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CBN.com Alysa Conselyea led a normal life for 21 years. She liked playing outside, loved ballet, and enjoyed school and cheerleading.
“She was always easy, fun,” says Linda, Alysa’s mother. “She was just good. She was just a good girl.”
But in May of 1996, Alysa’s life changed drastically. Her boyfriend Ken remembers that time well.
“She was very emotional,” remembers Ken. “She was having bad dreams.”
Adds Linda, “Happy one moment, crying the next, childlike the next.”
“It was so sudden,” recounts Alyssa’s father Dave. “A 20 year old would turn into a nine-year-old again.
Linda says, “She said when she would close her eyes that it was so black she felt like her soul was dead.”
“You almost would have thought it was some sort of demon possession,” Dave explains. “It was unbelievable, her screaming and her carrying on. That’s when we got real frightened.”
Alysa’s parents took her to the hospital. She was diagnosed with viral encephalitis, an infection that can cause permanent brain damage.
“There were lesions that developed on the brain,” Linda says. “She said, ‘I see Jesus, and I see Pastor Vaneman.’ Pastor Vaneman was our pastor who died on the mission field in Costa Rica. And that’s when we felt, at that point, that we were losing her.”
Alysa soon lapsed into a coma. Ken went to see her as often as he could.
He remembers, “We told the hospital staff that we were engaged so they would let me in to visit her. We weren’t engaged. We weren’t married. But we loved each other. We figured we’d get married. I was committed to her.”
When they started dating, Ken was not a Christian so Alysa would talk to him about God.
“My whole thing about becoming a Christian was that I was going to do it on my time,” Ken explains.
That changed when he saw the woman he loved lying in a hospital bed.
“I was at her bedside,” says Ken. “It was just me and her. I remember praying and asking Jesus to come into my life and save me. Then I remember feeling, almost physically feeling a presence in the room behind me to the point I had to turn around to look to see if anybody was behind me. I think I definitely felt his presence in my life at that time.”
Ken says he felt God’s comfort but Alysa’s prognosis was not good. Doctors recommended that she be put on a do not resuscitate order.
Adds Ken, “And if there’s any chance of her living, it will be as a vegetable.”
“You had some doctors that would just come along and say, you know, ‘Why don’t you let her go back to her God? Her life is going to have no value,’” sighs Linda.
But Alysa’s family wouldn’t let her go. Her mother hung on because she believed God told her he would heal Alysa.
“He gave us hope early on, so we had that hope,” says Linda emphatically. “I learned not to pray selfishly and to be able to say, she’s yours not ours, and thank you for the time you gave us.”
Alysa’s family and Ken watched her fall in and out of natural and drug induced comas. When she was conscious, she seemed severely brain damaged. And after a year and a half in the hospital, Alysa wasn’t getting better.
“It was very real thinking that God was going to take her,” says Linda. “There were some very dark days.”
Then, almost as quickly as she’d gotten sick, Alysa started to come around. It was slow going at first.
“We were thrilled the first time she moved her shoulder,” remember Linda.
It took about a year for her to relearn simple things like how to walk and talk. But today, Alysa is healthy and happy. And Ken, the boyfriend who stayed by her side, is now her husband.
“I proposed to her on her 25th birthday,” Ken says warmly.
“This man that had no commitment to me, they told him, my parents and my family that I probably wouldn’t survive and if I did I’d probably be a vegetable,” says Alysa. “The fact that he still chose to stay with me, we weren’t married, and we had no commitment. I was just amazed.”
“If there was anybody in the world that I thought would be perfect for her, he was the one,” Dave says proudly.
Alysa: He doesn’t think that what he did was so great.
Ken: Well, my point is I couldn’t have done it without having God there. It really taught me that I can depend on him.
Alysa says every day she’s grateful for her family. “They saved my life because of their strong faith, that, you know, I was worth something. Let’s say, I did become a vegetable. The doctors pretty much thought my life was worth nothing. (My parents) were ready to say, ‘That’s okay, even if that does happen. We love her, and we’re not going to end her life. It’s not your choice.’ Thank heavens they did that.”
Says Linda, “But because of that hope I kept going forward knowing that she was going to be healed.”
Adds Dave, “I didn’t doubt that she was going to come back to us. I just believed it wholeheartedly.”
It’s safe to say the entire family believes in miracles.
“I had lesions on my brain and one day they’re gone,” Alysa explains. “The fact that I’m walking again is a miracle. They didn’t think that I’d have children. We have two wonderful, beautiful, children. And they’re healthy. I’m just so happy to have such wonderful children.”
“We have an incredible God,” beams Linda.
“It wasn’t an instantaneous healing, but it was a complete healing. That’s the important thing,” says Dave.Alysa says, “He is my healer. He’s my savior. He gives me everything. I saw that he was really there for me. I saw that he really cared for me. He’s everything. That sums it all up. He’s everything.”
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