Note: This is part 5 of the incredible miracle of how my daughter survived the bubonic plague and how our family became vessels for an infection of Love. If you are just now joining us click Part 1, Part 2, Part 3, A Time for Everything, or Part 4. Don’t forget the Kleenex!
A long time ago someone told me that the saying, “Blood is thicker than water,” actually comes from this saying:
The blood of the Cross is thicker than the water of the womb.
I have never found the source of this quote so if you know it, please feel free to share it!
Feeling so alone, I seemingly crawled back to the Ronald McDonald House, exhausted and heartbroken that Sierra was in so much pain. I needed sleep badly, so I could be there for her, but before I could do that I had to call out to my brothers and sisters.
Oh my Jesus, how I need you now.
It is a strange and mystical thing being a Christian because we really do share the same Blood. ” But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, purifies us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7) If I told you how many times a brother or sister recognized Christ in me, or joined me in a divine appointment, or was supernaturally there at the right place and the right time it would fill up my blog!
My favorite moments, however, are when I hear Christ speaking through my brothers and sisters. Once I traveled to speak to another group of believers in another town. An elderly Jewish woman asked each one of us, “Don’t I know you?” At first we all thought it was the ramblings of an old woman, until God opened my eyes and ears and I saw and heard Jesus asking the question. To this day when someone asks me, Don’t I know you? I stop in my tracks and give my full attention! And the answer is almost always, “Yes! I do know you!”
So, slowly and painstakingly I typed out on Facebook what had transpired in the last three days. My fingers felt like lead as I called out into the night. Invisible dark things and dark voices seemed to laugh at me, taunting me as I took the risk to ask for help. It didn’t take long as people I had never known before joined the ranks as kinsman redeemer to answer my plea. Every prayer, every word of encouragement, every Amen, hallelujah, Go! Jesus, Go! mattered! One of the first responders was Sierra’s old kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Faber. This woman immediately prayed and interceded on Sierra’s behalf throughout the long nights. I continued to pour out updates and requests as the battle for a little life ensued.
He lifts up a banner for the distant nations, he whistles for those at the ends of the earth. Here they come, swiftly and speedily! Isaiah 5:26
Then God began to bring me closer into His embrace and my own heart longings were answered as my sister reached out to me and my family and became my spokes person on days when I could not do anything but hold Sierra’s hands. My family and Sean’s family surrounded us and we all stood together, confronting an ancient and historic black death.
Our comrades in other states and countries began to reach out to us too. Through the mist of this world’s shadow God sent us a message before we knew whether or not this was the plague, not in an ancient scroll or through an angelic being, but in a modern-day text message. God is so cool. Here’s the message:
“I felt it appropriate to share a vision I had the first night we heard about Sierra. Sean confirmed it when I spoke to him but I did not feel comfortable enough to share. We heard she was life flighted and we started praying. While [my wife] prayed I had the vision and started laughing. She thought it odd and stopped to ask me what I was laughing at. I saw Sierra. She was older… say 14 or 15. If you can imagine she was even more beautiful than now. She was leaning against a wall wearing a long black sleep shirt and it read ‘The Black Death has NOTHING on Me and My God!’ I then was overcome with peace and laughter.”
We hadn’t announced that this was the plague when I received that text message from a dear brother in Christ!
It is especially magical, the kind of deep magic C.S. Lewis talks about in The Chronicles of Narnia, to call seemingly strangers, brother or sister. But it is this special unifying quality that binds together God’s people so that when the time calls for it—- we gather, we help, we provide, we pray. Our Dad is King after all!
The trauma of Sierra’s seizure was especially hard on her daddy. Sean couldn’t shake the visual image of Sierra unconscious in his arms that first night. He cried out to God for a bit of joy and the second he had finished his request in walked a nurse named Joy!
Oh Jesus, you care right now about what we are doing and what we need. You hold us when we don’t even know it.
Sierra’s Sulley! Not quite as hairy though!
Sierra was a fighter but there came a point when we knew we needed back up. My two older daughters went to my dad’s house near Denver while we stayed in the hospital and Sean’s parents were in Pagosa getting us moved into our new house.
Knowing we have three little girls and only two grandpas, God sent us a third; Steve. If you have ever had the pleasure of seeing Sierra and Steve go shopping together, it would have reminded you instantly of Boo and Sulley from Monsters Inc.
Steve had texted me that he was thinking of flying in and I simply texted him back, “Do it.”
Steve arrived that day. It was touching and shattered my heart when he entered the room and a groggy Sierra used what little strength she had to try to reach up and hug Steve’s neck. They have been buddies since she was four and God decided to use this event to bring us all back together.
Steve and Sean teamed up and we alternated every-other-night in the PICU. There were nights when the battle was intense but it wasn’t more real than the day Sierra’s breathing tube slipped back into her lungs!
Steve made up a game called “Balloon Ball” to help Sierra during physical therapy.
More doctors than usual surrounded Sierra and we were all checking her numbers on her heart rate and I noticed that Sierra was turning blue. I stood at the foot of her bed with Sean on one side of me and Steve on the other side while one doctor worked to get Sierra breathing. They pulled out the breathing tube and I locked eyes with Dr. Robeless and all I could think was, You chose this woman to do this job, Lord. That is her hand pumping air into my daughter and that is Your hand. Time seemed to stop as we all fell silent and watched air first fill Sierra’s tummy and slowly, slowly move into her lungs until she began to take in the oxygen. Her color returned to her cheeks and life flowed through her body and the battle changed! If I remember right, I think that was the seventh day… and that night we rested!
Wrap Me Up in Prayer!
The prayer quilt sent to us from Grace Church.
Within just a few days of our stay in the hospital a prayer quilt arrived. I was so thankful because even in the middle of summer, hospitals are cold! Sierra’s kindergarten teacher, Mrs. Faber, ordered a quilt and another sister delivered: Ellen Charnley and her team of prayer warriors from Grace Church! Ellen became a very active ally as prayer requests went forth.
Ssengooba Samuel Mugabi with the children who prayed for Sierra. “God sets the lonely in families, he leads out the prisoners with singing….” Psalm 68:6
Another blanket of prayer came in on the breeze of summer. This blanket of prayer came from afar, in the land of Kampala, Uganda. A little orphanage I had never known heard about Sierra’s illness and made it their business to fight for Sierra every day, raising the battle standard of prayer! This was a genuine act by a group of children (Click this LINK to meet them.) and their pastor to reach the heavenly places and deliver prayers to a God who rides with a banner called Love! I wept. Often I wept. Again, mystically we all gathered together beneath one banner, for one purpose, and prayed. There is no other kingdom where such unity can occur– here is the place where the kingdom cannot be shaken– Love.
Moses built an altar and called it The Lord is my Banner. Ex 17:15
But for those who fear you, you have raised a banner to be unfurled against the bow. Psalm 60:4
Let him lead me to the banquet hall, and let his banner over me be love. Song of Songs 2:4
Like Sierra, these orphaned children need help too, so I am including a link to their page HERE where you can help them get the food, resources and medical attention they desperately need. To this day I still chat with Samuel and we encourage each other across the world. God’s kingdom has no dividing lines, even if part of it is on the other side of the world.
The day after we moved out of the PICU another prayer quilt arrived.
Sierra was getting stronger and had started physical therapy. Sean returned from the Ronald McDonald House with a package carefully tucked beneath his arm. I curled up on the bed with her and we opened the package. No one knew about the Snow White metaphors– no one. So when I opened up the package and unfolded the Snow White quilt I was so surprised, and I am certain there was a twinkle in my Lord’s eye~ Oh God, how you love us.
Wrapped in the quilt was this letter:
Dear Sierra Jane,
This quilt was made by the Prayer Quilt Ministry at St. Patrick’s Episcopal Church. It has a picture of Snow White on it. I hope you like it!
As you probably know, Snow White was a very beautiful young lady. She had a very sweet and giving heart. Animals loved her as did everyone who knew her…except the wicked stepmother. The wicked stepmother was beautiful on the outside, but rotten on the inside. She wanted to be the most beautiful person in the land, but she didn’t understand that to be truly beautiful you have to be beautiful on the inside too. She thought that by killing Snow White, she could claim to be the most beautiful person in the land. She gave Snow White a poison apple, one that, like her, was beautiful on the outside but rotten on the inside. Snow White ate it and became very ill. Some thought she had died. But she had one very important weapon against evil. That weapon was love. In the end, love saved her.
You are like Snow White who has been saved from a very nasty disease by love. You have received God’s love in many, many ways. Your dad and sisters who rushed you to the hospital, your mom who has been by your side the whole time, the doctors and nurses who found the right drugs to give you to make you well, the hundreds of people who have been praying for you, the wonderful people who have sent you cards and gifts, the folks who have contributed money to help pay the doctors, the people who helped move your things into your new house, all of these acts of love are because we love you and your family so much. We all love you and want you to get well as quickly as you can!
The prayer quilt was prayed over while it was made, it was placed on the altar at church during our Sunday morning service and Fr. Doug blessed it and we all said a prayer for you. Then it was taken to the parish hall where individuals said a prayer and tied a knot in the strings as a sign of their prayer. I hope you find comfort in it and that it reminds you that you are very, very loved! Get well soon, sweetheart!
Sierra and I both wept into each others arms. It is a memory I will cherish for eternity. She understood the metaphor and everything God had done to save her. She snuggled up in the blanket insisting, as she drifted off to sleep, that we hang the letter in her room…and it is still there to this day.
Snow White calls to her people, “Who will be my brother!?” Image from Snow White and the Huntsman
Later that week when we would arrive home in Pagosa, Sean and I would watch the new Snow White and the Huntsman and hear these prophetic words ring out from the film
Death favors no man. We must ride like thundering waves under the tented battle flag of my father. ~Snow White
Iron will melt, but it will writhe inside of itself! All these years, all I’ve known is darkness. But I have never seen a brighter light than when my eyes just opened. And I know that light burns in all of you! Those embers must turn to flame. Iron into sword! … I’d rather die today than live another day of this death! And who will ride with me? Who will be my brother? ~Snow White after being kissed awake.
There is still much to share, much to say, people I have left out on the page but certainly not in my heart. We rode far. We rode long. If you wish to view some of my kinsman who fought by my side please click this link to the event, Sierra Jane: God’s Super Star. And to those of you who prayed, stood in the gap, loved us at all cost,
Now that the worst is over, we’re pleased we can report that we’ve come out of this with conscience and faith intact, and can face the world—and even more importantly, face you with our heads held high. But it wasn’t by any fancy footwork on our part. It was God who kept us focused on him, uncompromised. Don’t try to read between the lines or look for hidden meanings in this letter. We’re writing plain, unembellished truth, hoping that you’ll now see the whole picture as well as you’ve seen some of the details. We want you to be as proud of us as we are of you when we stand together before our Master Jesus. 2 Cor 1: 12-14 The Message
Until the next battle…..