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Guest Interviews

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Kimberley & Kayla Woodhouse

2155 5/22/11

SSC: Today, I'm pleased to introduce you to an amazing mother/daughter team. The mom's name is Kimberley and the daughter's name is Kayla; Kimberley and Kayla Woodhouse. When Kayla was just a young girl, she was diagnosed with a very rare disease. In fact she's one of only 25 people in the whole world who has this disease: Hereditary Sensory Autonomic Neuropathy. It is a serious, life threatening disease. She feels no pain. Now you may think that's a good thing, but its not. God gives us pain as a warning that helps us save our life. But she has no pain. She is also incapable of cooling her body down, so when she gets hot, her organs can shut down. Its life threatening and its very, very serious.

Today, at the age of 14, Kayla, along with her mom Kimberley, has written a fictional novel entitled No Safe Haven, and that makes Kayla the youngest author to be published by a royalty paying publisher.

Please welcome, Kimberley and Kayla Woodhouse. First of all Kayla, you look too mature to be only 14 years old.

KAYLA: Well thank you.

SSC: Kimberley, how old was Kayla when you found out she had this disease and what was it like for you as a mom?

KW: Well the Lord had really protected Kayla from birth until she was 14 months old, when she had heat stroke. I had post partum depression and that is what saved her life because I just didn't want to be around people, so I didn't go anywhere. It was amazing to us that it took so long for the disease to be discovered in Kayla, but she was 2 years old when she was finally diagnosed. It was a really difficult time, yet we were able to find God's joy in it and to cling to that, because as a mom, it was really hard for me to come to terns that this is my child and she'll have to live with this for the rest of her life.

SSC: And what has it been like for you, Kayla, growing up with this? There is no cure for this, right?

KAYLA: That's right. I've lived with it my entire life so it's my normal and I really don't know anything different. God has blessed me in so many ways and I just want to live with God's joy in my heart because He's given me this. It's a blessing, not a burden.

SSC: Wow. That's amazing. It's a blessing, not a burden. What great words. Tell us about the vest you're wearing.

KAYLA: We call this my cooling vest. It has cooling packets on the inside, kind of like ice except they last a lot longer. The vest was actually designed by NASA. The astronauts wear them underneath their suits to keep them cool. As I wear it, it absorbs my body heat and keeps me cold.

SSC: What a tremendous life saving invention for you. Now Kimberley, this isn't the only physical challenge that Kayla had, because in March of 2006, an MRI showed another life threatening condition. What happened?

KW: Well for Kayla, it's been very difficult because she never became symptomatic because she doesn't feel pain the same way you and I do, and pain is a good thing.

SSC: It is a good thing.

KW: So we're blessed to have pain and I'm thankful to the Lord for that. But because Kayla doesn't feel pain, doctors discovered that she had a chiari malformation of the brain, which meant that her skull had never grown big enough for her brain and it was oozing down on the top of her spinal cord. She had a cyst on her spinal cord that was restricting the information going to her brain, so she was falling down stairs and couldn't walk through a door straight. So praise the Lord, almost five years ago, she had brain decompression surgery.

SSC: Wow. That had to be very scary.

KW: Yes, it was.

SSC: You were then left with a tremendous mountain of medical bills.

KW: Yes, lots and lots of bills. We have not been covered by insurance for many years because when Kayla was diagnosed; hereditary is the first term in the diagnosis. It's very scary for insurance companies to take on something very rare so our bills mounted and mounted and we realized we needed to sell our home.

We put our home up for sale and it didn't sell for about a year and a half. Things just kept getting worse and more bills kept coming in. I told many people we'll live in an air conditioned box as long as we're together because that's what really matters. And so it was incredible that just a few months after all this happened, our house finally sold and then the bus pulled up with Ty Pennington. Praise the Lord, today we can say that we have a little more than half of our bills paid off.

SSC: So Extreme Makeover Home Edition built you a house?

KW: They did. They built us a house.

SSC: Wow. So a new home - what a miracle of God. Is it air conditioned?

KW: Yes, we have a huge air conditioner with several zones. It's very cold, so if you come to visit, wear a coat.

KAYLA: And a hat, and a scarf, and gloves.

SSC: Wow, that's wonderful. God has continued to provide one miracle after another, and you, Kayla, are a walking, talking miracle.

And now the two of you have written a fiction novel, No Safe Haven. What was the inspiration behind this?

KW: Actually, it was our editor's idea for us to collaborate and write together. That was such a blessing, because I had written before. I have a non-fiction book out called Welcome Home, that's about our story. So Kayla and I started writing together. We love Alaska; it's a place where we had lived and Kayla really had a childhood there, so the book takes place in Alaska and Kayla's character has the same disorder that she has.

It's been amazing to see Kayla express herself through this book. Her character has the same bold faith that Kayla has, which is amazing.

SSC: That's so great. What a wonderful gift for young people to be able to read and be inspired through fiction. That's a wonderful medium.

So Kayla, how do you maintain your faith with everything you go through?

KAYLA: Just God really. I mean reading the bible, being with family. You know God has blessed us and I don't want to take things for granted. We have this great house, we have fellowship, we have church, and we take life just one step at a time.

SSC: Well, I want to thank both of you for sharing your story, and for standing up for Jesus.

KW: Thank you.

KAYLA: Thank you.

SSC: Kayla, I'd like to close with a prayer for you. Lord Jesus Christ, thank You for this precious daughter that You created in her mother's womb. You knit her together beautifully; perfectly for Your plan for her. Thank You that You will not leave her or forsake her, but that You will always provide and protect, and You will use her for Your kingdom's sake. Thank You that her mom and dad and her brother, Josh, are such a powerful support system for her. We praise You, we thank You and we ask You for continued protection and blessing on Kayla, in Jesus' name we pray this prayer, amen.

KAYLA: Amen.

SSC: Thank you, Kimberley..

KW: Thank you so much.

SSC: ..thank you, Kayla. God bless you. Their book, No Safe Haven is available on our website at www.hourofpower.org.


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