I first met Ralene Burke at an ACFW conference, seated with other fantasy authors. It seemed like a dream to be sitting with others who love to play with faeries and other lands. Then Ralene shared her journey as a military wife and mother with me and her resilience began to shine through. I interviewed her for the Resilient Author Project (YouTube preview HERE and full link HERE) and asked her to share her special story of how prayer has touched her life from birth. My son also has a similar story of miraculous healing, and nothing can be more encouraging than seeing God’s design in the details. I hope you’ll enjoy seeing her path to resilience as part of the #LetResilienceArise guest blog series.
by Ralene Burke
Prayer is a powerful thing.
The Bible says when we have the faith of a mustard seed, we can move mountains. Jesus also said that when two or more agree in prayer, God will hear them and answer. “A person without prayer is like a tree without roots.” Pope Pius XII. Faith in prayer is what saved my life.
I was born in Quinter, Kansas at the same small county hospital where my mother was born. My mom was visiting her parents for a few weeks while my dad transferred from Fort Riley to another post.
After the delivery, I was rushed to the NICU before my mom could even hold me. I had a small mass in my neck, which grew rather quickly. By the time I was two days old, the tumor—a mass of brain-like tissue— was the size of an adult fist … inside a baby’s neck. It blocked my esophagus, taking away my ability to swallow, even breathe. The doctors told my parents I would die without surgery; and even with the surgery, I would still only have a 50% chance of living.
The prayers of family, friends, and church members went up in earnest to the Lord. Indeed, He heard them.
I was taken by helicopter to a hospital in Wichita, where they removed that tumor. After I had stabilized, they flew me to Walter Reed Memorial Hospital in Maryland.
During the surgery, the doctor nicked some nerves while removing the tumor. It became evident soon after that this would have an effect on the rest of my life. I was not moving like I should or responding to stimuli as a normal baby would. The doctors warned my parents that I had a 95% chance of being severely physically and mentally handicapped. They even tried to convince my mom to put me in a state home where the people would know how to take care of me.
Again, more prayers were said amongst many tears. My mom says she knew in her heart that God had plans for me. If that meant that she needed to learn how to care for me the way I was, then that’s what she would do. So, she learned how to change my feeding tube and my bandages, and after three months, took me home.
But my parents didn’t treat me like a disabled child. They loved me and interacted with me just like they would any other child.
To the doctor’s surprise on future visits, I began developing like any normal child. By the time I was two, the scars on my neck and stomach were more evident than my disabilities.
Today, I am living my life for the Lord, a testament to prayer. The only residual effects are a paralyzed vocal cord and left shoulder, and a slightly droopy eyelid. The shoulder you would only know about if you were around me long enough to know I can’t lift heavy things. Since the surgery occurred at birth, God saw to it that my body adapted so I still have use of my left arm.
I’ve been asked a few times why my parents or I didn’t sue the doctors for causing my disabilities. I am horrified at even the thought. A few minor disabilities compared to what might have been? I know what the chances were of me coming out of that alive, and I know God was there. What right did my parents or I have to interfere with His plans?
I thank God every day for the life I’m able to lead. When I graduated from high school, I wrote a letter to those doctors who first took care of me. I let them know what a wonderful job they did and how, without them and the prayers of others, I would not have been accepting my diploma and getting ready for college.
“Do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men. Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks. Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle, but you shall be the miracle.” Phillips Brooks
Today, I am blessed to have a fairly normal life. If you can call the life of a fantasy author and homeschooling mom normal. I’m afraid it’s more abnormal and crazy than anything else. But I love it, and I wouldn’t change a thing about my present or my past. Indeed, God had amazing plans for my life, and I’m still discovering them bit by bit, one day at a time. And what a joy it is!
Whether she’s wielding a fantasy writer’s pen, a social media wand, or a freelance editor’s sword, Ralene Burke always has her head in some dreamer’s world. And her goal is to help everyone SHINE BEYOND! She has worked for a variety of groups, including Realm Makers, The Christian PEN, Kentucky Christian Writers Conference, and for several freelance clients. Her novel, Bellanok, is available on Amazon, and her next one from Elk Lake Publishing will be out September 2017!
When her head’s not in the publishing world, she is wife to a veteran and homeschooling mama to their three kids. Her Pinterest board would have you believe she is a master chef, excellent seamstress, and all around crafty diva. If she only had the time . . .
A haven for myths and legends . . . until evil discovers a way in.
With evil darkening the mountains to the north, the fairy queen, Fauna, must journey from the island realm of Bellanok to the modern world to find the man the Creator appointed to save their kingdom. A man she has been dreaming of her whole life.
Brian is a down-on-his-luck pastor on the verge of giving up on God. He’s tired and frustrated–a failure. No sooner does he make a decision that jeopardizes his career than an unusual blonde woman shows up and tries to convince him he is some kind of savior.
Fauna must open Brian’s eyes to a different reality, and Brian needs to embrace the haven’s secrets. If neither of them succeeds, Bellanok will succumb to evil and the world will lose all trace of innocence.
What is the Let Resilience Arise series all about?
Elizabeth Van Tassel is a wildfire survivor who lost every possession and her home in 2007. Since that time, she’s been cultivating fiction and nonfiction projects of her own to inspire kids and adults alike with her lessons. But she’s also developed a wonderful network of amazing authors in all different genres and professions who have compelling stories to boost you or perhaps a friend you know who’s struggling with a similar challenge. Subscribe to this blog (on the home page HERE) for these articles and a monthly newsletter to come to your email or stop by again for more amazing stories. Also have your teens and tweens check out their own page and posts HERE. Want to share your story with others or have Elizabeth share hers with your group? Contact Elizabeth HERE and she’d love to discuss bringing lessons of hope and new beginnings to your group too.