Sunday, January 19, 2014

My 500 Words: Day 19 - If It Weren't For Peyton...

So often in life there are moments where we can see how events have played out and we've said to ourselves, "If it weren't for xx, then yy wouldn't have happened."  It is interesting to see how all the seemingly insignificant details of life can play out in such a way as to put you in a certain situation or season of life.  Sometimes those details are not so insignificant.  One big decision can alter the course of your life - for the good or not so good.  Mere minutes can change the course of your life.  Perhaps leaving home a few minutes earlier or later caused you to escape being in a car accident.  Or perhaps a delay put you in the middle of an unfortunate situation.  Whatever it was, you can look back at a moment in time that wound up forever changing your life.

If I am being completely open and honest with you, I would have to say without a doubt that I can attribute my being the person I am today to my daughter, Peyton.  I firmly believe that.  I could probably speak for hours on this subject, but I want to focus on one specific area.  My testimony.  Or at least a portion of it.

If it weren't for Peyton...

Clearly I could go back to the beginning of Peyton's existence and come up with a lengthy list of things to demonstrate how life changed as a result of Peyton being born into our family.  Having a child does that to you.  Having a child with special needs changes the game entirely.  Throw in increasingly serious medical issues and it changes even more.  

I want to go back to a moment in time in 2008.  Peyton was two years old and her challenges were increasing.  While both Ron and I were holding down full time jobs in Houston, Texas, we were also juggling Peyton's medical schedule - doctor appointments, surgeries, therapies, and so on.  Ron's employer was not what you might call "family oriented".  They were not very forgiving when it came to missing work for family issues at all.  Ron did a lot, as did I.  I wound up changing my schedule to a four day work week wherein I would make up the 8 hours from the fifth day during the four days I was at work.  I was going into work for 4am most of the time.  I was burning the candle at both ends.  I was tapped out.  I could not do it anymore.  Ron and I both recognized that Peyton's needs were far more demanding than what my work schedule allowed.  A big change had to be made.

With thousands of dollars in personal and medical debt, we made the decision for me to quit my job and live on Ron's income.  We were not in a financial position to do this.  Not even remotely close.  That said, it had become necessary.  In fact, my last week of work wound up being taken as sick days because Peyton was admitted to the hospital.  That was a sure sign that we had made the right decision.

Ron had already begun looking in earnest for a new job in Houston.  You would think in a city that size that opportunities would be seemingly limitless.  We weren't necessarily looking for a new job to completely replace my lost income, which wasn't enormous but wasn't insignificant either.  Obviously expenses would change as a result of my unemployment.  We needed more money primarily because of our finances.  There was no medicaid for Peyton and we'd racked up tens of thousands of dollars in medical debt on top of debt acquired from our immature spending habits in our younger years.  We soon realized that if Ron was going to get a better job, we were going to have to face the possibility of moving out of Houston and, most likely, out of state.

Within a month or so of me leaving my job, Ron wound up with an interview out of state.  We always thought we'd like to move west.  Denver had a nice appeal as did the Pacific Northwest.  So Ron headed off to Charleston, South Carolina for an interview after having had a couple interviews via phone.  Within a month, we were meeting with movers who loaded up our house and we set off for a new life in the east.  Ron had only been to Charleston briefly for the in-person interview.  I had never been.  We took this gigantic leap of faith and moved across the country seeking a better life.

Leap of faith.  That's kind of funny because we truly had little faith at the time.  We did not have a relationship with Christ at all.  We both grew up in the Catholic Church.  We were married in the Catholic Church.  Both girls were baptized in the Catholic Church.  We went to church but as Peyton got bigger it was more and more difficult to handle her in church.  We went in shifts so that someone could stay home with her.  Or we didn't go at all.  When we did go, we were merely occupants of a pew in a church building.  We weren't getting anything out of it, nor were we contributing much to it.  When we moved to Charleston, we did make an attempt at finding a church.  On our very first weekend here, we went to a church.  Oh, it seemed nice enough...until that moment when something happened which has forever tarnished my view of that church, the Catholic church, and {at the time} church in general.  I don't need to go into detail.  God knows.  I am sure one day that situation will be dealt with appropriately.  We made a half-hearted effort at finding another church and failed.  We gave up.

If it weren't for Peyton...

In 2009, almost a year after we'd moved here, one of the moms at Moira's daycare reached out to me.  She knew we were dealing with a lot of stuff with Peyton.  Her health was becoming more and more complex.  We were having a very difficult time.  This friend reached out and invited me to come to her church with her family.  Ron stayed home with Peyton that Saturday night while Moira and I went off with this family.  I wasn't sure what to make of this church.  It was huge.  It was so vibrant.  There was real, open, authentic worship.  It was also non-denominational.  Insert Catholic guilt here!  

This church was so different on so many levels.  Where we had struggled to go to church because of Peyton's issues, this church had the answers.  Can you imagine a church with a special needs ministry??  I couldn't even comprehend such a thing, but this church had one!  This church had a place for each of us to be.  We each could experience church in our own way.  I was floored by the whole experience.  The service was absolutely incredible.  It left me wanting more and longing to come back.

Peyton wound up in the hospital the following week, so it was a few weeks or so before we could get there, but once we could, we began attending Seacoast Church.  Peyton had her place in the special needs ministry and she was loved on and cared for by such incredible volunteers.  They did so much for her and for our family.  That's a whole other post in and of itself.  Moira has grown up through the ranks of their "Kidscoast" children's program.  Ron and I remark frequently that we wish we had the church experience growing up that Moira is experiencing now.  As for Ron and I, we have both been baptized at Seacoast.

As detailed as this is, I am leaving out a lot of details.  There is far more to my testimony than just this story.  I long to share it all with you.  For now, let it suffice to say that if it weren't for Peyton, we wouldn't be where we are today.  If it weren't for her, I wouldn't have had to quit my job.  If it weren't for her, Ron wouldn't have had to look for a new job.  If it weren't for her, we wouldn't have wound up in Charleston, South Carolina of all places.  If it weren't for her, we wouldn't have wound up at Seacoast Church.

If it weren't for Peyton, Ron and I would not have a relationship with God.

It is amazing how one simple decision can change your entire life.

{if you're counting - that was 1,430 words for my nineteenth My 500 Words post, for a total of 15,328 this month!}
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