Friday, February 10, 2017

Day 10 - Eisley June

“Grief tells our hearts things like, ‘How can I possibly find joy again
when so much was lost?’ Gratitude responds softly, ‘Yes it hurts,
but what a blessing it was. Even if it was only a short time’.”

-Chris Jones

When I heard more writers were needed for 28 Days of Heart, I thought about reaching out and submitting a story. But then I paused and wondered what I had to contribute. Our beautiful daughter, adopted from China in Sept 2015, had passed away in March 2016 after having spent 75 days in the hospital from her first open chest surgery. Who would want to read this? These stories are supposed to be uplifting and encouraging. Miracle stories. Amazing heart babies with amazing stories. My story certainly didn’t turn out the way I had anticipated. I thought if I said a brave YES to adopting a child with a complex heart condition, which was untreated in China, I would be rewarded for my faithfulness to trust, even in the most uncertain of circumstances.

Let’s rewind a little. If you had asked me six months into our second adoption if I would consider adopting a child with a serious heart condition, I would have looked at you and probably said something like “Well, bless you (in true Southern fashion), but no, I can’t do that. I’m not strong enough for that.” It wasn’t on our radar when we considered what special needs we were open to. But eight months later, I saw the face of my daughter on an advocacy site. And I couldn’t erase that face from my memory or my heart. Her big, beautiful brown eyes took my breath away and I knew I had to do everything in my power to ensure this child would be our daughter. She had quite the scary list of medical conditions – Single Ventricle, Tricuspid Atresia, ASD, VSD, and Pulmonary Hypertension. I wrestled with my head and heart in making a decision to move forward for a month. And even after we said YES, I still had days where I cried out to God as I was filled with worry. I had this verse plastered to my mirror and repeated it many times a day:

“Wait for the LORD; be strong and take heart. Wait for the LORD.” Psalm 27:14

I focused on the part about “be strong and take heart”. We brought our daughter home and spent our first week in the PCICU as she had developed the para-influenza in China. A week later, we were discharged to finally go home and begin to find our new normal as a family of four. It was challenging but also wonderful. My daughter was bright, loved music, and mimicked everything. I watched her grow in strength, confidence, and trust. It was a beautiful thing. She had her first surgery 3 months after we stepped off the plane from China. Her surgery was minor on the scale of heart surgeries. But I have come to learn that in the heart world, nothing is predictable. She was a warrior. She fought hard, but ultimately several infections won the battle and she lost her fight to CHD and sepsis.

Fast forward to this weekend. I was sitting through a session at Created 4 Care and the speaker, who also had lost an adopted daughter far too soon, shared something with our group. Lisa Qualls said that God “uses our ‘YES’ for His glory and His good, but not always for our happiness” and the outcome that we want. That hit me right in the heart. It’s true. It’s not always about my happiness. But it IS about His glory and His good. The theme of this year’s retreat was “God writes the best stories.” He truly does. Though I can’t yet see all of this story, I trust that He is writing the best one. And I can’t wait to one day read this story in its completion.

Here’s my point. Eisley was ABSOLUTELY worth all of it, no matter how her story was written. She mattered. She needed us. And I needed her. Oh, the things I have learned from this tiny, fierce, little girl. I would do it all over again in a heartbeat for her.  What a blessing she was, even if she was only with us for a short time. And if there is a silver lining in this yet-to-be-completed story, we are in the process to adopt again. In fact, just the other day my 6-year-old asked me if we were open to heart conditions this time around. I responded that I wasn’t sure. She thought for a moment and then said, “But mama, these children NEED families. And they NEED medical care. And they NEED love. And WE can give that to a child.” I couldn’t have articulated it any better than that. Well said my daughter.

I’ll leave you with some of the lyrics from a Matt Redman song that I sang over my daughter many times during her hospital stay and to this day still sing with all my heart:

“And on that day when my (or Eisley’s) strength is failing,
The end draws near and my (her) time has come.
Still my soul will sing your praise unending,
Ten thousand years and then forevermore.

Bless the Lord, oh my soul, oh my soul.
Worship His Holy name.
Sing like never before, oh my soul.

I’ll worship Your holy name.”


Andrea Olson said...

What a beautiful tribute to Eisley. Thank you, Leslie.

LisaE. said...

I remember the first time I started praying for Eisley and the time I had to change the prayer request on my prayer wall from Eisley (who had been healed) to her family. Having lost a child, I knew the pain. What a gift Eisley was. She touched so many hearts. Hugs to you mama for this beautiful tribute to a life that had great worth, more than many of us could ever hope to achieve.

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