Experiencing the ER in Easter
This past Easter Sunday 2014 was unlike any I had experienced in all my recollections of Easters past. What had begun like any other Easter Sunday at church in Moreno Valley, California, unexpectedly shifted like a sudden gust of wind toppling an open umbrella. The landscape quickly shifted through unforeseen circumstances, which caused all of our family plans to be abandoned in the midst of an emergency. Even though we did not get to hear the pastor complete his sermon that morning (concerning Jesus dealing with doubt through his disciple, Thomas), God left no room for doubt with our family regarding His love, mercy, and grace, once the emergency had passed.
It has been the Southern California Doyle family clan tradition (for many years at Easter) to invite Mom and Dad Doyle to our church service and then spend time in an outing afterward. The folks prefer to come to the third (and last) Sunday service, which starts at 11:00 a.m. That time works with my schedule as well because I play with the praise band all three services and am unavailable until the end of third service. This particular Easter, we had planned to go out to lunch then take in a newly released movie called “Heaven is for Real.” As it turned out, we never saw the film, but still received the message, a few days later, that Heaven was indeed “for real.”
Our father, Jerry, is 78 years old and has been dealing with some significant health issues within the past few years. By the grace of God (and my mother’s strict oversight of all of his medications and doctors’ appointments), Dad has lived a much longer life than his own father and grandfather. Our mother, Terry, is two years younger than Dad, and has had her left arm in a sling for a number of weeks (following corrective surgery) after she fell and injured herself several months ago. Mom and Dad arrived early at church on Easter 2014, and took the opportunity to hang out with Linda and me, as well as chat with some of the musicians in the band.
By the start of service, everything was humming like clockwork. Linda had secured seats in the middle section of church about halfway between the pulpit and the entrance to the sanctuary. Dad sat closest to the aisle; Mom next to him; our daughter, Carra sat next to her grandmother; then Linda next to Carra, and (after our opening set of songs) I sat next to Linda. Pastor Bob Mink was unwrapping the story of Jesus’ first appearance to the disciples after the resurrection and how one of the original twelve disciples, a man named Thomas, had been absent on that occurrence. Because he had not seen the resurrected Jesus, Thomas refused to believe the testimony of the other ten disciples who had witnessed Jesus’ appearance. As Pastor Bob began delving deeper into the story, something happened to Mom.
“Oh my God!” Mom said in a loud voice.
Her sudden outburst caused the folks in front of her to turn and look back. But mom sat perfectly still and did not move. The fact was she could not move. Dad turned toward her and his expression was one of deep concern. Mom’s countenance had changed, her color was pale; she looked confused, frightened, and sweaty. In a much quieter and gasping voice, she announced, “I think I just had a stroke.” Linda leaned over and told me what Mom said, then volunteered to get help.
Linda walked out of the sanctuary to call 9-1-1. I moved over closer to Mom and laid my hand on her knee and prayed. Dad was encouraging her to try and move her fingers. After about a minute, Mom asked what was going on. I told her Linda was calling an ambulance. Mom insisted we cancel the ambulance. She said she had blacked-out for a few moments, but could move. So in the middle of the sermon, Dad, Carra, and I stood up and assisted Mom out of the sanctuary.
We met Linda and some of the pastoral staff in the lobby. An off-duty nurse offered to help Mom. People in the band and lobby were praying for her as well. At Mom’s insistence, Linda canceled the paramedics. She compromised and allowed Linda to take her and Dad to Urgent Care in our car. Mom’s parting words to me as I seat-belted her into the car were, “I am afraid I have ruined Easter.” While driving to the doctor, Linda laid a hand on Mom and began praying over her. Mom and Dad also prayed.
Once inside the Urgent Care lobby, Linda recalled that Mom and Dad still maintained a good sense of humor. They joked that Pastor Bob might think they had left because they didn’t like his sermon. Once Mom was examined by the doctor, he believed she was experiencing a second stroke, so he called for an ambulance to transport her to the Emergency Room (ER) at Riverside Community Hospital.
After church, I drove the kids to the Urgent Care in Riverside. While en route, I phoned my brother, Jeff (in Northern California) and filled him in on what had happened. While Jeff was notifying family members and getting prayer fired up there, I called out for help from my prayer warriors from my phone. When we arrived, there was an ambulance backed up to the main entrance of Urgent Care. I knew it was there for Mom before Linda met me in the lobby and confirmed it.
Linda took the kids and bought some food for everyone, while Dad and I rounded up the remaining family cars from the church lot. By the time we arrived at the ER in Riverside, Mom was just being placed in a room. The ER was busy as usual, and Mom told us later about a bloodied carjacking suspect that the police escorted in via ambulance. By six o’clock that evening, Dad, Linda, the kids, and I had been able to visit with Mom in her room. She seemed to be in good spirits, and her color looked better. However, there was a noticeable droopiness to the left side of her mouth consistent with stroke victims.
The ER doctor said the CAT scan had shown no bleeding in the brain or trauma, which was a very good sign. He said he would admit Mom to the hospital for a battery of tests to determine the source of her strokes. This was not the Easter we had planned, but the outcome so far was better than might have been expected—for Mom showed no signs of paralysis or loss of function usually associated with a stroke. That fact, in and of itself, was a great blessing and relief to all of us. But God was not done.
On Monday and Tuesday, the hospital performed a number of tests and examinations on Mom. Friends and family dropped in to visit and pray with her. Tuesday evening, around 7 p.m., Dad called with troubling news. He had just sent out an e-mail to all the family as follows:
“RE: Grandma Doyle,
The MRI showed that she has a nodule in her brain. It is located in an area which has to do with pituitary and other functions. She is going to go through some other tests to see what is going to happen now.
LOVE, Grandpa Doyle”
Dad told me during his phone call, that the doctors did not know whether the nodule on her pituitary gland was malignant or benign. When I finished the call, I began calling my prayer warriors—identifying for them specific prayer over the pituitary gland and that nodule as the source of trouble for Mom. Linda prayed. I prayed. Family all over the country began praying. People at my work prayed. Our church family bathed her in prayer. And my friend Monique Crother and her husband Duane assured us they were praying for Mom.
Within minutes, I received an incredible text message from Monique. She said that she and Duane were in their living room praying for Mom, when Monique had a vision. Two angels appeared and went to the site of Mom’s pituitary gland. Monique saw the nodule which looked like two marbles. The marbles were black (which Monique understood as malignancy.) The angels touched the black marbles and they immediately became white and disintegrated as soon as they were touched. Duane and Monique agreed with the vision as a blessing from God of healing over Mom. I read the message to Linda and the kids, and we agreed as well.
On Wednesday morning, at about 10:30 a.m., I was cleaning the pool filter in my backyard when I received a phone call from Dad. He told me that a second MRI was performed on Mom and the nodule on her pituitary gland was gone. I was so excited! I praised God! It was a miracle! Mom had been healed supernaturally through the love of God and the power of prayer. The doctors believed she had suffered more than one TIA (Transient Ischaemic Attack), which are mini-strokes. She was sent home Wednesday afternoon with some aftercare instructions, on her own power.
As she was preparing to leave the hospital, I told Mom about Monique’s vision. Mom said that about the same time that Tuesday evening (the time everyone was praying for her) one of her nurses (whom she identified as a Black woman) came in to pray over her. Mom said the nurse stretched out her body over her and prayed fervently. Mom said she felt a powerful shift within her and saw a bright light. She knew she was healed, that God had answered her prayers.
Mom and I talked about this story the next day and I received her permission to write about it here. That Mom was in church when she had her stroke on Easter Sunday was no coincidence. We are convinced that she received a miracle because of God’s love for her! And it was a privilege and honor to receive His grace and mercy through the cooperation of all the forgiven sinners who prayed for her life. And I pray God’s blessings flow to each of you, that you will receive the blessings in full measure, because of the arising faith God emboldened on that first Easter Sunday, when he miraculously brought Jesus from death to life.
I confess that I have never seen the resurrected Jesus, except in my dreams. Yet I am convinced beyond a doubt that Heaven is for Real! My family and I have witnessed two miracles within our own family within the last six months. Prayer has power because God chooses to reveal Himself, His love, and His amazing grace through faith and belief in Him! And it pleases Him to do so. That is my testimony to you, the reader.
I hope you were blessed this Easter. As for our family, Easter was not ruined at all! My Mom received a gift of life from the Great Giver of life, and our family has been blessed beyond understanding.
Believe and be blessed! God is waiting to hear from you.
(copyright 2014, Gregory Allen Doyle)