One year ago we were having an ordinary family Saturday. The kids watched too much tv. The parents spent too much time being lazy. But at 4pm we loaded up and headed out to our church for our night of volunteering for a program our church sponsors. While there we ate dinner and my husband Jay went to the church gym to play basketball with a couple of teens. About half an hour later he came back to the youth house and was working to catch his breath. He took a drink. He sat down. He was beet red and sweating. He kept cringing and rubbing his chest. He was trying to determine whether he was just having severe indigestion from eating and then running around or if it might be something more serious. I asked him several times if I should call 911. When he told me that his hands and arms were going numb that was when I no longer asked. I went and called 911 immediately.
Our church is out in the backwoods and so it took probably about 10 minutes for the ambulance to arrive. During that time I worked to reach my mom in case I needed care for the kids, I called the youth pastor, Steve, to come take over our volunteering. The EMT's hooked Jay up to a portable EKG machine and took a strip. They promptly loaded him up and told me that he would be transported to a hospital 50 minutes away – whether by life flight or ambulance was the only thing they weren't sure. I watched helplessly as they loaded up my husband and drove off with him. Steve helped me get our four children loaded up. I had reached my mom at my sister's house and I was meeting her there with the kids. As the kids and I drove home to get stuff for them to stay overnight we prayed for Daddy. I cried a little but I kept mostly calm. My oldest son came inside and helped me get pajamas and diapers for everyone and we were on our way to my sister's pretty quickly from there. When we got to my sister's we all gathered in a circle in the kitchen, eight children, three adults, and we prayed. The bible says where two or more are gathered ask in my name and it will be done – now I know that what will be done is God's will but we were definitely praying that His will was in our favor that night. My mom drove me up to the hospital 50 minutes away. From the time they took off with my husband to the time I was at his side was close to three hours. That was probably the longest three hours of my life and I've given birth five times now with long labors for three of those births. My husband and I are young. I was 31 just this year and my husband was just 28 last March. My husband had a heart attack at the age of 28. Our world was definitely rocked. We had four little children at home and we were newly pregnant with our fifth. He was 28!
I've never been more thankful in my life for strep throat. You see just a few weeks before his heart attack we had all been to the prompt care for strep throat. While he was there my husband's BP was dangerously high so they ordered blood work to check his cholesterol. That came back high too. So when he began clutching his chest a couple of weeks later and his arms went numb I knew that this was in the realm of possibilities. If I didn't know he was having high blood pressure and high cholesterol I don't know if I would've even considered a heart attack. Also during the weeks leading up to this moment I had been watching a show on netflix where one of the main characters had a heart attack and the beet red face, sweating, labored breath all seemed way too familiar when I saw them on my husband.
People tell me I saved his life calling 911 that night. I didn't. His life was not in my hands. I had no more control over how anything went that night than I had during any one of my five labors, or than I have during every day I live and breathe. The control isn't mine. It's God's.
If we hadn't had strep throat we wouldn't have known he had high blood pressure or cholesterol and without that knowledge I wouldn't have jumped to the conclusion that this might be a heart attack.
If I hadn't watched that show and seen that scene with the heart attack I wouldn't have recognized the symptoms.
If my mom hadn't already been at my sister's house it would have taken longer to figure out arrangements for getting me up to see my husband.
I couldn't have controlled any of that but the God of the universe knew. He knew before Jay was born that on March 9th 2013 Jay would have a heart attack. And He lined things up, allowed the strep throat in our family and used it for His glory. I don't believe in coincidence. Not like this. I believe in God. And I believe that God was with my husband, with my children, with me and my mom as we raced up to be with Jay. I believe that God was with our friends who came to see him. God was made real to us that week through all the people who passed our children around to make sure they were cared for so I could be with Jay while he was in the hospital. The family members, the church family, every single person who blessed us in some way that week whether tangibly or through prayers, they were God made real. The hands and feet of our savior living out the word.