On this Easter Sunday

This Easter Sunday seems to be one of the most important in my life. It was a goal for me to be home from the NIH before Easter to enjoy the annual food-fest back home in Baton Rouge.

But there was something more in it for me this Easter.

Those who know me may know that I’m not the most religious guy. I have read the entire bible, and the New Testament twice, as well as several other theological books to really find my faith. I’m a confirmed Methodist, but haven’t been to church in years.

After my diagnosis, I approached this with my scientific mind. I hoped medicine and my own body, along with my efforts, would take care of me. I didn’t go through phases of denial, anger, bargaining, etc. I just told myself, “I’m going to battle through this.”

And that worked for me until I became septic on my return to Baton Rouge the first time.

I was in acute renal failure and liver failure, along with a very painful rectal abscess.  When the doctor tells you, “You are not day-to-day now, you’re hour-to-hour,” things change quickly in your head.

As I lay in the hospital in extreme pain, I found myself fighting for my life. I realized I wasn’t going to be able to do this alone.

I can do everything God asks me to with the help of Christ, who gives me the strength and power. Philippians 4:13.

Sure, I had lots of people telling me they were praying for me. I had entire congregations of several churches praying for me. People who didn’t even know me were praying for me. I was even blessed by the priest at the OLOL hospital with a relic of Father Seelos, a 19th century priest from New Orleans. It was quite humbling to have all those prayers coming my way.

I had my “spiritual leader”: brother-in-law Kevin, often leading my prayer efforts bedside and on the phone. I told him specifically what I needed that day. One day it was to reduce my pain; another to reduce my creatinine levels; the next to help my liver function.

Amazingly, the prayers were answered. Both my kidney and liver function improved every day. It took a little while longer for my pain to come down, though!

 Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done. Philippians 4:5-6.

I was amazed and told Kevin about my internal conflict. He  explained to me the different between your heart and mind. “You believe in Jesus with your heart.” It’s about faith: belief that something will happen. That doesn’t come from your mind. Your mind has to ‘see it to believe it.’ You have to be able to separate the mind and the heart. Prayer and faith come from the heart, not the mind.

When your faith is tested, your endurance has a chance to grow…for when your endurance is fully developed, you will be strong in character and ready for anything. James 1:3-4.

That’s what I had been looking for.

Since then, I’ve prayed every day. I end my prayers as always with “In Jesus’ name I pray”.  This Easter weekend again reminded me of why we pray in His name as Christians.

As I watched the end of the History Channel’s “The Bible”, I was reminded of the Passion of Christ and the pain He went through for us.

 If you do right and suffer for it, and are patient beneath the blows, God is well pleased. This suffering is all part of the work God has given you. Christ, who suffered for you, is your example. 1 Peter 2:20-22.

I have always believed that everything happens for a reason. That reason is not always evident immediately, but it will be. It’s part of God’s plan.

For example, last year, we brought the family to Disney World for Easter holidays. I got airline tickets using my reward miles for the entire family (500,000 miles). The night before the trip, the airline canceled our flight. We ended up driving to Disney. While I was angry and disappointed at the time, I had this feeling that I’d end up needing those miles for something else down the road. Sure enough, I now use those miles to fly Angela to and from Bethesda.

I’m so thankful for all the friends and family that have continued to offer their prayers and help. And thankful to God for all He’s done in helping me through the toughest time in my life.


Remember: We’re having our blood drive and bone marrow donor drive THIS SATURDAY April 26 at United Blood Center at 8234 One Calais Drive from 8AM to 2PM. (Just off Essen and I-10). For more details, or for monetary donations for those who can’t come, visit our “Be The Match” webpage.

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16 thoughts on “On this Easter Sunday”

  1. Phil, I am truly inspired by your courage and strength to fight your biggest battle in life. However, I am more impressed with your testimony and ability to find GOD in your life and realize that he has control of all of this. As you know, I am dealing with a very difficult time in my life as well with a pending divorce. I am also trying to have a closer relationship with GOD to help me through this battle. You have also given me strength to realize this knowing the battle you are fighting and how far you have come in your journey. I don’t get to see you much but just want you to know that you are a true friend for life. I am blessed to know you Phil!

  2. Phil,
    I have been one of your praying friends. It is so hard to give our strong minds (science) a backseat and just give it all to God. Your testimony made me cry, because I too struggle with how to be the person I am supposed to be in Gods eyes, but also believe God has a plan for each of us….we just have to trust and believe. Easter has been a real blessing this year, as I saw God send his son for us weak, broken, sick and unworthy people. I saw Jesus work in and around YOU. My prayers continue…..Love you like a brother!

  3. Dear Phil, I have been following your progress through Brandy and reading your Bone Marinara updates regularily. I enjoyed your Easter update the most because it dealt with our faith. When I was a young boy I attended church regularily and then as i grew older I drifted away from attending church and making God a part of my daily life. Even though I considered myself a believer my life didn’t reflect my faith. About 17 years ago I was carjacked at gunpoint and nearly beaten to death then dumped along I-10 to die. From the second I felt the gun to my head and thought I’m going to Die untill I awoke and almost bled to death before making it to the hospital I immediately began praying like my life depended on it. I guess with that near death experience I felt that only God could keep these carjackers from killing me or me dying before making it to the hospital. From that moment on I never once doubted that there was a God. That night changed my life forever as I promised God that if I lived I would be a different person by making him and my family and other first from that day forward. The last 17 years have been a journey in peace, happiness and success that have exceeded my wildness dreams. My relationships with God, family and others got better with each passing year and our business tripled. Now I am blessed with the time, passion and resources to act as God’s ambassador by publishing a magazine and numerous books and doing speaking engagements about the role of faith and kindness toward others and how making God, family and ” others first ” has changed my life for the better. I don’t know if you have read any of my books but I will send you It’s What We Do Together & Earl’s Pearls by way of Brandy today. Bodi and I like many others have been praying for you and hopefully we can visit soon. We are also praying for there to be an outpouring of love and support this Saturday and look forward to being a part of the events success. Thanks again for sharing your story and welcome to a stronger relationship with God, family and others and a greater appreciation for the role of adversity in making us better people. Lastly you may feel free to share this story along with yours and others who have replied.

    Earl Heard

  4. What a great testimony. This is your time to shine your light on a world in need. Blessings will keep coming your way.

  5. Boss…as a longtime Catholic whose analytic brain struggled to figure God out for a long time, thanks for saying so eloquently what I too recently found to be true. Lots of love to you all.

  6. Thanks for your testimony Phil. It is difficult to accept that we are not in control. Yes, we think we are, but we are not. It is something that I have to remind myself daily. There’s a reason and we just have to learn the lesson from the struggle. Love, prayers and MOJO continue for you, Angela and family.

  7. Phil, beautiful post. It’s so hard to give up control to the one person who can truly help us. We’re taught from a young age to rely upon ourselves…but we are nothing without Him. His grace can move mountains, and you’ve seen it in your own life. God bless you for sharing your testimony. Continuing to pray for you and your family on this journey. With much love, Mary

  8. I do understand where you are. I have not seen the inside of a church since Hank passed. At that time a wonderful priest by the name of Father Cleo Milano gave him the most beautiful service I
    had ever been to. It felt as if the angels were there. I found Fr Cleo
    yesterday and felt privledged to be in his presence. I found him through one of my patients.For me its the link that has been missing. I have no concrete idea why I stayed away so long– I just
    did. I too believe that everything happens for a reason- wheather we understand it or not. Blessings to you and yours. You and your Mom will remain at the top of my prayer list!!!!

  9. So well said brother. I have grown in faith through your words. Thanks for being an open book for all of us. It is ironic that in sickness you have helped heal so many folks.

  10. As one of those who you don’t know and who (with a small group of believers and a whole congregation) has been praying for you regularly, let me say this is a powerful witness. Praise Him who can do all things! God has blessed all of us by your story and your testimony. We will continue to pray for your recovery and healing.

  11. Wonderful post Phil. You are an inspiration and you are learning a lot! God will continue to bless you and your family.

  12. Such beautiful words! I am so happy you have found God again. This has truly touched my soul. Also, I am so glad I you are home and I got to see you yesterday!!! I pray for you and your family every day, and I will continue to do so.

  13. Phil,
    Just seeing this one & I’m glad for it this day. You reminded me with the same scriptures I clung to with Kory, what an awesome God we have to call on. One scripture I go to often “by his stripes we are healed,” Isaiah 53:5 & 1Peter 2:24 reminds me that he suffered for me, & when I suffer it makes me stronger, tougher & able to endure, because he suffered like me, to give me eternal life. You continue to amaze me & show us another way to hang in there!

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