one million words

find your voice. tell your story.

When Jesus assembles your family…

My parents married when I was four. I don’t remember that day. I do remember their baptism shortly after. I sat on my aunts lap in the front row, watched them go under, emerge wet and happy. We’ve got a new life now, they announced. I wanted something new too. I began to pray, each night for a baby sister, a life baby doll I could raise as my own. No baby came, perhaps you had to get dunked to get something new but I was too little for that.

My parents prayed too, not for a baby, I am not certain. But for faith to take root in our hearts and be lived out. When opportunities arose to do good, they would say YES. One sunday we climbed in our little Trabant [the worst car ever made] and drove towards another YES.

“Where are we going, dad?”

“To a hospital.”


“We are going to visit a little boy. His name is Marcel. He never gets visitors and we’d like to stop by and say Hi. A friend at church told us about him.”

“How long will he be in the hospital for?”

“Not sure…he has been there his whole life.”

A boy who lives in a hospital? This YES felt like a knot in my stomach already. I stayed close to my parents as we passed through the main gate. A nurse walked us down a picture-less hall with locker style cabinets on one side. It smelled stuffy stale, like old disinfectant, not like a place you’ll linger. We entered a large room with several hospital cribs. Everything, everyone seemed to look alike. There was no color, no pictures, just varying shades of tired white. I scanned the room for babies. There was one in the far left corner. I was hoping this one needed a visitor, perhaps a new mommy.

But we were here for Marcel. Marcel means “Young Warrior” and this one was thrilled to see us. He looked pale and sad, I thought, but there was something else about him, a fierce determination, an indomitable spirit, a will to live. He engaged easily and had a sense of humor. He could not really talk but you could tell this visit was one of the most exciting things that ever happened to him.

Marcel was there because his family was unable to care for him. Marcel required ongoing medical care due to Cystic Fibrosis, an inherited life-threatening disorder that damages the lungs and digestive system.

We returned home and kept thinking about Marcel. We prayed for him. Out of nowhere, seemingly, words came to my parents, like James 1:27 “…pure an undefiled religion before God the Father is this, to care for orphans…in their misfortune”. [NET bible]

Does visiting orphans count as caring? Surely that’s better than doing nothing. We hadn’t planned to adopt. How would this even work for us?

Slowly our questions shifted from what about us to what about him? How would living in the hospital for the next decade work out for him? If our young warrior could face the sadness of his story alone perhaps we could be brave too and join him the next couple decades or so.  Because love is knowing you no longer suffer alone.

So we said YES to Marcel, packed up his medical equipment, a handful belongings and brought him Home. (to our one bedroom apartment) My prayer for something new was answered that day. Our father redefined the boundaries of family for me and allowed me a glimpse into his heart and enter a greater story.

“I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you.” [John 14:18. NET] He is for us and comes for us and will never let us go. He sees the lonely and the hurting, the weak and forgotten. And he longs to bring them home.

As for the young warrior, he turned 34 last year. He still fights his illness. And he is still brave and playful, funny and friendly, deeply loyal and is one of the most compassionate souls I know. He paved the way for five additional children, hand selected by Jesus, to be added to our family. A whole new life indeed.



11 Replies

  1. I.LOVE.this! What a beautiful picture of family. <3

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks, Suzie.

  2. Andrea

    This is beautiful Astrid.

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks Andrea.

  3. Astrid, wow sounds like a blessing all the way around! Thanks for sharing on #livefree!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Thanks for being a top encourager, you rock!

  4. Such a beautiful and uplifting post. I’m adopted, so any message of adoption holds a special place in my heart… as do adopting families. Visiting your blog today through #LiveFree Thursday. Thank you for your post!

    1. Astrid Melton

      Sweet. I love the adoption theme too- it’s beautiful picture of love.

  5. Claudia

    Precious story. Hearing you tell it from your small-child perspective reminds me that our children are always watching what we say and do. Thank you for that, Astrid.

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