Tuesday, May 29, 2007

A Story of Deliverance - Part IX

The journey has been long and it has at times been very hard. The journey is definitely not over. It is in a new phase, a phase full of hope and promise. Thank you so much for sharing the journey with Kevin and me. The writing of the journey has been good for both of us. Kevin told me last night that writing his journey has made him realize how different he is from many other people, how much God has brought him through, how much purpose he has because of God's grace and salvation and protection. Thank you for the encouragement many of you have given us to publish our story. We would love to do that, and will definitely do some research to see if we can make that happen. We trust our story has touched hearts of those who may have "happened" upon it that we know nothing about.

Please go HERE for Kev's Chapter 9, then return for my point of view. If you have just found our story and are interested in reading the rest, we are both linked on my sidebar.


Kevin came home from the hospital after many days on I.V. antibiotics of the highest strength possible, after two surgeries on his elbow, after much soul searching on his part. As I mentioned in Part VIII, everyone who came into his room seemed to be sent by God to uplift him and encourage him, as well as to aid in his physical healing. I met with the after-care coordinator, who was wonderful. She did a lot of research on places he could go. I was doing research on the Internet at the same time. It was difficult to find a good program. We'd already tried one that didn't work. We couldn't afford to do another expensive program, especially when the first one didn't work out.

But the first order of business was to get Kevin completely well. The elbow was still oozing some infection. He went back to the surgeon several times, and the only option was to re-open the wound and do more surgery - not a viable option with the cost and lack of great insurance. Kev was really emaciated when he went to the hospital - he weighed around 150 pounds on his 6 foot + frame. He spent days on the couch, recuperating, eating Mom's food, getting stronger and better every day. After a couple of weeks, we packed up his things and headed to the program we'd been in touch with. It was very close to home, and in retrospect, would have not worked well - even if it had been a good program. It was supposed to be a Christian based program. When we got there, I got a really bad feeling. I've learned to rely a lot on my "gut" feelings. I believe it is often discernment from God. We took his things to a dark, dank basement of a house. There was no room for anything that he brought. There was no heat down there. The beds were scrunched together. We insisted that he stay, but I didn't feel good about it. The young man who was to be his "mentor" could not answer our questions about the focus and structure of the program. In fact, he told us he'd gone home the week-end before to visit his mom and had "scored" while he was there. Relapse was part of recovery. That was also the philosophy of the expensive place we had sent him previously.

The next day, Kev was brought back down to our hospital emergency room because of his elbow. He called me from there and asked me to pick him up. It went against what I wanted to do, but could not deny the bad feeling I had about that place. I picked him up, went up to get his things, was given a lecture about "rescuing" from the above mentioned young man. Nobody ever called to find out why he left. I felt good about "rescuing" him from this situation.

So we began again. Shortly after that I called him from work one day and asked him to call my friend (well, he was a former boyfriend who had broken my heart - I talk about this in my 100th Post, #97), whose son had completed Tēēn Challenge (henceforth referred to as TC) and was a changed person. He actually did it right away - R called his son at the Chicago airport and asked him to call Kevin right away. They were immediate kindred spirits - in fact T, the young man, told his dad that Kev's story was his story. He began encouraging Kev to get busy on getting well and to get far away from home.

It was Christmas time, there were some legal things to take care of, nobody was in their offices, and things came to a standstill. But God was not taking a vacation, and He was working things out. Kev continued to heal, continued to gain weight (he gained 25 pounds during that six weeks at home), and continued to realize his need of getting to TC as soon as possible.

If I had time to tell you all of the barriers that fell in this process, it would be several more posts. Suffice it to say that T was able to find him a bed in New Haven, Connecticut. It was a longer program than others, and very intense. As Kev mentioned, we went to Denver to meet with the director there, who had been asked by New Haven to interview Kev and ascertain if he was really ready to do this - they didn't want him coming that far and bolting for home at the first tough moment. In the midst of this process, Kev decided he'd like to go to Florida instead. There were tense moments as he awaited a call from the director down there. It never came. But Sunday evening, before he was to leave on Monday, God came to him and he relinquished his will and made up his mind to follow through with the plan to leave for Connecticut the next morning.

In the meantime, Sema had returned from her Christmas trip to Germany to be with her sister who lives there and her parents, who were able to get to Germany when they were not allowed into America. She had been able to distance herself from the situation and her anger had mellowed. They were able to spend that Sunday night together and mend some things before he left. She moved in with us and stayed the entire time he was gone, working full time and earning a second degree. I hope someday she'll write her side of this story.

We borrowed the church van and made a huge event of taking Kev to the airport with the whole family going along. It was a great moment, and a poignant one, when we stood above the security line and watched him head down the concourse by himself - off to start life anew. (For an idea of what he was facing, you can go to this post for information.)

TC is not for the faint of heart. It is hard work. Kev spent countless hours in study and days in fund raising outside of stores all over the East Coast. He sang in choir on the week-ends - that was such a kick for me, because he hadn't had any interest in singing since the 6th grade when they had a really pretty music teacher the boys called "Barbie." He was not allowed to call us for 30 days, and then could call once a week. It wasn't a smooth road - there were some detours along the way that required some discipline. His elbow was still infected when he went - we prayed diligently that it would heal, because he could not afford to leave that place once he was there. God heard our prayers - in a week-end retreat with guys from all over New England TC, they prayed for healing for him. God answered those prayers - the next morning the infection was totally gone. What a wonderful miracle to bolster Kev's fledgling faith!

I don't remember the exact timing, but it was in this time period that God reached down and grabbed Kevin's heart. He finally saw his need of the Saviour. He repented, accepted Christ's forgiveness and love, and has never been the same. He likes to say that what he experienced was not rehab, not recovery, not even restoration, but DELIVERANCE.

I believe it was in April that he took a huge step. We would have loved to be there, but had to settle for this picture.

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This was taken in upper New York, early spring, and the water was very cold! But what a thrill for Kevin to make this public profession of his newfound faith.

We began to get requests for larger clothes. He was gaining so much weight and was so healthy that nothing fit him any more. The guys would "bless" each other with things they could not wear any more, and he did this with his outgrown clothes. I was so excited to see how good he looked.

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This was taken in front of the church they attended when they were in town for the week-end. Most week-ends they were traveling, sharing their testimonies and singing for churches all over the Eastern seaboard.

The program in New Haven required the guys to go to a different location for a few months. Kev went to the Boston area for awhile. It was during that time that we were privileged to visit him. Sema had been able to go while he was still in New Haven, and another time when he was in Brockton. We went for the Harvest Festival. We told Kevin later that as long as he had to get into this situation, it was sure nice of him to go to a place we hadn't visited before so we could see something brand new. We had an awesome day going up the coast to the tip of the U.S.A., up Cape Cod and back until we could get together with him that evening for the banquet. We had a great time with him and met so many wonderful young guys whose lives were being transformed. We were amazed to see how many really sharp young guys could get so snarled up in such a destructive lifestyle. But the glory of God was evident in their faces. What a blessing to see before and after pictures at the banquet presentation. Their eyes were so devoid of life before Christ came into their hearts - the transformation was absolutely breathtaking.

TC

As he indicated in his latest post, Kevin left much of his heart in New Haven, Connecticut. This is a city of contrasts - wealthy Yale students on one side of the city, and abject poverty on the other. TC is in the poorer part of town. They need somebody to give them a lot of money for improvements! But it was not the buildings that made New Haven TC what it was. Here is a look at some of the facilities that Kevin worked and lived in.

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The facilities in Massachusetts were much nicer, but Kev was very happy to get back to Connecticut for the last few weeks of his time in TC.

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On June 14, almost a year ago, our prodigal son returned home. What a glorious day that was for us.

prodigal son

It was just at this time that I "met" Diane at Partners in Prayer for Our Prodigals. Kristen, my daughter, introduced us, because she felt we had so much in common and absolutely had to be in touch. What a wonderful friendship it has become. Even before I started blogging in late June, Diane hosted a "Welcome Home" event for Kevin. You can read those HERE, HERE, and HERE. What fun it was! I became acquainted with many of you because of Diane's excitement.

Kevin's life was spared at least 5 times in two years. He was kept from incarceration through miraculous circumstances. There is a reason God has kept him alive and, as I told him when he came home from the hospital that Saturday, it is his job to find out what that purpose is and get busy doing it.

Kevin is currently a junior in social work, in the very program where I work with the grad level students. He is excited about the possibilities of international social work. Please continue to pray for him and Sema as their future unfolds.


27 comments:

Elizabeth said...

I got chills when I saw the baptism photo. Thank you so much for sharing your side of this story. Like Kristen's story, it IS touching lives and brining HIM glory!

Linda said...

He is walking miracle Dawn. Praise God for the wonderful things He did for Kevin. I just feel so elated. What a wonderful ending/beginning to this story.
When I was in high school I wanted to become a social worker and work for TC. As you can see - my life took a different turn, but I've always known what amazing work they do.
Thank you so much for sharing your story of love and grace and a faith that just never gave up.

Susie said...

Dear Dawn,
Thanks for sharing this uplifting story. I can only imagine your elation at the very positive ending (or as you say "It is in a new phase, a phase full of hope and promise.")
xo

Diane J. said...

God truly has His hand on Kevin. With all that He has already done in his life, I have to believe that God has great things in store for Kevin's life. I hope I'm around to witness those things. :-)

Love and hugs,

Diane

SiouxSue said...

What wonders God performs...if we will but listen to His will. As I told Kev, I hope you and he will write that book and share your story with the world.

Sharon Lynne said...

Kevin and your stories have been educational for me, as well as emotional. We are on a road with our oldest son, and we don't know where it is leading. (will be age 20 in Aug.)

I visited the Teen Challenge site. Ended up reading some of the prayer requests. So sad--There are a lot of hurting parents and kids in bad situations. Prayed for them all tonight!

Thanks for stopping by my blog and letting me know the final chapter was available. I hope you can get your story published!

Linds said...

God must have some really special things in store for Kevin, Dawn. And what faithfulness and love you have all displayed in what is an amazing story of His never failing love.
PRAISE GOD!

Diane said...

Thank you for sharing this miracle with us Dawn! No doubt, revisiting these days has not been easy! Yet, you have done so for our benefit....and we are grateful!

As I said in my post today (you've been linked)......it was just a little more than a year ago that I met you. When I joined you in prayer for our prodigals, never, in a million years, did I imagine that you and Kevin would write a shared journey through this pain...to deliverance! Yay! God!

You know, I hope that you and Kevin give serious consideration to making this series into a book. You would not be limited to the space constraints of blog posting....and it would reach so many more...who need to feel the Hope that only God can bring.

What a testimony Kevin has....and how your mother's heart can touch the aching hearts of so many other parents who are praying for their own prodigals. Or better yet, for those parents who have been in the journey for so long, that they have given up on praying--fearing it does not make a difference.

The HOPE that you have brought to us....makes a divine difference!!!!

Diane

Kristen said...

What a journey it has been. And such a relief to not have to worry about Kevin day and night.

I'll never forget taking him to the airport that day with the kids and watching him disappear through the terminal. So glad that it ended up the way it did.

I love watching Kevin and Sema interact these days. What a change from even two years ago. He's a different person!

Maybe the three of us should try to do a book. Who knows.

Dawn said...

That is definitely my dream - for all 3 of us to do a book together - we can "flesh out" our blog stories. We have lots of encouragement to do that very thing.

Barb said...

What a journey this has been, Dawn. I have to say, several times during your posts and Kevin's, I've just held my breath.

I lost count of all the miracles that happened on Kevin's journey to recovery.

Both of you have shown a lot of courage just in relating the truth of how horrendous this really way.

I didn't realize you and Diane had already met each other. That Kristen is one smart girl!

Before I go I have to mention this. It's amazing how much Kevin and Kristen look alike. I swear, they could be twins. I'll bet you've heard that before.

I know these nine installments were hard writing. I hope you and Kevin both take it easy and have a nice, long peaceful summer.

(I for one would love to read this story from Sema's perspective.)

Clemntine said...

It has been a blesssing to read your and Kevin's accounts of his deliverance. Even knowing how it comes out, I was on the edge of my seat (keyboard?) a few times. My heart aches thinking of how you felt as you went through these years. Thank you for providing an example of the love that hopes all things, bears all things, believes all things and endures all things. Only by God's grace is it possible.

Go in grace.

groovyoldlady said...

This makes me think of that song "The End...of the Beginning".

This is better than the best of fiction; real life, real tragedy, real transformation, real joy.

Thank you SO MUCH for sharing your story. It's very encouraging to those of us who still have prodigals out there!

Midlife Mom said...

Only by the grace of God! These words kept going through my head as I read your last chapter! Only by the grace of God!

Maine Mom said...

I am so glad that Kevin had great success at Teen Challenge. I am sure he takes one day at a time on this new path in his life. Thank you for sharing your experience as Kevin has shared his. It would be neat to hear from Sema, too.

PEA said...

What a road you, Kevin and the family travelled...thank God it turned out the way it did. As I told Kevin, he made me see a world I had never seen before and hope to never see. To have gone through what he did and now be the strong young man he is today is truly a blessing. Loved all the pictures, Dawn. xoxo

Diane said...

Dawn,

The books are in the mail....can't wait for your first book-signing!!!!! ;)

Diane

Nancy said...

Dawn you are one amazing lady and the unconditonal love for your son really is a lesson for us all. You never gave up on him and that is a blessing indeed! I loved each photo and link. I read most of it yesterday but I had to come back today to visit each link and catch up on the "homecoming" etc... I feel very fortunate to have found you... or did you find me? Either way, I feel blessed!

Sharon Lynne said...

Dawn,

Regarding the comment you left on my blog...I can't seem to locate your email. My email is breezeblog@charter.net

Thanks,

Sharon

Tammy said...

Dawn...thank you so much for telling your side of this incredible story. What a hard road it was for all of you...and what a miracle that the Lord did in his life!
That picture of Kevin with you and your husband is worth a thousand words!

Yellow Mama said...

It is so like God to never give up on us. Thank you for sharing part of your life with us.

Blessings

Sherry said...

thanks for sharing with us. It was great to read knowing the happy ending!

Jungle Mom said...

I will be praying!

Brenda said...

Oh, I definitely think you should all collaborate on a book. What an encouragement and a blessing to read!

Love the pictures, especially the baptism, and the three of you together.

Lala's world said...

such an amazing testimony, I am sooo glad that you shared it with us! God Bless you and keep His hand upon you!
He has and does and always will!

SharonB said...

thank you suggesting that I read your and Kevins story. A story of hope for those who continue to wait patiently for their prodigals to come home.

Michelle (wife, mom, daughter, sister, friend, co-worker, and striving to be a Proverbs 31 woman) said...

Dawn, you promised me a story of hope and you delivered. Thank you for directing me to your blog after visting mine today (well yesterday at this point).
I pray that I will be able write such a happy ending at some point. My son is in a "diversion" program for a year, which at the end his charges will be dropped, Restiution still remains, community service, visits with the division officer, etc. I fear for my son's heart and soul. He is searching in all the wrong places for something...maybe acceptance? Just this week he has made friends with an 18yo runaway girl who is much, much more worldly than he. Why he gravitates towards others in trouble is beyond my comprehension. May we help him find his way.
Thank you again. I admire you for telling your story, and especially Kevin for his willingness as well. You are making an impact on others, and your story is a blessing.
In Christ,
Michelle