Last year at this time, Julia was in Children’s Hospital with an unknown condition. I’d received the news as I landed in Florida after a life changing time in Haiti with Help One Now. The end result of our time there was raising funds to build a school. And I’m happy to say, they opened their doors!
But none of that joy salved the deep, deep fear I experienced when I received the phone call from Patrick.
“I’m taking Julia to the ER. She collapsed at school.”
I immediately crumpled while my new friends from the mission trip tried to console me. I knew, like that way down deep fear a mother has, that something was terribly wrong.
The first hospital ruled out the biggies: aneurysm, stroke, brain cancer, meningitis. But they couldn’t determine why Julia now lay in a catatonic state on the gurney. They transported her to Children’s Hospital. I landed in DFW. A friend picked me up and took me directly to the hospital.
Drugged up and incoherent, Julia wasn’t herself. Something was terribly wrong. But what?
I alerted you. I tweeted my prayer requests. Thousands around the world prayed for our fourteen-year-old freshman. Many sent cards, crocheted afghans, prayers. So many we couldn’t adequately express thanks. Our Life Group provided meals and prayed, prayed, prayed.
Doctors ran tests. Her condition persisted. Eventually they couldn’t help us. So we took her home.
Then we thought she had a seizure disorder, so at the advice of another neurologist, we took her to another hospital and had more tests run. But nothing showed up. Days of tests. Hours of tears and frustration. I remember the doctor pulling me outside Julia’s room, looking me in the eyes, and saying, “So, what do you think is wrong?”
I wanted to throw something at him. Why in the world would we subject her to tortuous tests if we KNEW what was wrong. In that moment, my god-like view of doctors dissipated.
We took Julia home. The elders from our church came and prayed for her. No change. Just lots of sleeping, lots of headaches, lots of crying, and some moments of catatonic states.
Many sent their pet diagnoses. It was her nutrition. Lyme disease. A parasite boring into her brain. I had to stop checking my email.
I don’t know how it all changed, except to say through the months of November and December Julia gradually improved. She missed the entire first semester of her freshman year. But by January, she looked and sounded better. The headaches subsided. And with fear and trembling, she attended the remainder of her freshman year, pulling herself from the brink of failure to decent grades. She got her drivers permit. She continued to participate in a discipleship group. And she started growing, growing, growing in her faith.
During her ordeal she had been extremely mad at God. Fiercely so. It all seemed unfair. Around February, all this anger had changed. I asked, “What turned it around for you?”
“It was church,” she said. “The people at the Pier (youth group) prayed for me, loved me.” And I smiled. Oh how we need the body of Christ!!! As parents, we do what we can. But we also need help. I sent a quick email to her youth leaders thanking them for their part in her recovery.
Now in retrospect, my hunch is that Julia suffered from two things.
One: in a small way, I believe she was the target of spiritual warfare. The juxtaposition between my trip to Haiti and her sudden attack are a bit too uncanny.
Two: her time in France had been very, very hard, and I believe she had stuffed her fears about school for so long and they finally culminated a few weeks into her freshman year. The PTSD exploded.
Some of you know that Julia struggled while we lived in Southern France. She faced some pretty traumatic events during her school years there where teachers ridiculed her, made fun of her, physically hurt her, and called her names. They told her she was stupid. She has never quite recovered.
This school year we decided, by Julia’s prompting, to keep her home and do online school. We’re praying that a year at home will help her truly get to a place of healing, where she finally learns and internalizes the truth that she is smart. We so appreciate your prayers that this would be a healing year for her.
Interestingly, Patrick had planned to take a team from our church to help the ministry of Parfums de Vie, the French missionaries who beautifully carry on the work we tried to start. They’ll be doing a retreat for school children in the mountains nearby, and they need our team to cook, work, and basically be the behind the scenes hands and feet of Jesus.
Several folks had to drop out of the trip for various reasons, leaving an opening. We’ve talked to Julia’s online school, and they’ve agreed to let her go.
We believe going to France with her father will be a healing, needed adventure for her. The picture at the top of this email shows Julia’s baptism in the Mediterranean Sea, She met Jesus in France, but she also suffered severe trauma there. It’s so very interesting that she’s traveling to France a year after her hospitalization. God is so good.
The mission trip is October 16–28th, and we appreciate your prayers, particularly as she stands in front of her former elementary school and our team prays for her. She is nervous, but also determined to face her fears. Pray for protection against the spiritual forces that will come against her and the team. I don’t know how to adequately explain just how invasive, pervasive and thick the spiritual warfare is in France. It’s real. It’s dark. It’s insidious. Please pray.
Through the trauma of last year, we’ve come together as a family. We’ve learned how fragile we all are (oh how I totally, completely fell apart during Julia’s illness.) We’ve seen Jesus resurrect Julia’s relationship with Him. We’ve seen her heal and mature. I give Jesus ALL the glory, and I thank YOU for all your sweet prayers during that semester-long trial.
Here’s a recent picture of Julia (at Aidan’s homecoming game). Please pray for her as she ventures to Southern France.