Thursday, October 2, 2014

You Make Me Brave

You make me brave.
You make me brave.
You call me out beyond the shore into the waves.

You make me brave.
You make me brave.
No fear can hinder now the love that made a way. 
-Bethel Music

It has been said that bravery is not the absence of fear, but rather incredible courage while staring in the face of overwhelming fear.

We have known that overwhelming fear.

We have known the type of fear that takes your breath away and brings you to your knees.

We have stared it in the face again and again.

We have lived and breathed fear.

We have faced our fears and we have fought with everything we had.

It was not too long ago that we lived every day with the constant fear that it could be the last day with our son on this earth. I can still remember my very first experience with the reality of that fear as another heart mommy lost her son to heaven. The emotions I felt on that day are still very raw. I can still feel the overwhelming fear that I felt as I watched the grief unfold in that Cardiac ICU room, and the overwhelming pain that gripped my heart. As I experienced loss after loss of the beautiful heart babies and children of the friends I had grown to love in the 15 months in the Pediatric Cardiac ICU, those fears became deeper, the pain and heartbreak became more overwhelming, and the emotions became even more raw. Watching a family lose their child to heaven is something you can never get used to, no matter how many times you experience that type of loss. It was too real. I knew in my heart that I could never EVER survive that type of loss. It was unimaginable. I couldn’t face that fear. It was a fear that could not be overcome. It was a loss that no one could possibly recover from. It was 18 months later, while in the Pediatric Cardiac ICU in Boston, that the biggest fear in our lives became our reality. It was our turn to know the unimaginable fear of knowing that our time on earth with our son was coming to an end. It was our turn to know what it felt like to hold our son in our arms as his heart beat for the very last time on this earth. And it was our turn to know the unimaginable pain that would fill our hearts the moment he left this earth. 

Our biggest fear became our unimaginable reality. 

We had faced fear many times in his life and his big brother's life, but this time, it was the fear that I thought could not be overcome. But, in our weakest and most difficult moments, God gives us the strength we need to face our unimaginable fear. It has been a hard and extremely difficult journey. My heart still longs for my son. I miss him with everything that is within me and I always will this side of heaven. But, he was OH SO WORTH IT! He was such an INCREDIBLE blessing who completely changed our lives. He was worth facing every fear. He was worth feeling the unimaginable pain in his absence. He was worth it all!

And, so when I see children who are still waiting for families because of their severe heart defect, my heart breaks all over again. I find myself begging others to see these children…begging them to take the risk and love these children…..begging them to see what an incredible blessing these children will be to their families…..begging them to know that even in the face of potential loss, these beautiful children are OH SO WORTH IT!

Not too long ago, there was a little 9 year old boy who stole my heart, and I found myself begging others to see him and take the risk. He was labeled “too risky”. As a heart mom of two biological sons with heart defects, and one “chosen” son from Ukraine with a complex heart defect, I know that heart defects can often be overwhelming to families who have never lived this life. His medical need was urgent, but I begged for families to look past his needs and see his worth.

And then as I read about his specific complex heart defect, one that I was familiar with, I had great hope for him. I wondered what made him “too risky”. While his heart defect was complex, it was repairable. Some children with his heart defect go onto needing a heart transplant, but most thrive and live long and healthy lives despite their complex hearts. I thought surely there was a mistake. This beautiful little 9 year old boy couldn’t be too risky. And then as I read more about him, my heart sank. Because he was an orphan, his heart was never repaired – NEVER repaired!!!! And as I learned that, I knew exactly why he was labeled “too risky”. If you have spent any time as a heart parent, you unfortunately know too well what happens when certain heart defects go untreated for too long. After reading his recent reports, and his recent echo, and US cardiologist report, I learned that my worst fear for him was confirmed. As I watched his adorable video, and saw how desperately he wanted a mom and dad, my heart broke for him even more. It was like a punch in the gut. Would there even be a family out there who would be willing to take the risk on an almost 10 year old boy who now carried an inoperable/terminal diagnosis in China? I knew what an incredible blessing he would be to a family if they would be willing to push their fear aside and take the risk. I knew that he was worth the risk, but I also knew the risk was great – perhaps too great. As I pleaded for others to be willing to take the risk, I wondered if I would be willing to do the same if God asked us to take the risk. If I had lived this heart life, faced great fear and great risk, faced great loss, and yet I wouldn't be willing to do it again for him, how could I ask others to take that same risk? It was in that moment, I knew that He WAS asking us to push our fear aside and take the risk. I knew that this little boy who had captured my heart, and yet broke it at the same time, was meant to be MY SON!!!!!!!

Are we prepared for the possibility of losing another son?

Honestly, that is nothing you can ever be prepared for. We have already faced the worst once before, and with God, we have come out the other side and have survived. But, we are praying and hoping that there will be something that can be done for him here… .all the while knowing it is a very real possibility. Every year I am amazed at the advancements in the heart world, and my prayer is that there will be something, someday, that can help him. We know that he absolutely needs to get here as soon as possible to have any hope of surviving. We know the odds are stacked against him, but we also know the One who can do the impossible. We are prepared to love him with everything we have for as long as God allows us to hold him in our arms.
Are we scared? ABSOLUTELY!!!!!

Terrified, actually!!!

We are not without great fear, but we know that God is calling us to push our fear aside. He is calling us to be BRAVE in the face of overwhelming fear. 


And so, we would now like to introduce you to our incredible son, BRAVE!!!!

We love you sweet boy, and we can't wait to hold you in our arms! You are WORTH IT, my son!!! You are SO WORTH IT!!!!!

We know that some people may not understand us following our hearts and bringing him home, and that's okay. We are not immune to being hurt by the negative opinions or feelings of others, but we have learned to not let others opinions change what we have been called to do. Will it be difficult? Likely. But, God didn't call us to easy. It isn't about us or our momentary discomfort. This life is just temporary. We will follow our hearts, for we know God is leading us, and we hope that you will join us on this journey!

We love you, Brave!  You are WORTH IT ALL!!! We are coming, SON!

You make me BRAVE! 
You make me BRAVE!
No fear can hinder now the LOVE that made a way!


  1. Praying for Brave and am praying he will get home quickly!!

  2. Just wished to know about Elliette??

    1. She is doing GREAT!!!!! I have kept my fb updated with how they are doing, but I haven't done such a great job, here. I will be posting here soon a little about our time in China and how they are doing now.

  3. Praying your process goes smoothly and quickly. He is such a cute little guy. We have a photo album on the Zhongshan yahoo group. It's Nicholl Family - Haleigh. I don't know if your little guy is in there, but you are more than welcome to look. Haleigh is nine so they are close in age.

    1. Thank you so much!!! I will definitely look for the pictures!