By Jenny Glazebrook
This is a long post, but I wanted to share with you some of the amazing things God has done in my life and my writing over the past few months in the hope that they will encourage you.
God took my vision so that I would see him again.
He slowed me down so that I would hear his still, small voice and work with him to achieve the supernatural, in his way, his time.
He showed me again that writing is worship when I do it with him and that is when he brings about supernatural ideas. He is my limitless inspiration. He is my strength, my life.
|Some of our rescue birds|
A little over 3 months ago, I was beta reading, proof reading, and editing for other people, trying to finish adding layers to one of my manuscripts due for publishing in July, painting wardrobe doors for my daughter’s room, visiting my dying grandfather and offering support for my mum who was caring for him, caring for injured birds, taking groceries to fire-hit areas nearby and visiting those affected, helping out at two local churches with kids’ talks, prayer and messages, taking my children to appointments in our nearest city an hour away 2 to 3 times a week and trying to keep up with housework.
I wanted to slow down but everything I was doing seemed so important.
God knew me. He knew my heart. He knew I didn’t know how to stop. I’d been so driven for so long that I couldn’t find the brake.
I woke up Monday morning, 17th February, noticing my eyesight wasn’t right. There was a kind of shimmering at the edge of my vision. I drove one of my daughters to school and realised my eyesight was so bad I shouldn’t be driving. I had to cancel everything I had on that day. And the next.
Over the next few days it got worse. My GP sent me for a cat scan and to see the eye specialist in Wagga, an hour away. We were so busy as a family that we had to ask a community care driver to take me.
|Me in hospital|
The eye specialist determined my field of vision was very small but there was nothing visibly wrong with my eyes so it was a neurological problem. She looked at the cat scan results and said there were signs I’d had a stroke. I had to go straight to Emergency.
From there, the stroke pathway emergency plan went into action. Blood tests, neurological tests, MRI … and I felt completely alone and gripped by fear. Having type one diabetes meant that it was more likely I’d had a stroke, even though I’m in my early 40’s. My vision was like a kaleidoscope with bits missing and shapes jumping all over the place. As I lay alone in the hospital bed that night attached to heart monitors in the stroke ward, not knowing the future, I reached out my hands, asking Jesus to just let me touch the hem of his garment. He was all I had. My husband was working an hour and a half away and our local pastor was looking after the children.
There was so much time to think. I couldn’t see the TV. I couldn’t see my phone properly. I couldn’t see out the window. I had nothing to distract me and keep my mind occupied.
And I realised that this was very real – I might not have long left on earth as the doctors were concerned another stroke was imminent. But in those long hours of the dark night, it wasn’t my writing and all the ‘doing’ I was worried about. Foremost in my mind were my husband and children. And my friends who don’t know Jesus. Suddenly I saw what was important.
From there, I was delighted when my MRI came back showing what they’d seen on the cat scan wasn’t actually a stroke and that my temperature was from an ear infection. They thought maybe I had nerve damage causing the vision problems. After more tests and antibiotics I was allowed home to see if my eyes would heal on their own. At that point I was just thrilled I hadn’t had a stroke.
|My children decorated patches for my eyes.|
But my eyes didn’t get better. They got worse. And I got weaker. I hoped and prayed but there was no change. The neurologist diagnosed me with an auto immune condition called myasthenia gravis which was stopping my eyes focusing together. He put me on medication which allowed me to see for a few hours at a time each day. He said my symptoms and the fact that the medication helped, proved I had the condition.
Throughout this time, I was forced to stop. I couldn’t do much at all. I could see better with one eye covered, but my depth perception wasn’t good and I was so tired and weak all the time. My kids would come and sit on my bed as I lay there, and they’d talk about anything and everything. I enjoyed talking with them. And I would reach out to God. And I would plot my novel and think about adding more layers. I could see the computer screen for short periods at a time with one eye covered so I wrote while I could in the mornings before the myasthenia fatigue overtook me.
And if I’m honest, it was a relief to have a reason to say ‘no’ to all that people asked of me and to not feel guilty about it.
In this time, everything else also slowed down drastically due to Covid 19. Schools closing meant the kids were home. I learned to just be. To listen. To have my spiritual eyes and ears opened while I couldn’t see the world around me. Often we just talked, my husband and children and I. We cancelled appointments and my husband, Rob, stepped in, slowing down his own work to do everything that needed doing.
My eyes kept getting worse. I wasn’t getting better. The neurologist said he wanted to look into stronger medication plus the option of major surgery or having protein infusions in hospital 3 days each month.
I felt this wasn’t what God wanted. He had been showing me I needed to be here for my children and being in hospital wasn’t being here for them. One had even commented that he liked that I had slowed down and was just ‘there’ for them. And so I prayed again, desperately, for healing.
The neurologist wrote a script for stronger medication.
But for the first time I felt God’s whisper in my spirit that he wanted to heal, and so I said to the neurologist, ‘I don’t know if I’m in denial, but I just can’t believe I have myasthenia. Before we arrange new treatment, can I go off my medication for 3 days and just see what happens?’He agreed but said that my eyesight would deteriorate to the point it was before medication (missing gaps of vision, unable to focus both eyes, double vision and dizziness). And once that happened, we’d start the treatment.
So on Wednesday morning, 13 May, 3 months after I’d first lost my vision, I stopped my medication and asked my friends and family to pray for healing.
The next morning, I woke up fully able to see. I mean, complete vision. And for the first time in 3 months, my vision stayed for the whole day.
And the next. And the next.
|My Pop who passed|
away 14th May, 2020
It was a beautiful and difficult time, because that same day my Pop went to meet Jesus. But in it I could see beauty and know and see God's presence and goodness more than ever before. I could truly see in every way possible!
The neurologist can’t explain what happened. He says he doesn’t need to see me anymore (kind of ironic, that now I would actually be able to see him, he doesn’t want to see me.) The eye specialist said, ‘You must be possessed or something.’ I just laughed, but in my heart I know I am filled with the Holy Spirit and God miraculously healed me.
I’ve now had my vision for over 2 weeks and it’s still like looking at a new world. I keep looking around, checking I can still see, just making sure. It feels surreal. I understand if you have trouble believing it, because it’s happened to ME and I’m still trying to believe it. And It's a beautiful world. I see God in it. In the faces of my children, in the love of my husband, in the beauty of the birds we care for, beauty despite their injuries.
And I see beauty in being able to say ‘no’ to all the things this world says I must do.
At first I found myself searching for medical reasons for why I can now see again, but then I realise it is futile because this really is God. I asked for a miracle and he gave one. Why is that so hard to believe?
There are no answers as to why. Except that God, in his mercy, chose to heal me.
|Me with my family just before|
God restored my vision.
There are other medical conditions in my life God has chosen not to heal. But I believe with all my heart that if it is for my good, he heals. Just to show he is real, he is all-powerful and he delights in every one of us he created. And sometimes, he allows us to suffer the results of this fallen world to remind us we need him and that he is our true strength when we are willing to call out to him.
I believe this was all about God getting my attention; reminding me to slow down, to breathe, to dim my physical vision so I’d focus on my spiritual vision and hear his voice again amidst the craziness of life.
|Book due out July|
Since that day in February when I lost my vision, I have completed two 90,000 word novels and am onto my third. As I write, it feels like worship. I am fully alive, seeing, hearing God in every word and every new idea. If I had not lost my vision, I would not have had this depth of knowledge of the wonder of God and I would still be crazily trying to ‘do’ all the things I ‘should’ in this world. I would not have had the time or head space to write and develop ideas.
I’m wondering if, for each of us writers, maybe that’s what this Covid 19 is about, too? Reminding us to slow down, to remember to listen to our hearts; listen to God! If we look for him, we will find him!
“You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” Jeremiah 29:13
He is the God of miracles who heals the blind, restoring their sight and even more importantly, opening their spiritual eyes.
My prayer is that each of us will take the time to hear and see him and to enjoy writing with him. And may we not only see his hand, but see his face! May our vision in 2020 be 20/20 spiritual vision!
P.S. Guess what I’m currently writing into book 4 of my Bateman Family novels? Yes, a girl who loses her vision. And I can write with so much more depth and empathy because I’ve been there! As God’s writers, nothing is wasted. No tear, no struggle, no night alone in the dark … He is here, working it all for our good and drawing us back to himself.
Jenny Glazebrook writes inspirational YA Christian fiction. She lives in the country town of Gundagai with her husband Rob, four children and many pets.
Jenny is the author of the Aussie Sky series and the Bateman Family novels (currently being published by Daughters of Love and Light, an imprint of Elephant House Press).
More details about Jenny's books can be found on her website: www.jennyglazebrook.com