Tuesdays with Sarah… Mrs. Kathleen and the God of Miracles

The lovely Mrs. Kathleen Drake

The One who made the blind to see
Is moving here in front of me, moving here in front of me
The One who made the deaf to hear
Is silencing my every fear, silencing my every fear

I believe in You, I believe in You
You’re the God of miracles
I believe in You, I believe in You
You’re the God of miracles

The One who does impossible is
Reaching out to make me whole
Reaching out to make me whole
The One who put death in its place
His life is flowing through my veins
His life is flowing through my veins

The God who was and is to come
The power of the Risen One
The God who brings the dead to life
You’re the God of miracles
You’re the God of miracles

April 15th, we sang the lyrics above during our Sunday morning worship set.  I was in the choir loft – singing, worshiping, and meditating on these powerful words.  That God does indeed bring sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, peace to the fearful, wholeness to the broken, life to the dead.  And I can honestly say that I do believe it.  Just like the chorus says.

I’ve seen Him work miracles – at several different stages of my life:

1 – My own childhood sickness with scarlet fever, where my fever was so high, I was walking into walls.  My parents brought me to my children’s pastor who prayed over me on my way to Children’s Hospital.  In the 15 minute ride to the hospital, the fever was gone.

2 – 30 years ago, my friend’s father who was injured in a work accident and died 3 times, but came back to life.

3 – 20 years ago, our family went through an extremely difficult situation that God alone totally took care of.

4 – 16 years ago, a student in our youth group who was ejected over 40 feet from his car after it had flipped 14 times, and still lived.  Only issue was a spleen that they thought had ruptured, but ended up healing on its own (we know who did that!)

5 – 15 years ago, my sister’s best friend was in a wreck where she went under an 18 wheeler and they had to use the jaws of life to cut her out of the car.  She left the hospital with only a bandaid on her thumb!

6 – Numerous miracles I have witnessed on my medical mission trips to Honduras.

And as I was singing that song, I looked up, and there I saw yet another miracle – Mrs. Kathleen Drake.

Let me tell you a little about Mrs. Kathleen.   Her name is Linda Kathleen Allen Drake.  She was born May 28, 1932, which makes her 85 years old (soon to be 86).  She was born in Mississippi, but moved to Collinsville, AL, when she was 14.  There in Collinsville is where she met Mr. Bill Drake, her husband of 67 years.  She is a very active lady, who enjoys cooking, crafting, and gardening.

The Drakes at their 65th Anniversary

The Drakes at our Youth Fundraiser Sweetheart Supper

The way I met Kathleen is through church.  She was one of my first friends when we moved to our church, GracePoint at Mt. Olive (Mt. Olive UMC) back in June 2014.  On our second or so Sunday here, she invited us to her home to eat lunch after church.  And as we talked and reminisced the other night, we realized that she never invited us back! 😊  But not because she didn’t want to; but because at the time the Smyth family crossed paths with Mrs. Kathleen, so did the big C – Cancer.

May 19, 2014, about a month before we were to move to Mt. Olive, Kathleen was diagnosed with stage 3 colon cancer.  Because Mrs. Kathleen is such a vital member of the church, the interim pastor called Scott while we were still in Huntsville, to let him know about her diagnosis.  Scott drove down to Birmingham on May 21 to pray with her.  I remember him coming back home to Huntsville and telling me what an awesome lady she seemed to be, based solely on that small encounter he had with her.  Man, was he right.

Mrs. Kathleen and her dear friend Mrs. Peggy Poe

She had surgery May 23rd, where the doctor removed 1.5 feet of her colon which included the mass.   Following the surgery, she had a CT scan that showed no more cancer in her body!  She had a port implanted.  She started her chemotherapy treatments on June 23, which were every two weeks for 6 months.

I remember that during those 6 months, she struggled with nausea and fatigue.  But if you didn’t specifically ask her about it, you would never know by the way she lived her life.  She still cooked our Wednesday night meals, she still made agape gifts for Emmaus walks, she still came to church…  and never complained.  When I would ask her how she was doing, she always said something positive.  She might vaguely mention to me that she was tired, but that was few and far between.

But Mrs. Kathleen had told me that her cancer was not the “If it comes back” kind of cancer, but the “when it comes back”.  And indeed, it did, about 18 months after her first surgery.

In December 2015, a CT scan showed a tangerine-sized mass in right pelvis area and a walnut-sized mass in the left area.  She had a biopsy January 13, 2016, and discovered the tumors were not operable.  Because it moved into another part of her body, it went from stage 3 cancer to stage 4.

Since the tumors were not operable, the plan was to just shrink them as much as possible.  She began chemo again in February 2016.  She was on some sort of rotation of chemo through her port and pills that she would take.  She is now only on pills.  She will take them for the rest of her life, according to Mrs. Kathleen.  But she has had much success with this treatment, and the tumors have indeed shrunk!

This second bout of chemo has had more of an effect on Kathleen.  It caused ankle swelling and cellulitis, along with the normal nausea and fatigue.  It has also affected her memory, which I know probably bothers her the most.  She repeats herself sometimes, or doesn’t know the answer to things she has always known.  But even in the midst of these physical limitations, she still continues to speak positivity.  As her daughter Lawanna said in a Facebook post, “But Mama attacks every day with a positive attitude and a spirit of thankfulness for all that God has done for her.”  Wow!  What an incredible woman.

Mrs. Kathleen and her lovely daughter Lawanna

So as I sang the song “Miracles” that Sunday a few weeks ago and I saw Mrs. Kathleen standing there in her normal spot on the second row, singing a song that was probably not to her liking since she is of the more traditional mindset (yet never complains, at least to my knowledge, because she knows that all this is not about her or us, but about Him – a whole other blog topic!) – I couldn’t help but praise God for the miracle that is Kathleen Drake.  She, at her age and the fact it was stage 3, probably shouldn’t have survived the first round of cancer.  But she did, and did it with grace and dignity, giving God all the glory.  And then it came back the second time, which really should have taken her down, but instead, like her daughter said, she attacked it with thankfulness.  Oh, so much to learn from this lady.

But as I was thanking God for this visual of a miracle I was seeing, He flipped the script on me, like He often does!  He showed me that not only is she a miracle – a physical miracle – but she is a conduit of miracles.  She is a giver of miracles, or maybe an enabler of miracles… a miracle worker of sorts, but I’ve heard that title is already taken! 😊

The definition of miracle according to Merriam Webster is “an extraordinary event manifesting divine intervention in human affairs”.   I asked my pastor-husband, Scott, what he would say a miracle is.  He said, “Something supernatural – where God intervenes.”  And then I found this Pastor Craig Groeschel quote on Instagram the other day and saved it when I was still letting this blog post steep in my heart: “A miracle is when God intervenes.”  And that’s exactly what I’ve learned and seen of Mrs. Kathleen.  That God truly works through her to intervene in the hearts of others – believers and non-believers.

– Pastor Craig Groeschel

If you speak to Kathleen, you will quickly learn that she was a very active member of the Emmaus community here in central Alabama.  She is still active, but with her illness, she hasn’t been able to do as much.  In case you didn’t know, Emmaus is ‘an experience of Christian spiritual renewal and formation’.  It’s a 72-hour spiritual retreat intended to strengthen the local church through the development of Christian disciples and leaders.  Kathleen went on her first Emmaus walk in 1985.  She was walk #30, and sat at the table of Dorcas.  Once she went on her walk, she decided she wanted to continue to help with this ministry.

Some of Mrs. Kathleen’s crafting supplies for her Emmaus agape gifts

Some more gifts Mrs. Kathleen has made

One of Mrs. Kathleen’s Paintings

Kairos Inside is a ministry partner of Emmaus, where they hold Emmaus type retreats for incarcerated persons.   Their mission is to develop a Christian community inside prisons.  Mrs. Kathleen heard of this, and became actively involved.  She helped serve and run Kairos Inside retreats for 10 years.  The retreats she was a part of were held at the Julia Tutwiler Prison for Women.   They would run 2 retreats a year, and each retreat served 36 inmates.  That is 720 total prisoners that she had a direct impact on.  720 people who had a divine intervention with the Lord because of her life and service.  720 miracles.

In 1995, after working 10 years with Kairos Inside, she worked 10 more years with Kairos Outside.  Kairos Outside, according to their website, offers a ‘comfortable, non-judging retreat for spouses to support each other as they journey through the incarceration of a friend or relative’.   These would be held at different church camps and churches.  Again, they would run 2 retreats a year, serving 36 family members.  That’s 720 more people.  Now a total 1440 miracles.  Not to mention all the other ministries she has been involved with!

So, Kathleen served prisoners for a decade, and then spent the next decade serving and ministering to the prisoner’s families.  People from other states and even countries would get in contact with Mrs. Kathleen to learn how to run these Kairos retreats so that they could start one where they lived.   Her influence and ministry was continuing to grow.

While working with Kairos Outside, a prisoner reached out to Mrs. Kathleen asking her for a Bible.  This one small request became a whole new one-woman ministry.  She ended up sending Bibles to 22 different states!!  She has stacks and stacks of letters requesting Bibles, and then of course, letters thanking her.  She financed this herself.  She eventually used First Baptist Gardendale bookstore to mail the Bibles so that she could mail at the book rate.

One of the stacks of letters from prisoners requesting Bibles

She told me of one man that said he had heard of what she was doing and wanted to help.  He sent $1.50 a month to her to help finance the Bibles.  After 18 months of sending his small donation, he then asked for a Bible himself!  There was another story of a man who had received an NIV Study Bible from Kathleen.  And although he was going through a divorce, which I’m sure was due to the bad choices he had made to put him in prison, he desperately wanted a Bible for his wife, because the thought of her not knowing Jesus broke his heart.

Although Mrs. Kathleen is older and has the whole ‘cancer’ thing going on, she still serves the Emmaus community.  She sponsors people on walks.  I believe she told me she has sponsored over 100 people!  She makes agape gifts for every pilgrim for all the walks – things like placemats and bookmarks.  And of course, she prays for every walk.

Even with all of Kathleen’s work outside the walls of the church, she continued/continues to faithfully serve the church.  She used to run the kitchen at the church and cook for our Wednesday night fellowship meals.  Although she can’t do it every week anymore, she still comes up there and helps often.  She also helps run the weekly women’s Bible study.  She and Mr. Bill still take meals to homebound members of the church.  She even delivered ‘Meals on Wheels’ for a while.  And most recently, she spent time at our GracePoint Child Enrichment program reading books to some of our sweet kiddos.   This woman truly amazes me with her selfless giving.

Mrs. Kathleen reading to some of our GracePoint Child Enrichment kids 🙂

The Christian singer Natalie Grant released a song about three years ago called “Be One”.  The lyrics to the chorus and bridge are below:


It’s time to get our hands dirty
Be love there’s a whole lot of hurting
Calling all hearts
Calling all hands
Calling all feet to take a stand
Why sit around and wait for a miracle to come
when we can be one
When we can be one


We can be the change, be the hope
We can be the arms that don’t let go
We can be a light in the dark
We are, we are where it starts

I think of Mrs. Kathleen when I hear this song.  She got her hands dirty, and loved who most would consider the lowest of society.  She didn’t sit around waiting for a miracle, but chose to be the miracle.  She is indeed a light in the dark, who inspires me, and I’m sure many others, to shine brightly.

Me and Mrs. Kathleen

In John 6:5-13, we read of the miracle of when Jesus fed the 5,000 people.  You can find the story below:

When Jesus looked up and saw a great crowd coming toward him, he said to Philip, “Where shall we buy bread for these people to eat?” He asked this only to test him, for he already had in mind what he was going to do.

Philip answered him, “It would take more than half a year’s wages[a] to buy enough bread for each one to have a bite!”

Another of his disciples, Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, spoke up, “Here is a boy with five small barley loaves and two small fish, but how far will they go among so many?”

10 Jesus said, “Have the people sit down.” There was plenty of grass in that place, and they sat down (about five thousand men were there). 11 Jesus then took the loaves, gave thanks, and distributed to those who were seated as much as they wanted. He did the same with the fish.

12 When they had all had enough to eat, he said to his disciples, “Gather the pieces that are left over. Let nothing be wasted.” 13 So they gathered them and filled twelve baskets with the pieces of the five barley loaves left over by those who had eaten.

Jesus performed the miracle.  He is the one that intervened and used His supernatural power to change very natural circumstances.  He took one little boy’s lunch of 2 fish and 5 loaves, and fed 5,000 people – even having 12 baskets of leftovers!  Supernatural intervention.  But that intervention, that miracle, couldn’t have happened without one little boy’s availability and the surrendering of his lunch.  The one thing he had to give, he gave.  He probably had no idea what this guy was going to do with it, but he trusted and surrendered.  And by doing this one small act, he became part of the miracle.

All God needs is for us to be available and surrendered, so that we can be part of the miracle.  Just like the little boy with his lunch.  Just like Mrs. Kathleen and her crafting, cooking, and Bibles.  She did the natural, and God then did the supernatural.  Be the miracle.  God knows, this world desperately needs one.

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4 Responses to Tuesdays with Sarah… Mrs. Kathleen and the God of Miracles

  1. Pingback: Tuesdays with Sarah… Mrs. Kathleen and the God of Miracles | Tuesdays with Sarah

  2. Linda Drake says:

    Oh my , I’m in tears! This is such an awesome testimony about my Mother In Love! (Law) … Sarah, you captured her perfectly in your writing! I was 50 years old when I married her oldest son, Brad, and she has taught me more about real LOVE in these 17 years than I ever knew before. I’m talking about Love your Neighbor as Yourself… And everyone she meets is her neighbor… she doesn’t have boundaries on who she will Love on or Pray for. She taught me to Pray for people who are not your favorites, or someone who you’re upset with! Wow , what a difference that has made in my life! She’s just the the sweetest, humble, Godly woman I’ve ever known! A real Christian with a servants heart! Thanks for honoring her with this post! Linda Drake

    • sarahsmyth1020 says:

      Oh, I love this! And it’s so true. She sees everyone as her neighbor. You have a wonderful family! Thank you for the kind words!!

  3. natalie clements says:

    Sarah, thanks for the beautiful way you describe one of the most beautiful people I have ever know. Prayers for her family, especially her wonderful husband Mr. Bill.

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