I grew up in Scunthorpe with my Mum, Dad and two sisters. I went to church with my parents till I was around 7 and then after that I went with my grandparents. When I was around six, we had a visiting speaker one evening called Don Summers. I can remember being glued to my seat and not being able to stop listening to what he was saying, although I have to admit I can't remember what he said. When the time came for people to respond to what he was saying, he said something that will always stay with me. He said, If you want to make a difference for God come to the front. Well, I really wanted to go to the front. I was only six but I really felt that I had to go forward. I plucked up the courage to get up and go. When I got there, I realised that I was the only person that had come forward! So anyway, he talked to me and I decided to commit my whole life to God as a child of six. When I was eleven I went to a childrens camp where the leaders claimed that children could be filled with the holy spirit. I decided that that was what I wanted and I was spirit filled at the age of eleven.
I grew up in the church, playing my flute and singing in the worship team and also being a junior leader in the childrens work and Sunday school. Life went on and I met James at a national childrens camp and after completing my degree we got married.
It was coming to our first wedding anniversary and we thought we would mark it by going away to the Isle of Wight. I had just started a really well paid job after being unemployed for nearly a year and was looking forward to having a really nice time at the campsite. On the Sunday we phoned home from a callbox because we had no reception from our mobile phones. Everything was fine and I remember talking to my sister, Laura about her singing at the Royal Albert Hall. She then started to tell me something else really exciting but my money ran out and I had no change left. I shrugged my shoulders and said to James I would ring again later in the week to complete the conversation. I didn't think anything of it at the time, I just thought I would speak to her next time I rang. On the Tuesday we decided to go to the cinema. The only thing worth watching was Pearl Harbour so we bought our tickets and sat down in our seats. Those of you who know the film will know that it is three and a half hours long and actually not very good. It was midnight by the time we got back to the campsite so we left our car in the late arrival car park and tiptoed to our tent in the darkness, completely unaware that my family were desperately trying to contact me. We were woken at 6am by the campsite manager frantically shaking the tent and shouting for us to ring home immediately. I sat in a daze wondering what was so important that I had to be woken at 6 in the morning till I heard James talking to someone on the phone - all I caught was accident, van and coma. Sleepily I said to James, Whats going on? I knew something was very wrong because he wouldn't look at me. He said Laura's had an accident. She is in a coma. We have to get to Scunthorpe as soon as possible.
I very quickly got dressed, found the ferry details and ran to reception, asking them to change our crossing as soon as possible. Normally we would very carefully put everything in its place, but this time we just threw everything into the back of the car and drove straight to the ferry terminal. They were expecting us and we were in England by 8am. We drove in silence from Portsmouth to Scunthorpe. Neither of us could speak - looking back on it now I realize that we were both in shock and had gone into auto pilot. When I got to Scunthorpe I was hurriedly told to go to Hull intensive care. I was becoming more and more confused and had no idea what was going on. When I got there I was met by my parents who looked like ghosts. They put me to one side and explained that Laura had been on her way home from work when a van had knocked her off her bike and that she was on a life support machine. It still had not sunk in. I was in a complete daze. I went into intensive care and saw all the machines. Then I saw Laura, but she wasn't there. It was an indescribable feeling that I will try to explain to you. I could see her, I could touch her and talk to her, but I could not feel her. The nurse was encouraging me to talk to her but all I could do was pray. I just sat by her, stunned and praying like mad for a full recovery.
I stayed at Mum and Dads that night, but I didn't sleep or eat. I just laid in bed praying and praying and praying for what seemed like a completely hopeless case. I really believed that my prayers could make a difference. In the morning James took me to McDonalds for some breakfast before returning to the hospital. As soon as we got there, the consultant said, I need to talk to you. Mum, Dad and I were taken into a relatives room. Very cautiously I said, Whats going on? The consultant looked at me kindly and then explained the results of my sisters last brain scan. Basically her brain stem was dead and all she was able to do was breathe. She would be like that forever. I then realised what he was trying to tell me. So, I said tentatively - what are you going to do? The consultant said that he wanted to turn off the machines and just see how she would cope. We were then put in an impossible situation. My parents wanted us all to be in agreement of the decision but I didn't know what to do. I was floundering. I wanted James so much but he had not come into the room with me. I closed my eyes and asked God what to do. Something inside me said Let her go. My parents looked at me with desperation, searching my eyes for the answer. I took a very deep breath and said, "Ok"
Laura died that afternoon. Her death completely rocked my world. She was 16 years old and weeks away from receiving her GCSE results. She had her whole life in front of her. I had to deal with the fact that I had prayed that she would be healed and I truly believed that a miracle would happen and it didn't. But I came to the understanding that God was in control of the situation. It didn't make things any easier but it did give me a sense of peace and a surety that I was strong enough to get to the other side. They say that time heals, but I'm not sure that it does. I think that the healing comes from the realisation that the situation cannot be changed and that you have to live with the fact that it has happened. I said earlier that I felt she wasn't there when I saw her at the hospital. I may be wrong, but I don't think she knew anything about the hospital. I believe that God took her at the roadside when she hit the floor. Laura, like me made a commitment to God as a young child and was also spirit filled - so I have the peace of mind that she is in heaven.
A year passed and life was not easy, but we both began to feel a sense of normality come back into our lives - well, as normal as life can be really. We both felt a real urge to go into the ministry. An opportunity came at Empire Street, Mansfield and James was accepted as the assistant Pastor. Once we had got settled we decided that we would try and have a family. I got pregnant really quickly and we were really excited about the addition to our family. At about 10 weeks something felt wrong, but I couldn't put my finger on it. I went to see the midwife and she made an appointment for me to have a scan because she didn't think things were right either. I went for a scan and a very sympathetic midwife told me that she wasn't quite sure what was going on and that I had to come back next week. An appointment was made for me to go in the following week to check on the baby. I did not make that appointment. Four days later I became very ill. I called James at work and told him I had to go to the hospital. An hour later I was in emergency surgery and the baby had to be removed. To be honest, I was so ill that I was just glad to be well again and it never occurred to me that there could be something really wrong.
The months passed and I was told it was safe for me to try again. Again I became pregnant very quickly but again that baby did not survive. I became very withdrawn and didnt cope very well at all.
The months passed and the doctor gave me the all clear to become pregnant again. This time it was all taken very seriously and as soon as I realized I was pregnant I was put on light duties at work and given frequent rest breaks. Things seemed to be fine until one morning I realized things were not right and went straight to the hospital. This time, it was good news - the baby was alive and healthy and I was told to go home and rest. The church were all praying for me and I had a scan to prove all was well so I went to bed happy that night. That happiness did not last long. I continued to be unwell and I knew inside that something was just not right. We were approaching Easter weekend which was the busiest week of the year for us, but I cancelled my singing engagements because I knew I was not well. On Good Friday morning I decided that I couldn't go to church but told James to go - I would be ok. After he left I realized I had to get to the hospital quickly but the meeting had already started and I couldn't get hold of him. An hour later, James flew in, found me and took me to the hospital. I was examined and they assured me that my baby was still ok and I should come back on Sunday morning to have a scan to put my mind at rest.
Sunday morning came and I was frightened to go into the scan room because I wasn't sure what they were going to find. I had been told that my baby was still alive, but I had been so ill I couldn't see how it could have survived. We walked into the scan room and my worst fears were revealed. The baby had indeed died and there was no evidence left that I had ever been pregnant. We were both absolutely devastated. I just did not know what to do next. I sat dazed in the consulting room while the same sympathetic midwife who saw me for all the babies explained to me that I had to talk to a specialist and we both had to have tests to try and find out what was going on.
I had missed the whole of the Easter Convention that year but something compelled me to go. I didn't really want to go. The last thing I wanted to do was be around people and be sociable but I got in the car and I hid at the back of the church after the meeting had started, hoping that no-one would notice that I was there. Pastor John Phillips got up to start his sermon - but then he changed his mind. He decided that he wasn't going to continue but he was going to pray for the sick. He said that he especially wanted to pray for someone who had really struggled to come to the meeting and wasn't really sure why they had come. Well, that was definitely me. I stood in the aisle to be prayed for - at the back so no-one could see me and he and Pastor Keith Monument prayed that I would be healed. While they were praying for me I felt something say to me, This time next year you shall have a baby in your arms. I really felt that something special had happened that day but I didn't say anything to James because I knew how deeply he wanted a baby.
A couple of months went by, and we decided to go away for a week because I was still quite ill. We decided to go to Portsmouth and have a bit of sea air. The campsite we stayed at was beautiful. It was very secluded and we were camped on the bank of the estuary. I spent a lot of time in prayer that week and generally waiting on God. I was reading a book called the Heavenly man at the time that was really challenging me. It is about a man called Brother Yun who was a Christian in China who was persecuted for telling people about God. In the book it talks about when he was in prison for preaching and God opened the prison doors and closed the guards eyes. Brother Yun just walked through the prison gates to freedom. I closed the book and I said, God, if you can open the prison doors for brother Yun you can give me a baby!!! After I said it I thought oops, I've challenged God, I shouldn't have done that. That night I was woken up by the seagulls flying down the estuary. I could hear them coming so I went outside to see it. It was a beautiful sight - hundreds of birds flying high in the sky, all flapping in unison. I shrugged my shoulders and got back into my sleeping bag. I was restless though and all I could do was pray. It was the strangest feeling. Then I heard an audible voice speak to me. It said,
"Don't be afraid but trust in me. You will have a baby and I will amaze the physicians."
I couldn't quite believe it. I kept it to myself, not even telling James because I didn't want to upset him if I had imagined it.
I went to see the consultant and had all kinds of weird and wonderful tests but she was no wiser as to why I was miscarrying so she said it was ok for me to become pregnant and they would take it from there. A few weeks later I realised that I was pregnant and it was due the following April. It wasn't an easy pregnancy, at 32 weeks I had the flu and lost most of the fluid around the baby which meant there wasn't enough room for baby to develop. This also meant that baby's blood supply was being compromised because the umbilical chord was being squashed. Baby was very small and I had to go to the hospital for observation every day until birth.
Amazingly, I managed to carry Rebekah to 39 weeks and she was very small, but perfect. The doctors could not believe it. They were ready to do an emergency C-section at 32 weeks but had decided to do daily observations instead, trying to give the baby a few more days in the womb. They just could not believe it when I gave birth naturally at 39 weeks. After she was born, I was sent to to see the consultant paediatrician. He was astounded when he saw her. Because of the problems during pregnancy, he was expecting to find serious problems with her feet and hips, and also a potential learning difficulty. Today, her teacher says she is the best reader she has heard in years. He looked her over and could find nothing wrong at all. I remembered the promise God had given me that night in the tent. I knew that that promise had been fulfilled.
When Rebekah was born I was so amazed at Gods wonderful love for me. God had decided to give me this beautiful child to nurture and to love and I remembered the promise he had whispered in my ear a year before about having a baby in my arms. Easter that year was the 10th -14th of April. Rebekah was due the following year on the 13th April, but was actually born on the 7th. I adapted quite well to being a Mum and threw myself into giving this precious life the very best that I could. I accepted the fact that it would be very difficult for me to have another baby and we decided that one baby was enough for us. But God had other plans. Ten months later I began to feel unwell, a feeling that I had not had since before Rebekah was born. To both mine and James' astonishment, we discovered that we were having another child, and the following November, Benjamin was born.
Life has not been easy, but I feel that through everything God has been beside me, leading me down the difficult path to get me to be the person that I am in God. All these experiences have changed me as a person, I am not the carefree girl I used to be, but the strength God has given me through my life has made all the difference. I have a deep peace within me that nothing can take away, through the good times and the bad times. I have joy in my heart that sometimes just cant help but bubble over into a spontaneous song of praise to my God. Why do I feel like this? Because God has me in his hands and whatever life throws at me, and I've already had a bucketful, he will always be by my side, even when I cant see or feel him, he is there - and you know why?
Because God loves me with an unconditional love. No matter how many mistakes I make, God will always be there for me as long as I live. We all go through things that we would rather not, but looking back, we can see the faithful hand of God guiding us through.