Miracles Upon Miracles

The past two months have been a whirlwind of amazingness. Such a whirlwind that time and energy for processing my life and actually forming those thoughts into words has been a laughable feat that I have gladly ignored. There is so much to share, and so little time, so buckle up – you’re in for a ride!

First let’s talk about service dogs, because we must start somewhere. We first began contemplating how a service dog might help our son and our family about six months ago. I had seen and heard stories of ‘autism service dogs’ on the news or from social media and other sources. It hadn’t really occurred to me that that might be helpful for Javan because he’s not “severely” autistic. I think I said things like, “Those dogs aren’t for kids like mine because my kid can talk and his highly functional.” Then desperation hit. I had tried everything I thought might work. The only thing left to do was start looking into things that might not work. Thus began the service dog research. By the way, you know those memes that say how worried mothers or mothers of special needs kids do better research than the FBI? I’m pretty sure Google owes me several pH. Ds by now. Although not one for knowing how to correctly pluralize ph. D.

I was so startled when my research started pointing to all different types of service dogs that I never even dreamed existed. The term that grabbed my attention was ‘psychiatric service dog.’ Whoa, they have those?!?! Yep, they do. So, you can like, personalize, a dog. It can be a Asperger’s/Bipolar/sensory processing/social anxiety/generalized anxity/whatever else you need DOG. If I research more intensely than the FBI, I also do other things more intensely. Like looking up lists of service dog organizations across the country and emailing and calling them. ALL of them. And a few in Canada. I was getting a lot of “nos,” which also doesn’t look correct pluralized but this I realize is completely beside the point. I was getting discouraged. “He’s too young,” they’d say. Or, “It isn’t a good idea for a person who shows aggression.” Over and over. Well, guess what? I have a young boy who shows aggression, and I needed something to work anyway.

We found the perfect organization. This guy in California who was so attentive to figuring out exactly what our family needed and providing that for us. An older guy with so many credentials it didn’t seem they could all be attained in one lifetime. He found the right dog for us, began the training. I wrote the support letter asking for donations. Friends planned events to raise money. $10,000 for the dog alone. Plus travel and stay in California for training. Uh, yeah, that doesn’t really fit into our life situation right now. Or ever. But we knew God would provide. Unfortunately, upon doing more research into this particular organization, I came up with some shady results and began asking questions he didn’t like to hear. I’m not naming any names because I’m not sure what’s going on there. I hope he really can do all that he claims to be able to do and I hope many people are helped through his organization. But it didn’t work for us. When my questions don’t get answered satisfactorily, I begin to feel that raising thousands of dollars is a bit risky. So, yeah, that was a big punch in the gut. Way too pull out the brass knuckles, Life.

We looked around more, made more phone calls, wrote more emails. I finally found an organization who was willing to try. Little Angels Service Dogs, also in California (I think). I’m including their name because I highly recommend them. After emailing and conversing many, many times, the caring trainer who was working with us said, “I shouldn’t help you. We don’t typically try to help children with aggression issues. But I really want to help you because you need it.” The deal was, if we raised all the money and got out there to train and Javan hit the dog, the deal was off. And they kept the money. Well, that wasn’t going to work for us. I understand that’s how it had to work because of the way non-profit taxing goes, but I couldn’t ask other people to donate their hard-earned money for a ‘maybe.’ At least this time Life left off the knuckles.

So I stopped. I wrote to our supporters online and explained that we were calling off the search. I still felt that God would open that door some day, when the time was right. But the time wasn’t right. Until exactly four days after I gave up the search to God. I stopped trying and gave it to Him, and He answered. Four days later, a long lost aunt of mine who I had reconnected with on Facebook a few months previously, caught wind of our plight. She instant messaged me and said, “I didn’t know you were looking for a service dog. I have one you can have. Oh, and by the way we moved to Dallas recently (two hours from me). This must be why.” WHAT?!? Let me say that again. WHAT?!?

My Aunt Donna, who I loved so very much as a child, has not been a part of my life for 20 years, not by choice, but because she has been ostracized from our family for being gay. We live in the Bible belt, and not just on the strappy part. Right in the middle of the buckle. We are the prong. Now, I am a Christian, and there’s nothing wrong with the Bible, but I think its belt may need to be readjusted. Don’t ostracize people. Just don’t. The end. Anyhow, all that to say that this dear woman who has suffered unimaginable pain in her life stepped right into my life with the strength and gentility of an angel. And she did God’s work.

She does not own a service dog organization. But she has trained several service dogs for people she loves. One of whom is her physically disabled wife, Billie. Billie’s service dog, Jojo, is astounding. She is so calm and attentive and practically perfect. Jojo is six. Holly Lou, the dog that my Aunt Donna had marked out as Javan’s, was fourteen months. Not calm, not altogether attentive, but still perfect. We visited Dallas several Saturdays in a row and trained, and then we brought her HOME way too early to be practical. But if you had seen the bond between her and Javan. If you had seen how different he was when he was with this dog. You would have brought her home, too.

Let me give you an example. Well, THE example really. On our second or third visit to Dallas, we took Holly Lou into town. We walked along busy sidewalks with Javan holding onto her harness and Aunt Donna guiding her with the leash. My son never tried to run off. He didn’t growl at passersby or assess their hair to determine their level of evilness. He smiled. And said hello. He walked around THREE different stores. And did perfectly in all three. You want to know how many times before that we’d been to three stores in a row without incident? Many, many incidents? Zero. That’s how many times. The third store was Ross. My Aunt Donna is a very sensitive and intuitive person and she sensed we, the parents, needed our own little moment to process. Even though she couldn’t have had any idea how amazingly different Javan was acting from his norm. She took him through Ross with Holly Lou. Without us. In Dallas. Dallas=big, loud, and crowded to us small town folk. We stood by the wall art absolutely stunned. We just looked at each other and wept. We both just stood there and wept in the store. No words. I’m weeping now just remembering that moment that will never be forgotten. Our baby was being successful. This was right. This was God.

Holly Lou has been with us for just under two months (I think. I’m not the best with time.). Everything about this journey has not been perfect. But it has been right. Holly Lou was none of the things we were looking for. She wasn’t big. She wasn’t fully trained. She wasn’t perfect. But she was what God knew we needed. That’s why He waited until we were done trying to open our own doors to open His. For the first 4-6 weeks, which my Aunt Donna refers to as the “transition period” (which are almost never pleasant or comfortable), we had so many ups and downs and even doubted. Even after the miracles God had shown  me, I doubted whether I was up to the task. You see, she wasn’t exactly what some of my family expected either. They also were expecting and desiring the fully-trained, fully-matured, fully-unquestionable service dog. But they didn’t have the miraculous spiritual revelations that we’d had.

Most of our family members were immediately supportive. They SAW how Javan was changed immediately after his connection with Holly. “He’s so much more confident,” they told us, and “He’s so much calmer and more mature.” They were as dumbfounded as we were. Then there were the unsupportive few. They saw that Holly “wasn’t trained.” She wasn’t convenient. She wasn’t intuitive. Basically, they expected the news story service dog. The fairy tale perfection. And they didn’t get it. I was encouraged to send her back to Dallas for further training. I was even told that I was making things worse for my son and myself by bringing in extra stress. I’m a full-time stay at home mom with homeschooling and special needs to tend to. Can I really expect to succeed in trying to add Dog Trainer to my list of credentials? This will only work with a professional! They didn’t think I could do it. I was hurt. I was doubting.

Then I realized. Of course I can’t do this myself! That’s the whole point of the story. God waited patiently, ever so patiently, for me to stop trying to do it on my own, so that HE could do it RIGHT! And He gave my heart these words, “In your weakness, I am made stronger.” The actual verse is 2 Corinthians 12:9, “”My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me.” Since I’ve never done Bible memory verses, the words He gave me were not exactly those words from the Bible, but the words written on my heart.

God made sure that I was NOT qualified for this job on purpose. Otherwise, people could say, “Well, of course the service dog is working out well. Krista is a great dog trainer. I never doubted that she could do it!” Instead, since I have no dog training experience at all, and in actuality possess two other dogs that I’ve raised and love dearly and often refer to as “demon crack-head dogs,” as this situation with Holly Lou works out, they have no other option but to view it as a miracle of God.

And, Ya’ll, it is working out. I’m not a dog trainer. I don’t spend nearly enough time even attempting to train. Holly Lou is imperfect. But she’s still hella impressive. After a painful discussion with my main unsupporter, who is in life one of my main supporters and thus the pain of the unsupport, I said that I would take what God has given me. Worldy wisdom dictates that I send her off and have her professionally trained lest I screw this up. Godly wisdom says God gave me THIS, not THAT. In my weakness, He is made stronger. I spoke those words. And the unsupporter replied after a quiet moment, “I wish I had faith like that.” In such a way that my heart was made glad to hear the yearning of a heart for God.

And Holly Lou has matured so much. She LOVES her job. She is devastated when a situation arises where she must be separated from Javan. If he is a different boy without her, she is a different pup without him. When she is with him and they are tethered together, she does such a fabulous job with him that family, friends, and strangers alike are amazed. The former unsupporter is quickly becoming more supportive and has been absolutely blown away by the quick nature of Holly’s maturity and attentiveness. I wouldn’t want it any other way. God has shown Himself to me in ways I’ve never known. And He is showing Himself to others through me in ways I never dreamed. Not my strength, but His. I am so thankful to Him for my Aunt Donna and for Holly Lou. I am so thankful to Him for telling me no until he was ready to say yes. Thank you God for your miracles.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. Tamryn Weber
    Mar 24, 2013 @ 12:39:55

    I love this 🙂

    Reply

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