Wildflowers from Winter: Hope after Death

It is with great pleasure that I introduce you to a dear friend today. Kristin Reickard and I go the same church, and even attend the same small group. She and her husband were instrumental in our decision to adopt.

God has already used their testimony in big ways. I trust He will continue to do so here today.

 

A Family is Made 

We know firsthand the sorrow, the deep pain of mourning. We also know what it is to have God turn our mourning into the oil of gladness, to be given a crown of beauty instead of ashes.

In 2004, our second child Kael Xavier was born. Our little son seemed perfect. Although he was a bit fussy, we were reassured that was normal for babies of C-sections and were allowed to bring him home. At home, though, Kael’s fussiness grew, as did his jaundice.  We decided to take him into the doctor a bit early. 

At worst, we guessed Kael would need to be under bilirubin lights. We never could’ve imagined the words that would come out of the doctor’s mouth… “Your son’s bilirubin levels are incredibly high, which indicates his liver may be failing.” Going forward in shock and utter disbelief, we found ourselves with our 11 day old son in the NICU of a Children’s Hospital.

We had many ups and downs in the hospital, days we weren’t sure he would pull through, surgeries with very high risks. After 51 days on this earth, our brave little Kael could no longer put forth any more fight. My husband and I were privileged to be able to be there for our son’s birth, and also to hold him in his death.

Our grief was fresh, hard, and real. After Kael’s autopsy, we found out the disease that caused his liver to fail was 80% likely to occur in any future biological children. This disease was almost always fatal unless an experimental treatment was used. After a year of deep grieving, we decided to go forward and try to get pregnant again. After only a few weeks of pregnancy, our third child died. 

The pain was beyond words. The grieving took a toll on all of us, and my husband declared we were done having children. It was too hard to open ourselves up to that hurt again. Although we could’ve tried pregnancy again as well as some other options, my heart immediately was drawn to adoption. NO ONE could ever replace Kael or the unborn child we lost, but I didn’t want to lose a future with other children to love on too.

Over time, the desire to adopt grew inside of me. It became so strong that I prayed for God to either change my heart or change my husband’s. And God answered that prayer…  He changed my husband’s heart.

On our journey to beauty, we realized that so many children in the world were dying or growing up without a family, no one to guide them, protect them, or love them. They had ashes too. A fire was ignited in our hearts for the fatherless and we began our journey. We adopted our son Jaevan Jee from South Korea in 2008. And the beauty was palpable, overwhelming, and amazing. Then we adopted our daughter Aria Jiang from China in 2011. And now we are in the process of adopting 2 children from Haiti. 

Each member of our family has a story of ashes, different pieces of pain and suffering because of this broken world. And God took all of our ashes and made something BEAUTIFUL out of them. 

…to comfort all who mourn, and provide for those who grieve in Zion— to bestow on them a crown of beauty instead of ashes, the oil of joy instead of mourning, and a garment of praise instead of a spirit of despair.  Isaiah 61:2b-3a

Let’s Talk: Have any questions about adoption? Kristin is the gal to ask! Say hi. Introduce yourself. And if you get a chance, hop on over to Kristin’s blog to read about their journey. 

If you’d like to read a story about God’s ability to redeem those barren, broken seasons in our lives, or if you’re struggling to hold onto hope in the midst of heartache, check out the first three chapters of Wildflowers from Winter for free, or visit my Wildflowers from Winter page to order a copy of your own!

92 thoughts on “Wildflowers from Winter: Hope after Death

  1. Jennifer Major

    I couldn’t finish this. I’m glad they adopted, but…we lost one too…

     
     
    1. Katie Ganshert

      I’m praying for you Jennifer. I’ll continue lifting you up throughout the day, friend.

       
       
    2. Kristin Reickard

      I’m so sorry Jennifer. Having gone through our loss, I know words are inadequate to express the pain. When our son Kael died, the group MercyMe just came out with a song called “Homesick”. They put words to the ache and hole in my heart, the loneliness I felt, the questions I faced as to why my son was taken… And although those words did not take the pain away, I knew at least one other person could describe what I felt. And in that, I found a little solace. You’re not alone… I’m praying for you.

      http://www.azlyrics.com/lyrics/mercyme/homesick.html

       
       
      1. Jennifer Major

        Didn’t get through that either. But I went to your website, what an awesome testimony!! Thank you for showing us how big God is. And thank you for praying for me.

         
         
      2. I’m so sorry, Jennifer. My husband and I lost three in a year. The ache was almost unbearable at times. Still is sometimes. I’m so, so sorry. There are no other words. I don’t know if this would help or not, but it helped me a lot to read about other people. Here is my blog about miscarriage: http://www.livingwholeagain.blogspot.com. I hope it helps.

         
         
      3. Jennifer Major

        His mercy is new EVERY morning…thank you all for your kindness in the midst of my pain. Not by might, not by power, but by MY spirit , says the Lord.

         
         
  2. Laura Chambers

    That’s so sad. God, thank You for helping this family through such loss, and bringing them out on the other side praising You and blessing others. Continue to work in and through this family to give You glory. In jesus’ name, amen.

     
     
    1. Katie Ganshert

      Thank you for this prayer, Laura. I’ve seen God get glory in amazing ways through the Reickards. He’s using them to do amazing, Kingdom work.

       
       
  3. Thanks for posting this, Katie. I’m sitting here at work and even after 8 years, I still tear up reading about my son’s short life.

    I pray that our story touches the hearts of MANY families and encourages them to never give up and that GOD. CAN. REDEEM! If any of your readers are fathers and they want to talk to me, please email me! God gave us our story and I honor Him by sharing it and helping other fathers in their journeys.

     
     
  4. Sniff sniff… what a sad and powerful and joyful story all at once. Thank you for sharing this– I know it will be an encouragement to so many!

     
     
  5. Tears. Both happy and sad. Praise God for bringing something beautiful out of something so incredibly sad.

    Thank you, Kristin, for sharing and Katie, for hosting.

     
     
  6. This is one of the most beautiful, moving stories I’ve read in a long, long time!

    Thank you for getting through to me today!
    ~ Wendy

     
     
  7. Maria Seager/Maria Powers

    What a blessed family. Thank you for sharing this story. My oldest brother is adopted and I raised his middle daughter after family troubles. I KNOW that God brings us to the family we are meant to have. Again thank you.

     
     
  8. Kristin you are an incredibly brave and loving woman.

    My wife and I lost our first child not even a year ago. He was 3 days old. We’re trying again, and while we’re eternally grateful for the time he was with us and the strength and love he revealed in ourselves and our friends, not a day goes by that we don’t miss him.

     
     
    1. Kristin Reickard

      I’m so sorry for your loss. Thank you for sharing this. Gratitude is certainly a gift during the grieving process, eyes to see light within the darkness.

      Your words so resonate in my heart – the lives of these littlest ones have great purpose too. The lessons we learned through our son were some of the hardest but most life changing. We are so grateful to God for every one of those precious days with Kael.

      I’m praying for your family as you grieve and find hope and strength in Him.

       
       
  9. Loree Huebner

    Beautiful story of strength and faith. Thanks for sharing it.

     
     
  10. Kael is beautiful! As are all of your children on this earth. God’s best to you all.

     
     
  11. Thank you so much, Kristin and Chad, for sharing your uplifting story.

    My heart breaks for your sadness, but is lifted by your generosity and love. Your children are so blessed to be raised by people living the Lord’s love.

     
     
  12. What a powerful story of how God has redeemed this family’s heartache and sorrow. What beautiful children!

     
     
  13. What an amazing and powerful story. This sounds like such a beautiful, God-loving family.

     
     
  14. So beautiful…hope & healing & life from a place of unfathomable heartache. Thank you for sharing your story with us. Blessings on your sweet family.

     
     
  15. Beautiful. What an amazing family.

     
     
  16. This touched my heart. I lost a baby to an ectopic pregnancy and then went through a time of struggle trying to get pregnant again. Like Kristen, it wasn’t until I reached a place of surrender that God could begin to heal and move me forward. He made me realize that He can work through any hardship, if our hearts are willing. I share my story on my blog and my prayers are out to those of you still in the pain of this situation. Know He will bring you out of it, just hold on to Him.

     
     
  17. Lisa Nieman

    Very touching story. Thanks for sharing Kristin.

     
     
  18. Kathy B

    Thanks so much for sharing! Loved this story…and love that the book isn’t closed yet, and the story continues. My husband and I have had a heart for adoption since we were dating. Now, after three children, we know our next will be from another part of the world. But there are always questions–about finances, about the adjustment of the little ones under our care now, about if we’re ready. I sometimes feel I walk a very fineline between fear and common sense.

     
     
    1. We always welcome questions – no matter how awkward. feel free to email Kristin at kristin.reickard@gmail.com.

       
       
  19. Such a heartbreaking story … that ends with hope and beauty, even as it acknowledges the pain this couple experienced. I appreciated the honesty which encompasses both sorrow and healing.

     
     
  20. What a beautiful and heart-wrenching story. I’ve struggled with a different grief lately, but it’s made me think about the many things God teaches us and grows in us during grief. Thank you, Kristin, for your beautiful ministry.

     
     
  21. My heart aches for you, Kristin, and also for the others who lost children. I’m thankful God brought these beautiful little ones into your life.

     
     
  22. Such love shows through these stories of sorrow. I am sorry that you all had to go through this pain. I remarried at 42 and shortly after got pregnant. I lost our baby at 2 mo. pg. It does hurt very much. We weren’t young, my husband being 58, but we were so excited. Someone said”well at least you didn’t plan this”. That hurt very much. Like we don’t love the ones not planned as we do the planned one. How could anyone think that way? I started to ask her if she planned the 3 she had. I already knew she hadn’t, but it would not been a good thing to say. So sorry for all the losses of each one commenting. Glad some have more family now. I definitely think adoption is great. God bless you each. Maxie Anderson

     
     
  23. […] those two look familiar, it’s probably because they shared their real-life Wildflowers from Winter story on my blog earlier this spring. Their story is truly evidence that God can use those barren, broken […]

     
     
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