Different things encourage me each day. One day it might be a donut with sprinkles from a coworker who knows my weaknesses. Another day it will be a text from another friend or a visit from an unexpected photography client who took the time care about me personally. All of those things are amazing and give me the strength I need for the next 1/2 hour but what really keeps me going, when I feel like I can't do it anymore, are the stories of faith and redemption from the ones who have walked this path before me.
I would love to share some of those with you because who knows they might be stories you can lean on someday too.
#1 My Aunt Mary- I have watched my Aunt Mary (who is like a mom to me) grieve the tragic loss of her husband and then her son. She was devastated and at times I wondered if she would ever recover. Through it all, she held onto Jesus. She would quote scripture and tell me that Jesus was the only way she could survive. I remember her saying that Jesus is the only one who will always be there. Others will pass away but Jesus will never leave us so how could she walk away from Him. Her faith has influenced me more than anyone else. If she can hold onto and even go after Jesus with what she has endured, so can I.
#2 My Friend Joy- My friend Joy has 3 daughters with challenging medical needs. At different points they have all been critical. She has been sending me songs and encouraging messages through this. She said something the other day that I have not been able to shake that I think is so true:
"I pray that Maggie will get to spend a lifetime here blessing your family. I also want to encourage you because I have almost NEVER heard a person in this world say that it would be a blessing for a child to go to heaven...but HE has shown me that it can be so. My prayer daily is "Jesus come quickly" as in, take us all - today - now - together :) I can't stand the thought of ever sending one of them ahead of me but I know He has shown me that the world has that one wrong. He conquered death. I kind of think that if you go to heaven as a young person, while we are all horrified by something like that, all the souls there celebrate and say "how great, you only had to stay for a short while" and if you go as an old person, while we celebrate a LONG life, there you hear "bummer man, sorry you had to stay so long down there but so glad you are here now!" I may be very wrong on that but I think our world has the value of a lot of days held way too high"
Joys words remind of Philippians 1:21 "To live is Christ. To die is gain."
I think Joy gets it and she has inspired me to look at life with a critically ill child differently as well.
#3 The Steven Curtis Chapman Family- Okay I obviously don't know the Chapman family personally but most of us know their story and that is precisely why they give me hope.
They tragically lost their adopted daughter, Maria, several years ago but God has used her story to inspire other families to adopt and give to their non-profit. That organization built an orphanage in Beijing called Maria's Big House of Hope and has helped fund thousands of other adoptions.
Seeing God's redemption of their tragedy gives me hope that Maggie's suffering is not wasted. I pray that He takes her story and uses it to draw others to Himself and to consider adoption. I know He can redeem her suffering in ways that I never imagined and I hope to get to see that first hand. The Chapman's story gives me hope in a redeeming God.
So TODAY's UPDATE: Maggie was fussy most of the day but then they decided to give her the magic narcotic that turns things around. I hate giving her such strong drugs but it really does make all the difference when she is hurting. She seems a little stronger today but it was hard to tell because she chased off the PT and OT who stopped by to work with her.
My sister, brother in law, and father drove into town to see her and then take the wonder twins back tomorrow. Trent let me leave and go have dinner with them and that was a real blessing.
We are still praying for complete healing, energy for the days ahead, and emotional health for all of us. Thank you for your prayers and encouragement.