Let's set the stage....it's two years ago. My husband and I have great jobs..."typical healthy children" (so we thought)...a great house in a perfect neighborhood....everything was smooth sailing. We weren't wealthy by any means...but comfortable. We shopped at the organic grocery store...took vacations...enrolled the kids in Little Gym, etc...
Then it hit...without warning. The climate was just perfect...the circumstances mounted quickly...the waves grew taller with every gust of wind...the clouds kept getting darker...the wind howled...and many times it has felt like this boat was going to break in half.
With the birth of our son...our lives quickly changed. He had a slew of medical problems right from the start. So huge medical bills quickly piled up. We also started having Addie tested at this time. She had just turned 2 and we knew something was wrong. Carting the kids from one specialist and therapist to another. I quickly had to cut my hours at work to make it to all the doctors appointments.
Next came my husbands job. He was working two jobs to make up the difference. Then he lost his full time employment...and with that our health insurance. We began sinking fast in all the bills.
Selling the house was the next logical step. But since the market had depreciated in our area we were forced to do a short sale. So on top of rushing around to doctors and therapists....we were going through all the "fun" that the mortgage company puts you through to avoid foreclosure.
We finally found a rental house that a co-worker would let us rent inexpensively until we could get our feet on the ground. The house needed a ton of work...and this was a huge challenge from the start.
Suddenly we found ourselves... yes, two college graduates...waiting in line for food stamps, at the welfare office, and applying for medicaid. It was a humbling experience to say the least. Its a place I never ever thought I would be. I felt like a complete and utter failure...and there was no way out. On top of that...I felt so guilty for ever judging people in this situation. For the first time I looked at the homeless person on the corner and thought of how quickly that could be me.
About a month after loosing our house....and moving....we got the official diagnosis for Addie...Autism. We started early intervention...speech therapy...OT....support groups. We just dove in with both feet. Jumping into an unknown world. We grieved...we reeled...we were spinning with Addie. I felt like the waves were never going to end...and there was no light at the end of the tunnel. (see my post - My Little Butterfly)
Meanwhile the kids medical problems continued to worsen...it was a tough winter. Many trips to the ER...several hospital stays...and more specialists than I care to mention.
Then came little C's diagnosis and evaluations....early intervention again...more therapy...more doctors. (see my post - Another Butterfly Is Born...)
Many days I felt like my life had swallowed me whole. I didn't know who I was anymore. I was in survival mode. I felt like the waves were too big...and I didn't even want to wake up to see what tomorrow would bring. The fear and anxiety were unbearable. I was having heart problems and anxiety attacks...this was no way to live.
I think in the midst of all that despair.... the Lord knelt down and wrapped His arms around me. He had been there the whole time I just hadn't noticed. I had been so focused on the wind and the waves and the storm clouds brewing...that I hadn't noticed so many of Christ's amazing blessings in my life.
Sitting in church one sunday I was hit with my story. It's the story where the disciples are out on the water and they are caught in a huge storm (Matthew 14). They try everything they can on their own to save themselves from the rocking waves and boat. Then just when they are about to sink...they call on Jesus. (hello...that is sooo me!!!...I got chills as the pastor read the verses. I was frozen to my chair hanging on every word). Then when Jesus came to them on the water they didn't even recognize him. (wow...yes...I don't see God in this storm). They were so focused on the wind and the waves that they couldn't see him. When He calls Peter out on the water...Peter walks towards him until he becomes afraid. He stops looking at Jesus and starts to sink. Immediately Jesus pulls him out of the water. (even my lack of faith and insecurity...you will not let me sink...yes...yes Lord I am hearing you). Then Jesus calms the storm.
WOW all the blessings the Lord had been giving us...and I hadn't always recognized Him midst all the chaos. I had trouble accepting gifts and help from others...I had fear...I had self pity...I had pride...I had too many things in the way clouding my vision.
When I opened my eyes and focused on Him. I could see....I could suddenly see so many amazing things that have happened...so many unexplainable miracles...so many acts of grace and mercy.
Seriously...get ready for some chills. Here are just a few......(because I could go on for days)
Our house sold in 10 days...let me rephrase that - we had 4 offers in 10 days...yes, in this economy. When our air conditioner died the day of the closing...the Lord gave us $500 at the closing table....on a short sale (this doesn't happen). And guess what?!....it was the exact amount to fix it!
When we didn't have money for groceries...the Lord provided for us. Several times food literally arrived in the mail from family members....they didn't even know how desperate our situation was...but they just felt lead to help us.
When we couldn't afford Addie's new school that she needed desperately...the Lord provided. A week before we had to pay the tuition...someone felt lead to sponsor her and paid it for us!! (see my post...Butterfly School)
The old rent house had a fridge that didn't work (it was actually duct taped together and full of mold). So a dear friend calls and says..."don't argue with me...I'm not taking no for an answer...I'm bringing you a fridge...those kids are not eating out of that moldy thing". An hour or so later...a beautiful working fridge came literally to our door step.
When the dishwasher broke in the rental house. The next day at work someone said..."Hey, does anyone need a dishwasher?" YES...this really happened...free dishwasher!!!
The landlords let us work off a few months rent by painting, stripping wallpaper, cleaning, and fixing lights, etc... Our friends and family gathered together and helped us. It was amazing to see the Lord gather all these people to help us. We felt so loved.
The kids have been blessed over and over again with the best possible therapists and specialists. We have been spared so much. Every time we have been in the hospital I see other kids and families there that are not going home as quickly as us...and I know how truly blessed we are.
Addie had a private speech therapist that wanted to work with her at no charge...how crazy is that?! And then we were given blessings through the Greyson Foundation to continue some of her other therapies.
Jason's job situation has slowly and steadily improved. Finding and searching for a new job grew him in so many ways. He's more confident...more sure...and more hard working than ever.
We were able to move to a safer home a few weeks ago. Then our new apartment complex had a mix-up that worked in our favor...and we got a much nicer place than we could have ever afforded.
Over and over again...we have been blessed. Over and over again the Lord has shown himself to us. We may not always see it...and the stormy waves may still be coming...and I still call out "why me"...and I complain....and sometimes my pride gets in the ways and I struggle with accepting these heavenly gifts. But he still picks me up....despite my shortcomings...He is still there guiding me and wrapping His arms around me.
I thought I was going to break under all the weight. But I didn't.... the Lord held me up...He didn't always calm the storm...but He brought me through it. He never let me sink. He has made me stronger...more understanding...more blessed and thankful than I ever thought possible.
He never said life was going to be perfect..."For in this world you will have troubles...but take heart because I have overcome the world." John 16:33 Even though we don't know when or how....He has already overcome our perfect storm. He knows how it's all going to end. He has a perfect plan for all of this.
Many times I wonder why...like so many moms with special needs children. Why did He chose us to have these butterfly children. And like so many families going through job loss and financial struggles.....why do we have to go through this colossal perfect storm.
But I think sometimes He has to bring us to our knees... so that we may stop....and look up into His face. It's only then that we can sit peacefully in His presence...with His strong loving arms wrapped around us.