A wife and mother of three, Karen Orlando came to know the Lord at 14 years of age. Soon after, God miraculously replaced her tone deafness with a beautiful voice. Since then, she has blessed thousands of people throughout the world with her vocal talents and her extraordinary testimony. Karen's ministry reaches people from all walks of life, but is most appreciated by those who're struggling with situations that seem impossible to overcome. Those who hear her story easily see the hand of God in Karen's life and realize that the power of God can truly provide "beyond what we ask or imagine." This is the story of Karen Orlando Waldvogel and the awesome power of God.
The Brink of a Miracle
"Don't give up. You are on the brink of a miracle".
Karen Orlando Waldvogel
I have been in the midst of a miracle from the beginning of my life. Soon, after I was born, doctors told my parents that I had developed brain damage during birth and that I would never lead a normal life. Despite a slow start in elementary
school, I graduated from high school with honors and earned bachelor's and master's degrees from the Mannes College of Music in Manhattan, New York-a major accomplishment for a tone deaf, mentally challenged girl from NewYork.
At eight years old, I witnessed the saving grace of God as he made a way for my father, Charles Orlando, to hear the Gospel from a neighbor. He accepted Christ as his Savior and immediately started taking us to church every time the doors opened. A few months later, my father suffered a massive heart attack from which doctors were sure he would never survive. But God had other plans, and after heartfelt prayers from my entire family, our friends and our church, we witnessed a miracle. Our family walked out of the hospital arm in arm with my father only a few weeks after his attack and began a spiritual path that brought much heartache, but many more miracles.
As a young teenager, I dreamed of being a performer. Since I had never been able to sing, and frankly couldn't carry a tune in a bucket, I decided to realize my dream through dance. I practiced continually and was dedicated to my aspirations of dancing professionally one day. But again, God had other plans. My entire family and I spent a lot of time in Bible study and prayer, keeping our hearts open to God's leading. Although we didn't understand why, both my mother and I felt impressed by God that I should stop dancing. It was difficult for me to make this decision since I loved this form of expression and couldn't imagine life without dance, but I followed God's leading and quit dancing. Soon afterward, God gave me a great peace when I heard Him say, "I never take anything away without replacing it with something greater. Obedience is better than sacrifice."
Less than a year later, while I was in my bedroom I began to sing, really SING. Mom heard me and asked me to turn the radio off. "It's me, Mom. It's me." I exclaimed, knowing I was telling the truth, but not believing it myself. In an instant, God healed me of my tone deafness. I knew at that moment that God must have great plans for me, but he wasn't ready for me to follow those plans just yet. I needed a chance to experience more of God's grace, and my first opportunity was just around the corner.
It was late one winter evening when my family received a devastating phone call. My older brother, Charlie, who was away at Bible College, was in a motorcycle accident and was clinging to life at a nearby hospital. I prayed fervently through the night for Charlie's healing as my parents traveled to reach his bedside, but Charlie died just as they arrived. As a young Christian and a young teenager, the tragedy was a blow to my faith. After all the miracles I had experienced in my life, I just couldn't understand how God could let me down.
But God showed me, through the strength of my parent's faith, that his Word was indeed true.
"...God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." (Romans 8:28 NIV).
When I was finally able to get past my sorrow, I renewed my relationship with my Lord and felt peace that He would restore what He had taken away. I believe He fulfilled His promise in my wonderful, spirit-led husband Bobby Waldvogel. Bobby was my brother's best friend. We met in 1981, but because I was 14 and he was 20 we weren't ready to begin dating. We ran into each other now and then, but nothing clicked until I saw Bobby at my brother's funeral in 1989. He began calling me, but I was in the middle of college and not ready to get into a relationship. God, of course, had other plans. In the winter of 1990, a friend asked that I attend a funeral with her. The deceased was a mutual friend who was about the same age as my brother. I didn't really want to go, but decided to support my friend. I don't know who or what hit me in on the back and said, "Bobby's here," but I turned around and saw him. We began dating the next night, and planned our wedding a year later.
As our wedding day neared, and my thoughts were immersed in bridesmaids' dresses and photographer packages, God got my attention. I found myself on my knees once more, pleading for a miracle. Six months before our wedding day my father suffered another heart attack and was hospitalized in a vegetative state. I had seen God work a miracle 15 years earlier and I felt He would do it again. I even yelled at my cousins who doubted God's healing power. I told them that they didn't know my God and that He would heal my father. But once again, God had other plans. Daddy died days later without regaining consciousness.
I was angry with God. Of all people, I thought, God should have mercy on us. We read the Bible, pray and dedicate our lives to Christ every day. It was at this time that I faced a crossroads in my spiritual life. And it was the unfailing Godly teaching of my parents that kept me from forsaking my faith. I decided, with God's prompting, that I could remain angry and let anger guide my life, or I could trust in God to provide the peace that passes all understanding. I am so thankful that God didn't forsake me, even though for a time I doubted Him.
Five months later, just one month before our wedding, our family was shaken once again. My mother was hit by a car and suffered critical injuries that were life threatening. Mom's head trauma was so serious that the paramedics actually said, "Lady, it is obvious that the man upstairs did not want your mom now because no one could survive the accident she was in." It truly was not God's plan for my mother to die at that time. Within weeks, she was completely healed.
Life returned to normal, and Bobby and I enjoyed a peaceful time as newlyweds. Two years later we were blessed with the news that I was pregnant. However, twenty weeks into what we thought was a healthy pregnancy we received some devastating news. During a routine sonogram, doctors found a tumor on my baby's brain. He said she would probably be born mentally retarded, and suggested an amniocentesis to be sure. He warned, however, that there was a slight chance the test could cause a miscarriage.
Bobby and I went home heartbroken. Even though I had only been pregnant a few months, this baby had already become a part of our lives and it was implausible that she should have this condition. I would have never imagined that anything could ever affect me more than the death of my father, but this news was truly devastating.
Once I regained control of my emotions, I phoned the doctor and told him that the test was out of the question. There was no way I was going to risk my baby's life, even if she is mentally challenged. I had witnessed the true physician at work many times in my family's life and I knew he could still do miracles. The doctor, whose liberal beliefs made it impossible for him to understand our decision not to do the test, reluctantly conceded to our wishes, canceled the amniocentesis and scheduled another sonogram for six weeks later.
During the next few weeks, Bobby and I, along with our family, friends and fellow Christians at our local church in New York, went to our knees, appealing to our Father for another miracle. We gave our child to God and prayed believing that He would heal her. "No matter what, we will raise this child to give glory to Your name," we promised.
After weeks bathed in prayer, we were sure that God had healed our daughter, so we went to our scheduled sonogram a little nervous, but very hopeful. When the sonogram was completed the nurse left the room and told us to wait for an explanation from the doctor. Moments later she burst through the door and excitedly exclaimed, "They're all gone." I said, "What do you mean?" The nurse said, "Didn't you know your baby's brain was wrapped in cysts and tumors, and now, they are all gone."
Again God had given beyond what we asked or imagined. He not only healed our daughter, but he used our daughter's condition for His glory, showing the health care providers in that office that the true physician is always in control no matter what modern science shows. Kimberly Rose Waldvogel was born on May 4, 1995, and is a normal, healthy little girl.
"I sought the Lord and he answered me; he delivered me from all my fears. Those who look to him are radiant and their faces are never covered with shame. This poor man called, and the Lord heard him; he saved him out of all his troubles. The angel of the Lord encamps around those who fear him, and delivers them." (Psalm 34 NIV)
All this time we had been living in Plainview, New York, with my mother. The cost of living in the area was high, but God provided for our needs. In 1996, Mom sold the property and we moved to a big house in Smithtown, New York. Within the next two years God blessed us with two more children: Charles Christian and Samantha Joy.
Personally I was content, but spiritually I knew there was one thing I still needed to do. I had promised our Lord that I would use the voice he gave me to minister to those in need, especially the unsaved. I had performed at concerts in those early years, but I had always had my father there to guide me. Following his death, my ministry stopped. At this time, we were attending a local church in New York, where Bobby and I were worship leaders. We also wrote and directed the Christmas and Easter presentations, both of which were evangelistic outreaches that brought many unsaved people to the knowledge of Jesus Christ as their personal Savior and Lord.
These church ministries had been a blessing, but I knew God wanted me to continue with my music ministry. I sought His guidance and asked Him what happened to the vision He had given me for my ministry years before. He answered, "Before I work through you, I must work in you." I realized that all the trials I'd experienced and all the miracles I'd witnessed were part of God's plan to bring me to the spiritual maturity God needed to work through me and truly minister to others.
In 1999, the Lord spoke to my heart and made it clear that the time had come for me to do an album. He gave me the songs to sing and the title of the album. I trusted God's leading. Even though I didn't understand how He would provide the funds to pay for the project, I ordered the music. It cost exactly the amount we had in our savings account. Next, I booked the studio, even though we didn't have the money to pay for it. And just as I've seen Him do time and again, God provided. The day before I was due to pay the down payment for the studio an unexpected check came in the mail from my old job. A vacation fund that I had forgotten about ended up being used for the rest of the project costs. We paid for the project without taking one dime from our regular household expenses or going into debt. Since then God's blessings in this ministry have been innumerable. I've been blessed to speak throughout the country at seminars, retreats and church gatherings. We've also completed our sixth album, "To Win My Heart."
"...Write down the revelation and make it plain on tablets so that a herald may run with it. For the revelation awaits an appointed time; it speaks of the end and will not prove false. Though it linger, wait for it; it will certainly come and will not delay." (Habakkuk 2:2-3 NIV)
When God gives you a vision, hold onto it as it WILL come to pass. Whether it is a ministry, the salvation of a loved one, a financial matter, or a physical or spiritual healing, God is able. Don't ever give up. You are on the brink of a miracle. The answer may not come the way you think it will come, but the Lord's timing is perfect. It is through the fire that He refines us so that we come to know Him and to know who we are in Him.
My prayer is that each person who reads this or hears of God's power through this story will learn to trust Him; believe Him; and believe in His promises.
"They overcame him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony..." (Revelation 12:11 NIV)
If Jesus Christ is not your personal Lord and Savior, get on your knees and invite Him into your life for "today is the day of salvation." Seek Him and His will for your life. Allow Him to work in you so that He can work through you. It will be a life-changing experience.