I am a woman of faith

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By Carolyn Ten Broeck, Editor

Truth be told, this column should appear on the Faith page of this newspaper because it's about my faith and how it played out last week.

If that offends you, stop reading now and go on to something else.

I wasn't reared in a particularly religious home. My parents were spiritual and had their set of beliefs about God and salvation but organized religion wasn't something that was stressed.

Sunday mornings weren't spent in Sunday school or worship service. Instead, we gathered as a family around the kitchen table for a huge Southern breakfast and a blessing was never offered to God, only thanks to my mother.

As I aged and moved forward into adulthood, I sought my own spirituality, finally finding that which I looked for as I approached my 30s.

My beliefs differed from those of my parents, my grandparents, in fact, most of my friends. But they were mine and that's all I needed.

Over the years, I've continued to grow in my faith in God, in both the good times and the bad.

However, it's often in the bad when I become more painfully aware that I can do nothing without God.

The deaths of my parents and my brothers pushed me closer to God.

My son's cancer diagnosis at 11 pushed me further into His embrace and when my marriage ended after 21 years, I had nothing but God to rely on.

It's been that way for over 30 years, and while you still may not find me sitting in a pew every Sunday, there's no doubt I am nothing without God.

He is faithful. Always.

Case in point: last Monday afternoon I was plugging away at the newspaper, wrapped up in a zillion pictures, when Tom came in sleepily from his nap.

"Have you talked to your son?" He asked.

Evidently Spencer had tried to reach me but I didn't hear the phone and so he called Tom, who did not answer either.

I knew something was wrong because he calls to talk on Thursday – not Monday.

I called him immediately.

As he spoke the first words, I knew it was serious. His voice was breaking and the fear was louder than his words.

Andi, my darling 3-year-old monkey, was in an Athens, Ga. ER awaiting transport to Scottish Rite in Atlanta.

She'd been vomiting for several days and when she became disoriented, her mama's gut said get her to the doctor.

At the ER they did a CT scan and discovered fluid on her brain. Because of her age, they recommended Children's Healthcare of Atlanta, the umbrella company that covers Scottish Rite.

An initial flashback to 1996 came to me. That's when my other son, Nick, was airlifted from the National Institutes of Health in Bethseda, Md. to Scottish Rite. I got a sick feeling in my stomach as I remembered how I felt that fateful November day and I knew Spencer and Ashley were feeling the same.

The ER doctor said that a cyst or tumor could be causing the fluid, Spencer said, but only an MRI would be able to confirm, or deny, it.

As we hung up, I went into my sunroom where I prayed. Loudly. If the neighbors were around, I'm sure they thought I'd lost my mind as I at first petitioned God to watch over them and the medical team and then claimed a miracle from Him.

I then went to a Facebook prayer group I am a member of and asked the prayer warriors there to lift up our family. I contacted three close friends from high school and did the same.

All night I waited for word. I tried to work more on the paper but my thoughts kept drifting to Andi, Spencer and Ashley.

The MRI was done Tuesday, but I had a meeting and didn't hear results. I prayed there would be no tumor. Halfway through the meeting, I left to take Spencer's call, and unlike 24 hours before, I heard joy, gratitude and relief in my son's voice as he said there was no tumor. It was then I sat in my car at city hall and cried. And rejoiced.

"God is answering one prayer at a time," I told Spencer.

On Wednesday the shunt was put in her brain and she came through surgery fine. That evening, hours after surgery, she looked fine but every time she tried to be upright the nausea and vomiting came back. The doctors said they may have to reopen the surgical site and adjust the shunt. I was fearful. Too much anesthesia is never a good thing, especially with a little one. I prayed again.

That night she was eating everything in sight, but still couldn't be upright without being sick. We prayed and I trusted God to bring her through this without another surgery.

Finally, they put some kind of surgical belt on her and as long as she wears it, the nausea is held at bay.

Sunday Andi came home and from the pictures and videos they've shared, one would never know that four days before she had brain surgery.

She is singing, dressing up like a princess and watching Paw Patrol nonstop.

She will have this shunt the rest of her life, the doctors said, but I can't help believe that there may come a day when she won't need it - that whatever caused this anomaly to come on two weeks ago will reverse itself.

That's my faith. And I'm claiming it.