As I was preaching the final point, I shared the story of Maddie's car accident on November 7 and the fact that her spine was over 50% fractured, with a poor prognosis of recovery. (If you are a recent blog reader and don't know about this, read my November 2009 posts from November 7 on.) We were in need of a miracle! The whole church prayed as well as many of you -- friends, family, people we knew and people we don't even know all over the world. Someone put Maddie was on a prayer chain in Australia. Many people in Africa prayed for her. Friends from Knoxville to Dayton to Chicago to Nairobi prayed for her. It was amazing how many people rallied to pray and care. People from the church brought bandages, medicines to clean her wounds, and antibiotic ointment galore. I still have bags of it left! My friend Candy Rivera brought baby food and came and fed it to her on a spoon when she was too weak to sit up or stand. People sent her cards, and we had visitors almost every day who came to sit with Maddie, pet her, and pray for her. Children and teens reached out. Our family of five took shifts caring for Maddie 24/7, sleeping right beside her, putting her in a sling each time to go potty. Larry and I cancelled our trip to Tennessee to do whatever it took to be by Maddie's side to nurse her back to health. We believed. You believed. God heard us! God answers prayer not just for people but for pets, for jobs, for finances, for any miracle large or small in your life or mine. Psalm 138:8 says that He will "perfect" that which concerns us. Specifically, the scripture which is one of my all time favorites says this:Maddie's recovery was a concern of ours, and others as well.
"The LORD will perfect that which concerneth me: thy mercy, O LORD, endureth for ever: forsake not the works of thine own hands." Psalm 138:8
The Lord had mercy.
She is a work of His hands, and He did not forsake her or us.
God is so good! The veterinarian predicted a six month recovery, that is if she recovered at all. It has now been 1 month and 14 days and Maddie is already jumping and leaping! When we took her back after two weeks to get her stitches out from the external surgery, the vet was absolutely amazed!!! They couldn't believe how well Maddie was doing. They had said that they were going to give her four weeks to see if she would recover, before making a decision to put her to sleep if necessary. Not only did we not have to put her to sleep, but we didn't have to wait four weeks to know that. At two weeks she was fighting as hard as she could to stand, to get back to normal. We've tried to hold her down and stop her but the vet told us that we are actually exerting more pressure on her by holding her down than letting her up. She seems to know her limitations and asks for help in getting on or off things (the sofa, bed, etc.) when she needs it. Don't laugh -- she does ask. Seriously! (She comes to the edge of the furniture, stands there and looks at you and whines til' you help her up or down.)
Yesterday at the close of the illustration I said, "we'd like to show you our journey..." and played this: (don't let gory photo scare you -- not sure why that particular one has to be showing there, must be a YouTube thing...trust me you'll love this! Please come back after watching to read the rest, below.)
(Thanks to Pastor Trinity for putting this together. You're awesome!) Many tears of joy were shed while the congregation watched the video. At the close of the video, I said, "AND NOW...WILL YOU WELCOME WITH ME...MADDIE SHRODES!!!" And at that, Maddie came bounding through the back doors of the church! Larry had her on a leash but she made a grand entrance. Right away the song, "Who let the dogs out?!" came on and Maddie ran up and down all of the aisles of the church, almost like she was doing her own little victory dance. Everyone started clapping and many people were standing up just jamming to the music while Maddie ran the aisles. I know it's bizarre for some to have a dog run the aisles (or for a dog to even be in church) especially on Christmas Sunday but for our church something like this is very normal. :) We do nothing in an orthodox fashion, that's just part of our DNA.
After the song and Maddie's little run/dance was over, we invited people to the altar, or had them step out in the aisle if they needed needed some sort of miracle. I asked how many would like to accept Jesus into their lives and I would guestimate about 6-7 people raised their hands and stepped out to pray with someone. I lost count because people were raising their hands so quickly. In addition, probably about 50 people stepped out to be prayed for with some type of need that required a miracle -- healing in their body, financial problems, relationship problems, etc. They were surrounded by others who came alongside to pray for them. All of this ministry took place while Maddie sat patiently by in the sanctuary waiting to greet everyone. For anyone who has their panties in a bunch about a dog being at an altar while people are being prayed for, just keep in mind there are some churches in America where the people are so asleep they wouldn't even notice a dog in the altars. LOL I'm glad I'm not pastoring one of those.
After we finished praying for all who were in need, I announced that Maddie was so grateful for all of the treats brought to her when she had her accident and she wanted to reciprocate and had brought treats (people treats, not dog treats) for everyone there. Cathy and I had spent all day Thursday making a few hundred gourmet pretzel rods (this time with red and green sugar coating) and a little label that said, "Thanks for believing...Love, Maddie" along with Maddie's picture. As the people were exiting the sanctuary they got a gourmet pretzel rod and were able to greet Maddie. She was just surrounded by people loving on her.
The cutest thing happened when I was in the hospitality room greeting our first time guests as I always do. I was sharing conversation and refreshments with our guests and an elderly man shuffled in with a pretzel rod for he and his wife and as he presented his wife (who was in the hospitality room) with the pretzels as if they were more valuable than gold he said, "Make sure to take care of these -- they are from Maddie." Just the way he said it was so sincere and sweet , it just touched my heart. These folks will fit in just fine around here. :)