I have spent the last couple of months processing and praying about how to share this with you all. Because it’s an amazing thing. But in order to truly appreciate the provision, you need to fully appreciate the need. And though much of the need was of a financial nature, the emotional need was just as, if not more, important.
A few months ago, I was invited to participate in a podcast with an organization called Hunter’s Hope, to share how God has been, and continues to be, a very present help and Hope in our family’s lives as we navigate Leukodystrophy. Upon completion of those recordings, they invited all of those that participated to a retreat during which we would have opportunity for fellowship and community with those similarly afflicted and walking with Christ. It was a gift the enemy would try to steal. In several ways.
Shortly after recording, I was approached about an opportunity to speak at a local women’s conference on Romans 5:3-5. Considering the timing of the invitation and the subject matter, I was certain this was something the Lord was asking me to do.
So, I was simultaneously proofing the transcript from the podcast, writing for the conference and writing a mini message for the retreat. I should add that none of these things are within my comfort zone. In fact, if I was to make a list of things I dislike, public speaking would take a top slot. I have a great story about a public speaking class in high school that involves hives and a “D”, by the skin of my teeth, that I would love to share with you sometime.
But I was also struggling with audience and subject matter. You see, whenever I share our family’s story with people I start to feel this “separateness”. Even with fellow Christians, I am usually reminded that our life is not “normal”, it just doesn’t look the same. Even with those that love Christ, there are many that will avoid us because they don’t know how to respond or relate to our family. Leukodystrophy often sets us apart. As I prepared, I knew I needed to prepare for these feelings as well. Yet, I am absolutely convinced of the need to share the incredible ways God has loved and provided for us. How we have had the opportunity to know Him, trust Him and love Him more intimately through trial.
Then there was the retreat. I am a homebody. I don’t like travel. I prefer routine and the familiar. So, I was preparing to step out of my box. Because it was a gift. But as I prepared for that retreat, I knew I had to prepare for another kind of “separateness”. Within the world of Leukodystrophy, Hubby and I often struggle with survivor’s guilt. Because our kids have a treatment and have received that treatment in time to positively impact their quality of life. In those circles we are acutely aware that we are the minority and that the quality of our children’s lives has come at the great cost and contribution of so many beautiful children that came before and paved the way for things to speed diagnosis and treatment. And my heart breaks for those families. I grieve with them and wonder why our children were spared, while theirs were not. Survivor’s guilt.
So, there I was feeling stuck in the middle. Acutely aware of our “separateness”. Simultaneously feeling sorry for us and feeling intense gratitude. When Oldest Son borrowed my car….and it blew up. Okay, now you’re likely picturing a fantastic fiery explosion. But it wasn’t that dramatic. It turned out to be the engine that blew up. Which is much less impressive than one would think. It just quit. And sprayed liquid all over the highway. Done. Kaput. Dead. Or, as the sympathetic mechanic explained, “catastrophic failure”.
Now, this would likely be stressful for almost anyone. But, when your credit was completely destroyed by a diagnostic journey and you had saved and saved to buy that vehicle outright…. For it to barely last a year, it’s a little more than stressful. It’s downright frustrating. And when you have absolutely no savings to replace it and no way to borrow money to replace it, it becomes a bit of a crisis.
So now I’m feeling the “separateness” on a whole different level. Because now I’m aware of another way in which I often feel alone. And this is one part I wasn’t sure how to share. So, in order to honor my mother and father, and to love you well and protect your hearts, I will simply say that due to the fall, we don’t have much family to give us a hand. Or a co-sign. Or a down payment. Or maybe just a hug.
This is when I MAY have indulged in a small(ish) self pity party. In my mind’s eye, I always picture Baby Girl at about two years old, laying on the floor of the kitchen at my feet, face down, with her hands covering her eyes. And that was my inner self. Channeling my inner two year old, still sitting at my Father’s feet, but in silent tantrum mode because I didn’t like what was happening. Although, if I’m honest, it wasn’t completely silent. There may have been a little dialogue along the lines of….
I’m doing all the things! I don’t like to speak, but I’m gonna speak. I don’t like to travel, but I’m gonna travel. I’m going to feel all the feels I don’t wanna feel and step out of my box and I’m gonna shine my light and I’m gonna tell of Your goodness, even if it might kill me (okay, there was a little bit of drama) and we could sure use just a LITTLE bit of protection while we do it! A hedge. Even a speed bump for the enemy to slow him down would be helpful. Heck, could You blow up HIS engine instead??
So I took the gift card from a sister in Christ for travel expenses, packed my bags and stepped out in faith. With no plan but His because we had no way to fix it.
And surprise, surprise, He had a plan. And it was SO much better than I could have asked for or imagined.
It started with a borrowed vehicle and the gift of time so we could try to save enough money for a down payment. Hopefully enough of one to qualify for a loan. We hadn’t used credit in seven years, I was inwardly preparing for the best case scenario of a ridiculous interest rate on another “lemon” from a shady dealership. But we’d have a vehicle, and that was the important part.
Then, it really got good.
We were down to one more week with our borrowed wheels and I’d just put on my list to cancel the next couple of weeks of Baby Girl’s occupational therapy before I started dinner. Mini Hubby was climbing walls and getting on stressed nerves so I sent him to take out the garbage and get the mail while I got making chili.
My kitchen is still holy ground.
I’m chopping onions and garlic and singing Shane and Shane’s Psalm 46 (One of my “fight songs” because it reminds me how big my God is) and my heart is softening with sautéing onions and the stress drains off with the juice of diced tomatoes and the door bangs open with an oblivious boot from an oblivious boy and both boy and blur of puppy race by with a stack of mail and a lot of noise and I laugh because…holy ground. While my chili simmers, I open this.
And it all goes quiet. Even the boy and the puppy. And while the chili burns and my ears ring and my eyes and nose fill, the Lord leans down and grabs my face in His hands and tenderly tells me,
“You are NOT an orphan. Stop acting like one.”
And now I’m laughing and crying and the “separateness” is gone because the Love envelopes me and crowds it all out. And I don’t even care that my holy ground smells suspiciously like scorched dinner and I run into Hubby who can’t quite wrap his head around what I’m holding.
Because that kind of outrageous generosity takes awhile to process. And when you know that the generosity came from an outpouring of love for a little girl lost to Leukodystrophy, it gets even more complex.
I spent the next several days “God Crying”. This happens quite a bit in our house. When the kids have caught me at it, I used to have to reassure them that it was a “good cry”. While texting with someone one day auto correct redeemed itself and changed my “good cry” to “God cry” and I realized it was far more accurate. They’re tears of awe, gratitude, joy and love. I think, a form of worship. And if you’ve ever heard me sing, you know it’s a form of worship that is far more beautiful, even if it’s an ugly cry.
Now I’m gonna feel a little like Billy Mays, because, “That’s not all!”. While we were still processing a week later and narrowing down our car search, we got an envelope. With another $1,100. Which brought the total to almost EXACTLY what we paid, with tax, for the lawn ornament with the blown engine. And this generosity came from the other side we sometimes feel “separate” from.
When that car engine blew up, I could not have imagined a scenario in which we would have our needs filled so completely. But even better, in a way that reminded me of my perfect Father’s love and care for me….through people that so thoroughly removed those feelings of separateness. Through our Leukodystrophy family and our church family. So much more than I could have even thought of or imagined, never mind asked for.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us