5 YEARS

I cannot believe it has been 5 years since my life was saved. 

5 years since God worked a mighty miracle and chose to keep me on this side of heaven. 

If I’m honest, I NEVER would have been brave enough to choose this journey for myself. NEVER. However, I am SO thankful that God chose it for me. 

I often times feel as if there is a misconception that “once you have a transplant, you are healed for life” OHH, how I wish that was the case. Does receiving a transplant give you back your life? Yes. Does it allow you to live a new normal and have many more memories? Yes. Is it a life-long health battle with anti-rejection medications, managing my blood disease, lab visits, many doctor visits, always being cautious of germs, not being around those who are sick, being cautious of what you are eating and touching? Yes. 

Am I grateful? ABSOLUTELY! Is it still a hard life? MOST DEFINITELY!

There has been a lot of struggle over the past 5 years. 

6 major surgeries and a lot of ups and downs regarding my health.

But in the midst of the struggle, there has been more beauty in my life than I ever could have imagined myself. 

God has given us organ donation as a platform to share of His goodness. To share with a watching world that Jesus is always enough. Jesus is better than it all. 

Over the past five years, I have gotten to see my two nieces be born, spend so much time with my nieces and nephews which is one of the greatest roles in my life right now—being their Aunt LiLi. I have had travel experiences, 5 more wedding anniversaries, I have celebrated 5 more birthdays and entered into my 30’s this past year. Reid and I self published our book! I have built an incredible relationship with my donor family, our Godparents. We have spent many fun weekends at their beach cabin becoming closer to them and learning more and more about their girls. I rode on the Donate Life Float in the Rose Parade. Reid and I bought our first home. And (hopefully) soon I will get to become a Mommy through adoption!!! And most recently, I have watched my husband be so moved by the transplant journey the Lord chose for me that he wanted to pass that gift on through living donation. What a gift!!!  

Reid and I have been able to live out what has become one of our favorite bible verses over the past 5 years. “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves receive from God. For just as we share abundantly in the sufferings of Christ, so also our comfort abounds through Christ.” 2 Corinthians 1:3-5.

The opportunity to volunteer and visit patients at the hospital on the transplant floor has been a huge blessing in our lives. It reminds us that the suffering we have endured is never wasted. We are now able to use the comfort that we received from God and others and return it to those who are now walking through their own suffering. 

The past 5 years have given Reid and I a new perspective on life. One that I am beyond grateful that we learned at such a young age. We wake up with a zest for life. We praise God each morning for waking us up and giving us his breath in our lungs. We know that not everyday is promised to us. 

We have learned to let the little stuff brush off our shoulders. We have learned to focus on what is truly important in life: faith, family, friends, and intentional time. 

I love this quote from Tim Keller.

I never would have asked to be a transplant recipient but if I could have seen the blessings that would come from it and the opportunities that God has given us to Glorify His name and spread the good news of the gospel—I would have asked for this journey. 

Through our struggles, we always come out of it more secure in God’s steadfast love and have a greater affection for and trust in Him. –Lauren Chandler

Friends, if you are suffering, keep crying out to God, Keep waiting. HE WILL COME! 

As I look back the one word that keeps coming to my mind is PRAISE!

Lauren Chandler in her book, Steadfast Love put it this way: “Praise lets us tell on God—to recount all the ways He has been faithful.”

Thank you ALL for loving us so well—especially since February 2014. You have been our prayer warriors, our strength, a source of encouragement, and have pointed us back to the cross in each trial.

We consider you among our greatest blessings!

And to the greatest hero I never knew, my organ donor, Courtney Ray Sterling who saved my life—Thank You for the most selfless gift. I strive to honor you daily.

2.6.14-2.6.19💙💚

All of my love!!

XO, Lisa

12.11.18

12.11.18 another life changing day for Team Barker!

The day that Reid donated a kidney to his friend, Jon.

This journey was incredible. To be on the donation side was special in so many ways.

On December 10th, we had pre-op appointments. We were praying Reid and Jon were both healthy (no fever or sickness with cold/flu season), and that all labs came back good to proceed with surgery!

All went well and we began to prepare for surgery the next morning.

Jon’s extended family drove in Monday night and we were able to meet them. Jon and Reid took one last picture before they parted ways and tried to get a restful night sleep before the big day!

We had such a peace the morning of surgery. Reid’s parents drove in late Monday night and we met them Tuesday morning for a time of prayer before heading to the hospital.

Our Godmother, Dawn (my donor mom) met us at the hospital and it was amazing to have her with us. It was very full circle. Her daughter saved my life and because of that decision and Reid having (almost) 5 extra years of life with me, it encouraged his decision to donate life to Jon. It was incredibly special and a comfort to have her with me in the waiting room that day.

Reid and I re-created our Team Barker picture from 2014. He was now the patient and I was the care-taker. I love my teammate for life! No one else I would rather be on this journey with.

The advocate came out to make sure Reid was still willing to donate his kidney and he said, “Absolutely!” He was taken back to his pre-op room and we spent an hour there listening to praise and worship and spending time together before they took him back.

Jessica, Jon’s wife, came to see Reid. She hugged him as tears streamed down her face. Reid’s parents, Dawn, and myself all began to tear up as well. Reid told her, “I do not need you to thank me. I am just so thankful y’all can live a life machine free and enjoy life as a family.” It was the most amazing moment that I will never forget.

We all held hands surrounding Reid’s hospital bed and prayed over Reid, Jon, the surgeons, doctors, nurses, and begged God for 20+ years of good health for Jon with his new kidney.

Reid and I spent a few minutes by ourselves. I told him how in-love I am with him and how extremely proud I was of him. I was able to walk alongside his hospital bed up until a certain point. Gave him a kiss and the surgery would soon begin.

Reid is only the 2nd male living kidney donor at the VA Houston and the first person to donate who was not related to their donor. That was special for Reid as he wants to spread the word that you do not have to be family/related to be able to donate life.

Our family and Jon’s family gathered in the waiting room.

Lots of praying and walks down the hospital hall were taken as we waited.

Reid’s surgery lasted 3 ½ hours. His donation coordinator came out and told us the surgery was a success and that Reid had a very large, healthy kidney. Reid had asked her to take pictures of his kidney and she did. It was a gift to be able to see it.

His kidney had been transferred to Jon’s OR which was next door to Reid’s OR and Jon’s part of this surgery was beginning. We could expect another 3 hours until Jon was out of surgery.

About an hour later I was able to see my sweet husband—the sweetest site.

He was doing well- he was in discomfort but his first question was, “How’s Jon?”

Jon’s surgery was over 7 hours total. His surgeons came out and informed his wife that it was a success. Jon was already producing urine and was in recovery. His surgeon said, “Congratulations—it has been a good day!”

What a PRAISE!!!! To see Jon’s family so excited for this news was surreal for me.

I hugged Jon’s wife after the surgeon left and it was PURE JOY! The sacrifice of my husband saving her husbands life! It’s truly hard to put into words. A very special moment that I will treasure forever.

5 hours later, Reid was taken to a private room. Jessica came to check on Reid!

All of the months of praying and preparation for this day and it was now complete.

Reid asked me to pray for us as we were settling down for bed that night. I sat on the side of his hospital bed and tears streamed down my face as we praised God for answering every single prayer request and seeing this donation to a successful completion. What a mighty God we serve!

Some of Jon’s first words were, “How’s Reid?” I loved how concerned they both were about each other. Jon was in the ICU for 2 days and then joined Reid on his floor.

They were able to see each other on day three for the first time (the day Reid was being discharged).

Reid is minus one kidney and Jon is plus one!

Reid was discharged on Thursday, just two days after his surgery and we headed back to the hotel in Houston.

Jon was miraculously discharged the next day and was back at the same hotel, on the same floor as us on Friday. We had dinner together in their hotel room that night before Reid and I drove home Saturday.

The day of Jon’s surgery- his creatinine level was 22 (before dialysis) and he had 3% kidney function. His creatinine level is now down under 1.0. His doctors are calling his new kidney the “Super Kidney” Praise GOD!!!

No more dialysis machine! YAY!!! 🎉

This picture was taken last Friday 1.4.19 at Reid’s post op visit in Houston.

Jon is feeling SO well and made it home to his kids yesterday, on his 45th birthday! Of course, as I know and can relate to, he still has a long journey ahead.

Transplants do not fix everything. You still take anti-rejection medications for the rest of your life, you are immunosuppressed, have to be so cautious of germs/infections, etc., lab work, doctor visits. But the return is LIFE!!!

Seeing Jon reunited with his family last night was the ultimate gift. It made this donation more real. We pray that Jon has more energy, more ability to spend time with his kids and make so many beautiful memories. We pray for health for years and years to come!

Friends…organ donation is beautiful. It parallels the gospel in every single way possible. We are so thankful to now have been on both sides of this gift.

It is a sacrifice, it is love, it is what Jesus calls us to do—to love our neighbors as ourselves.

There has been so much JOY in walking in obedience and what the Lord had for us.

I will leave you with the Dallas Morning News article that came out on Christmas Day—a beautiful story of our journey and a neat God wink. When the photographer came out to our house to take our picture for the article, we quickly put together that he was from Burundi (the country we are adopting from). What a GIFT! He shared so much insight on Burundi with us. He is still fluent in the language and wants to keep in contact with us. We look forward to having him involved in our kiddos lives.

He left our house and I just started crying. To think that Reid answered the call to be obedient to donating his kidney, which lead to the DMN article, and God blessed us with a priceless relationship of a young man from Burundi to guide us on this adoption journey. God is SO generous!!!

Dallas Morning News Article

See our social media sites for a video that I made of the journey as well! ❤️

I don’t think I ever would have been brave enough to choose this journey for myself. I am thankful God chose to give us organ donation as our way to spread His good news!

Thank you all for praying and walking alongside us.

Team Barker loves you and is so grateful for your support! 💙💚