Reminder of God’s Faithfulness
I am far from perfect. Not even close. I love the Lord my God and truly have believed He had good for me through my entire cancer journey from beginning to what we hope is now the end. He provided me with a peace that I knew could only come from him from the day of my diagnosis through each of my four surgeries and through the loss of my hair. Yes, vanity played a role for me. We were surrounded by friends and family who provided delicious meals, took me to appointments, delivered flowers and gifts, transported Michael to soccer and baseball, hand-made gifts of shawls and blankets, and more love than a person could imagine. I have said more than once, “If every cancer patient were surrounded as I was they would battle in a most courageous way and either recover with ease or die with love and peace surrounding them.”
One would think after 16 months of seeing and feeling so very blessed by God’s faithfulness that I would have the faith to move mountains. And yet, last Saturday I received some very discouraging news from the Seattle School District. The same news we had received a couple of years ago that not only shocked us but the many friends who were involved and knew what was going on. The difference this time was that we had been assured that we had covered all our bases so to speak. We had dotted every ‘I’ and crossed every ‘T’. The proof was in the pudding and we had provided the recipe along with the dish to be certain they could see it for themselves. Upon receiving the news the only mountain that was moved was mine. It came crumbling down as though a magnitude 8+ earthquake had hit. There I sat in my upstairs bathroom a mess of blubbering rubble lost in my own despair.
Mark 4:40 He said to his disciples, “Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?”
I was in despair. I was afraid. Even more so, I was tired. For more than 3 years I have advocated and fought for my son’s education. I have questioned, persuaded, and challenged the system at the local school to get what I felt, what I knew our child needed. Determined to get what we pay for (public education through property taxes) I continued to meet with his teachers and the principal multiple times each year. I also helped in the classroom and expanded his education at home with our own home work while the school worked on adjustments in the classroom as they could. All of that to say, I was tired of doing so much. I was tired of asking the same questions over, and over again. And frankly, they were tired of me to. This year we hit a stale mate when meeting with the Principal in regards to what our son was being taught. In actuality, he was being forced to repeat a grade level of math that he had completed and passed the year before. The reason, they no longer were offering ‘Walk to Math’ and his current teacher felt he needed to show her he had common core understanding of each concept before she would give the next grade level material. Mind you he had completed the current grade level last year at the same school and that teacher had entered his grades into the system showing he met and exceeded the common core standards. Apparently, they did not trust her grading nor her teaching. Or they didn’t believe their eyes when they saw the passing grade in the system. The teacher, the principal and the math specialist all agreed they were doing our son the best they could by making certain he knew the standards (again) before challenging him with the next level. And so, we were forced to tell our son he would have to repeat, on a daily basis, work he had already completed. Frustrated doesn’t even begin to describe how we felt. My faith was weakened. What was so big, giant even during cancer , was reduced to a grain of sand when I received the news that he had been denied to the program we had applied to. Although the decision made no sense based on what we had submitted, my lack of trust in the Public School system coupled with my human nature reduced my faith to the size of a mustard seed at best.
Yes, I knew God had brought me through cancer. Not once, but twice. But this, this seemed like a never-ending journey that was never coming to an end. At least not in the way I had hoped. Maybe that was it. It wasn’t what I had hoped would happen. I had reviewed all the options. The courses that we could take and the one that seemed the best fit was not happening. How could that be? I looked at the information again. It was all there. All arrows pointed to go! All questions were answered. All information had been provided. The numbers made sense. And still they said no. And in that moment, I crumbled.
It was just hours before we were supposed to head out with friends to the school auction. I told Tom I didn’t know if I could go. I knew in mind and my heart that I had to go. Going or not going was not going to solve my issue and either situation put me in a place of explaining what I was going through. Knowing I tend to wear my emotions on my sleeve, it would most likely show if I were to attend. If my friends asked me I would fall apart. If I didn’t go they would wonder why. More than that I had really been looking forward to a night out with our friends (they are that awesome). My emotions were all over the map. One moment I was furious at the system and the decision. I was angry that I was now put in the position to find another solution. The next moment I was sad and crying. What was I going to do? Homeschool? While that is certainly an option it would take a lot of effort. I am not sure I have that in me. And then there was the feeling in the pit of my stomach that I just wanted to be sick. I literally felt like throwing up.
I got into the shower to wash my hair. The warmth of the water would soothe me, no doubt. As I stood there with the hot water running over my I began to sob. Body shaking sobs. I needed to let it out. I couldn’t hold it in. My husband turned me towards him and took my hands in his. He told me to close my eyes. What I expected was a kiss, what I got was so much more. After a couple moments of silence my husband began to pray. He beseeched God on my behalf. I don’t remember all of the words but I do remember that my husband was earnestly asking God to give me the faith to believe that he had a way. That he knew what was right for our son and that he would make it happen. He asked for me to have the strength to trust. He asked that we would be able to enjoy our evening at the auction. When he said Amen I went back to my shower. Slowly but surely a sense of calm came over me.
As if all that had not been difficult enough, as we were getting ready to dash out the door we realized our child/puppy care had canceled. Quite last minute but for a very good reason. We were scrambling. Tom called a friend to see if Michael could come stay the night. I called my neighbor to see if she would come dog sit for a bit and then crate the puppy. Both agreed. We boxed up the dinner we had on the stove for Michael and the sitter and delivered it along with Michael to our friends. Laurie handled the puppy hand off to the neighbor before heading to the auction herself. I texted my two girlfriends who would be joining us at the auction. I let them know the news I had received and that I was not handling it well. I told them I didn’t want to talk about it at the auction as I did not want to ruin our evening. They assured me not only would they not ask they would take great effort to keep me laughing. Let’s just say they succeeded. We had a wonderful time and I was so very thankful we hadn’t bailed on the event.
I fell into bed that night and slept deeply. When I awoke the next morning I was surprised that I remembered quite vividly a dream I had. Most often I forget them or only remember a piece here or there of what it was. I didn’t know what the meaning was until I sat down in the living room across from Tom and told him my dream.
I was driving my car on the freeway. Michael was in the backseat which is all quite normal. We were heading somewhere and trying to get there but traffic was very heavy. It didn’t seem we would make it. There was a turn or bend in the road ahead. A large semi-truck was on our right. As we headed into the turn I noticed the semi-truck hitting his breaks. Knowing he could see further ahead than I, I too began to slow down. As we rounded the corner I saw a semi-truck to my left and a semi-truck in front of me. They were also hitting their breaks as all lanes of traffic ahead were slowed way down. The semi-truck in front me was having a difficult time stopping. His truck was swaying side to side. Just as I feared the trailer turned over onto its side and was sliding on the freeway as the driver was still trying to come to a stop. Oddly he was not hitting any cars. There seemed to be just enough space for him to slide. I was in the 2nd from the left of 4 lanes. All lanes were completely blocked as my breaks failed and my car kept going forward. Surely, I was going to run into one of the semi-trucks. As I kept moving towards the stopped traffic suddenly there was a space between the semi-truck that was on my left and the semi-truck that was on its side in front of me. Not a lane, just enough space for my car to go through and go across all the lanes of traffic and exit the chaos on the freeway. Michael and I were crying, in shock, but okay. As we exited the freeway my car phone rang. It was Laurie. I thought she had seen the wreck on the news and was calling to see if we were okay. I answered the phone and said, Hello. Laurie said, “Oh hey mom, I just wanted to see if you had Michael with you?” I told her I did. She said, “Okay, good. You guys on your way home?” I assured her we were. She said, “Okay, see you when you get here. Bye.” It was then that I woke up.
I looked at Tom and he said, “See, God has it all figured out.” And it was like a light was switched on. This year has been like a freeway where all lanes came to a complete stop. The three semi-trucks represent the three options we have been looking at: Public School, Private School and Home School. I have no idea which truck represented which option. That wasn’t the point. The point was I was looking at them and didn’t know what to do but all I really wanted was to get my son to safety. The path provided in the dream, was a miracle no less. When nothing seemed possible. No good could possibly happen. It did.
Matthew 14:31 Immediately Jesus reached out his hand and caught him. “You of little faith,” he said, “why did you doubt?”
I sent an email off to the district that afternoon requesting an explanation for the news we had received. The peace I had felt after Tom had prayed over me in the shower continued to sustain me. On Monday morning, I received an email that they would check into the matter and get back to me by the end of the week. The peace continued to fill me as I waited. On Wednesday afternoon as I walked into the house from picking up Michael from school I noticed that I had received an email from the district. It stated that upon reviewing the information the decision had been changed. Our son had been approved for the program we had been advocating for. What I had perceived as impossible after having been denied again and again, was finally happening. I was ecstatic to say the least and relieved on top of that. I told Michael the good news about next year. I forwarded the email to Tom right away. A smile spread across my face and didn’t budge for hours upon hours.
As I contemplated it all later part of me wanted to beat myself up for not having the faith to begin with. But then, I saw something even greater had happened. Tom and I pray for others. We pray by ourselves for our kids, our marriage, our day, etc. We rarely ever pray out-loud together. In what was an extremely weak moment for me, my husband could have wrapped me up in a hug which would have been wonderful and appreciated. Instead though he heard the voice of God call him to pray. To reach out to the rock, the corner stone of our faith and our marriage to seek peace, understanding, help, direction and comfort for his wife. Not only did God answer his prayer, calm my aching heart, but he also grew the love I have for my husband.