Friday, November 15, 2013

sometimes a little Katy Perry is a good thing.

{ben on the airplane--how many photo bombs can you see? i spy 3, with a potential 4th}

I used to bite my tongue and hold my breath
Scared to rock the boat and make a mess
So I sat quietly, agreed politely
I guess that I forgot I had a choice
I let you push me past the breaking point
I stood for nothing, so I fell for everything

You held me down, but I got up
Already brushing off the dust
You hear my voice, you hear that sound
Like thunder gonna shake the ground
You held me down, but I got up
Get ready cause I’ve had enough
I see it all, I see it now

this past wednesday morning found all five of us buckled into our dark blue minivan, driving along highway 60, heading west toward the phoenix airport.  only one small suitcase was in the back and the clothing inside didn't belong to me.  i looked around my shoulder to see the two girls happily munching on snacks.  caleb was further back, with his seatbelt on but laying down with a garbage bag resting next to him because he'd been complaining of stomach pains--something we straders have learned not to take lightly.

the song changed on the radio, and the beginning of katy perry's "roar" came through the speakers.
"oh mom, this is my favorite song!"  leah squealed with her cute lisp.  "PLEASE turn it up!"

as much as my alt-indie-music-loving side wanted to protest, i turned up the volume for my beaming 4 year old.  within a few seconds, all of us began loudly singing along to the words, caleb included.  even i had to adimit the song is catchy.

ben and his suitcase were packed in our van for texas, heading there to meet with the court he's working with for his dissertation research project, as a last-ditch attempt to save the ability to write his dissertation this next month and go out for residency next fall instead of waiting another year.

when i wrote a blog post about this, i assumed it was over for us.  i had found peace in the idea of staying in arizona for another year, even if it wasn't what we had planned or hoped for.  ben had been given the date of when he needed to have his approval letter from this texas court, and as the due date grew closer i began looking for the positive in our lives--trying to soften the blow i knew this was going to be for him.  that week was emotionally taxing.  i was recovering from a miscarriage while trying so hard to be the cheerleader and positive force to pick him up and motivate him to keep going.  and he kept going--in every way possible.  physically, spiritually, mentally and emotionally.  he pushed through and refused to quit.

as we talked more and more, our perspective on the situation began to shift.  we spoke of looking forward to enjoying december together, spending quality time with the kids and their needs, possibly traveling a little, and then finding a new job in january while we waited.  we actually became excited with the idea of staying.

on the due date of his approval letter, i sat down in the early afternoon and opened up the computer.

and there it was.

the court in texas had months to send this letter, but now, just a mere three hours before ben was scheduled to meet with his advisor with the sad news that he hadn't received the acceptance letter on time, it showed up.

i sat still for a moment, rereading the words, trying to believe it.  and then, i could feel it--Him, there with me.  because i had learned to recognize God's voice when He speaks to me, i knew it was Him.  it was not me who made my back tingle, and goosebumps cover my arms and legs.  it was not me who caused a feeling of overwhelming Love and Peace to wash over as tears filled my eyes.  as He made me aware of his presence, i knew He was saying that the timing of this email was because of Him.  i can't explain it any other way--except knowing this.

"thank you," i whispered as those tears spilled over, down onto my cheeks.  i reached for the phone and called ben.

"DID YOU SEE WHAT JUST CAME THROUGH THE EMAIL?!"  i screeched when he answered.

"no, what?"  he replied.


"are you SERIOUS!"

ben took that letter into the meeting where his advisor had been planning on telling him he needed to wait another year, and promised to call me afterward.

i wanted to shout from the rooftops that the approval letter had been sent just in time, but i knew the fight wasn't over.  instead i sat by the phone, nervous but hopeful --this advisor is known at ben's school for being tough, and ben has felt disapproval from him several times as they have worked together the past couple of years.  he is the one who required ben to re-take one entire year of school initially, and had made it clear that his intention this year was to do the same with having him wait to apply for residency until next fall.  i worried that even though ben had what the advisor asked for, he would find a way to tell him no.

the phone rang, and i listened as ben told me his advisor had allowed him to continue, but only on the condition he would now need to have all of the data for this research project from texas in his hands by november 15th, otherwise he would still be held back for the year.

they had given him two weeks.

inwardly my hopes sank, knowing the two-year-long history we've had working with this court in texas.  their severe lack of communication, along with doing anything in a timely manner was the reason ben had to be held back for the second year, and was all i could focus on.

"welllllll," i said hesitantly on the phone, "we're still in this fight.  it's not over yet.  you have two weeks, so let's do what we can to get this to happen."

which is what brought us to wednesday morning, driving to the airport, all of us singing katy perry at the top of our lungs, in a desperate attempt to show up in person and light the fire under the rear ends of the people at the court in texas.  we knew it would take a miracle for this to come together, for them to actually be able to hand it over to him by friday, but we promised to do our part to make it happen.

as embarrassing as it is to type, while we were mid-family-sing-along, suddenly i became emotional, and looked at ben with tears in my eyes.

"this is it, this is your theme song.  no matter what happens, this is what you're not only teaching others, but teaching me, your children, and yourself.  you're going to do everything you can and not quit, even if someone tells you no.  you're not giving up.  and every time that lame advisor says something that makes you feel like you're beneath him, or a loser, i want you to stand up and start singing him this song at the top of your lungs!"

we laughed about that visual, and i said maybe instead he could just to have the song run through his mind when his advisor was hard on him.

i kissed him goodbye at the airport, and waited.

this morning, just after i dropped caleb off for school, he called.


and he texted me this picture:

today is november 15th, the due date for having the data in his hand.  and he has it.  if it wouldn't take days to write out the details of the journey of the past two years--all of the bumps in the road and soul-wrenching moments we have both had, i would do it.  but since i can't, please believe me when i tell you the tears of gratitude we both shed during our phone call this morning were justifiable.

i felt Him again, with us as we cried and spoke to each other.

i know in the grand scheme of life this will probably be a minor deal some day to us.  today though, it is not minor.  i write these things down to remember Him.

this is obviously not really about an approval letter and data.  for ben, after years and years of being told he was not smart enough for school, and entering a doctoral program anyway, this is material evidence that fighting through those lies are worth it.  we both felt this is God's way of telling him to keep going.

i'm sure i could dismiss this as mere coincidence.  that the timing was just because of one thing or another--but i won't, because i undeniably know He is the reason this came to happen.  i have the choice to recognize it, and i do.

so, the journey for us continues.  i'm crying again as i type those words.  ben will now work his tail off to write and complete his dissertation by the end of december--while also flying around the country interviewing at potential residency sites at the same time.  i will do my best here at home trying to hold it together.  i'm not going to lie, it's going to take more miracles for him to finish in time, pass his dissertation, and match with a residency.....but we're grateful we're still in the fight.

and i know
with God's help,
miracles happen.