Woven Blessings
Winter 2005

by Sheri L. VanDuyn

I shared this Chapel Talk with my High School students on October 4, 2005 at Western Michigan Christian. The Bible reference was John 20: 24-31.

 My devotional involves 3 words. The first word is Miracles. Webster defines this as a Noun…1) an event or action that seems to go against the laws of nature or science; it is usually thought of as caused by God; an amazing or remarkable thing; a marvel. It will be a miracle if we win the game! Today’s terminology for miracles sometimes does not include God. Phrases like “Boy, he was in the right place at the right time.” “What luck!” “How lucky can one person be?” “What a coincidence!” “What a blessing!” Or, “oh, how fortunate!” I have even heard the phrase-“This was a God breeze”-God floating through your life!

 The second word is “Happen.” Webster defines as a verb…1) to take place or occur; “What happened at the dance?” 2) to occur by chance; “It happened to be a sunny day today.” 3) to have the luck, good or bad; chance I happened to see it.

 My third word is Today-which of course means the present or in this time period. Yet, my story to show you this point starts 51 years ago with 2-18 year olds-Harold (South Dakota) Van Duyn and Helen (Iowa) VandeVegte. They meet, fall in love and are married 1 year later in August 1955. This couple would later become my brother and sister-in-law! They move to California following his parents.

 The following August, they have their first child a boy, Randy. The next August, they have their second son, Rick. Two years later in August, they have their daughter, Cheryl. Then a few years later they have their 4th child a son, Robert and a few years later, they have a 5th child, Ryan. All 5 children attend Christian school in sunny, southern California and all graduate from Valley Christian High School in Bellflower, CA just outside of Los Angeles.

 Well, fast forward about 47 years. Harold and Helen move to Northern California. Harold is retired a few years and they love to travel in their motor home, but Helen does not feel well and after a myriad of tests, it is determined that Helen has a liver disease. While the main cause of this disease could be linked to drinking or alcoholism, this is not the case because Helen does not drink. What the Doctors trace this to is now called Hepatitis C. Helen had contracted this disease through a blood transfusion with Rick, her 2nd child. Being that the 2 boys were only a year apart, Helen needed a blood transfusion after his delivery. Back then not all the tests were given on donated blood and although she grew stronger through receiving the blood, Helen also acquired this disease which remained dormant until the past 10 years.

 The liver can best be described as a large organ in the body, near the stomach; it makes bile and helps break down your food into substances that the body can absorb. So this organ is definitely used on a daily basis and if it is not working properly, a person’s ammonia levels will get high causing much discomfort. Well, Helen was uncomfortable the past 3 years, and in April of this year, she was hospitalized in a small Northern California hospital in Modesto, CA. They treated her in a textbook manner and did the best they knew how, but Helen was failing and failing fast!

Helen was aero-med south to UCS Medical Center in a special airplane equipped with all the medical items including 2 nurses; Harold was not allowed to ride with, so he drove their motor home down south. Helen’s levels were stabilized. She was given medication to make her comfortable, but her only hope was a liver transplant and you really have to be almost near death to get this operation done and have a liver lined up to receive. So, more tests were performed. Helen was released to their motor home as Doctors ran more tests.

 Later, they traveled north back to their home sharing with their 5 children about the transplant. All 5 children were tested and it was discovered that their son, Rob was a perfect match. Well, this summer found Helen with good days and some bad. The transplant was on hold as she waited to be scheduled.

 In the meantime Harold made plans for the family to gather for a 50th Wedding Anniversary Celebration dinner. My husband and I had planned to attend in August. Then in the end of July, Harold was contacted by the Doctors saying they could meet with them. Of course, this was the same weekend as their party; which was then rescheduled for Labor Day.

 The Holiday weekend was getting closer and instead of celebrating Harold and Helen’s Anniversary, we flew to California to meet and pray with family as the Doctors had an opening to take Rob and Helen for her liver transplant. There was an opening in the Dr.’s busy schedule, so the surgeries could happen. Yet a 6 hour delay the morning of the surgery almost put everything on hold. A new surgical team began the 6 hour surgery on Robert cutting and removing 55% of his liver. Tests were run to make sure this was a healthy organ to transplant with no signs of cancer being evident. Helen was opened up for her 8 hours of surgery. Rob was moved to recovery while the family waited for word on Helen.

 Everything for both surgeries went extremely well. Rob has had almost a text book recovery. He has just now returned to work 6 weeks after the surgery. The amazing fact about the liver is that the liver will actually grow back to 90% of its size within 8 weeks. This is one organ that God made so unique as it can regenerate and does so with successful surgery.

 Helen continues to improve taking anti-rejection medication and was doing quite well until this weekend when her fluid levels were high and she was re-admitted back into the hospital. Wow! What a series of miracles! Surgery with doctors becoming available; A match from son to mother; A healthy liver for the transplant; And now recovery! Yes, this is the miracle in my family right now!

 Yet God is working miracles daily in you! Are you praying for one? Ask God through prayer for a miracle-success in school-through subjects, the arts or sports

-for college or work decisions

-for a Christian mate.   It is never too early to begin asking God to work His miracles in you!

 These are not good luck or coincidences, these are miracles which are amazing.  Everyday something happens in our life to affirm that what we are doing is what God has put us here to do.  Remember-- Miracles Happen Today! And everyday!

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