During this season of Lent, we’re journeying together through the Book of Job. It’s a story of suffering, faith, questions, and one man who cries out to God in the midst of heartbreaking affliction.
Over the next few weeks I’ll share stories of “suffering well” with you, from Sojourners at each of our campuses and from brothers and sisters that have come to know Christ through Sojourn International, our missions ministry. Earlier this week, I shared the testimony of Brian Ott from our Midtown Campus. Today, we hear from Blake McKinney of Sojourn East.
As my wife Jen and I were talking recently after church, it occurred to us that it has been just over a year since our daughter was diagnosed with multiple heart defects. 2012 was the best and worst year of my life. It truly is the year I never hoped for, but it is the year God graciously walked me through.
One year ago this past January, we went to a pediatric cardiologist for the first time. We hoped against hope that our sweet Lily would be just fine. We hoped that all the doctors and specialists were simply mistaken and that there was nothing wrong with her. How could there be anything wrong with my baby girl? Let alone something so terrifying as a heart defect? After our first meeting with the pediatric cardiologist, we learned that our Lily not only had one heart defect – she had four. Words cannot describe the emotional roller coaster that we embarked upon that day. I could write a book about our experiences, but I will limit this post to listing things that I am grateful for from this year.
I am thankful for my wife Jennifer
My wife is a saint. I love her, and I am immensely thankful for her. In the midst of all of this, her conduct has reminded me constantly of why I fell in love with her. This was the most heart-wrenching and difficult time of our life together, but we made it through it. I love you Jennifer.
I am thankful for our families
We were blessed to have near constant companionship from our families throughout our stay in the hospital, and they have continued lovingly supporting us over the months that followed. The love and support that they have shown us can never be repaid. We love y’all.
I am thankful for our friends
When Lily was in surgery, we had over a dozen of our friends sitting and waiting with us. They prayed, ate, laughed, and cried with us. I will never forget those hours. You guys (and gals) that were there: you will never know what a blessing that was. We had tons of people supporting us. We received so many meals, gifts, emails, notes, calls, cups of coffee, texts, etc. that I could never hope to thank each person properly. So, Thank you to all of y’all.
I am thankful for our Church
We had been at Sojourn East just a few months when we found out Lily’s diagnosis. From day one, our church stood side by side with us. I am thankful for every sermon and every song that broke and restored me over 12 months of fear, pain, and joy.
I am thankful for that one usher that prayed with me on the Sunday after Lily’s surgery while I wept in the back of the auditorium. I don’t know your name dude, but you were the body of Christ to a brother in need that day. I am thankful for my elders and deacons that loved on us through the midst of all of this. I am thankful for our community group that served as a second family.
I am thankful for my job
Prima has been incredible to me this year. I was shown immense flexibility as I learned to deal with life-altering changes. My co-workers are some of my closest friends, and they too served us in innumerable ways this year.
I am thankful for Kosair Children’s Hospital
Praise God for a place with such excellent doctors and nurses as Kosair’s. Praise God for the care Lily received, and the kindness and concern shown to Jen and me every day.
I am thankful for medical technology
Lily’s heart defects were noticed in an ultrasound when Jen was 17 weeks pregnant. Think about that. That’s crazy. I am thankful that we were forewarned about Lily’s condition. We had months to prepare for her surgery and care. This is a blessing. Some dear friends of ours faced a similar situation with about three days’ notice, and they handled it exceedingly well, but I am thankful that we had the time to prepare.
I am thankful for godly musicians
I am a musician at heart. God continually ministered to me through music over the past year. I wrote one post about it: Farther Along.
And of course….I am thankful for my sweet daughter
She is doing incredibly well. We still see a ton of doctors, but by all accounts, she is a normal little girl. She is sweet. She is independent. She is hilarious.
So, 2012 wasn’t the year I hoped for, but it’s the year I got. I have learned more what faithfulness truly means. God is faithful in the midst of our worst times. He shows Himself to us through little bits of grace: a cup of coffee, a hug, a meal, a shared laugh during a hard time. Thank you to all of you that ministered to us through this time.