Wednesday, May 20, 2015

Fear, Faith, Oceans, Snakes and...Miracles

I always loved missionary stories as a kid. 
God seemed to do amazing things through people who stepped out in faith.
I feared the stories too. I feared that I loved them so much
that it might mean God was going to send me somewhere...
like Africa. 
I feared Africa. I feared the snakes in Africa.
I feared the heat in Africa. I feared the scorpions in Africa. 
I really feared that I might be going to the African desert :)

When I was 18 years old I signed up to go on a one month mission trip 
with a group called Teens With a Purpose..TWAPS for short.
They sang in churches, did construction work,
and generally served where they were needed.

My motives weren't pure though.
The mission trip was to Hawaii, 
a long time dream location for this Cali beach gal.
A place I didn't fear. A place I longed for.
I went, and spent a month there,
falling in love with the people and the place.

I distinctly remember standing in the airport in Maui 
waiting to get on the plane to go home 
and hearing that little voice inside my head say "STAY, just STAY." 

I didn't.

I had paradise in my grasp, but I didn't trust the voice. I wasn't brave.
Fear of being on my own at that young age was just too strong,
and my faith wasn't strong enough.
As it turns out, I wound up in the desert after all,
instead of paradise.

In the desert where there is heat, and snakes and scorpions.
Oh, the irony :)
Kind of like the Israelites in the wilderness...
"Don't get the desert. You missed the Promised Land.
You get Plan B."
(which He knew I was going to take the whole time)

I think that God must have a great sense of humor
when dealing with our foolishness :)

However, even after growing up a beach girl,
now residing in the desert for oh so many years,
(with surfboards stacked in my bedroom)
and missing my early "opportunity" to live in Hawaii,
I've found the desert isn't so bad.
In fact, it's home, even if it isn't Hawaii.
I have still been very blessed.

I have children who are much braver than I was,
and have traveled to many corners of the world,
serving where God has led them.

I have friends who have done the same.
People who are brave.
Cody and Tiffany are two of these people.
They are friends of ours who have lived their lives in faith, not fear.

They have a blog called Hurting Hearts, Helping Hands.

My oldest son worked with Cody for awhile,
and the stories he would come home and tell are legendary in our household.
We hold Tiffany in equally high esteem because it takes
a very strong woman to be married to such a daring man :)

Cody and Tiffany went to Sri Lanka to help
right after the Dec. 2004 tsunami hit.
They fell in love with the people and the place,
and THEY listened to the voice that told them to go back.
We met them during the time they were waiting to go.
They were working hard towards that goal.
And they finally made it, several years ago.

They are surfers giving back...
through an organization called Surfing the Nations,
ironically based out of my beloved Hawaii :)
Over the last 4 summers, my youngest daughter has
also volunteered with STN. They are reaching into all corners of the world.
They have even gone to North Korea to teach surfing there.
Yes, you read that right. NORTH Korea.
(You'll see their little icon there on the side of my blog,
along with my favorite music apps) :)

Last year, while in Sri Lanka, Cody was bit by one of the deadliest
snakes in the world...the Russell Pit Viper.
I'm including his post, which breaks down what happened.
When he was bit, word was spread to his friends worldwide via Facebook.
We didn't know if he would survive...because few do.

Snake Bite

Russell Pit Viper: Based on several factors, including lethality of venom, aggressive behavior and number of human fatalities it is responsible for, it is commonly agreed upon by herpetologists that the most dangerous snake in the world is the Russell's Viper. Also known as the Chain Viper, the Russell's Viper ("Daboia russelli") causes thousands of deaths each year. When the Russell's Viper bites a victim, it can deliver up to 112 mg of venom which can cause pain, swelling of the area around the bite, vomiting, 
kidney failure and an inability for the blood to coagulate. 
These symptoms or even death can occur very quickly, within 
two and a half to 10 minutes from the time of first being bitten.

My miraculous story as I look back over this death defying week…. It was a normal night here in Sri Lanka and my family was headed over to our friendJohnson's house for dinner. It was 7:30pm and I opened my shed and reached around the door to grab my motorcycle helmet. As I reached in, I felt something bite me on my ankle and made it feel like it was on fire. I quickly turned on the light to find nothing but my clean shed room that I had been working in all day. Still not knowing what bit me, I asked Tiff to bring me a flashlight and our snake bite kit. I turned my shed upside-down and looked in every corner as I had the venom suction syringe attached to my ankle. I have been bit/stung by snakes, spiders, jellyfish, scorpions, stingrays, sea urchins, and centipedes; so maybe I was a little bit calloused to the reality, but after not finding anything I just shrugged it off as most likely being a centipede. So I said "lets go to dinner." 

I let everyone around know what happened so they could keep an eye on me and then we proceeded to have an amazing meal of shrimp hand caught by Johnson,Babu , Spencer, and myself. During our time there a National Geographic commercial came on about poisonous snakes and I jokingly said "maybe it's a sign." Two hours later we were headed home to go to bed after a long day. As we all unloaded off my motorcycle, Koda said "Mom there's a snake. I thought it was a big pile of dog poop, but it's not, it's a snake." It was at our front door step under our brightest outdoor light in a place that we could not miss it. (Miracle #1; I was headed to sleep; if we didn't find this snake literally on our front door step I would have not gone to the hospital). 

Thousands of emotions and feelings flooded through me as I recognized it as being one of the top 4 most lethal snakes in the world, a Russell Pit Viper. I knew I needed to stay calm to prevent the poison that had already been in my body way too long, not to be pumped throughout my body; but I also knew I needed to kill the snake so that I could take it to let the doctors identify it. As soon as we saw the snake, Tiff called Johnson to come pick us up and take us to the hospital. Johnson said over and over on the phone to not kill the snake, because one of the Sri Lankan myths about snake bites is if you kill the snake that bit you, you will surely die. (Johnson's big brother was bit and killed by this viper or one very similar). You can imagine how scared he was for us. 

We dropped off our kids with Johnson's wife and it was then when I felt the emotions of "this might me the last time my boys will get to see me." They were already scared and I didn't want to scare them more, so I lightheartedly gave them hugs, told them I loved them and wished them sweet dreams. "Hardest moment in my life thus far." 

We arrived at our local hospital to find out they couldn't help, and sent us on an hour and a half ambulance ride to a bigger city hospital in Ampara. Babu begged to come in the ambulance with us and I am so glad they let him so he could be with Tiff and help translate. In the ambulance Tiff got on the phone to get family and friends praying and to get our Doctor friend Matt's number. Within five minutes Matt was on the phone with Tiff walking her through everything she needed to know as I was copying and pasting on our computer things she or the doctors might need if I was to go into shock or pass out. 

When we arrived the doctors looked at the snake and looked at me and didn't understand why I was not dead. At this point they assumed that it must have been a dry bite without venom or else I would either be having severe reactions or be dead. Therefore they didn't want to give me the anti venom. They started running blood and urine tests and thats when they realized I did have venom in my blood. However, they still didn't believe it so they ran the same test again with the same results. (Miracle #2- I should have been going through death like side effects, but nothing.) 

They were finally convinced and immediately gave me 10 viles of viper anti venom, which they also said would have really bad side affects. With epinephrin shot in hand, all the nurses and doctors watched in amazement. Thirty viles of anti venom later and there were still no severe side effects. (Miracle # 3- No side effects to the anti venom). 

Soon my blood was back to normal and as they were still continuing to monitor all my systems for effects, they were convinced that my brain, heart, kidneys and other organs were miraculously unaffected- ( Miracle #4). Three days later I'm at home, back on my feet, entertaining all of my loving Sri Lankan family/friends who have come to see this walking, living Miracle. What do I have to say about all of this? 

Well….. my Jesus Rocks and I give him all the credit he deserves, even when some might say "why would he let you get bit in the first place?" My response is this: Jesus wanted to show off and to show others that don't know him how much he loves his people and how he can do the impossible, the supernatural. Thank you first off to Jesus for saving my life. Tiff you were amazing and I am so proud of how you handled the situation; I am so lucky to have you. Dr. Matt, you are my hero and my family and my life has been so, so blessed by you. Thank you for doing what you do. Friends, family, and people that I don't even know who prayed for me, I am overwhelmed by your love. Your prayers were answered and you now have a personal testimony of Jesus's amazing healing power. Share it with everyone you know. I love you all. I love you Jesus. 
Some scriptures people shared that were powerful during this time. 
Psalms 91, James 5:16, Acts 28. Psalms 56:3. 

Miracles...they happen when we least expect them.
They remind us WHO is in control.

My favorite song in the world is called Oceans....
(surprise, surprise)
It's beautiful, and I have listened to it hundreds of times.
It's about trust, and being brave...
I especially love the line that says
"Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders"
I think it represents Cody, Tiffany and Surfing the Nations 
very well, along with many others 
who ARE brave...

Enjoy :)

Hillsong United ~ Oceans (Where Feet May Fail)

You call me out upon the waters
The great unknown where feet may fail
And there I find You in the mystery
In oceans deep
My faith will stand

And I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Your grace abounds in deepest waters
Your sovereign hand
Will be my guide
Where feet may fail and fear surrounds me
You've never failed and You won't start now

So I will call upon Your name
And keep my eyes above the waves
When oceans rise
My soul will rest in Your embrace
For I am Yours and You are mine

Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders
Let me walk upon the waters
Wherever You would call me
Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander
And my faith will be made stronger
In the presence of my Savior

Oh, Jesus, you're my God!

I will call upon Your name
Keep my eyes above the waves
My soul will rest in Your embrace
I am Yours and You are mine...

Btw, the photo at the top of the page is of the
Surfing the Nations Sri Lanka Surf Club :)


  1. OMGOSH- I got chills reading his story. Can you IMAGINE?!!!! God certainly had HIS hand on his life. His time was not to be yet-he has work to do and God has rewarded him with continued life to do that.

    What a wonderful story of faith. I have often not been brave enough to do what I knew I should do, too. It has caused lots of heartaches over the years! But- we can only look forward and not back- xo Diana

    1. It was a scary time Diana, but so many people all over the world saw God's hand at work during this time. So true about looking forward instead of looking back :)

  2. miraculous indeed!!!!
    praise God! wow....
    {oceans is a favorite of mine as well}

    1. Thanks Sherry! It was such a miracle. Glad you love Ocean's too. It looks like there are lots of others, because it sure has a lot of views :)

  3. I have always loved missionary stories too. I still do! What a incredible story. I am so glad that God kept him safe. I kept thinking of Paul and getting bit too.
    I never think that your plan B was plan B, I think you made a good choice. Children are always the blessing from the Lord. :)

    1. They still touch my heart too. Thank you so much for your encouragement. I know that God has blessed me in spite of me, for His glory, and I am so thankful for my children, just as I know you are too :)

  4. This is one of the most amazing stories I've ever read! Thank you so much for sharing this.

    1. Oh thank you Cynthia! God still performs miracles :) I tried to see if you had a blog and didn't find one. If you do, can you send me your blog address? Blessings to you!

  5. There's such depth in this post.
    God be with us all and may show us the path cut out for each one of us.

    1. Thank you so much Ruby. I am always blessed by your writing :)

  6. Thank you for coming by to visit me...I did not know Simple Home was you! You simplified your name. I like it better. What a beautiful couple and life of giving they lead. Hearing about your heart and your children is a joy too. I was stationed to go to Africa with the Peace Corps when I was 22. I had studied at University with the purpose of serving in PC upon graduation with Mothers and children in the health clinics. My BA is Foods and Nutrition with a minor in Ethnic Studies(African Emphasis). My husband and I were accepted and stationed in Ghana. But four months prior to departure I became pregnant with our first born. PC does not take couples with children so we did not get to go. We tried for many years to save and go with a Missionary group but it was not meant to be. I wanted to live in a hut in the jungle. I was afraid of the worms you can get through the water that come out of your body through your pores. It is very gross and takes a long time for them to come out! Two of my children have talked about going in the Peace Corps after graduating we will see.

    I am so glad to see you blogging again.
    Sea Tidings,

    1. Wow Kerrie, that is impressive that you were so dedicated to going to the very place I wanted to avoid. I have known several people that have gone to several different African countries and they have given a completely different perspective as an adult, but as a kid, I just thought it was full of snakes and scorpions :) Thank you for the compliment on the name change too :)

  7. I visited Hawaii several years ago and if not for the fact that ALL of my family lives in Georgia... I could SO get used to living there:) I am going to visit your friend's blog! I know that they are a blessing to many whose paths they cross! Have a blessed day dear friend, HUGS!

    1. Thank you Theresa. I would live there too, if God would move me there :) I'm sure you'll enjoy their blog. They serve with pleasure.

  8. I think we humans are at our best when out there helping others and trying to make a difference..even if it's in much smaller ways than being a Missionary. Missionary stories were what I loved to hear about in Sunday school when I was young.
    Hawaii...I loved it there.

    1. Yes Mona, you are right, that's when we're at our best. I wish I would remember that more :)


Thanks so much for stopping by :)