With All His Heart

A love of a lifetime…

I remember the vow my husband and I made to love each other until, when old and gray, death would part us. It wasn’t something I’d ever dwell on. Death and all it’s gory details never interested me, although the thought of life ever after did. As believers, my husband and I knew the hope of heaven would one day soften the sting. We spent thirty-two years making memories to cling to for such a rainy day. In sickness and health, good times and bad, we’ve held on to the promise of the bond—not only between us but especially with a God who loves us unconditionally, with all his heart.

So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest is love.

1 Corinthians 13:13 ESV

Forever changed and rearranged

One day last month, my husband texted me: “I’ll be home early. Let’s go for a walk.” Within minutes, I laced my walking shoes and grabbed the Gentle Leader harnesses for our two dogs. I had no clue about the drama that would unfold, or that in an instant, our lives would change forever.

I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation; but take heart; I have overcome the world.

John 16:33 ESV

God with us

We never made it out for the walk that night. Hubby’s upper back and minor chest pressure sent me into wifey warrior mode. Within the hour, I watched in complete horror as my husband suffered a massive heart attack in the emergency room of our local hospital. After he flat-lined several times, a doctor’s words reached my broken soul. “I’ll do everything I can to save him, but without a miracle, it’s likely his heart, brain, and other organs may have sustained severe damage. Right now it’s out of our hands…It’s moment by moment.” Although he reassured without promise, his compassion and faith consoled us. Once again, even in the most wicked storm of our lives, we leaned on God’s promise: “I am with you always.” We believed it with all our hearts because he loved us first…with all his.

When I am afraid, I put my trust in you. In God whose word I praise. In God I trust and am not afraid. What can mere mortals do to me?

Psalm 56:3-4 NIV

Belief and eternity

One hour seemed like an eternity. Our pastor held our hands and led us in prayer right there in the hallway. Random people and nurses bowed their heads too. My four sons and I clung to each other until the blur of activity settled. After a while, most of the emergency room crew stopped working on him. Beeping monitors quieted. The reality that this might be my final chance to let him know I couldn’t let him go, didn’t register. All I knew was I had to see him if only to touch his face once more. I needed to beg him not to leave me. A nurse opened the curtain and took my hand. “You can have a few moments.” Her smile pierced my heart, but her face was ashen with a hint of sadness. “Think positive thoughts. Believe he’ll hear you.”

One last whisper

Fear gripped my throat and threatened to crush all our tomorrows. I prayed he felt my kiss when my salty tears drenched his bare feet. “God, please hear my prayer.” After the doctor motioned me to move closer, I whispered in Dennis’ ear and kissed his face. I watched as one rouge tear slid down his cheek. “Please don’t leave us. We need you. Stay with us…I love you.” The words fell from my mouth as I held back gut-wrenching sobs. I didn’t know if he heard my voice but his pulse went from twenty-something to sixty and then they rushed him away to the cath lab.

Mercy and grace

In those terrifying moments, I witnessed how God moved mountains in a crowded emergency room to send forth another testimony of His mercy and grace. It isn’t about us. We deserve nothing. This is about a God who hears our plea. The one who already conquered death once and for all heard my heart’s cry. He is the Lord of miracles who sees and gives and loves with all His heart.

I cry aloud to God, aloud to God, and he will hear me.

Psalm 71:1 ESV

Till death do us part

Four days later, my husband woke up from sedation. Monitors, pumps, and tubes filled almost every inch of the room. With tears streaming down my face, I watched him struggle to speak. Then, as I leaned closer he said, “I love you, baby…I’m so sorry.” As if he knew the terrors I witnessed and the possibilities of what else our family might have to endure. Later, he told a story of the vivid purple sea of color he saw and how he heard lyrical voices and serene hymn instrumentals, which he followed—and somehow, they led him back to us. Once again, God heard our prayers and showed us he can make a way where there is no way, and give life and breath back to the dead.

The Lord your God is in your midst, a mighty one who will save; he will rejoice over you with gladness; he will quiet you by his love; he will exult over you with loud singing.

Zephaniah 3:17 ESV

My miracle man

Pneumonia, heparin intolerance, blood clots, Afib, and a transfusion followed, but somehow Dennis grew stronger. Walked further. Thank you, God, for answering our prayers. Hubby remained in the CVICU for over two weeks before he was stable enough for triple bypass surgery. Several emergency room nurses stopped by daily to say hello and encourage his progress. A few mentioned how they shared the news about the guy who had a heart attack that lasted over an hour and survived. “It’s obvious,” one said, “God’s not done using him.” Like me, his doctors and nurses knew something supernatural happened…People referred to him as The Miracle Man.

The Lord will fulfill his purpose for me; your love, O Lord, endures forever

Psalm 138:8

While I believe we witnessed several miraculous moments during Dennis’ hospital stay, I know there’s only one Miracle Man. His name is Jesus: The son and image of the one true God who not only gives and takes away; he’s the great physician who nurtures, heals, and loves us—with all his heart.

One name

Although I’d rather learn from times of joy, I’ve seen how God proves his love over and over in my darkest nights. When life’s worst tragedies threatened to rip my family apart and render us useless vessels, he never failed to hold us up. In times when tragedies invaded our cookie-cutter world to steal our sleep and vigor, or if we were too numb to even breathe another breath—One name: JESUS, is all we needed to remember.

Wind Breaker and Way Maker

Without faith in my unseen God, there’s no way I could have endured what my eyes have seen, my hands have touched, and my heart has felt. Whenever fear, sorrow, and anger crash into our lives like a tsunami, might we only need to look up to the heavens—to the one who controls the wind and the waves…and the doctor’s hands? He alone gives peace, strength, and hope when we’re numb with fear or at our most broken. Above all, Jesus modeled such love for us that endured the cross. Let’s believe each step taken in faith might lead to real love; for it’s not our words, but sacrificial action that proves the meaning of unconditional love. Agape.

The color of our love

Each unbearable circumstance is bearable in love (Galatians 5:6). It’s the kind that shines the most beautiful shades of our favorite colors to a dark and dying world. Mine happens to be purple. Yep. It’s true. My favorite color led Dennis back to me. If that’s not a God thing, I don’t know what is.

The good, bad, and ugly

During a month of sleepless nights after his heart attack, my chest hurt, as if my own breath was ripped from my lungs. I’d wake up gasping every hour: My cue to pray and cling to one of Den’s dress shirts that never made it to the dry cleaners. Life as we knew it ceased.

Puppies, piles of mail, and much-loved family staying to help with the daily motions only pushed me right up to the edge of what I could endure. Still, I searched for happiness in the weeks that followed. The outpouring of concern, meals, and prayer from our church helped in tremendous ways.

Although frustrating moments of exhaustion and unexplainable sadness still occur, I now choose to remember the miracles more than the pain. There are many reasons to be thankful, even for ugly scars and the trauma of the worst days of our lives.

Don’t forget to share

What if telling our worst stories helps us to see the beauty in each moment we’re given to share them? Knowing God’s not done writing our stories might help us to rise above the day-to-day struggles. Right?  So, for the rest of my days, I’ll sing and share about the goodness of our great unstoppable God—Oh how he loves us, friends ~ With all his heart. 

Please keep Dennis and I in your prayers. He’s finally eating, taking short walks, and has embraced the long road to full recovery ahead. However, he lost lots of weight and muscle mass, so he’s quite weak. Even so, I say he looks amazing. Don’t forget to join the conversation in the Inspire A Fire blog comments section below this post. I’d love to hear from you! Stop by my FB or Instagram pages for stories, scripture quotes, and the every day la, la, la. https://joannclaypoole.wordpress.com/

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I wish you love, blessings, and joy on your journey. Heaven will be worth it all.

JC

In addition, my thanks: PIXBAY photos: Feature image by Free-Photos from Pixabay. #1 lg image by Karen Warfel from Pixabay. Gallery #1 TL image by Victoria Borodinova from Pixabay, TC image by Barroa_Artworks from Pixabay, TL image by oo11o from Pixabay, Bottom image by Pexels from Pixabay. #2 Gallery TL image by Paul Brennan from Pixabay, TC image by DarkoStojanovic from Pixabay, TR image by Engin Akyurt from Pixabay, Bottom image by  cocoparisienne from Pixabay. Gallery #3 TL image by Ulrike Mai from Pixabay, TC image by Pexels from Pixabay, TR image by sheriyates from Pixabay, Bottom image by Jeff Jacobs from Pixabay. #3 Lg Image by Alejandro Tuzzi from Pixabay, #4 lg image by Free Photos from Pixabay

Joann Claypoole

Joann Claypoole is an author, speaker, master stylist/colorist, and former spa-girl entrepreneur. She's a wife, mother of four sons, “Numi” to four grandbabies, doggie-mom of two. The award-winning author of The Gardener’s Helper’s (ages 5-9 MJ Publishing2015) would rather be writing, hiking in the mountains, or inviting deer and other wildlife to stay for dinner near her western NC writing retreat. Visit her website: joannclaypoole.com and WordPress blog: https://joannclaypoole.wordpress.com/

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36 comments

  1. I have to say, this for me to read was very emotional, Dennis is my Brother-in-law,when this happened,I was Soo scared, that we would lose him; my husband and I prayed for a miracle.Thank you Jesus, for giving us our Dennis back. Joann this is a powerful story and I will say to all, plz read, comment and SHARE with family and Friends!

      1. What an inspiring story of how our God is working in your lives, May He be glorified. He is faithful to His promises. He will never leave us or forsake us. He will walk thru the fiery trials with us.
        God is too wise to make mistakes, and too kind to withhold anything that is for our own good.
        With each trial comes grace and strength to face greater trials.
        His ways are perfect.
        I lost my husband of 43 years, two years ago. I cling to God and His promises.
        And, I look forward to resurrection morning! Oh, to be in the presence of God forever! What an awesome God we serve!

        1. I agree, God’s ways are perfect. ALL things for our good…but they’re certainly not our ways. In times when He refines is through fiery trials, I pray we remember the cross and the example Jesus gave. 🔥 Thanks for sharing your wisdom here, and also for your friendship.

  2. Hey Joann that’s an incredible experience. You and all your family will be kept in my prayers.
    Love paula

  3. Joann…my heart breaks and yet rejoices with you! Your words are so moving, bringing me to tears and joy. God is so good! Our prayers are with you and your “miracle man”!! We love you both!

  4. Joann, I don’t have the right words to express what I’m feeling, but know that we are praying for you both – thanking God for his amazing goodness in allowing our precious friend to stay with us all on this side of Heaven. We love you guys more than you’ll ever know! 😘

  5. My beloved friend, Joanne & her amazing husband, Dennis…. I have been praying, praying , praying, praying……Trinidad, chior, Praise team, Pilates reformer, doing my hair, Dennis -Teacher, small group class…etc. You both are such an inspiration, and God is NOT finished with you yet! I Love you both and feel every time you hurt…..I Love you both…be strong and faithful…. Always , love, Lisa

  6. Wow! Our God is amazing, a true testament of what love for our Father in heaven and our spouse should look like. A true love story, praying as God continues to strengthen Dennis and continues to write your love story.

  7. I can’t even imagine what you felt , the fear of loosing your love. So many prayers for Dennis recovery and praying for Jesus to comfort you never stopped. God has amazing plans for Dennis, exciting to watch God work is one on the most incredible gifts , but living through a miracle is something to shout about! Looking forward to hearing from Dennis what God allowed him to see, thank you for sharing your heart. You are both loved very much
    Helen

    1. Oh, sweet friend…love you and thank you for your prayers, love, and delicious meals. God has shown and still has much to show us. I’m thankful in the weary.

  8. Oh Joann, I’m thanking God, our Maker, for getting you both to this day! Thank You for sharing this very painful time so beautifully. I know you two are enjoying those “short walks” like never before!!! Love you both, and will be praying for a steady & continuing recovery. God bless you both!❤️💙

  9. I didn’t know this. I’m so happy for the positive outcome. Your an amazing writer, this was very emotional to read. As an aging women the reality of this sometimes passes in my mind. Your faith is an inspiration to all. Thank you for sharing, I will pray for speedy recovery for Dennis and strength for you. …and as always I will think of you when I look at my purple hydrangeas ( yes, they turned varying shades of purple) 😘

    1. Dotti, thoughts of you always make me smile: My running coach, encourager, and friend that helped me wake in the wee hours of morning. :))) Thanks for your prayers and kind thoughts. I miss you…I’m so happy my hydangeas florished in your yard. I miss the Sundance garden and all its inspiring and peaceful memories. I’m finally getting a small mixed bed started down the road. I’d love a visit and maybe a cutting of those precious hydrangeas. Mine didn’t survive.

  10. Joanne. Thank you for sharing your story of God’s faithfulness. I’ve been praying and wondering how Dennis was doing but was quite frankly afraid to ask anyone for fear of hearing something I did not want to hear. This news gives hope and brings forth so much gratitude to the Lover of our soul. Continued love and prayers for your family.

  11. As I read your blog I choked up and tears fell knowing the great trauma Dennis (and your entire family) has emerged from. Our God is FAITHFUL, even in the darkest moments. He is kind in reminding us of this, even with the color purple. My prayers will continue until Dennis is fully recovered – All to the glory of God! Love you!

    1. Thanks for your prayers and kind thoughts, Terri. I love how God is always faithful…even in the dark. You know the feeling. I’m overwhelmed with the reality: His love never fails. Love you, sweet friend.

  12. I hadn’t been able to go to class for a month
    Because of feeling so unwell. Yesterday I knew i was going to make it…. and that God wasn’t going to let me miss Dennis’ great comeback.
    When by 10 oclock he wasn’t there, frankly, I was surprised because I know when God shows me something like that, I KNOW it will happen as He said.
    And sure enough: there he is! What a blessing. Thank you Lord for not letting me miss it. It meant a lot to me to be there to see you BOTH walk in!💕

  13. I just read your inspiring story. Giving our God glory during the bad times is not easy for us humans. But because we can trust Him that makes it possible. I love the way you express yourself. You really have a God given talent for writing. But I already knew that. I know our Lord will continue to heal Dennis, because God’s will is perfect. I will continue to pray for you both. We love you and are thankful that our Lord Jesus is continually using you as His witnesses.

    1. It’s so great to hear from you here on IAF. Thanks to you and Bob for being such a sweet influence in my (and Dennis’) walk with Christ. Dennis said he saw Vince at the hospital. His smile stretched from ear to ear. I agree God’s will is perfect. I only hope to accept His will ~ No matter what comes our way. We’re thankful for each day we have together, but as you know, it’s hard to put our agendas away to walk a road we didn’t choose. All I can say is thank God for Jesus. He showed us the way. Love you.

  14. Such a beautiful and touching story. Bought tears to my eyes. Yes, God is Great. He and he alone can work miracles if we believe. Thanks for sharing your story. Prayers for Dennis fully recovery. God bless you and your family.

    1. What a mighty God we serve. It’s true, Connie, he and he alone will work miracles if we believe. Thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts, especially in times like these. I pray God blesses you and yours too.

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