Wednesday, November 20, 2013

A New Chapter (a month late)

A New Chapter

I started this blog post in the car the day we left Texas to move to Georgia.  Things haven’t really calmed down any since we started moving, as you can tell from the long time it’s been between starting this post and finishing it.  We’ve been in Georgia a month already.  I can hardly believe it.  I’m going to leave the rest of the body of the post the same as I had already written it, to convey the emotions that were present the day we moved...
Yesterday, our last Sunday at Rockwall and Brin, and this morning were full of tears and sadness, goodbyes, and disappointment over what should have been different.  Tomorrow is full of the promise of a new beginning, new relationships, and new challenges, as well as some anxiety.  But the drive between Texas and Georgia is a long one, with lots of time for introspection.  
It’s really not until we started to say goodbye that I began to realize how much I’m going to miss my Texas family.  The weeks leading up to our move have been so incredibly full and busy, I’ve hardly had time to think.  Even though all of Luke’s surgeries are over, we still have a very medically complicated child, and coordinating all his new doctors, therapists, and insurance has been pretty stressful.  I will be glad when everything is settled.  I’ve been so focused on making sure things are tied up in Texas and ready for us in Georgia, that I haven’t really had time to feel sad about who we’re leaving behind or anxious about what lies ahead.  Now that moving day is finally here, I’m thankful for a long drive to get my thoughts in order and nail down what exactly I am feeling.  I kind of wish the drive was twice as long so I could take the time to write each person that I will miss from Texas to tell them how much they mean to me.  
Although I was very sad yesterday and this morning, my God has blessed me with a peace that passes understanding.  I am hopeful about the future and reassured by little signs along the way that our family is doing exactly what we are supposed to be doing.  
It is very clear to us that God put us in Terrell five and a half years ago for several reasons.  I believe one reason God put us in Terrell was so that we could be near Dallas for Luke’s medical care.  When God placed our feet on that road, I prayed that he would guide us to each individual doctor, nurse, and therapist that would be perfect to treat Luke and walk with our family.  I believe he answered that prayer in so many ways.  We have met so many incredible people--some who know our God and some who have yet to acknowledge him.  I believe God has and continues to use Luke and our family as his instruments to proclaim his love and mighty power.  
I believe God put us in Terrell because in many ways Rockwall and Brin was the fertile soil that God used to produce a harvest from the kernel of our faith story.  We have heard reports of people in other cities, in other states, and even in other countries who learned of Luke’s story and as a result prayed or trusted Jesus for the first time.  Luke’s precious little life has been a loud proclamation that God is loving, all-powerful, and that he is good all the time.  I am humbled as I think about all the lives God has touched, known and unknown to us, through Luke’s story.  I believe the people connected to Rockwall and Brin were ready to witness God’s power in a very tangible way, and they got to see it through the transformation of a tiny, 5lb 10oz baby boy on the brink of death into a walking, talking, laughing little boy who lives life so furiously as if he wants to catch up on all he missed out on during his first year of life.  
I don’t know what all the reasons are that God lead us to Terrell.  And I only know a few of the reasons he called us to leave Terrell and move to Lawrenceville.  But it is undoubtedly clear that even though leaving the people we love so much is painful, we’re on the right road.  Things have moved so quickly since David first heard at the end of June about a church near Atlanta that was looking for a pulpit minister.  The timing has been so perfect.  Luke had his last open heart surgery in March, and then Sam was born in May.  For the first time since I got pregnant with Luke, we became mobile.  In the time surrounding our interview weekend, we prayed that God would tell us very clearly if Gwinnett would be a good fit for us.  During our visit to Gwinnett, things seemed to start sliding into place.
Right off the bat, David and I were both inspired by the caring, proactive, team-oriented, and vision-driven nature of the leadership at Gwinnett church.  I mean this in the most loving and respectful way possible, but seeing these characteristics in the Gwinnette shepherds renewed our hope in the future of the Church in general, in our ministry specifically, and even began to heal some of the wounds we sustained during our ministry at Rockwall and Brin.  
Every person we met in the congregation seemed to be immediately warm and welcoming.  Gwinnette church has a great number of young families and seems ready to really grow.  Atlanta has one of the top 10 children’s hospitals in the country.  Children’s Hospital of Atlanta has a great neuropsychology program that may be able to help us diagnose and treat specifically the cognitive and behavioral issues we’ve seen in Luke.  F rom what we’ve heard, Gwinnette has great schools to suit Luke’s current educational needs.  Lawrenceville has everything we want in a place to live, including close (but not too close) proximity to Atlanta.  Georgia is so beautiful.  There appears to be good room for me to grow professionally as an MFT.  The distance from Albuquerque and Edmond truly gave us pause, but we decided together that we felt we really wanted to make a permanent home in Lawrenceville should we be offered the position.  
Once we were offered the job, our biggest worries were if we would be able to sell the house, would we be able to pay Luke’s health insurance costs and still maintain his level of care (6 physical, occupational, and feeding therapy sessions each week), and would I be able to get licensed as an MFT in Georgia.  
I’m still working on the details of my MFT licensure.  It looks like I will probably have to be an associate MFT for a year in Georgia before I can apply for professional licensure.  Georgia counts hours a little differently than Texas, and so I’m about 500 hours away from the required amount.  Thankfully, I already have a couple of contacts in the the mental health world who I know will be very willing to help me achieve my professional goals.  I’m not too worried about it.  God has carried my career this far.  I know that if he wants me to be licensed, he’ll take care of the red tape.
The morning after we were offered the position at Gwinnett, I started working on Luke’s medicaid coverage.  We make too much money for Luke to qualify for medicaid based on family income.  But his medical costs far exceed what we as a family can pay, even after primary private medical insurance (for example, his formula costs over $1000 a month and feeding therapy costs about $350 a week--that adds up in a hurry).  Because of Luke’s medical status, he qualifies for medicaid through Texas’ Medically Dependent Child Program.  We spent five dedicated weeks at OCH Baylor and a wild night at a nursing home in Tyler jumping through government hoops to secure his medicaid.  I had no idea how to get Luke qualified for medicaid based on his medical status in Georgia.  I did some searches online and ran into several dead ends.  
Then God gave me the idea to call a social worker in Georgia. Those of you who know me well  know that cold calling and asking someone for help is very, very hard for me.  Well, I drummed up the courage to call the social work department at Scottish Rite hospital in Atlanta:  “My son has never been a patient at your hospital, but we’re moving to Georgia in a month, and I was hoping you could point me in the right direction...”  I was surprised and delighted by how helpful and kind that sweet social worker was:  “Here’s what you need to do...let me email you the packet so you can get started even before you move...”  I even felt comfortable calling her a few weeks later to get a referral for a medical equipment company (DME).  We haven’t secured Luke’s medicaid yet, but we are well on our way to getting it locked down.  
Most of you know that we received an offer on our house only a few hours after we listed it on the market.  We didn’t get quite the price we asked for it, but we got more than the house would appraise for.  We were disappointed that we would have to bring cash to close, but the amount was on the high end of manageable.  Listen.  Because this is the most important thing.  God takes care of you every time.  He loves his kids with an abounding love, and he provides for us more than we need.  Every time.  We closed on our house on Friday.  Friday, Saturday, and Sunday we received cash gifts from our beloved Rockwall and Brin family that completely covered our closing costs.  Completely, with a little left over.  Really.  “They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of leftovers.” (Mark 6:42-43)
So as the Chisholms turn the page and begin a new chapter that takes place in Lawrenceville, GA, I have some things I want to say to the people we’ve left as well as the people we are about to partner with in ministry.  To my Gwinnette family:  I can’t wait to meet you, get to know you, and love you.  We feel part of your family already.  We are so grateful for and encouraged by all of the wonderful emails, calls, dinner invitations, and Facebook posts welcoming us to Georgia.  I know of a few people back in Texas who are only able to let us go because they’ve seen the outpouring of love you’ve shown to us before we’ve even arrived.  We know that you are going to take good care of us.  We are so excited about joining you and partnering with you as we further God’s kingdom.  I personally am looking forward to developing mature and intimate relationships with the women of this congregation.  It is my prayer that we can always be loving and honest with each other and strengthen each other as iron sharpens iron.  I have much to learn, and I hope that you will be my patient teachers.  
Gwinnette, You don’t know the incredible story of our journey of faith with Luke yet, but you will.  For now you need to know that our experiences in Dallas hospitals are part of the very fabric of our being.  We see everything through the lens of the profound lessons of faith that God has taught us through our suffering.  We are excited to share our story with you.  We love to answer questions.  We love to talk about the amazing things God has done though our lives and through Luke’s life.  Our sincere hope is that our story will edify you, as I believe it has edified many of our other Christian brothers and sisters.  If you wish to read about our story as it unfolded, you can read our blog  
To my Texas family:  I miss you.  I miss the intimacy and the history I share with so many of you, my dear friends.  I think about you often.  I treasure each of you for the different things you contribute to the Body of Christ.  I know that God has lead us to Georgia, but it has been difficult to leave you.  I wish that several of you could come to Gwinnett for awhile and orient our new congregation in all of Luke’s tricks (at least we don’t have an elevator in our new building!).  They’re all doing a pretty good job already though.  ;-)  
Remember that our hope is in our Lord.  God’s family doesn’t shrink, it grows.  That means that even as we turn our faces towards Georgia and to what God is doing here, our hearts are continually joined with yours.  I plan on bringing Luke and Sam for a visit in June while David is in Abilene at school.  Besides visits, I look forward to sitting around the Wedding Feast table and reminiscing with you--and singing God’s praises side by side with you for eternity.  I can’t wait to introduce you all to your Gwinnett brothers and sisters--on this side of heaven or the other side.  
I wish that I had finished this post weeks ago, so that I could tell you before now how much you all mean to me.  We’ve already been here for a month. This post is already over three pages long, so I won’t keep going.  My next post will update you all on what we are doing here, and how Luke’s specifically is doing developmentally and health-wise.  For now, know that he is doing well.  He’s had some trouble behaviorally with the move and accompanying adjustments, but we’re making progress.  I have to remember every day to thank God for his’s a huge reason why he’s alive today, even though it’s a challenge for me on a daily basis.  
We love you and thank you, as always, for your prayers.  We pray that the God of  Peace and Comfort keeps his arms around you.


Rachael, David, Luke, and Sam

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