When I was 7 years old, I was diagnosed with Ectodermal Dysplasia. I vividly remember driving to the University of Texas Health Science Center with my mother and father. I remember them telling my parents the diagnosis and prognosis. The tears rolled down my mother’s cheeks. I was terrified of the new unknown. I was told I had only developed 3 permanent teeth. Period. I began learning to follow my heavenly Father without knowing what the future would hold.
I’ll be honest, this part of my story is hard to tell. There are things about it that are extremely painful. But I want to share it because I see God’s ”palace training” in my life.
The phrase “palace training,” evokes ideas of unfamiliar practices and experiences we are not privy to. Only the elite living in the palace are trained to reflect the honor and respect of their king or queen.
Moses is an example of someone God put into palace training. God had a plan for his people. But to accomplish this, He needed someone with specific training. Moses’ mother placed him in a basket at the river where Pharaoh’s daughter bathed. She trusted that Moses would be part of a greater plan God would bring into motion.
Moses was a Hebrew, being raised in a palace. He was being taught the rules and persuasions of a king who would, one day, free God’s people. God was providing palace training for the man He would use to bring about the Exodus — the leading of His Chosen people to freedom and promise.
Navigating childhood and teenage years with a noticeable disability was difficult. I was accepted into a study program at the National Institutes of Health in Bethesda Maryland. I spent most of my high school years enduring surgeries and procedures so I could have teeth. During the spring of my junior year in high school, I underwent the final surgery. It was excruciating. During my convalescence, I was homeschooled for three months.
Finally, the time came to place my prosthetic teeth. I looked in the mirror and began to cry. My gratitude was overwhelming. The healing was long and painful. As my body healed physically, God was working on a calling in my heart. I had no idea what would come, or where I would serve, but emphatically acknowledged His voice.
I met my husband, Chris, in my junior year of high school. It was just months before my implant surgery. I was still wearing dentures. One night, he picked me up for dinner and a movie.
While we were eating, I realized he had a strange look on his face.
I asked him, “What is wrong?”
He replied,”Uhh….your tooth is gone.’ My front tooth had broken off of my denture and I hadn’t noticed.
I was mortified!
Later on, my husband told me he fell even more in love with me at that very moment. God had sent me a man that loved all of me —because of Whom I loved.
When God takes us through palace training, the outcome is always meant to foster wisdom and courage. You see, God knew Chris and I would, one day, have two children with special needs.
God knew our children would endure countless surgeries, procedures and hospitalizations. God had prepared me, through palace training, to empathize and love these children with a honed personal experience.
It is true. I have wrestled mightily with God over the why of my special needs kids. Ultimately, I accepted the peace God brings in trusting Him even when.
Sometimes God sends a lion into our lives. Rest assured, that if he sends a lion, you will be equipped with the training to fight.
In March 2016, I wrote the poem, The Lion Awaits. It is a testimony to God’s faithfulness in my life. The lions have come. But my Father has taught me well. He has trained me with strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow.
THE LION AWAITS
The soul rejoices, day and night, to the peaceful presence of His strength and might.
We hear his voice in the soft still night.
“I have blessings untold,” the Messiah invites.
The heart beats out, ”the joy of the Lord is My Strength!”
An unknown test is silently delivered
swiftly with one blow.
A soul screams, “Why? Have you forsaken me?”
The Father says, “I love you child. I let the lion come.”
The soul wails, “I will be destroyed!”
The Master soothes, “It is for your good.”
The soul fights and curses the lion.
Emmanuel says, “Stand up and face the lion, for I am with you!”
The soul whimpers,” Why, my Lord do you stand far off?”
The Creator says, ”Stand firm that I may glory in the power of your endurance.”
“I am slain,” wept the soul!
The Redeemer said, “You must endure unbelievable pain to join me someday.”
The soul reverently surrenders, and tells the Healer,
“When I despaired even of life, a whisper was heard.“
“You will have trouble, but I have overcome the world.”
Kelley Cagle is a freelance writer and special needs advocate with a passion for mentoring young moms who have children with special needs. Kelley shares from her own experience as the parent of two children with disabilities. Kelley has five sons. Two of her children have CHARGE Syndrome, a micro deletion affecting a multiple body systems and organs. Both boys are deaf-blind and on the Autism spectrum. Kelley and her husband Chris have been married over 26 years and live in Texas with their two youngest boys.