Sis. Lisa Lashbrook, tell us about yourself and your husband, Mark Lashbrook, and why you faithfully share the story of his miracle every year.
We live in Algonquin, Illinois and pastor the First Apostolic Church. We have five children. Our miracle was an experience that forever changed us. I never want to forget this chapter in our lives, so I re-write it each year to remind me how great our God is.
Can you explain what happened and why his story is so unique?
As I drove to St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City, Mo. on that beautiful fall day in 2004, I knew the hardest part was over. My husband, Mark, (39), had just come through a 12-hour open heart surgery the night before. The surgeon replaced his aortic valve that was 98 percent blocked, chiseling through the calcium from the root of the valve to attach the new mechanical valve. However, the surgeon expressed concern that a fleck may have gotten away, and Mark could have a stroke.
My faith said he had just acknowledged his call to the ministry, and he would be fine. On the Sunday before the surgery, the preacher prophesied over him: “God knew his name, and from this point on, nothing was ever going to be ‘subpar’ when God worked on his behalf. God would always go above what he asked, and he would know it was God.”
As I walked through the doors of the CCU that morning, I smiled and said good morning to the surgeon. I’ll never forget the look in her eyes, as she replied, “They didn’t call you?” Fear hit me as her words tumbled in my ears. “He didn’t wake up…no response…not breathing on his own. He’s had a stroke…paralyzed…no brain activity…I’m so sorry.”
The diagnosis was a brain stem stroke. The brain detaches from the brain stem, and the person becomes a vegetable. I crumbled! I called everyone I could think of to pray. The next hours were filled with begging God, pleading, asking and promising, as I reminded him of how far Mark had come from a life of drugs and alcohol.
Days passed with him on a respirator. His hands drew up, his feet dropped, and he shook violently. They placed him on an air mattress and discussed rehab facilities as I heard nurses and doctors sadly comment, “He’s so young.”
What did you and your family do at that point?
We yelled his name, begged him to squeeze our hands, nod his head, or give us any sign at all. We prayed over blood transfusions, turned his bed toward the sun, played music and sang to him. The words came, “God is gonna finish just what He started, even though the waters have to be parted….”
What did the surgeon say that took you to your face in prayer?
The surgeon finally said, “Lisa, we need to talk. We need to place a tracheotomy in, so he can be more comfortable and to lower the risk of infection.” I replied, “No, that will make it harder for him to preach.” She said, “He won’t even know this is done. You need to understand that he won’t be preaching. He’s not coming back. Even if he does wake up, he’ll be in a vegetative state. We’ll pull the breathing tube in preparation for the trachea in the morning.”
My heart almost broke. I went home and cried out to God. When I had wept and prayed everything I could think of, I said, “Thy kingdom come, thy will be done…” There is a time appointed for all of us, and I knew I couldn’t beg or bargain with God enough. Then, from somewhere deep in my soul, came, “You are God. I’m not. Your plan is better than mine. His life is in Your hands. If You don’t heal him, I will trust You still.” The peace that surrounded me was tangible, as I felt a thousand pounds of fear, pain and uncertainty lift.
Describe what happened next.
I couldn’t bear to watch the next morning, so my friend watched. The doctor told Mark they were going to pull the tube out. We had been talking loudly to him for a week with no response. But when the doctor said that, Mark shook his head no! When they removed the tube, not only did he begin to breathe on his own, he began to loudly protest. Oh, the joy, the tears, the worship, as we celebrated his 39th birthday!
What was his condition like after that day?
He was still paralyzed on his left side and confused. He didn’t know he had surgery or why. He couldn’t read, write his name or remember his youngest children, but he was awake and breathing!
What was your reaction to hearing you were in denial?
The next days were rough. There was little hope he would even return to work. One nurse said, “This is it. This is the best you’ll get. Just be thankful he’s alive.” I heard another nurse say, “The wife is in denial. She won’t accept this is as good as it gets.” They just didn’t know what I knew.
Describe what happened in the weeks after surgery. And how is he now?
Mark was fully restored and back to work in eight weeks. The neurologist said, “I’ve never seen anyone come back from a brain stem stroke. This is a miracle, and I’ve written that in your file. I thought every day might be your last, but here you stand, and I’m a believer in prayer!” There is no residue of a stroke except a slight numbness in his shoulder.
We were invited back by the OR doctors and ICU staff to speak on the power of prayer, and our story was printed in the Midwest Heart Institute magazine.
Recently, Mark went for his checkup. The doctors were amazed. No one is in doubt of this miracle when they read his file. Everything is good. There is so much more to this story, too much to put in this article, but we know God finishes what He has started.