He Has Led Me Through the Darkest and Brightest of Days

On December 1, I gave birth to a healthy baby girl whom we named Caylee Elizabeth. She was our sixth child, quite a miracle really, considering how bad my endometriosis was before I got pregnant back in March. I had a blocked ovary on my right due to a 3 to 4 cm cyst, countless adhesions and lesions in my uterus, and there was another smaller cyst on my left ovary. How the egg got fertilized and implanted in that environment was a God-thing.

Throughout my pregnancy, I was healthy. I exercised regularly, even up until the week before giving birth. The only difference between my previous pregnancies was random, stabbing pain in my left lower quadrant. Because of my age, I didn’t think it was significant, just part of being an older, pregnant woman.

Since my birth was relatively easy, Lamaze again, just like my previous deliveries, I expected the recovery period to be the same. After three days, I hoped to be up and about, back to my wife, motherhood, as well as, homeschool duties.

However, less than a week into my recovery from birth, I began to experience significant pain in my lower abdomen. At times, it would be excruciating and debilitating, much like the pain I would suffer through during my periods when I wasn’t pregnant. During my first check-up with my OB-Gyne after birth, I brought this up, but she assured me that everything was fine. Everything else was, in fact. She examined me and there were no unusual findings.

Soon after, however, I developed a fever. It persisted for days, so it was recommended that I get a blood test and urinalysis. The urinalysis was clear, but my blood test showed elevated WBC. I was asked to go on a round of antibiotics to rule out any general infection. Still, the pain continued and escalated and the fevers kept returning.

Dealing with my failing health and a newborn was trying to say the least. I cried many times out to the Lord and to Edric in frustration and desperation. I didn’t know what to do.

After a second check-up, there were still no significant findings. By this time, I had struggled through three weeks of pain and fever. Feelings of hopelessness and worry began to cloud over me. I battled depression. At some point, I confessed to Edric that I actually felt like dying would be the best way to escape what was happening, as I couldn’t continue and go on in this state, especially when the pain would get debilitating.

Finally, on December 24, my doctor sister, Carolyn, and her husband, Joel, visited me. She was gravely concerned, as were my other siblings and family members, who were messaging me and face-timing me from the U.S. during the past weeks. They were all convinced that my symptoms were abnormal.

Carolyn felt my uterus and it was hard and bulging when I lay on my back. My fever spiked to 39.1 when the antibiotics should have taken care of it since it was bacterial related. She called my OB-Gyne, who agreed that I should go to the hospital for an emergency ultrasound.

This wasn’t how I expected to spend Christmas Eve. Edric and I had to leave four kids with his parents. (Praise God for them. Our kids were in good hands.) Elijah, my oldest son, came with us to take care of Caylee so she could be near me when I needed to breastfeed.

I didn’t know what to expect at the hospital, but the findings were alarming. After being examined during what would have been a normal internal exam, there was a mass that presented itself. This was strange since nothing was evident four days prior, during my previous internal exam.

The ultrasound revealed a large cyst, 13 cm in size, making it difficult to determine where the outline of my uterus was. Jokingly, we quipped, “Well, Merry Christmas. It’s a Christmas ball!”

Since the mass was putting significant pressure on other organs and causing so much pain, my doctor believed it had to be surgically removed, as soon as possible. The next day was Christmas, and I would need to pass a series of tests to be approved for surgery on the 26th. One of my other issues was anemia. So I had two sets of transfusions.

Caylee and Elijah were sent to be with my in-laws. It was just Edric and me who were left at the hospital. That’s how I spent the 25th, getting prepped for surgery, being connected intravenously on both hands to blood and an IV line.

Edric was supportive and calm throughout the entire time. We both opted to do laparoscopy since the recovery would be much easier. We were hopeful. This would supposedly solve everything and let us return to normalcy.

My doctor told me the surgery would take 2 to 3 hours at most, and possibly one day of recovery in the hospital before being discharged. It didn’t sound too bad. I could do this, I thought. Everything was going to be okay.

At this juncture, my greatest fear was going under general anesthesia, something I had never done. For someone like me, who likes to be in control, I was quite terrified. My anesthesiologist reassuring explained what was going to happen, and she helped me to calm down.

More importantly, God blessed me with the passage: “For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Romans‬ ‭8:38-39‬)

Surgery is always a matter of life and death, and this was a wonderful message from the Lord telling me that no matter what happened, he would be with me.

As I was wheeled into the operating room, Edric and I kissed each other, and I knew he would be waiting for me when I came through.

While on the operating table, my anesthesiologist prayed for me. As the anesthesia was intravenously introduced into my body, she asked if I was sleepy. I was still smiling and answered, “I am not sleepy yet!”

That’s the last thing I remember.

It was 10 PM by the time I opened my eyes, trying to comprehend where I was. My eyesight was blurry but I could make out the hands on the clock to estimate the time. Meanwhile, Dr. Mayet Sapaula, a family friend and my mom’s OB, came into the recovery room to see me. I couldn’t see the details of her face right away, but I knew it was her from the sound of her voice and her hair. She came to comfort me and check up on me, but it was also from her that I heard the phrase, “It was complicated.”

She was referring to my surgery. What should have been over in a few hours stretched to eight long ones, with four types of procedures performed on me. First, the cyst had to be drained. It contained 1.7 liters of pus and blood. They couldn’t save my reproductive organs so those were all taken out since the cyst had wrapped itself around them and twisted them. I had a total hysterectomy — uterus, ovaries, cervix — all gone. Part of the cyst had affected my colon as well, so a portion had to be cut out and reconnected. My intestines had to be taken out and examined, as well as cleaned for remaining endometriosis adhesions. I also had an appendectomy. Instead of four simple, small incisions in my abdomen, I had to be cut across on the outside and lengthwise on the inside (my abdominal wall).

Basically, the problem was endometriosis gone wild. During the previous ultrasounds that were done while I was pregnant, the cyst was not detected. We still don’t know how this was possible, considering it’s size. One of our speculations was that the cyst actually ballooned and got infected some time after I gave birth, which is an unusual occurrence. Still, the mystery was that it didn’t become evident till my third check-up at the hospital.

In all my OB’s (Dr. Regina Capistrano’s) twenty five years of being a doctor this was her first time to encounter an infected endometrial cyst. Dr. Mayet Sapaula also said this was a rare situation, as she had only seen this one other time, and she used to be the head of the OB-GYNE Department of St. Luke’s Quezon City. According to the different doctors who attended to me, this was one of the more complicated surgeries they had encountered.

When I was finally brought to see Edric, he was thrilled to see me alive.

“Hi baby!”

I remember asking him, “What happened? Was I cut open?” It was difficult to talk because I had been intubated for so long. I could barely speak.

He didn’t want to shock me with the details, although my anesthesiologist had already given me an idea of all the procedures that had been done. However, my mind had been in such a fog coming out of general anesthesia that I wasn’t sure what was going on.

I just knew that I was alive although I felt half-dead and miserable. My second statement to him was, “You better preach on Sunday!”

As a very protective and loving husband I sensed that his instinct was to be by my side, but I had this strong conviction that the best thing he could do after going through this ordeal with me was to serve the Lord on Sunday. I didn’t want the evil one to win. This trial had felt so much like a spiritual attack, beyond the physical aspect of it.

Laying on my bed with all the intravenous lines for IV, blood, antibiotics, and pain killers, plus my catheter, made me immobile. My voice was gone due to being intubated for so many hours. Eventually it was restored, but it took a while. The intubation also weakened my lungs so I had to practice breathing deeply to get them going again. I needed six transfusions to recover from the anemia and blood lost. I had never experienced such helplessness before. This was the most physically broken I had ever been.

Edric attended to me the whole time. He only left my side the day he went to preach, replacing himself with Elijah, so I wasn’t alone. I didn’t want to be alone. There was so much post traumatic stress I was wrestling with. Being without a loved one by my side, especially Edric, made me feel anxious.

As the story of my operation became clearer, I wrestled with God. How could this have happened? Why did he allow it? How was I to move on to normalcy?

It was so obviously a trial ordained by God. I knew he was sovereign. I knew he was the one who let my body go through this.

Shortly after my birth, my Bible reading plan landed me in Job. There was this sense that I was going to go through something fiery. In fact, I had these questions, “What if God allowed the evil one to inflict my body? How would I respond?”

Sometime later, I also had a dream of the evil one taunting me, telling me he was going to hurt me.

In light of all I went through in December, it made sense to conclude that this is exactly what happened. God, who had always protected my body and kept me healthy, allowed an opening for a time, for the evil one to harm me physically. Yet, God also knew when enough was enough for me. He spared me from many other complications that could have happened. I am grateful for this.

However, it still pained me to accept that my loving Father had elected these events as his will. The physical suffering was so trying. Being forced into early menopause due to a hysterectomy seemed unbelievable, too, on top of the other organs that were affected and taken out. I mean, I thought, What in the world?! Why?! Did I really have to go through something so major just for the Lord to teach me something about Himself or about growing in character?!

Those were my initial thoughts. Thankfully, I was also reading through the Psalms, which God used to encourage me daily. I received daily doses of his truths and promises. My only recourse was to cling to these, to hope in the Lord, and to focus on what I knew to be true — He still loved me, He was still good. I didn’t have to understand completely, but I had to trust Him to survive this.

I cried often during the days after the surgery. Having all that time to think as I lay in bed made me process this trial, with the Lord.

My mom recently told me, “At times God brings us to the desert, and He makes a table for two. It’s just you and Him.”

Through all of this, God taught me and continues to teach me that life is HIS gift. He has the power to give it and to take it.

Life is also a stewardship. I am here on earth not for my purposes, but for the Lord’s. He wants me to use my life to tell people about Him — His love, His salvation. And He wants me to live for His glory, not my own.

Furthermore, there are many people who are suffering, and I need to remember them and empathize with what they are going through.

Lastly, life is short. This world is not my real home, I have heaven to look forward to. Whatever pain is experienced here cannot be compared to joys of eternity with the Lord. In the meantime, I can’t continue on in fear or with anxiety, wondering what tragedy will befall me next, worrying whether I will be in this same predicament or worse in the future. Instead, I need to be grateful that I have today, today to love those around me, to serve, obey, and worship the Lord, to maximize what he has given me and to use my time, resources and talents to be a blessing to others.

None of us know how long we have on this earth. Surviving a near death experience made me re-evaluate how I value life and the people around me. It made me rethink my priorities and preoccupations.

It also made me grateful…

– Caylee was born without the cyst rupturing. She was healthy and well.

– Somehow, God gave me the grace to last three agonizing weeks before the cyst was discovered. He kept me from getting sepsis.

– There were doctors available a day after Christmas to do my surgery.

– My endometriosis hadn’t spread to other organs besides the ones that had to be removed.

– God provided for the expenses, which were significant, but we had enough to cover everything, including the six doctors’ fees. The doctors were also kind about their fees.

– I got sent home on New Year’s Eve which means our family began 2019 together, at home.

– God provided for Caylee’s breast milk through donations from generous and concerned moms. Eventually, she latched on after I finished the one round of antibiotics that she couldn’t be exposed to.

– Our family experienced the love and support of the body of Christ through the prayers and presence of our discipleship group and people all around the world who reached out to us. Even if my own family was in the U.S., we didn’t feel alone or abandoned. God used his people to comfort us and be there for us.

– Our children took care of one another. Their faith also grew as they learned to trust God for my life and the outcome of the surgery.

– Our children had special bonding time with Edric’s parents (my mommy and papa).

– I experienced the sweetest love from Edric as he cared for me and demonstrated what unconditional commitment to one’s spouse is like.

– God caused me to grow in intimacy with Him, to lean on His Word, and to address character issues and areas where I needed to grow.

There are many more lessons and blessings I will share as the days and weeks go by.

It’s been two weeks since the surgery. For the time being I am confined to the home, apart from trips to see my different doctors. They want me to get past the thirty day mark since I am still at risk for infection. My OB instructed me to avoid crowded, public places as much as possible for the next six to eight weeks. That’s going to feel like a long time. However, I am thankful to the Lord that I am alive and getting better everyday! What he has allowed, I will embrace as His divinely appointed good in my life even as I struggle through the recovery.

From time to time, I tear up in painful remembrance or in joyful acceptance of what He has done, and I have realized that it’s okay to grieve loss, and to be honest about pain before the Lord.

He is our Father. He is aware that we are weak, dependent and needy. At the same time, it’s not enough to remain there, because His greater will for us is to experience the abundant life He promised. That’s what I am looking forward to as I spend this season healing from the ordeal. These words have become so true for me as God has led me through the darkest and brightest of days: You have turned for me my mourning into dancing; You have loosed my sackcloth and girded me with gladness, that my soul may sing praise to You and not be silent. O LORD my God, I will give thanks to You forever.” (Psalms‬ ‭30:11-12‬)

43 thoughts on “He Has Led Me Through the Darkest and Brightest of Days

  1. What a powerful testimony! To find joy in Christ in the midst of it all. You are living up to your name, and I pray that I will too.
    All glory and praises indeed to God!

  2. I cried while reading this..i remember how God restored my body from two operations due to ectopic pregnancies and how he comforted me during my desert time..thank you for reminding me again of His goodness and faithfulness..praying for your fast recovery Ms.Joy..your life is such an inspiration to all of us..

    1. Oh Arra, that must have been so difficult. I can’t imagine. Praise God you are okay. May God bless you and shower you with his love as you seek after Him

  3. Been following you even before we met last year at the Hillsong Conference. Your story is a great revelation for me that truly we are not in control of all the things around us . Stay healthy, blessed and loved❤️

  4. I am so blessed reading your testimony here Ms. Joy. I was crying while reading your blog. I could feel every word you’ve written, very inspiring! God is truly amazing!Surely your pain won’t be wasted but will be used to reveal God’s glory. I remember when I was also going through a fiery trial, I could very much relate with what Job said “The Lord gave and the Lord has taken away; may the name of the Lord be praised.” ( Job 1:20) “ Shall we accept good from God, and not trouble?” (Job 2:10) I once felt that I don’t deserve good things from God neither I do deserve pain like I did experience. But in all of those things, should I complain? Should I blame God? Should I run away from HIM? I believe in all those circumstances, whether good or bad, I still have to trust God and thank HIM. I believe He is in control of everything.. HE is sovereign and HE is a good God.. and the truth remains that HE loves me so much. Nothing can separate me from HIS love. I cannot control any circumstance that comes along my way, but I can always trust God for I know His love for me is real.
    Thank you so much Ms. Joy for sharing your story, I am always been blessed by your blogs.. May God be continously glorified in your life! God bless your abundantly! 😊

  5. Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.
    James 1:12 ESV

    I was reminded of this as I finished reading. You are indeed blessed. Praying for your healing and daily strength in Lord.

  6. Thank you Joy for sharing this. I follow your blog and again I was blessed by your message.
    I shed tears when your husband Edric gave his testimony. I shed tears again reading your account of what you went through. You exactly described in detail how I felt when I wrestled with The Lord about the birth of my one and only child who had a very complicated birth and who is now severely disabled and you also perfectly described the thoughts that went through my head when I wrestled each time with The Lord during my six miscarriages of unknown cause throughout my childbearing years.
    The leasons you learned were exactly the lessons I also received from The Lord. I will never trade the outcome of greater intimacy with The Lord , because it was the most cherished and treasured experience I gained through all my trials and ordeal. In my brokenness, it was the sweet, comforting presence of The Lord that I distinctly remember even to this day (and those heartbreaking days for me started 27 years ago).
    From day one we prayed for you and your family and we continue to pray for your complete recovery and healing.

    Alice (from CCF San Francisco, CA)

    1. Wow Alice, you have been through so much, and yet your perspective is so positive. Such an encouragement to me. Thank you for sharing this with me. May God bless you beyond what you can ever imagine as you faithfully follow him!

  7. God bless you Joy and your family. Indeed nothing is too hard for the Lord. In all events in our lives., we grow in the knowledge of Him who loves us more than we know.

  8. What a powerful and touching testimony of God’s love. My faith levels up with stories like these. What a good and amazing God He is. Congratulations sis Joy and family for the new baby and get well very soon.

  9. Thank God that you’re okay Ms. Joy. Glad to hear all of your stories. Your testimonies on His Goodness really made me cry. Praying for your speedy recovery and Congratulations for another new blessing, Caylee. God Bless your family and continue to be an inspiration. Truly God is Good!

  10. Hi Ms. Joy I am glad to hear you are getting better. You have been a source of inspiration to me ever since I started following your blog way back in 2011. I remember one time, out of my frustration of what the Lord is letting me to go through, I emailed you and to my surprise you replied! Thank you for being the caring person I needed that time.
    Thank you for your unselfish sharing about your life’s journey through this blog. When I read this entry I remembered this Song – Every Season by Hope Music (you can find this in Spotify). Your faith is contagious and I pray you will continue to enjoy your journey in every season. God bless you and I’m praying for your speedy recovery.

  11. your testimony and that of edric are so inspiring! These made me realize I am not alone in this world, when I experienced physical and mental pains due to meningioma where surgery was done to remove the cyst in my spinal cord, had an accident where I now have a metal brace inside my elbow, had surgery to remove tumors in my liver, being diagnosed with gastric lymphoma, but miraculously, after my last endoscopy, the lymphoma was gone!, although I still have to be monitored semi-annually/yearly for MRI, endoscopy and other medical laboratory requirements. As of now I have vertigo, heel spurs, other ailments that a senior citizen experiences, but lo and behold, GOD is our Healer in the name of our LORD JESUS, to HIM be all the glory, worship, praise and thanks!!

    salamat sa testimonies nyo and I am forever grateful, a CCF member in Baguio City

  12. Thank you for sharing this. My mom also was bed-ridden during holidays until now. She has a weak heart. We’re clinging to God’s healing hands as healing will only come from Him. We’ve been attending the Sunday worship thru live streaming. We were able to actually attend the four time slots during Sundays. God bless to your family!

  13. I was also diagnosed with pneumonia on Christmas- spent it in the hospital. Cried during the holidays – I had to be seperated from my fam. bec my pneumonia was contagious. I was reunited with my hubby and kiddo before new year 😁 I am still recovering from pneumonia. Your blog enlightened me on why the enemy had to attack our bodies during Christmas season. But the Lord is sovereign! His thoughts are not our thoughts, and the season felt even more meaningful.

  14. Thank you so much for sharing this. I don’t know how to say it without being offending. I am not glad that you had total hysterectomy, but I am glad that through your experience, I had made sense of what happened to me, too.

    With your suffering, I have gained a fresh and new faith in God. Over a year ago, I also suffered from an emergency total hysterectomy right after giving birth. Although I am a Christian and have faith in God, I questioned God and harboured bitterness in my heart. Although I know God has His purpose, deep inside me, I felt like God has abandoned me. And sometimes the enemy would make me feel like I am insignificant and unloved by God because He allowed this to happen to me.

    From someone who felt that God loved me and was pleased with me (because He has made all my dreams come true since I was a kid) , I suddenly felt that I was full of sins that’s why God has taken away my womb and has not given me the family life I had always dreamt of as a child.

    The enemy has filled me with thoughts that God no longer loves me and I am full of sins; hence He took away my ultimate dream – that of having a daughter. I only have two sons and have always dreamt of giving birth to a baby girl. But now after hysterectomy, I felt that my perfect dream of having that family was taken away, too. I envy women who are pregnant and I wished mine was just a nightmare. I was just hopeful God would let me know someday why it happened to me.

    When I read your testimony, A big thorn has been taken away from my heart. If God could allow it to happen to someone like you (whom I know is a very spiritual woman, a woman of God), why wouldn’t He allow it to me – someone who has always fallen short of Godliness? In fact, when I lost my womb in 2017, I felt shame before the outside world , I felt shame before myself. I thought it was my downfall. I thought it meant God punished me and it was embarrassing to let others know because others would probably say, “maybe her God wasn’t real” or “her God abandoned her” or “Where is her God now?”

    The answer to my question, whether God still loves me the same as before is YES because He allows even His daugthers to suffer and even those who are close to Him (just like you).

    I almost forgot that in the Bible, Job is also a righteous man and with whom God was greatly pleased but whom God had also allowed extreme suffering.

    But it is very enlightening for me to read your testimony and still praise God despite all.

    I wish I had done the same when I suffered that fate. I closed my door and my world and even if I was in denial, I looked at life differently after hysterectomy and at times, lost my faith in God.

    But I truly, truly admire your faith. It is an eye-opener for me. That even in bad times, I should praise God. The right attitude is to thank God at all times- in sickness and in health.

    I hope you don’t feel as though God was disciplining you. I think He allowed it to you because you will be an inspiration to others who are also suffering to never lose faith in God. To always be grateful in the bad and good times alike. To praise Him and read His Words all the more. Just as Job did.

    And I am very thankful that i learned the righteous way to react to sufferings from your testimony.

    Thank you so much for sharing your faith in God so that others like me can have a model how to continue to trust God despite the pains.

    I hope you continue to feel that God loves you and that God is happy to know that you kept the faith and kept praising Him despite what you’ve been through. 🙏🙏🙏

    1. Thanks so much for sharing your journey. It’s really difficult to deal with the loss you had to deal with. My heart goes out to you. But God will also use this to make you more beautiful inside and out, to make you a channel of blessing to others. You were so honest here about your struggles. Thank you. May God continue to comfort you and bring healing to your life. ❤️

  15. I just read this and it really touched my heart! Welcome to the family, baby Caylee! God is good! Never forget that! 🙂

  16. It has been a while since I checked in for inspiration! I was floored then catapulted into heights of praise to our Good Lord. A JOB in the Desert experience indeed! I honor your for sharing to us in vivid detail ( words and color) your journey. Happy to see the latest addition to your beautiful family, Caylee Elizabeth. Glorifying our Almighty for giving you the grace to experience JOY in a table only for TWO in the midst of testing and doubt. All glory and thanksgiving back to Him!

  17. Thank you for sharing your story, Ms. Joy. I can totally relate to almost all that you have felt.

    I also underwent total abdominal hysterectomy, removal of right ovary and bilateral artery ligation after I experienced post partum hemorrhage back in October 2016 when I gave birth to my youngest. Shortly thereafter I did not notice that I was already depressed- I couldn’t sleep at night, I was constantly worried what if my arteries rupture again, I was asking God why it happened to me, I was questioning my OB’s credibility, I would cry in the wee hours of the morning while breastfeeding my baby. I thought it was mere baby blues and I also thought that I have already accepted everything after a month or two. Or so I thought.

    Come May 2017, I started to feel more anxious whenever I would feel any pain in my body. I felt like I would die of heart attack any time though I do not have a heart disease and feared dying since then. Maybe because I have experienced facing the pain of “almost dying” while I was in the hospital. I was so afraid. I became a constant visitor of the ER and of different doctors. All tests done were always normal except for the GERD that developed due to anxiety. I was diagnosed with anxiety disorder in December 2018. I battled with fear and anxiety of a lot of things for more than a year; then became depressed again after the diagnosis.

    In one of the instances that my anxiety level was really high, I went to my mother crying (she is a Christian) telling her I was so afraid. She spoke to me then read the Bible to me and in that instant I felt so secure in God’s love, I was comforted by His words. That same night, I accepted Him as my savior and king. The next morning I told her that I would like to join her in worship service at CCF the following Sunday; I finally accepted her invitation after 2 or 3 years.

    The next days were the best. December and January passed and until now I have never felt so loved by and in love with God and secured in His love. He was loving and protecting me all along; how could I have not seen and felt that as soon as I surpassed the ordeal of hemorrhage and made it alive? What was I doing all along? And up until now that I battle with and can’t trust even my own thoughts, He is still loving and protecting me. Assessing everything that happened, I know God has allowed me to be inflicted with such illnesses in order for me to learn to entrust my life to Him completely. No one- not me, not my husband, not even the doctors- can ever control my life but just Him. I know He still has a mission for me to accomplish in my remaining lifetime that is why I am still here; and I am focusing on looking for that now without losing sight of His love. The anxiety may not have totally gone for now but I can manage and control it better now through prayers and scripture reading.

    Thank you again for sharing your story. At least I know that I was not alone in the struggle of facing a spiritual battle.

    God bless you and your family, Ms. Joy.

  18. Thank you for sharing, Ms. Joy. i went under the knife twice this past week, due to an abscess approximately 9.5cm in size, while im 5 mos. Pregnant

    Your testimony inspired me to be strong in the Lord, to be steadfast in my faith. I learned from you that it’s ok to cry, while surrendering everything to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

    The operation was successful, baby is ok, open wound is healing really quickly by God’s grace.

    Praise God!!!

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