#32 Growing with Life: My Testimony. Part IV

Growing with Life, Part III

I put off my decision on radiation for a while, waiting to hear from the Lord. It was a difficult wait, with mysterious health issues at every turn that doctors couldn’t figure out. Eventually, I was led to make an appointment with a radiologist, and so I did. It was great that I had waited! If I had gone immediately (as I’d been instructed), I would’ve seen a different radiologist. But, because I waited on the Lord’s timing, I had a radiologist who had taken the same treatment when he’d had a six-month-old daughter at home! So he knew better than most doctors (who would’ve spit out textbook answers,) that I needed to abstain from holding my children for long periods of time because I’d be emitting radiation. If I had acted immediately and saw the original doctor recommended to me, I would’ve held Lydia way too soon.

When I saw the radiologist, he told me he wasn’t sure I needed radioactive iodine. He said I was an intermediate case, and there was no way to tell if I still had disease in my body. It was entirely possible that surgery had removed it all or that cancer was still in my body. It was my decision.

I followed the pattern: I waited for the Lord again. After a couple weeks, He told me I still had microscopic disease in my body and I needed radiation.

Radiation proved harder than surgery.

The radiology team wheeled a metal box into my room, covered in biohazard and warning labels. They opened it, and there was the radioactive iodine pill. I took it and drank lots of water. I was confined in a room for 3 days. No visitors. Only medical personnel—and many of them came in with gowns, masks, goggles, and gloves because every fluid that came out of me was radioactive.

Within a couple of hours, the poison had taken over. It was so strong it was like something off of a movie: I would stand out of bed, and everything would jolt sideways. I had to brace myself against objects to walk; the dizziness was so severe I was almost blind. My stomach was churning and twisting and burning.  I was so cold I scalded my skin in the shower trying to get warm, and I had the temp cranked up to 80 and blankets piled on me to feel somewhat comfortable. I got violently ill and prayed between heaves, but they came in rounds so quick and fierce I could only whisper “Jesus” before hurling again.

Vomiting was great; it was like the Lord’s way of removing the excess radiation I didn’t need. The radiology team measured the levels where I vomited, and it was reading quite high, so I was assured I’d purged a lot of it.

The next morning, I woke up swollen in the face. My salivary glands were so huge I looked like a chipmunk. Later that day, my tongue was scorched from the radiation and all of the lemon drops I’d sucked on, and it continued hurting for weeks.

It got easier after day two, and I went home after three days. Matt and the girls found me, and Matt lost his breath the second he laid eyes on me; something magical had happened to me with God during radiation, and he could see the difference in my eyes. Lydia (who was only seven months old,) took my extended absence hard. It was about a month before she trusted me again.

I had to stay in quarantine, away from my family, for an additional 4 or 5 days. This whole time, Matt was waking up at 6 a.m., packing up the girls and taking them to others’ homes before he went to work, picking them up, cooking dinner, and putting them to bed. (And he still found time to create homemade games on paper and fax them to me while I was in the hospital so we could play over the phone!) He was a single parent for a week. He did great, but I never want him to have to go through that again.

I had a radiation scan about ten days later, and they said I was cancer-free. (But the Lord had told me a couple of days before that!) One doctor wanted me to have a follow-up scan a year later before saying I’m cancer-free, but I’m not taking radiation again unless the Lord tells me to. Even a minuscule “tracer-dose” can do some heavy damage. (My life-experience on this carries far more weight than doctors’ book-knowledge.) Fortunately, blood tests and ultrasounds can do wonders for monitoring my health.

By the end of September, I was frustrated because I couldn’t hold my babies like I wanted to. One night in desperation, I fell on the ground crying out to the Lord that I wanted to hold my babies like a normal mom. I felt Him around me, I felt His care for me, and then I felt Him PULL the radiation out of my neck! There was a physical pop under my skin. When I went to the radiologist, they scanned my neck and my radiation levels were gone! (All they could detect was “background radiation” that’s everywhere.) Some were surprised, but not me! This is the God I roll with!

Since having radiation, I have gone through many trials with my health. That tiny gland in the neck does so much. If I get too far hypo- or hyperthyroid, I have ailments.

I’m not going to lie: I miss my thyroid, but those occasions are becoming fewer and farther between. I remember the person I used to be and see the person I am today, and I have thanked God for breaking me. I’ve learned that sometimes we have to lose something valuable to gain something precious. Since that moment, I haven’t missed my thyroid. I’m a hard-headed, strong-willed person, and it would’ve taken something powerful to snap me out of myself. God didn’t give me cancer, but He did bring good out of it. And if I hadn’t listened to Him, if I hadn’t said yes to Lydia or submitted myself to Him in prayer, I might not have discovered in time that I’d had cancer. Papillary thyroid cancer is rarely fatal, but my case was more aggressive than doctors usually see. It could had spread through my lymph nodes, and it could have spread throughout my entire body. I might’ve died of cancer in my mid-40s like my mother did.

Another believer once said that when someone makes the decision to fully commit and submit to God, they go through a wilderness period–a trial or hardship that teaches them how to trust Him. Again, God didn’t give me cancer, but He did use it to make me a better person. Before cancer, I was selfish, and fear was my strongest driving force. I didn’t understand how much so. But now, my prayer is answered: I am as fully dependent upon God as I can be, and that dependency grows each day as He leads me in faith.

Michelle ~ “We love Him, because He first loved us.” — 1 John 4:19

Growing with Life, Part III

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#31 Growing with Life: My Testimony. Part III

Growing with Life, Part II

The Lord was with me every step. He woke me up at five in the morning on Lydia’s birth date to tell me I was starting labor. Really? A few minutes later . . . I was in so much pain I wanted to kill something.

After having Lydia, I had to face reality because putting off treatment was over. I had spent my pregnancy studying natural medicine, and my doctor connected me with a local man who was dying of prostate cancer, but had refused surgery, chemo, and radiation. Instead, he’d visited a hospital in Mexico where he was cured naturally. He’s sixty and feels seventeen again. I spoke with him, and he put me in touch with the facility. I prayed before I called the hospital, and the Lord told me to have surgery. I was stunned. I thought for sure He’d step in and heal me naturally, give me this big miracle to brag about and how it was a reward from Him for having faith. He gave me permission to call the Mexican hospital, probably so I wouldn’t have that “what-if” hanging over my head. I called them, and two different doctors—one of them was the same one who’d treated the local man with cancer—told me there is no natural cure for the cancer I had. Surgery and radiation was my only option.

At this point, when I wept, it wasn’t for myself. I was scared I’d do the wrong thing and mess it up and make the Lord look bad or that He failed.

I had surgery. The night before, a prophecy was spoken over me. It’s another long story, but it gave me comfort that I would love the Lord like Peter, the main character in my novels. (The person who spoke the prophecy has never read my manuscripts!) The next day, I woke up from surgery behind curtains. The room was large and full of people who were also coming out of anesthesia—cursing, screaming, vomiting repeatedly, lunging at nurses. Me? I had prayed for protection beforehand, so I woke up staring at the beautiful artwork on the ceiling. Then I found out I had a male nurse and a female nurse, and their names were Jay and Dianne. My main character’s parents’ names are James and Dianne! If I hadn’t been drugged, I’m pretty sure I would’ve jolted in a double-take. Combine that with the prophecy from the night before, and it was yet another sign that the Lord was with me.

When I was finally well enough to stand and walk again, I looked in the bathroom mirror, expecting to appear beastly after surgery. I looked younger! When the cafeteria employee delivered my breakfast the next morning, he thought he had the wrong room because I looked ten years younger than my age. Hahaha…. I love God!

The doctors warned me that after having my thyroid removed, my parathyroid glands would be “stunned” and unable to regulate my calcium levels, so I would have to take calcium supplements for a while following surgery.

Eight days after surgery, I was attacked by a dog. Thankfully, I pepper sprayed it before it got to me,  but the stress messed with my hormones and my calcium levels dropped. I was locked out of the house with the kids in the backseat. (Another long story.) I couldn’t drive anywhere in that condition, and the hospital was about twenty miles away—with construction taking up one-third of that distance. So I called Matt home from work to unlock the house. (Still faster than an ambulance driving through construction.)

I sat in the car and waited for his arrival. My brain turned to mush quick, and I could feel myself beginning to lose consciousness. I called Matt, but he didn’t answer. I called a friend, and she kept me talking so I’d stay with it. My ability to speak tanked fast, and I had a delay responding to questions. As I lay slumped over the center console—feeling my muscles tightening more and more by the minute, I prayed for God’s help, and He assured me I would live. By the time Matt arrived home, my body was so stiff he couldn’t pick me up or carry me. He dragged me into the house, and it took serious effort. He gave me Vitamin D and calcium and took care of the kids. I was telling him what had happened with the dog when my heart started to fail. I could feel something wasn’t right in my chest. Then I realized my heart was slowing down too much, and slowing down more and more. I remembered the Lord’s promise that I wouldn’t die in this scare, and He put a visual in my mind of an old rescue inhaler. I told Matt to get it, and I took a couple of puffs and the medication boosted my heart rate! I had Matt massage my calves to prevent blood from pooling and keep it flowing freely back to my heart. That was the scariest ordeal of surgery.

A couple of days after that, I visited with the surgeon for my pathology result. Most of the doctors had told me I had an “easy win,” and that because I was a young female, surgery alone would probably be enough. They doubted that the disease had spread much. The pathology report surprised us all. In surgery, they had taken out several lymph nodes, and all but two of them had tested positive for cancer. The surgeon said that my young age was the only reason my case was stage 1. If I had been just ten years older, it would’ve been stage 3. He said I needed radiation.

The battle continues in Part IV.

Michelle ~ “We love Him, because He first loved us.” — 1 John 4:19

Growing with Life, Part II

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Read FREE chapters here.


#30 Growing with Life: My Testimony. Part II

Growing with Life, Part I

About two days after my prayer, I went to the doctor for another prenatal checkup. The doctor and his assistant were surprised I still had the child. “You’re still pregnant? What happened to the (insert private medical issue here)?”

I beamed. They were happy, but still caught off guard.

On the heels of victory came the next battle. That same visit, we found out my next thyroid levels were only slightly lower—but still dangerously high. The next step was an ultrasound. Within hours, the doctor’s assistant called: I had a nodule on my thyroid and it could be cancer. I needed a biopsy.

After the call, I fell to the floor in shock. As the shock faded, I wept as I watched 1-year-old Chloe have fun. Matt sat next to me, staying calm and praying I was healthy.

August 17, 2015, the endocrinologist called with the biopsy results: I had papillary thyroid cancer.

As soon as I received the diagnosis, I traded baby showers for ultrasounds, nursery planning for blood draws, house prepping for doctor visits, and newborn photos for treatments. Our world turned upside down.

The first weeks after diagnosis were terrifying. Despite that the doctors said I would likely live, I felt quite the opposite. I saw my grandmother and mother in their final weeks as they died of cancer—it’s not how I want to go. I crumpled in a fetal position on the bathroom floor, pulling my hair, crying, screaming, and kicking a door in rage. I would cry at random times. Matt didn’t always know what to say, but he always gave me a shoulder to cry on.

I tried reading my Bible, but the words felt hollow and flat. I wanted to follow the Lord, but how could I when the living Word felt dead?

That’s when God stepped in again.

Desperate to feel normal, I went back to working on my novels. There I reconnected with characters who serve and trust in the Lord in life-or-death situations. They reminded me of great truths that opened my heart to reading the Word again. Though Matt and I both suspect others will be blessed by the story, he had said for years that he believed God gave me the story for me more than anyone else, and he was right: The novels gave me heavenly perspective and hope. I could relate to them in new ways because my life was hanging in the balance of my choices, too. That made it possible to read Scripture again. If not for those characters and the beautiful story they tell, I might not have sought God through cancer, and it might have claimed my life. (That is why I always tell people: “This book saved my life!”)

Then the Lord kept adding signs of His presence and care. Matt and I had been hit by financial blows, and there were things we needed and couldn’t afford. There were other things we needed and could afford, but I was too busy and worn-out to shop—and they were things that Matt wouldn’t know how to buy for me, like maternity clothes. We told no one about our situation and trusted God with it. Suddenly, people were coming out of thin air to meet our needs. It started when Matt came home one day, opened his wallet, and started placing cash—one bill at a time—on the counter until we had the exact amount we needed. He had tears in his eyes when he said that a friend had told him, “God told me to give this to Michelle and Chloe.” I cried, too! Over the next few weeks, we also received a big bag of clothes for Chloe, two bags of maternity clothes, and an exercise bike—all free! Then I was thinking about how nice it would be to get a play kitchen for Chloe. Seconds later, my phone sounded: “Would Chloe like a play kitchen?” It got to the point that Matt and I were no longer surprised. Every few days, one of us would say to the other: “So God’s giving us ____ for free. Should have it tomorrow/next week.”

This strengthened me for battle and to occasionally go against the doctors’ wishes when God instructed me to do something differently. (His sense of humor certainly came out now and then.)

Being that I had cancer and was pregnant, some doctors were more aggressive in their approach, and it took courage for me stand up for myself and what I knew was right. At one point, my thyroid stopped working. I had no hormone, though I still felt fine. They wanted me on thyroid hormone so I wouldn’t deliver prematurely. I said no to medication after praying about it. One specialist must’ve thought I was an idiot for refusing.  He lectured me, and at one point he broke out models and slide shows about the medication. Still no. God had spoken. Fast forward a few months, the doctors wanted to rush Lydia out because I was going so far past my due date. I had been eating a plant-based diet in an attempt to keep my and Lydia’s immune system strong since I was fighting cancer. Doctors were concerned my diet wasn’t “healthy” enough and Lydia would suffer in the womb. She was the first baby born at that hospital who scored a perfect ten on the APGAR in years with that particular nurse. This nurse never gives perfect scores, but Lydia—the baby the Lord saved from miscarriage—was (is) that healthy!

(Battle coming in part III.)

Michelle ~ “We love Him, because He first loved us.” — 1 John 4:19

Growing with Life, Part I

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#29 Growing with Life: My Testimony. Part I

“The desert shall rejoice and blossom as the rose.” Isaiah 35:1b

This is a story about how the Lord saved my life. 

In March of 2015, the Lord showed me a beautiful little girl. I couldn’t see her physical body, but I sensed the beauty of her heart. He asked me if I wanted her. I said, “Yes!” He told me her name was Lydia and whispered, “May.” I asked Him if May was when I would conceive or give birth, and He repeated, “May.” Seconds later, I resumed my study on the Book of Acts and spotted a character named Lydia! I didn’t know what year it would be, but I knew I would spend every May anticipating something until we found her.

The first weeks of that next May, odd things happened. I was nearing the end of a volunteer commitment with the Alaska State Troopers, and I was waiting in their parking lot for a trooper to pick me up. Despite the Lord’s warning (I doubted it was Him I was hearing), I stepped out of my hot car. I locked the vehicle so I’d be ready to go as soon as the trooper arrived. I was reading a book when I heard voices and saw (what looked to be) drug addicts—one male and one female—rounding the corner of the AST building. I knew they were the danger the Lord had warned me about. The man started hitting on me, and they were both asking for my name. My pepper spray and keys were in my purse, and the police building was locked. I told them to leave me alone twice, but my voice felt weak. The Holy Spirit fell on me and went out like a shield. I felt when He reached them, and He stopped them in their tracks. The girl turned on the guy and pushed him away from me, yelling, “She said to leave her alone! She probably knows cops!” They went out of their way around the building and out of sight. God snapped me out of the shock by telling me to get in the car NOW. I had time to dig out my keys and get inside and lock the doors. Minutes later, they returned to their path and walked by without noticing me. God is the only explanation of why they stopped approaching, why the girl turned on the guy, and why they left their path long enough for me to get in the vehicle. (I told the trooper what happened, but they were long gone by then.) I didn’t know it at the time, but I was pregnant with Lydia.

Days later, I started to consistently hear the Lord say, “I raise the dead.” It would happen at the most random times: while I was brushing my teeth, folding laundry, etc. The human part of me felt fear, wondering if this constant warning was a sign I was going to die, but my heart felt hope. Then the Lord told me to read John 11:37, where I found the story of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead. Then—just to really make the point—I looked through the bathroom window and found a bird in our backyard. It was mangled, its feathers ruffled. It looked like a dog had gotten a hold of it. I felt bad for it and ran to Matt; he told me he’d get to it in a few. I went back to laundry in the bathroom when I heard the Lord: “I raise the dead. Look out the window.” I jumped to the window and watched the bird rise to its feet and hop into the woods! I told Matt and, being that he’s a logical person, he said it had probably just hit the window. I insisted that it was dead, given its appearance and distance from the house. At first, Matt disagreed. But after all the other miracles that happened in the months that followed, (I think) he came around to see that the bird really might’ve been dead.

A few days later—still May!—I told Matt that Lydia was on the way. We were expecting our second child!

Now, given how wonderful of a person I knew Lydia was (and would become), I thought my pregnancy would be gumdrops and roses. We were in for a shock, because the Lord wasn’t only going to give Lydia life through this pregnancy—He was also going to save me from death.

Starting around mid or late June, only a couple of months along in pregnancy, I had a horrible gut feeling. Something was wrong. I wept and prayed, but God only confirmed my feelings. He put it on my heart to tell my doctor. So, during a prenatal visit, I told him something was wrong. He is a big believer in “women’s intuition” (though mine’s a gift from God), so he took it seriously. He informed me that my thyroid levels were extremely high, so he found it odd that I was so tired. I had so much thyroid hormone I shouldn’t have been able to sleep, but that’s all I was doing whenever I got a chance.

We agreed to re-do the blood testing to confirm that the lab hadn’t made a mistake.

While waiting for results, something alarming (too private to share here,) happened with my body. I called the doctor, and they said I needed to prepare for a miscarriage. I should make myself comfortable, and I should probably cancel Chloe’s birthday party that was happening the next day. I got off the phone and told Matt. We cried together, and he watched Chloe while I rested.

I saw a bird out the window and heard the Lord: “I raise the dead! You’re not losing that baby! Get up and get ready for that party!” Instantly, the medical issue stopped!

I started cleaning like crazy, and Matt asked what the heck I was doing. I told him what God had said, and he watched in marvel.

A couple of days later, I read a quote by D.L. Moody: “The world has yet to see what God can do through one person who is fully committed to Him.” The words shook me, and I asked the Lord to break me and rebuild me—to do whatever it takes to mold me into the person He wants. Into someone who is fully committed to Him.

And that’s exactly what happened.

Continued in Part II.

Michelle ~ “We love Him, because He first loved us.” — 1 John 4:19

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(Image sourced from pexels.com. My go-to for photos that are generously shared without asking for attribution or royalties.)

#14: Creativity and Split Personalities

I didn’t know I was an artist until months ago. I’ve been writing my whole life (fiction for half a decade), but after years of being told I wasn’t any good at art (What 5-year-old paints like Vincent Van Gogh?!), I was pretty shocked when God told me in November to start hand lettering.

The first thing I did was Google “What is hand lettering?” because I had no idea. Upon seeing the results, I thought to myself: Was that really God? I’m pretty sure He knows I’m not an artist. That night, the Holy Spirit woke me up: It was Me you heard, and here’s your first project. He gave me a picture of a canvas piece to make for my best friend for Christmas. I made it, and the lettering turned out beautiful. Turns out I can hand letter! 🙂

But I write this to say it’s tricky switching hats between being a writer and an artist. If a stranger walked into our office,  they’d think I have split personalities: My art desk is covered in beautiful paintings and intricately woven, hand lettered Bible verses, and my writing desk is covered in chicken-scratch notes about murder, WMDs, vandalism, fighting techniques, and various weapons. (I was waiting for a knock on the door from the FBI when I was researching lethal homemade gasses.) Sometimes it’s soothing to listen to podcasts while making art, but when writing, all the yapping can really mess up how you read the words.

Being that I’m a parent, I guzzle coffee as soon as my last child is down for the night. (Don’t worry: I pop melatonin a few hours later and still konk out.) I’m used to drinking coffee whenever I work, but–being an artist–I now have to take certain precautions that I hadn’t thought about before. Like last night. I was flicking paint on a project, and noticed that specks travelled a lot farther than they had in the past. I wiped them off the areas they weren’t supposed to be and didn’t think much of it . . . Until I reached for my go-go juice. Before the glass reached my lips, I panicked and lowered it to check for specks of white on a sea of brown.Yes, I’ll take my iced chocolate mocha with a side of paint, please. Glossy finish. Matte’s a little hard on the throat. Thankfully, it was clean. The paint says it’s non-toxic, and I think maybe an artist found that out the hard way. 🙂

(P.S. The picture shown was my second hand lettering project, and my first using watercolor. There are areas to improve, and that’s what makes creativity fun!)

(P.S.S. It should go without saying, but please don’t steal my work!)


#8: The Lazarus Pregnancy


“I raise the dead.”

Those are the words I heard almost every day for weeks in May of 2015. God would whisper them in my ear at the most random times and always when I was busy. (Not that I’m ever not busy, but I digress.)

“I raise the dead,” He reminded me during dishes and laundry and brushing my teeth. “I raise the dead,” He affirmed before telling me to read John 11:32. I opened my Bible to the passage and read about Jesus weeping and calling Lazarus out of the tomb.

My response was always “Yes, God. I know You raise the dead. It’s in the Bible.”

But reading about it and watching God live it in your life are two entirely different things.

While putting clothes in the dryer, I looked through the window and noticed a dead bird in our backyard. It was a beautiful robin. And it was dead, lying motionless on its side with a wing bent backward. It looked like it had been mangled by a dog. Right away, I wanted to host a bird funeral, complete with a robin-sized coffin and really sad music. (Okay, maybe just proper and humane disposal.)

I ran to my husband.

“Honey, there’s a dead bird in our yard.”

My husband, feeling a little less sympathetic than I was, responds with: “It probably just hit a window.”

“I’ve seen plenty of birds post-window-collision, and this isn’t it. It’s dead.” (The bird was at least eight feet from the window and under trees.)

Husband: “Okay. I’ll take care of it in an hour.”

I returned to the bathroom window and mourned my dead friend. The poor guy died a barbaric death and can’t even get a timely funeral.

I went back to putting clothes in the dryer when that whisper returned: “I raise the dead. Look out the window.” I shot to the window and couldn’t believe my eyes: The bird stood up and disappeared into the woods! Its wing snapped back into place without any hint of pain.

That was the last time I heard God whisper those four little but powerful words. . . for a while.

A week or so later, I found out I was pregnant with our second child. (I didn’t know it at the time, but I was pregnant every time God had said those words.)

I was expecting the child, as the Lord had told me previously about a little girl named Lydia who would join us in May. I wasn’t sure which year it would be, but I was ready in May and at the end of that month–ta-da!–we found out we had conceived her.

July came and we had a birthday party scheduled to celebrate our daughter’s first birthday. The day before, something went wrong. I called my doctor, and they said the worst: “It sounds like you’re probably having a miscarriage and you’ll lose your baby soon. Rest and take it easy. I’m sorry.” Their voice was full of compassion and sorrow, bringing tears to my eyes. I mentioned the birthday party we were having, and they suggested we cancel it because I wouldn’t want company when I hit the thick of it.

I hung up and told my husband. I could’ve swept the pieces of his heart off the floor. I rested on the couch and cried. I didn’t want to look outside, but I did and I saw a bird.

The whisper returned: “I raise the dead. You’re not losing your baby. Get up and get ready for that party!”

My husband’s jaw fell when he saw me get up and start cleaning.

“What are you doing?!!”


“For what?”

“The party.”

“But didn’t the doctor just say? . . .”

“Yes, and then I heard from God. We’re not losing Lydia.”

His eyes filled with hope and he joined in the preparations.

The symptoms stopped and we had the party.

Three days later, I had a pregnancy checkup. They asked how I was doing with crestfallen faces.

“Good!” I said with a smile.

“The symptoms?”

“Stopped.” Still smiling and laidback, because God does this all the time. (Just read the Bible.)

“The baby?”

“Still in there.”

Confusion abounded, then–with a shake of their head–it was replaced with relief.

Later that appointment, through routine pregnancy blood testing, the doctor discovered I had a major illness–life-threatening if left undiagnosed or ignored.

If I had told God I didn’t want Lydia (my heart hurts just writing that hypothetical sentence; I can’t imagine never knowing her), there’s no telling when we would’ve found the disease.

This story is a large part of my testimony that I’ll be sharing soon, but I want it known now that God saved me and my daughter.

He is still in the business of raising the dead.