My wonderful, supportive husband Jerry and I have three incredible daughters and six precious grandchildren. (Our eldest grandson has since passed away). We were married in 1963, and for the most part I was a stay-at-home Mom. I have always felt it was important to be there, especially when our girls were in their teen years.
This book is a result of many years of seeking to know the Lord in a more intimate way. As the Word promises, when we draw near to Him, He truly does draw near to us. There is more about my journey in the book, as well as the things He has taught me. Even though it had never been a desire of mine to write a book, I HAVE felt compelled to put in writing those things which the Holy Spirit placed on my heart.
During my lifetime, the Lord has led me from place to place, and from church to church, wherever my husband's work has taken us. We have attended various denominational and non-denominational fellowships, and visited many others over the years. Those things of which I have written are not meant to single out any one particular church, or denomination, but the church in general which spans all borders. There were times "between churches" when the Lord seemed to call me aside to be with Him. He used those times to instill in me ways in which He wanted me to know Him, rather than hearing only what others had to say "about Him." It was during those precious times with Him that I experienced the greatest spiritual growth. Then, when we would attend some church somewhere, it was with much sadness that I recognized the apathy of so many toward Him. Through those experiences He began to open my eyes to see and understand His heartbreak over those who name His Name but do not know Him.
The enemy of man's soul does not want the message in CALLING FORTH THE REMNANT to be heard. The pastor of the last church we attended encouraged me to begin writing. I had told him that a lot of people would probably not agree with what I had to say, and he advised me to not let that stop me. One day I wrote him an e-mail, telling him I was about to become Satan's worst nightmare and that he would stop at nothing to keep my book from being written. Not long after that, when I began to write, I became ill, but not so much that I was unable to work at the computer. The enemy tried to kill me when my blood had become infested with what I call "parasites from hell." But God prevailed with miracle after miracle and brought me back from the point of death.
Here is my testimony:
In early May 2003, I had my blood analyzed. The analysis revealed that my blood cells had been invaded and were being destroyed by "something," which was obviously the cause for the increasing weakness I was experiencing. There was also abdominal pain because of a narrowing in my colon that had become infected, causing inflammation.
On June 14th, after a second blood analysis, I finally gave in and went to a Doctor (not my favorite thing). I was sent to the hospital for blood tests, and they kept me there for blood transfusions and high dosages of both antibiotics and a steroid. I had avoided both these types of drugs for years after a bad experience during a previous illness. On the way to the hospital I prayed. I told God I didn't want to go to a hospital again, that I was putting myself in His hands and that I needed Him to go before me and protect me, giving wisdom to those who would be caring for me.
Before being admitted, the surgeon on call came to see me. He was such a kind, gentle man. Jerry and I looked at his name tag, looked at each other and smiled. The surgeon's name was "Noah Carpenter." It was Noah who built the ark of safety for his family, and Jesus is known as a "carpenter's son." For me, that was confirmation that God had heard my prayer, and that He was going before me. Dr. Carpenter was the one who did the colonoscopy, did two biopsies and, when the results were in, was delighted to tell us there was no cancer found in my colon. He was the surgeon who inserted the central I.V. line and said, "Bless you" before he turned to leave--more confirmation.
With the failure of the drugs to open up the passage in my colon, another surgeon was called in. He performed surgery on July 14th to remove a large portion of my colon. Within days it became evident that something was wrong, and on July 21st I had emergency surgery in the same place to try to clean out all the poison which had spilled into my body when the colon broke open. They had a difficult time getting rid of all that poisonous matter. Then there was an increase of those dreaded antibiotics and steroids when they were trying to rid my body of the infection that had set in.
Several days after the second surgery, I passed out while the nurse was attempting to get me up. I soon came to when my head and face hit the electrical plugs and the wall. That poor nurse got quite a scare! And after all the alarms and running feet, four people managed to get me off the floor and back into bed. There were no broken bones--just a goose egg on my head, a scrape on my cheekbone and a cut where my tooth met my lip. That was the last clear recollection I have of my stay in the private room where the nurses could "keep an eye on me." The next ten days barely exist in my memory--just blurry, confusing, pictures in my mind that I struggle to make sense of. What I now know is based on secondhand reports from my family, doctors, and nursing staff.
In each of the wards where I had roommates, there was always one believer. When they would leave to go home, each one made a point of saying she would be praying for me. Some of them even hugged me. Only God can turn a stranger into a friend so quickly. Each time this happened it confirmed to me that God was going ahead of me, ordering every step of my stay in a place I really did not want to be. I will never forget those sweet ladies, but most of all I am thankful to God for the reminders that He was there. And it was not the end of the reminders--there was even more to come.
My condition worsened until the night of July 31 when they moved me to the Intensive Care Unit--I had gone Septic. My lungs had filled up, so I was put on a ventilator. During that weekend of August 2 and 3 my kidneys failed, which meant constant dialysis. My body was bloated due to the kidney failure as well as the heavy use of Prednisone. I was being kept alive by machines. There were plenty of other monitors attached, and they had also paralyzed me with drugs to keep me immobilized so that I would not fight against uncomfortable things such as the ventilator down my throat. My blood pressure was too high, my heart rate was spiking dangerously, and things did not look good. The doctor told Jerry, and our daughters, that most people do not survive the things afflicting me. They said, "People don't get any sicker than that."
One of my daughters, trying to lighten the mood in the room, said, "Hey Mom, why does your heart rate go so high when Dad comes near you?" It was good for them to laugh a little. I wish I could have laughed with them to help them cope with what they were dealing with, but I was not conscious of anything much that went on around me. My pastor told me that, during one of his visits to me in ICU, my eyes opened when he touched my arm and he coached me to "fight, Stella, fight!" before he prayed for me. I have no recollection of that either.
After about six days in ICU, I began to improve. How could I not? Hundreds of people were praying for me, including the folks at the church we were attending at the time, as well as my sisters' churches in the cities where they lived, and many other people from so many places. I am not sure of the date, but the ventilator was removed and I was able to breathe on my own with the help of oxygen which they were able to gradually decrease. The heart and blood pressure monitors stayed with me until I left ICU. When I was more conscious of my surroundings and the people working in ICU, I opened my eyes one day to see a handsome young man standing by my bed. He said, "I have been praying for you." That really touched me! Here was a young man whom I believe God placed there to pray for me while he worked as an aide. He was yet another reminder that God was with me and that He had never left me, even when I was oblivious to all that was going on around me.
Rather than my dying, which was what the medical staff expected, my family was able to see me improve in a miraculous way. I could hear the excitement in the voices of the doctors and nurses as they discussed my progress. They were referring to me as the "amazing lady," and the "miracle lady."
After leaving ICU it was necessary to endure only three dialysis sessions. My kidneys miraculously improved to such a degree that the kidney specialist was completely in awe at how well I was doing. He had been on vacation, and when he saw me he said, "After reading your chart, you are not what I expected to see." Other doctors also had to admit that it was a miracle. One by one all of the tubes were removed, and my existence returned to a somewhat more normal one.
To go back to my other problem, a disease specialist had discovered the reason for the destruction of my blood cells--it was a Candida fungus. To make matters worse, the Candida fungi thrive on antibiotics and steroids. A potent anti-fungal drug was brought in, which had to fight against the effects of the other drugs and eventually the fungus in my blood was subdued. While the fungus was attacking my red blood cells, it somehow got into my eyes and severely damaged the retina in both eyes. An eye specialist was brought in to ICU to examine my eyes, but it was not until a follow-up visit to his office that he told me a most amazing thing. He said that he was "ecstatic" that my vision was so good and that when he saw me in ICU he did not expect me to have much vision at all. So when I am tempted to complain over my limited vision, I remember yet another miracle that took place in ICU and I thank God that He gave me what vision I do have.
They did an ultra-sound on my heart to see if either the Candida or the Sepsis had damaged my heart. There was no damage--my heart was perfect--another miracle! The initial tissue damage from the Sepsis was limited to various patches of flesh, especially on my thighs and ankles. After three long months in the hospital, I finally went home on September 16--a mere skeleton, with little flesh left and no muscle tone whatsoever.
Three months later, my eldest daughter took me to visit the various departments in the hospital where I had received care. Many had shown interest in knowing how I was doing, and had requested that I return to see them when I was well enough. The most amazing reaction came from those in ICU who had cared for me while I was there. Their faces showed pure amazement when they looked at me--a walking, living miracle! I wonder what they said to each other after we left that day.
With the ventilator's damage to my throat, I am unable to sing now. Satan tried to steal my song: he may have silenced the music from my voice, but God hears the song in my heart. With the damage the fungus did to my eyes, Satan tried to keep me from reading my bible, and writing the things the Lord teaches me, but God preserved enough sight for me to continue in the work He has given me to do. Greater is He who is in me, than he that is in the world!
A time came when the Lord began preparing me for the year 2003. I have been playing trumpet for over 50 years now. I love to worship the Lord with my music. Several years ago it became necessary to purchase a new trumpet, which I did. It was a good brass instrument and I enjoyed playing it. One time, as I was preparing to play a solo on a Sunday morning, God spoke to me and said that He wanted me to worship Him with the finest instrument. I wondered what He meant--had I bought the wrong trumpet? Should I have bought the more expensive silver one I had seen? I began having trouble with the valves sticking, which can cause wrong notes, or "fuzzy" notes. At that point, the Lord spoke to me and told me that just as a flawed instrument cannot make a pure sound, so it is with a flawed vessel (me) through whom the Spirit cannot minister in purity. From then on my prayer, before playing, was a prayer of surrender of all that was of my flesh so that I could truly worship God in Spirit and in Truth. Little did I know the purification that was yet to come.
As to the flawed trumpet, back to the dealer I went with the faulty valves. They were surprised--those valves were made of a special material for smooth action. They replaced the valves, saying that if it happened again they would replace the whole trumpet, thinking that it would never happen. Well, it did happen again much to their surprise. And as they promised, they were about to give me a new instrument but found that the same one was not in stock. Then God performed a miracle! They "decided" to give me a silver one instead, at no extra cost to me!
This whole trumpet story is not about me, or my trumpet, or my music, but the lesson God had for me. It was also in preparation for what was ahead. I learned from a friend that a silversmith takes silver and holds it in the refining fire to purify it. When asked how the silversmith knows when it is purified, he replied, "When I can see my reflection in it." I learned that a brass instrument has a plastic-like, lacquer finish. The word "plastic" comes from the Greek word "plastos," which means "fictitious." That means that the first trumpet had a man-made finish, while the silver for the new one had been refined in the fire to produce a pure instrument. The silver trumpet makes a much clearer sound, and has such a rich tone.
The allegory in the trumpet story is this: before I could pass on a message exposing flesh for what it is, and the damage it has done to the Body of Christ, I the messenger had to go through the refining fire of the year 2003. All during my conscious days and weeks in the hospital I knew God was doing a work in me. I was confident He would bring me through in spite of all that happened. And I now know that without the refining fire to strip away all that is of the flesh in my life, God would not be able to see enough of His reflection in me. I must submit daily to His working in my life so that more of Jesus can be seen in me. He must increase and I must decrease. No longer dare I continue to minister in music or by writing, having a shiny, deceiving, "plastic man-made coating" on the outside, without surrendering fully to the refining fire of the Holy Spirit on the inside.
Throughout the preparation of the book, the enemy's attacks continued, but Jesus overcame all things, and in Him we overcome! We can be sure that when we begin to expose Satan, he will send everything in his arsenal against us--this I know from experience! What the enemy intends for my destruction, Jesus the Overcomer turns around for His good. All praise belongs to Him!