the unlikely thing you have to believe when you’re living a life you didn’t choose

When they said she’d need blood thinner, I knew what they were saying — they wanted me to give my baby what used as rat poison.

I mean, my dad used to lace food bait with Warfarin, wait for rats to gorge themselves and then bleed out. Bleed to death.

They lay out the pink tablets on the table, a thin needle.

They explain this: Her blood can’t clot through that new heart shunt. Her blood will have to run free for her to live. You can’t live with obstructions in your veins.  This will be the plan:

Warfarin, crushed and mixed with water, administered orally via syringe in the mouth. Enoxaparin, another anticoagulant,   administered with a needle injection, just under the skin.

“Inject in her thigh, every morning and night, 12 hours apart. Just — squeeze her upper thigh, and inject the 11 units in at a right angle. Needle’s small — ever seen an insulin needle before?”

An insulin needle?

Have I seen insulin needle?

Have I seen insulin needles. 

January. I’d seen my first one back in January. We’d been told on New Year’s Eve that her adoption file and her little broken heart were supposed to heading our way…  and then 48 hours later we’re standing around a hospital bed with Malakai aiming an insulin needle at his stomach. 

Those needles feel like a sharp thorn in the side, like a poison we have to take and keep taking, like a hurt that is meant to help and healing is a strange beast, the universe a mystery that doesn’t need solving as much as it needs embracing.

Malakai had looked up, needle still in hand. “When my little sister gets here with her broken heart?”

“She’s gonna know that she’s not the only one broken. That I’m broken, that I need at least 3-4 needles every day to stay alive. That we’re all a kind of broken, that we all need each other and healing.”

The kid has no idea that half a year later, a little girl from China will share his last name and be his own little sister lying on a hospital bed with her chest wired shut over her broken heart and I’ll be holding an insulin needle up over her thigh.

But I already know about insulin needles and I’m the one pierced right through:


The thing you never would choose for your life, chooses you for a reason.


The thing that you’d never pick, picks you to become brave.


You get what you need  — by walking through what you never wanted.

The thing you never wanted, may turn out to be be the thing you need most.

I hadn’t known: The thing that may make you fall a bit apart, may be part of what one day holds you a bit together.

There are bruises up her leg from injections, and there’s still light, trusting light, in her eyes, and there is bravery to be found in even the weakest places and I try to find mine.

I find this too at the edge of her hospital bed, at the outer edges of things: There are reasons we don’t understand that someday will help keep us standing, there is pain that isn’t a poison but a prescription, there are broken ways that are actually breaking us free.

I’d known of a dream once — a woman didn’t want the cross that was hers, but wanted — actually, said she needed — to choose a lighter one, an easier one.

She found an ornate gold one and thought it was obvious that she could carry a cross like that and embody beauty. She needed that cross instead. But she found that the gold was heavy and her shoulders were hurting and that crosses that look better may not feel or be any better at all.

Then she found a cross covered in roses and knew that this was the cross that she needed instead. But she found that the thorns were cutting and her skin was bleeding and that crosses that seem easier may actually be harder, your skin not meant for that kind of rawness.

Finally, she turned and saw a cross she would never choose, plain and worn, but with engraved with a few lines that seemed to call to her, that spoke to who she wanted to become. She didn’t need — or want or choose — this cross instead — but this cross chose her.

And when she carried it, she found it fit her, that it became her, that it let her become more of who she always wanted to be when she let that cross shape her, form her and transform her. It was then that she saw that there, on the underside of the cross, was her own name — this was her own old cross.

This was the one she needed, not another one instead — because Christ had bore all the weight of this one in her stead.


The cross that is yours is always the lightest, kindest, rightest.  And if that seems like flattened cliche, a crock of blarney or a flat-out lie — then the universe is telling you it’s time to intimately trace the heart of God. At least that’s one of the mysteries that’s worth binding yourself to.

The cross you’ve been given —

is always God’s kindest decision. 

The cross you carry — is carrying you toward who you are meant to be. 

The insulin needle feels light, like it might inject us with light, with living, and courage to do hard and holy things every day can feel like the weight of glory and our little towheaded heart warrior’s eyes catch mine.

After the needle has made us a larger kind of brave, she wraps her arms around my neck, like she’s a star hanging star, and  nothing clots in our veins when we live surrender, live broken and given to what He’s given.

There’s space to believe that everything’s bleeding into a kind of cross-shaped grace.



Related: The Story of adopting our beautiful heart baby…
How to Help a Breaking Heart: Because You Have One & So Does Everyone Else
What Happened After We Got the Diagnosis: About Brokenness, Suffering, & Joining The Club