5th Anniversary of a sacrifice

If you have not already read my early writings, please check them out on my website, here’s the first one. I have written about the process and journey of becoming a live liver donor for a friend’s husband.

October 22, 2020 will have been 5 years since we had surgeries. Here’s our update and story.

Can you believe that it’s been 5 years since I donated part of my liver to Lupe? Me neither – only it feels much longer than 5 years! Time is a strange thing.

Last I heard, Lupe is still cancer-free. He was permitted to go to work, but with him having a sensitive immune system, he is not working because of covid-19 in our world. He still has pain daily but has a good attitude. He’s also very grateful for each day he gets with his family and friends – and for each opportunity he has to share Jesus with someone.

Since the last update, I am still having abdominal pain as well as back pain. I was not approved for back surgery and doctors say that there is no way to really see if I am allergic to titanium. SIGH! I am still using a cane and have been unable to drive since February 2019. I have been blessed with SSDI and also In Home Support Services has allowed me to have care providers come into the house where I live to help with laundry, bed changing, errands, cooking and taking me to appointments. I would have never imagined being in pain for 5 years, being this young and needing care providers, not being able to drive or even walk very far by myself – BUT GOD…

GOD is faithful, GOD has not left me and I know that GOD loves me. I know that GOD is sovereign, GOD is in control and that GOD has a plan. I’m not sure why He has allowed this for me, but I trust GOD completely – more than I did 5 years ago. More than anything now, my prayer is that GOD will be glorified in and through all we have been through.

If you haven’t known GOD or JESUS personally, I would encourage you to seek Him while He can be found. Your life won’t become suddenly easy, but you will know a peace that surpasses all understanding. You will know that the GOD who created you still holds you in His hand and He loves you more than you can ever imagine.

On With the New….

Wow, it’s been a month since I have written a blog!  I have much happen, so I am surprised I have not written! Oh well…

I was going to Nova Job Center throughout the spring and summer of 2016 but for some reason my badge was no longer valid which meant that I had to reapply for their services. I believe that it was a “God-thing”, because when I re-applied, I was able to qualify for job training. When I applied the first time, I would not have qualified because I was receiving short-term disability, but they also did not have any funding available when I first applied.

I went through the orientation training and then I went to a class that talked about the process to receive a training grant. After that, I met with a job councilor who told me that I could probably get a three or six month training program. So, I did all my homework. I looked back at all the work I have done through my years of work to see if there was something I really enjoyed doing. I decided that I enjoyed bookkeeping using Quickbooks and Quicken. I researched positions with different titles, position requirements, salaries, benefits, etc. I listed each and made graphs, I interviewed three ladies in my network or from people connected to my network who were either bookkeepers or non-tax accountants, I printed my master job and schooling resume and more.

Then I took all of that to a training councilor who first wanted to know why I was not working. I told her that I had quit my job and two days later donated 60% of my liver to my friend’s husband. She clapped her hands and smiled as she told me that she wondered why I was in the system with priority status to receive training funds. I was told I had priority status, but I was under the impression that it was because I was reapplying for their services.

After going through all of my “homework”, she told me that it is rare for someone to come in with everything completed. Majority of the people have to go back to her several times before she can make a decision about job training. She marked “APPROVED” on my paperwork and then proceeded to ask me if I wanted a nine-month training or a twelve-month training. I was dumbfounded for a moment before she explained that she was not approving me for a three or six month bookkeeping training but instead she was approving me for a nine or twelve month accounting certificate!

She explained both of the options to me and I made the decision that I would like to go to De Anza College in Cupertino for a twelve month accounting certificate.  I was told that I would have quite a bit of stuff in order to be able to start in January but the plan was that I would sign my grant contract on January 3rd and start school on January 9th.

On the 20th of December, I got a call that my contract was ready to sign and that I needed to go to Nova to sign it before the Christmas break. I went in that day to sign. While I was there, my councilor suggested that I contact my doctor and ask for a temporary handicap placard for the car since the campus was big.

The next day on December 21, I went to De Anza to do all my paperwork. While I was there, my training councilor encouraged me to have my doctor approve for me to get a handicap placard. So I did all my paperwork as well as contacting my doctor to find out what he thought. Since he agreed, I sent paperwork to him to be signed and sent back to me to take to Department of Motor Vehicles.

Well, all seemed to be going well. Then, on Christmas day, the car (Number 10) that I was borrowing from friends was stolen. It was recovered last night but had drugs and other things in it that have caused the owners concern for my safety, so they will no longer be loaning the car to me.

The other thing that is happening is that the classes that I hoped to get are not available now and I have not received the email from De Anza to register. So, it seems like there is something keeping me from moving forward!

It’s interesting, my friend Amy sent me a text that said, “Wow, you are such a person of faith and yet the LORD tests you down to the wire. His glory always prevails, but it’s so much at once!”

It is easy to think that if we take a step of faith that things should be easy. But that is not the case. Think of Abraham, the father of the faith. God gave him a promise that he would have a son. He was already 75 years old when God made that promise to him. Then he would have to wait 25 years before Isaac was born. AND then God tested Abraham by asking him to sacrifice the son of his promise. But Abraham got up and took Isaac to the place that God told him to go, he tied Isaac to the altar and had the knife in his hand raised to sacrifice his son of promise…AND then only did the angel of God speak and the ram was provided in Isaac’s place. (You can read the story of Abraham in Genesis, Chapter 22 for the story of him being asked to sacrifice his son.)

I am not being asked to sacrifice anything. I already sacrificed 60% of my liver and a year worth of wages! But walking in faith isn’t always easy. The one thing that makes walking in faith a little easier is that God doesn’t change. He is the one who told me back in June of 2015, “I love you, I have a plan, and I am in control!” He hasn’t changed. He still loves me, He still have a plan for me (Jeremiah 29:11), and He is still in control! Nothing has changed.

So, I want to encourage you. If you are in a place where circumstances are hard, where nothing seems to be going right and even then good things seem to be made hard, don’t be discouraged. Trust God that He is more powerful than the enemy. Trust God that He loves you. Trust God that He has a great plan for you. Trust God that He is and will always be on His throne. Keep your eyes on Him because He will make a way where there seems to be no way! (Read Isaiah 43:1-3).

This is the end….

 

Ok, so you are probably wondering why I put a funny cheese commercial at the beginning of this blog post.  Well, it’s kind of long story. So, my short-term disability ran out on October 21, 2016. I thought I was going to be getting a fantastic job, but not quite sure if I was ready to be working full-time with lots of travel. Turns out, they did not feel I had enough experience in an area and not enough knowledge in another area. So I didn’t get the job.

I should note that prior to my short-term disability running out, I applied for Social Security Disability, which takes about 3 months to be approved or denied.

Back to not getting the job. I’m not sure who I spoke to, but was told to file for unemployment because I did not get the job but no longer on short-term disability. I was accepted for unemployment benefits right away, but I had to go through a screening call to make sure I qualify. Well, I got the call, which was not an easy one! The woman wanted to know if I was disabled or employable. I tried to explain that I am employable with limitations. She would not accept my answer. “You are either disabled or employable, Ms Wilson, you can’t be both!” She wanted a note from my doctor saying I was employable without limitations. I felt I was between a rock and a hard place. I won’t tell you that I didn’t cry. I did!

Almost immediately, the Message version of Isaiah 43:1-4 came to my mind.

When You’re Between a Rock and a Hard Place

43 1-4 But now, God’s Message,
    the God who made you in the first place, Jacob,
    the One who got you started, Israel:
“Don’t be afraid, I’ve redeemed you.
    I’ve called your name. You’re mine.
When you’re in over your head, I’ll be there with you.
    When you’re in rough waters, you will not go down.
When you’re between a rock and a hard place,
    it won’t be a dead-end—
Because I am God, your personal God,
    The Holy of Israel, your Savior.
I paid a huge price for you:
    all of Egypt, with rich Cush and Seba thrown in!
That’s how much you mean to me!
    That’s how much I love you!
I’d sell off the whole world to get you back,
    trade the creation just for you.

Also, a song started in my heart:

When you’re up against a struggle that shatters all your dreams
And your hopes have been cruelly crushed by Satan’s manifested schemes
And you feel the urge within you to submit to earthly fears
Don’t let the faith you’re standing in, seem to disappear

Praise the Lord, He can work through those who praise Him
Praise the Lord, for our God inhabits praise
Praise the Lord, for the chains that seems to bind you
Serve only to remind you that they drop powerless behind you
When you praise Him

I felt comforted by God. I know He loves me, He has a plan and He is in control. Later in the day I ended up at a Job Center for a class. Ironically my badge had expired even though I was doing things to keep it active, so I had to meet with a counselor for a new badge. I met with a lady who is a Sister-in-Christ and she told me that she could not tell me what to do but to trust God to show me what was the best thing to do. She explained that with me being “employable with limitations” that I would qualify for job training (which I was not eligible of getting before because I didn’t qualify and because they didn’t have funding) and possibly help from Department of Rehabilitation (which I also had applied for).

I had pretty much decided that I would not worry about losing unemployment thinking I might get Social Security Disability. However, I called UCSF to talk to them about what they thought I should do. No one contacted me back in time to do anything about unemployment, so when the letter of denial for unemployment came, I was not surprised at all.

This morning, I was looking at my bookshelf and opened a devotional book I have not read yet. There was a challenge on the page I turned to, so I read it since I like challenges. It read:

“Challenge: Today make the LORD your dwelling place. Let Him be the one that delivers you from your enemies. As you talk and pray to God, ask Him to show you the best way to handle a current crisis. Like He did with David, He will deliver you. May God bless you.”

I decided to verbally acknowledge the LORD as my dwelling place to at least take part of the challenge. I started to pray, “God, I don’t have a current crisis that I know of….” Immediately I thought “you won’t receive Social Security Disability.” I knew that it was the LORD and not the enemy. And as crazy as it may seem, I heard the mailman drop the mail in the box right then. Sure enough to His word, I received a letter from Social Security that I do not qualify for Social Security Disability because according to my doctor at UCSF I am “employable with limitations”.

I could not believe it! Well I could, but I couldn’t. The same thing that disqualified me from receiving unemployment was also disqualifying me from receiving Social Security Disability! Wow! That is just unbelievable!

No Bible verses came to mind. No songs of hope sprang up in my heart. Just the enemy telling me that I thought I was at the end before but now I was at the end. “There’s no hope for Michelle…she will not be able to get the training she thought she would be able to get since she won’t have any form of income from State or Government!”

Then a song arose but not one from God. “This is the end, beautiful friend, This is the end, my only friend, the end. Of our elaborate plans, the end.”

I was sure that I have seen a video of a mouse in a trap with this same music playing. You think, “poor mouse!” It truly looks like the end for the poor critter. And that is what it feels like for me right now. But the mouse ate strong cheese and as a result was able to “bench press” the bar that had snapped to take life from its body to the tune of Eye of the Tiger! Hee hee! My God is much stronger than the strongest cheese! He is the Lion of the Tribe of Judah.  He is my dwelling place and He will deliver me from my enemies.

I love when I can laugh at Satan. He may think that I am at the end, “But my God shall supply all my need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19). I laugh at Satan, not because I know God’s plan or how provision will come in, but because I know God is faithful!

Tonight when I talked to my housemate about my day, she told me, “I want you to know, you will not be kicked out of my house if you can not come up with rent! Just know that, ok?” I am already praising God for the blessing of the beautiful home I am living in as well as the generosity my housemate has already shown me. Now I praise God all the more for an assurance of housing in a time of uncertainty with my finances. God is already showing Himself faithful!  Praise God not only is He my dwelling place, but He has provided a dwelling place!

The God of 10 cars (and more)

In early 2015, my Mom offered $6000 towards a new to me vehicle, not to fix current vehicle or to have the cash but for her to wire the money to a dealer.

My car at the time was a 1999 Volkswagen Passat. I had bought it with 4 miles on it in June of 1998. It had been a good car to me for just shy of 17 years and I was having a hard time letting it go. But it needed a new catalytic converter and emissions work if it were to pass smog. It also started having other issues too, it seemed things were just falling apart on it. And someone crashed into my front bumper leaving it dented. Ugh! Ok, I know I needed a newer vehicle. Something more reliable.

I had a friend refer me to her friend who worked in a car dealership. He was looking for a specific car for me but when it didn’t come in and nothing in my price-range came up, he searched the internet for me which led me to a car in Fremont which sold right as I was arriving to the dealership. They found a 2004 Toyota Corolla CE with 118,620 miles on it on the back of the lot. The engine looked real clean, new hoses & belts. I am not sure why I bought the car other than the fact that my registration on my Passat was due but not able to smog so felt rushed. I bought the 04 Toyota Corolla.

Less than 23 hours after picking up the car, I went on a “God date” (out for dinner by myself where I can journal or just spend time praying or in God’s word). Almost immediately as I picked up the menu, I felt God speak in my spirit, “I love you, I have a plan and I am in control!

Less than an hour later, the engine light came on. I called dealership and was told they could do nothing because I did not buy a warranty. I took it to my mechanic. After $1449.98 and four trips to my mechanic, I found out the engine needed to be overhauled or replaced. After contacting Better Business Bureau, the dealership finally contacted me to say they would check out the car. At one point they offered to replace the engine with a used engine with similar miles but I no longer trusted them and finally after two of my friends went with me to talk to a manager, my money was returned to me. (Many say this is a miracle in itself). I was still out $1449.98 for the work my mechanic did on the car! )0:

But God had told me, “I love you, I have a plan and I am in control!” And boy has it been a plan that I would never have been able to dream up or even fathom (this is one of my favorite words, “fathom”!)

My friend Becky from church took me to drop off the car originally for the dealership to check out. I had to leave the car for several days, so she allowed me to use her car “whitey (1)”.

Becky needed her car back but her husband would willingly ride his bike to work and allow me to use his car “Greenie (2)” After a few weeks, Becky let me know they needed their car back.

By this time, I had my money back, but was having a hard time finding a decent car in the price range I had money for ($6000-$1449.98). I asked on Facebook if any of my friends had a car I could use for a week or so while I shopped for a vehicle. One of our church Elder’s and his wife were going out-of-town for a week so I used her van(3).

Still no luck finding a car to buy at that point. My friend Lisa was working for Shuddle while it was still in business and was using a brand new car of theirs so she was able to loan me her car (4) for about a week and a half.

Then, my friend Scott was going to Nicaragua for three months. I asked him to pray about me using his car and God said “yes,” so he allowed me to use his car (5). When I got his car, I pretty much stopped looking for a car to buy because I knew I would possibly be donating part of my liver soon and was expected to not be able to drive for 6 weeks to two months. I thought that I could look for a car after surgery. It turns out that I had Scott’s car for two month and three weeks and he came back one week after my surgery.

Then life was a bit crazy! I was not strong enough to drive for much longer than expected and with high pain levels and medication, my doctor would not approve for me to drive for over five months. After seeing a pain specialist, I was given some medicated cream that gave me the relief needed to be able to drive. Within two weeks of getting the cream I was feeling up to driving when Scott went out of the country for fourteen days and left his car (5 – 2nd time) with me. I picked him up at the airport on a Saturday night and the following Monday, my friend Maggie was going out-of-town for two weeks and allowed me to use her vehicle (6) while she was away.

However, while she was away, I got a skin rash that I could not get under control that turned out being from the pain cream, so by the time Maggie got back into town, the pain levels had increased so much that I was again no longer approved to drive, but I didn’t have a car available to me, so it didn’t matter.

By the time my new meds started working two weeks later, the next car came available to me. This car came from my housemate’s friends from church who I still have yet to meet. They went to Europe for about a month and left their keys here for me to use their Subaru (7) while they were gone (definitely Acts 2:44-45 in today’s context!). I shared about this on Facebook and got a call from a lady who had been my private client while I was caregiving – a sister in Christ who had become a friend (in person and on Facebook). She saw the post and God convicted her that she had a vehicle that needed to be used but was sitting in her garage.

After my month was up with car number seven, I picked up my friend’s Cadillac (8). Now the interesting thing is that it needed some work done on it. I knew I would be having a procedure done and would not be able to drive for a couple of days, however, I ended up being prescribed a new medication that made me very dizzy and unable to drive. Well, the car was in the shop the full length of time that I would be on the new medication (about a week and a half) then my doctor put me back on my original medication because my body was not tolerating the new medication.

It wasn’t long after I got the Cadillac (8) back, when Scott was going to be going out of the country again for several months and asked me to use his car while he was away. Scott’s car (5 – 3rd time). He was not sure when he would return, so I was not surprised to get a day’s notice that he would be back. I was not sure whose car I would use next. However, my housemate’s “daughter” went out of the country for three weeks and left her car (9) at the house.

When she returned, I really had no idea whose car I would use. I really thought I was going to finally have to buy a car. I started looking on-line, but I have not found any decent cars (meaning newer than my Passat with fewer miles and fewer mechanical issues). I considered buying a new one and taking out a loan, but my Mom said she did not want me buying a car with a loan while I am still on disability.

I asked another friend for a ride to church for Bible study. When she was taking me back home, she asked if I wanted to use her second car. I thought she had already sold it. Yep, God provided car number 10 for me to borrow for a few weeks.

I am one week away from the one year mark of donating 60% of my liver and my short-term disability will end next Friday. The day I got the tenth car, I was having quite a bit of anxiety about not knowing where money to live would come from since I did not have any job interviews and Social Security had not approved for long-term disability. I was sharing about my anxiety with my housemate. She asked me, “You mean you are afraid that the God of 10 cars won’t provide?”

Well, if you put it that way, no! I know that the God of 10 cars will provide. After all, He told me, “I love you, I have a plan and I am in control!

Not only did God provide 10 different cars for me to use during this time, but He also fashioned it so that I would not have a car when I was not able to drive. He knows me all too well! I would have been tempted to drive if I would have bought a car but instead He provided cars only when I was able to drive.

I look forward to seeing what He will do next!

Just a little update…car number 10 ended up being stolen Christmas day then wrecked. But interestingly, my housemate was out of town for Christmas, so her car became car number 11. I used Scott’s car (5) again several times and then I used a fancy blue Chevy Volt (car number 12) until a few days before the car GOD brought me came about. Check out the video I made. Waiting on GOD is worth it. He had a plan I would have never fathomed.