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Nancy Kennedy

Grace Notes

If all goes as planned, my youngest daughter, who turns 38 this month, will start nursing school.

She has a little more than a year left until she gets her LPN.

This is nothing short of a miracle because it was only about two years ago that she was in active heroin addiction, frequently overdosing, sometimes on the sidewalk.

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(She has given me permission to finally talk about it publicly.)

Each time she overdosed, someone found her. Someone gave her Narcan and saved her life.

As hard as she ran from God, he ran harder after her.

When she was in rehab, she called me and asked me to “pray the evil out of her -- right now, out loud, over the phone.”

Addiction IS evil -- and destructive. It nearly destroyed, not only my daughter’s life, but the lives of people around her, especially our family.

There’s an Old Testament verse I think about often: God is telling the suffering Israelites, “I will restore to you the years that the locusts have eaten” (Joel 2:25).

A locust (looks like a grasshopper) isn’t that big, about two or three inches long. But they move in swarms of millions, invading an area, devouring ALL the vegetation, stripping it bare for miles and miles.

That’s what the fallout from addiction feels like, a complete and utter invasion that strips you bare of everything except grief, fear, anxiety, mistrust and anger.

Until -- unless -- God steps in and begins to restore the devastation.

In “The Magician’s Nephew” by C.S. Lewis, there’s a story about Diggory, a young boy whose mother is gravely ill.

Aslan the Lion, the Christ figure in Lewis’ books, gives Diggory an apple from a magical healing tree to give to his mother.

She eats the apple, but nothing happens immediately. Over time, however, her face looks different, she’s able to sit up, and then a month later she’s well enough to sit in the garden with her son.

All this time, Diggory struggles to believe that his mom’s healing is really happening.

But when he remembers the face of Aslan, he feels hope.

Over the past year or so, I’ve seen glimpses of change in my daughter and I’m allowing myself to slowly trust that healing is really happening -- in all of us.

I told her the other day that, because she’s 1,000 miles away in Ohio, we don’t see her in her everyday life so we don’t see how she’s changing. For us, the destruction of the locusts is still fresh in our memory.

That’s true of her, too, in different ways. Because of the destruction caused by her addiction, restoration and rebuilding looks daunting and at times she wonders if she’ll ever see it.

Sometimes when it seems she’s moving forward, something will happen to push her back a few steps and she gets frustrated and discouraged.

When she first enrolled at the nursing school and learned how much the tuition is, she worried about how she would pay for it, what the down payment would be, if she could get financial aid.

Her car needed repairs and she got an insanely high electric bill after a long, cold winter.

Then she met with the finance person at the college and sent me a copy of the results:

They gave her more than $20,000 in Pell grants, and her down payment: $179!

The tax returns they used to calculate her program were the years of her active addiction -- the very years the locusts had eaten, the years she barely earned anything at all.

“Only God,” she told me.

Only God indeed.

Nancy Kennedy is the author of “Move Over, Victoria - I Know the Real Secret,” “Girl on a Swing,” and her latest book, “Lipstick Grace.” She can be reached at 352-564-2927 or via email at nkennedy@chronicleonline.com.

Contact Chronicle reporter Nancy Kennedy at 352-564-2927 or nkennedy@chronicleonline.com. Read more of Nancy's stories at tinyurl.com/yxt69grh

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