Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Hate To Break It To You...But There's No Magic In The Air...

Well friends, the title says it all.  A lot of times we (and by we, I mean "I") often use phrases like "stroke of luck" or "good karma" or "magic" to describe the great things that just seem to happen in our lives.  I should back up and apologize for my erratic blog-posting habits of yester-year, and tell you that I have really good intentions in my blogging aspirations.  I am also, however, ridiculously disorganized and have the memory of a 112 year old with Alzheimer's (okay, that may be a stretch...but it's not too far off), and although over the years I have re-dedicated myself time and time again to being more consistent with entries, when it comes right down to it, I just don't follow through.  So here is my 4,217th attempt to be diligent in my blog entries, and more importantly, to give glory to The Father while doing so.
So much time has elapsed and so much has happened, filling in the gaps would make for one seriously long and crazy post (even longer than this will end up being).  And believe it or not, I actually have something of substance to share, so I will make this catch-up portion quick as I can.  The past year has been interesting, scary, wonderful, terrible, and incredibly testing for our entire family.  In short, the major event that rocked our world deals with the mental health of our youngest daughter, Sophia.  Many of you know the story, but because what I intend to blog about today revolves around her, I will briefly explain.  I've known Sophia was "different" since she was in, 15-18 months old.  She was an insanely laid-back baby, but developed a fiery temperament as she ventured toward two years old.  Her moods shifted quickly and severely, and she was extremely unpredictable and inconsistent.  Normal terrible two's, you say?  Yea well...we'll have to agree to disagree on this one.  She stormed into her threes with a vengeance, her mood swings increasingly unstable and violent.  By her fours, it was obvious we needed help.  Our pediatrician is conservative, and began to get involved, but even he admitted it had gotten beyond his level of expertise.  We consulted a few local pediatric psychiatrists and therapists, but her condition continued to deteriorate.  I will spare you many of the details, but last year things took a nose dive.  The "perfect storm" of circumstances collided, and we ended up having to use the services of The Ridge Behavioral Health System...which is a fancy name for a mental health facility...or mental hospital.  Take your pick.  When it became apparent that Sophia was a danger to herself and others at her preschool, we tried the outpatient school program at The Ridge.  There, we met an amazing, young, vibrant counselor/teacher named Brittany.  Brittany loved on Sophia, regardless of her crazy fits and mood shifts.  The first time Sophia bit Ms. Brittany, we went to pick her up and Brittany was much more concerned about Sophia's mental status than she was about the crescent-shaped, tooth-mark-ridden bruise on her arm.  We were mortified.  Brittany was too...but NOT at all about herself.  Talk about selfless.  Unfortunately, Sophia needed more than the outpatient program could provide, and after several weeks in outpatient, we had a tough decision to make.  The day we admitted Sophia to the inpatient program was like a dream.  Actually, it was a nightmare.  To say she experienced a complete psychotic breakdown that day is a gross understatement, but I will just go with that.  Her regular psychiatrist washed her hands of us, leaving us feeling even more isolated and scared than we already were.  It turned out to be a blessing, however, because her new doctor was able to deduce that a huge part of her issues were stemming from a "toxic" combination of meds.  I won't even begin to get into that whole issue today.  But let's just say we were NOT happy.  While in inpatient, we weren't able to visit with Sophia daily.  She was being detoxed.  It was terrifying for her and for us, to not have access to her whenever we wanted.  Those 8 days our entire family coasted through life, surviving only on the shoulders of friends and the love of our God.  And to be honest, at times I felt so isolated by The Adversary that I couldn't feel God's presence.  I wish I could tell you I was a vision of steadfast faith and devout belief that God had a plan in it all.  But I wasn't.  I crumbled.  Badly.  My physical appearance was haggard and unhealthy.  My mental status can probably imagine.  Looking back, I see God never left our side.  But in the thick of it, I unintentionally let Satan in and he wreaked havoc on my heart.  But even amidst my struggle, God was working overtime.  One wonderful thing was that when we couldn't be with Sophia, Ms. Brittany could.  She would work in outpatient all day (and she had some seriously LONG days), and then would go see Sophia.  She would call us and give us updates.  She was our light in the dark.  When Sophia was released and began regular treatment with her new psychiatrist outside of The Ridge, we had every intention to go back to The Ridge and profusely thank Ms. Brittany.  Every time we would drive past there, Sophia would beg to go see Brittany.  For me, I couldn't step foot back in there.  It was too painful.  But as the months passed, the pain became less and the excitement to share Sophia's progress with Brittany grew.  Yet every time we drove past, I always had a reason why we couldn't go...we were running late, we didn't have time, we didn't know if Brittany would be busy...yada, yada, yada.  Life happened.  We STILL haven't made it over there.
Okay, so here's where we pick up the story, in current times.  Last week, Ernie was asked to participate in a short promotional video for our church.  Our whole family met at the location, which happened to be a local coffee shop and restaurant that our church runs.  (It's actually WAY more than just a coffee shop.  I'll have to explain that in another post though.)  We walked in and were ordering some food before the shoot began.  And then it happened.  I looked over and saw Ernie and Sophia talking to someone...a woman...she looked so familiar, but I didn't place her at first.  Then, in mid-order, it hit me like a ton of bricks. It was BRITTANY!  After I ordered I couldn't scoot over to her table quick enough.  I hugged her...probably a little too tightly.  I had tears in my eyes.  It was HER, there, in the flesh! After some small talk, we discovered that she was no longer at The Ridge.  She was getting ready to move away and was just in town helping a friend with some wedding planning.  We never had her phone number, and per Ridge policy, she wasn't permitted to contact us, even though she no longer worked there.  We would have had a really difficult time tracking her down, if it had even been possible.  It was like all the stars aligned and all the good juju in the world fell upon us.  I thought to myself "What a small world."  But in hindsight, I realize it's not a small world at all.  It's actually a really a HUGE world.  But we serve a really HUGE God.  There are no aligning magic...what we have is even greater, even more wondrous; we have a Heavenly Father who cares about us, even in the mundane details of our daily lives.  I get the goosebumps just reliving that moment  from last week.  God has some seriously large issues to attend to...urgent prayers beyond what I can even comprehend.  But in that moment, He put a series of events into motion that would seem insignificant to most.  Okay, this Brittany chick met a girlfriend at a coffee shop to talk wedding details. No biggie. But it was so much more than that for us, and for her, too.  She fawned over Sophia, genuinely elated by her progress and just full of loving words and affirmations.  We were so moved by what God had done for us; what He had given us; just in that chance meeting.  Ernie and I both sat through most of our dinner speechless, literally only commenting about how awe-struck we were by our God.
Okay, so that was pretty awesome.  But it gets even better.  Fast forward to this week. Some of the meds Sophia is on have caused some weight gain.  We have tried various activities for Sophia to participate in to combat that, and she hasn't really loved any of them.  Ballet? Nope.  Tap? Notta.  Soccer? HA.  No way.  Clogging?  She liked it...but it wasn't something financially feasible for us right now, and it was only a half hour once a week.  Hardly made much of an impact.  Sophia has always loved to swim.  We've tossed around the idea of finding a little swim team for her to join, but haven't ever really made it happen.  On a recent day off from school, we wound up at the local indoor pool for HOURS to get some energy out.  It dawned on me I needed to check out this swimming thing again.  So, I contacted the coach of our little local swim team.  After much email correspondence, I found out the coach and I have a lot in common.  Like, a-scary-lot, right down to our age, competitive swimming experiences, and shoulder injuries.  Cool? Yep.  But not nearly the coolest part.  Towards the end of our emailing conversation, I shared that I was really excited about this new adventure for Sophia, not only for the physical activity aspect, but also to help with her ADHD and anxiety.  And here it is: she has a Master's in clinical psychology, has worked as a therapist, and works at UK doing neurocognitive assessments.  ARE. YOU. KIDDING. ME?!?!?!  I can't help but just sit back and smile at God...sometimes He is such a show off...and I LOVE IT.  I can almost feel Him saying, "Yea, check this out.  Not only do I have control of this entire situation, but I'm gonna throw in some extras just for giggles because...well...I'm God!"  So there you have it.   Mind. Blown. {AGAIN}
In a world where we are riddled with tragedy on a daily basis; where God is being pushed out of daily life by most social institutions; where we "Christians" fall short and turn our backs time and time again; where we credit karma and relics and good luck charms for the good things we experience; I'm here to tell ya- all that is hog wash.  There's no magic.  There's no luck.  There's no karma.  Here's the "secret"- there's God.  End of story.