"Whoever welcomes one little child like this
in My name welcomes Me."
This is part 3 of my dear friend Nancy's testimony about how God has changed her life and the lives of her family through a precious little child.
I have been changed.
It started on October 5, 2011, and it is still happening. The day I learned of this boy, my “heart surgery” began. Heart surgery is term to describe the complete upheaval of my selfishness. I started to see the value of THIS life on earth in a different way. I started to question how seriously I believed the words of the Bible. Did I believe these words enough to truly exchange what others would think for something I knew Jesus would think highly of?
“Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless in this: to look after widows and orphans in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.” James 1:27
I began to develop a keen awareness that I no longer wanted my minutes on earth to be wasted on things that will evaporate. God had showed me in the photo of an abandoned boy what is truly valuable to Him. The things that force us to crucify our flesh and move others into position AHEAD of ourselves and our selfishness are the things that carry WEIGHT for eternity. The things that move our hearts and the hearts of others toward the feet of Jesus are the things that carry TRUE value. Wow.
I have been changed.
Were it not for the heart change, how would I ever be willing or able to give up my desires for rest and free time? I wouldn't. Were it not for heart change, how would I rejoice in the sacrifice of “me” for a desperately weak boy? Impossible without the heart change and the eternal vision that can only come from having my eyes opened by the Savior.
“But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:20, 21
It has been difficult to squeeze the last 17 months of our journey with Bryon into three parts. I have felt led to conclude this series by giving the glory to God by telling some of the countless miracles He has done on behalf of Bryon and our family.
Every day of this journey with Bryon in our home has been a reminder to me that our God is intimately concerned with every aspect of our lives. My favorite part of this realization is the fact that, just as the Bible says, “The Lord is a refuge for the oppressed, a stronghold in times of trouble.” (Psalm 9:9) This is true. He leans in closely when we call His name. When we are too weak to cry out, He is still there, leaning in. He is leaning in to Bryon. He always has been. I have clearly seen this is the ways God Himself has stepped in and made things happen in favor of Bryon's survival and future.
I have seen first-hand that, although there a many great doctors at CHOP, God Himself is the Great Physician at the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia. A friend had to remind me of that during one of our scary times there. Through many terrifying times where I feared the death of this boy, The Great Physician was there holding him. Holding me.
Since day one of this journey, I became aware that this little boy was in the palm of God's hand. I have had to remind myself often, though, and consciously place him back there many times. From the very beginning, it became clear to us that the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob was also the God of an abandoned little boy from Haiti. This boy's Heavenly Father has His tender and mighty hand on a curly, little head, and has been carrying him to safe places all along. Amazing.
We found Bryon because of Facebook and because God showed him to me. Say what you will about social media, but through it, we became aware of a boy in need of medical care and a family. Initially, what should have been a return trip to Haiti for a desperately fragile boy having received none of the care he had been brought to our country to receive and would surely end in his death, became the BEGINNING of a new life – for our whole family.
Our first of many six-month visa extensions was granted in late November 2011. It cost just about an arm and a leg, but it was granted. It never should have happened, but it did. God did that. Miracle.
We had been relocated through my husband's former company to Philadelphia, just over a year earlier, in the summer of 2010 – home of the Children's Hospital of Philadelphia, a world-renowned hospital. God knew this boy would be coming to Philadelphia, even before he was born, and had positioned us where we needed to be in His perfect timing. Miracle. Tender, loving care from God.
These words hang over his crib to today. “Before I made you I knew you. Before you were born, I set you apart.” (Jeremiah 1:5) So true.
As we began the adoption process, we became aware that it would be nearly impossible to complete. It was going to require blind faith through a series of circumstances which seemed insurmountable. Children with special needs are not readily adoptable from Haiti. And this child with special needs was far beyond your typical child with a club foot or cleft palate. Disabled by cerebral palsy, blind, tube fed, in need of breathing assistance – you name it. That is how special he is. Add to the special needs obstacle, a birth mom that needed to be located, or a death certificate produced. Either task seemingly impossible. A birth certificate was going to be required for this boy's file to even make it into Haitian social services. How would we find it? We needed a miracle and that is what we got. Again. Miracle.
Birth mom was FOUND due to the tireless efforts of Giving Hope Rescue Mission throughout the island of Haiti. This young girl even went to get a new birth certificate issued for our adoption. Seriously?? Miracle. Again. That was it. We were in. Our file was in. It was in the safe zone (two words Haitian adoptive parents long to hear) Ridiculous miracle. Two words I have become accustomed to saying over and over lately. Clearly, God was up to something and had plans for this curly-headed boy.
And now we wait for another miracle. We need our dispensation signed by the Haitian President. It states that we have three biological children, which is currently more than the legally-allowed number of ZERO.
In the meantime, just a few weeks ago, after a few scares via email and much prayer, God granted favor once again to Bryon. During a phone call with the medical mission which manages Bryon's visa, and its extensions, and to whom I report weekly with medical updates, there was another miracle. After a lengthy conversation with the new staff member managing our file, I described the ins and outs of the past 17 months. She was speechless. She honestly had no idea what we have all been through and had not been aware of how fragile Bryon is. I told her how God had made a way through our insurance to cover the over $300,000 worth of hospital procedures in the last 17 months. Aside from a large deductible for which we are responsible each year, his surgeries and admissions are 100% covered. She was blown away and even exclaimed, “God has a plan for this little boy.” She then told me of her plan to file for ONE YEAR extensions, as opposed to the 6 month extensions we had been using thus far. This would hopefully cover us and prevent a return to Haiti for Bryon prior to receiving our adoption decree. Mir-a-cle.
The phone call had started out with a little “bite” to it. I immediately picked up on her tone when I answered and she introduced herself. I did my best to quickly disarm the woman and make sure my voice was “smiling” right away. God honored it. Just a few minutes into our 45 minute discussion, she was figuring out ways to HELP us. Amazing, considering the past several weeks seemed to have been an exercise in hindering us. I had asked many to pray for several days prior. Miracle. That morning, without knowing she was even going to call me, I had prayed, “Lord, this is too heavy for my shoulders. All these ins and outs with Haitian and American governments, on top of daily caring for him. Too much for my shoulders. Your shoulders are way bigger than mine. I am placing this burden there and trusting you to continue working on Bryon's behalf. You have never failed.” Faithful God. Faithful and true. He had done it. Again. Miracle. And a quick one at that!!
We have a way to go in the waiting. We have a lifetime of medical challenges and therapies ahead. But amazingly, when my eyes are fixed on eternity, rather than life on earth, it is that much sweeter when I snuggle him to my neck. So many times I feel like I am kissing the cheeks of Jesus Himself. Especially when I lean over him in his crib knowing he can not see me, but he can HEAR me and SMELL me. I lean in and say, “Mama loves you.” He sighs and says, “ahhhhhh...”
We serve a God who cares about every little piece of it all. He is at work on behalf of Bryon and His timing is always perfect. Through it, I am learning how faith works. Faith means I step forward because I know I SHOULD, not because I know what is ahead of me. Faith means I trust the One whose promises I know. It means I don't question what I am asked to do, because I can rest in knowing He knows the best methods for giving me His best. This life is dress rehearsal for eternity. We easily fill it up with things that have no eternal value or weight. Things that will pass away. I want to make sure I am in full costume and ready for my cue when the curtain opens.
“And now, O Lord God, You are God,
and Your words are true,
and You have promised this goodness to Your servant."
2 Samuel 7:28