May 04, 2016

A Snapshot of Our Journey and the Power of Prayer

March 2014
It was during this month that Kevin finally admitted that the struggles he was having were due to an addiction to a strong pain medication he was taking. We searched and found what was supposed to be the best rehab facility in the state. We drove to St. Louis once a week for a little over a month. It was one of the worst times in our lives and this place was honestly a joke. They had never even heard of the medication Kevin was addicted to and literally googled it while we were sitting there to see what it was. They were no help at all and actually made things worse for Kevin. It left me praying harder for healing and left Kevin feeling hopeless and stuck. If this place, the best in the state, couldn't help him, no one could.

April 2015
It was April 2 when Kevin called and told me he had been taken to the ER because of an overdose of this same medication we had sought treatment for a year before in St. Louis. That was the longest drive from the church to the hospital. I have never seen my husband so hopeless, so humiliated, or so angry that others knew of his pain and weakness. After much fighting and cajoling, we checked him in to another facility near St. Louis where he spent 5 days. 5 agonizing, horrible, One Flew Over the Cuckoos Nest type days. He missed Easter and both of our children's birthdays. They got him through the worst of the withdrawal, but did nothing to aid him in dealing with cravings or everyday life without this drug. His time there ended with him again hopeless and me not knowing what in the world our next step was.

Addiction does terrible things to great people. It twists their mind and makes it impossible for them to feel joy, hope, or see a way out. Your brain is literally telling you that if you don't have the drug it wants that you will die. So, your choice is to get the drug or die. The choice is never your family or the drug. It's always life or death. At least that is what your brain is telling you. Your whole life has been kidnapped and held hostage on the premise that this drug is the only means of your survival. I admit, I couldn't see that at the time. It always felt like he was choosing that drug over us when he knew better. The truth is, he was choosing us. He was choosing life the only way his body was telling him he could. When Kevin got his prescription for this medicine refilled on April 22, he didn't tell me. On April 23 he woke up and starting abusing it again. I asked him several times if he had refilled his medication and he told me no every time. Hear me, he was not a liar. He was not a man who sought the dark and loved lying to his wife. His body just had him convinced that the only way to live and share another day with the wife and children he loved was to get this medicine into his system, and his brain knew that if I knew he had the medicine I would take it so he couldn't have it, which to his mind, meant certain death. But, I knew he wasn't telling the truth. Once I finally had confirmation that he was lying, I had a choice to make. Stand by and let him continue down this path or draw a line in the sand and do my best to force him to get help. As any recovering addict will tell you, they never get help until they are as low as they can possibly go, which typically means losing their job and their family. After a lot of talking with someone who had been where Kevin was, I did the hardest thing I have ever done in my entire life: I packed up the kids and left. I had no idea what would happen, but I knew he wouldn't get help unless he was desperate. I knew that not having us in his life would bring him to that point. For two weeks I had absolutely no contact with my husband; no texts, no phone calls, nothing (not even Facebook, and you know how hard that was for me!) I cried everyday and I my heart felt ripped in two. His birthday was during those two weeks and we didn't call or text, even then. (Which is hard now because that means we didn't get one last birthday with him here on earth.)

I had no idea that back here in Hannibal my not having contact with him on his birthday was the last straw for him. He just felt so hopeless. He didn't know where to turn. I told him the kids and I would have no contact with him until he checked into a rehab facility, but in his mind, he'd already been to the best there was and it had been no help. Where was he to turn? Unbeknownst to me, he decided on his birthday, April 28, 2015, that he would end his life. He had a doctor's appointment on May 5 where he would get a new prescription of his pain medication. He decided that he would spend that day with his dad and brother (who were in town), then right before bed that night he would take his entire prescription and just not wake up the next morning. His mind was telling him that would be best for everyone. It would allow us to come home, he would no longer be in pain, and none of us would have to fight this seemingly impossible fight of addiction any longer.

May 5, 2015
The morning of May 5 I awoke at my parent's house with an urgency to pray like I have never felt, before or since. (Remember, I hadn't had contact with Kevin in almost two weeks and had no idea that this was the day he had chosen to take his life.) I couldn't wake myself up fast enough to start praying. After months of literally only being able to pray, "Help! Help! Help!", here was my prayer that day, "Father, thank You for my husband. Thank You for all he's done for me, my family, and our children. I thank You that he's still buried in there somewhere. Father, bring him back. Break the chains of addiction, depression, and anxiety in his mind, body, and heart. He;s Your child and You love him more than I ever can. Show him Your love today. Melt his heart. Fight for him. He cannot fight for himself today, so fight for him. Remind me that this battle is not against flesh and blood, so flesh and blood can't fight or win it, but You can. Lord, I declare, in Your powerful and holy name, that Satan has no dominion over Kevin or our home...By the power of Jesus' blood I decare our home to be God;s and there is no place for Satan there, because it is anointed with the power and protection of Christ's blood...The only weapons Satan has are lies and deceit and in Jesus' holy and powerful name, Satan's mouth is shut and his lies and deceit will stop in Kevin's life, my life, and the lives of my children." No grand words. Nothing long and drawn out. Just the honest, desperate plea of a wife begging God for the life of her husband.

Not long after I penned this prayer, Kevin headed to his appointment. Unknown to Kevin, his doctor had been filled in on what was happening with Kevin by another doctor, so his doctor refused to refill Kevin's prescription and his plan to end his life was ruined. The next day, desperate and at the end of his rope, Kevin agreed to head to Booneville, MO for in-patient rehabilitation treatment. That was such a gift of grace from God's hand. They helped both of us to better understand the disease of addiction and how to better help each other through the many hard days ahead.

Kevin had a one-time relapse in September of 2015 and then, of course, in March of this year, when he passed away.  These last two years have been the hardest of our lives, but I am here to say, cling to Christ. Don't stop praying! When God lays someone or something on your heart to pray, do it! He clearly answered my prayer May 5, 2015 and spared my husband's life. When Kevin read that and connected the dates, that gave him the hope and courage to keep pressing forward, even in the hard days. It was the reminder he needed that God saw him, God knew him, and God loved him.

Every day from May 15, 2015 to March 9, 2016 I prayed for God to bring complete and total healing to my husband. I have no idea why He answered the first prayer by prolonging Kevin's life here on earth and answered the second prayer by beginning his eternal life in Heaven, but make no mistake, God brought complete and total healing to Kevin March 10, 2016 when he welcomed him to his true home.

Wives, pray for your husbands. Moms, pray for your children. Don't stop. Don't give up. Beg. Plead. Cry out! He hears your desperate cries for help and mercy. I can't promise that you will see answers right away and I can't promise you that God's perfect answer will be the one you are hoping for as you pray. But, I can promise you that God loves your loved one(s) more than you could ever imagine. He desires relationship with them and calls to them. Remember, no matter what things look like on this side, Satan DOES NOT WIN! We already know the outcome of the battle. God wins. Satan loses. It is so hard for me to not say that Kevin lost his fight with addiction. In earthly terms, that's true. But, in spiritual terms, that couldn't be farther from the truth. That may be what took him from earth, but God won. Kevin is spending eternity with the Savior who died on the cross for him while he was still a sinner. Satan used addiction to get the best of Kevin and he thinks he won. He lost. He lost in a big way. Kevin is sitting at Christ's feet joining in the song of the Redeemed, whole, healthy, and more joyful than he ever was here on earth. That's victory, friends. That's answer to prayer. That's complete and total healing.

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