As I look back, I know now that God was preparing me for this summer.
Summer of 2013.
Soon after Christmas, I started having some “anxious” feelings about what the upcoming summer would hold. I was excited about the mission trip to Nicaragua…knowing our hearts would be touched and that it would change all of us. It certainly did! I believe it touched my daughter, Allie, the most. She fell in love with a little girl that lived at the dump and would’ve given ANYTHING to bring her home with us. If there would’ve been any way possible to do that, we all agreed, we would have.
Dana and I both came home with feelings of somehow wanting to help the families we met-who made their homes IN the dump. At the same time, I was having lots of positive feedback from the SUMMER CHALLENGE I was doing on FB. So, not surprisingly, we were met with a vicious battle as soon as we got home. I am becoming well acquainted with the timing and the appearance of the battles that come along, especially when there are ETERNAL differences being made all around us.
After engaging in this for days, we were spiritually and physically exhausted.
We had no choice but to continue on, though. We had to get Allie well from the intestinal issues she was experiencing after getting home from Nicaragua, because it was time. She was dehydrated and weak, which resulted in her first time fainting. But, she started feeling better just in time for what we had been dreading.
Her jaw surgery.
God had laid on my heart, months prior, that Allie was going to have a BIG summer. One that would have an impact on her in a major way. So I began praying. I asked those closest to join me. It taught me that we should never discount or ignore these nudges from God. Our spirit is made to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit. We should always listen.
Allie’s jaw surgery went seemingly well and she handled that dreaded first week (post-op) like a CHAMP! The nurses commented on how tough she was-especially for a 14 year old girl! The sore throat from the breathing tube, the swelling, the clear liquid diet for 3 days, the bloody, stuffy nose, etc. was no match for her. She met them all with amazing strength! I honestly have never seen anything like it! After the physical challenges had mostly subsided, the emotional feelings began to surface. These proved to be MUCH tougher than any physical symptom she experienced.
There is medication for physical pain. You can endure that.
Emotional pain, however, is something different altogether. It feels like there is no end. It feels like it is unbearable. You hurt and feel deserted and can’t seem to find the light to lead you out of that pit of heartache. As an adult, I know this. That is why watching my daughter go through it proved to be much more than I could seemingly bear at times. I watched as she sobbed and wanted desperately to go back to her “old self.” She didn’t recognize or like who she saw in the mirror. Who was she? Where was the old Allie? She knew she could NEVER return and it proved to be almost like going through a mourning process.
My heart ached for her. We prayed. We cried. We tried to take her mind off of it. It was difficult…to say the very least. As my fatigue began to set in, I found myself losing perspective and began to doubt.
“Where was God in all of this?”
“Why would He let her heart be broken?”
“Why would He allow her such heartache?”
I suppressed these feelings for a while. Until finally, they exploded with such great force, as my poor husband watched in astonishment. I was angry. Bitter. RESENTFUL!
Had I not prayed faithfully that God would be in the midst of all of this? Had I not prayed for Allie’s peace and acceptance of her new self? Had I not prayed for this sweet girl to have the strength necessary to climb this large mountain that loomed in her path?
YES, I HAD!!!
After 2 weeks of intense physical, emotional and spiritual battles, we decided that a much-needed change of scenery was badly needed. We took off to go see Nita for a few days. We took the top off of the jeep, as we made our way to the beach.
Smiles. It felt good!
Until the day after we arrived.
The surgeon called and explained that we had 2 options: 2 (+) more years in braces or to go back in for more surgery.
NEITHER! We don’t want EITHER!
They both were equally disheartening. And just when Allie was beginning to see some light, we had to present these 2 options to her.
The anger returned. Understandably so. Especially for Allie. But as I watched her intense anger and disappointment, it made ME angry!
I just didn’t understand.
We talked with her, prayed with her and listened to her cries of how it wasn’t fair. We agreed. It wasn’t!
We decided after talking with the surgeon and the orthodontist, that surgery was the best option. So, the next day, we woke up and decided to have fun for the next two days and try our best not to think about starting over. We rode jet skis, enjoyed Nita’s good cooking, had fun on the beach.
The last day there, Allie was stung by a jelly fish. The sting covered 3/4 of her leg and was extremely painful. It took everything in me, to breathe deeply and try not to go back to that awful place of distrust and questioning. I convinced myself (as much as possible) that God WAS there, in the midst of all of this, regardless of not being able to see or feel Him. I have decided in emotional situations, you CAN NOT trust your feelings.
Well, we’re one week post-op after the SECOND surgery. The physical symptoms were worse this time. I’m praying the emotional weight will prove not to be as heavy. It’s still a day-to-day process.
Even today, I am CHOOSING to trust God.
Allie has been up all night with stomach pain. She can’t eat or drink. We think she has the initial symptoms of a possible ulcer from taking too much Advil over the last 3 weeks. I pray this will not turn into a full-fledged ulcer but will remain as just an “irritation” that can be healed quickly. Luckily, she no longer needs pain reliever…so that’s good.
What a summer this has been! I hesitate in saying that in the past tense. But we will continue putting one foot in front of the other, as we try our best to trust God…even in the trials. It’s not easy to walk by faith and not by sight. Sometimes, we must rely more on our “head knowledge” than what our heart tells us. Feelings are not entirely trustworthy. I am learning that we must override them during times such as these. These lessons learned have been a result of allowing my feelings to dictate truth. We just can not do that.
I guess this is to be continued…
I will continue this blog as Allie heals.
I hope she will choose to go to SHS in August, although, I will not force her if she’s not ready. She is an amazingly strong girl…one I have learned volumes from….so it will not surprise me if she walks in those doors, head held high and begin her freshman year with confidence and strength!
THEN I will KNOW without a shadow of a doubt…that God was INDEED in the midst of all that has happened this summer. Although tested, we will come out better and stronger because of these trials. Because that’s exactly what God promises.