Michele is an extraordinary woman who desired to adopt a child and change their world (and hers) forever. She adopted Marcus, a precious child who she basically rescued out of a world of despair and darkness when he was three years old. His biological mother was a drug addict/prostitute and his first three years were basically completely terrifying for him.
God brought Michele into his life and she became an incredibly loving and dedicated mother. She is single - never married - no other children but Marcus. She always longed to get married but "Mr. Right" had not come along yet and she also longed to be a Mom so much, and as time was going on, she was not getting younger. So...since there are many children out there who desperately need Moms, she decided to become one! And we couldn't have been happier for her.
Michele gave Marcus herself, an extended family and a church family who love him dearly. Due to his very difficult background and abuses he suffered in the first three years of his life, he has post traumatic stress syndrome. On top of that he has ADHD. I know many people think their kid has ADHD and really they are just very active. Too many kids today are just needlessly medicated. But Marcus is not one of them. He is a child who truly does have ADHD. This with the post traumatic stress can add up to some very difficult days for Michele and many meetings with doctors, teachers and principals. Although he's got a tender heart of gold, there are times he just gets out of control, although those times are getting further and further apart. In just the time he has been with Michele, he has come so far it is unbelievable, and most important, he has accepted Jesus as his Savior.
I'll never forget the Sunday at Clearwater Beach when we were there for one of our church beach days, baptizing people and he came running up to me at the edge of the water, leaped up into my arms and said:
"Guess what Pastor Deanna?"
[huge grin here] "I got God in my heart!"
"What?!!! You do? How did this happen?"
"It happened this morning in church when I asked Jesus into my heart!"
[whopping kiss and hug here - rubbing the top of his head like I love to do when little boys have freshly cut short hair... ]
"Marcus, I am so proud of you! This is the greatest thing ever!"
So awesome. Incredibly awesome. Now THIS is why I'm a pastor. Seriously, it makes up for all those times somebody in the church does something really screwy that you could just wring their neck for. :-) Having the joy of watching people like Marcus grow make some of the more difficult days all worthwhile.
(I'm sure Michele is thinking, "difficult days? You wanna talk about difficult days, PD...???" )
By the way, you might want to check out Michele's daily blog about her journey of adoptive single parenting - it's called, "An Adoptive Family's Life".
Marcus seeks Larry and I out every single Sunday and Wednesday wherever the two of us are at in the building to give us a hug. I have to be careful because sometimes I don't know he's coming and he takes a flying leap right into my arms or slams right into my legs. In his excitement he can pretty much knock me off my feet if I'm not watchful. He means no harm, he's just so excited and he loves his pastors. It's always a joy for me to give him a big squeezy hug as I call it, and run my hand over the top of his head back and forth on his cute little buzzed head. It reminds me of when Jordan had a buzz cut when he was Marcus's age and I used to call him "peachy" because his head felt like a peach. Incidentally, I still call him that sometimes...
I had the privilege of doing Marcus' dedication on the weekend the adoption papers were officially signed by the judge. What a great day!
Here is one of my very favorite photos ...of Marcus giving me a hug after church. Neither of us knew this was being taken. I was at the doors greeting after church and he approached me as he usually does. This particular photo is on my fridge so I see it every day because I enjoy it so much.
Every time I look at Marcus I see destiny written all over him. God has something HUGE for this child. And for his mother. I can see in about 15 years, scores of people are going to come to Michele for counsel and say, "how did you do it?" People who are in the situation she was in are going to need her wisdom and guidance to navigate their storms. And she'll be able to help them. Right now she has lots of days where she doubts herself but quite truthfully she's an extraordinary Mom and one day she'll look back and be able to see in herself what we see in her now that has somehow been hidden from her view.
When I have a rotten day at the office once in a while or I'm a little depressed over anything, the Danielson's are two people I can think about who bring a smile to my face and help me remember this thing called ministry is totally worthwhile.