This single mom of 3 has ministered hope to others since the day she met her savior. For 15 years she has been a testimony to believing in a savior named Jesus Christ and the cross. One of the first things you might notice about Faith is "she's always smiling". Her optimism about life jumps at you when you look through her eyes. She desires that everyone get a chance to see the world through the filter of the goodness of God. She is an original, not a copy that's for sure.
Faith was born and raised on a farm in rural Illinois that was in her family for a hundred years. She had a very "Norman Rockwell" upbringing with unlocked doors and town dances. Faith was sheltered and protected. She grew up somewhat oblivious to the bad side of, well pretty much anything. Life was simple. Life was pure.
The next chapter of Faith's life would begin at 35. In 1992 she moved her own family down south for the second part of the story. Away from the windy city and drifting snow, the beach felt like home. Before the dust had settled and the boxes completely unpacked, Faith found her marriage of 18 years over. Although devastating to Faith, this void was filled by the appearance of another man. Jesus Christ. The Christian walk for Faith and her 3 children began at the same time. Though their ages varied Faith and her children all started at the same place, the beginning. Luke 18:16 (Unless you accept God's kingdom in the simplicity of a child, you'll never get in," from the Message bible).
Due to the divorce, Faith's children had a completely different childhood than her "Norman Rockwell" upbringing. However, the Lord inspired revelation in her as a single mother to provide as much of a constant stable Godly home for her children as she could.
How could she know those years were only preparation for the biggest conflict she would fight? Each day holds its own battles and victories, and both would begin when Faith found her very name challenged by an ordinary OB-GYN annual visit. This ordinary visit would be the catalyst used to set off a chain reaction that touched everyone she loved. It was on August 25, 2003 during her annual OB-GYN physical that her doctor of 14 years found a lump in her left breast. Her doctor asked if the lump was new and declared that it was pretty big, almost the size of a walnut. She had not felt this lump before. Both Faith and her doctor felt the correct action was to get a mammogram and sonogram immediately.
Faith felt no fear thinking it was going to be just another thing added to an already too full platter. The mammogram that she had dodged for 2 years was going to happen. Even though they really hurt her last time, she had to do it. She knew it would be uncomfortable, but she was determined to take control and make sure the same thing didn't happen the like last time, when she experienced bruising and pain for a week. She walked in the office thinking, "Every woman in the world knows a woman did not invent this procedure. This machine should have been tested on the inventor first." It's cold, hard, and very painful and the room is always freezing. I DON'T WANT TO BE HERE!!, Faith thought.
To Faith's surprise, the technician was wonderful and the room was warm. When Faith told the technician about her awful experience last time, she gave her assurance that only as much pressure would be applied as necessary to get a good picture. What a difference! It actually turned out to be tolerable and as pleasant as a mammogram and sonogram can be. But Faith's life journey was getting ready to twist and turn and fly out of control once again. Faith discovered it's not just a lump, its breast cancer....
The doctor pleasantly walks in the door and introductions are made. He 's leaning against the counter with the nurse beside him getting ready to change my life. He knows a SECRET and he's getting ready to tell it. Secrets are interesting tales. They can heal or steal from you in a second of time. Doctors are used to revealing secrets and surprises daily. Their delivery of the secret will set you up from the very beginning to embrace the battle of success or for failure. Their tone and delivery is one of the most important factors wrapped around the fact. They are incredible people enduring the intense stress and pressure of their jobs. They do indeed, hold lives in their hands, but the outcome belongs to the Lord.
Dr. Eskewlee had definitely chosen his life work for the power of healing. His very countenance is good. Faith really likes and trust him. He begins by telling her, we have two things to deal with and discuss:
First off, you have pre-cancerous cells and secondly you have cancer. As he tells Faith these facts, it's as if the air suddenly changes and has gotten thicker. The world as she knew it suddenly stops ~ inside a voice is screaming at me "I don't think so".
It reminds her of a car crash she was involved in. As the other person was crashing into the side of her car, everything went into slow motion, although, what happened was in an instant. As she continues to see the doctor speak she only hears another voice deep inside, telling her that her whole life has led up to this day. All the trials, battles, struggles and victories were the preparation for this one test.
Chemotherapy, radiation, mastectomy, implants and a tram are discussed. The doctor explains a little about implants verses a tram and that he is the one who actually removes my breast and the plastic surgeon is who does the rest. Because there is no breast cancer history in my family, he will only be removing the affected breast and one lymph node.
At some point, Faith's daughter looks at her and says. "I can't believe this is happening." She looks at the doctor and says "okay, go ahead and dump some more on the pile, we can Take it." Faith understands how she feels. It's been a long, hard 14 years for her living with her 2 brothers and being raised by a single mother. Faith tilts her head and smiles a sad smile.
Faith does not deny the fact the situation is serious. She is not shallow, she just understands who's really in charge of her life, and it's not cancer. She hears the doctor's words, somewhere between "Good afternoon, how are you and "you have cancer" the atmosphere in the room has changed and the universe tilted. However, inside of her she is still tranquil, like an out of body experience she hears what is being said, but she is wrapped in an ocean of comfort.
It's the place where nothing can move or touch you, Christ is in charge. The peace bypasses all understanding. She knows she is physically still on earth, but her spirit is watching from another dimension. She feels no fear, no anxiety, and listens as Dr. Eskewlee tells her about an ageless, genderless enemy who has come to kill, steal and destroy her. She is now listening with the ears of her spirit, she knows where her help comes from and she needs it right now. She does not lean on her own understanding but screens this report through God's promises. As she continues to listen to him, she is thinking about footprints in the sand, God is completely carrying her, leading, guiding and keeping her safe.
The doctor ends the consultation telling her he will give me only 1 week to decide on which surgery. She argues it is not enough time. She feels she needs more time to process everything. He says again, "only 1 week, we can't wait on this." "We need to do something now." He also tells her that they have a "pink bag" to give her which will help her understand a little better. She feels as if a terrorist has just dropped a bomb in her house, what's to not understand. She felt as if she had just been projected into a future of decisions she did not want to make, meet people she never wanted to know and do things that no one person should be subjected to? What's to understand? But she understands. Or does she? Where are you God, she asks?
In the fall of 2007, Faith will be diagnosed with a recurrence of her breast cancer. And on Good Friday, 2009, she went to be with God in heaven. She always said she would be healed and she was, IN HEAVEN. Renee fought until the end to stay on this earth to make a difference and even in her final week was praying for others and calling everyone to be saved so that she could leave knowing that they would one day join her in heaven. Her story in a devotional book form will be released at a later date and the title will be appropriately-"Healed in Heaven-The Devotions of Faith" Please be in prayer for her grown children and this ministry of which she co-founded. Her wish was to keep this ministry going and bring life to others in the midst of despair. God Bless you Renee, we love you.