Friday, April 20, 2007

A Story of Deliverance - Part VII

Steve Chapman/Times & Seasons Music

There’s a boy in his mother’s prayers
Cause lately she’s been aware
That he’s been drifting
Too far from the shore
And she’s beginning to believe
The boy is getting out of reach
Oh weary mother
Don’t you worry anymore

Cause the boy is reachable
I know he’s reachable
And to God he’s visible
And all things are possible
Cause if the Lord can reach his hand of love through time
And touch a cold sinner’s heart like mine
The boy is reachable
Oh…he’s reachable

This beautiful verse of the song written by Steven Chapman came on the radio many times during our years of desperation. It gave me hope.

Kevin has written his Part 7 at Sema's site. Please check it out first. You can read some of Sema's thoughts and feelings in the comment section.

This is a chapter that is very hard to write about. The feelings of despair and hopelessness that I hold in our bodies and heart is overwhelming. As we left the newlyweds in that beautiful spot in the LA area, we had such high hopes. Kevin had a plan for his life and it included going back to Africa to teach English or work on translation of the Bible. He was majoring in linguistics - in fact, that is why he ended up at this school, because it was one of the few which had the degree he was seeking.

First semester went well. Sema got a good job. They found a great church full of students. They went on a retreat for the students and spouses in his department. We gave them a trip to Disneyland for their first anniversary. They went to the beach. He could walk or ride his bike to school. They got involved with a mission trip back to Mozambique, and Kevin was one of the leaders. They came home for an early Christmas celebration and headed back for another African adventure. But the adventure turned sour. There were personnel problems. Kevin got a serious eye infection. Even though they got to visit Sema's family in Kenya, there are lots of bad memories.

I took the opportunity to go visit them during his spring break. Sema went to work, we'd go get a Krispy Kreme donut, we'd meet Sema for lunch, Kev would study, and I would go for walks and explore the beautiful neighborhood. I remember I was reading Francine Rivers' book Redeeming Love. How appropriate was that, when I look back. We'd all three get together for dinner and the evening. We even watched American Idol together, as I recall. I don't remember feeling anything ominous, nor did I see any storm clouds on the horizon.

Summer came and I believe that was when he took a job working nights, which was a beginning of the slide downward. DC went to visit in August, and it did not turn out very well. There was a lot of tension between Kev and Sema, and it was quite evident to DC. He was very sad when he came home, though he couldn't really elaborate.

As I look back at all of these semesters of school and what happened, it amazes me that he maintained a 3.7-3.8 grade point average. That is a real mystery, but it must have something to do with that hand of God being on His life that we always talk about.

The beginning of the end was one night when I came home from working out at the gym. DC was sitting at the kitchen table with his head down on his arms - a very unusual posture for him. When I asked him what in the world he was doing, he said, "Kevin's a drug addict." I immediately went into denial, asking him how he could say such a thing. He explained that Sema had just called and shared her fears. I began hyperventilating and had to go outside and walk around the culdesac for a long time to get my breathing back to normal.

As that semester continued, we got frequent calls from Kevin in the evenings - him crying, being in depression, wondering what in the world he should do. We did everything we could think of from long distance to encourage him. We asked him to please find a counselor to talk to. We prayed with him on the phone. We still didn't know what was going on.

If you've read Kevin's story, you learned about his descension into the pits of hell in downtown LA, Skid Row. He would tell me that he liked to go down there to visit with the homeless as a sort of sociological study. He would sit with them in their cardboard boxes and try to figure them out. That's what he said to me. I was really gullible. I really wanted to believe him. I learned later that he could have easily been killed - one time he had his keys stolen, and his car. Why he got it back I don't know - again God's hand was upon him, protecting him from death and destruction.

Sema must have been going through her own personal hell. She didn't call often; she tried to handle it on her own and be so tough - so far away from her parents.

The next defining moment that lives in my body and brain was early on an October morning. I was at work, microwaving my cup of tea for the morning. I heard my phone ringing down the hall in my office, but I couldn't get there in time, so I just let it go to voice mail. Often I do not check my phone message immediately, but this time God must have prompted me to do so. There was hysterical crying on the other end of the line so that it took me awhile to realize it was Sema. I immediately called her back and learned that the paramedics were in their apartment, working furiously to bring Kevin back to life. She had awakened to find him unresponsive in their bed. She could not wake him up and he was cold to the touch. The tears are flowing as I write this and I am having chills. It was the worst moment of my life - up to that point.

Kev spent a couple of days in the hospital, but then of course was released. The legal/social service/health system is so broken that nobody can be forced to stay in a hospital or a facility of any kind unless they want to. And who do you know who needs help that admits it and wants to stay? We talked to him several times on the phone from here, encouraging him to continue in counseling with the campus health center. It was not really doing him any good, we soon learned. He was basically just going through the motions.

It was a Thursday again a week later. Sema called again to say that she had awakened in the morning to find Kevin not in bed. She, for reasons that can only be explained as divine prompting, went down to the parking area and found him lying half in and half out of their car, once again unconscious. The ambulance came again. This time she was really angry. She did not want him to come home.

At the peril of losing my job, I learned later, I began to make frantic phone calls to get us tickets to LA that night. I was sobbing so hard that the lady at the airline could hardly understand what I was saying. She was so kind. We got one way tickets, not knowing how long it might take us to get some sort of resolution. We arrived in time to spend some time with Sema, start making some phone calls, and to strategize a bit with her before he was released. When she was afraid to have him back home, they had taken him to a mental health facility. It was run by the county and, to say the least, it was an unpleasant experience. He was very angry at all of us. It was a very scary and sad ride back to their place.

When he realized that we were only there because we loved him, he began to calm down and think a bit straighter. We had to withdraw him from school. The school graciously gave him a health withdrawal, so we were able to recover all of the loans and return them. His professors were so concerned, and prayed with us and him.

We began to discuss options with Kevin. We even suggested Tēēn Challenge or the Salvation Army, either of which would have saved us from going into deep debt. Both were tough programs, not in beautiful facilities. He was not ready at that point to give up a year of his life to get well. He wanted instant help. We talked to many people before coming up with a Christian facility south of LA in a beautiful spot on the ocean. It was a 45 day program and we ended up refinancing our house to pay for it. They wanted a check on the spot. (It pays to have a good long standing relationship with your bankers!) Kevin refused to stay there that night - turns out he wanted to watch one last football game with his dad! We all slept very fitfully that night, fearful that he would run. The fact that DC and I were sleeping on the tiny living room floor on an air mattress made it impossible for him to sneak out without our knowing it.

Kevin went without a fuss the next day. We went down there and pretended we were tourists for a few hours before having to leave him there. We thought we had left him in a good place. Sema was able to go down for week-ends quite often, and for family meetings. But one thing just blew me away - we had to leave him $300 for spending money. They took the guys to Wal-Mart every week for an outing and they could get candy, socks, cigarettes (to my dismay - I thought they ought to have to quit that habit as well), and other small items. Believe it or not, one of Kev's LA doctors called in a pain pill prescription to that Wal-Mart for him and he took drugs while he was in rehab. They busted him that night at a group meeting and he high-tailed it back to LA on foot and hitchhiking.

Things were really bad for Sema at this point. She was afraid of him and his anger and went to stay with a friend. I ended up bringing him home for Thanksgiving, after he called many times during the night. He was walking around LA in the middle of the night and I was scared out of my mind. Thanksgiving was ruined once again, because he was here, but he was not present. He was angry and slept most of the week-end. It was a miracle that the facility was willing to take him back. He did finish the program just in time for them to come home for Christmas. We had a good time that week, and sent them back to LA. again with high hopes for the future.

It wasn't long before we were getting strange calls from Kev again. He was running around, Sema not knowing where he was. He finally told us he had to get out of LA if he was going to survive. He came home, leaving Sema there to finish up her job in a timely manner. The company she worked for had been so good to her. She really hated to leave that job.

Kevin stayed with us and went back to the manufacturing company where he'd worked 4 times before. I went to Brazil on a work and witness trip. When I got back that first night, DC, Kev, and I went out for dinner to talk about my wonderful experiences. We were so happy. The next day it all came crashing down again, as he was busted once again, and this time our friends would not be able to keep him in their employment. Kev had not reached bottom quite yet.



Nancy said...

Dawn you really have been to "hell" and back. I am sure you are stronger because of it but what terrible things to have to endure. I agree, God was seeing you through and what a blessing to be on the other side of all of this. I look forward to the rest of the story. Have a great trip! The weather in the southeast is gorgeous. ENJOY!

Diane J. said...

As I just commented to Kevin, sometimes when we are doing our worst, God is doing His best.

Praise God that His mercies are everlasting!

Have a great vacation and safe journey, Dawn. ;-)

Love and hugs,


Brenda said...

Wow. It's hard to imagine that it could get much worse. Praise God for His faithfulness!

Have a safe trip! Can't wait to hear from you!

Judith said...

Words just about fail me. It sounds like everyone in the family, especially you and Sema experienced hell upside down.

Only our loving God could get all of you through it. How I admire your courage and your faith.

groovyoldlady said...

Oh my. I am weeping right now. How AMAZING is God's mercy and love...

Have wonderful trip.

kpjara said...

Just when I think it's getting ready to be the 'good stuff', I realize it's not the bottom yet!

God must have given you such a gift of mercy and forgiveness (and Sema as well). I suppose as the Word says: "Love covers a multitude of sins." and there is definitely love at the core of this story!

Thanks for sharing it so vividly and profoundly!

Susie said...

This must be so hard for you to relive. I pray taht this trip is restful and relaxing for you and your husband!
See you when you return..

Linda said...

It is just overwhelming Dawn. I am at a loss for words. How your heart must have ached and broken over and over again. Kevin is a walking miracle - a living, breathing testimony of God's love and grace and a family that loved him too much to ever give up on him. I am so thankful there is a happy ending.
Have a wonderful trip.

Lala's world said...

wow what a journey that was for you and your husband and heart goes out to you and I am so thankful this is not the end of the story!

Linds said...

Dawn, the fact that you and Kevin are writing this is so important. These things can happen to any of us, and we need to remind ourselves of that. It is a harrowing story, and I hope it becomes a book. I am just so thankful that we know the endin gis happy!

Rachel said...

good grief. i can't imagine what it would have been like to go through that - not just kevin, but you guys and sema. it really must have been a traumatic experience.

Michelle-ozark crafter said...

My oh my! It is in these dark time that God is hardest at work my dear! I know, I have been through those times too. I hope the trip is great too!

Jungle Mom said...

The fact the two of you are writing all this is precious. A message of hope to others.

Tam said...

What an amazing story of faith and clinging to

I haven't been to see you in a long time but will certainly be back to hear more of Kevin's and your testimony.

Blessed Beyond Measure said...

I know this amazing story will be the exact thing someone out there needs to hear, to help them take a step, make a phone call, ask for help. I know too it must minister to you, just in the telling.

Barb said...

God's hand is all over this, Dawn. The description of Skid Row you've both given in this chapter is beyond terrifying and it's amazing he wasn't killed there.

This is an unbelievable story. I can't begin to imagine how strong Sema must be. One thing's for sure. Kevin can go through the whole rest of his life knowing his wife loves him. Truly loves him.

SiouxSue said...

Dawn, your stories are truly amazing. Your family has been pulled apart, yet with God's loving kindness you are making it and witnessing so that others may be helped. God bless you all.

PEA said...

Just when you think it couldn't get any worse, it does! Oh Dawn, I really don't know how you all survived this, especially Kevin. You must think back at all of it and wonder too!! Hugs xoxo

MugwumpMom said...

Your stories are such a testimony to God's faithfulness and your ability to trust. Wow.

Maine Mom said...

What a roller coaster ride. You must have been so scared for Kevin when he was found nearly dead two times. This was certainly a rough time for all of you.