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.
Author's story proves that whatever you are going through, God is right there
Part 2 of an interview with Helo Matzelle,
Author of Halo
Machines beeping, the blur of medical staff running, a crash
cart whizzing into an ICU room, was there any hope? Helo Matzelle laid packed
in ice as doctors attempted to somehow stop the swelling in her brain that
threatened to take her life.
What was supposed to be six days of recovery in
the hospital turned into eight weeks. She awoke to discover that she was not
the same. She saw two of everything, couldn’t feel half of her face, couldn’t
hear from one ear, and could not speak. She couldn’t even tell anyone that she
Halo Found Hopeis the story of a busy wife and mother of three whose life changed instantly
with the diagnosis of a rare brain tumor. An exceptional ENT, a brilliant
neurosurgeon and adedicated
medical team tackled the tumor, setting off a series of unbelievable miracles. Helo’s
story is not one of survival, or of salvaging a life through a broken body. It
is not aboutendurance through
pain, but victory because of it. While the family heard her silence, God heard
Helo’s story is simply this: Wherever you are and whatever
you are going through, God is rightthere.
Q: Prior to surgery, your
doctor expected you to go home about a week after the surgery, but it took
eight weeks instead. What happened that caused the delay?
projected hospital stay was only six days. In 29 years of practice, my
neurosurgeon only had one other patient in stay the hospital for more than a
week after brain surgery. Of diagnosed brain tumors, mine was one in two
million with a particularly nasty trait. When the tumor is touched, it’s like
touching poison ivy; when doctors went in to extract it, my brain swelled, and
I became non-responsive. At first, my coma was drug-induced, and then I slipped
into one on my own. Life-threatening complications persisted, yet miracles
Q: What was your recovery
process like? What did you learn during those difficult days?
recovery process was lengthy. After three weeks in the ICU, I spent five weeks
in in-patient rehabilitation learning how to walk, talk, eat, think and
function again. I was an exhausted, floppy, Raggedy Ann doll with contorted
double vision and felt completely trapped inside my body. I slept more than 19
hours a day, and the goal of three hours of daily therapy was not simple to
accomplish. Learning how to do so much over again was frustrating, but I
learned the battle was not my own to fight. God stayed by my side the entire
time and helped me turn frustration into determination.
eight weeks of hospitalization, I was finally discharged to go home — but
therapy didn’t stop there. I endured an additional 20 weeks of in-home
therapy in an attempt to gain a new normal. My patience, endurance and strength
were monumentally tested, but I held on to 1 Peter 5:10 (NIV), which says, “And
the God of all grace, who called you to His eternal glory in Christ, after you
have suffered a little while, will himself restore you and make you strong,
firm and steadfast.”
Q: What were some ways that
your friends and loved ones showed support to you and your family during this
the eight weeks I was hospitalized, my husband and parents rotated shifts so
someone stayed by my side every day. My children and extended family visited as
often as they could. Loved ones, family and dear friends lifted us up in daily
prayer, dropped off home-cooked meals, drove our boys to school and various
activities, ran errands and did their best to fill in the gap when my husband
and I were not around. When I returned home, my mother-in-law, a retired ICU
nurse, flew across the country to take care of me. The support and affection of
family and close friends did not waiver. It was humbling to ask for continual
help, but I will always be grateful for it.
Q: How did you work through
your feelings of doubt and fear?
got real with God and held nothing back. He is one amazing listener. When I
doubted Him, I let Him know. When I was terrified, I wasn’t afraid to let Him
see my fear. Nothing can be hidden from God. That is beautiful and comforting.
He has this tender way of understanding and never holds back His perfect
affection. Sometimes I thought He did, but I learned quickly He does not let
go. When I felt like He had abandoned me, it was because I wasn’t looking
upward. Over and over again, I’d ask God, “Will I walk, talk, eat, think and
function again? My strength is wearing thin. I’m afraid. Why did this happen to
me? God, I am scared and sometimes I feel like you aren’t really there.” Time
and time again, I reflected on Psalm 121:1 (NIV), “I lift my eyes to the
mountains, where does my help come from? My help comes from the Lord, the Maker
of Heaven and earth.” God reached down and asked “Helo, do you trust Me?” Over
and over again, I said, “Yes.” and when doubt set in and I felt like quitting
again, He repeated, “Helo, do you trust me? Remember, I promised you
I’d never leave you.” Now that is one amazing love.
Q: How would you have described
your relationship with God before your health scare? What about afterwards?
my health scare, I thought my relationship with God was as good as it gets. I
convinced myself I spent enough time with Him, knew how much He loved me and
thought I loved Him back enough. I was wrong about that. After my health scare,
I fell in love with Him all over again, in ways I never imagined possible. Over
time, I saw the more I fell in love with Him, the more I wanted to get to know
Him. That cycle of falling in love and wanting to spend time with Him didn’t
stop. His affection is contagious. At times, I felt I couldn’t get enough — and
still do today. That’s beautiful. After the storm hit, I placed God as my first
priority. Before it hit, I admit I didn’t consistently put Him there. I learned
when we ask God for something in His name, He doesn’t always give us what we
want but rather gives us what He wants — for our good.
Q: How has this experience
changed your perspective on life? How has your faith grown?
look at everything differently now. I take nothing for granted — well, I’m
better at trying not to. Given a second chance at life here on earth, I’m
humbled, have a new heart and new motive, and made my top priority loving
Jesus. I live life not simply following God and calling myself a Christian, but
live for Him. I’ve learned to trust God more. I’ve learned to be patient and
wait upon Him. I’ve learned Jesus doesn’t say, “Just ask me, and I’ll give you
exactly what you want.” God doesn’t work that way. And I am happy he doesn’t.
His ways are perfect, and mine are not. He takes what He pulls us through to
make us stronger and molds us. He knows how to show us what He alone is capable
of. We simply need to pay attention. He’s a great teacher who is not done with
me (or you) yet. God knows how to show His children what He alone is capable
of. All accolades go to Him.
Q: In what other ways has God
used your brain tumor for good?
taken this journey and not only helped those with brain tumors, but those
facing various afflictions, including cancer, Parkinson’s, depression,
frustration and loneliness. Many tell me my journey inspires them and
sets their day in perspective. I tell them this is all about what God can do — not
me. I am bolder now in sharing God’s strength and affection for each and every
one of us.
Q: Do you still experience any
side effects from your tumor and surgery?
large portion of the left side of my face is permanently numb due to nerve
damage — as if I go to the dentist every day — but when I smile, no one can
tell. I’ll be on anti-seizure medication for the rest of my life.I am challenged and tire easily. My
“new normal” brain can only handle so much stimulation, so if I overdo it in
one of three areas (cognitive, emotional or physical), I start to shut down and
exhaustion sets in. But I’ve learned to pace myself and recharge my brain
capacity with rest. Quiet time with God restores me emotionally; physical rest
helps me to press on.
Q: What would you like readers
to learn or realize from reading Halo Found
I were sitting right across from a reader of Halo Found Hope right now, I’d lock eyes with him or her and say,
“No matter who your are, what you are going through, God is right there. You
don’t have to face anything alone. He can replace fear with courage, doubt with
trust and discouragement with determination — if you let Him. My hope and
prayer for you is that you will see — in Jesus, hope is always found. Reflect
on His words in John 16:33 (NIV), ’I have told you these things, so that you
may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have
overcome the world.’”