I am a native Vermonter, raised in a loving family with six siblings. I recall going to a Unitarian church and Sunday school and singing in the youth choir growing up. I was dedicated at the Unitarian church as an infant, as were my siblings. I recall my grandmother reciting Bible verses to me. We attended church in our teen years and young adulthood on those “special days” of Christmas Eve, Easter, weddings, funerals and some Sundays in-between.
Directly out of high school I joined the Marine Corps, as one of Vermont’s first female recruits. I admit I lived my youth and young adulthood up until the past few years enjoying the joys of this world. I knew of Jesus and prayed mostly in times of need and at bedtime. That’s what I knew.
At the young age of 19, I married a Marine military policeman, later to find out he was an abuser. In 1988, eleven years into the marriage, I endured the life changing trauma of being shot five times by this abusing spouse, before he shot and killed himself. My prognosis was grim. Through defibrillation I came back to this world three times. My parents were told I had little hope for survival. I remember seeing a cross necklace dangling on the mirror of the vehicle I was driving and praying, “God don’t let this be my day to die.” That is a vivid memory. To the surprise of many I not only survived but bounced back from my serious injuries and trauma.
I truly felt I had been given a chance to serve a purpose. Horses are my passion, so my philosophy was that I had been saved in order to work with children of trauma and abuse, incorporating horses into their healing, as I had done for myself.
This experience changed me and brought me closer to the Lord. I began giving thanks for the blessings in my life and trying to experience life with a new perspective. However, I still did not know the depth of the Lord's love for me as I do today! I brought my step-children and foster children to church on those “special days” and tried to teach them of Jesus through Sunday School.
In the year 2000, I was surprised to receive a notice that I was one of 2500 women Marines undergoing a study for infertility believed to be linked to drinking contaminated water on a military base where I had been stationed. I filled out the study and returned it. Nothing came of it.
In August 2013, I got devastating news. After an abnormal physical and testing, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer. It caused me to do some soul searching. I prayed, “Why me? I’ve already faced and overcome trauma and a fight for survival!” I still was not walking as a true Christian. I underwent numerous surgeries over the next couple of years to remove more tumors as they appeared and grew. In and out of remission and various dormant stages, I sought help from magical methods and healthy eating. I began to pray daily and looked for a church but none felt like a good fit.
In November 2015, I met Pastor Troy and he invited me to worship at Grace. That is when my connection and thirst to know the Lord and learn His word through biblical teaching began. I was drawn in to really know Jesus. I felt true peace upon walking into this church community. I was being drawn in closer—like never before—to open my heart to the Lord Jesus. The peace and joy comforted me.
I had love and support from family and friends but nothing came close to this comfort. I had an uncontrollable thirst for more knowledge of the Bible and the wonders of God. I wanted to be a part of this church community.
I joined a Community Group Bible study and was welcomed with warm embraces, kind hearts and no judging. My journey to know the Lord Jesus came alive. With honesty and humbling words, I opened up to the group about the various challenges in my life. I shared the struggle and uncertainties of my cancer and the roller coaster I had been on. I found comfort with the group and a new deeper peace and understanding of the Lord’s love for me. I came to realize, even in the darkest times, in my hardest trials when I felt so alone, the Lord was always with me.
God never left my side. He heard my prayer. I came to a place in my heart where I turned it all over to the Lord Jesus and began to trust in His will like never before. Soon, I found myself faced with a new challenge. While those who believe and know the Lord supported me, some of those closest to me did not understand and became judgmental. They withdrew from me. I have learned to pray for them, that they might experience the peace and joy of faith in Jesus Christ.
One evening in February at community group, I shared a prayer concern about an upcoming oncology appointment. I was out of remission and had been told one month earlier that rapid cell growth and migration activity had begun again. I asked for prayer, that I would be accepting of “God's will,” whatever the outcome would be. The group prayed individual prayers with hands on me and asked the Lord for healing. This experience still warms my spirit—I truly felt the Lord’s presence.
At my appointment the next day, the usual tests were taken and I was examined by the oncology team. They ran the tests and examined me not once, but twice. The oncology team re-entered my exam room and told me that “a very rare unexplainable occurrence had happened—I had normal cell activity and no sign of cancer.” They then labeled me a cancer survivor!
As the room became quiet, I took a deep breath and prayed a silent prayer of thanks! There was no question in my mind, it was crystal clear I had been shown the grace and mercy of the Lord Jesus. He had healed me. This experience touched me to the inner depths of my spirit and soul. There are some believers and some nonbelievers among my family and friends—I’ve shared my joy with both. This is the blessing of grace and mercy through faith.
I continue to thirst for more knowledge of God’s Word. I pray daily for wisdom as I read my Bible. I long to be a faithful follower, to walk to glorify the Lord Jesus and my Heavenly Father. I continue to face challenges and struggles and I pray daily for forgiveness of my sins. I give thanks for the Lord’s mercy shown to me. I have accepted Jesus into my heart as my Lord and Savior! My hope is that anyone touched by my testimony can do the same. It will bring you peace and joy and change you forever. His love is comforting, when reached through faith.
Jesus has walked with me through every test I have endured. I don’t know the plans he has for me, or where the Lord will take me next. But, nothing will change my love for Jesus, even if all the plans I make go wrong or life’s storms rage all around me. He is my strength, my rock, my solid ground. I have true faith in His love for me—the Lord’s love always stays the same, it is safe and strong and true. I’m grateful today to have been baptized and to be identified as a follower of Christ.
Kathy Lynn LaRose Spellman shared this testimony with the Grace congregation before her baptism on March 27, 2016. Kathy continues to work with her horses and provides care and therapy for children. She lives on the South Shore.