Faithful Endurance

Testimony of Katie Gable

I was born and raised in Laurel, MS. On January 17, 1993, I accepted Jesus Christ into my heart at Magnolia Baptist Church. I was involved in youth activities and various sports. My life was pretty simple. I never experienced any tragedy or had problems at school. I did have a close call in a pretty bad car accident when I was 17 years old. There is no doubt God sent his angels to watch over me that day. I had maybe 1 or 2 “relationships” before the age of 22 or so. They were pretty meaningless and ended with no major tears or heartbreak. I always seemed to enjoy my time with my friends over “having a boyfriend.” I am pretty sure my dad liked it that way too. I’ve always had a heart for the helpless and knew I wanted to work with either babies or animals. Pre-vet didn’t work out for me (organic chemistry was a booger). I decided to pursue a career as a veterinary technician. While I was at the vet school in Starkville, I really racked up the credit card debt and when the bills got too high for me to pay, I just quit paying them. I carried this terrible habit on with me when I graduated and moved to the big city lights of Nashville in 2004 with a close friend. I worked nights and lots of on call shifts but never managed to make a dent in the money I owed. I didn’t make many friends because all I did was work. I moved back to Mississippi and took a job in Hattiesburg. My parents eventually found out the trouble I was in, and they agreed to rescue me, but I had a price to pay. For 2 years, they got every dollar I made, and I got just enough to live off of. Live, mind you, not “live it up.” I became really good at Scrabble most Friday and Saturday nights. I enjoyed being closer to home & my roommates kept me company but I prayed and prayed God would give me an opportunity to find a place of my own.

In August of 2007, I was offered a job at Oakdale Animal Hospital in Brandon, MS. I had said “I will never move back to the Jackson area” after living in the dorms in Raymond. God had far better plans for me than I knew. The job offer was great, and I would be able to finally be on my own at age 24. I saved up and bought a house in 2009. The poor financial decision making continued for me. I ended up getting 2 part time jobs in addition to my job at Oakdale. I worked many Sundays and kept trying to fix things on my own. I remember feeling ashamed and that things would always be this way. My parents had to help me out once more when I nearly lost the home, I had only been living in for about a year. About that time, I met Jacob on E-harmony. Our first date was rather ordinary, and neither of us felt “sparks fly.” I only agreed to meet him (somewhat of a stranger) because we both figured out that we had a mutual family friend that lived in Laurel. This friend has a special needs daughter, Kelli, that I always spent time with and promised her she would be in my wedding one day. Two years went by, and Jacob and I kept in contact a little, but a second date had not happened. We both were a bit selfish with our time and lazy when it came to the thought of putting in effort for a long-distance relationship (he lived in Columbus and I in Brandon). We finally decided to see each other more and see where things would go. We quickly saw God’s hand all over our relationship. We were both so different, but we complimented each other very well and quickly fell in love. Jacob is the first man that has heard me say I LOVE YOU. This was 2012, and I was 29 years old at this point. 

That same summer, I had a close call with work. I almost lost my job. I pointed blame on poor management and found every reason I could to avoid seeing the real truth. I started job searching. I went to an interview in Tupelo, MS. I had made my mind up that I would move closer to Jacob. I wasn’t afraid of change and facing new challenges. I didn’t get the job. They couldn’t come close to what I needed to be able to live on my own. I realized what I was afraid of was accepting the fact that I was the REAL problem. My attitude was sour, and I had become bitter. I was trying to steer the ship by myself and only allowing God to ride along and watch me fail. I prayed for God to rescue me from the misery I had gotten myself into. I was on my knees on the side of my bed sobbing, and I felt God’s hand touch my shoulder. Let me tell you that it was an incredible feeling. This was the first “spiritual pivot” I had experienced up until this point. I finally had submitted to the Lord and cast my burdens on him. 

1 Peter 3:8-12 reads, “To sum up, all of you be harmonious, sympathetic, brotherly, kindhearted, and humble in spirit; not returning evil for evil or insult for insult, but giving a blessing instead; for you were called for the very purpose that you might inherit a blessing. FOR THE ONE WHO DESIRES LIFE, TO LOVE, AND SEE GOOD DAYS, MUST KEEP HIS TONGUE FROM EVIL AND HIS LIPS FROM SPEAKING DECEIT. HE MUST TURN AWAY FROM EVIL AND DO GOOD. HE MUST SEEK PEACE AND PURSUE IT. FOR THE EYES OF THE LORD ARE TOWARD THE RIGHTEOUS, AND HIS EARS ATTEND TO THEIR PRAYER, BUT THE FACE OF THE LORD IS AGAINST THOSE WHO DO EVIL.” In my work life, I have had to develop kindheartedness and humility the hard way much like Peter. When I stray from the Lord, I tend to become more impulsive and strong-willed. The devil tricks me to believe this is what is needed in the environment I work in to “get things done.” God reminds me that I am FIRST called to be tender and humble. If I feel provoked by a situation, I have a quick decision to make. Is my response proactive or reactive? Is it Christ-like or of the devil? 

All this time, Jacob was my rock. He was supportive and allowed me to be completely transparent. He saw a very vulnerable side of me and loved me through it. He eventually moved here and found a roommate. We were engaged in 2013 and got married in May 2014. The same sweet mutual friend, Kelli, was one of my bridesmaids. We had a sweet outdoor wedding in Laurel with most of our friends and closest family. We also had our 4 dogs in the wedding. It was perfect in every way. We put off having children to follow “our plan.” We wanted to be married for at least a year and feel financially “comfy” before we started working on a family. We started trying to conceive in early 2015. We struggled hard for 2 years. Infertility is hard to describe. It was hard on our marriage. There were lots of doctor visits and dozens of negative pregnancy tests. We also had started looking for land to buy for a future home site later. We were at a cross roads financially. Land would cost about as much as IVF so we began praying and preparing our hearts for a plan that looked different than what we had imagined. We opened our hearts to adoption. On February 12, 2017 our pastor Bro. Ron preached, “What is prayer?” I had struggled with how to pray about having children. It was easy sitting in the church pew to rely on God’s timing, but there were many days I found myself so impatient. This verse grabbed me when I read it: John 14:13-14 “Whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” That next day on the way to work I prayed with expectation for the first time in my life. I asked God to rid me of my unbelief and immediately felt assurance from the Lord. Twenty days later, March 3rd, I had a POSITIVE pregnancy test, and we had found land a few weeks back and signed the paperwork just the day before! I hit my knees and cried out to the Lord thanking him for the miracle this news brought to our family. I surprised Jacob later that day & we cried some happy tears. I was on cloud 900 at this point! The doctor had set up an appointment for us to discuss one other option with a fertility specialist on March 23rd. This turned out to be my first ultrasound, and we heard the heartbeat! We find out we were having a boy, and we were so thrilled! I told Jacob how important our responsibility is to raise a future spiritual leader. We made a vow to raise our son to love others and walk in the way of the Lord. Gus was born October 26th. He was perfect and I was so amazed at how big my heart grew the moment I saw and held him. It felt too good to be true. I immediately knew that I wanted another one. I could feel it deep in my soul. I didn’t say it too loud because I knew those around me thought it’s just hormones talking, and I had no idea what motherhood would be like. It was the BEST year ever! I asked Jacob “how does it get any better than this?” In January of 2018 I lost my Nanny. She and I were very close and losing her was very hard for me. I was so thankful she was able to meet Gus. She always wanted me to have a baby. The summer of 2018, I felt the Lord start to speak to me about helping through ministry at the church. I loved the thought of it but brushed it off because I couldn’t see how I could do it with a new baby and working full time. I prayed about it from time to time but never acted on it. 

Second spiritual pivot- In January of 2019, I found a tiny (eraser size) pink bump on my arm. A biopsy revealed it was cancer, Metastatic Melanoma. The doctor called me on my lunch break on Fat Tuesday. I called Jacob and my mom in disbelief. Google didn’t give rave reviews on this one for me. I learned it wasn’t just “skin cancer.” I went back to work and kept busy and had a doctor’s appointment with a plastic surgeon 2 days later. Scans showed no other tumors were found! Oh, and it’s also the weekend of my best friend’s wedding. I kept my news a secret and tried to pretend my mind wasn’t racing. Surgery was set for the following Tuesday. I, at first, wanted to keep it all a secret. I didn’t want to be looked at differently. I also felt this was a “tiny cancer” compared to what other people experienced. I would have surgery, and no one other than those close to me really had to know. A few days later, I got a call from the surgeon telling me the cancer is in one of my lymph nodes, and I would need treatment to keep it from spreading to other organs. I just thought I had experienced anxiety at this point. Waves of fear came over me as I looked at Gus’ little chubby hand dimples as he played with toys and watched him still learning to walk; I pictured him and Jacob without me. I still didn’t even understand what I was facing. I had not met with an oncologist. Many of them had at least a 3 week wait for new patients. We decided to let others know. We desperately needed their prayers and support. Jacob had turned in his notice at his current job and had started a new one in the middle of all of this.

I will tell you this. The surgery was a booger bear. The doctor couldn’t even close the skin all the way, so they used a tissue expander. I was so worried it was going to be so painful, and I wouldn’t be able to hold Gus. I prayed God would take all the pain away. I am here to tell you that I am not a tough cookie, but I never hurt. I don’t recall taking any meds other than Tylenol once I got home. I was able to play with Gus and use my arm. God worked a miracle, and he wasn’t finished yet. I did get an infection at the incision site. I had to be hospitalized and get IV antibiotics. I got pretty sick and was there for about 2 weeks. We are flooded with prayers, cards, visitors, and so much love. I started making updates on a FB page a friend set up to keep everyone up to speed on progress. I also used it as a way to encourage others. I got to come home on Easter Sunday that year. After being home a few hours, Jacob noticed Gus had a fever. He ended up having the flu. He had to go stay with my parents, so I wouldn’t get sick. It broke my heart. I was an emotional wreck. Kids have a way of just making everything OK. He did that for me. I missed rocking him to sleep and reading to him while he held my hand. I needed him so badly. Jacob and I had met with 2 oncologists by this time and didn’t feel they were a good fit. During this time, I was put in contact with an angel. Her name is Meredith. She and I had the same kind of Melanoma. She was from Starkville but lived in Texas. She was diagnosed with stage 4 melanoma that had spread to her lungs, and she was given 6 months to live. She is a fighter though and has incredible faith in our Lord. She was able to get into a clinical trial in Boston for a drug called Opdivo. I remembered a friend asked me to pray for her back in 2014 when she was diagnosed. She got me an appointment to see Dr. Johnson, a melanoma specialist at Vanderbilt. Little did I know that the very stranger I had prayed for would be going through a trial for a drug that would later save both of our lives! (Meredith has been cancer free since 2015) We had an appointment to meet with him that Thursday. We flew up there because I was still pretty weak and did not feel up for the drive. We met Dr. Johnson and immediately knew he was the one. We were the same age, and he knew this ugly disease backwards and forwards. I knew I was in good hands. We flew home Saturday, and within an hour of getting home, we received a phone call that my dad had been in a motorcycle accident. A pair of mattresses came loose from a truck in front of him and caused him to be thrown from his bike. We raced to Laurel hoping and praying he was going to be okay.  He survived with several broken ribs and arm and some damage to his lungs. He was pretty banged up but HE IS ALIVE! Gus being with my mom while he was sick is the only reason, she was not on the motorcycle with him. I thought being separated from my little fella turned out to be what very well saved my mom’s life! My dad had surgery and was able to make a full recovery over the next 2 months. Meanwhile, the Lord had been busy at it. My brother announced that he got saved in June! I was overcome with joy! God had rocked our family’s world lately, but there was so much evidence of His glory twisted into all of it. We were raised in the same home, and all this time I never knew he wasn’t saved. He is a firefighter, and his life is on the line far more days than mine is, and I never asked him. It was a wakeup call for me to never assume anyone I know is. I began to pray for God to show me specific people to pray for and either give me or someone else the opportunity to boldly testify to how much God loves them. 

I started my second treatment at this point. The fatigue and side effects were pretty hard on me. I had to go to the hospital for a few days due to some of it. We made a decision for me to back down to part time at work until I was finished with my treatments (one year).  A few days later, Jacob was let go from his job. This rocked our world. We were brought to our knees with anxiety over the future. Each day seemed to bring more struggles. That Sunday we got a call that Jacob’s daddy had been rushed to the ER. He had a close call with his heart. They had to place 3 stents and kept him for a few days in the hospital. We were so relieved we didn’t lose him. We were frazzled though. We smiled through it, but our hands were shaking. I started looking for blessings everywhere, people I met, things I saw, cards I got in the mail. Sweet moments spent with family become so precious. All the noise from our busy lives become dim to me. I began to focus on the good. God restored my faith. I wrapped my arms around Jacob’s neck and reminded him that God is so close to us. I know this cancer, my dad’s wreck, my brother’s salvation, his dad’s health scare… was all part of God holding our hands as we walked along a cliff without a rail and watched rocks crumble down before us. We all still had each other. Another job will come along. God will provide for us in ways we can’t imagine, AND HE DID JUST THAT.

Another hospital stay in August, and Jacob was still job hunting. Our sitter for Gus, Mrs. Sally, is our saving grace. She kept him for days while Jacob had to stay with me. A nurse slipped us a note with the following verse “Do not fear, for I am with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous hand.” Isaiah 41:10 // Jacob received a job offer and started the next week! I went back to Vanderbilt for more scans, and they were clear! Good news all around! Blessings were pouring over us each day. God was using people in our lives to help us along. They were the hands and feet doing His work here on this Earth. I had a few more hospital stays, and the doctors made some changes to my medications, and I finally started to feel better. In November, I had another clear scan, but we found out that they believe the original tumor was brought on by my pregnancy. They had mentioned this before, but I did not want to believe it. I wanted another baby, and I was still hopeful that studies would prove that theory wrong. The doctor knew how stubborn I was, and he used the words “another pregnancy could be a death sentence.” No one really knew how devastated I was. People would say, “well, at least you have Gus.” The way I felt wasn’t an ungrateful feeling about him. It was the desire in my momma’s heart for another child. I begin to pray that God eased the heartache. He reminded me once again His ways are not my ways. We are meant to have another child. Our hearts were already prepared for adoption before Gus. God graciously gave him to us, but now His plan was for us to adopt. I would never have seen that without it happening the way it did. God put a roadblock in our journey to detour us to His way of pursuing another child. Early in 2020 my port started giving me problems. It took about 2 weeks for them to figure out why I was passing out without even standing up. We made the decision to have my port removed in February; this also meant I was stopping all my treatments. My body and our family were exhausted. My doctor agreed it was the best decision. I was getting ready to go back to work and COVID hit. I was a little bummed, but I quickly realized it was God’s way of giving my body time to recover, and I got back so much missed time with little Gus. It was the sweetest time, and we both enjoyed making memories. I went back to work full time in June 2020. It was a mess. Covid created a bit of a disaster. I had promised myself I would take things slower and not overload myself. This was far easier said than done. My work family stood by my side throughout the whole time. I was ready to jump right back in and help. One morning, I was rushing and was juggling work calls on my way in. I left my sweet dachshund, Ricky, in the car all day long. I found him that afternoon, but it was too late. I was so sick. I fell to my knees and had a complete meltdown. Grief and guilt are such an awful combo. That very same day Jacob and Gus were in a minor car accident, and I watched it happen in my rear-view mirror. I have never had a heart attack, but I felt pretty close to one that day. We had lost 2 other dogs just a few months prior to that. I found myself in a sad place. I was so grateful Jacob and Gus were alive, but I was struggling. I had to slow things down. I asked myself what if that would’ve been Gus? It was a big wake up call for me. I prayed for God to help me set healthy boundaries and stick to them. I was the problem. I have the ability to say no, and sometimes that is my best yes. 

This is August 2020. We started to work on house plans. We quickly realized that the numbers were not going to work due to the increase in building materials. God showed us that He had other plans for us. We patiently waited. In November, we found out about a house for sale very close to the property we have. God worked everything out, and we were able to sell our home and move into the new one! We now have a 3-bedroom home and can start the adoption process. In March 2021, Jacob’s dad passed away suddenly. Our lives came to a halt. It broke my heart to see Jacob and his family suffer. One thing that stuck out from his funeral was something he had written in his Bible. “Be content with God’s will for my life”. These were such inspiring words to live by. He was a great man, and I am so thankful Gus knew him. I take tons of pictures and videos, so we can relive all those memories for years to come. Shortly after this, I began having passing out episodes when I stood up. I had been experiencing other issues from over a year ago, but the doctors couldn’t find a cause. I finally got an appointment with a doctor that started me on some medication to help with nerve damage that they think was caused from the cancer treatment. I immediately started to feel better. All this time, God had still been nudging me to be a part of the ministries at the church. He wouldn’t let go. His nudge was strong, and I knew I would be miserable trying to escape it by making excuses for why I couldn’t “find the time.” A new position at work allowed that to be possible! This ministry was something I never knew I could find the time to do; therefore, I was scared to commit. He was paving the way for us to adopt a child, and we are forever grateful for everything that has led us to where we are today. My prayer is this journey will be just the story of trials and faith over fear that others need to read when they walk through the valley.

“I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether living in plenty or in want. I can do all this through HIM who gives me strength.” Phillipians 4:12-13

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