"How God Made Our Family"
"I'm thanking you God from a full heart. I'm writing the book on your wonders. I'm whistling, laughing, and jumping for joy. I'm singing your song, High God." Psalm 9:1
"Father of orphans, champion of widows, is God in his holy house." Psalm 68,
"Once again, I'll go over what God has done, lay out on the table the ancient wonders; I'll ponder all the things you've accomplished, and give a long loving looks at your acts."
"I'll never quit telling the story of your LOVE." Psalm 89
"He heals your diseases--- every one." Psalm 103 August 2011
I've been wanting to write this for such a long time and share how God works in big, love-filled, mysterious ways, even through sorrow. Sometimes we are able to see on earth how our sorrows are multiplied into many joys. And then other times we will not understand the "whys" of them until we get to heaven. I think it is healing to live in the mystery and beautiful to watch mystery reveal itself. But I want to share about the way God has allowed me to see Him work in my own life—the mystery unfolding bit by bit through tears, pain, and joy—weaving together to reveal how God made my family… my precious family.
The story starts. Mike and I were married in 1998, living the happy lives of newlyweds and discovering bit by bit how sweet God is in giving us each other. Then in 2000, under the sparkling lights of the Eiffel Tower on the streets of Paris, we agreed it was time to start a family.
Once we arrived back from our trip, we began the journey. Month after month, there were no signs of pregnancy. Then the months turned into 2 years It was during that time of seeing a specialist and doing blood work for a procedure that I was told, "You have problems with your blood platelets." The problem was I had 20 times the amount of platelets than the average person! We went immediately to see a hematologist. I had a bone marrow biopsy and waited 3 long weeks for the doctor to tell me I have Essential Thrombocytosis, a rare blood disorder. The doctor immediately put me on meds. The meds took a huge hit on my body as I had no energy, my body ached constantly, and basically I felt like a very sick old person. But this is where God's deep love is revealed in a way I couldn't see before. You see the doctor told us, had I been pregnant, "It could have been catastrophic to you and your baby."
I was thankful because I was…alive! Only 31 years old, feeling like a 90 year old, but I was alive.
Four weeks after my diagnosis, my dad had a traumatic brain injury, and the dad I had known the past 31 years—my precious dad—was now a changed man in a devastating way. He could not walk or feed himself. He could barely talk. He had been without oxygen for over 10 minutes and there was much damage to his brain. It was heartbreaking. And the landscape of my life was filled with more sorrow and more cries to Jesus. Meanwhile, I saw my friends having babies and living the "normal, fun, 30-something-year-old life."And I had a blood disease, felt bad most days, could not get pregnant, and my dad had a severe brain injury where my mom had to care for him 24/7. The months went by, and with the medicine I was taking, I was told to not get pregnant, because it would be harmful to the baby. After grieving the loss of not bearing my own children, Mike and I realized adoption was the way to make our family happen. Night after night, we talked about it. Where to adopt? International or domestic? China, Guatemala, Russia? There were so many orphans in the world and where would we go? After much prayer and talking with friends, God led us to RUSSIA.
Mike and I embarked on a long magical journey to bring home our son, Sam. I will never forget the day we met him, Valentine's day, February 14, 2003. He was a bundle of smiles and laughter, and from the moment I held him, his big chestnut brown sparkle eyes gleamed up at me. Oh my, I was in absolute love. God was so good in giving us Sam, this beautiful child, and had him picked out specifically for us. God made us into a little family that Valentine's Day, and my heart was overflowing. I had a son. I started seeing this new love I had never known—a mommy love. My dreams were made into reality right before my eyes! 31 years old and now a mother!
God grew our family again by taking us to Russia in 2008 to bring home sweet Anastasia Rose. Again, it was a day I will never forget. Our little Rosie had on a pink dress that was 2 sizes too small for her. Little Rosie blossomed in our family. It was so sweet to watch Sam welcome his sister into our family—it wasn't just Mike and I adopting now, it was Sam too! We were now a family of four, and I had a precious girl I had always dreamed about! 37 years old, and God had given me a daughter!
Through these years of raising Sam and Rosie, the undercurrent was my health. I was tired so much of the time and had to rest a lot. My energy level was lacking in major ways. Some days I could only plan one thing to do because I didn't have the energy. I was on a new med because the old med, after more studies and research, was awful. The new med was a low dose chemotherapy drug—really just a "not nice" drug. I was sad to feel bad all the time and not have the spark and energy that I longed for. My body ached… my joints hurt. I felt like I had the flu constantly. I had sinus infections, strep throat, and colds more than normal. And I just longed to be NORMAL. I remember watching moms flitter around with tons of spunk and just thinking to myself, "Wow, I wish I could have that energy."
But you know what God did? He gave me something special through these years of having a blood disease. He gave me art.
Yes, God inspired me to start painting. And painting was and still is a pure delight! Even though there were days that my body ached so much, and I felt exhausted, I would go to my studio, get out paint and brush, fill my pitcher with water, and I would start painting. When I painted, I could lose myself in the colors and canvas by just creating something. I forgot about the pain for those minutes and hours and it was a gift. Yes, creating and painting has been a dear sweet gift from my Heavenly Father. His love is SO BIG.
Also, through these years, I started reading Psalms. The Psalms have been my refuge and my home since 31 years old. Twelve years of Psalm reading. It has changed my life. I love Psalms because it is beautiful and honest and raw at times, but poetic too. And then really it's all about worship, even through the sorrow and the anger. One morning, I was reading Psalms and one verse stood out like a sunbeam. It was Psalm 103, "And he heals your diseases, every one." Right then and there, I whispered to God, "Please heal me of my blood condition." And that week something happened.
The very same week I had prayed for God to heal me, I was talking to my sweet babysitter who had celiac disease, something I knew nothing about. I was asking her some of the symptoms and as she shared, a light bulb went off! My babysitter said she had "flu like" symptoms, felt very tired, and had achy joints when she ate gluten. I started thinking, "That's what I feel like so much of the time." I decided to cut out gluten. That week, I cut out gluten and within a week or two my skin felt like it could breath for the first time in a long time. I felt like I had more energy and more zip. Could this be my answer? How could I give up bread? I was like a walking breadstick. I loved bread! I loved cake and cookies and all things GLUTEN! Going gluten-free was a big change, but I was feeling so much better. It was seriously like magic, but I was being healed through what I ate (or did not eat)! During this time of gluten enlightenment, Mike and I were in process of adopting our 3rd child from China!
April 2012 we brought dear Pippa Anyi home to our family. Our little China girl! She is such a gift and oh, she makes us laugh! She has a great sense of humor and fits right into our family. God knew what he was doing! ANYI means peace and joy, and she brought more joy and laughter into our family. We were now a family of five, and I had a deep peace that our family was complete. I was 41 years old and a mother of three amazing children.
Moving right along, September 2012, I went off all my blood platelet meds, the meds that made me feel like a 90 year old for many years. Ten years to be exact! I was freeeee! I was off gluten and off meds and felt like a new person! I actually had more energy than ever before. It really was a miracle.
In the spring of 2013, my precious dad went home to Jesus. It was a bittersweet. I was so thankful he didn't have to suffer any more. But oh, I miss him. I don't have the answer to why God allowed that brain injury and the following 11 years of caring for him. I let it rest in the mystery, and I know that some things I will not understand until Heaven.
But the mystery of why I had my blood disease is steadily unfolding. From 2012 to now, I am off all my blood medication, and my platelets are in normal range. Just this past year, I stopped taking my allergy meds too! I am gluten and mostly dairy free. I do agree with Hippocrates when he said, "Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food." I am a big believer in eating GOOD food. But I still love gluten-free cupcakes!
God has made Psalm 103 true in my life. He has healed me. And this is what makes me even more in AWE—I was on the medicine where I could not get pregnant during the key childbearing years—the KEY years! I am now off all medicine but our family is complete! Timing is perfect. Our family was meant to be made through adoption! No doubt about it!
I tell my kids that I am so thankful for the hard of this blood condition because without it, I would not have THEM. God chose HIS beautiful perfect plan to make our family. He made our family through adoption in a very loving way! The mystery of sorrow that I saw at 31 years old has now unfolded into joy and my life changed for the better.
Now in 2015 I am 43 years old, and I stand amazed at God. My heart filled up with thanksgiving. I'm thanking God for three gifts that are straight from His hand and His love. Three gifts from across the oceans: Sam, Rosie, Pippa
So this February 14, our family will celebrate Sam, make his favorite dinner, look through his baby book, and remember how good God was to start our family on the day of LOVE, Valentine's Day.