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How SMALL is your God?

I've heard preachers and others ask the question "How big is your God?" They usually ask this question to ask if you trust God for really big stuff in your life.

The question I have been pondering for the last month or so, and that I want to ask you now, is "How SMALL is your God?"

I am writing this at 4:00 in the afternoon on Sunday, January 29th, 2017. Exactly five years ago right now, I was in the recovery room at Baptist Hospital in Jackson, MS following six hours of brain surgery.

I'm going to tell you the short version of this story today. There is a link at the bottom where you can read the whole story if you want to. It's not a very long read; maybe 20 minutes or so.

On Tuesday night, January 24th, 2012, I got a headache. I didn't think much of it; took some Tylenol and kept going. Wednesday morning, we went in so I could get some Epidural Steroid Injections in my lower back for some problems I had been having there. The headache was back Thursday afternoon. By Friday afternoon, the headache was unbearable. I have had migraines since junior high school, but this was the worst headache that I had ever had. Debbie wanted to take me to the emergency room and I felt so bad that I agreed and we went.

The emergency room doctors started running tests and then giving me pain medications. Eventually, I had enough pain meds in me that I should have been unconscious, but as I told the doctors, my head was hurting too bad to sleep. At that point, they decided there must be a real problem and got serious about testing. Over the next 24 hours, they drew a lot of blood and did a number of x-rays and CT scans. They found a gall stone that they said I wouldn't need to worry about, a strange spot on my left lung (which I have known about since I was 10 years or so old), and a mass in my brain that was about the size of a large grape.

They told us that the mass could either be an abscess or a tumor. I didn't really care, I just wanted some relief from the pain. Either way, the next step was surgery. Brain surgery was scheduled for Sunday morning, the 29th.

The surgery was originally expected to take two hours, but ended up taking six. When the surgeon came out to talk to Debbie afterward, he told her that it was "just" an abscess and that it ruptured just as they got to it. Because they had cut a tunnel to it, the toxic infection came out through the path they had made instead of flooding my brain with poison and killing me. He also told her that because of where they had to go through my brain, I would probably have some trouble walking, some speech problems, some vision problems, and trouble putting thoughts together. I never really had any of those problems. I did use a walker for a few days for balance when I would get up and go to the bathroom, but that was about it.

The doctors told us to expect to spend a few days in ICU, then several days in a regular room, then home.

When Debbie came to see me one of the visit times in ICU, I told her that two things sounded good to me. One was a cherry popsicle. The other was a grilled ham and cheese sandwich. At this point, I had not eaten in nearly a week. I don't know why those two things came to mind, but they did.

About 4:00 Tuesday morning, the nurse and an aide came into my ICU room and gave me a "bath". The nurse told me that I needed to smell good for my wife when she came to see me. After my bath, they brought me a cherry popsicle in a cup and a spoon to eat it with.

After two days in ICU, they moved me to a regular room. After two days in the room, they taught Debbie how to give me antibiotics in the PICC line that they put in my arm while I was in ICU and sent us home. Every three hours, 24 hours a day, Debbie had to get a bulb with antibiotics out of the refrigerator to warm up to room temperature, then attach it to my PICC line an hour later. She didn't get to sleep more than two hours straight for over a week.

The following Sunday, which was February 5th, a couple of friends came over to visit. Marty and I sat in the living room talking. Paula and Debbie sat at the kitchen table. We had the TV on with the Super Bowl pregame nonsense. After a while, Marty kept looking over at Debbie and Paula with a strange look on his face. Shortly after the game started, Marty and Paula left. I tried watching the game and texting our daughter Heather, who is my long-distance football buddy. After the first quarter, I told Heather that I was having trouble focusing on the game and needed to quit texting.

The next morning, I was running a little bit of a fever and Debbie said I wasn't as responsive as I had been. She called the doctor's office and they said to come back to the hospital. At the ER, they did an MRI of my head. After a while, they came back in and said that the abscess was back. The surgeon looked at the scan a little later and said that the abscess wasn't "back", but that the scan was just showing the hole where the abscess had been. They still wanted to do some tests to figure out where the fever was coming from.

Tuesday morning, a doctor came into our room and introduced himself. He asked if he could sit on the sofa while we chatted. He and Debbie sat on the sofa and I, of course, sat in my bed. He was talking and telling us things and then, almost in passing, said, "So you had this stroke and..." and kept going. We stopped him and said we hadn't heard anything about a stroke. He told me that I had had a mild stroke and that the blood clot had "landed" between the left and right lobes of my brain. He said that I shouldn't have any long-term effects from the stroke.

I mentioned a spot on my left lung earlier. When I was about 10 years old, I had a bad lung infection and this spot has shown up on my chest x-rays ever since (not sure I ever had one before). We always assumed that it was scar tissue from the lung infection. It turns out that it was a birth defect called an AVM that probably caused the lung infection way back then, and allowed the strep infection and blood clot to get into my brain at this time. Six weeks after the stroke, we went in for a procedure to fix this AVM.

This procedure was supposed to take about 30 minutes and was really cool because they do it with what amounts to an x-ray on a screen showing what the doctor is doing with instruments inside you. I got to be awake through this and it was fun to watch! During the procedure, the doctor said, "Hmm", several times. After almost two hours, he said, "I'm done", and left the room.

He came into our room a little while later. He told us that he was perplexed. He said he fixed two small AVMs, but couldn't find the big one that we were actually looking for.

He said that he wanted to do a new CT scan of my chest the next morning and then do the procedure again to correct it. We just smiled and told him that would be fine.

The doctor was in radiology the next morning when I was taken down for the CT scan. He told the techs that I was a trouble maker and that he wanted to keep an eye on me. After the scan was done, he came up to our room and told us that the AVM was GONE. He told us that he had been studying my scans for weeks and that this was one of the biggest AVMs that he had ever seen. He said he had no explanation for it but GOD. We told him we were perfectly ok with that!

Somewhere around this time, I started walking to try to build some strength up. I started one morning by myself (Debbie fussed at me later) by walking alone to our next door neighbor's driveway and back, a total of maybe 50 yards for the whole round trip. I walked every day that the weather permitted and the first weekend of June I ran a 5K race. This was just 18 weeks after brain surgery and 17 weeks after the stroke.

When I was able to go back to work on April 16th, just 10 weeks after my stroke, the company had a little breakfast gathering in the break room to welcome me back. My friend Keith jokingly said that I looked strong enough to do pushups. I jokingly asked him how many he thought I could do. Again joking, he said, "Ten". Sounded easy to me at that time, so I dropped to the floor and did ten pushups. They were pretty easy and it was fun and got a big laugh from everybody.

How BIG is my God? He did all of these amazing miracles and more during the months of my recovery.

But I started out by asking, "How SMALL is your God?".

I'd like to tell you how "small" my God is. Remember back to when I was in ICU and I said that a grilled ham and cheese sandwich sounded good to me? I dearly love a good grilled cheese sandwich, but I'm not sure that I had ever had a grilled ham and cheese. The first night when we got home after surgery, Thursday the 2nd, a friend brought food for the family. She had this big bag from KFC with chicken and all the sides. When Debbie met her at the door, she said she didn't know why, but she felt like she needed to pick up a few other things on the way. She handed Debbie a Kroger bag. Debbie looked in the bag and started crying. Renee asked her if she was ok and Debbie said they were happy tears. I'm sure you can guess what was in the bag: bread and ham and cheese!

My God is big enough to heal my diseases and my 50-something year old birth defect! But he's also small enough to give me a grilled ham and cheese sandwich when I really needed it. AND IT WAS DELICIOUS.

God wants to do big things in our lives, but he cares about the little things, too. Even something as small as a sandwich.





You can read the long version of our story at www.mygalaxies.net/Clegg2012
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