Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Be Strong. Be Brave.

It wasn’t supposed to be like this!

My daughter-in-law, Heidi, was 26½ weeks pregnant. This is the one who had tried for seven years to have a baby (see their story at http://www.aneverydayvoice.com/2013/06/hope-deferred.html ). The one who miraculously, finally conceived. The one who, at long last, was supposed to have her dream fulfilled. She wasn’t supposed to be rushing to the hospital, and wondering if she would deliver her little girl 13 ½ weeks early!

My son, Kyle, knew Heidi had not been feeling well, but they both agreed he should go to work anyway. As he pulled in the parking lot he got this call from her: “Come home right now! I think my water broke—something is really wrong!” Her voice was edged with panic.

Heading home, he kept repeating 2 Timothy 1:7 over and over: “For God hath not given us the spirit of fear; but of power, and of love, and of a sound mind.” Over and over he repeated the words.

He called me, and since I had no words of my own, all I could do was pray Scripture: God, You are our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble. Please, help. (Psalm 46:1)

You’ve said we could boldly approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need. We need You now. (Hebrews 4:16)

The constant, underlying refrain was, “Mercy. Please, have mercy.”

By the time he returned home Heidi’s OB had told her to go immediately to the hospital. A blur of tests confirmed two things: her water had indeed broken, and their baby would be born within the hour by c-section. Active labor had taken hold. Things were moving much too quickly; time blurred as they realized the possible ramifications of being delivered so prematurely.

They tried not to let all the terrible “what-ifs” rule their minds, but they fully understood that 13 ½ weeks early is too soon for her to be born. Yet there simply was no other choice. Heidi, afraid for her little daughter, was tearful, hurting, and struggling to feel God’s presence. Kyle pulled up his Bible app on his phone and looked for verses on fear. Somehow he found his way to Psalm 33, and he read these excerpted verses to Heidi:

Sing joyfully to the Lord, you righteous… For the word of the Lord is right and true; he is faithful in all he does. The Lord loves righteousness and justice; the earth is full of his unfailing love….the plans of the Lord stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations…No king is saved by the size of his army; no warrior escapes by his great strength. A horse is a vain hope for deliverance; despite all its great strength it cannot save. But the eyes of the Lord are on those who fear him, on those whose hope is in his unfailing love, to deliver them from death and keep them alive in famine. We wait in hope for the Lord; he is our help and our shield. In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name. May your unfailing love be with us, Lord, even as we put our hope in you.

Immediately God’s presence was there; holding them, surrounding them, comforting them, enfolding them.

Heidi was wheeled into the OR, and Kyle waited in scrubs for the signal to join her. Once he got there, it quickly became apparent that the epidural wasn’t fully effective. Immediately they booted Kyle out and put Heidi under general anesthesia. He waited for what seemed like an eternity until they rolled an incubator up and allowed him to see his daughter for the first time. And little she was: 2 pounds 7 ounces, and 14 inches long with a head of dark hair. Emotions ran high as the word went out; Elsie Joelle is here, and she is doing okay!


6 days later Heidi got to hold her for the first time. It was one of the most holy moments I’ve ever witnessed. God’s presence saturated the room, and His glory evident as Elsie snuggled onto her mommy as if she had been waiting for it. There wasn’t a dry eye in the place.

Elsie will spend some time in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, but she is a miracle. From start to finish, God’s fingerprints are all over her life. She will grow up knowing how fearfully and wonderfully made she is, and how great the God is who knit her together (Psalm 139).

Heidi always leaves her with these words: “Be strong. Be brave. Mommy loves you.”

The same words God speaks to each of us: “Be strong. Be brave. Daddy loves you.”

Further reflection:

  1. Has there been a time when you were completely overwhelmed by your circumstances?
  2. Were you able to experience God’s nearness in the midst of the crisis?
  3. What would you differently if faced with a similar challenge?

Father, thank You for Elsie. She is a gift of Your grace, Your mercy, and Your love. Please, watch over her as she grows. May she be healthy and strong and brave, so that someday in the not-too-distant future she will give You the praise and glory that You alone are due. Thank You that as much as she is loved by her mommy and daddy, You love her far more. We rest in that.

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