Parking Lot Prayer

Some miracles are hidden. And they don’t feel like miracles at all. At least not in the moment.

Eight years ago today, I sat on a blue plastic chair, hands clasped in my lap, in a sterile examining room and struggled to process four words no parent ever wants to hear. Words that carried enough power to punch a hole in my world and rip up the foundation.

My son’s doctor, an older man with glasses sliding off his nose and a brown-striped tie, balanced on a tiny round stool. He rested his arms on a laminate desk that extended from the wall and took in a breath, as if the news he was about to deliver demanded specific presentation. He must have given up trying to get the words right though, because his face crumbled and the information just fell out of his mouth.

“Your son has cancer.”

Legs stuck to the chair, I squeezed my fingers tighter and tried to breathe past the lump that snagged in my throat. A black void ate everything in the room and left me dangling over a cliff—no parachute or safety net or hidden escape.

I couldn’t focus or make sense of the words—because I couldn’t believe they were true.

This is not happening. Not to Kyle. Not to me. Not to our family.

Next to me, Kyle sniffed and grabbed for my hand, squeezing so hard my wedding ring cut into my finger. The pain erased the void and life rushed back bringing a ferocious translation of panic that nearly shoved me off my seat.

Pull it together. You can fall apart more completely later—when Kyle’s not watching your every reaction.

Kyle swiveled on his chair so that his knees bumped mine. “Am I going to die?”

More words a parent never wants to hear. What do you do when your ten-year-old son, your baby, asks you that?

No parenting book or seminar or online tip can prepare you for that. Neither can your faith, because in that moment you aren’t coherent enough to remember you have any.

Thankfully, that doesn’t matter to God. He is I AM. He is Alpha and Omega. He is Elohim. And He was there with us in that tiny white room the moment our lives stopped.

After I’d used an entire box of tissue, Kyle and I headed to the parking lot with instructions to go to UW Hospital, they were waiting to admit him. The oncologist on call had already been alerted.

I slid open the van door, helped Kyle get comfortable on  the gray leather seat, and buckled him in. Then I wrapped my arms around his tiny shoulders and cried some more.

“Mom,” he whispered in my ear, “pray before we go.” He squeezed me tighter. “Maybe God will know what to do.”

Maybe God will know what to do. In his just-turned-double-digits wisdom, Kyle reached out to Him, when I could not.

I leaned back, took both of Kyle’s small hands in mine, and closed my eyes. “God, we’re standing…” My voice shook harder than my arms and my legs combined.

Deep breathe, Lori, you can do this. Don’t ruin Kyle’s faith with your own fear.

Heart pounding over the noise of cars pulling in and out of the parking, I focused on a picture that was just now forming in my mind. “Jesus, we’re standing here in front of a big, dark, scary tunnel.”

My knees gave and I slumped on the runner by the seat. “I know You’re here. You knew we were coming and you’re waiting…with a flashlight. To help us find our way through.”

The tears muted a few of the words. “Thank you for knowing exactly when we’d get here and for not making us do this alone. Amen.”

How we lived our lives the next four years launched off that parking lot prayer.

God did not hand us an overnight miracle. He didn’t spare Kyle from side effects, fear, or excruciating back and muscle pain. We lived every treatment, every emergency room visit, every re-admittance, every ugliness that rides the coattails of cancer all the way to the end.

But He walked with us each second of the way. Whether we felt Him there or not. When I gave up, He held me closer. When I wrote off Kyle ever having a future, He sprinkled hope. When I let weariness crush me, He cushioned my fall and gave us moments of rest and peace.

This weekend, two days before the anniversary of Kyle’s diagnosis, I stood next to him in church. All six feet of healthy him. He’s home visiting from college where he got accepted into the nursing program so he can give back to God and be a light for all the kids that will come after him on the devastating road of cancer.

Isn’t it amazing how far we’ve come over the last eight years? What a difference time can make. Kyle went from a sixty-six pound little boy who’s future hid in the shadows to a six-foot almost-man that has given his life to the God who stuck by him.

That’s my miracle.

Do you have a miracle to share?





  1. Too many to count, but in the darkest hours I forget them all. Thank you for reminding me.

  2. Oh Lori,
    What an amazing story and testimony to our faith.
    I own a blog called Under the Cover of Prayer. We have our regular contributors but also guest posters.
    Would you consider letting me repost this on Under the Cover of Prayer.
    Many blessings,

  3. Claire L. Fishback |

    What am amazing, inspiring post, Lori! It brought tears to my eyes! I just want you to know, every year the company I work for raises over $50,000 for LLS. This year I believe we have already surpassed that number, and every year we bump it up a little higher and hit our mark every time.

    Such an inspiring post, so full of love and hope and faith.

  4. Thank you for sharing this story about Kyle. As a mom of 4 grown sons, it hits home and is a great reminder of how great our God is.

  5. brought tears to my eyes, too. Sitting in Starbucks sniffling like a fool. But I also smiled knowing the ending before I read about the beginning. God is good ALL the time… in the tunnel and in the brilliant sunshine. I am proud to say I know that little boy/man and his Godly mom.

  6. Out of the mouths of babes…wisdom. I’m celebrating your day in church with you. From WAY over in the next state. :)

  7. What a wonderfully inspiring post. Something I needed to hear.

    When I was pregnant with my second son, I was called in for a second opinion after finding an abnormality. The specialist told me that my baby had a hole in his skull, and would have serious “challenges” and they started talkinig about abortion. I was a wreck, but I walked out telling him my baby was fine.

    A month later my OBGYN asked me to go have the test done again, just to check the seriousness of the condition.

    That doctor had me under the scope for about an hour, and couldn’t find anything. Finally she found a small “spot”. The hole had shrunk to the point of hadly being visible with the ultrasound equipment. I was kept under watch, but right on time a beautiful, perfectly normal baby boy was born.

    God proved to me that he is stronger than medicine.

  8. I’m so glad you shared this story. I have also found that hardship does not immediately go away when I pray for that. God often has a different plan in mind–growing me through the experience.

    I’m thrilled that your son is okay. I haven’t been through that kind of scare, although my preemie son was respirated for 8 days at birth. Now, you’d never know; believe me, his lungs work just fine.

    • I’m glad I’m not the only one that has to walk through the tunnels. Although I’m always better for it when I come out the other side.

  9. I write through my tears. Thank you SO VERY MUCH for sharing your miracle with us. May God continue to richly bless!

  10. I’ve read your story before, Lori, but it never fails to bring tears to my eyes, quickly followed by gratitude. For your and Kyle’s faith driven walk through that tunnel. For Him.

    I owe everything I have to Him. My health My family. My sanity. Me.

    Miss seeing you, girl!

  11. The miracle of this moment is that I could still read your last words through the tears and even though I know this story. This very moment someone is also reading your post and it will change their reality and point them to the Lord Jesus who stands ready to carry them and their burden.

    My prayer for you and me is that we will become sharply aware of the miracles that surround us each day so that the Spirit may lead as we craft the words to inspire others to look to Jesus for everything.

    Thank you for sharing this beautiful story and I hope you will continue working on your manuscript about this miracle.

    Know that I love you, little sister.

    DiAne Gates

  12. Powerful testimony of God’s mercy and faithfulness!

    Though our tunnels may vary in length and breadth, I am reminded that the length and breadth, the height and depth of His love is the same for us all.

    Oh, that we might know it! (Ephesians 3:14-20)

    May God grant you all continued health, healing and the fullness of his love.

  13. Wesley Atkinson |

    Thanks for sharing your story, it is amazing.

    • I still remember that lunch we all had when we first moved here and Kyle didn’t want to tell anyone he had cancer.

  14. Here via Faraway Eyes site.

    This is a tremendous story with an uplifting ending. Glad it turned out that way. Cancer is especially tragic when it hits someone so young as your son was. Yes, God always knows what to do even though sometimes it may not be what we hoped, but there is a reason for everything.

  15. Lori–what beautiful words! I’m so happy that your story has a happy ending! I know two young kids who have been diagnosed with cancer in the last few months–one of them is named Kyle. I’m going to share your inspiring story with both of their families. God bless you and thank you so much for sharing.

  16. Awesome God! May He do another miracle for Kyle in the written exams area.

    Am sitting here across the ocean in Africa crying over your blog post! We aren’t quite out of the tunnel yet here, but we know that God is not a respecter of persons, He will come through for us in due season. You see, we took in Mary, an abused teen and friend of my niece, two years ago into our peaceful loving home. A few months ago, coming back from the grocer’s she was raped. Devastation all round! We thank God that she wasn’t murdered, she’s pregnancy and HIV free. She’s back to talking and smiling, most times. It’s probably going to be a long journey to complete healing.Only God knows how long: maybe a lifetime in certain areas. But He is still God in our lives.

    • Lori Freeland |

      I am crying with you and Mary and praying for peace and a bubble of God’s love to wrap around all of you.

  17. I felt the pounding of my heart hearing your doctor’s pronouncement.

    I have been through a yo-yo cycle of belief, unbelief in God. Don’t know why introduce pain in the first place, and then resolve it. Don’t know why God is selective in dishing out the pain

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