Meet Stephanie from White Bear Lake.
Growing up in Sunday School, I remember being
Then life happened.so very sad to learn how Jesus died. At the same time, I was in awe that He died for me. Even as a young child I knew that I would die for Him too.
As I grew up and learned more about the world, I was bombarded with messages that said an educated person could not believe the stories in the Bible. Not only that, but I was being told that following the Bible’s instruction was too restrictive.
Then I had children.
I find it hard to believe anyone can go through pregnancy and childbirth andnot believe in God–especially when faced with a difficult birth, like I was. The doctors told me the best case scenario would be that my son would be born with moderate to severe mental handicaps or would not survive delivery. However, I prayed and felt God assure me that my son would be just fine. I was blessed with an amazing son and then another incredible son two years later.
As a busy life of raising children took over, my relationship with God cooled. Even if I wasn’t making God a priority in my own life, I made sure he was a priority for my children. We bought Veggie Tales DVDs for the boys and read stories from their children’s Bibles, taught them to pray and be thankful. We even tried one church in the neighborhood, but that was about it.
Then the unthinkable happened.
Our five-year-old was diagnosed with Leukemia and one month later diagnosed with an additional ailment–a very rare genetic blood disease called Fanconi Anemia. He needed a bone marrow transplant immediately. The doctors could not give us any odds because they had never seen this combination of diseases appear together before. We were told to pray for the best and plan for the worst.
And did I start praying.
Little did I know God was answering so many of my prayers before I even knew what to pray for.
The world’s best doctors for Fanconi were right here in my backyard at the University of Minnesota. Although parents are usually not a good candidate for bone marrow transplants, they tested my husband and I anyway. I was a nearly perfect match!
With what felt like the whole world praying for my son, every time I looked at him he seemed to have an invisible prayer bubble around him. No matter what scary news the doctors brought us, nothing seemed to pop that bubble. It has been 10 and a half years since his transplant and he has been kicking butt and taking names ever since (with a lot of help and support from his younger brother).
After life settled down we started looking for a church home, but quickly became discouraged. We should have listened to my sister‐in‐law when she told us about this awesome church called Eagle Brook. But we didn’t. So it was back to watching DVDs and reading the Bible at home, without a church community to call our own.
And then cancer struck again.
My husband was diagnosed with lung cancer and it had spread to his brain and bones. We were able to find a church home while he battled cancer, but I did not sense the same invisible prayer bubble that I did with my son. It brought him a great deal of comfort and I could see his faith grow as the battle went on. On the other hand, I was losing my faith as quickly as he was losing his battle, although I never let him know that.
On July 7, 2008, the world lost a fabulous human being. His friends lost a caring friend, his parents (and mine) lost a great son, his sister lost a wonderful brother, my boys lost the most loving and fabulous father to walk the face of the earth and I lost my best friend and husband–along with my faith in God.
For the next few years I shunned everything to do with Christianity and God. I rebelled in a way that would make every teenager envious. My sister told me I could be angry–God would be OK with that, but I turned away from him just the same.
After some time passed and I began to be able to feel more than just pain, I realized I had to make a choice. I could not be that angry at someone I didn’t believe in. I either needed to work on my relationship with God or leave the anger behind and truly walk away.
One Sunday in August 2011, we visited the White Bear Lake campus for the first time. I fully expected it to be the only time. But to my surprise, I felt like Teaching Pastor Jason Anderson was speaking right to me. I did not like everything he had to say right at that moment, but I knew I needed to come back and hear more and keep considering. I have been attending nearly every weekend since.
I am now a volunteer in Kid-O-Deo and Hopelink. I joined a small group, and I plan to be baptized to publicly declare my new relationship with Jesus.