Thursday, February 21, 2008


I never was a "great" student. I did fine in most classes, but some things, like anything to do with numbers, would pass a few miles over my head. Then when they began saying that numbers equalled letters...I was beyond confused. I got out of high school doing the very least amount of math I could get away with.

I met Don in high school. He was 2 years ahead of me. And, when he finished, he went off to college. We continued to date each other as well as others. When I completed my high school days, I decided to go to college based solely on the fact that Donald was there. It was certainly not for any desire to further my education. To do that would require working with numbers, and those were things I wanted to stay far away from. Well, I managed to get into the same university as him, but what would I declare as a major? I had made plans for my major long ago. They did not include higher education, or numbers. They did include a marriage license and many babies. A full and rewarding career. But, these people who were counseling me , were saying I had to say what kind of degree I wanted to get. So, based solely on the amount of math required...I chose early childhood education. I always enjoyed working with children. And since I wanted to raise a kindergarten, that became my declared major.

My first 2 years passed, and I found I actually enjoyed these classes, and since I was at a Baptist University, there were also religion and Bible classes. Very interesting and thought provoking. Since I had taken 10 years of piano lessons while growing up, I decided I would continue studying that also. I signed up for private lessons through the school, and continued to study piano.

Don and I married, and continued going to school; he working a part time job, and parents helping with the bills. Somewhere in the midst of this, I began feeling an intense desire to become a nurse. Where, pray tell, did this come from? I had never even considered nursing as something I was even remotely interested in. But, the feeling continued, and soon, it became clear to me that this was something I had to do. At this point in my life, I did not recognize that this could be the leading of the Holy Spirit. I was a Christian, and had been raised in church, but not much beyond that. And, so, I dropped out of college and enrolled in nursing school. I loved it from the very beginning. It was challenging and exciting...and I was good at it. The things that would gross out the other students were fascinating to me. I gave great shots, and was asked for by name many times. One man who had to get a series of rabies shots in the abdomen, wouldn't let anyone else come near him with a needle..and I was still a student! Don graduated and in a few months I graduated. We then moved back home to begin our grown-up lives. He got a job and I went to work at one of the hospitals here.
I worked for about 8 months, and discovered I was pregnant. I worked until I was 6 months along, and then quit on advice from my DR. Soon Adam was born and life was good. This is what I longed to a mother. (I wasn't so sure, though, when the first time I changed his diaper...he peed in my face!) I quickly learned how to avoid that! We decided I would not go back to work, but would stay at home to raise Adam. Now, with my years of piano training here and at college, I was able to teach piano lessons. So, I began doing this in the afternoons, and it became quite profitable. I ended up teaching in my home for about 20 years. And, I thought my nursing career was over. HAH!
When Adam was 3, we found out he had a malignant baby had cancer! (More on his story in a later post). Because of my nursing experience, I was allowed to stay with him in ICU, I was able to do much of his care, and most of all...I was not frightened by all that comes with cancer. I had studied this, I was familiar. I understood what the Dr. were saying and was able to help the rest of our family understand better. Because this was a long illness with much follow up and eventually 6 major operations, my skills were used often.

Six years later, we had a second son, Alex. Adam's treatment was still on going, so I ended up leaving my new baby with my sister for a month at a time to be with Adam in the hospital. But, Alex was healthy, and Adam's visits were slowing down. Things seemed to be better and we were looking forward to a 'normal' life soon. When Alex turned 1, I discovered I was pregnant again. Surprise! But, we were happy and excited to welcome another child.

Ian arrived and when I saw him in the delivery room, I went into shock. Part of his face was missing...what was going on here? This was not supposed to happen. I had already had 1 ill child...I shouldn't have another one. Well, the fact is, I did. And trying to care for him started immediately. Trying to get him to eat, trying to prevent choking, trying to find a doctor to fix this...just trying to get was never ending. He took constant attention from day 1. Fortunately, I had the contacts to find the best treatment for Ian. We travelled to North Carolina, and began a 20 year association with the hospital and Dr. at UNC. Daily, I used my nurses training to take care of this little boy. When he was 6 months old, he went limp in my arms one morning. I recognized very quickly that he was in major distress and rushed him to the hospital. We discovered he had a heart condition called PAT, for which he had to be on meds and has had 2 operations. 10 facial and orthodontia surgeries later, he is finally finished with treatment. I have been able to go into surgery with him, take out stitches, do after surgery care, stay in ICU with him. And, I have learned much more than I ever cared to now about cleft lip and palate. When Ian was in kindergarten, I was offered a job at a private Christian preschool, as a music teacher. I quickly fell in love with teaching. And all was fairly smooth for a few years. Adam was fine now, and Ian was having some treatment all along.

When Alex was 13, we discovered that he had a degenerative brain disease. He suffers great pain, loss of balance, uneven walking, loss of most vision, and other complications. So again, my nursing skills are called into play. As, we have not found a treatment for Alex, he's 26 now, I am again using my nursing every day. Because of an understanding boss and flexible teachers, I have been able to continue to work mornings at the preschool. I am blessed to be able to do this work I love.

So, I say all that to say this. I had no idea what was ahead of me when I went off to college years ago, but God did. I had no thoughts of being a nurse, but God did. I had no idea my children would all suffer severe and ongoing illness, but God did. I didn't know how to prepare for all that was to come, but God did. He knew...and He spoke to my Spirit and put in that desire for me to become a nurse. I thought it was so strange that I should want to do this, but God didn't. I had no idea that I would be good at nursing, but God did. I did not know what kind of future I would have in my profession, but God knew that I would have 3 very important patients. I didn't know enough to even realize that God was leading and directing my life, but I know it now. He put me where I needed to be so I could do what I needed to so. How great is our God! How kind and compassionate is He. How like God to give this young mother the skills I needed to deal with her children.

We have had and are having a wonderful life. God not only prepared me to deal with illness, but He has provided Donald with a job that supplies our needs. As you can imagine, medical expenses have been staggering, but we have never had to worry about paying for them. As a matter of fact, Don left his first job about 1 month before we discovered Adam was ill. He began a new job and the insurance was to pick up in a matter of turned out to be weeks...his insurance was activated less than a week before Adam's tumor was discovered. God knew all about it. Without a doubt, God has provided a job for me at my school. It has given me a chance to be away for a few hours, and has provided a creative outlet for me as well. I can not imagine not being able to use my talents in a productive way. And, I must say, I could never work for a more understanding boss or fellow teachers. It is a gift from God. And, they NEVER ask me to use big numbers! Just the basics!!:)

As I have become a wiser person and grown in my faith, I can see just how wondrously God has orchestrated my life. And I didn't even ask Him to! But, as a child, I did ask Him to be my Savior. I belonged to Him, and He took control of my life and led me in the right direction. His direction is always perfect. He will lead, if we will just follow!


"In all your ways, acknowledge Him, and He will direct your paths." Proverbs 3:5-6

"For I know the plans I have for you", says the Lord, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future." Jeremiah 29:11


And this I know is true!


Musicaljean said...

What an awesome testimony, Tonja! I've heard you tell bits and pieces of it here and there, but to read it all in this context leaves me in awe of our Lord and even more thankful to have you, dear Tonja, for a friend. I just love you more than ever.

Anonymous said...

thank you for sharing your faith...what a testimony you have!!!

Dianne said...

Wow Jean, I knew bits and pieces, but the way it has all come together is definitely of God's orchestration...thank heaven you were sensitive to it! This is a great story..thanks for sharing it.

Jennifer said...

Wow! That is a lot to go through. Thank you for sharing it with us. You have such an upbeat personality I don't think people would realize how many struggles your family has had to deal with. What a wonderful testimony.

Lynne said...

If I didn't believe that God has a plan for each us before, I certainly do now. You were led into nursing for a specific reason. Aren't you glad that you listened.

Profbaugh said...

Oh my Tonja!! I'm in tears as I'm reading your post. God is just so stinkin' good!! Thank you for sharing His provision for your life. I'm sitting here just thanking Him for you. What a true testimony to your faith.


Leah Belle said...

I am so grateful for God's sovereignty. I'm glad I don't have to worry about the future knowing He's got the best plan for me already worked out. Thanks for sharing...I appreciate your faithfulness.

Lisa said...

What a wonderful story.Thanks for sharing this. It is so nice to hear from God's people.I know God will continue a good work in you and supply all your needs.Blessings,Lisa

Ang baylis said...

How kind and compassionate you are, sweet nurse Tonja! I've been out of the loop and need to catch up on you! Thank you for sharing your heart with your sisters out here!

Much love to you and I Praise God for you!
Angie xoxo

Deedra said...

What an amazing testimony! I pray Gods continued blessing on you and your family. Thank you for sharing this story. I can't tell you how much it blesses me tonight! God knows all!

In His Grip said...

Your story leaves me humbled and blessed by your strength

What a gift you are to God!


Cherdecor said...

After reading all your posts about how the Lord has lead you through the years, I was speechless, wordless or spitless. I have thought on your words for many days. I am like that. Sorry to scare you! Ha! Ha!

It made me think of what Blackaby said. He said to make a pathway on paper and mark the points where God met you. He said that God very seldom changes the way he is working in your life. I think he was talking about future issues of which we would need guidance.

I don't know, but to me, this was your path. I couldn't help but mark those points where God met you.

I loved reading your story! I would love to meet you someday. You sound like a very wonderful person.

Gentle hugs and God bless you!

Sandi @the WhistleStop Cafe said...

We have such a different perspective when we are able to look backwards.
He has a plan for each of us! If we can just follow the path~

Glad to hear you had a good day in Birmingham!