elizabeth- in His presence

Worship Night with Elizabeth

Worship Night with Elizabeth

One day, my assistant, Judy Arnold and I had a wheelchair pick up to make for Joni’s ministry, Wheels for the World.  A woman had called me wanting to donate a brand new wheelchair that hadn’t worked out for her.  We drove up in front of a tiny, humble home.  Our knock was met with a cheerful, “Come on in!” And so began our relationship with Elizabeth Carver-Leedy, a 34 year old woman, diagnosed 6 years before  with a brain tumor.

Elizabeth grew up in a Christian home.  Her father a pastor, she was always very involved in church activities while at the same time, had a great need to feel loved and endured many broken relationships.

Shortly after giving birth to a baby boy, she started noticing that it was becoming difficult to grasp the words she was looking for in a conversation.  She then began experiencing problems while driving and would end up getting lost.

When Donald was about one year old, she went to her family doctor who was immediately concerned.  He ordered some testing done and when the diagnosis came in, he got down on one knee and with tears in his eyes, told her that she had a tumor in the very center of her brain.  She told him that the Lord had taken care of her so far, he would continue to do so, even through this diagnosis of a brain tumor.  The doctors chose to do a biopsy of the tumor and she came out of the operating room with her right side paralyzed.  In 1998, she was told that at the most, she had 5 years to live.

Elizabeth knew immediately that the Lord was using this tumor to get her attention. She made plans with her parents to have them adopt her baby boy so that they could care for him when she was no longer able.  When Donald was two years old, they celebrated his adoption on the courthouse steps, the judge and people of the courtroom present, knowing the circumstances, celebrated with them.  She had to spend 3 years in a nursing home due to many complications from the cancer and the treatment and choose to turn her circumstances into an opportunity, leading several nurses and roommates to the Lord during her stay there.

The first day we arrived in her home, she sat in her electric recliner, her right side completely paralyzed and unable to use her left leg except to stand for a few short moments, her body experiencing muscle spasms which would grip her so hard, it would bring tears to her eyes and sometimes take her breath away but she would always apologize when they would subside, saying how rude it was of her to do that in front of company.

Judy asked her on that day if she knew the Lord.  Oh, did she know the Lord!  Elizabeth knew the Lord like so few people will ever know Him.  She told us of dreams and visions that she had in the recent years, spending time alone with God in her living room.  Her favorite dream was climbing a large white staircase, laboring every step as her Heavenly Father encouraged her.  Finally, after much struggle to reach the top, he lifted her to his lap where she hugged his neck, kissed his cheeks, stroked his big soft beard.  She had seen her Father and that was what kept her going.  She knew she was in the midst of climbing that staircase, it would only be a matter of time before she made it to the top.

Judy and I returned several times to visit with Elizabeth, developing a friendship with her.  I would often call and when I would ask her how she was doing, she would sing, “Marvelous!”  It always made me laugh, always brought me a reality check as to why I should be feeling marvelous as well.

Sometimes, we took other women with us to visit Elizabeth and have worship and prayer time, and share in taking communion.  When Elizabeth prayed, the room would fall silent as if we were eavesdropping on a very private and intimate conversation.  She knew the love of her Daddy, she saw his mercy and grace in and through her cancer.  She thanked him for forcing her to sit at his feet.  She loved him for loving her so much that he would take her from a life of trying to be filled with passion and lust and fill her instead with his presence, his life, restoring her and making her new.  She would weep as she prayed and we would weep with her, feeling this love that overflowed from a woman who could no longer leave the four walls of her tiny living room.  Each time, as we would head out the door after worshipping with her, the women would thank us for bringing them along to be blessed by Elizabeth.

The first two months of the summer of 2006, were hectic with our kids getting out of school and preparing to work at two family camps.  When I got home from church one Sunday in July, Elizabeth suddenly came to mind.  I picked up the phone to call her.  The number was disconnected.  My husband suggested that I take Judy with me to go and check up on her.

As we pulled up to that tiny house, the ramp out front was gone.  I peeked into the windows, the home was empty, a vacant shell.  A neighbor boy, standing out in front of his house next door, told me that Elizabeth had passed away on June 18th.  God brought her home on Father’s Day, how appropriate.  I got back into the car with Judy and told her that Elizabeth was gone.  I felt an immediate loss.  It brought tears.  Elizabeth had been one of our first calls when we began collecting for WFTW, just two years earlier.

We prayed in the car as we drove away, thanking God for the privilege of knowing Elizabeth, for bringing her into our lives and teaching us so much through her.  We thanked Him that she was now singing in that beautiful voice which could move the heavens.  We knew that she was there with Him, sitting on His lap, perhaps stroking a big soft beard.

In the depths of my heart, I celebrate with her.  I praise God that we had listened when He lead us to return to her again and again.  Knowing that she is now whole, that she no longer suffers brings me great joy.  Knowing that I will no longer be able to sit in the same room with a woman who has seen the face of God brings me much sadness.  Who else will you bring us, Lord?  Where else shall we go?  Who shall you send, that we can serve, to see your face once again?

About editor

Kara Ferris is the Executive Director and editor of iamviable.org. Wife. Mom of 3. Lover of people. Connoisseur of espresso. Master of Crazy Hair. Heart that beats for Jesus. Passion for those with disabilities, bringing honor, value and raising awareness of God’s intent and purposes for EVERY life. Blessed beyond imagination.

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