Profiles in Courage and Faith: The Donahues

DSCN8328Sometimes I am so inspired by a friend that I want to share a bit of her/his story, emily4and today I want to tell you about the life, courage, and faith of Emily DSCN8335…and her entire family, because theirs has been a long, hard journey of 2012experiencing the pain of loving deeply over many years. DSCN8338The story began 37 years ago, when Mike and Maggie married…two promising young artists studying together at Kendall College here in GR. 1983 Donahue FamilyBy 1983, they had two adorable children and the hope of a bright future…almost. Actually, just 6 months after their marriage, Mike showed the first signs of armsdeveloping M.S., and at only 2 months of age, Baby Emily had a stroke, leaving her right arm permanently somewhat disabled. DSCN8341We first met the Donahues 20 years ago when we moved to Grand Rapids. 19172_1232135918198_160480_nAs the kids grew up, their son David became a great friend to our son Michael, and they spent many, many happy times creating crazy videos together! 388938_342057122480947_132532590_nEmily was a beautiful, happy child, and when she woke up on her fourteenth birthday throwing up blood, the entire family was devastated. 560425_431066480246677_1796619143_nMultiple medical issues arose, and by 16, she had to have a kidney transplant in hopes of saving her life. In the years following, there have been countless medical emergencies and complications. Meanwhile, the years rolled by…227974_1045345328550_2509913_nHer older brother married, & her father became permanently wheel-chair bound. 386703_334818649871461_120151760_nI’m sure we can all identify with the hopes and dreams each of us has had for a spouse, a family, and a normal, healthy life. Jesus on Cross copyBut, those dreams have not come true for precious Emily and her family. Theirs has been the way of suffering and the cross. _9217680In 2009, her Aunt Anna, a highly gifted artist, honored Emily Emilyby using her as a model in the creation of “Rain,” Sculpture4a beautiful sculpture that sold for $20,000 as a result of ArtPrize  IMG_1444and now stands at the entrance to Mary Free Bed Rehabilitation Hospital, GR, 001_1as a permanent, bronze tribute to Anna’s artistry and her niece’s bravery. Altar  copy I have prayed for Emily off and on over many years, DSCN8308but this past month she’s been in the hospital with kidney failure: unconscious,DSCN8342and her life hanging by a thread. Yesterday I decided to go to the hospital to visit. DSCN8333Maggie was there, and we spent a long time talking and praying for Emily. DSCN8331It’s just hard to even try to imagine the burdens Maggie has carried for the past 30+ years, anguishing over and caring for her beloved daughter and husband. DSCN8306When I asked her how she sustains herself, she said the verse that keeps coming to her is John 15:5, where Jesus says, “I am the vine, you are the branches: He that abides in me, and I in him, the same brings for much fruit: for without me you can do nothing.” Amen.DSCN8348Where would we be without Jesus, who is our hope? DSCN8345Just after we finished praying, Medicaid called, telling Maggie they would help with Emily’s care, which is a huge relief, because Emily’s been in the critical care unit…and may be there for a long time if she makes it. DSCN8332  Also, Em’s awesome nurse said Emily was starting to improve, so the nurse was going to be able to remove some of the equipment…a great sign. Thank you, God!feetcropped2You know, it’s really hard to understand what God’s purposes are in our lives.

DSCN8347We can only see just a tiny part of what God’s doing, and perhaps we’ll never understand here on earth. A few years ago when Maggie was grieving over Emily’s health, she wrote this to me: “Life is blessedly short…but then I’m looking in the wrong direction, huh?  With all that is in me I will press hard into our Gracious God, and find my life and joy in Him!!!  And look for His dreams!  I’m now on one journey I wish He would end, but then, where is faith that He is making more room for Himself in our lives?  And making Himself appear ever more beautiful in our understanding??  I covet fleeting happiness, when I should be searching for joy in Him everyday!!!  Bless the trials!!”  I stand in awe. DSCN8337  If Emily comes to mind anytime, would you please pray for her and her family? DSCN8329    “For now we see through a glass, darkly, but then face to face: now I know in     part, but then shall I know even as also I am known” (1 Corinthians 13:12).

(*All pictures of Emily’s family belong to the Donahues and are used by their permission. All pictures of Anna Donahue’s sculpture are also used by her permission. If you want to hear more of Anna’s story, its here:   All other pictures I took yesterday on my visit to St. Mary’s Hospital.)

7 responses to “Profiles in Courage and Faith: The Donahues

  1. Thank you for writing about Emily and her struggles. She is a blessing to everyone she meets and it’s great to get to know more about her.

  2. Awesome we at northwest have been praying for them..lovely tribute Kathy, them but most of all to Jesus the living Christ..blessings to you this day..

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