Episode 22 God Rescued Her Teenage Son from a Life-Threatening Aneurysm. Christina Custodio

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Christina Custodio, author of When God Changed His Mind, shares how God rescued her 13-year-old son from a life-threatening aneurysm and then sustained their entire family through his long rehab. A story of persevering faith, honest prayer, and humility that inspires us to surrender all the parts of our stories into God’s hands.





Today's Verses
  • Isaiah 43:2 (NLT)
  • Isaiah 40:28-31
Additional Resources

God Rescued Her Teenage Son from a Life-Threatening Aneurysm. Christina Custodio

[00:00:00] Welcome to the Unshakable Hope Podcast, where real life intersects redeeming love. I’m Kelly Hall, and this is where we wrestle through faith questions, such as, How do I trust God’s heart when His ways and delays are breaking mine? How can I believe God is good when life doesn’t seem good? My prayer is that God would renew our hope in these conversations, and that each of us would experience the very real power of His presence and love.

Before we drop into my story today, I just wanted you to know that in many ways, my guest’s story is an answer to a prayer I prayed years ago when I asked the Lord to show me what it really looked like in my everyday life to trust in Him with all my heart, rather than trusting in what I saw and felt.

You’re about to hear a powerful story of surrender that’s been wrestled out of some deep soul places from a sweet friend who I know will bless your socks off. And about 20 minutes in, [00:01:00] you’ll hear a funny story of how God changed her “no” to a resounding “yes” about the man he called her to marry. So here we go.

Kelly: Welcome friends. I want to introduce you to my guest today, Christina Custodio. She is an award-winning author and an international speaker. Today, she’s going to be sharing the miraculous story of her son, Isaiah, from her book with an unusual title, When God Changed His Mind. Christina, thanks for being with me.

Christina: Thank you so much for having me. I’m glad to be with you.

Kelly: Why don’t you start by just telling us a little bit about yourself.

Christina: I live in Greenville, South Carolina with my husband of 24 years. We just celebrated our anniversary and three adult children. However, I do not have an empty nest yet, but that’s okay.

The time will come. I thank God for them. All three of our kids and my husband, we are [00:02:00] dedicated to living our days out, serving him.

Kelly: Oh, that’s beautiful. Could you describe a little bit of your faith journey, and give us a glimpse of what your family was doing, how they were operating just before Isaiah experienced this medical emergency.

Christina: Well, growing up, I came up in a Christian home. We went to church every Sunday night, every Wednesday night. And that was our way of life. I was trained in the way that I must go. And when I was older, I did not depart from it.

I thought that I had faith, I believe I, as far as I knew, but it was never tested. My faith never had been tested. And before this difficult time, probably for a year or so, I had just not been feeling God. I just, I knew he was there because. That’s what I was taught to know, and I believed it, but I could not feel him.[00:03:00]

And I prayed, probably for a year, that God would do something in my life to allow me to feel him. And I knew that was a dangerous prayer. I knew it. But I was so desperate for… for him. I was so desperate to feel him in a big way. I didn’t want to just go through the motions of living a Christian life, just not doing things wrong.

I think so many of us think we’re living the way we should because we’re not doing bad things. But that is not what he’s called us to, how he’s called us to live. Just not doing bad things…I wanted the relationship. I wanted to know him fully.

Yeah. So, but we had a wonderful family life. The kids were in. Elementary, middle and high school and girls had dance lessons and, we still were going to church every [00:04:00] week and life was fine. It was good, but yeah, that was just something I felt I was missing. I need it desperately still.

Kelly: That’s beautiful. So take us to that day where Isaiah had his medical emergency and just tell us what happened.

Christina: Okay. He was in football at the time and I had dropped him off at football practice about 45 minutes before. I got a phone call from a trainer letting me know that he had a bad headache and I should come get him.

I wasn’t really in a hurry because I thought, okay, he can stand that for a few minutes. I had groceries I needed to put away, but something told me to hurry up and go. So when I got there, they had to pick him up off of the ground. Which was odd. And I thought, Oh my goodness, child, you are so dramatic.

I’m watching from my car thinking he is so dramatic. It’s just a headache. So I got out of the car and realized [00:05:00] pretty quickly that there was more wrong than just a headache. He was not able to make eye contact with me. He wasn’t able to walk on his own and he was throwing up. And he was trying to speak, but he could only say one word at a time.

And he was saying home over and over. And then he said hurt. And then when he finally said the word help, I got, I felt panicked, like. This is not good. I didn’t know what it was, but I knew something was really wrong. So got him in the car and took him to emergency, called my husband and my dad. And once we got to the hospital, he was unresponsive.

He, his eyes were open, but he was unresponsive and they were taking too long in my opinion. So I use the medical degree that I don’t have. I looked in his eyes and I noticed that his pupils were not moving. And [00:06:00] then I took a light from my phone and flashed it in his eyes. I know that was the Holy spirit guiding me because I don’t really know about those things.

And when I shined the light, his pupils didn’t move and one was bigger than the other. So I called a nurse and said, Something’s wrong, please look in his eyes and when the nurse looked, he pretty much ran out of the room and came back and said, we’re going to take him for a CT scan. Ultimately, we found out that he had a severe hemorrhage in his brain.

Kelly: Wow.

Christina: And he needed emergency brain surgery. Now this was frightening to me, of course, because my kids had never been in the hospital or broken, even broken a bone. They rarely even got colds. So, but I had always had this feeling that Isaiah out of all three of my kids would die young. I don’t know where that came from.

I just had a feeling, [00:07:00] so I thought, Oh my gosh, this is it. This is the day my 13 year old son is going to die. And so we ended up at the hospital waiting for him to have surgery and we had friends and family pouring in the waiting room, just filled up the room with their presence and There was a point where I needed to get away from everybody.

And, even as mothers and women, sometimes we feel like we’ve got to entertain everybody and make sure everybody else is okay. So I went into the bathroom and I prayed. I didn’t know how to pray because I felt like God had already told me. what was going to happen. And so I said, all I could think of to say, and that was God, change your mind.

And I just said it over and over again. And I was scared to death, shaking and just pleading with him to change his mind. I had no other words. And so I walked out of the bathroom after [00:08:00] that prayer and I kind of paused actually outside of the door and I felt peace. Peace washed over me, but I didn’t have a sense of whether he would live or die, but I knew that God was going to take care of us.

Whether he chose to take Isaiah or whether he allowed us to keep him, I knew that we would be okay. I mean, all the things went through my head, my marriage, I knew my marriage would be okay. I knew that we would be able to get our girls through this loss, all of those things. And of course, I hoped that. We would get to keep him, but…

He was in surgery a few hours and he did survive. He survived the surgery. And of course we praised God. And even during our prayers in that time, we said, God, if you do this, if you let Isaiah live through this, we will tell the world of your goodness and he’s [00:09:00] good anyway. I felt like, I could speak of his goodness regardless of what happened, but we promised that if he answered this request, the way we wanted him to that we would make it count and we would let the world know who he was.

And so that’s what we’ve tried to do. But I learned so many things during that time. We spent 44 days in the hospital and it was, obviously it was a life changing experience, but every single day we were in that hospital room, God just taught me lesson after lesson and allowed me to hang on even in the really difficult times. I could see it was such a gift, I could see what he was saying in each difficult moment. And so I’m forever grateful for that.

Kelly: That’s just amazing. He survived the surgery, but y’all didn’t know, is he going to [00:10:00] recover his speech? Is he going to be able to walk? You had no idea. What was that like? It didn’t look very hopeful for a while.

Christina: No. And the medical staff continued to tell us, they have to give you the worst case scenario. First of all, before the doctor operated, he probably said three or four different ways that Isaiah could die. So I’m like, okay, check. I got that. My son could die.

Kelly: Let’s move on.

Christina: But then throughout, they would say, well, the statistics say that People in this situation generally do not regain this or regain that.

And he may not know you, he may not be able to speak. He may not be able to walk or do anything on his own. So, I’m thinking, are we going to have this child of ours forever? Is he going to live with us? Do we need to reset our minds to never being able to [00:11:00] let him be free? Will he live with us forever?

And so that was a thought, but honestly, it was something that I rejected because I believed that God would heal him and I just held onto that. But I also in my heart felt like, whatever God chose to do, but I really chose to believe that he was going to heal him and he’d be able to do all of these things on his own one day.

And that’s what I would tell the medical staff. Yeah. I hear what you’re saying, but you are not God. So we will see what he has to say.

Kelly: That’s awesome. It sounds like God really put that on your heart to believe him for that recovery. And so he was in the hospital there for quite a lengthy stay, like you mentioned.

And then he went to a rehab hospital, right?

Christina: Which was actually the same hospital, just another part for two weeks he was in ICU. [00:12:00] And yes, and we went to the rehab part of the hospital. Where the real work begin. .

Kelly: Yeah. And meanwhile, you still had your two girls and your husband and life needed to go on.

You were at the hospital every day. There were times when you were just, Absolutely. Worn out. You’re trying to sleep and live in a hospital room made for one person.

Christina: Yes. Yes.

Kelly: Was there a verse or a scripture that God gave you that you held on to during that time?

Christina: Yeah. Actually, Isaiah 43:2 and it’s funny because I never really read much in Isaiah before this time. It was very interesting that the scriptures that God was giving me came from the book Isaiah.

Kelly: Oh my goodness.

Christina: Yes. I don’t think I said that my son’s name is Isaiah. So I don’t [00:13:00] think that’s a coincidence that the verses of hope and strength for me came from Isaiah.

But. Isaiah 43:2, I will be with you when you pass through waters and when you pass through the rivers, they will not overwhelm you. You will not be scorched when you walk through the fire and the flame will not burn you. And actually, I really like the New Living translation. And I’m going to read that.

Kelly: Yes, please.

Christina: When you go through deep waters, I will be with you. When you go through rivers of difficulty, you will not drown. When you walk through the fire of oppression, you will not burn up. The flames will not consume you. I feel like that, actually that version kind of covers it a little bit better, just, whatever we were going through, it was not fun, but God said we would not be consumed and we weren’t.

Kelly: You weren’t. And even that moment, Christina, when you walked out of [00:14:00] the bathroom after praying and you felt God’s peace. Fill you, surround you, sustain you. You didn’t know how things were going to turn out, but you knew God was with you and he was going to carry you through.

Christina: That’s right. Regardless of what happened, regardless of whether it happened the way we wanted it to or what he knew was best, I knew that we’d be okay.

Kelly: Yeah, I love that verse. It’s so amazing that God encouraged you through Isaiah.

And then y’all went home and you continue to do outpatient therapy. So that was your life for a year.

Christina: Yes, probably almost a year, and just again, having to balance all of the things. And the girls were put to the side, kind of, by their mother.

And that was hard, during the time we were in the hospital, that’s where I had to be. And I had to trust that my husband and my parents [00:15:00] and, friends who are like family would fill that space for me, just take care of them. And I had to surrender quite a bit of control. There were times when I was like, listen, this needs to happen and this needs to happen. And you didn’t do that. Right. Let’s fix it.

But I really tried as much as I could to surrender that part, surrender my girls and God covered them because. They never complained, it wasn’t ideal for them because they didn’t get to stay at our house. Most of the time they stayed with my parents, but God absolutely covered them.

Kelly: That is beautiful because they could have come out of this feeling resentful and

Christina: Absolutely. And it was hard. They lost, at one point my oldest who was only 13 months older than Isaiah was really struggling because her brother [00:16:00] wasn’t the same. And I was upset one day because I felt like she wasn’t helping him enough.

And she said, did you ever think that….Think about how I lost my best friend. Now he wasn’t dead, but he was different. And so she was mourning the loss of her brother, being the way he used to be. When we came out of the hospital, he could, talk and walk, but not well It was very… and there were some personality things that were a little bit different.

He dealt with some OCD and he put that on his sisters pointing out when their rooms were not clean or the dishes needed to be done or, oh yeah. So she especially was mourning the loss of this best friend that she had, she knew in a certain way.

Kelly: Wow. I am [00:17:00] so amazed at her ability to figure that out. It would have been so easy for her to just stuff that and to not understand it and to be angry or sad or whatever. But she was able to put words to it. And, oh, that’s so amazing. And I hadn’t thought of that. Yeah. I hadn’t thought of what she lost. Or what they lost.

That’s pretty insightful for such a young teenage girl. I’m amazed. I think that says a lot about her mom there, but I love how the Lord carried them and met their needs through this whole situation and your husband as well.

Christina: Absolutely. And one day I’ll share the story of how God brought my husband and I together. It’s kind of funny, there are times when I’m like, really, God, that’s the one you chose for me. But I absolutely could not have gone through this with anyone else.

He let me be mama bear [00:18:00] and he was 100 percent supportive and he took care of what he needed to on the other end. Yes, I’m so grateful for that.

Kelly: Yes. That’s just beautiful. That is miraculous. I want you to share the story, though, of how you and your husband got together.

Christina: Okay. Well. Ozzy and I had dated for a little while and I decided that I didn’t want to be with him anymore. So I broke up with him. We were in our early twenties and it was years in between and we were friends kind of, but he got on my nerves.

I didn’t want to be with him in that way anymore and I was done. He was still kind of holding on, but I was just like, God, can you help him find someone else? Move on. But I was driving home from singing lessons one day and it was about a 45 minute drive.

And I was praying because the car is one of the best places to pray, I think. And I was, I was [00:19:00] 24, I think, and I was young and thriving and dating and, like, God, who am I supposed to be with? I, my brain was kind of changing at that point and I was ready to figure it out and settle down.

And I said, who am I supposed to be with? And I heard in my spirit, almost audibly, you are going to marry Ozzy. And I knew that wasn’t me because it’s not what I wanted. Yeah. And so I responded, No! And I screamed and I beat on the steering wheel all the way home. I, and I out loud told God, you gave me free will.

And I am using it right now. I am not going to do that. How bold of me. Yes, I

Kelly: You’re basically saying no way, God, that’s not happening.

Christina: [00:20:00] I told him no, absolutely not. I mean, No hesitation whatsoever, that is boldness before the Lord, the wrong kind. I was really upset by it because it’s not what I wanted.

And it took about two weeks during that time, God was so patient with me. He didn’t strike me. I didn’t run off the road. And my heart started to soften. He let me sit with it for a little while and my heart changed within a couple of weeks and I started thinking about Ozzy and seeing Ozzy in a different way.

And so I called him and. I came humble because I knew that he could have moved on. I hadn’t actually talked to him in weeks before that, or months maybe. And I called him and I said, I need to talk to you. And I share, I didn’t share with him the temper tantrum, but I did share with him what God told me.

And I knew that he could say, well, I’m done. [00:21:00] I’ve moved on, but he was very happy and we, I mean, right then we knew we would get married and I think we even called our parents that night because it was such a big moment like we knew that this is what God had for us.

Kelly: Oh, my goodness. You knew that was from the Lord.

Christina: Oh, my goodness. When it’s the opposite of what you want,

Kelly: yes. That is amazing. Thank you for sharing that story. Well, that makes your story with Isaiah so much richer because you see how God brought the two of you together for such a time as this.

God used that to sustain you and your marriage through this crisis.

Christina: Yes. Yes. So all the things that we don’t want to do, if we just would trust God, when we know that it’s him, we don’t know better. We don’t see the big picture. God knew this time was going to come and he knew that Ozzy was the perfect partner to get through this with. [00:22:00]

Kelly: Yeah,  There were times when you were just so worn out y’all had to leave the house several times a week for rehab and it was exhausting. Describe that time for us and how the Lord strengthened you and sustained you?

Christina: It just had to be the power of the Holy Spirit, because I don’t know where I would have gotten the strength otherwise, because I was tired and, half the time I felt like I had a brain injury.

He didn’t know how to express everything he was feeling and he would get emotional sometimes. And I would think, am I crazy? Because I thought I was communicating this to him, but I just had to be patient.

And again, trust that we were going to get past. All of that past the, what felt like crazy and I was going to get sleep. And, I didn’t realize till later that it was a traumatic experience. And I had to take care of [00:23:00] myself as someone who had dealt with trauma. There was a time when we heard a thump in the middle of the night and found him on the floor.

And, just the going back to, okay. He didn’t die the first time, but God didn’t tell us he wasn’t going to die at all. There were so many things to work through during that time. And it was scary because we were home and we didn’t have a nurse. Right outside the door. We didn’t have doctors, waiting to help.

So we really had to trust that God was going to take care of him because we couldn’t we don’t have enough power to take care of all of the things. So I just had to every day go back to that night where I trusted God with Isaiah’s life. And I still do that when I’m struggling to trust him with whatever’s going [00:24:00] on.

I go back to that night and I think, Christina, you trusted him with Isaiah’s whole life that night. And you knew that regardless of what the outcome would be, that you would be okay. Don’t forget that,

Kelly: so powerful. One of the things I know that y’all dealt with is that he wanted to be independent and he was frustrated that he couldn’t be. And so he would try not to use his assistive aids. He had different things that he would wear to help him walk . But in his brain, he’s thinking, I can do this… he’s unsafe a lot of times.

Christina: Yes. Yes. but trying to express to your child that they need to trust you. And wait for help. I mean, isn’t that how God is with us though? And those are the lessons that I learned throughout all of this. It’s just how God must feel when we try and go outside of his will, when he can, he’s big enough to see everything and know when we should go and when we should [00:25:00] stop or just wait for a little while.

And that’s what I experienced with Isaiah just, and it was frustrating. Like, I love you, son. Please believe me when I say you need to wait, please believe me. When I say that you need help with this, just trust me.

Kelly: Yes. You describe a lot of the surrender lessons between you surrendering and Isaiah having to surrender.

Christina: Oh goodness.

Kelly: He wanted to play football again.

Christina: Oh, he did. Yes.

Kelly: Well, I want to share one verse that you share in your book. You share so many scriptures in your book. But when you were really weary, one of the verses you share that sustained you also from Isaiah chapter 40.

The Lord is the everlasting God, the creator of all the earth. He never grows weak or weary. He gives power to the weak and strength to the powerless. And then the verse goes on to say, all of us [00:26:00] become weak and tired and exhausted at some point, but In verse 31, we read those who trust in the Lord, those who wait on him, who hope in him, they’ll find new strength.

I love that. They’ll soar high on wings like eagles. They’ll run and not grow weary. They will walk and not faint.

Christina: Yes. And that is one of our life verses, because that’s what we continue to experience. Just trust when he says, okay, go left, go, wait,

Kelly: yeah, even when it doesn’t make sense,

Christina: even when it doesn’t make sense,

Kelly: well, can you take us up to where Isaiah is today?

Christina: He is goodness, such a miracle. He is a senior in college, a senior in college. I can hardly believe it. He is majoring now in communications. Which is a miracle in itself because, and he changed his major.

It was going to be physical therapy, which [00:27:00] made sense, but honestly, in my heart, I never felt like that was the right thing for him because I thought, well, he’s going to share his story. That needs to be his job, but God brought him to that and he changed his major to communications. And that is the part of his brain that died.

The language part of his brain is what was consumed with blood and died and had to grow again or reconnect again. So I think that’s amazing, but he is involved in everything possible. He’s a senator in the student government for the senior class. And he was able to go to Kenya last year for a mission trip.

He is a mentor to freshmen coming in. Everything he can possibly do he does, and some things that stress me out. And again, I just have to continue to trust God and,

Kelly: so is he fully independent today?

Christina: He [00:28:00] is. He is still weak on his right side, just like someone who’s had a stroke. He he can’t use his right hand very well.

And he walks with a limp. He has no peripheral vision to the right, but it does not stop him. He drives and plays basketball and does everything he could possibly do. It’s very interesting because before we left the hospital, I 100 percent believed that God would restore Isaiah fully and that he would be even better than he was before.

I thought he’s going to have more athletic ability is he’s going to. Hit genius level because this is going to spark something in his brain. I just, I had faith of a mustard seed, right? That this was going to happen. These, he was going to be better than ever, but that’s not what happened. He didn’t come out perfect the way I thought he [00:29:00] should or would, because I thought, Oh, what a testimony this would be God. I told God what I thought would be best to tell a story.

Kelly: We’re so good at that. Aren’t we?

Christina: Oh my goodness. Yes. I mean, we just know the best case scenario, but he didn’t walk out that way and he’s still not that way, but he is perfect the way God intended for him to be. And I think his testimony is stronger this way because he still has struggles yet.

He walks through this life with the most joy I’ve ever seen. And anyone I’ve ever known, and even though he’s just so joyful, so grateful for his life, and he’ll tell you, it’s okay that this happened. He said, because I, he said, I thought I knew God. But now I really know him.

Kelly: Gosh, that’s amazing.

Christina: Yeah.

Kelly: I remember when my oldest daughter was about seven and [00:30:00] I have four kids, three of them are profoundly deaf. And I said to the Lord, when she was little. So we only had her and I said, you could heal her and I would tell everybody what you’ve done and it’s going to look really good for you. It’s going to be a win situation. I can be your public relations girl.

Christina: I identify with that,

Kelly: but it was so sweet with the Lord said to me, he just covered me with this peace. And he said, Kelly, I can be more glorified in her deafness than I can in her healing. That was the moment for me where I just laid it all down and just said, okay, all right. I will trust you. I will follow you. My hope is in you.

Christina: Yes. Amen. Yes.

Kelly: Your book is a beautiful story of surrender. You’re very honest and raw. I just love that you never present platitudes, but you really tell the truth about how hard it was at times to just keep going and to persevere.

Christina: [00:31:00] Yeah, I don’t have the energy to be anyone other than me. So I have to come as I am.

Kelly: And you do. I want to mention before we have you share how people can connect with you. That I was not going to buy this book because the title really put me off: When God changed His mind….

and I think, okay, there’s a lot of scriptures that say God doesn’t lie. He doesn’t change his mind. Yet there are these mysterious stories where God invites us into the conversation and it kind of looks that way, but the thing that has held me with such an anchor is that God is the same yesterday, today and forever.

He is always in charge and he always knows the future. So I thought, I just don’t know if I’m going to buy this book, but then I met you, Christina and your faith, you shine the love of Jesus. Your faith is so evident. Your love for God’s word is so evident. And I said, I’m going to read it. And I’m so [00:32:00] glad I did. It’s very biblically sound.

Christina: Yes. I think it can be misleading because there are parts of the Bible that talks about God changing his mind, but it’s not literally, he changed his mind because he knows what’s going to happen, but like you said, he invites us he invites us to invite him really into our lives and have a conversation.

And petition him in these situations to work the way that he knows is best. And I know that I struggle sometimes because my son was allowed to live. And there are other mothers who did not get to keep their sons, but I know that because he sees the whole picture, he knows what is going to be for our good, the best thing for our good and his glory, and to be able to surrender that.

And I’ve been [00:33:00] looked at other mothers whose sons have maybe had something similar and they have no residual issues. And so, I’ve had to also grieve Sometimes the things that I feel we’ve lost through some of his weaknesses now, but there’s always someone who has more and always someone who has less. And we just have to trust that God is sovereign over it all.

Kelly: Yes. Amen. Amen. Thank you for bringing that part out. Is there anything else you wanted to share, Christina, about the truths that you hope people take away from your story?

Christina: Just that life does not always go as we planned. There are some things we had planned for Isaiah’s life that will never be. And it, it seemed as he was starting out that we were going to go one direction and it quickly got turned around and[00:34:00] other people also, we all have dreams at some point that are shattered and we think, God, why did you let that happen?

But If we trust that God knows what’s best, if we trust that he does see all of it and he knows what’s best and we can have joy, regardless of our circumstances, just trust him in all things. We don’t have to give in to the woe is me life, just. Just look ahead because I think we miss sometimes what he’s got for us because it doesn’t fit our picture.

So I just want people to see that even when life doesn’t turn out the way we think it should, we can trust that God knows the best thing for our lives and live in joy, live with the hope that we’re going to see his goodness in it.

Kelly: Amen. That’s the place where I live too.

Christina: Yes.

Kelly: [00:35:00] your website is Christinacustodio.com. The name of your book again is When God changed his Mind: A true story of trial, triumph and finding joy beyond circumstances. I’ll have all your links in the show notes, but how else would you like people to connect with you, Christina?

Christina: They can find me maybe easier on Facebook and Instagram under Christina Custodio. It’s kind of like custodian, but custodio. And I write there every day and have words of encouragement each day.

Kelly: Okay, that’s great.Well, thank you so much for sharing this time with me.

Christina: Thank you for having me.

Thanks for listening to the Unshakable Hope Podcast. If you enjoyed today’s episode, please subscribe and leave a review. To continue the conversation and for free resources, be sure to visit me at kellyhall. org. Thanks so much.

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