It was Saturday morning, and I really wanted one of those flaky biscuit sandwiches from a local fast-food restaurant. Nobody makes 'em better than this place!
My husband and I had a busy day planned. We'd just swing by the restaurant, pick up our order, which we'd called in, and get on with the numerous tasks at hand.
We weren't expecting to be delayed by a hit-and-run accident. A car had entered an intersection on a red light. An oncoming vehicle swerved to avoid a crash and was forced up onto the median where it leveled a street sign.
When our kids were young, "pillow talk" was always special. This was a time to sit in intimate half-light at bedtime and ask how things were--really were--if signs of reticence or sadness were detected that day.
We would gather any untied threads of the day, talk about them and pray these things into the Father's hands. Confessions, hopes, ideas and fears were expressed then as at no other time.
Trust was built into our relationship that stood us in good stead in later years. One kind of pillow talk we engaged in allowed me to relate to our teen daughter when the distance between us seemed great.
Fifteen years prior to the wonderful day when I was born again, my husband, Al, and I were in an automobile accident that resulted in a serious injury to my back. I spent those years with searing pain as my constant companion.
Though both Al and I are Jewish, it never occurred to us that God was alive and willing to be my healer. Unbeknownst to us, my husband's secretary, Joan, and her church family were praying for my healing.
One day Joan approached Al and invited us to her church for a healing service. He was not comfortable with the idea. He thought of her as a "religious fanatic"--but all I heard was the word "healing," and I was all for that.
Growing up in the Roman Catholic Church, I attended parochial schools and sometimes went to Mass six days a week. But I lost faith in the church when, later in life, I found myself divorced with two small children and excluded from communion and the other sacraments.
My twin sister urged me to attend her church and gave me a copy of The Book. At age 31, for the first time in my life, I began reading the Bible.
At the same time, a close friend persuaded me to see a psychic, and I soon became hooked. I was enchanted with the New Age movement because it made me feel as if I had special powers and was in control of my destiny. At church, I felt like an outsider--a divorced single mom in the midst of all those happy families.
In 1952, at the age of 2, I was stricken with polio and cerebral palsy. I was placed in the hospital, and my doctors recommended that I undergo exploratory surgery on my brain so they could determine what was causing my symptoms.
Thankfully, my parents would not consent to this surgery. But for 16 years I was in braces that covered nearly my whole body. I also endured four operations.
I can remember going to my aunt and uncle's house and attending church with them. My uncle was a minister.
Candace Lang Like millions of children who grow up without a dad, I dreamed of what the ideal father would be like. He would have the wisdom of Ward Cleaver, the compassion of Charles Ingalls and the indulgence of Mike Brady.
After I became a Christian, I realized that God had used my need for a father as a catalyst so that I would seek Him, even when I was young. If I had not had a need, I might never have known Him.
In a tangible way God showed me that He is a father in every sense. He reminded me of the times He had watched over and protected me when I thought I was alone.
Today, most people have heard of agoraphobia, which is an abnormal fear of being in open spaces. But 26 years ago, this problem was unknown where I lived.
At 15, my life came to a standstill. I suffered severe panic attacks wherever I went. Shaking uncontrollably and feeling faint, I'd get a compelling urge to run from wherever I was. Eventually, I became housebound.
No one knew what was wrong with me. I thought I was losing my mind, and for two years, I cried out to God for help.
One day I was praying beside my bed, just enjoying the Lord. Suddenly, I felt a current of divine love flow through me, flooding me with peace and joy. I was euphoric!
At first, the only difference I noted was that I couldn't stop singing. Then I had the sudden urge to venture out to the mailbox.
I did, and I didn't panic! The shackles that had bound me began to fall away.
No one realized that I was experiencing agoraphobia. Clinics, treatments, counseling--none were available to me. But I had a Great Physician, and there was nothing unknown to Him.
I have learned that we don't always need to understand the problems we face. What we need to know is that the God in whom we trust is bigger than the problem.
It was a long, exhausting drive from my Lafayette home to my mother's bedside in the small Alabama town where I grew up. Nothing in my years as a pastor's wife or my experience as a registered nurse had prepared me for this journey.
Twice in 1997, the Great Physician had intervened, astonishing the medical doctors, who had offered no hope. Prayer had prevailed, and my mother's life had become a living testimony to the entire hospital staff of God's miraculous healing power.
Shuttling back and forth across the endless miles for the last few months had taken a huge emotional and physical toll on me. Mother's wish not to live with me during this time was a decision that I honored but agonized over.
During my childhood our family lived on a farm in Corinth, Mississippi. One day while I was working in the cotton field, a truck driven by a good-looking boy came along, and although I did not know him, I made the remark: "Do you see that boy? I'm going to marry him one day, and I will not be a farmer's wife but a doctor's wife."
Three years later, Howard Thomas and I were married. Eventually he decided to become a medical doctor and started attending college. We went to church regularly but were not born again.
We began drinking and frequenting medical fraternity parties. I felt guilty but did not stop.
On a Thursday in June 1987, three days before my due date, I was disappointed when my doctor told me he thought my baby would not come for another week. My husband, Andres, and I had been trying to have a family since we were first married two and a half years earlier, so even a few more days seemed like a lot.
On Sunday morning I awoke with light cramps. At daybreak, my husband and I began timing the contractions as we got ready to go to the hospital.
When the doctor examined me and listened for the baby's heartbeat, I sensed that something was wrong. Quickly, I was prepared for a Caesarean section.
My life as a grandmother started with a whirlwind of excitement, much like Steve Martin's in the movie, Father of the Bride Part II. I identified with his situation because two of my daughters were in labor at the same time and gave birth 66 minutes apart.
I'll never forget the Thanksgiving Day when Kathy, my oldest daughter, announced that she and her husband, Foster, were going to have a baby after waiting five years. A month later Dori, my youngest daughter, announced that she, too, was pregnant.
OK, I thought to myself. I have two pregnant daughters. No problem. I was to have a grandchild born in July and one in August. I often teased the girls, saying: "You better not have your babies the same day. And if you do, you better have them in the same hospital!"
When I was 14, I injured my head in a diving accident. Three days later, my parents discovered me in the middle of a grand mal seizure.
After I had nearly continual seizures for more than three months, my parents were given no hope that I would recover. But I became conscious and seizure-free without drugs after many days of prayer.
Within several months, I went back to classes and scored higher on intelligence tests than I had before the accident. I'd lost a year of high school, but ultimately I finished and went on to earn a degree in elementary education and psychology.
Having been raised by an alcoholic father and an enabling mother, I learned to see God as harsh, unbending and unaccepting of me. I believed that He would harm me at His whim and that He was never pleased with my efforts or gifts. I thought He was like my father.
As a 30-something mother of four, I was falling apart emotionally. I had seen numerous counselors and been on medication for clinical depression. But despite all my efforts, I could not find freedom or peace.
At my lowest point, a good Christian friend mailed me an awesome worship CD that was full of songs extolling God as the lover of our souls. Inspired by thoughts of His stubborn love for me, I was compelled to search the Scriptures to see what I could find about the true nature of God.
Our 16-year-old son, Zachary, was blessed with athletic abilities. He has been an all-star athlete since he was very young.
In the month of November 2001, Zachary had been practicing basketball on the days before and after Thanksgiving. On the following Monday morning he awoke with a swollen arm. We anointed him with oil and prayed for him.
Shortly after he was taken to the doctor, and medical tests revealed the presence of a germ-cell tumor in his chest behind the sternum. On December 3, 2001, the tumor was removed, and surgery was followed by four five-day rounds of chemotherapy that ended in February 2002.
Although I was raised a Southern Baptist, I was full of spiritual questions after my mother's death and the end of my 18-year marriage. On one occasion, while visiting an Assemblies of God church I observed the congregation praising the Lord in a way I had never seen. As they lifted their hands in worship, I joined in.
Each week I returned, knowing that God was drawing me closer to Him. At first I raised only one hand in worship. Then the Lord asked me, "What's wrong with your other hand?" In total abandonment, I raised both arms. God's Spirit worked in me, and freedom was released through my surrender.
Before, I learned about the prophets only in the Old Testament. My newfound freedom brought people into my life who would say to me, "The Lord told me this…" or "The Lord told me that…" Eventually, I learned to listen to God's voice and move accordingly.
My husband and I built our relationship on God's love and understanding; however, I always had a struggle with the concept of oneness. Satan was out to destroy both our marriage and our connection to God.
During our 19th year of marriage, Satan came in at full force, causing chaos and devastation. Blindly, I thought that having the attention of a man other than my husband would enhance my life. An affair nearly destroyed our lives, as well as our daughter's. Through God's grace and others' prayers, the veil of deception was removed. By the means of a vision, I was made aware of the enemy's hand at work in our relationship.
In this vision, I was standing in the center of a room and a current of energy flowed out from within me to those nearby. When the current ran uninterrupted, everything was in harmony. But broken connections brought sorrow to everyone.