Welcome to the online home of Audra Jennings, a book publicist and crafter. Here I share about both. I hope you'll find books you'll want to read and crafts you will want to order. I live a rather boring, single life. At times I would like to think I am humorous. The kids I teach in Bible class tend to think so. I also blog about current seasons of The Bachelor and The Bachelorette. I don't know why, I just do.
Helo Matzelle was planning out her weekend when she received news that would change her life
Part 1 of an interview with Helo Matzelle,
Author of Halo
Helo Matzelle thought her
relationship with God was as good as it could get. As a busy stay-at-home mom
and devoted wife, she would have described her life as beautiful. Then, one
Friday afternoon in 2011, her life changed. In her new book, Halo
Found Hope: A Memoir, Matzelle shares how her life went from planning
ahead for the weekend to relearning basic skills after being diagnosed with a
rare brain tumor. What’s most remarkable is not what she endured physically,
but how she grew spiritually.
Q: Halo Found Hope is a memoir written about an especially harrowing
time in your life. Can you share a bit about what led you to write this book?
never thought I’d write a book. This one started out as a simple diary, on a
yellow pad, hidden in a drawer. . . . Private notes written to God helped
carry me through a difficult time. I’d scribble down my fears, doubts and
frustrations and then lift them up in prayer. I often included verses from His
word for encouragement.
After a year of diary input, I
shared my story with an acquaintance, now a dear friend, and he pointed out an
eagle in the sky. To his surprise, I remarked, “Wow, that eagle is beautiful. .
. . God made it!” He joyfully responded, “Helo, no one else has ever described
that eagle the way you just did, and I point it out often.” Then I shared my
harrowing journey and all that God pulled me through. My friend told me,
“Sister, you have a story to share.” And from that day
forward, God helped me turn my simple diary into a book.
Q: Prior to 2011, how would you
describe your life?
life was beautiful, good and busy. I was happily married to an amazing man. We
were blessed with three incredible children. I loved being a wife, mom,
daughter, sister and friend. I went to church, loved God as much as I thought I
should and took nothing for granted. Or so I thought.
Q: What symptoms did you start
experiencing, and did you think they were anything major? How did everything
come to a crashing halt after a visit to the doctor?
back, I might have paid more attention to the symptoms and worried more about
them. But at the time, I thought no one would believe me even if I shared them.
I heard voices in my head, as if a movie clip was playing in mind. I’d stop
whatever I was doing and try to figure out which movie they were from. The
voices quickly stopped, I’d sense a brief metallic taste in my mouth for a few
seconds, and then it vanished. I felt like I might faint, but I never did. The
majority of these symptoms took place while I was in a building that was painted
often. I attributed my peculiar sensations to the intensity of the paint
vapors. I told my dad (a retired physician) about the odd symptoms, and he
attributed them to my type-A, busy-mom lifestyle. His reasoning made sense to
the weeks that followed, I experienced loud ringing in my ear that got so loud
at night I couldn’t sleep. More than 50 million Americans suffer from this, and
I thought, “It’s not a big deal.” However, I decided to see my Ear, Nose and
Throat doctor with ringing in my ears as my chief complaint. A test revealed I
had lost more than 50 percent of the hearing in my right ear, which was masked
by the noise. My doctor ordered a MRI to rule out a benign tumor in my ear
Friday afternoon of planning a busy weekend ahead quickly turned into being
told, “This has absolutely nothing to do with your ear. You have a golf ball-sized
tumor lying over the main artery in your brain that needs surgical removal as
soon as possible. You have an appointment scheduled with a neurosurgeon on
couldn’t believe what I was hearing and fell into a state of complete shock.
Q: What were your first
thoughts in the moments after receiving your diagnosis?
is nothing like sitting in a room with three doctors talking about things you
don’t understand. Thinking, blanketed by shock, doesn’t come easy. Although I
was not sitting by myself, I’ve never felt more alone. I silently cried out, “God, please hold onto
me, and don’t let go.” Moments after diagnosis, I was shocked, speechless and
trembling and felt frozen. I wanted to fall to my knees and cry out, switching
back and forth “God, tell me this isn’t happening! Father, I need You. Your
will be done.” After crying out, I was no longer frozen, but melting in the
hands of God.
before, everything was “just fine.” I was looking forward to the weekend and
writing a to-do list. After hearing terrifying news, my mind began to race:
“Why me God? This doesn’t feel real. Tell me this is a mistake. What will
happen to my family if I go to Heaven now? Who will love them and take care of
them like I do? I am too young to die.” It is odd to think, “Will this be the
last week I will be around? Or will I be OK?” Time felt like it was
simultaneously freezing and vaporizing at the same time. And although that may
not make any sense, none of this did to me. I wanted to rewind the clock and
make this nightmare go away, but God is in control — we are not. God is our
refuge and strength and ever-present help in trouble (Psalm 46:1 NIV).
Q: In those first hours and
days following your diagnosis, what kinds of prayers did you pray?
prayer I remember the most was lifted up when my husband walked me to our room
and asked me to pray. It was very simple. I whispered, “God, please make
something beautiful out of this.” After that, my prayer life felt like it was
on auto-pilot, as if I was walking around in non-stop conversations with God.
When I watched my husband, Rich, I’d pray, “God, please take care of my best
friend. Find him someone new to be his wife, if You want him to have another
bride. Help him watch over our children. Never leave Him. Give him the comfort,
strength, wisdom and peace he will need should you call me home. Tell him not
to miss me too much while I’m gone, because I’m in Heaven, where I belong.
Remind him how much You love him.”
I watched my children, I was absolutely heartbroken. One by one, I’d pray for
them and often found myself alone in our room to pull myself back together. I
wanted them to see the strong side of me —not frighten them with my weak side.
Privately I cried out, “Dear God, I don’t want to leave my children. I want to
watch them graduate from college, get married and have children of their own.
Most of all, I want to watch them grow in their love for You.”
my prayers consisted of cries of anguish, “Why this, God? I am scared, and I
feel so alone. Please hold on to me and promise me You will never let me
go.” I wasn’t afraid of where I would go. I knew Heaven was waiting for
me. I just didn’t want to leave behind a family encircled in pain. Each day
ended with a prayer like this one, “Father, we all need You. Please protect us
and don’t let go. Keep reminding us how much You love each one of us.”
Q: What advice can you offer to
parents on how to talk to their children about what is happening in situations
such as your own?
tell them: Ask God to hold on tight, and not let go of your family. Take time
with your spouse to pray together and ask Him to take the reins on the
conversation you are about to have with your children. Tell them you have
something hard to share, but God is our refuge. He loves them, and no matter
what happens, we’ll be all right. Share the news with the knowledge of
assurances you have from the great physician and medical staff (as it applies
to your situation). Ask if they have any questions, listen and close in prayer.
This approach may vary with the ages of your children. Ours were 19, 14, and 12
at the time. My husband and I held onto optimism and faith — after all, my
projected hospital stay was only six days followed by two weeks of recovery — and
God was in control.
diagnosis is just the beginning of her story. Her recovery from surgery led her
down a road she never anticipated. Click here to read the
rest of her interview.