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Be careful what you pray for

The Brooks family belongs to Madera. Both James Brooks and his wife Renee were born in Madera two years, two days, and two hours apart.

They began to date while attending Madera High School and by 1965, his senior year, they knew they were meant for each other. He joined the Navy, and two years later, they were married. He was 19, and she was 17.

James adapted superbly to military life, and in time he was elevated to the rank of Senior Chief Petty Officer. Also in time, they had two children. Life was good, and then came that cough.

The year was 1987, and they were stationed in Alameda when Renee took ill with a bad cough and breathing problems. She ended up in the hospital in an oxygen tent for a month. The diagnosis was asthma.

After her release from the hospital in that first horrendous breathing bout, Renee’s problems continued. She had to be taken to the ER twice a week. Finally, the doctors told her she had to be in a humid climate with clean air, so they were transferred to Harvey, Louisiana.

Things went well for the Brooks for a couple of years, then in 1989, they were sent to NAS Lemoore in the San Joaquin Valley— the asthma capital of the nation.

Surprisingly, things went pretty well in Lemoore. Then, it came time for Senior Chief Petty Officer Brooks to retire, and they decided to move back to Madera where they had grandchildren.

There Renee’s asthma cranked back up, and she became a familiar sight in the emergency room at Madera Community Hospital.

Her condition grew worse, and as James tells it, “Many a night, I lay in bed next to her and listened for her to catch her breath. I prayed often for her to recover, but nothing seemed to help.”

Then came that fateful night that he prayed a special prayer, and he got a miracle that he wasn’t expecting. Renee was having a terrible time breathing, and as James lay there thinking she needed to go to the hospital again, he began to shed tears and pray, only this time he asked for something unusual. This time James prayed for himself.

“God, my Father,” he prayed, ”Please let me walk in my wife’s shoes. She has suffered for 20 years. Let me bear her cross.” With that, Renee’s breathing came easier, and she and James fell asleep.

A week later, however, something strange began to happen. James developed a cough, which he thought was just a cold. When it persisted, he went to the doctor who gave him a breathing treatment. By the next day, both James and Renee were feeling better, so they decided to go to Las Vegas with some friends. While there, his cough returned and got worse.

When they returned to Madera, James went back to the doctor and they performed an ultrasound on his lungs and his heart.

That’s how he discovered the real miracle God had given him. The report came back that James was suffering from a Myxoma (a tumor on the inside of the heart). Five days later, James was on the operating table. His heart was removed from his body for four hours while they removed the fist-sized tumor. With this condition, James broke a record. Nobody had ever lived as long as he had with a heart tumor the size of the growth that had grown inside his left ventricle.

After a week in ICU, James went home and fully recovered. Today he and Renee believe that he was “dying from this tumor and did not know it.”

James writes, “The prayer I made was sincere and not just words. I walked more than a mile in her shoes; we are both better and happy and definitely blessed. I told the family doctor about everything that had happened, and her words were ‘You shouldn’t pray like that.’ She wouldn’t tell me why.”

Maybe she meant “Take care of what you pray for.”


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