concert for Kara calling it For My Broken Heart. The family was invited to attend. My Mom, sister in law Val, my baby daughter Brittanie and I went.
As the line of people moved up the steps and into the big theater, I began to feel something I had never felt before. I felt love in a room. I felt love in that big theater. As the concert continued, I began to have a thought run through my head, If you could bottle the love in this room and send it to Kara, she would get her heart just like that. At the word that I would see fingers snapping in my mind’s eye. I heard it over and over many times until the intermission. It was so strong at times it overwhelmed me. I got up at the intermission and went to the back where the performers had gathered and I said. “If you could bottle the love in this room and send to Kara, she would get her heart just like that.” I snapped my fingers.
The program began again. It was wonderful. There were even children’s songs meant for Kara and songs about the heart. At the end of the concert my family and I went on stage and thanked the performers for what they had done for Kara and her family. And the last thing I said was, “If you could bottle the love in this room and send it to Kara, she would get her heart just like that.” Snap.
A few weeks later, Ev’s husband Matthew, had left Toronto and was on his way home by train. Cell service wasn’t that good in those days, so Ev couldn’t get ahold of Matthew. The doctors told Ev that Kara only had about a week left to live. We put Mom on a plane to Toronto to be with Ev. On Mom’s first days at the hospital, she stepped off the elevator and shook hands with a man with a name badge on. The man was a chaplain at the children’s hospital and his cousin was the pastor of Mom’s church at home. Ev hadn’t met him yet.
That same day the video tape of the concert arrived at Ronald McDonald House and Ev invited the other residents to watch it with them. They were sitting watching and enjoying the concert when the beeper went off alerting Ev to call the transplant team. They had found a heart for Kara, it was being flown in to arrive the next morning. The chaplain was there with Ev and Mom through the transplant.
Kara received her heart, recovered in Toronto for a few months and was at home doing well when I went for a visit. I asked Ev what they were doing when the call came in. Ev said they were watching the video and I asked what part. Her answer was, “The beeper went off at the end when you were on stage thanking everyone.” She had heard what I said. I realized then that God had bottled the love in that video and sent it to Kara and she had gotten her heart just like that.
Kara grew up. She was and is cherished by her family. I had a dream on Friday Dec 14th.The dream let me know that I needed to cancel a perm I was planning to do the next Monday morning. I had quit doing hair by this time but I had agreed to do this one. I didn’t know why I wouldn’t be able to do it that day but I have learned to listen to God as he talks to me through my dreams. So I called and canceled the perm.
On Monday Dec 17 th, I woke up to another dream telling me I wasn’t prepared for something and I was going to ask someone specific for help that day. Just after I had got up and moving, Ev called and I found out what I wasn’t prepared for. Kara had collapsed. I was glad I had canceled the perm that was scheduled for that day. I was free to ride to Brandon with Ev and Matthew. I started to walk towards the highway so they wouldn’t have to drive into town. I was concerned I wouldn’t make it there in time. The person I had dreamt about helping me earlier that morning was in the right place to ask for help when I needed it. He gave me a ride to the highway. We arrived just as Ev and Matthew did.
Kara passed away that day. We had 18 years with Kara we would not have had if those first prayers hadn’t been answered. God bottled the love in that room and it was sent to Kara, and she got her heart just like that, and He revealed Himself to me at the same time. My words, God’s words are at the end of that video tape.
That was the beginning for me. Once God revealed Himself to me I kept pushing in to know Him more.
Jeremiah 29:13 (NKJV) And you will seek Me and find Me, when you search for Me with all your heart.
Jeremiah 33:3, He says, "Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and wondrous things you do not know."
John 14:21(NIV) Who ever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them.”
At camp I stood up in front of about 130 campers. I asked if there were any Kyla’s at camp that week. (Her name has been changed.) Four girls stood up. I pointed at one of them and asked her if she would come to the front. She said, “Yes.”
I stood beside Kyla and asked her if she had a puppy named Sam, and a horse named Rex, and I asked her if she had just moved into a different house, but in the same yard. I told all the kids that Kyla’s favorite color was blue and that she loved to draw and ride her horse. Then I asked the kids if I knew Kyla. Everyone said “Yes.”
Then I looked at Kyla and I said, “Do I know you and do you know me?”
“No.” she said. I thanked her for coming up on stage and she went back to her seat.
Then I asked if there were any Meagan’s there and would they stand up. I pointed to one of them and had her come up. I asked her if her grandfather’s name was David, and if her brother’s name was Scott, and if she had three sisters. I told her what grade she was in and what her favorite TV show was. I asked the group of kids if I knew Meagan and the reaction was mixed. They didn’t know what the right answer was.
I turned to Meagan and said “Do I know you and do you know me?”
She said, “Yes.”
I told the kids that I knew about Kyla, but I didn’t know her. Then I told them that I knew Meagan quite well. I had known her since she was a baby and she came to my house after school a few days a week.
I told the kids that you can know about someone by hearing about them from a friend or by reading about them, but to really get to know someone and have a relationship with them you have to experience them. And that is what it is like with God, we can know about Him from others or from reading the Bible, but to really know Him you need to spend time with Him, talk with Him and experience Him.
I loved speaking at camp. My favorite part was when the kids came up to me outside and just wanted to talk, ask me questions, and share their lives with me.
God wants the same things.
Ephesians 3:19-20 (AMP) and [that you may come] to know [practically, through personal experience] the love of Christ which far surpasses [mere] knowledge [without experience], that you may be filled up [throughout your being] to all the fullness of God [so that you may have the richest experience of God’s presence in your lives, completely filled and flooded with God Himself].
20 Now to Him who is able to [carry out His purpose and] do superabundantly more than all that we dare ask or think [infinitely beyond our greatest prayers, hopes, or dreams], according to His power that is at work within us,
Matthew 7:21-23 (NKJV) “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
God wants to be so close to us that we experience Him working in us and through us all of the time.
Proverbs 3:6 (NKJV) In all your ways acknowledge Him,
And He shall direct[a] your paths.
If you wonder what that might look like, I’m not as fluent in my relationship with God as some people I know, but if you read my blogs you will read about more of my experience with Him. I hope you enjoy them and feel free to send me your comments. They don’t have to be published.
I was blow drying my hair, and blond hair was floating around me like feathers. I feared I would have very little hair left when I was done. I thought about my trip to speak that I was leaving for the next day. What would I do if I washed my hair the morning I was to speak and as I blew it dry it kept flying away until I was left bald? (Good job I retired, not a great confession from a hairdresser)
I had been highlighting my hair for a while, but thought I would blond it all over to an ash blond and see what it looked like. When you lighten from a dark level 5 all the way up to the lightest level 11 or 12, it has the potential to do strange things to hair, but the worst of it was overlapping pieces that had been blonded before. Those were the ones that were flying away. I just wanted enough of it to be left that when I went to speak I wouldn’t look like a half pecked chicken.
For safety measures I stopped at a senior friend’s house on the way through the next town and borrowed a new wig she had just bought. I relaxed a little.
I got up the morning I was to speak, showered, and blew dried my hair. More hair was flying. I took a deep breath and looked in the mirror. There was still enough left. I combed it into the nice little short style I had cut it into the day before and happily left the house.
I was sitting at the head table feeling honored with the position when the special feature was announced. The lady was talking about wigs. Perfect, I thought.
The lady spoke about the wigs and then it was my turn. I started my talk with, “I have never needed or wanted a wig until yesterday.” I told them a short version of the story and everyone laughed. What a great ice breaker.
I have a daughter who I recognized was gluten intolerant when she was five. We struggled with this for years because back when she was young there wasn’t much known about it. One thing that would throw things off was someone new cooking for us. One person cooked the dressing in the turkey and a week later used a new spice in a recipe both times making my daughter retreat to her room for three days. I was baffled at times because we thought we had it figured out and then she would be out of commission again and we wouldn’t know why. I also wasn’t feeling real good myself so I was trying the gluten free diet to see if I could get feeling better.
I arrived at a speaking engagement in Regina and right when I sat down the lady beside me said, “See the lady at the piano, we ask her to come and play for us a lot but she usually can’t, but she’s here tonight. She used to work at the hospital but her job was cut. Then she wrote a book and now she’s been on radio, TV, and in the newspapers and spends a lot of time in the United States.”
“What is her book about?” I asked.
“You know when people can’t eat wheat?” she said.
“Gluten intolerance?” I asked, I’m sure I sounded a little shocked.
“Yes, that’s it.” she said.
“I would love to go and speak with her,” I said.
“Go ahead,” she coaxed.
I walked up to the lady as she finished playing a song and handed her a piece of paper with my phone number on it and said, “I would love it if you would phone me sometime.”
“Are you gluten intolerant?” she asked.
“Possibly,” I said, “but my daughter is for sure.”
She handed me her card. It had a picture of her on one side and her book on the other.
After I was finished speaking this lady came over to me and told me she felt she was supposed to hear me speak because her life was very similar to mine.
A few days later she called me and I learned a lot from her on the phone. I learned that her book had lists of foods and additives that gluten was hidden in. I bought her book within a few weeks. One of the most significant things I learned from this book was that the rice milk we were using was processed with barley (gluten). That was so helpful. Exactly what we needed right when we needed it.
One of my daughters was living in Regina, quite a few years later, and was hunting for a job. She was hoping to work at a gym or a tanning salon. I was hoping not to have to pay another month’s rent. We prayed and agreed that God would find her a job.
Within a few weeks I went to speak in Regina again and the woman sitting across from me owned a gym. She had just sat down from giving her special feature talk when I asked her if she was hiring. She said “No, we have just hired a few ladies.”
After I was finished speaking the woman met me at the door and handed me her card. She said, “Have your daughter send me a resume.”
So I did, and my daughter went to work for her. It wasn’t long and she was moved up into the manager’s position. I read my daughter’s Christmas card from the gym owner a year later. It said, “I’m so glad I met your mother.”
That gave me chills, good ones. I was proud of my daughter and excited because of how it all happened.
As I travel to speak, I often stayed with people who like to write, belong to writer’s groups, or have authors and illustrators as friends who I get to visit with.
One time I needed some help with a legal/financial situation and I ended up staying with a woman who worked for Legal Aid and her husband was an accountant. My situation was resolved very quickly after that. On one trip though the arrangements were meant for someone else.
My friend Julie had traveled with me quite a few times. She had family up in northern Saskatchewan, so she traveled with me on my trips to Prince Albert, Melfort, and Nipawin. She has daughters in Winnipeg and traveled with me there a couple of times as well. One day she called me up and said she felt like God was telling her to be my traveling partner. I said, “I feel that way too.”
She said, “Where are you going next?”
“Bemidji, Minnesota.” I said.
“I would love to go to Minnesota.” she said, “both sets of my grandparents are from there. I don’t even have to go to their hometown, I would just like to see Minnesota.”
I had my map open on my bed when she called. “What is the name of the town? I asked.
“Bagley,” she answered.
“We will drive right through there,” I said.
So Julie went with me to Minnesota. On the way through Bagley, heading for Bemidji, we decided to turn a corner and see if we could find the church Julie’s grandfather helped build. First corner we took, within the first two blocks there it was.
I spoke in three places and we were on our way home through Bagley again two days later. It was 11:00 am. I said, “Do you want to stop here for lunch?”
“Sure,” Julie said. To make a long story short, the waitress was a relative of Julies, and Julie was able to talk to the girl’s mother on the phone. They talked about the history book they had both received the summer before and who they were in it.
So how many coincidences equal God? I hope you see what I see.
Proverbs 16:9 (NKJV) A man’s heart plans his way, But the Lord directs his steps
Romans 8:28 (NKJV) And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.
Matthew 6:33 (NKJV) But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.