For 356 days I have prayed for Ian to be healed. Actually, more like 446 days…. if you add the time when we learned Ian would need another brain surgery. No… more accurately it has been 7,595 days since Ian was 18 months old and his first brain bleed was discovered. Ever since then, I’ve been asking for God’s miraculous healing. Please God, heal Ian. With the latest accident from last year, when Ian’s life hung in the balance, I stepped up my audacious prayer. Lord, again, I ask for complete healing. Bold for sure. But the God I know is capable. He is that big and that powerful.
Many of you have joined the throngs and pray for my son. A dear, sweet woman at our church in Philadelphia, who sometimes watched Ian as a baby, reports in every Christmas letter that she still faithfully prays for Ian daily. I am grateful and humbled. Millions maybe even billions of prayers have been prayed. I’m pretty sure every soul in heaven knows about some handsome ginger kid who lives in Albuquerque, NM. Even more significant, God has heard every single solitary one.
The big day
Yesterday was a BIG, IMPORTANT, DEFINING day. For Ian it was bigger than that. We would meet with Dr. Jung to discuss the results from Ian’s neuro-psych evaluation. All of us could sense the pressure mounting. It felt as if the atmosphere in our home had dangerously high blood pressure. Ian forgets all appointments. But on this day he was awake, showered, shaved and dressed before me.
For Ian, the day would be his get out of jail free card. INDEPENDENCE. Dr. Jung would weigh in about Ian’s return to college and independent living. He was sure he aced the test. “Mom, I have even been praying” I reminded him, more than once that this isn’t pass/ fail Ian. It’s a roadmap to see how you can keep moving forward. Part 22 yr old boy, part ginger, and part brain injured dreamer, Ian didn’t hear me. “Yep”, he says, “I definitely passed, I’m moving out.”
While Doug and I think independence NOW is premature, the delay the doctor expected and recommended was a blow. The news was hard to hear for all of us, but it leveled our witty, buoyant ginger.
Yesterdays speed bump did not make me angry. I am tired of being angry. Anger is exhausting, but I am disappointed. Not proud of my thoughts, I am disappointed with God. He knows best, but that doesn’t lessen the disappointment.
“Chin up, Debbie dear.” I could just hear my Daddy. When my cat Penny ran away, or in response to a rare B, or when not asked to the junior prom, “chin up” daddy would say. My Daddy was especially good on chin up days — ice cream, a scooter ride or even a long, secure hug. A chin up time calls for whatever numbs the pain of disappointment. Ill equipped to console Ian, we were a mess. Doug left the appointment in a separate car and had to return to his own stressful day.
My heart was in pieces for Ian. I couldn’t even muster a “chin up.” Somehow it felt hollow. Between us, Ian and I saturated the car tissues. I did try…. suggesting lunch out, new art supplies at mom’s expense, even new clothes. Nothing worked. We drove home, chins down, red faced and empty. The afternoon and evening lasted a week.
Lying in bed, Doug and I prayed. Lord, be near to Ian. Only you can console him. It was late… and I had to catch a very early flight to Pennsylvania. Drifting off and still heavy hearted, I heard something. That cute ginger kid was singing. It was a lifeline. God took over chin up duties.
I headed to the airport before dawn. Not yet excited for my destination, but instead processing the prior day. One more time, I prayed the prayer I’ve prayed a million times. Is today the day? God, if you heal Ian, I promise to give you all of the glory.
At the gate now, listening to the audible book “Laura’s Story”. It was as if God was speaking directly to me. “What if healing is a process and it’s a long road that requires more sleepless nights than you’ve imagined? Or perhaps it requires more faith than you thought you had? Will you still give me all of the glory?”
Laura Story is a worship leader and singer/ song writer. Newly married, her husband discovered a brain tumor. His surgery, that had more than one close call, left him with a severe traumatic brain injury and many of the unwanted surprises that accompany them. Through her brokenness and biggest disappointments she prayed that prayer. Out of that prayer she wrote the beautiful worship song,
‘Cause what if your blessings come through raindrops
What if Your healing comes through tears
What if a thousand sleepless nights are what it takes to know You’re near
What if trials of this life are Your mercies in disguise
It isn’t just me
The song was salve to my open wound. It isn’t just me. I still believe that complete healing is possible. But for now, with His help, I’m encouraged. Trusting Him, my chin is up as I look for the blessings en route.
What God can do
On my inspired bike ride, I snapped this photo. It’s a perfect picture of what only God can do. It feels as if that could be me buried under cracked concrete. But that doesn’t stop Him.
Airports are fascinating. Hundreds of people and still, you can feel very alone. Today, alone was needed. Headphones in, craving time with Him, I was never really alone.
Walking through all of Ian’s medical trials since birth, I have seen a lot of things die. My vision for our future, my naive idea of a happy, comfortable family, my hopes and dreams for my handsome ginger. Sometimes they die all at once, but more typically they slowly wither. As Ian’s primary caregiver, I’ve noticed some of my dreams fading. God honoring dreams. Like spending retirement in the mission field somewhere. The moment those words hit the page, I hear His voice.
Apparently, without realizing it til now, I have been called to the mission field. Complete with running water, a lovely kitchen and dependable wifi. God is telling me to make a difference right here, right now. Bloom where I’m planted. My mission is headquartered on San Rafael in a home I love, with a view of the Sandia mountains. I’m called to walk through this valley, cheering and advocating for Ian. While I do, I’m to tell an isolated, unknown, hurting people of the hope He offers. Hope, even in the desert. That isolated, unknown, hurting people is YOU.
But one big nagging question remains. “God, what do I do about my disappointments? I strive and strive and strive, but my efforts can’t keep my hopes and dying dreams alive.”
“That, beloved daughter, can be your offering. “You entrust your dying dreams and disappointments to me. In my way and in my time, those weeds, become something beautiful. Remember?”
Mercy in Disguise
Oh yes, I do remember. It’s as fresh as yesterday. God has always been in the resurrection business. Doug and I know this because we’ve experienced this. Last year, while Ian was in a coma, I remember thinking how bleak Christmas would be as a family of 3, instead of 4. God resurrected that dead dream. Doug and I offered Ian’s very life to God. Slowly, painstakingly, miraculously, defying all expectations, that feisty red head sprouted through the cracked concrete. Like the song says, Ian’s very life is a mercy in disguise.
Know this. Our Heavenly Father truly wants good for us. But good, does not mean easy. When I reflect on my life and all the good that has come, I must admit, the very best gifts have not been easy or painless. In my experience, the more suffering, disappointment and broken dreams we offer, the more opportunity we have to see God break through the cracks. Chin up.