I arranged it so that we would arrive at the school after the morning bell… figured the crowds of rushing parents and anxious kids would be cleared out by then. We unloaded the gait trainer and met Sophia’s teacher in front of the school. So, how incredibly blessed we are to have Mrs.Spilman as Sophia’s teacher could be a whole separate post. I literally wept out of fear when the transition to school arose almost two years ago, especially since we were simultaneously losing all of our nursing hours. How I wish I could have had a glimpse of what it truly would turn out to be… what wasted tears and worry. You know, though, although I didn’t get any type of vision of how incredible it would be, God did eventually give me this overwhelming peace months prior. So, I guess He did give me a glimpse, in a sense.
As I began to strap Sophia into the gait trainer, she pouted and looked as though she were going to cry. This was the earliest she had been drug out of the house all summer and extremely earlier than I had put her to work, ever. I tried comforting her with silly songs. She calmed but wasn’t entertained to any smiles or laughter. Sophia’s body hung limp. I guided her feet, one foot at a time, taking steps. I’d let go and prompt her to step. Waiting, waiting, waiting… nothing. Again, crouching in front of her, I’d guide her feet, a step at a time and then prompt her. Her left foot finally moved some. “There you go, Sophia! Do it again!” Nothing. So I continued to alternate between walking her feet and then encouraging her to imitate it.
I so desperately wish I could write that her feet started a momentum of steps, one after the other, quicker and quicker, until she began running down the hall…. that’s not quite what happened, though. We did get some foot movement in between longer periods of waiting. She did push through her feet a few times as well. That is totally not to go uncelebrated. For Sophia’s brain to tell her feet to move and for a movement to happen is incredible. Don’t think so? Put your foot flat on the floor and just move your middle toe. No, not all your toes with it, just the middle one. Well, you have nerves that run to that toe so the lines of communication are there but those lines of communication need to be mapped better… I learned that in yoga, staring at my toes, telling them to move, aaaaannnddd still nothing happening.
Can I be totally honest? Well I’m gonna be because that’s what I’m convicted to do for whatever crazy reason. Somebody somewhere needs to hear this struggle.
It wasn’t enough for me.
Let me clarify. Sophia is MORE THAN ENOUGH. Her strength, tenacity, perseverance, and simple overflowing joy is greater than I could have ever wished for in a child. I beam with pride because she is a rock star every moment of every day in my eyes. I still, to this day, have to catch my own breath sometimes watching her breathe on her own. I know this might be hard to understand unless you’ve lived it.
What wasn’t enough for me was God’s hand on the situation. Before you start gasping, “Blasphemy!”, please hear me out. I know, now more than ever in my life, how to recognize the presence of God. I can feel when He’s moving in my spirit and when He’s convicting me to move. If you’re not there yet, I totally understand that I might sound like I need to be on some meds. If you have experienced that, though, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
In June when I blurted out, “Okay, God! Sophia is walking into school next year!” I knew I wasn’t just pulling whatever out of a holy magician hat. I knew the Holy Spirit moved me to believe for that. I do. I absolutely do. Writing about it publicly…eeehhhh… not my favorite part, but also absolutely prompted by the Holy Spirit. My favorite part is when promises come into fruition and I almost forget how impossible things seemed and how looooong the waiting was.
So I left Sophia’s school that morning with a saddened heart. I know! Shame on me. As we walked to our cars, Brian proudly mentioned something along the lines of Sophia walking into school. I looked over at him, feeling defeated and asked,” Are you just saying that to make me feel better?” He looked back at me confused… there may or may not have also been a hint of disgust in his look. It also might have just been the reflection of my own conscience. Brian answered back, explaining to me that our little girl just walked into school her way and that she’s ALWAYS done things her way in the beginning. I quickly assured him that I was and always am incredibly proud of Sophia. My disappointment was in God. Yikes… did I just type that? Wait for it, wait for it…. okay, no lightning strikes… yet.
The next two days, I just felt sad… Again, not about my Sophia. I excitedly read her take-home folder and giggled with her after school, as usual. It was in the quiet time that I found myself giving God the inner silent treatment. K-love continued to play over my radio to and from work, but I found myself sarcastically raising my eyebrows, mumbling, “If you say so,” to every other song about God being faithful. I even got a little mad and halfway told God, “I’m not writing for You anymore.”
You see, I wanted more. I’ve seen God move and I wanted Him to move so greatly, in MY perspective, that NO ONE could deny that it was God. I thought God needed to adjust His plan, tweak His timeline some. I was bursting with suggestions. Yeah, not quite how He does things. My perspective is what really needed the adjustment. God did move in so many ways.
About midweek after I was done with my spiritual hissy fit, God was there waiting for me to get myself together, return to His truths, and see things in His eyes. I came to Him in tears… “But I saw her walking! I believed it with all my heart and You say that I can have all those things, aligned with your will, that I believe for! I was obedient! I’m tired! This road is so long. Can’t we just finish up the story already? I’m tired!”
God gently, but sternly, pointed out some things to me.
Weeks before, when I posted “The Earth is Flat,” there was an outpouring of people that posted they were believing with me. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that when I opened up my Facebook and saw post after post of “I believe,” “Sophia’s walking,” “Believing with you,” I dropped to my knees in tears. Happy tears.
During the summer, I ran into Sophia’s, now retired, vision teacher at the grocery store. I shared with her what we were believing for and she got excited and said that she was going to start, in that moment, giving thanks for Sophia walking into school.
Also during the summer, I received a visit at work from my former Department Chair, who happens to also be retired but still currently a pastor. We chitchatted for a while. Before he left my office, he said when I mentioned coming to visit him at his new church, he envisioned Sophia walking up to it with her walker.
At church, a couple that Brian and I have grown so fond of, shared that they had been praying for Sophia. Two weeks before school, the wife told me,”I just know Sophia is gonna walk. I just know it because when we pray, we’ve both seen her walking through those halls.”
Dr.Bellah, outside of her regular duties, coordinated getting a gait-trainer for Sophia three days before school. Three days!
Another special needs mom, that I’m sure has an endless to-do list as well, reached out to lend a pricey piece of equipment to a stranger. A stranger that she knew nothing about except that there was a need. A need that she selflessly responded to.
What about when my car wouldn’t start the morning of the first day of school? A neighbor, that I’ve said less words to than I could count on both hands, graciously took time to help me out.
Arriving at school that morning, we were greeted by the most caring teacher. A teacher that replies to texts on weeknights and weekends… even during the summer. A teacher that advocates for Sophia as if she were her own child. A teacher that will come out of her classroom for almost half an hour on the first day of school just to watch and cheer Sophia on as she walks into school.
God then took my attention a little further back in our journey….
“Did Sophia not wake up that morning with a smile on her face, as she does everyday these days? Do you remember how heavy your heart was when you would walk through the NICU for so many months in the beginning, seeing every other baby’s adorable smile except your own baby’s?” (the breathing tube taped to Sophia’s face didn’t really allow us to get any good smiles at first)
“Did Sophia not make her little funny dinosaur noises and laugh crazily that day? Do you remember the conversation you had with your mom when Sophia was 7 months old? You told her that it hurt that you didn’t even know what your baby sounded like.” (the breathing tube kept her vocal cords separated so Sophia made absolutely no sounds during those months… well, sounds from her mouth anyway)
“Did Sophia not eat all of her food today by mouth? Do you remember all the tears you shed over her feeding tube, begging me to heal her from that… promising that you’d be satisfied after that prayer.”
WOOOOWWWWW…. Way to call me out, God. But you know what, I needed a Holy Spirit smack-down of truths. My ego needed some adjusting. My heart returned to a place of gratitude. I instantly was thankful for an army of believers that would dare to believe big with me for this spunky lil’ girl, for a physical therapist that goes above and beyond, for the kindness of a neighbor, for the love of a teacher, and for a God of Miracles… even if those miracles unfolded differently than how I’d like to write the story. All pieces of Heaven I have the honor of experiencing on earth.
As I flipped through my journal, I found an entry that I wrote as I was waiting on Sophia’s seizures to be healed… I wrote something along the lines of…
The devil can do his most harmful work to us in our period of waiting, but if we allow it, God will do His greatest work IN us during that time.
How could that ring so clearly in my mind before and somehow get lost it in the midst of everything?
I think of Elijah waiting for the rain to come… For those who might need it, here is a synopsis. People have referred to a person or event in the Bible before, and sometimes I am so lost. So, I like to just assume we could all use a recap.
Bible cliff notes version:
Elijah is a prophet that delivers a message from God, saying there will be a drought. After three years, God tells Elijah to then tell the King that now there will be rain again. This is done to prove to the King and his people that God is the one true God. Elijah claims,”There is the sound of a heavy rain,” but when his servant goes to check out the sky, he sees nothing. Nothing. He goes and checks SEVEN times. Can you imagine that servant going the seventh time? Finally that time, the servant sees “a cloud as small as a man’s hand.” Eventually “a heavy rain started falling.” (1 Kings 18 NIV)
So, I just think how Elijah reacted to that fist-sized cloud. Could you imagine him being like, “Really, God?! That puny little cloud? I done had my servant check all these times after you told me to claim a downpour, and that’s it? Wow, some downpour you made. I’m done prophesying for You!” Instead Elijah sent his servant to tell another man to head home so he could get ahead of the rain. Elijah KNEW what was in store, not from the view of that puny little cloud, but from his knowledge of his faithful God.
I’m embarrassed to say that my reaction to Sophia’s “fist-sized-cloud” walking was not set on my knowledge of our faithful God. I missed a moment to rejoice. Thank goodness for a God with endless grace and obviously all-you-can-burn patience. My heart is back on track and I can FULLY appreciate “fist-sized-cloud” walking and also KNOW to expect the heavy rain. Praise our Heavenly Father!
I found this biblical commentary about Elijah’s prophecy for rain. It fed my soul so indulgently. So, I’ll leave off with this, hoping that it can bless you on your own fist-sized clouds. 🙂
“Let us never despise the day of small things, but hope and wait for great things from it.”