Seat 28F

We’ve called this five-and-a-half year journey of SSCD and brain surgeries and recoveries “The Unfolding Miracle” because the truth is that Derek didn’t get an immediate miracle. And, if I’m honest, he hasn’t experienced a complete miracle either. Yet.

We are grateful  for all the blessings, miracles, and amazing progress. Derek was able to have a  memorable summer, and will continue to live life to the fullest.

Unfortunately, the past few weeks have been heartbreaking and frustrating. We are beginning to see a decline in him as the pressure in his head has started to increase again. (The pressure began with his first surgery in 2012.) This pressure makes his eyes feel as if they are bulging out of his head. It fills his sinuses and leaves him with horrible fatigue, neck pain, and massive brain fog.

Sometimes doubt, anger, and frustration creeps in and tries to rob and steal our joy. Sometimes we feel completely stuck, down in the dumps, flat on our faces. Literally we are at a loss.

Some may say it’s time to let it go, and just accept what is. But here’s the deal: My husband has lived as courageously as anyone I know, and he deserves someone by his side who fights for him, who won’t give up. I have never settled my whole life, and I’m not about to start now.

So where do we get our determination? Well, it doesn’t really come from us. Every time we feel stuck, God makes a move and gives us another blessing. Usually his moves are too big to ignore, too beautiful to not see, too crazy to even comprehend. This is why I love to journal and share the next “GOD MOVE” with you. Because in this story, he gets all the glory!

Here is the most recent example.

I was exhausted, tired, and feeling unbelievably stuck. I woke up at 4:30 a.m. to catch a flight home from Florida and felt a tremendous weight on my shoulders. I was headed home with no answers for Derek.

At the airport, I heard the announcement, “John Li, please come to the gate.”

I immediately smiled. That name was a beautiful reminder of the night we were at church 18 months years ago, when a surgeon was placed before me. That surgeon started us on a journey that has changed our lives.

A few minutes later, the same name and same message was repeated. This time, I stood up and looked around, thinking there was no way it could be the same person. It can’t be THE Dr. Li.

I did not see him so I sat back down. The third time I heard his name, I looked up and couldn’t believe it. There was Dr. Li walking down the terminal with his wife.

sarahdrli1I rushed over to him. “Dr. Li!” I said. As he looked up, I reminded him who I was and he remembered me. Amazed that we were on the same flight, reunited again, we took a picture.


We parted ways, both smiling over the reunion and though it was too early to call Derek, I couldn’t wait to show him the picture.



When I boarded the plane, I was lost in the shuffle of the boarding process and lost sight of him. When I found my seat, 28F, you can imagine my amazement when I saw Dr. Li sitting RIGHT ACROSS FROM ME!

I don’t know what you believe, or where you come from. Maybe you call this luck. I choose to call this divine intervention. Out of all the planes and all the seats on a plane, this doctor was literally sitting in my row.

As the plane took off, I grabbed my computer and began to work, because I always work on a flight. However, the voice in my head overpowered my thoughts. “Sarah, it’s not about your plan. Close your computer. I’ve placed him before you. Seize the moment.”

Shutting my computer, I stalked him from the corner of my eye. He wasn’t sleeping or in a discussion with his wife. Eight seconds of courage ran through me, so I leaned over and asked if I could talk with him about Derek. There was no way I wanted to regret not boldly going after the opportunity to discuss Derek’s case with him.

He jumped at the opportunity and switched seats with his wife. Together we brainstormed Derek’s recent decline, symptom by symptom. Dr. Li is a strong believer in Jesus and I can’t explain our conversation any other way, except that the wisdom of God was being poured into that man.

He came up with an idea of why Derek may have all this horrific pressure in his head and encouraged me to reach out to the doctors in California. I did—and appointment was set within a week, which is miraculous in itself.

Here’s where I’m asking for your help. This Wednesday, Aug. 15 at 5:45 pm central, please pray that more doors would open for Derek. Please pray that these doctors would be able to offer some relief. We have come so far, and we will remain faithful for this miracle to fully unfold.

This reminded me that sometimes in life we need to listen to the whisper that says, “I placed an opportunity right before you. Go after it.” Even when it’s not the exact opportunity you were hoping for.

If your miracle isn’t immediate and complete, don’t overlook all the miracles it takes to make THE miracle unfold. For us, what we needed has been placed before us exactly when we needed it, kind of like manna from heaven.

If I ever stop believing in big, bold beautiful dreams, then I lose hope. I want to honor him and to remain faithful to the end, till our last breath, when our Creator says, “Well done, faithful servant.”

Please also know that Derek isn’t looking for pity. He’s never been that person and never will be. Neither am I. We only hope that by sharing this roller coaster of a journey that, in your struggles, you might find some hope to persevere, to never stop believing in your miracle, to be faithful to the end.

Sarah Hein the Pioneer

7 thoughts on “Seat 28F”

  1. Sarah – I am happy to pray over you and Derek, and that His wisdom be miraculously provided to those who can help

    On Tue, Aug 14, 2018 at 7:44 PM, Sarah Hein The Pioneer wrote:

    > Sarah Hein The Pioneer posted: “We’ve called this five-and-a-half year > journey of SSCD, brain surgeries and recoveries “The Unfolding Miracle” > because the truth is that Derek didn’t get an immediate miracle. And, if > I’m honest, he hasn’t experienced a complete miracle either. Yet. As g” >


  2. Sarah, we are praying for you and Derek. What an incredible moment to hear his name and have the opportunity to connect again. Thank you for sharing! 🙏🏻🙏🏻


  3. Sweet Sarah & Derek, You are in my 🙏🏻. I ❤️Seeing you at HOPE. Often you are surrounded by others so I smile & walk by. Please know your family are in my 🙏🏻‘S. I seem to have a direct line these past 61 years!! To God be the glory, great things He has done and continues to do every single day!!


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