Today, I want to introduce you to a very special person. I met Philip Holtz a year ago when he came up to Alaska to broadcast summer league baseball games for the team I work for. As he will tell you, God had much bigger plans for him (and many other people) than just baseball. Philip is truly one of the most amazing and inspiring people I know, and I asked him to share his story with you because not only is it a miraculous one, it is a reminder to us all that even the worst moments of our lives are not the end of the story in the kingdom of God. Without further adieu, I will let Philip take it from here...
"My name is Philip Holtz, and God has definitely had His hands on me throughout all 23 years of my life so far. I came to faith in the Lord through my biggest hardship in my life. That hardship was caused by a benign brain tumor that I had when I was just 2 years old.
Doctors performed a surgery that removed the tumor, but something went wrong that caused me to have right sided weakness. That would lead me to needing to have both physical and occupational therapy sessions, multiple times per week to help me improve. Those appointments lasted for over half my life. I'm much better and stronger now compared to where I started, but my right side will never be as strong as my left. I would also need around 40 surgeries to date to try to make me as healthy and strong as possible.
It's kind of hard to remember 40 surgeries, so I'll just focus on the big ones that I can remember. Rewind to when I was about 12 or 13 years old. I had been very sick, and couldn't even walk down the hallway without feeling the need to throw up. At first we thought it was just a bad stomach flu, but it turned out to be much more serious than that. When I had the brain tumor, that required me to have shunts, which are almost like tubes that would drain excess fluid from my brain and into my stomach. If it didn't drain, that would cause severe headaches, and they would cause me to throw up. So that's exactly what happened at that time.
What started out as just an overnight stay turned into a 28 day stay (over Christmas I might add) that required 7 surgeries. There would times that I would just start to be wheeled out of my room and I would ask, 'Where are we going?' The doctors would reply with, 'You have another surgery today.' My parents wouldn't tell me when my surgeries were because they knew that I would overthink it, which they were absolutely correct on. So after that stay, I was all good from the incident.
That stay in the hospital really made me think about everything that had happened to me up to that point. By the age of 13, I had already had around 30 surgeries, and the only thing that was 'wrong' with me physically at this time was a brace on my leg and a limp hand. Pretty awesome considering that I could have easily been brain dead or actually dead. It was at that time that I realized that that was too much to happen to simply be a coincidence. My family had raised my brothers and I in a Christian home, and I always considered myself a Christian to that point, but I had never actually given my life to the Lord. It was at that time that I gave my life to God because without Him and His grace, I wouldn't have been where I was at that point or now.
Since then I've had around 10 more surgeries, including a foot surgery that involved surgeons cutting my heel cord and rearranging the bone structure of my foot, in order to make me walk completely flat. That was one of the toughest ones because I love playing sports, especially basketball, and it took me a year to learn how to run again after that.
Then, just a year ago, I accepted an opportunity to broadcast for the Chugiak-Eagle River Chinooks in the Alaska Baseball League, and what made it even better was that the internship was through Athletes in Action, which is a Christian organization. Long story short, I got sick after broadcasting just one game and went to the hospital because my shunts had malfunctioned for the 2nd time in 6 months. But after being in the hospital for a few weeks, I walked out of there shunt free for the first time since I was 2. Absolutely incredible that God would take me all the way to Alaska to solve my biggest issue. The Lord works in mysterious ways, but His plans are always greater than we could ever ask or imagine. God is good.
Now, I'm married to my beautiful wife Lauren, living on our own, and being blessed on a daily basis. In a nutshell, that is how I came to my faith in Christ. It was a road of struggles and hardships, but a road of blessings and miracles as well, and it was totally worth it."
For more information about Philip's story and to read a more detailed post about his summer in Alaska, visit his blog page at: www.philipholtz.blogspot.com.