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Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. Galatians 6:2 (NIV)

First I would like to thank you – the Hillside Community. Matt and I cannot imagine what this ongoing journey would be like without the presence of you entering into our lives to lighten our load and shine the light of Christ to our family! Let me go back to May 27, 2016 and give you a glimpse of how one date forever changed me and my family.

Early that afternoon, after dealing with excruciating pain, Matt and I headed into the ER. The doctor noticed I received a CT scan of my head just one day ago but stated, “I would like to do one more CT, but this time of your head and your neck.” Around 6:00 PM he entered the room, “Thanks to today’s scan we have found a dissected carotid artery…”
Joy filled inside me since they found this thing that was causing so much pain over the past month. I interrupted him, “I knew it! I knew something was wrong.”

He touched my shoulder and continued, “Yes. I never doubted you.” He carried on, but the rest of the words were a blur. Something about a heparin drip…being transported to the ICU...artery is 80-90 % blocked.

Joy was quickly replaced with worry, fear, and confusion as I tried to wrap my mind around what was unfolding. I’m getting transported to ICU? Why? How serious is this? Thirty seconds after being rolled into the room - even before meeting the doctor or nurse - in walked a hospital worker. I will never forget the three questions that followed:
“Do you have a will in place?”
“What is your 'do not resuscitate plan?'”
“Would you like us to send up a Chaplin?”

What in the world is happening, God?

I held onto Matt’s hand as we answered “No” to all those questions. Matt called Pastor Ron who arrived fifteen minutes later and lifted us up in prayer. God’s peace entered the room and fell on my heart and soul. Once Ron left I looked at Matt and struggled to say these words, yet I meant them and needed to hear them too. “God’s got me. He does. He has me. Whether it is to remain here on earth or it is time to be welcomed to my eternal home in heaven, I am in God’s hands.”

My thoughts began to wander as we sat peacefully together…What about my kids? You’ve got them too… In fact, they are Your children. God, thank You for the precious gift they are to me and Matt. What about Matt? You’ve got him too… What will their life be like? Their graduations? Their weddings? God, this isn’t what I ever imagined. Please don’t allow them to lose faith in You if You are calling me home. Help them to remember You are a faithful God who loves them and is with them always!
The ICU floor doctor finally entered our room. Matt interrupted his introduction. “Everyone seems to be making this thing a big deal. How serious is this?”

The doctor’s response broke my heart. Though I normally appreciate bluntness, I didn’t this time. “Yeah, this is very serious. We have to monitor her closely. At any point she may suffer a stroke or worse.”  As he exited the room I held tightly to Matt’s hand and my thoughts took over again…Am I really going to die now? As my dad always says, “The statistics are staggering. One in every one person dies.” So the answer is ‘Yes.’ I am going to die. Was it time? It was not really how I pictured leaving this temporary home. Honestly, I never pictured what that moment would look like.

I’ll stop there and jump ahead two weeks later. Matt and I went to see my doctor for my follow up appointment. He shared with us how all the doctors in his practice had never witnessed this before. He then went on to say, "Things happen in life that shouldn’t happen, Amy. Why you had this dissection? There is no explanation for it. But you shouldn’t be sitting here today and you are. For that, we give God the glory!”

On May 27, God provided in amazing ways! I don’t have enough room to share all the other “God stories” that took place that day. And today God continues to provide for me and my family as we walk this journey.

By the grace of God, He healed me without needing surgery (operating was a last resort in their eyes as it could have caused death). By the grace of God, He drew me back to Him. By the grace of God, He met me in the desert and quenched my thirst. By the grace of God, He taught me to surrender everything to Him - my hopes, my dreams, my fears, my anxiety, my desires, my husband, my children. None of them are actually mine. All I have and all I am is from Him!

By the grace of God, we were not alone. God has brought a community around us. God has prompted an army of prayer warriors to lift up their voices on our behalf. God has brought new people to become an extension to our family! God has brought you to come alongside of us and lighten our load.

We thank you! We thank you for your prayers. We thank you for entering our family’s life. We thank you for loving our children. We thank you for lightening our load and shining the light of Christ to us!

-By Amy Zwiep

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