I can not imagine my life without this incredible child. She is passionate, loving, service oriented, intelligent, creative... a joy to be around. She lives life loud.
In many ways we are very different. But in our deepest hearts we both value the same thing most highly - Jesus. It is impossible for me to express how powerful this is. It defines all of our interactions with each other and with the world. We have moments when we struggle to understand each other, moments of emotion when our passions get away from us. But when we bow our heads together to bring our challenges before Him, the sweetness that fills our love for each other is indescribable.
Of the three, The Princess is our middle child. But she is not our second child. Between Farmer Boy and The Princess we had another baby. Our second child lived life only in my womb, and was miscarried when I was 13 weeks pregnant.
Because God is just like this and gives me gifts I didn't even know were available, a few days ago I stumbled upon an email I had written almost ten years ago, on February 17, 2001. It is very long and detailed, but I felt I just had to share it here. I have edited it slightly for clarity, but left much of it as I wrote it. Finding it right before our daughter's birthday was especially meaningful.
Subject: God's healing hand
Date: February 17, 2001 1:46:35 AM CST
I am sending this to you because you are someone who is a part of my life... each of you is part in a very different way. To some of you this may echo your own experience, for others it may be something brand new. While it may seem at first that I am just writing about myself, and my experience, the author of this story is God, and His hand is in every detail. I share it because I am compelled to do so, because God's work is so awesome, and because I love Him and long to serve Him more than anything else in my life.
A few days ago, as I thought of the approaching anniversary of delivering our second child, I wondered how I would mark the day. I remembered last year, how I hadn't planned anything, but how God moved me to write a testimony of His work in my life... even getting me out of bed to do it! I thought about this past year, and the many challenges and changes and tremendous growth in faith I have experienced. I wondered how it would be possible to write about it all, for it is so personal, and so many "little" things have happened that have been momentous. I thought perhaps I wouldn't do anything at all, just remember.
But today, I have no doubt how to mark this day, again by recording the awesome work God has done in my life. And of course I can't write about it all, for there have been health challenges, and special areas of increased knowledge and understanding of God's word, and a deeply personal trial that has forced me to turn to God alone in my need. I have grown greatly in understanding of what forgiveness means, and what true submission looks like. God has so much work left to do with me yet!
I will, however, write about one of my greatest joys, falling only behind serving God and loving my husband. I will write about the blessing of being a mother.
Four years and twelve days ago I gave birth to a beautiful little boy. His birth was quite different from what we had planned. We had deeply desired a homebirth, had carefully studied, had found a wonderful midwife who taught us more each time we visited her than all the doctor's visits combined. Our baby, however, was breech, and Texas law prevents midwives from delivering breech babies at home. For weeks we tried every imaginable thing to turn him head-down, including a procedure in the hospital. It became clear that, for some reason, he needed to be in a upright position.
So we found an excellent physician, who agreed to allow us to birth our baby naturally, in the breech position. This is extremely unusual these days (although it is generally much better for the baby), and was a step of faith for this doctor. We were blessed by having a full labor, with all its attending benefits for baby and mother, but our son never managed to fully descend. Our physician performed a successful caesarian-section, and our beautiful, healthy boy was born. God provided, and blessed us.
On Christmas Eve, 1998, we learned that I was pregnant again. There was much rejoicing! This pregnancy was more challenging from the beginning, in no small part due to the fact that I now had a toddler to care for. Again we prepared for a homebirth. I entered the 14th week on a Monday, and at 11:00 that morning I started bleeding. Our midwife arranged for me to have an ultrasound at the office of the physician who had delivered our son, and this kind man was the one who had to tell us that our baby had no heartbeat, and, in fact, had died several weeks earlier. We were devastated. We headed home hoping for a natural miscarriage, and were met by my mother who had driven from her home two hours east to help us.
The next morning, I began to have regular, rhythmical contractions. It was remarkable... a mini-labor. The pain never became as intense as it did with my labor with our first, but it was real, and I was so thankful to have a conscious experience of delivering this child. At 11:10 on February 16, 1999 our tiny, tiny baby was born, only an inch or so long, too young yet to tell if a boy or a girl. How hard it was, but I am eternally grateful that I got to see and hold this little gift from God, even though his spirit had already joined our Lord.
Alas, though the baby was delivered, parts of the placenta would not deliver, and I began to hemorrhage. Eventually we knew we needed to go to the hospital, so my mother drove me to our physician's hospital 20 minutes away, while my husband followed with our son in our car. It was a good thing we went, as I continued to lose a lot of blood, and lost consciousness when we got to the hospital. Our physician met us there, and took the time to sit with me and talk about "why?". Bless him, for his answer was that we couldn't really know, and then he shared his faith. I appreciated that so much. It is a moment that stands clearly in my mind. Soon after, he performed an emergency d&c to remove the rest of the placenta. My physical recovery was relatively easy, although the blood loss made me weak.
I made a covered clay bowl to bury our baby in. The first step when throwing is to center the clay on the wheel. I struggled to properly center the clay that day. But instead of getting frustrated and starting over with fresh clay, I felt God speak softly to me to keep working. I realized that it was an honest offering... I am off-center, I can't make things perfect. And it's okay. The bowl turned out beautifully even though off-center, and I saw God's hand in that too. He takes the terribly off-centered lumpy piece of clay that I am, and makes me beautiful, when I submit to His pushes. I am still off-centered, but useful, and beautiful, when I let God be my potter.
We inscribed scripture and messages to our little one inside the bowl. I did not fire it, for I wanted it to disintegrate into the ground along with our child's body ("for dust you are and to dust you will return" Genesis 3:19). We buried our child beneath a new white redbud tree that we planted in his honor. This tree is covered with white blossoms every February. Indeed, as I write, the buds are forming for another season of glorious flowers. God is good.
Today, two more years have passed. In the past two years God has changed my life. The grief of losing our child brought me into much deeper relationship with Him, and He has grown me, truly transforming me into a new creation ("Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, the new has come!" 2 Corinthians 5:17) . More than anything, I trust Him, I am convinced that He is real and alive, and in my life. That He is incredibly powerful, and that His son Jesus changed everything about how God and humans may interact. That without Jesus' sacrifice and the Holy Spirit, I couldn't talk with God as I do; without Jesus, I would still be trying to prove myself worthy, and earn my way into God's good graces... a futile effort; without Jesus, I would be without hope. The fact that I can breathe itself is evidence of how much I lean on God's grace every moment of my life. How much more I am aware of my weakness when I can't help myself from doing and thinking all sorts of things that deny Jesus' command "Love your neighbor as yourself"! Yet God's grace extends over me, His mercy seems limitless, and His forgiveness is real.
How true is the verse "And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love Him, who have been called according to His purpose" (Romans 8:28)! God is so much bigger than I could have imagined, so much more loving, so much more RIGHT. God would look very different if I was the one at the drawing board, but He has shown me that truth will not submit to my ideas of what seems "nice." God is God and that's that, whether I understand or not.
Letting go of my need to understand, and my desire to manipulate my ideas of God into what I think is a "good" God, have been instrumental in helping me to understand the nature of submission. God has been working on me intensely in many ways for the past two years, to teach me about truly letting go of my worry and desire to control the circumstances in my life. Jesus said "Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? Since you cannot do this very little thing, why do you worry about the rest?" (Luke 12:25-26).
I know God knows the desires of my heart, I believe He longs to hear me talk with Him, no matter what it is about. When I bring all my feelings and thoughts to Him, He orders them. He is very efficient at making me aware of inappropriate attitudes! And He is faithful and so very tender in comforting me. He speaks most clearly through trustworthy scripture. When I was agonizing over our plans to move overseas, for example, He reminded me, "'For I know the plans I have for you,' declares the Lord, 'plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.'" (Jeremiah 29:11) What peace!
So, I have willingly and regularly lifted to the Lord my desire to have another child, at the same time accepting (most of the time!) that His plan is perfect, no matter what. About a month ago, out of the blue, a friend mentioned that she had been thinking of lending me the book Supernatural Childbirth. This is a Christian book for pregnant women, but also has a section which lists scriptures for women who are trying to conceive. They are verses related to fertility, like Deut 7:13-14 and Exodus 23:25-26. I was quite surprised she mentioned it, because I have not generally shared my desire to have another child. A few days later I felt led to ask for prayers for healing for my womb during healing prayers at our church service, as I had some concerns due to the two surgeries I had undergone in my two pregnancies. Two people prayed for me, and one suggested I begin to pray scripture over my uterus, claiming God's promises. This was confirmation of my friend's suggestion. Later that week I was able to copy down the verses into my bible, so that I could refer to them at home in my prayer time.
Last Friday, Feb. 9, I was praying several scriptures over my womb during my morning quiet time. As I prayed for complete healing and restoration, I heard myself praying for "the baby growing within". I was stunned, and stopped short, then laughed and offered it to God, wondering. Later that day I was at my church's women's bible study. After our study we take time to pray for one another. My prayer request was "guidance for our daily schedule", but as we were praying, I felt led to ask the woman who would be praying for me to pray for healing for my womb. She did, and she too prayed for the child growing within me! She was stunned when I later told her I didn't know that I was pregnant and said she just felt led to pray in that way. My dear friend Sandy then told me that when I sat down next to her earlier that morning she had thought to herself "I'll bet she's pregnant." I left church that day wondering and wondering.
I didn't mention anything to my husband, but the next day, I did something unusually silly or clumsy and he said "You're probably pregnant." Later that afternoon I mentioned that I was feeling tired, and he said it again. Then he told me that he had been thinking about how he hadn't had any inkling that I might be pregnant the first two times, and was thinking about it now. Of course, I just had to tell him what had happened the day before! He was amazed too!
We could hardly wait to take a test! And on Valentine's Day, our suspicions and little hints from God were confirmed... I am pregnant with our third child! What an incredible blessing! We didn't tell our son (who has been asking and praying for a sibling for a good year) immediately, because my husband had to go to work before he was awake. That morning as our boy and I lay snuggling on the bed, I kissed him and called him my baby, and he protested, "No Mama, the baby is growing inside your body." I couldn't believe my ears! Later, when we did tell him, he was very happy, although a little frustrated that he couldn't feel it yet. He does understand he will have to wait a long time to meet the baby. He told his Grandma it will be "four years, no, longer, six I think."
We are so very excited that God has blessed us with another child, and are amazed by the way in which we found out... and so many other people as well (even a friend in Michigan dreamed I was pregnant several days before we knew). God is so giving, so full of abundant blessings. I feel as if He is pouring volumes of soothing waters into our parched mouths, surrounding us with ever more hope and goodness. I know that His hope and peace is not linked to circumstance. Surely we rejoice in God's gift to us! Yet, as I reflect on the past two years, I know that the most terrific trials have borne the greatest fruit in my life. Without God, I would be growing into a bitter old woman. With God I am set free from the ties that bind me here, and released into His infinite care right now. I can let go, and trust His goodness for me, and accept that I can never see the whole picture; my job is to be obedient and faithful and full of thanksgiving for every single thing. And oh how the floodgates open!
"For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:38-39)
Much love to each of you precious children of God. How your Father loves you!!!
That little girl who made her presence known to the world even before a pregnancy test could confirm her existence is the same little girl I wrap in my arms today as we come before our Father in prayer. My little 9 year old Princess. Oh how deep is the Father's love for us!