My extended family has always been very close. We cousins were raised more like siblings. We even called each other brother/cuz and sister/cuz. My cousins continue to mean the world to me.
In March of 2010, my cousin Brad got sick. I mean, really, really sick. He was hospitalized with double pneumonia, blood clots in both pulmonary arteries and both legs. He had Acute Respiratory Distress Syndrome and a machine breathed for him for days and days. He was given less than a .00001% chance of survival. Seven times they called in the family to say goodbye. Seven times he shocked the world and survived.
My cousin Steve suggested I start writing a CaringBridge about Brad because I was having a hard time keeping family and friends informed of his condition. I agreed because I knew we needed people praying. The only hope Brad had was for God to do a miracle.
Over the course of Brad’s several month roller coaster ride stay in ICU, the Step Down Unit, and finally back home, people logged in to read his story over 396,000 times. It truly is an incredible story, and if you care to, you can read all about it at this link:
Even Brad’s doctors say he is a miracle. He is not unscathed. He continues to deal with the aftermath of that trauma, but he is still with us, and I’m eternally grateful! I love you, Bradley Reid!
During those intense months, I burned up the road in between Lynchburg and Moses Cone Hospital in Greensboro to stand vigil by his bed, sit with my family, or to say a heartbroken goodbye when we thought he was going to die. Life was all about Brad for my family during those months.
That was okay with me because I was already in the autopilot mode anyway. I had learned to just think about my kids every day, and nothing much else, to simply put one foot in front of the other. At one time I begged God to rescue me, and He had moved me into a place of quiet existence. I wasn’t thriving, but I wasn’t dying. Treading water felt so much better than drowning that I didn’t ask for more.
People were emailing me constantly about Brad, many complete strangers, telling me how they were praying for him, and how amazed they were at God’s healing hand. One day, however, I got one that wasn’t about Brad. It was about me.
Karen was a friend to both me and Brad, and she said when she was praying, the Holy Spirit told her He wasn’t just healing Brad, He was healing me. I was floored. Healing me? I thought I’d been healed all I was going to be. I wasn’t filled with anxiety every day anymore. Wasn’t that enough? It wasn’t much, but it was dang sure better than the Valley of the Shadow of Death!
I gave my testimony about what God did through writing that CaringBridge for Brad if you’d like to watch it, too:
You see, I thought I was unworthy of being truly happy. Life abundant was something I used to want, but I was now disqualified. I thought I was finished with teaching, helping people, and ministry in general. The call I once felt was lost to me. I accepted that I was now useless to the kingdom. My life had ended badly. How could I be of any real service?
I didn’t realize it was a lie from Satan.
As I continued to write Brad’s CaringBridge, God began to give me words to encourage people. I went from just updating about Brad’s condition to making Biblical application and actually teaching again. No, I didn’t have a Sunday School audience anymore, but I had an internet audience. And I decided to be faithful to that.
The prophet Ezekiel looked out and saw a valley of dry bones in Ezekiel 37. God asked him,
“Can these dry bones live?”
Ezekiel said, “Only You know, Lord.” God told Ezekiel to speak to the dry bones, and they would live. Ezekiel spoke, and God brought new life to the dry bones, muscles and tendons. Once dead bones lived again by the spoken word. Folks, the power of life and death are in your words. Be VERY careful how you use them.
Karen was faithful to speak life into my dry bones. I’m alive again, and I didn’t realize I was still dead! Look around you. You are surrounded by dead bones. I say to you, SPEAK LIFE every chance you get!
Friend, your life isn’t over. You can be a blessing to everyone around you. God isn’t finished with you! I’m 100% sure of that, and you know how I know? Because there is still breath in your lungs. As long as you’re alive, you’re still useful to the kingdom of God. Take that gift and pass it on. Speak life to someone else today. You will never know the ripple effect of that one kind gesture this side of eternity!
I went back and read Karen’s email for the first time in five years today. All over again, I’m crying. These are her exact words:
When Brad is well and at home you must continue to write- it is a blessing and many of us are encouraged and brought closer in our daily walk through your devotions.
Well Karen, it’s only taken me five years, but better late than never. Thank you for speaking life to these dry bones.