Over the past couple of years Dan and I have been faced with some challenges that not only have brought us closer together, but most importantly, made us fully rely on God. As many of you know already, in 2001 I had open heart surgery to fix a rare heart condition. Since that was 9 years ago, I thought I would give an update on the journey God has taken us on since then. As of today, l still have moderate leaking in my mitral valve. The doctors thought the leaking would stop after my heart started to heal after the surgery, but it hasn’t necessarily gone that way. It’s not severe enough to have another surgery right now, but doctors say I will eventually need another surgery. My heart function is normal though, which is a great relief, considering the damage that was done after 17 years of having the heart condition. I am still under restrictions with regards to exercise, but it’s all up to me – if I get tired, I need to take a break. Easy enough :). Frustrating yes, but I am just so blessed to be in the condition I am. I believe in a God who performs miracles and maybe someday I won’t even need that surgery. And if I do? I serve a God who heals. That’s the physical side of it all. Here is the other side of things that Dan and I have had to think, pray, and trust God about:
When I first met Dan we got to know each other at a pretty “surfacy” level at first, so I didn’t tell him right away about my heart (about a week or so :)). But then people around college kept saying to him “wait til you hear about her heart.” That’s when on our first date it all came out. I knew that when I started to date someone seriously, I would have to tell that person what marrying me would entail – the possibility of having no biological children. (Of course we didn’t talk about marriage that first date though, thank goodness!) I’ll never forget when I told Dan. I remember sitting in Applebees and seeing Dan’s reaction – it was one of understanding and love. It didn’t matter to him. As we got more serious, he said that to him my scars describe where I’ve been and that they only make me more beautiful. Yup I teared up when he said that :). God knew Dan would be perfect for me.
Fast forward to marriage. Being in youth ministry, people constantly see us with kids and the questions start to come. When are you going to have kids? Why don’t you have kids? You have kids over all the time – you’re going to love being parents! Then there are those who say “well you aren’t parents or you don’t have kids so you won’t understand.” These are questions and comments that are asked and said quite often. Somedays those questions I can answer rather jokingly, but then there are days that it’s just plain hard. How do I tell someone “no we may not be able to b/c…” or “I know we aren’t parents but we can’t help it.” I knew after the surgery that not having kids would be a possibility – I just never imagined how hard that reality would be. No woman wants to be told that. Dan has been an overwhelming support in it and this is when I truly see God’s perfect plan unfolding. People may chuckle at the fact that we see our youth group kids as our own, but for us, these are the kids God has blessed us with. Who says they have to be our biological children? We go to their games, concerts, share meals together, call, pray, and love them. Who knows, maybe someday the doctors will say my heart is healthy enough to have my own kids, but all we know right now is that God has blessed us with our own “children.” For each person that may be different and each of us is called to a unique purpose. We see our purpose is youth ministry. So despite the challenges that we may face and the days of frustration, God has filled that void in our hearts :). If you hear us talking about “our kids,” they are our youth group kids. Just like a parent and their child, we are always ready to talk about them! They are our pride and joy – though I don’t carry a brag book of them – it wouldn’t fit in my purse.
I hope this all made sense b/c this is years worth of thoughts finally put into words :). I want to conclude this post with a request for everyone to read Psalm 121. When I first met Dan we talked about our favorite Bible verses. Wanna know what we BOTH said? Psalm 121!!!! How cool is that? Who would’ve thought that that passage would be so “valuable” to us and such a hope for us even today. It’s the promises in this passage that only make us fall on our knees and realize that we aren’t in control. What a mighty God we serve!