Makinley Hope: God Writes the Story

Makinley Hope
“I believe that God totally, absolutely, intentionally gives us more
than we can handle. Because this is when we surrender to Him
and he takes over, proving Himself by doing the impossible.”

-from “Kisses from Katie


I was maybe 10 weeks pregnant with our sixth child when we packed our bags and locked the doors to our home in North Carolina.

I was debilitated with morning sickness and exhausted beyond words.

We were headed to Manhattan so that our 18 month old daughter could undergo a three-stage brain surgery.

We really had no idea when exactly we would return.

We hoped this surgery would allow doctors to identify and remove the area in her brain responsible for debilitating seizures that threatened her development.

We would need to stay in New York City for a minimum of one month.

Our four other children would need to be cared for throughout the hospitalization.

One of us would need to be with Gabby, in the hospital, at all times.

We needed to continue to pay the bills.

We needed to resolve out-of-network insurance coverage.

We needed to complete pre-op testing one week prior to admission, and it needed to be done in New York.


There were so many details that had not been worked out and yet it did not matter in that moment.

Our focus remained on only one thing: Getting our daughter the help she needed.


I have struggled over how to write this part of Makinley’s story.

I feared I wouldn’t do it justice, that I wouldn’t fully capture the extreme presence of God I experienced during this time.

So I prayed…

Lord, Please write this story for me. The story of how you were so near during the darkest hours, how You never left our sides.


Gabby following Surgery

Lord, tell them how you gave us hope when I wondered how we could possibly go on, and how You blessed us with another child even in our overwhelmed and doubt-filled state.

Tell them how You moved our church body to hand us a check, so my husband could purchase a much needed laptop, allowing him to work from the hospital.

Explain how You provided generous family, who took our four other kiddos in without a word of complaint and made them feel so loved.

Share about the friends you placed in our lives, who did everything in their power to help us.

Share about the actor who turned his New York City apartment over to us for a month, free of charge.

Lord, what about the out-of-network insurance coverage and how You worked all that out?

The doctors, Lord, how they knew exactly what needed to be done to help our child. That was You too, wasn’t it?


Gabby PICU

Oh, and my husband, Lord, only you could find so perfect a match for me…

Knowing he would find me food to combat the nausea, as I held our daughter, skull cracked open, wires cascading from her head.


Gabby Subdural Monitoring


You knew he would demand I get some rest, when my body began to shut down and I didn’t want to leave our daughter’s side.

You alone realized he would rescue me with a basin when morning sickness caught me by surprise in the PICU.

You understood he would run off shopping to buy maternity clothes by himself, when this worried mama could not bring herself to walk away.

Gabby 3-Stage Surgery


Only You could know, I needed a logical, stoic man, to be my rock, when emotions threatened to sweep me away.


God, You dealt with me so gently and compassionately during those most difficult days, knowing I had not fully surrendered to You.

Knowing I didn’t want to surrender the right side of my child’s brain and the left side of my child’s body.

It was more than that really though, Lord. Right?

Because You knew, before I was ever willing to admit it, that I didn’t fully trust You.

I didn’t trust that You knew best. I wanted it my way.

Oh Lord, You waited so patiently….

Waited until I came to that point of realization, seemingly all on my own.

When I realized…I couldn’t even trust myself.

I could not possibly trust myself to make so huge a decision as this.

I needed You. I was desperate for You.

Because who was I but a little imperfect human being?

And I couldn’t see the future and I certainly didn’t know what was best.

But You knew, Lord.


I finally recognized that You know all. That Your way truly is best.

And I cried my heart out…


Not my will, but Yours be done.


And I turned my little girl over to You…

And I begged You…to make the decision for us.


You did not let me down.

You did not fail in Your promises.

You never left my side.


You made the decision just as I asked. You could not have made it any clearer.

And You sent us friends, who traveled all the way from North Carolina, so we would not be alone when Your plan was revealed.

And the peace You promised, came.


Unbelievable peace that surpassed all understanding, wiping away fear, anxiety, and worry.

I rested in You, Lord. Fully. For the very first time.


Our daughter was wheeled into the operating room that warm day in July and I knew she would never be the same.

I knew she would never use her left hand again, that she would walk with a limp, that her vision would be cut in half, and somehow I had peace.

How did You do that, Lord?


And after surgery, when her fever spiked and her brilliant-blue eyes would not meet my own, You reminded me Lord, that this was Your plan.


Gabby Post-hemi


Lord, You carried me through so many sleepless nights, filled with beeping machines, frantic nurses, and STAT orders.

You carried me through shower-less days full of unexpected twists and turns.


Gabby PICU 3-Stage


You continually gave me peace about my unborn child, the one You protected from countless x-rays, chemicals, and extreme stress.

You sent a flurry of kicks just when my mind would begin to doubt. You gave me peace, that she was in Your ever-capable hands.


Lord, tell them how You carried me through the darkest of valleys…and brought me out on the other side.

I had only gratitude, Lord.

How could I ever repay you?

Love others as I have loved you, You responded.


Show me, Lord. How?

And then, You allowed my sweet Gabrielle to walk out of that hospital…

almost two months later…

on her own two feet.


You brought our precious family back together, the one You had protected all along, and safely returned us to North Carolina.


Kids First Day SMILE


Lord, days later, You gathered us around a brilliantly lit screen, in a tiny dark room, and revealed Your perfect work to us.

A baby girl, knit together, as only You know how.

You filled us with such joy and hope that day, through Your amazing creation.

You blessed us with the most precious gift.

You are faithful, we shouted from deep within our hearts.

You are worthy of our praise, Oh Lord.


Christmas 2008


We eagerly awaited our baby girl’s arrival…hanging stockings from the mantel and stringing the tree with lights.

Our hearts threatening to explode with thankfulness…for all that You had done.

Other packages seemed trivial that year, knowing the best gift would certainly be opened last.


We left for the hospital, just four days after Christmas, with so much excitement for all the day promised to be.

And when she was placed into our arms…we immediately fell in love.

Those widely-set brown eyes…


Makinley Hope

The slight furrow in her brow, painted ever-so-delicately…


Baby Makinley

Mama and Baby Kin

always suggesting wisdom beyond her years.

Dad Making Intros

Maddie and Baby Kin

Gavin and Baby Kin

Keagan and Baby Kin

Luke and Baby Kin

Gabrielle and Makinley

Mimi and Baby Kin

Pop and Baby Kin

Uncle Russ and Baby Makinley

Aunt Nancy and Makinley

The Girls

Baby Kin Kin


Welcome, Makinley Hope O’Melia, you are such a blessing to us!!




  1. Rachel Embler says:

    Amazing God! How great YOU are!!! Thank you for sharing, Kelly!

  2. I love reading about your babies, Kell. This one moved me to tears. Oh, to have that trust and faith in all things, right? Thank you, Jesus for giving us grace when we need it most and building our trust in the midst of the grace!

  3. I am blown away with this story of your life……….amazing.


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