Today’s reading: Exodus 5; Luke 8; Job 22; 1 Corinthians 9
I’m Jillian, the newest collaborator on your Bible Journal team. A few weeks ago I met two of your fearless members, Jon and BJ at a Metcalf school fundraiser. One glass of wine later I was agreeing to join the Bible Journal! I’ve been getting to know each of you through your journal entries this week. Now it’s time for me to share our story with you.
My husband Lynden and I were married in 2008. I was raised very Catholic. From grade school to grad school I attended Catholic institutions. In 2010 we had our first child. Our son Oliver was born a seemingly healthy happy infant. Our life took a dramatic turn when Ollie was 6 weeks old. What began as just the “flu” quickly turned into something much more serious. Within a few days Ollie was at Children’s in Peoria unable to absorb any nutrition via mouth or IV. For six long weeks we watched him spiral into heart and kidney failure. Doctors told us later they weren’t sure he would survive. I remember feeling lost, desperate and alone. A nun would visit me in the room where I sat alone holding him in my arms, unable to feed or comfort him. She would offer me communion and ask if I’d like him baptized. She repeatedly appealed to my Catholic faith, trying to reach me in a spiritual place but I was empty. Slowly our sweet baby improved and we returned home shaken and a little broken. Oliver required lots of care but eventually we got back to life as we knew it. As the days passed the fear and anxiety of the whole event passed too.
“A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it. And some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture” Luke 8:5-7 ESV.
Lynden and I were sowing seeds all over the place, but our crops were withering. Oliver continued to have minor health problems that brought me to the brink of panic each time. I didn’t have the tools I needed to turn to Jesus for strength and help. In October of 2011, Oliver got an ear infection. Our pediatrician heard a heart murmur he had never heard before. He sent us to get an echo. Two days later we learned that our son has 2 tumors in his heart. His tumors are not operable; we cannot change it we cannot fix it. The next day I drove to work in a fog. I sat in my car on the corner of Empire and Vetaran’s Parkway, tears rolling down my face. A huge flock of birds flew past my windshield and I heard, “Call Amy.” Why…my brain said…no one can fix this. Like a robot I picked up the phone and called Amy Arnold, the mother of Libi, my patient at Easter Seals. Through sobs I told her of Ollie’s diagnosis. She told me to drive home and she’d meet me there in an hour.
Amy arrived at my house that afternoon with about 15 yellow note cards. On each she had written a verse to encourage me. She looked me in the eyes, held my hands and shared with me who Jesus is and about God’s love for us. I’ve been learning about religion and faith my whole life but I had never built a relationship with my Savior.
“And when his disciples asked him what this parable meant, he said, “To you it has been given to know the secrets of the kingdom of God, but for others they are not in parables, so that ‘seeing they may not see, and hearing they may not understand’ Now the parable is this: The seed is the word of God. The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes the word away from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved. And the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy. But those who have no root; they believe for awhile, and in time of testing fall away.” Luke 8: 9-13 ESV
Amy gave me seeds. Real seeds that I began to sow. A few weeks later, I called and asked her if I could see her church. From there I joined a Bible study and then a small group. A few years later, Lynden and I conceived a second child. We lived by Jeremiah 29:11, knowing He had plans for us and our family. In November of 2013 at 24 weeks gestation we learned that our daughter Ruby Mae had six tumors in her heart. She was born at OSF St. Francis on March 3, 2014 with 9 doctors in attendance. She came out smiling, screaming and breathing! After 3 days in the NICU we brought her home and continued this journey only God could have planned.
After Ruby Mae’s birth we sought more medical testing and learned that our children and one of us is affected by a genetic disease. This disease can cause tumors in the brain, heart and kidneys. It can also cause visual impairment and seizures. Prayerfully we decided that new growth in our family would be best achieved through adoption. Lynden and I have always had a heart for orphans and recognized this as Gods’ will in our lives. We vowed to raise our biologic children for a few years until their health was stable and pursue adoption when we felt led. We made plans to end our ability to have more biologic children in order to follow His plan.
In October of 2014 when Ruby Mae was just 5 months old, Oliver was hospitalized. I started feeling ill around then. And so…
“…As for that in the good soil, they are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience.” Luke 8:15 ESV
The full measure of our story was revealed to us. Our precious Nadya, the child I couldn’t dream of, or believe He would send us was born 14 very short months after Ruby Mae at OSF St. Francis before a slightly smaller crowd. We learned 2 weeks after she was born that she too is affected with 2 small heart tumors. Although, all three of our children are miracles in my eyes, Nadya is my gift. My living, breathing, sometimes screaming proof of Jesus Christ in our lives. She is my constant reminder that we are all broken, but the love of Jesus makes us whole. Perfection is not a worldly attribute, it is reserved for our heavenly Father.
I am humbly joining the Bible Journal family, so that I may sow more seeds in rich soil. Thank you for being kind and sharing this opportunity with me and our family. We look forward to learning more and growing with you in Him.
~The McGriff Party of 5