By KIM CARTER
My God story begins in my early childhood. I was raised by my grandmother, where going to church was a rule to live by. I was baptized during a revival in 1985 at age 12. I accepted Jesus as my Lord and Savior and had a fear of God, but it was not the fear that leads to living for Him; it was fear of His punishment.
At 20 years old I had my first child, Skyler. Later, I found out I was pregnant with my second child in June 1996. This pregnancy led to marriage. I felt like, this is it: God is real, God does love me, and He is a God of second chances. Then I had early contractions at 25 weeks. Our daughter Summer was born weighing 1 pound 8 ounces.
To see her underdeveloped body lying on a small makeshift bed, wrapped in Saran wrap under a light because she was too small for an incubator, gave new meaning to Jeremiah 1:5, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you.” I realized the doctors and nurses were caring for Summer as if she was still in my womb. This was nothing shy of a miracle. The doctors and nurses said she was a fighter but gave her only a 10 percent chance of survival.
Summer was released in March weighing 4 pounds, still underdeveloped and with a long journey ahead. She was released with equipment to monitor her, which required my direct attention. I also had a 2-year-old daughter to care for. This was where I had to lean on Jesus.
During a home health visit, a nurse noticed significant growth in Summer’s head measurements. She was rushed in for emergency surgery; she had hydrocephalus.
Summer’s hydrocephalus opened the door to my journey with Christ. One surgery led to another and another. I began to pray more and read the Bible more. I attended church and rededicated my life to Christ. This did not solve my problems but gave me strength to face them.
Then seizures and one thing after another began to take place. At one point Summer was on a ventilator. I gave up hope. I cried out to God to just take her. Somewhere along the way, I realized He was willing to love me and meet me where I was; that He was forgiving and full of grace. I wanted to know Him more. I decided to fight for Summer through daily time in prayer.
Summer’s surgeries, infections and hospitalizations became the norm; family and friends became few. This is where God and I became friends. I have seen all the faces of God: Abba my Daddy; Jehovah Rapha, the God who heals; Jehovah Jireh, the God who provides; Jehovah Shalom, my Prince of Peace.
In the midst of all this, I was faced with divorce. I truly felt, this is now me and God.
When Summer was about 4, she was developing and getting a sense of normalcy. Then a shunt malfunction put her back in the hospital, and the surgery left her paralyzed and unable to speak.
I vowed to never pray again. Then a lady looked me in the eye and said, “You can’t bargain with God. God wants you and your heart freely.” I began praying again, and I dug deeper in the scriptures to understand sacrifice.
The doctor suggested inpatient therapy, requiring me to be there with Summer. I quit my job and moved in with my mom — not forgetting I had Skyler, who needed to attend school. I dedicated one year to help Summer learn to walk and talk again.
During this time, I began to see individuals and families in worse conditions than ours. I began to have compassion and love people from a genuine space. I took this attitude outside the hospital. This was the greatest opportunity for God to use me.
God led me to begin writing daily devotionals to encourage others, and He prompted me to be the light wherever I go. I took that as my ministry, birthing my #ChallengeYourFlesh Facebook page. I have been encouraging others through God’s Word since about 2006.
Summer has against all odds attended post-secondary school at the University of South Alabama and completed the PASSAGE USA certificate program. I’m so grateful for the journey God has walked me through. He was with me in every valley and on the mountaintop. In every season, He’s been refining me into who I am today.
Kim Carter is a follower of Jesus Christ, a mom, an advocate for vulnerable adults, and the founder of ChallengeYourFlesh devotionals. Deepy committed to ministry, she enjoys encouraging others in the race of life through the Word of God, including daily devotionals and monthly pop-up Bible studies in local coffee shops. She also serves in hospitality ministry at Word Alive Church and Communion House.