Monday, September 22, 2008

A New Friend and the Fingerprints of God

Over the last several weeks I've had the privilege of getting to know someone very special. Her name is Beverly. Beverly was Matt's college girlfriend. I know, weird, right? Yes! But it's also not weird at all. Let me explain. Over the years Matt has told me bits and pieces about Beverly. Matt broke up with her 12 years ago because he knew it was what he needed to do. It was very hard of Matt and Beverly both, but it was God's intervention. We know that now. 12 years went by with no contact. All we have known about her these last several years was that she was married and living in North Carolina. And then, for whatever reason, about a month ago I started thinking a lot about Beverly. I felt the strong need to know where and how she was. I have no explanation for that. A google search turned up no new information. But then I did a search on Facebook. When I typed in her name, a group "In Honor of Beverly G" popped up. I took a look at the page...and discovered that is was the right Beverly, and that she has leukemia. Needless to say, it was a shock to me, but even more to Matt. We cried together and prayed for wisdom as to whether or not we should intrude on her life and get back in touch. I knew it would be a bit hard for me, but I also knew that should God open the door for us, we should walk through it.

Matt's mom provided the answer for us. She called Beverly just to talk, and determined that it would be okay for us to get in contact with her, too. I assured Matt that it was okay with me. So we sent an email. And she emailed back. After exchanging a few emails, she called me. I sat out on the front porch, and in a sense of unreality, talked for 4 hours with Beverly. The connection was instant. When we got off the phone (only after both of our cell phones died), I knew a lot about her, and she knew a lot about me. We are so much alike, in fact, that we've decided we are twins, separated at birth. Seriously, we have so much in common that it's kind of crazy. I've never met someone else who was so much like me!

That night Matt and I stretched out on our bed and I told him all about my conversation with his old girlfriend. All we could think was, "This shouldn't be happening...this shouldn't be possible! This is weird, this is crazy, but this is RIGHT!" Matt was at peace with it. I was at peace. And Beverly was at peace. Turns out I am the answer to her prayers for a new, close friend. Go figure! Who would have thought it would be me!

Over the past week "Bevvy-O" and I have talked on the phone every day. We've talked when she has been at home. We've talked while she has been in the hospital. We've laughed together, and even shed a few quiet tears (mainly on my end). She and Matt have been able to exchange a few emails and bring the closure they never had 12 years ago. Both Matt and Beverly recognize God's divine intervention in their relationship. She is married to a wonderful man who is just the right one for her. And she openly tells both Matt and me that I am much better for him than she ever was.

This sweet new friend has really challenged me. Even though she is in the thick of treatment for her relapse of leukemia and is awaiting a bone marrow transplant, she has an amazing sense of humor. Right now she is so weak that she can't even stand, and is dreading the arrival of mouth sores that will ulcerate her mouth for 2 months. And yet she's plotting practical jokes to play on her doctor, and looking for joy in the midst of the pain. From time to time she'll let down and tell me about how she's hurting or how sick she feels, but it is never in a spirit of complaining. She is amazing! She is taking one day at a time, trusting God every step of the way. As a result of my conversations with her, I have been able to get outside myself (I've been pretty introverted recently) and reach out. I have been on the hunt for people to get tested as possible bone marrow matches, with great response. I've been moved back into a lifestyle of prayer, as Beverly is never far from my mind. And she has caused me to think about my own life and relationships with my family. Matt and I have gotten so much closer this week. And I've appreciated my kids more than ever. I've also been more grateful for my good health. Thanks, Bev.

In November I get to go to North Carolina and spend 5 days with Beverly. (If we can figure out a way to pay for me to fly out there sooner, I'll do that, too.) Matt will be at the Weekend to Remember in Kingsport, Tennessee, November 7-9. Bev and I are hoping she'll be at home then, so we can relax a bit more. I'll still go if she is in the hospital and I'll stay with her there. We're also praying she doesn't have mouth sores then so we can talk our hearts out. If she does, she has a trusty whiteboard and I'll bring her a new 3-pack of dry erase pens. Hee hee! I can hardly wait!

This is a story of God's miraculous work in the hearts of three people. How else can you explain it? How can you explain the incredible bond I have with the only other woman who has held my husband's heart? Inbelievable! How else can you explain the redemption of something that was so painful for both Matt and Beverly? And we're excited to see how God uses us to make a difference in Beverly's life. We're not sure yet how that's going to look. I'm specifically asking God that I would be the bone marrow match for Bev. I love her, and I want to be the one to help her win her fight against cancer. I couldn't do anything to help my mom. I want to help Bev. I want to be a player in a victory against the disease I hate more than anything. But God knows. Maybe that's not the part He has for me to play. If someone else gets the privilege of being her donor (and someone else probably will), I'm totally okay with that. Like I said, we'll wait and see.

If you want to follow Beverly's story, you can visit her personal page at www.carepages.com. You can join carepages, and then type in the name Beverly Gibbons to access her page. She and her husband post regular updates there, especially when there's new info about her disease. And you can be praying for Beverly and her family. The current prayer requests are:
1. That a bone marrow donor would be located soon
2. That Beverly would have the strength to get through her current chemo and its side effects. She really wants to avoid the mouth sores.
3. That God would provide for their financial needs. Her husband, Joe, can only work part-time right now, and their insurance only covers 80% of their costs. They are in need of a miracle. If you would like to help, please let me know and I'll pass on info about their needs.

Well, I think this has been long enough. I hope I've helped you understand how amazed, delighted, and thankful I am that God has brought this precious relationship to pass. Goodnight, y'all!

4 comments:

Emily Bertholic said...

You ever feel like God throws you a curve ball? This feels like that. I am amazed by all of this. Emily makes me so proud!
Matt

Lori said...

What a great story, Em! I'm so glad that you shared more about the friend you told us about last week. How amazing! Can't expect anything less from God!

Stef said...

amazing how God works ALL things out. I've been praying for her!

Stef said...

this verse came to my mind after reading this...
Ephesians 3:20&21

Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.