Our Redeemer Lives

“What I love about Madi working with this age group,” says Phil, “is that if they ever say, ‘I can’t do it,’ she will be able to say, ‘Yes you can because I’ve overcome this.’ It will be such a wonderful way to share her story.”

Virginia Depp packs mightiness in her hugs. Her tiny frame doesn’t speak to the strength behind her arms around you and it certainly doesn’t speak to the strength behind her heart. She welcomed me into her home with a tight, no-nonsense hug and then asked me to remind her of my name – you see, the Depp family’s story has seemed to have left them with the deep instinct to display wild love first, ask questions later; we should all be quick to mirror them.

Their story begins blissfully enough – a precious, two year old son and a beautiful, dark-haired baby girl.

“I was waiting for my white picket fence to be installed,” marvels Virginia. “I remember saying out loud, ‘my life couldn’t get any more perfect.’”

But soon, she noticed her baby having trouble breathing.

“She couldn’t seem to get enough air in through her nose,” she recalls.

After a CAT Scan, Virginia and Madi were on their way to Kentucky with family when the doctor called with what was hoped to be the diagnosis of a sinus infection.

“I remember sitting in the back seat next to my baby, doodling as I was waiting on the line for the doctor,” she says.

The doctor told Virginia to get to where she was headed, but to be ready to return to the hospital at 6 AM the next morning.

“I remember asking, ‘Is my baby going to die?’ and the doctor’s solemn response was, ‘I’m sorry, Mrs. Depp, I don’t know.’”

Phil and Virginia got Madi to the doctor while their son stayed with his grandparents over the next seven days.

“When he returned home, it was not the same place he had left – and it never would be, again,” says Virginia.

At one month, doctors discovered that Madi had a hole in the base of her skull that was allowing the sac of fluid surrounding her brain to dip into her sinus cavity. It was also found that Madi was missing a portion of her brain. Virginia recalls the doctors needing to pull text books out for information and statistics because they had never seen this before. She also recalls, quite early on, being told by a doctor not to rush out and put their house on the market, that there were organizations designed to help with the financial burden of raising a child with severe disabilities. Virginia shrugs her shoulders as she shares the memory, “It was in that moment,” she confesses, “that I realized nothing would ever be the same again.”

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Now, I could continue this story by going in to great detail over Madi, at 14 weeks old, being the youngest person in the world to undergo this surgery; you could read about Madi needing glasses at a very young age and it being a catalyst for her parents to speak into God having a bigger plan for Madi than they could’ve imagined. I could inform you of the ways in which roles were reversed in the aftermath of the surgical procedures – Phil became the cheerleader and Virginia sat in a valley; I could share the many extraordinary ways that the Depp’s were able to give testimony to God’s work in Madi’s story all over the country. And it would all be true.

Virginia and Phil had to trust that the Lord would lift them out of this pit and deliver them to the high places – and He did. And when they fell back down, He lifted them once more.

I could speak into these things and share smaller stories within the big one, but there’s someone you all should really meet . . .

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That dark haired little girl – who still remains the youngest in the world to have this surgery and who wasn’t expected to ever survive it? She’s a high school graduate; she has dark, wavy hair and big, kind eyes and a sweet, sweet smile.

She walked into the room about halfway through her story being shared; she kicked off her flip-flops, curled her legs up, and sat quietly and patiently – occasionally crunching up her nose in a knowing smile.

She beat the odds – by God’s radiant grace; she drives a car, plays piano and participates in sports. She’s also heading to college in the fall. When I asked where she was going, she replied softly, “The University of the Cumberlands for Middle School Education.”

Mom and dad nod proudly, knowingly.

“What I love about Madi working with this age group,” says Phil, “is that if they ever say, ‘I can’t do it,’ she will be able to say, ‘Yes you can because I’ve overcome this.’ It will be such a wonderful way to share her story.”

Virginia mentions a few verses from Psalm 103:

He redeems my life from the pit and crowns me with love and compassion . . .” (4)

“Everyone has pits they end up in,” she says. “Sometimes we are pushed into our pits, sometimes we’re the ones digging the pit deeper, sometimes we decide to decorate the walls of our pit and nestle in – but no matter what the circumstance of how we came to be in the pit, we should all be crying out loudly to be pulled back up and trusting God to reach down to get us.”

The Depp’s are now able to show love and compassion to families walking through hardships – there is common ground to be shared with them because of where they’ve been.

“This is a crown we’ve been given,” admits Virginia.

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The Depp family knows the ways of bottom valley dwelling; they know the warmth that comes with being gathered out of them, too.

Just ask them – they know their Redeemer lives.

 

Author: Stephani Duff