What is a miracle? It is when the impossible happens.
It’s when doctors have given up on a sick child and for no scientific reason, that child gets well.
It’s when you’re down to your last dollar, have piles of bills to be paid, and a check arrives in the mail from some unknown source.
It’s when a hurricane comes through a town and your house is left standing with desolation all around it.
It’s when a child is born and you can’t believe how exquisitely miniature this new life appears.
It’s when you’ve prayed for a specific purpose and that prayer is answered.
It’s when there is no earthly reason something wonderful has happened.
Miracles take place everyday. Sometimes they’re very subtle and quiet, sweeping in like a touch on the face. Other times, it’s very evident and public. It doesn’t matter who you are, miracles can happen to anyone.
On my way to college, my tire blew. I was headed straight off a 33-story cliff when my car swerved across traffic, then careened back into the median. The trucker who stopped to call a tow truck and make sure I was OK said I was maybe a foot short of going over – and the car just changed directions, missing three cars head-on as well as the cliff. The man told me, “God must love you, because that had to be a miracle that you’re not dead.”
We settled on a home within our own town. We moved in June, and the kids started school in September. On December 14, 2012, the unthinkable happened at Sandy Hook Elementary school. My youngest would have been in that school on that day had I stayed the course.
Last Christmas Eve, Tracy Hermanstorfer's heart stopped beating while she was in labor with her third child, a boy she and her husband, Mike, had named Coltyn. Just after receiving an epidural for the pain, she lost consciousness and went into full cardiac arrest. Doctors attempted to revive her but couldn't, and began an emergency C-section to save the baby. But Coltyn was born limp and seemingly lifeless. "Half of my family was lying there right in front of me, dead," Mike said at the time. "I lost all feeling." Then, to his astonishment, Tracy's pulse returned, and moments later, Coltyn began to breathe. "I'm not big-time religious," says Tracy, "but I know this was in God's hands." Within a few days, mother and son were sent home with a clean bill of health.
Ethan was already under the care of a hospice nurse. His body was rapidly shutting down.
According to Dr. Melissa Rhodes, Ethan had AML, an aggressive type of leukemia. She serves in the oncology unit at Vanderbilt Children’s Hospital in Nashville, Tenn., where she was one of Ethan’s physicians.
“Children who are actually born with leukemia don’t usually do very well,” Dr. Rhodes says. “The best that we could offer was to put Ethan through difficult chemotherapy and still not know that he would make it through.”
In fact, chemotherapy is so toxic for newborns that doctors gave Ethan’s parents the option not to treat their son. After two weeks in the hospital, Chad and Mandy made the painful decision to take their son home.
“The chemo could kill him,” Chad says. “There are all kinds of risks.”
“We came home and I remember lying in bed and praying,” Mandy says. “We said, ‘God, give us an answer’. We both woke up the next morning and both said, ‘Nope, we’re not going to put him through it’.”
Most doctors at Vanderbilt supported that decision. “We figured if Ethan truly had the kind of leukemia that we felt he had, then even with full treatment he may not do well,” says Dr. Rhodes. “For that reason we felt it was right to honor the family’s decision.”
After only a few days at home, Ethan’s baby acne, which is common in newborns, had become infected. So they went back to the hospital. That’s when the tumors began to show up…
“We noticed a lump in his calf,” says Mandy. “We paged the doctor, and they told us that it could be a blood clot or a build up of the leukemia cells, which is called chloroma.”
Tumors started popping up in other places such as Ethan’s feet, hands, and his forearm.
“Leukemia itself means cancer of the blood; it’s a blood disease,” explains Dr. Rhodes. “But in this particular kind of leukemia it can also go out into the tissues. That’s what we believe was happening with Ethan. He actually had leukemia in his skin, in his hands, his feet, and his legs, as well as in his liver and spleen which is more common. So he was showing that he had a very advanced disease at that point.”
Ethan was now about three weeks old, and his condition really started to decline. He stopped eating and began to experience sleep apnea.
“[The nurse] told me that he might develop what’s called sepsis, which would be a total body infection, and that he would go peacefully or he might hemorrhage,” Mandy recalls. “I would see blood in his diaper or maybe coming out of his ears. I was so scared to open up his diaper to even change it.”
When the hospice nurse arrived, Chad and Mandy knew they were near the end but Chad, Mandy and their friends continued to pray… believing God for the impossible.
“I remember rocking him and singing, ‘Open the eyes of my heart, Lord. I want to see you’,” Mandy says. “I knew that if I just focused my mind on Christ that’s the only way that I could make it through.”
The night that Ethan faced his greatest medical crisis, something happened. “Mandy late that night started feeding, and he started taking his bottle a little bit at a time,” Chad says.
The next day, Ethan was a little stronger… But was he having one final rebound before death?
Mandy says, “I remember sitting at the kitchen table and saying, ‘I believe God’s healing him. I can see God working.’ Then he just gradually started getting better. And over the next week, we were back up to six ounces of formula every three hours.”
Over the next two weeks, Ethan improved! And when Mandy took him back to Vanderbilt to check his blood counts? “His platelets level was like 415,000 -- in normal range, where it had been 39,000 at his lowest point.”
This stumped Dr. Rhodes and her colleagues. “Ethan had gotten about as sick as a baby could possibly get and then spontaneously got better. So we wanted to look. We did the bone marrow test, which showed no evidence of leukemia. The tumors gradually went down over a period of probably a week or so. It was just remarkable to witness it.”
Chad and Mandy knew they had witnessed a miracle when they repeated the bone marrow biopsy in July with the same results.
Today, Ethan Stacy is a strapping two-year-old, who loves playing with his dad and big sister Kaylee. It goes without saying that the Stacys are thankful.
"The prayers of my friends and church members meant everything to me,” Chad says.
Phoebe was trapped in the cistern but was healthy, sitting on a pile of concrete rubble that kept her out of the water. “For nearly a week Tillie stayed by her side, with the exception of the few minutes each day when she went to look for help,” Amy says. “Every cell in her body was willing me to get Phoebe, to recognize what was going on. A true friend and a humbling example of the power of love.”
Just walk. Right.
Even more pathetic, I was all of 39 years old. I had my own engineering consulting company with employees nationwide. I was always traveling for work or taking care of Cherokee Acres, our 40-acre horse ranch here in Texas. For kicks, my wife, Stephanie, and I would take our horses on trails throughout the West. I was still in the prime of my life, for crying out loud!
Here’s what happened: Stephanie and I had been in Colorado Springs with friends when I’d woken up the middle of the night with discomfort in my chest. Stephanie and I drove to the ER, and I ended up with a quadruple bypass. My 10-day vacation turned into a 10-day hospital stay. My souvenir—a scar from my chest to my belly.
I took time off work because I couldn’t travel and traveling was half my job. I couldn’t get anything done on the ranch either. Climbing into and out of bed hurt like crazy; I slept on the couch because I could roll off it easily. My days were even worse. You couldn’t ask me to lift anything. I couldn’t remember ever feeling so weak. I was miserable.
Stephanie stayed around the house for the first few days after we got home, but eventually one morning, she said, “Hon, they want me back at work now. Try to get in some steps today.”
She kissed me and was out the door. Maybe I’ll make it past the fridge today, I thought.
Minutes later, I heard a key rattle in the lock. Stephanie came rushing back in, carrying something in her arms. A yellow Labrador puppy. What the heck?
“Where did you get that?” I asked.
“In our mailbox,” Stephanie said. “Can you believe it?”
“No! Our mailbox?”
“I checked the mail before I turned out of the driveway, and there he was! Curled up inside like a little yellow fur ball. Isn’t he just the cutest little thing?”
The puppy was all scraggly, with big, goofy feet and pleading eyes. What on earth was Steph thinking? Wasn’t I enough of a burden? Did we really need a puppy too?
We’re no strangers to strays. Once, after a hurricane, a Saint Bernard showed up. Took us days to locate his owners. You always hear stories of people abandoning unwanted pets along the highway. But in a mailbox? Who puts a puppy in a mailbox? Crazy people, that’s who. Crazy people with crazy dogs.
Stephanie was late to work. I was already in a bad mood. I couldn’t take care of myself, and now I had to babysit this flea-bitten puppy all day? “We’ve got to find a place to take him,” I complained as Steph rushed out the door. “He’s going to the pound tomorrow.”
I leaned back in my recliner and wagged my finger at him. “Don’t you give me any trouble today, you hear?” He cocked his head the way puppies do, broke into a grin and waddled over to me. I’m not going to get all soft and gushy over this pup, no matter how cute he is!
Wherever I went, the pup would dutifully follow. Maybe I’ll chance a little walk. I tentatively opened the door to the yard. The pup skipped ahead, then looked back. Come on, he seemed to say. I took a deep breath, then a few steps, the pup right at my side. He walked a little funny too. Maybe that’s why he was so interested in me.
I didn’t take the pup to the pound the next day. Instead, we walked. This time, toward the mailbox. But I had to turn back. “Next time, we’ll get there,” I gasped. It was a promise.
We named him Cheyenne, in homage to Stephanie’s Native American heritage. Before long, I was walking to the mailbox with Cheyenne every day. Pretty soon, I was strong enough to work the ranch again. Cheyenne enjoyed running with the horses. We had both gotten strong.
Cheyenne was my buddy for 12 years. He joined Stephanie and me on our trail rides. My favorite photo is of Cheyenne on the Oregon Trail, sharing a water bucket with one of our horses.
Who puts a puppy in a mailbox? Maybe someone not so crazy after all. Cheyenne was exactly what the doctor ordered.
After about two hours, her doctors knew there was no hope. They brought her extended family into the room to say goodbye. After Ruby’s family returned to the waiting room, where they, along with a few nurses, frantically prayed on their knees for a different outcome, the doctors stopped pumping her chest. They were ready to call her time of death.
“I was seconds away from turning off the ventilation machine when one of the nurses shouted, ‘Stop!’” Dr. Knurr says. “Without any medicine or CPR, Ruby’s heart began to beat on its own for the first time in two hours. It is just indescribable.”
It turned out that some amniotic fluid had leaked into the uterus and traveled through Ruby’s bloodstream and to her heart. Called an amniotic fluid embolism, it causes an air block in the heart and prevents blood from flowing. “These embolisms are rare, and we don’t know a lot about them,” Dr. Knurr says. “Usually the patient passes away or has significant brain damage.” (Her doctors don’t know what happened to the amniotic debris; they assume it dissolved on its own.)
Not only did Ruby live, but “she is in perfect health. It’s almost as if this never happened,” says Dr. Knurr. “It’s a miracle. I’m not a highly religious person, but you just don’t see this happen.” The next morning, Ruby’s breathing tube was removed. Four days later, she walked out of the hospital with her newborn daughter, Taily—without even a broken rib from all the chest compressions.
“Someone else was running the show that day; there’s no doubt in my mind,” Ruby says today. “I don’t know why God chose me, but I know he gave me this life again for a reason.”
The long-legged pup in North Smithfield, Alabama, rode out a tornado in his family’s garage last spring. His family thought he would be safe there, but the tornado blasted through the garage door and Mason disappeared.
Dozens of people perished that day from the twister. Mason’s family was grateful just to be alive, even if the storm had left their home uninhabitable. But they were heartbroken at the thought that their sweet, playful companion had died. They combed the neighborhood, hoping by chance to find him, but Mason didn’t turn up.
Until he did.
Three weeks after the disaster, Mason’s family stopped by the house to collect some belongings. There Mason sat on the front porch, so ecstatic to see his family that his entire body was wagging. They were overjoyed. Where had Mason landed during the windstorm? What did he eat for those long weeks? How did he find his way back home?
There was no answer to those questions and no time to ponder. Mason was terribly thin and couldn’t stand properly. The family quickly sought help and learned their beloved dog had crawled home on broken front legs. “He was literally on his elbows,” says Phil Doster, adoption rescue coordinator for the animal shelter that assessed Mason.
Doster had spent days reuniting pets with their owners and took an instant liking to the courageous terrier. He contacted Dr. William Lamb of Vulcan Park Animal Care in Birmingham, who volunteered to perform the needed surgery for free. Lamb inserted two metal plates and 17 screws in an operation that lasted more than three hours.
Mason’s injuries were so significant that he required weeks of recovery to heal. By the time he returned home to his family in September, he was bouncing around like a puppy again. “There were no ill effects whatsoever, which is a miracle in itself,” Doster says.
Morgan Lake of Dunkirk, Maryland is a vibrant and enthusiastic young woman. The 22-year-old college student is majoring in communications. She dreams of becoming a Sports anchor or host of a television show. Morgan also teaches gymnastics and cheerleading to young girls.
Morgan is the kind of young woman that makes people feel good about life. She always seeks to provide people with encouragement and inspiration.
That’s how Morgan lives, loving God and loving people.
On Friday, July 18 at 8 p.m., Morgan was enjoying one of her best days ever. Everything was just going her way.
It is a day that she will never forget.
Early evening along the Chesapeake Bay can be a wonderful time of day, especially when the sun is just beginning to set; it’s simply beautiful.
As Morgan was driving across the Chesapeake Bay Bridge, she was feeling the euphoria of having one of those spectacular moments in time. Then suddenly...calamity struck.
It all happened in an instant, in a blink of an eye, but it felt like an eternity.
Morgan had slowed her car to a stop on the bridge for a toll. In her rear view mirror, as she blinked her eyes, she could see a large tractor trailer truck approaching.
As she blinked her eyes again as the truck showed no sign of slowing down. After the third blink of her eyes…Bam!
Morgan heard the thunderous crashing as the truck rammed into the rear of her car. The momentum of the truck began pushing Morgan’s car forward. She could see the jersey wall and the water below.
Her mind was frantically racing with thoughts and prayers for her car to stop on the bridge. Please, don’t go over this bridge into the water, she thought. Morgan felt helpless and she reasoned in her mind, “this is it! I’m going to die!”
There was no way of escape. Morgan’s car was jerked like a rollercoaster. Her greatest fear soon became a reality.
After being pushed along, on the top of the barrier between the bridge and the water, Morgan’s car was now plunging into the treacherous waters below. As the car quickly submerged beneath the water’s surface, fear and panic gripped Morgan.
Her seatbelt was locked and would not open, her arms were now flailing about, and her mouth and body were filling up with water.
Morgan says; “I started to feel the drowning sensation. I didn’t like how it felt.” With that, she felt a rush of hope as she told herself; “I’m not going out this way -- I’m not dying.”
Then suddenly... fortune struck.
Morgan says in that moment of defying death she reached out to God. And she claims God turned her situation around; “I just felt as if God touched my shoulder and pushed me back against my car into my seat to relax me.”
Morgan says that divine intervention allowed her to unlock her seat belt and then pull herself out of the driver side window, swim to the surface, then swimming to shore where help arrived.
Morgan’s story is being told all around the world. It is being described as a modern day miracle.
Morgan explained to me that she knows some people don’t believe in God. But now, she says; “They can look at me. They can look at the video of the bridge and my car being pulled from the water.”
Morgan adds; “As long as you have God with you, he will be there to support you through everything; even going over a bridge.”
In this age of cynicism and abandonment of faith, Morgan’s story is a dramatic reminder that God is real. Miracles happen every day; they’re just not reported.
If you doubt it, just take a look in the mirror. You’re a miracle, a work of art, and a masterpiece of God-your creator.
That year I was at my Grandmother’s house, as my whole family used to gather there to celebrate Mother’s Day for a couple of years. It started like any other day, however, great laughs, unreal food, and of course (one of my Grandmother’s favorite things, also basically one of my Mom’s least favorite) baseball.
I distinctly remember sitting in the living room of my Grammie’s house, turning on the Red Sox afternoon game. I remember being so fascinated by the fact that the teams were using pink bats, and that everyone's regular accessories were colored to suit the day. It was a cool aspect of the game to see, a tribute to moms.
But the game started off ROUGH. The Sox starter Josh Beckett had to leave after just the fourth inning, having torn skin on his right middle finger, and the Baltimore Orioles just kept tacking on runs until the game crawled into the ninth. Being at home, Boston would receive the last at bats. It was 5-0 as Julio Lugo stepped to the plate. But after a ground out, it looked bleaker.
Then things took a strange turn. A fielding era by the Orioles gave way to Coco Crisp reaching first base. Baltimore’s starting pitcher, Jeremy Guthrie, who had been in complete control, was pulled after eight and a third innings. Papi steps up and cracks the second pitch off the Monster to score Crisp; 5-1. Then a single, moving Ortiz to third. Another pitching switch.
At this point, my whole family is crowding around the television as my Uncle and I are fixated.
Next came two walks, scoring a second run, leaving the bases juiced. The Captain, and Sox catcher Jason Varitek then got up to the plate. Two more runs come in as Varitek smacked one to right.
I'm jumping up and down and my Grandmother is ecstatic! Are we really about to all witness an amazing comeback?
Orioles pitcher Chris Ray intentionally walked Eric Hinske to load the bases, trying to spin a double play to crush our hearts. Cora grounds one into the infield, and the throw home sends Youkilis back to the dugout without putting another run on the board. 2 outs. 5-4. Julio Lugo is now at the plate again.
I'm on the edge of my seat, looking around the room at a family that was now enthralled in a baseball game. Even my Mom who wasn't interested at first, was now intently watching what was about to unfold.
Lugo sent one to the first baseman, who went to toss the game ending out to the covering pitcher at first, but to no avail. The throw went wide.
I didn't even get to see what happened. My whole family was yelling and cheering and my aunt was screaming, “GO GO GO!” I was a short little kid and there were too many adults in the way of the screen. All I can see is my Grammie with a huge ear to ear smile on her face, her day completely made
Varitek scored. Hinske scored. Red Sox win 6-5 in a bottom of the ninth comeback capped off in bizarre fashion. Unbelievable.