Adoption,  Discouragement,  Faith,  Family,  Grief and Loss,  Health,  Heart,  Hope,  Special Needs,  Strength

Throw Me a Lifejacket

By @PatDoneyNBC5 on @Deenamadams

This week’s story is near and dear to my heart because it’s by my son-in-law, Pat Doney, and is about my amazing grandson, Hudson. Pat and my daughter, Sheleena, became Hudson’s parents on August 29, 2015, the day after his birth, and they officially adopted him on March 8, 2016. About two weeks after the adoption, they received life-changing news. I pray their story will grow your faith and glorify the Lord Jesus, Who is our Hope.

CLICK TO TWEET: Throw Me a Lifejacket – When Faith Collides With a Storm. By @PatDoneyNBC5 on @Deenamadams. A story of hope amid a devastating diagnosis.

There was no question she was certain about the devastating news she delivered.

But I felt the need to ask again. “Are you absolutely sure? I mean, you only looked at him and moved his arms and legs for about five minutes. How can that clearly tell you anything?”

“I’m so sorry, sir,” she said back. “But there is no doubt in my mind. We’ll have an MRI done on his brain in the next few weeks to confirm, but this to me seems like a classic case.  I wish there was something else I could tell you.”

And then Sheleena began to cry.  I was in too much shock to manage any tears. I put my arms around her, looked back at my little boy in the backseat, and closed my eyes.  

It was a worst-case scenario diagnosis we had known was a possibility, but had never really allowed ourselves to consider as a real option for our family.

Cerebral palsy.

“How could this be happening to us?” I thought.  “How could this be happening to him?”  These were the questions I would ask God in the months that followed and continue to ask to this day.  

We didn’t know if he would ever walk, talk, use his arms, or if he would ever be fully “there” mentally.  It didn’t seem fair.

Hudson had been given to our family in such a phenomenally powerful way it was hard to accept this diagnosis as our new normal. And yet, she was so sure. The pediatric neurologist we had seen didn’t even really have to say the words. The expression on her face said it all.

She knew we had adopted Hudson as a newborn. She also knew we had no idea during the adoption process he had such a challenging condition.

We had trusted God through the adoption, and yet, trusting Him to this extent felt like too much to handle. 

“Maybe the MRI will show something a little better than the original diagnosis,” I thought. 

Two weeks later, we received the results. Hudson was missing about one-fourth of his brain. 

One of my favorite stories in the Bible I like to tell my kids is in the book of Mark. The reason I like to tell it so much is because I’m an energetic storyteller, and this story leaves open the opportunity to get animated. It features high waves, terrified sailors fearing death and a man with the power to control the storm.  

Those ingredients, mixed with a little high-intensity acting, can keep the attention of my elementary school-aged audience.

The story says Jesus was exhausted after a full day teaching massive crowds and answering questions about living a faith-filled life. He told his close friends He wanted to relax in a boat on the lake, so they loaded up and pushed offshore.  

What happened next is the stuff of legends. 

I often imagine the scene in “A Perfect Storm” with George Clooney, but my wife is always quick to point out George’s boat didn’t make it in that one.

Anyway, as the storm increases, Jesus’s friends are freaking out.  This is completely understandable. 

I think it’s easy to read stories in the Bible and forget these were actual human beings with real friends, wives, and kids, standing on a boat taking on water in the middle of the lake, feeling as if they were actually going to die at any moment.  

There are few struggles in my day-to-day life that come anywhere near the amount of stress they likely felt at that time. Let me rephrase that. I don’t think I’ve ever felt the amount of stress they felt at that time.  

Back to the storytelling.  This is the point in which when my voice has crossed over the “what is and what is not acceptable” volume line at bed time.

He didn’t panic. He didn’t emerge the moment His friends started to get scared. In fact, it took one of his friends going below deck to wake him about the storm for Him to finally emerge from His sleep.  

Maybe that was because it was a storm He felt His friends could handle even though they didn’t agree.  

Maybe it was because the storm was something His friends needed to go through in order to positively impact others who would hear the story days, weeks, months, years, and even centuries later.

Whatever the reason, the story says Jesus casually stepped onto the top deck and told the storm to stop, and it did.


Be sure to read next week’s post for the encouraging conclusion of Pat’s story. You won’t be sorry!

About the Author:

Huntington Beach native, Pat Doney, is married to his best friend, Sheleena. They have two amazing children—Barlow and Hudson—and love living in North Texas.

Before moving to Texas in 2013, he worked as a reporter/anchor in Virginia, South Carolina, Arkansas, and Kentucky. Pat is the NBC Dallas weekend sports anchor and reporter and serves as the host of NBC 5’s Big Game Friday high school football show, while consistently covering the Dallas Cowboys, Texas Rangers, Dallas Stars and Dallas Mavericks.

During his twelve years as a sports reporter, Pat has won three Edward R. Murrow awards and is a three-time Emmy award winner, including for his coverage of the Sochi Olympics. 

He’s a Jesus follower with a passion for storytelling. 

E-mail Pat | Follow Pat on Twitter | Like Pat on Facebook | Find Pat on Instagram

A note from Deena: About a month after Hudson’s diagnosis, Hillary Scott’s song, “Thy Will Be Done,” released. Every time I listen to it, I hear Barlow’s sweet little voice singing the powerful, yet heart-wrenching, words. Whatever storm you’re going through, may you have the strength to say, “Thy Will Be Done.”

Join the conversation. Have you ever received an unexpected diagnosis? Did it feel like more than you could handle? Where did you draw strength from to get through the storm? Do you have any encouraging words to offer someone who may be hurting?

As a Jesus girl for more than thirty years, Deena Adams understands how important hope is to daily life, which fuels her passion to inspire others through hope-filled fiction based on true to life stories. She is represented by Tamela Hancock Murray of the Steve Laube Agency and is a multi-award-winning writer, an active ACFW member, and ACFW Virginia president. Connect with Deena through her website, Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.