Finding My Way Through New Beginnings Day 7: Family Illness
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths.” (Proverbs 3:5-6, ESV)
It’s easy to praise God and completely trust in Him when things are going well, isn’t it? Life is good, the kids are happy, everyone is healthy, and the praises are flowing. However, when difficult circumstances unexpectedly arise, it can be more of a challenge to keep that upbeat, positive attitude going. Things like job loss, health concerns, family tensions, or the loss of a loved one present you with a whole new take on what it means to “trust in the Lord with all your heart.”
For 13 years, our lives were pretty easy, normal, and predictable. We had three healthy and active kids and life was good. We thanked God every day for the blessings we enjoyed. At my 20-week ultrasound with baby number four, however, that all changed. She had an overgrowth on her side and leg, along with other complications, and the doctors were not sure what any of it meant. Suddenly our easy, predictable lives were filled with uncertainty and countless appointments. The doctors strongly encouraged abortion several times, but we knew God was asking us to trust in Him. He created her life, and we put our trust for her future completely in Him. The peace you feel knowing that God is in control is hard to explain. In the Bible, Paul describes it like this: “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 4:7). We felt this peace as we continued with the pregnancy, not having any guarantee that our little girl was going to make it. She arrived at 36 weeks, spent some time in the NICU, and then we joyously brought her home. Her first couple of years were definitely filled with challenges. She was born with a very rare overgrowth syndrome called CLOVES syndrome. Every individual with CLOVES is unique and complex, making understanding and managing their symptoms challenging. We had some terrifying and frustrating moments when doctors couldn’t figure out what was causing her life-threatening complications, but we witnessed God work miracles in her. He has shown His mighty power over and over in Tessa, and although the emotional roller coaster is a difficult ride to be on, it’s incredibly humbling and awe-inspiring to see His hand at work.
It wasn’t only our lives that were affected that day. We had to explain to our other kids what was happening and prepare them for the very unknown future. They have witnessed scary moments right along with us and have prayed for their sister countless times. They have had to be flexible, with my suddenly being at the hospital or at endless appointments instead of at home where I usually am. A family illness changes everything, and everyone’s lives are affected. Thankfully, our wonderful family and friends stepped in to offer help and support wherever they could to get us through. We couldn’t have done it without them, and we will be forever grateful. From helping with the other kids, to bringing meals, to sending encouraging notes and gifts, to praying for our family—we desperately needed it and appreciated it more than we could ever express. “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up” (1 Thessalonians 5:11).
We do not know what Tessa’s future will look like, but we continue to trust in the One who created her. We have learned to live one day at a time, and to never take the good days for granted. “Cast your burden on the Lord, and he will sustain you; he will never permit the righteous to be moved” (Psalm 55:22).