Tuesday, February 3, 2015

Here at The Borrowed Book blog, we feature authors and look at writing-related subjects. This year, however, we'd like to shift the overall theme to focus on overcoming obstacles.

God allows any number of troubles to touch us, for a variety of good purposes. Today, Liz Tolsma has graciously agreed to share with us a moving account of one such challenge she and her family have dealt with.

In November 2007, my husband and I adopted a five-year-old girl from an orphanage in the Philippines. We had two other children at the time, an 11-year-old son and a 7-year old daughter. We had adopted them as infants.

We knew that bringing an older child into our home would be a challenge. Though we thought we knew what we were getting ourselves into, the experience proved to be much more difficult than either of us could imagine. We knew that Jonalyn had cerebral palsy and that her speech was delayed. The cerebral palsy was something we felt confident we could handle. After all, the report stated that she could climb a few stairs even. We attributed her delays to orphanage living. Our son spent the first five months of his life in an orphanage and couldn’t even hold his head on his own when we first got him. How much more, than, a child who had spent five years in an institution.

I have a background in special education. In those first few hours with Jonalyn, I observed her closely. She was shy with us, but she seemed to have a sense of humor and interacted with her caregivers. She loved the bubbles we brought, but so does every five year old.

In the van on the way back to our hotel, the social worker who came with us for part of the ride gave Jonalyn a piece of paper. Our new daughter took that paper and was fascinated by crumpling it. Later, when we took her to play with the blocks in the playroom, she had no concept of stacking them. My stomach fell. There was something much more seriously wrong with her than orphanage delays.

Two months after we arrived home, our doctor confirmed that Jonalyn had microcephaly (literally small brain), leaving her with moderate to severe cognitive delays. We were told she would likely never live on her own. She also began having seizures during her sleep. Though we didn’t see the seizures, she was always sick afterwards. Caring for her was draining. She didn’t know how to come to us when she was hurt, was afraid of my husband, and couldn’t make decisions for herself.

But God is good and faithful. He upheld us during those very difficult days. He never left us and never forsook us. Slowly, things began to improve. We went to Disney World and took her on all of the rides she was tall enough for. She always went with my husband and during that time, learned that she could trust him, that he would keep her safe and love her. She is now a daddy’s girl through and through. Her seizures were identified and are now well controlled with medication. She has learned to love.

It was a time in my life when I had to learn to depend on God for everything. On my own, I couldn’t care for my daughter. I didn’t know how to help her. We felt rejected and alone. The Lord kept us together and kept us going through each new day. It was only in his strength that we managed to survive – no, we learned to thrive. He has given us a new normal and a daughter that we love more than we ever imagined we could.

Thank you, Liz, for sharing your story!

New York Times best-selling author Liz Tolsma is the author of Remember the LiliesDaisies are Forever, Snow on the Tulips, and a contributing author of A Log Cabin Christmas. When not busy putting words to paper, Liz enjoys reading, walking, working in her large perennial garden, kayaking, and camping. She lives in Wisconsin with her husband and children, all adopted internationally.

To keep up with Liz, visit liztolsma.com, become a fan on Facebook, or follow her on Twitter.

Purchase her latest release, Rememeber the Lilies, on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, or ChristianBook.com.


  1. Thank you sharing your story, Liz! What a beautiful testimony to God's grace and faithfulness when we go through difficult times.

  2. Thank you for sharing your story Liz. God is so good, all the time.

    I just tearfully finished Remember the Lilies last night. I have read all three of your books and loved each one of them. Your characters are so well developed that I went to bed last night thinking about Rand and Irene knowing they were finally free. I know they are fictional but you created a story that was so very real for me. I will be posting reviews on my blog, Amazon and Goodreads this weekend.

    Smiles & Blessings,
    Cindy W.

    countrybear52 AT yahoo DOT com


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