Rachel Greiman, Writer/Photographer
This series was inspired by the book Anything written by Jennie Allen. Please follow me as I struggle with life’s difficult questions and walk down the path to find my “anything”!
MichaelAnn has achieved that perfect combination of sweet and sassy that most of us spend our whole life trying to acquire. She’s got a smile that can instantly make you feel better, but she also can slide you a sarcastic one-liner within seconds of flashing you that same smile. She has the kind of personality that people are drawn to; it’s one that attracts joyful conversation and dispels anxiety. I find her presence in a room to be calming and reassuring.
I chose MichaelAnn for this interview because of the unbelievably courageous decisions she’s made in her life. Though she isn’t someone to broadcast good deeds or accomplishments, I’ve gotten to know her over the past year and the more I learn, the more I’m amazed. Her peaceful disposition that I described has made her home a safe haven for young people over the past two decades. More than once, her door has been open to family members who need a place to get back on their feet.
Her honesty is humbling and her desire to serve the Lord is motivating. Three years ago, MichaelAnn and her husband were enjoying their lives. They had a 10-year-old son and had been together 11 years. They were past the days of diapers, toddlers and babysitters. And then Denver Human Services called. MichaelAnn’s nephew, Andrew, needed a place to go. They discussed it and within days, Andrew was in their home.
Rachel Greiman: Did you ever pray a prayer like “anything”?
MichaelAnn Pineda: When I first got saved, I felt the urgency of the Lord. My biggest prayer was that I would be obedient. I asked for Him to use me. I prayed for the strength to be obedient to that calling.
RG: When you asked for that, did you expect that the answer would be Andrew?
MP: No. They say, “Be careful what you ask for, because you might just get it.” It was like asking for a piece of candy and getting a huge candy bar. And a cake. It’s so much more than I could imagine. We pray from a human perspective. But He answers those prayers with a heavenly one and it’s always more than you can even ask for.
RG: Tell me the story of how Andrew came to live with you.
MP: My nephew was born October 3, 2007. We were at the hospital when he was born. My husband told me that he had a revelation from God. He said that this boy was going to be a really important part of our family and bring us all closer. I just wrote it off. I just thought it was wishful thinking that we would become closer.
RG: So you were both believers?
MP: No, my husband wasn’t saved then. I had been praying for him forever, for years. But one day, in late 2010, the Lord gave me complete peace that he would be saved. And soon after that, he came to the Lord. He completely changed and was a brand new person.
RG: Was he right about his revelation from the Lord?
MP: He was. Shortly after my husband was saved, we got a call from a social worker, asking us if we could take our nephew for a couple weeks. We talked about it and decided we could handle that for a short time. But a couple weeks became a couple months, which turned into a year. And at the end of that year, we were given full custody of him.
RG: That wasn’t what you were expecting at all though, right?
MP: No, no. That decision to accept those rights was tough. That whole year was actually really hard on our family, our marriage, me personally, and my relationship with my sister. It felt like everything was strained. It was hard on my son. It was hard, really hard.
RG: If that year was so hard, why did you say yes?
MP: When they asked us if we would take him permanently, we talked and prayed about it—I prayed and I prayed. One day I opened up the Bible and prayed, “God, what do I do?!” And the verse that my eyes went to was: “Show your true faith. Take care of the widow and the orphan.” And I closed my Bible and said, “Ok, that’s what we’ll do.” I didn’t tell my husband. I kept it to myself and I had peace about it. And he came to me that same week and said that he was praying: “Lord, what do I do? I don’t know how to love an adopted child.” And the Lord told him, “I adopted you and look how much I love you.” He felt engulfed by God’s love. And since then, he’s been our son.
RG: What a powerful moment! I have goosebumps! What was most difficult about that?
MP: I think the point where it got most overwhelming was when we had to deal with court appointments, social workers, lawyers. There was always someone coming to check on him, on us. There were so many questions and it was exhausting. And we didn’t think it was going to end. It was like a puzzle. You see all of these situations, all by themselves, and they don’t make sense. But as they come together, you start seeing that it’s actually a really beautiful picture. And it was like it was meant to be.
RG: That’s incredible. Do you ever struggle with the question, “Am I doing enough?”
MP: Oh yeah, all the time. I think any parent does. But I do especially when it comes to Andrew. He is not my child. He has another mom and another dad. That’s hard for him and it has an effect on him. He asks a lot of questions. He is trying to figure out if his situation is normal. He is still trying to make sense of it. And of course I want to protect him. I want to make him feel like he’s special.
RG: Are you ever afraid?
MP: I’m afraid that he will grow up resenting the whole situation. It’s really hard to explain it to him and for him to understand. Even sometimes when you have the answers, it’s still difficult to understand. So yes, I’m afraid and I do struggle with it, but I know ultimately that the Lord is in control. One of my favorite verses is: “Man may have his plans but the Lord determines your steps.” My hope for him is that one day, he gets to put all his puzzle pieces together and see the whole beautiful picture and praises the Lord for it.
RG: What does Andrew add to your family that wasn’t there before?
MP: He is more of a blessing to us than we are to him. He has this amazing spirit of encouragement. No matter what, every single day, he says something encouraging to us. Even if he gets in trouble, he says, “You’re a good mom.” He says “I love you” every single day, at least 10 times a day. Down to the littlest detail, sometimes it doesn’t even make sense. Yesterday, he told me, “You have good skin Mommy!” It doesn’t matter…anything he can find to compliment you on, he’ll do it.
RG: Does he get that from you?
MP: No, it’s just his spiritual gift. It’s his God-given gift. He brought us closer. Our marriage was really, really rocky at the end of that first year. But we both felt the Lord say that this is what He put before us. It brought us together spiritually.
RG: What do you find rest in?
MP: The Lord puts things in your life for a reason. But He gives you a choice. It feels like there is a goal for your character and through the hard things, you gain those characteristics and maturity in your walk.
The last thing that MichaelAnn said to me painted the perfect picture of her attitude in life: “If you seek Him with your heart, He will make known to you whatever you want to know. When you think you don’t have the strength, you can lean on Him to give you what you need. And when you feel like you’re going to fall apart, He can give you the peace. Ultimately, we aren’t meant to do anything on our own, we are supposed to do it with Him. And he wants to be a part of our lives. I think God provides these experiences so we can call out to him, so he can be a part of our life.”