All posts by Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

I am a family physician who loves to write about the HEART of HEALTH. On my blog, Watercress Words, I inform and inspire us in healthy living. My ideas come from my training, experiences, medical practice, personal life, and medicine in the media. There's always something new and interesting to explore in the world of health and medicine.

How one woman handles life’s “trump” cards- a book review

I ran into Sara Stophel, author of TRUMPED BY SOVEREIGNTY and asked her what’s happened new in her life since I reviewed her book. Here’s what she said.

“I finished my Bachelor of Science, Liberal Studies degree this August (2018). Basically, a general degree with minors in Education and Music and a bunch of courses in social work and psychology! I am job hunting…the areas that really draw me in have been in the organ donation area, writing area…and pretty much all the non-profits! Passions lie there. :-)”

 

Her personal life is going well also. Her son Nik (whose photos appear in this post) works for Samaritan’s Purse.  Samaritan’s Purse is one of the organizations I feature  on my Share the HEART of health page. He is engaged to a young woman who will soon graduate as a nurse. Another son is dating a young woman who is a medical resident. So of course I’m happy to see the Stophel family supporting the health care professions.

 

 

 

Here’s my review of Sara’s moving and inspirational memoir.

TRUMPED BY SOVEREIGNTY:

Juggling Faith, Healing, And Submission to God’s Perfect Plans

BY SARA STOPHEL

A MEMOIR

 

 

 

“Damen Ballard, twenty-five, left his apartment on April 19, 1995, to grab a pack of cigarettes at the convenience store. On his way back he took the shortcut…crossing I-44 on foot at rush hour. He was hit and became a John Doe while doctors tried to save his life. Even as we were watching the terrible news of the Oklahoma City bombing down the road…and fighting against all of those feelings of desperation when we discovered no hearts would be coming…Chuck’s new heart was just two floors above us in the very same hospital.”

large storm cloud
photo by Nikolai Stophel

 

 

 

Sovereignty is a word you may not use or even hear often; I know I don’t.  Probably the most common usage is in a political sense, like the sovereignty (authority) of a nation. Maybe that’s why Sara Stophel offers this definition on the back cover of her book;

“‘Sovereignty’ means that God, as the ruler of the universe, has the right to do whatever he wants. Further, he is in complete control over everything that happens.

In a game of cards, a trump card overrules any card previously played … But what happens when that “game” is actually life? And what happens when you realize that God’s sovereignty is the final trump card?”

 

Trumped by Sovereignty is two stories in one book.  One story relates the multiple medical challenges faced by Sara, her husband Chuck,  their children and extended family. The other story describes how Sara coped with these challenges, especially in relationship to her Christian faith.

I have known Sara and her family for several years and already knew much of their story although not all. I know Sara to be direct, truthful and frank. She does not mince words.

(I did not consult Sara prior to writing this review.  I paid for my copy of her book.)

 

 

This is not one of those “how we went through a horrible experience and survived by our unshakable faith” stories; rather it is “how we went through extraordinary stress which tested our faith which survived and grew anyway”.

Sara doesn’t tell you how she solved her problems; she admits that her problems caused her to change the way she looks at life, faith and God.

a tornado in Oklahoma
photo of an active tornado by Nikolai Stohel

 

 

 

Sara’s book describes multiple medical conditions that afflicted her family (yes, afflicted is exactly the right word). The list reads like a medical textbook, so much so that you may need to look up some of the terms to understand what they are; she does not describe them in detailed scientific terms.  (I’ve included some links for you to use.)

Between Sara, her husband Chuck, their children and extended family they endured –

 

 

Sara and Chuck met in college, a Christian university that is known for its belief in divine healing. However, Sara’s home church did not teach miraculous healing. So it was a new concept for her, and one she found difficult to reconcile as her family’s serious health issues continued to worsen and not respond to medical treatment much less prayer.

She does not expect you to believe that she endured these challenges and tragedies due to strong and unwavering faith; rather she freely admits otherwise. As she puts it, her “truster” frequently breaks and needs repair.

“I could not commune with a God who did not honor my bigger-than-mustard-seed faith. I was more than certain God loved people…but I was also nearly certain He just needed me as a tool of transparency. My truster was broken. Having loved God my whole life, I couldn’t think of anything better…anywhere else to turn…so I just kept on serving and assuming the love and peace of God were for everyone but me.”

 

 

Sara sense of humor never wavers, both in her writing, and  in life; she probably could not have made it  through some of the days she has lived without it.

You will laugh, cry, or both at some of her stories like-

  • Her annual physical (which was a year late) with her doctor, Dr. LionKing (an offbeat humorous pronunciation of his real name)
  • Her first CPR class after a family death

 

 

And you may get angry as she describes her shabby treatment by the IRS, the cell phone company and the local fire department first responders who refused to take her critically ill husband to the hospital.

hugh storm cloud
impending storm captured by Nikolai Stophel

 

 

 

I encourage you to buy and read Trumped by Sovereignty. I know Sara and her sons which means I also know that their challenges are not over; in fact, they may be bigger than ever. I believe she will continue to face them with the same courage and humor that she has so far; and maybe in a few years she will write volume 2 of her story.

Trumped by Sovereignty is published by Paladin Publishing, Tulsa Oklahoma.

Sara Stophel welcomes invitations to speak; you can follow her on

Facebook  at Sara Stophel -author .

Sara Stophel with her book, Trumped By Sovereignty
Sarah showing her sense of humor, soon after the Presidential election . Is that the President-elect’s name?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sara’s son Nikolai Stophel is a professional writer/photographer for Samaritan’s Purse. Prior to that position, he  covered the turbulent weather we have here in Oklahoma. His photos of Oklahoma storms illustrate this post. You can find more of his work on Instagram. 

On the 6th anniversary of Chuck’s release from illness and pain, his wife Sara reflected on her Facebook page-

 

 

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          Dr. Aletha  

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Bringing good news

Luke chapter 2, New Living Translation 

 

The Shepherds and Angels

 
That night there were shepherds staying in the fields nearby, guarding their flocks of sheep.
 
Suddenly, an angel of the Lord appeared among them, and the radiance of the Lord’s glory surrounded them. They were terrified, but the angel reassured them.
 
shepherds raising arms to the sky
Shepherds drawing by Bill Hart
 
 
“Don’t be afraid!” he said.                                         
“I bring you good news that will bring    
great joy to all people.”
 
Holy Bible, New Living Translation, copyright © 1996, 2004, 2015 by Tyndale House Foundation. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc., Carol Stream, Illinois 60188. All rights reserved.

The artist- Bill Hart 

The late Bill Hart was a professional artist. He served in the United States Army during World War II and was part of the force which invaded  and liberated  France in 1944. You can read Bill’s story at this link. 

 
 
 
 
 

The composer- George Handel 

These verses from the Bible book Luke  are sung in Handel’s musical  Messiah musical. We usually associate  Messiah with Christmas, but Handel intended it to be performed at Easter.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 “Handel got the lyrics from a preacher named Charles Jennens, who wrote out the whole piece as a collage of Bible verses designed to tell a story about the Messiah.”
 
quoted from wheatwilliams.com
 
According to the Bible, Luke was a physician. George Handel’s father, Georg, was a barber-surgeon.

 Handel’s Messiah -Listen on Apple Music 

 
 
 
 
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A Simple Christmas book cover
 A Simple Christmas: A Faith-filled Guide to a Meaningful And Stress-free Christmas (Spirit of Simple Living) 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

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