Michelle Massie is a family coach with LSSND's Family Coaching program. Each month on the Coach Michelle blog, Michelle shares insights and reflections on her experiences as a mom, wife and family coach.
Merry Christmas Friends.
This month, I felt called to share with you a Christmas miracle story that I got to be a part of. It goes like this:
For those of you that don’t know, I am is also a Registered Nurse by trade. And, sometimes in stories (and, to be honest, in therapy too), we need to go back to move forward. So, come back with me for a few moments.
Eight years ago, I was working as a registered nurse at a local hospital in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan. (For the record, I’ve only been a North Dakotan for 6ish years). That fall, the hospital had asked me if I was interested in becoming a SANE nurse(sexual assault nurse examiner), which required an extensive week of training in Wisconsin.
I was intrigued and felt called, so I signed up — knowing I could learn a new skill, and be there for victims in their worst of times.
As I was planning to go, the government went on a shut-down (do any of you remember this?). The other co-workers that were signed up to go with me canceled, and I remember specifically one evening discussing with my husband all the issues coming up with the training and if I would even be going, as my phone rang.
It was my dear cousin on the other line. She lives in Alaska, and they were due to have their second baby, so I was anxiously awaiting “the new baby news” on the other end of the phone.
Until she quietly told me that she needed to ask me a question, and I should sit down and take a deep breath. I sat, and then she stated, “I was wondering if you wanted to adopt a baby girl that’s due next winter.”
You see, this cousin, she knows me. She knew how badly I wanted a big family and how grief-filled I was when I only had three children. She knows how much I truly love kids. She then went on to tell me the story: The birth mom was her friend and made a tough decision to give up her unborn baby girl that was due on Valentine’s Day.
Honestly, friends, my first reaction was a heart-sinking “Oh boy, I don’t know. I don’t know."
Days after, I brought it up to my family. And we all didn’t know. We talked and prayed about it. Then, I met the birth mom over the phone. She was so strong and sweet. I was honest with her and told her I didn’t have a clear answer and asked her for some more time to decide. She agreed.
But, truthfully, as excited as we were at the possibility, I couldn’t get the “I don’t know” feeling out of my mind as my initial thought about adding a precious baby to our family.
A few days later, the government found money, my boss agreed to send me alone to SANE training, and before you know it, I was on the way out the door to another state for a week-long in-service.
I remember driving there and calling my husband and asking him, "What if we are supposed to be parents? I don’t want to work on-call all night long as a SANE nurse with a newborn?"
And, as I think about it today, I can still hear his words. “Michelle, the stars all aligned for you to go. It’s meant."
So, I believed him and kept driving.
The next day I arrived early at the tech college where the training was taking place.
As class started and we were introducing ourselves, I saw a woman walk in. You know that feeling that you get when you look at someone and know they have a beautiful heart? Well, that was the feeling I got from the stranger walking in. As she sat down and caught me looking at her, she smiled.
I was right.
I ended up sitting at the same table with her at lunch. Her name was Susan. And as the training that day went on, my mind went back and forth from brand-new babies to medical terms for charting abuse cases.
Later that night, I fell asleep asking, praying, pleading to God (on my hands and knees right in front of my motel bed) for anything that could tell me what was meant for my future and the future of this sweet, unborn baby girl.
The next day at lunch, I sat with Susan again. That day, we talked about our families. When it was my turn to talk about my favorite people, the unborn baby adoption story came flooding out with tears and tiredness.
Susan then shared her story of meeting her husband and being married for a number of years. When asked how many kids she had, she gently said “None," with a sad look on her face. She vulnerably said they suffered from infertility issues.
Then it hit me.
I left class that night and called my husband telling him, shaking/scared that God was good and he showed me the sign at the lunch table.
Then I called the birth mom. I cried and told her the news of Susan and God using me and my cousin Jennie as messengers. And then I fell asleep, at peace.
The next day, I asked Susan to lunch. As we ate, I began by telling her about the unborn baby, cousin Jennie, the government shutdown, the coworkers not coming, the training that I didn’t know would happen until it did, the “I don’t know” anxiety, the pleading to God on my hands and knees in the motel room, and then finding her: Susan, the beautiful heart and also the sad-faced longing for a baby, friend.
I asked her if she wanted to be the baby girl’s mom, and I can still see her rosy full-of-life tears streaming down her face and hear her joy-filled screams now: “Yes, yes, yes!"
The rest of the SANE training passed in a blur. Susan shared that she and the birth mom talked every night after the training, and she was going to be able to get an ultrasound picture the following week. I also got to listen to the beginnings of the adoption process, and give pointers on what kind of crib she should purchase.
Leaving and saying goodbye to Susan was hard. She truly became a friend that turned into family in a one-week training.
A few months later, baby Briella was born with both her mom’s welcoming her to this life.
A year later, Briella’s biological sister Evelyn joined the world. Susan and her husband, Will, adopted her also.
And, last month, along with the help from Lutheran Social Services, Susan and Will adopted four more sweethearts — the rest of Briella’s and Evelyn’s sisters.
Friends, today looking back at this Christmas miracle, I know now that God was not teaching me about SANE training. He taught me the biggest lesson of all: that he answers prayers and love multiplies.
Michelle Massie is a family coaching specialist for Lutheran Social Services in Dickinson, ND. She works with families on raising children — birth through adulthood — as they navigate through rough waters.
Michelle ensures families have the right materials at the right time to construct, maintain or repair well-being.
Call 701-223-1510 or fill out the form at lssnd.org/help to get connected with this program.