Lily’s mom has been a wife for thirty years and is a mother of four adult children. She has come to accept that God gives and takes away. She knows there is supernatural power to heal in the name of Jesus. And her son’s miraculous journey through cancer at five years old is what prepared her to send her daughter into a war zone. Lily’s mom is a prayer warrior and because of it, Lily has the spiritual covering she needs to bring the healing remedies of art to refugees suffering with post traumatic stress. God has been their strength, their joy, and their courage-giver and the wakes of their faith are now reaching into the greatest humanitarian crisis in the history of the world.
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AK: Tell us about your son’s battle with cancer.
LM: My son was diagnosed with a rare form of leukemia and needed a bone marrow transplant at five years old. It was a very difficult time for our family. I remember Lily had prayed that she could be the one to save his life. She ended up being an exact tissue match in all six categories, which rarely happens. The bone marrow was going to have to be removed from her hip, and when she found out that she would be “put to sleep” while they did the surgery, she actually thought she was going to die, so that her brother could live. Of course, we explained the truth and reassured her. But I was awed by her bravery and courage at such a young age. Even then, she had a God-given resolve to help others at her own expense.
AK: God showed you that you needed to surrender your son back to our Creator. What brought you comfort at that time?
LM: Each morning I begin my day with God in prayer. I read my Bible with the expectation to hear from Him. I clung to Him at this time like never before. He spoke directly to my heart with this question: If I told you beforehand that I would take your son at five years old, would you have still chosen to be his mother? I wrestled with this question. When I thought of all the beautiful memories I had with him and our family, and the love I felt for him, I came to the point where I knew I would have chosen to be his mom, even if it was for a short period of time. God showed me Hannah’s story in the Bible and called me to surrender my son, the way she had dedicated and surrendered her son back to God. It hurt terribly to see my son suffer, but God reassured me that He would give me comfort whether in life or death. He would also give me opportunities to comfort others in the same way He had promised to comfort me.
AK: God miraculously healed your son. Unpack that for us.
LM: In December of 1999 Lily donated her bone marrow to her brother. On Christmas day at the hospital, I sat next to my son whose little bald head lay on his pillow, praying that Jesus would heal him and guide me in His Word. The doctors warned us that it would be a long process with him in complete isolation for a hundred days. As a new Christian, I opened my Bible to John 4 and started reading about a royal centurion who came to Jesus to ask him to heal his son. As I read it, I knew God was speaking to me when I read, “You may go—your son will live.” I believed with all my heart that those words were for me. And indeed my son left the hospital thirteen days later. He left sooner than any child in his condition had left. He went home with thirteen pills to take every day, along with leg shots. Within ten months he was off all medication… another true miracle. The doctors were amazed and I was in awe of Yahweh’s power to heal. I was so grateful for God’s undeserved favor that I told everyone what God had done for our family.
AK: Tell us more about Lily. What was she like as a child?
LM: Lily is and was a very strong-willed, determined, passionate young lady. As a little girl she was out with the boys, jumping off jungle gyms with no fear. Her spirited personality could bring out the emotions of everyone in our family…good and bad. But we embraced that as a family. She was always very transparent with her feelings and was never scared to talk about her opinions. God would often use her in my life. I remember one day at four years old, she looked up at me and said, “Mom, you love this house more than you love me.” Deep down, I knew God was nudging me to focus on my children instead of having the picture perfect home.
AK: What was adolescence like for Lily?
LM: Adolescence hit Lily hard. As a family, we moved from southern California to Canada for a year and a half. It was during that time that Lily really started to rebel and act out. She resisted the move in every way. The fight in her was not yet bridled by the Holy Spirit. I knew God had such big plans for her. Often at night, God would wake me up. I would go into her room and pray for protection over her while she slept. By high school, Lily was on the wide road to destruction and choosing immoral behavior and medicating her pain with marijuana and alcohol. We laugh about it now, but Lily can remember waking up with me looming over her, with my hands up, praying to Jesus. I definitely freaked her out. It broke my heart though, to see her lost, wanting to fit in, and making painful choices to be accepted by the world.
AK: How did God use art in Lily’s life at that time?
LM: From a very young age Lily used art as a way to process her feelings and escape from her struggles. The world would disappear around Lily when she had a paintbrush in her hand. Though Lily was struggling through high school, she never lost her love for art and she ended up choosing psychology as a major at San Francisco State University with the hopes of becoming an art therapist. Indeed, oil would become her favorite medium to work with because of how messy it was and the length of time it would take to complete a single painting. She loved the challenge and the transformation from start to finish.
AK: When did Lily find the narrow road?
LM: During her time in San Francisco, Lily was living in sin and very depressed. But God kept honoring my prayers for her. She eventually moved back to southern California and took a job close by as a live-in nanny for a Christian family. Soon she was reading her Bible and God was revealing to her that she was using marijuana and alcohol to numb her pain. I remember this one night, it was pouring down rain, and I met her at Starbucks. She told me she was reading her Bible and praying every day. She had even started tithing to the church on a regular basis. That day I was so grateful to God, that my legs almost collapsed underneath me. Earlier I had wept and prayed for my children to know God. That night He showed me He had begun to answer my prayers.
AK: How did Lily end up in a war zone?
LM: Lily’s love for the Lord was growing exponentially. She continued to attend church and enrolled herself in a discipleship school. Her love for God and for people was so evident. The fight God knit into her was now being used for His glory. I knew when she came to me about moving to the Middle East, that she was in the center of God’s will. She had been immersing herself within the culture locally, and she had visited her new home on multiple short term trips. God had given her a burden greater than herself, to reach the most desperate of refugees with real and authentic hope. God was equipping her with resources too. She knew the power in art to express emotions and God was giving her a vision to help refugees process their pain. As her mother, I’m so proud of her.
AK: Did people think you were crazy?
LM: Most definitely—even those in the church. People would ask me how I could let my daughter move to that part of the world. But I was thinking, how could I not? God loves His people all over the world. Lily’s courage to follow God to some of the darkest parts of the planet to bring hope and light, was an absolute blessing to me. Ultimately, she was never mine. God entrusted her precious life to me for eighteen years and I did my best to raise her and teach her how to be a responsible, loving adult. Yet she belongs to her Father in heaven. When my son battled cancer, God showed me that my children are a gift that I may have to give back to Him sooner than I want. All my children belong to Him. I can see how God prepared Lily her whole life to be a blessing to those who are suffering during this traumatic time in history. Who am I to stop her?
AK: What stories of hope have you heard from Lily’s new home?
LM: The situation in the Middle East is tragic. Most people have grown weary watching the news—but we are living in a time where the greatest humanitarian crisis in the history of the world has come to be. The UN recently reported that there are sixty million refugees fleeing violence and war, world-wide. Lily has introduced art to one such family from the plight of millions. She shared with me that before leaving their homeland, this family walked through their father being kidnapped and tortured for forty days. The mother and children were left to process the daily agony of bombs going off, rockets exploding, and the fear that they would be kidnapped and killed themselves. Once reunited, they fled to the border to escape death. Their safest exit meant walking through wilderness by night towards a faint light in the distance; everyone, including their infant and 3 children under age 7, had to remain completely silent. Other families that had attempted the journey and been executed in route. They made it to the border, were given water, blankets, and a safe place to live—but their new life became just as harsh for other reasons. As foreigners, their children were often beat up and bullied at school. As adults they’ve had to rely on diminishing aid, but aren’t legally able to work. God crossed Lily’s path with them and she has bought them sketch books, pencils, and charcoal; she’s teaching them how to process their pain through art and they are experiencing real hope for the first time as they have been given opportunities to cope with the trauma. Many of their drawings started in black and white with images of death and children in rubble. Now they are using oil pastels with lots of color. Laughter has actually begun to echo throughout their tiny cement apartment, though still dispersed among tears.
AK: God has also given Lily the supernatural gifts of healing. Has she experienced any miracles recently?
LM: She has. God promised to work all things for good in the lives of those who love Him and are loyal to Him. I know that God used Lily’s experience with her brother’s cancer to shape her. She saw the power of prayer at work in his life at a young age, and she’s not afraid to let God use her to display His power. Recently she met the neighbors of a family she was visiting. The mother there was experiencing excruciating pain in her lower back and side, that extended from her stomach down through her leg. It was most likely related to problems she was having with her kidney, which she was not able to get treatment for because of a lack of funds. Lily and her friend prayed a simple prayer of healing. Moments later, the mother declared she couldn’t feel any more pain and she started crying and kissing my daughter’s cheek profusely in gratitude. The healed woman hurried out the door and brought her very pregnant twenty-one year old daughter in and asked for them to pray for a healthy delivery. Minutes later, she started having contractions! Soon there was another knock at the door, with two more women. One of the women had suffered two miscarriages. They asked Lily to pray that God would let her get pregnant. Just last week, Lily was invited to dinner with this family and learned that the woman she had prayed for, who had miscarried, was now pregnant! Indeed the Kingdom is within us, and it's coming to the earth for all who have eyes to see it.