God's Love

 

My Testimony – by Annette Dobbins
 
 
I was raised in church by a godly mother, a devout Christian woman who every day, everywhere, made sacrifices to make sure I had my needs, sent me to church, and even taught me in Sunday School.
 
I always loved God; but, as a teenager, I struggled with living a godly lifestyle. It became difficult to live and dress by our church standards.
 
Upon marrying, I stopped attending church. Then, when I had my two children, Cyndy and Michael, I enjoyed sleeping in on Sunday mornings, and found it convenient to send them to church with my mother.
 
I recall when Michael was in the fifth grade that his leg began aching to the point where we took him to be X-rayed. Elder Dr. Moore’s office called us to meet him at his office for the results. The radiologist’s report was of a possible inoperable tumor. Dr. Moore believed it to possibly be a fracture, but because of the location, the radiologist believed otherwise, and we should have further study. By a miracle we were given time on Friday morning at McBride’s. I turned to the saints of the Pauls Valley UPC church—please pray for Michael.
 
We had a very trying night and took the X-rays to Dr. Bell. He saw nothing from our X-rays that disturbed him, but he ordered new X-rays and ordered them read immediately. Result: stress fracture, probably six weeks old, and it couldn’t have healed any better if Michael had been in a cast. That was God!
 
For 27 years I chose not to serve God although—through my conscience and from the prayers of a praying mother, God never was far from me. I loved Him and had every intention of someday returning to the church—when it was convenient.
 
In 1990, Mother was no longer able to care for herself, so we moved a travel trailer into our backyard for her. Mother continued to ride to church with John and Flo Parkey, to the Paoli Pentecostal Church.. When Michael was home from college, he often took her. I would tell her that it was time for church, and she would often ask, “Now, are you going, too?”
 
With age, Mother’s health condition became such that she went to church less and less. After Brother Erwin became pastor in 1991, he visited her often. I can remember seeing him pull up, and thinking, “There’s that preacher.” If you know in your heart that you should be serving God as you once did, and your conscience bothers you, then you don’t want to see the preacher. But—OH—just wait for that crisis—Where is the preacher?
 
In March of 1992, I was hospitalized for ten days with a stroke and a blood clot in my right leg. The doctor continued to monitor my blood. There was a slight deficiency that required another exam. I was sent to Norman on Tuesday, May 19, 1992. Neither my little family nor I was prepared for the dreaded news…cancer. I had a large mass in my colon and would have to have immediate surgery. I always felt that, had I returned to God when I had the stroke, then, I might have escaped the cancer. I got better, so I was content as I was living.
 
Then, my fears came alive. I was NOT ready to face eternity. I was in no condition, spiritually, to die. I made contact with members of the United Pentecostal Churches in Pauls Valley and Paoli. I attended services on Wednesday night, May 20, in Paoli. I entered the service intending to prepare by soul for surgery on Friday, May 22. Brother John Womble preached his sermon from Isaiah 53, one of my favorite chapters. He did not beg me to the altar. I don’t know how long I prayed—not long to me. Before I left, I had received the Holy Ghost as the Spirit moved within me.
 
I faced the surgery on Friday with no fear. I took a Bible into surgery with me. I remembered the anesthetist telling me he would put my Bible in a plastic bag for protection. A few days after the surgery, I opened my Bible in the hospital room. Inside—now please listen—was a small paper which I still have, a small paper torn from a surgery form. On the back was written these words: “Annette, read Isaiah 53 and stand firm. Your Anesthesist, Randy Carter.” Recall, Brother Womble had just preached Isaiah 53 on Wednesday night. Was this coincidence, or was this God?
 
One foot of my colon was removed, along with 17 lymph nodes, and 12 of them were malignant. My liver was biopsied. There was a tumor on the right lobe of my liver that was malignant. Because the cancer had traveled through the bloodstream from the colon to the lymph nodes to the liver, this was metastasis and there was no cure. The surgeon, Dr. Dale Hughes, and the oncologist, Dr. Meril Weber from Norman Regional, agreed there was no cure and no promise from the chemo.
 
We requested an appointment with a surgeon to check the possibilities of having surgery of the liver. Three surgeons at Oklahoma Memorial looked at my scans and doctors’ reports, and agreed that surgery was not possible. My tumor was adjacent to a major artery. I began chemotherapy in July, daily for a week, rested a month, then started weekly every Monday with a maximum dosage for 1 and ½ years – 77 treatments.
 
Yes, there was much sleeplessness. I prayed for sleep and I was given sleep. Depression? Yes, so I prayed for peace. I was able to reject fear. I prayed for a right attitude and for comfort and received. I prayed for strength—my present oncologist stated that, to his knowledge, I held the record for chemo treatments and, at the same time, had no damage to my bones from the dosage.
 
My biggest prayer was a little more time with my family. My life expectancy was six months. I sincerely asked and prayed for direction. I tried again to begin serving the Lord with all my heart. I read my Bible and took it with me to every treatment. My prayers on my knees started out being for five minutes. I had to learn, had to grow, had to develop a relationship with God. I never looked back.
 
Prayer for direction came in October of 1993. I was sent to Dr. David Kallenburger at Baptist for another medical problem. He looked at my chart and was the first doctor to state, “We’re going to beat this, aren’t we?” My 78th chemo treatment at Norman was cancelled to allow me to gain strength for surgery in December of 1993.
 
Pastor Erwin and my husband Dale requested that I meet with an oncologist from Baptist before I left the hospital. I met Brian Geister. He listened to my history and said I’d had a wonderful result from my chemo—or maybe “a powerful deliverance.” And I knew it was the deliverance. He requested my films from Norman, which introduced us to Dr;. Robert Arnold. The X-rays were placed on the wall to be examined in our presence. I want to remind you that these X-rays from Norman were the X-rays that—time and again for 1 and ½ years, were reported as showing “no change.” But it was apparent to my eyes, the changes in the appearance of the tumor.
 
I was then scanned from my head to my feet to assure I had no other signs of cancer. I was a candidate for liver surgery as soon as I recovered from this current surgery. We were elated!
 
There was a mighty test: “…walk by faith, not by sight” (II Corinthians 5:7). God revealed to Brother Erwin that the liver surgery was not necessary. In my flesh, I was so excited that I could HAVE the surgery that I was in doubt. Brother Erwin felt that, if I did have the surgery, there would be a revelation to the doctors. I had the surgery in February of 1994. This was a major, dreadfully painful surgery lasting about 7 hours. The right lobe of my liver was removed. When I woke up, I wondered why I had been allowed to wake up.
 
Dr. Arnold was pleased, but could not explain the results. The surgery was successful; the tumor was dried, and it was unlikely that it would have ever spread. What was confirmed to my pastor, God revealed to the doctors. Dr. Arnold was required to appear before a medical review board on the surgery having been successful, the lobe involving the tumor removed, and the condition it was in—because, in June of 1993, five surgeons had stated that surgery was impossible.
 
I never returned to Norman for chemo. My liver rejuvenated to full capacity. I continued blood tests, routine CAT scans, and my colon was checked routinely. For awhile, as I approached a time for tests or scans, I would be scared. In September of 1995, the Lord gave me a scripture: Ecclesiastes 3:14: “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever. Nothing can be put to it, nor anything taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”
 
I have never taken this life for granted. I was given the chance to repent. Many people suddenly face eternity without a warning. N May 19, 1992, I received a death sentence. But, on May 20, 1992, the Holy Ghost gave me LIFE.
 
My next major trial didn’t have a happy ending. On April 13, 1999, my daughter Cyndy was diagnosed with cervical cancer—the most treatable, according to the doctor. Cyndy had three surgeries in 1 and ½ years. Soon after the diagnosis, I was given a peace. I had all the faith in God that Cyndy would be another miracle. Even when the doctors gave her three to six months, I was so anxious how God was going to perform. Three people in our church heard from God concerning her healing.
 
I didn’t give up until she had almost physically slipped away. People would ask how Cyndy was or what I felt, and I told them I had peace. How could I have done more, or something different, to save her? I don’t know. My faith in my prayers was shattered. I felt—if I couldn’t pray the prayer that would save my daughter’s life, then how could my prayer for someone else be of any benefit? This loss has been the hardest trial in my life. Part of my life is gone forever: her fellowship, her smile, her laughter—she was not only my daughter, but my girlfriend. As we stood over Cyndy the last time, a peace came over my body. I found out later that day that this same peace came over Dale.
 
Shortly after Cyndy died, while grieving for her, physical problems appeared. I had several tests—one led to another. Most of 2001, I was in grief and hard tests and trials. I begged God to be relieved of the bondage, even if it took death. Finally, in December, God gave me this scripture in Isaiah 14:3: “And it shall come to pass in the day that the Lord shall give thee rest from thy sorrow and from thy fear, and from the hard bondage wherein thou was made to serve.” I grabbed that promise and held on.
 
In January, Lois Erwin (the pastor’s mother) was praying with me, and I felt the confirmation. I had more tests scheduled. I prayed for direction to have my part removed, used for my blood procedures. After all my results were normal, and I had my final CAT scans, I had the surgery for the part to be removed. This would be the last chapter to complete my book that lasted ten years.
 
I give God the praise and the glory for my life. I guarantee you one thing: I have gone through too much in this life to miss spending eternity in heaven. I praise God for His love that He allowed cancer in me, that gave me the time to return to Him and to have my name written in heaven; and, that one day—after the tears, struggles, heartaches, and worries will be over—to hear, “Well done!”