38: Divine Tapestry

38: Divine Tapestry

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Hope & Miracles

Divine Tapestry

Coincidence is God’s way of remaining anonymous.

~Albert Einstein

When the pastoral search committee from the church in the mountains just north of us issued a formal invitation to hire my husband, Bruce and I had some concerns. Don’t get me wrong. Everything about the church in Oakhurst, from the friendly people to the surrounding Sierras, seemed perfect. But our youngest daughter had several challenging heart problems. We weren’t sure she would thrive at a higher elevation, so we made an appointment to see her doctor.

Dr. Jue had been Ashley’s cardiologist for three years and he loved her as much as we loved him. We explained our possible plans as he examined Ashley.

“She seems to be pretty strong right now. We are a few years out from another surgery. You could give it a try and see how she does at that elevation,” he mused.

“In other words, we need to rent not buy,” I commented.

“Yes,” Dr. Jue responded. Then with a thoughtful expression, he remarked, “Wait a minute.” Still pensive, he held up his finger and hurried out of the room. He returned quickly, holding an 8x10 glossy of a gorgeous house. Laying it down in front of us he said, “This belongs to a colleague of mine at USC Medical Center. It’s in Oakhurst and he’s asked me to keep an eye out for possible renters. The house has 2,000 square feet with a trout pond in the front yard and a seventy-five-foot waterfall that pours right into the Fresno River in back.”

“That’s an amazing place. He probably figured you could find a doctor to rent it. I’m afraid the housing allowance for a pastor wouldn’t come close to paying for a place like this,” my husband said.

“I wouldn’t be so sure,” Dr. Jue responded. “I’ve known your family for three years. I’ll put in a good word for you with Dr. Takahashi. He’s looking for responsible renters and I think he would be hard pressed to do better than you.”

We thanked the good doctor for his kindness and vote of confidence, but inside we both felt like the house was way out of our league, so we pretty much dismissed it as an option—until that evening.

The phone rang about 9:00 and a soft-spoken man introduced himself as Mike Takahashi. He explained how Dr. Jue had highly recommended us as renters, and he and his wife, Marcia, wanted to meet us the following Saturday. We agreed to go to meet this friendly man even though we figured our meager housing allowance wasn’t near the amount his fabulous home deserved.

We spent the day with the Takahashis and fell in love with them. They showed us their house. Our kids fed the trout and played in the river. We talked about the church they attended in L.A. and about all the plans we had for the church we had been called to in Oakhurst.

At the end of the day, as we sat on the deck, Marcia stated, “We had a businessman from Sacramento express interest in renting the place. He offered us $1,400 a month, but I really want to rent this house to a family. There’s so much for kids to enjoy here. I would like to see your family here. Are you interested?”

“Who wouldn’t be?” I replied. “But, Marcia, the housing allowance the church is giving us is only $750. We know you can get much more than that.”

“Can we have a minute?” she asked. As we nodded she and Mike disappeared into the house. In a few short minutes they emerged smiling ear to ear. “We’ll take $750 with one request. We would like to be able to come and stay here with you on some weekends when we can get away from L.A.”

“That would be great for us,” I responded. “You get to enjoy your house and we would love to spend time with you!”

That was the beginning of a delightful friendship. We shared many dinners together enjoying the mountains and each other’s company.

While we were there, it became clear that Ashley needed another heart surgery. There was a question as to whether the surgeons at our local children’s hospital could handle a surgery with all the complexity of her multiple diagnoses. When Bruce called Mike for a listening ear, he got so much more.

“Dr. Jue sent me Ashley’s file and her situation is unique and complicated. There are probably only two places in the world that could handle a surgery of this magnitude. One is in Minnesota and the other is UCLA. Both are practically impossible to get into, but you happened to know someone with influence. Hillel Laks at UCLA owes me a favor. He can return that favor by performing Ashley’s surgery. Studying under Christiaan Barnard, Laks just happens to be the most prominent heart surgeon in the world right now.”

Fighting back tears, Bruce could hardly respond. “How can I ever thank you?” Bruce asked.

“Seeing Ashley thrive will be thanks enough,” Mike responded.

After a few stressful weeks of waiting, we had a surgery date with the renowned Dr. Hillel Laks. With the amazing surgeon’s skill and a ton of people praying, Ashley sailed through her surgery.

As we visited her in cardiac recovery, an adorable young nurse commented, “This is, like, a miracle and stuff. Ashley is, like, getting better by the minute!”

I’m not sure we truly grasped what a miracle it was until a few days later. As Ashley was recovering, Bruce went down to the medical center bookstore at UCLA. My husband is an avid reader. I marvel that he decided to reduce his stress by reading complicated medical journals.

Bruce picked up a surgeon’s journal published several years earlier. He read that the procedure to repair Ashley’s set of the congenital heart problems had been performed 347 times and had succeeded zero times. Later Bruce asked Mike if the surgical procedure had been updated. He said no. The only difference between past surgeries and Ashley’s was the precision of the surgeon, and she had been blessed with the best in the world.

If I live to be a hundred, I will continue to be awed by the amazing tapestry God put together on our behalf. If the church hadn’t called us to pastor we would not have needed to visit Dr. Jue. Then we would not have needed a house to rent in Oakhurst. We would not have met Dr. Mike Takahashi, one of the few men on the planet who could have gotten Ashley a surgery with one of two doctors in the world who could save her life. What a miracle!

~Linda Newton

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