“There are so many people who don’t know Jesus. How do they get through something like this without knowing Him? I don’t see how they can.”
“God never gives you more than you can handle” is a Bible-y sounding phrase that is absolutely untrue. God never gives you more than HE can handle.
You never know what you’ll find at your local Farmer’s Market. This summer, I stumbled upon a beautiful story about Elsie Stone, the founder of Stone River Goat Milk Skin Care products.
The lotions and body butters are delightfully fresh-smelling and feel delicious. (Her Lilac might be my favorite!) She has an entire line of unscented products, too. However, IMHO, her pièce-de-résistance is the Goat Milk Soap cakes. Every flavor she has makes me want to eat it!
While the products and packaging are what I’d expect, the woman and her story of how tragedy changed to hope, are not.
“Being first time parents, you can’t imagine anything going wrong with your baby.”
When Randy and Elsie Stone’s daughter was born, the doctors discovered a gigantic tumor wrapped around her liver. Newborn Catie was rushed into surgery two days later. After a touch-and-go six-hour surgery and recovery, doctors began chemotherapy.
Elsie noticed Baby Catie scratching; her skin was peeling and irritated. The cancer treatments were burning her from the inside out.
Having exhausted numerous ineffective store-bought soaps, lotions, and creams, Elsie researched alternatives. She read that goat’s milk has the precisely the same pH as human skin and is given to babies allergic to any other milk. This got her thinking. Could goat’s milk work for Catie’s skin?
She went to her kitchen and began tinkering with soap recipes. After a while, people began to hear about Catie’s situation and started asking Elsie about her goat milk soaps. They asked if she was able to make lotions as well. Why not? she reasoned.
Elsie experimented more and soon hit upon the perfect recipes—ones that Catie loved!—and they started to see some amazing results when they combined lotions with the soap.
FAST FORWARD: Catie was eighteen and a half and in her senior year of high school. Excited for the hayride that October night, she left for school with her brother and sister in tow. Within an hour, the school had called Elsie. Catie had collapsed in the hall. Emergency response airlifted her to the hospital, but after checking this seemingly healthy, active teen, the doctors thought it was a fluke and sent her home.
Filling up buckets with corn to feed hogs a month later, Catie was finishing up chores with her father in the feed barn when she collapsed again. Randy hurriedly kicked open the screen door and carried his daughter, gasping for air, into the house.
She looked at Elsie and said, “I’m tired, Mom.” Then her eyes rolled back into her head.
Elsie performed CPR while Randy called emergency response. The helicopter landed in the corn field and carried her off to the hospital again. Little did they know then that chemo also can take an enormous toll on the heart and its arteries. What the autopsy revealed was that the main artery going into her heart had shrunk and closed, causing Catie, a cross country runner, basketball player, and farm girl, to have a fatal heart attack.
While they should have been planning for senior year parties and activities, they planned a funeral instead.
They tried to celebrate her life while living with her death. They remembered how Catie would smile as she lived her life to fullest each day. Their faith carried them.
As we sit at Electric Fountain Brewing, Randy muses over a cup of strong coffee. “I was always close to God, but when Catie was born, I began praying. I begged Him to save her, and He did! If it wasn’t for Him, we wouldn’t have never made it. Losing her, I don’t think I could have made it (without Him).”
“The first year, I had a lot of problems dealing with her death. It was a dark time,” Elsie tearfully recalls, pushing her cup away. “We didn’t get to see Catie graduate. That first year (after her death), I was really angry,” she remembers, nodding. “I had lost my brother, mom, dad, and now Catie… I was mad; I felt like I got cheated (by God). Why did He feel like He had to take her?”
Elsie’s countenance changes, and she smiles wistfully as she gazes out the window of the coffee shop.
“But I look at the eighteen and a half years I had with her and wouldn’t change a thing,” she says, brightening. “I look at everything we went through, and it made us stronger. I don’t take life for granted. A year after she died, we knew why the business (Stone River Goat Milk Skin Care) got started. We felt like if it could help someone else, if someone didn’t have to suffer through the discomfort of chemo…” her voice trails off. “It wouldn’t make the circumstances no better but at least it gives us purpose.”
When God gives you more than you can handle, what you do with it is up to you. So when I come across a story like Elsie’s, one laced with sadness and tragedy but the result is goodness and willingness to help others, it touches my soul. This is a story of Christ winning against all odds once again.
We are especially excited to announce a Rafflecopter giveaway of three $50 Stone River Goat Milk Products gift certificates! There are so many ways to enter.
For a timely and encouraging message, I invite you to view the sermon message from Pastor Jerry Harris from Sunday, September 30 at 9:00 and 10:45AM CST LIVE at The Crossing online. Click HERE to see it on the sermon archives. (Look for: “#Mandela Effect : God Won’t Give You More Than You Can Handle”)
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