A New Beginning: My Daughter’s Move to West Virginia

Colton, Kaitlin, and Lincoln

Colton, Kaitlin, and Lincoln

Two years ago on July 4th, Mark and I packed up the U-Haul in Arkansas and moved to Texas, leaving children and grandchildren behind (the unthinkable!), because the Lord said we were to go.  The last two years have been wonderful but sometimes painful, full of blessings but also challenges.  And God has proved Himself faithful, as He always does.

This past weekend my daughter Susan and husband Chris packed up the U-Haul in Arkansas and moved with their children, Kaitlin, Colton, and Lincoln, to West Virginia, leaving family and everything familiar behind.  Chris, who works for an oil and gas company, had already been working on location in WV for 13 months, only able to come home a few days every so often.  He missed Christmas but made it home in time for the birth of their youngest son in February.

Why didn’t they just move up there together?  Well, if you know anything about the oil and gas industry, it fluctuates wildly, so jobs are unstable.  Susan had been working at her job for ten years, so it would be a hard decision to leave it, not knowing if it would work out in WV.  Plus, she was pregnant, which is definitely not the optimum time to go looking for a new job.  So they waited…and waited.

But God was working a bigger plan, one that is about faith and obedience, about knowing Him intimately.  James 1:2-3 says, “Consider it pure joy… when you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance.  Let perseverance finish its work in you so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  None of us says of trials, “Yes, Lord, bring it on!”  And yet they are for our good, so we will know Him, not just know about Him.

God has been speaking to my daughter’s heart this past year while she and Chris have lived apart.  I saw strength and courage rise up in her as she went through her pregnancy essentially alone.  I saw her grieve when she had to go back to work after maternity leave and put Lincoln in day care, wanting so much to stay home with him his first year.  When that wasn’t possible, she picked herself up and did what she had to do.  It was clear that status quo was not an alternative.  They had to get their family back together.  So she stepped out in faith and started applying for jobs in WV.

I would be amiss to not mention the sacrifice that Chris has made during this period of time.  The irony is that he left serving in the military with its yearly six-month deployments so he could be a full-time father to his children.  Later he went to school for oil and gas and landed his current job, fully expecting that his family would be able to follow.  But then gas prices dropped…and dropped… and dropped.  Layoffs have been frequent.  Chris and Susan didn’t know from one day to the next what would happen.

God’s timing is perfect, however, even when we don’t understand it.  Susan quickly got a job interview for a position that she was well-qualified for.  She was tentatively offered the job the same day of the interview, but she was to wait a week for confirmation.  Now the struggle truly began.  What if she quit her job, moved her children to a state far away where they knew no one, and Chris was sent somewhere else to work, or worse, if he was laid off and didn’t have a job, period?

Susan awoke one morning the next week, still wrestling with what she should do.  Even if everything else fell into place, they didn’t have the money to cover moving expenses.  She was afraid.  But then she heard the Lord clearly speak to her and tell her to go.  And in her own words, she said that although she didn’t see how they were going to get there, she was more afraid of not obeying God.  My heart was flooded with peace when she told me that.  The new job was confirmed that same day.

Susan was overwhelmingly busy the next ten days, going through everything they owned, holding a garage sale (with a five-month-old in tow), as well as an online garage sale, and wheeling and dealing to sell everything they could to scrape up enough money to move.  The Lord moved on the hearts of a few dear ones to contribute also.   Chris couldn’t come home until a couple of days before the actual move, and Susan was still working while doing most of this alone, with some help from family with the packing.   God provided.

Changes are hard because even the right decisions can be painful.  Watching my daughter go through this process, my thoughts turned to when Mark and I moved out of state.  When God is calling you, I think He gives you the grace of tunnel vision.  We had many details to take care of…..moving out of a comfortable home, with family literally a few blocks away, to an older duplex in a city that we knew little about. These “details” would naturally raise the question, “Why are we doing this?”  It didn’t make sense in the natural, but God said, “Go,” and he clearly confirmed it in our hearts.

When Susan said, “I was more afraid of not obeying God than how we were going to make it,” I knew exactly what she meant.  It isn’t the fear of punishment.  It’s the fear of missing out on what God has for us, his plan, his purpose.  The deep knowing that you are following God compels you to go.  Does that mean it will be easy, that there will be no pain?  Not at all.  I haven’t posted on this blog for months because the Lord has been leading me through an intimate process with Him to heal my heart.  And he has.

Now just a week out from their move, I picture my daughter and her little family so many miles away, and my heart hurts that I won’t see them when we go home to Arkansas to visit the next time.  Yet at the same time, I’m full of joy because I know they are in God’s will.  And I know because of this trial, her faith has grown, and she knows the Lord more intimately than she did before. 

Tomorrow is my daughter’s birthday.  And this message is for her:  Susan, I have never been more proud of you.  You have proved your faith by taking this risk and trusting God.  You have always been your own person, independent and strong, but you are also your mother’s child, for through this process I have seen myself in you.  I can’t wait to see what the Lord has for you in West Virginia.  I love you very much.  Happy birthday!

A Double Portion

My former husband was a good man and a believer, but he was in bondage due to strongholds and ancestral sin.  He died a premature death that was stamped with the enemy’s trademark.  The enemy of our souls would have my children carry this shame and pass it down to their children.  But Jesus “shamed the shame” when he died for us, who were the joy set before him, as he endured the cross.  (Hebrews 12:2).  My children and I defeated his plans through the cross with love and forgiveness, but there’s more to this story.

My son….my son.  He was the last one in his generational line to carry the family name.  When his father died, Steven gave up walking in the world and gave Jesus both of his hands, renouncing the ancestral heritage of bondage.  In the past eight-and-a-half years, the Lord has transformed him into a tremendous man of God.  He and his precious wife Jennifer resolved to raise up a new standard and raise godly children.  A son was born, a “junior,” who carries his father and grandfather’s name, and then a sweet daughter followed.

And now just ten days ago, twin sons were born.  When Steven and Jennifer found out the twins were boys, the Lord immediately gave me this Scripture, Isaiah 61:7.  Instead of shame, they are receiving a double portion, two more sons to carry on a godly legacy.

Instead of your shame, you will receive a double portion, and instead of disgrace, you will rejoice in your inheritance.  And so you will inherit a double portion in your land, and everlasting joy will be yours.

Benjamin was born first in a smooth and uncomplicated delivery.  But little Thompson’s birth was difficult and traumatic.  Then Jennifer had complications due to blood loss.  Her blood pressure became dangerously low, and she had to be given transfusions the night of the births and again the next day.  It seemed that the enemy was coming against the victory that had been won and the legacy the Lord was giving them.

I traveled back home to Texas yesterday after being with them for the big event.   This morning I have been sitting with the Lord, reflecting on all that happened.  And I clearly heard from the Spirit, “The purposes of God cannot be thwarted.”  Searching the Scriptures, I was filled with joy and thankfulness as I read the following verses from Isaiah 14:24 and 14:27.

The Lord Almighty has sworn, “Surely as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.

For the Lord Almighty has purposed, and who can thwart him?

Yes and amen to the word of the Lord!  Welcome, Benjamin and Thompson! IMG_2936 Your legacy is a story of restoration, a story of the goodness of the Lord who redeems us and is so generous, ready to rush in the moment we say yes to him.  As your grandmother, I bless you in the name of the Lord our God.  And I declare in the name of Jesus that you, along with your brother Lane and sister Kennedy, will be mighty in the kingdom of our Lord.

Jesus, I am truly blessed among women.  Thank you for your love, mercy, and grace to my family.  You are the Faithful and True.  I love you.  Amen.

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Happy Anniversary to Shawn and Matt

Today, September 28, 2014, is a very special day.  It is my baby girl’s seventh wedding anniversary.  Shawn and Matt are the “oldest married couple” in our family!  Mark and I, my daughter Susan and Chris, and my son Steven and Jennifer all were married in 2010.  I have had tears in my eyes as I’ve looked at their wedding pictures on the computer this morning.  They are still young, but they looked really young in those pictures, yet they handled the trial our family walked through with maturity and wisdom.

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If you have kept up with my posts, you know that my former husband died six weeks before Shawn’s wedding, just a few days after we had bridal portraits made. She was the one who found her dad after a frantic call from me while traveling home from out of town.  My son was with her at the house, but she was first on the scene.  I have so much pain still at the thought of it.  Twenty-three years old, happily doing all the things soon-to-be brides have to do, and then a tragic interruption.

My future son-in-law Matt, just 23, was a tower of strength.  I know he doesn’t think of himself that way.  He must have been crumbling inside, but he took care of his bride.  And if that wasn’t enough to handle, he stepped up and was strong for me.  I saw in him then the strength and faith in God and compassion that makes him the man he is today.  They have had some very rough places in their marriage.  They suffered a devastating miscarriage a few years ago that opened the door for the enemy to wreak havoc in their lives with depression and all that goes along with it.

But God restores.  May 23, 2013, the Lord blessed them with beautiful little Emma.  And although they have the same day-to-day problems all couples do, they have learned to rise above them.  As I said in my last post, the outcome of all trials if we look to God will be greater faith.  Actually, James said it first–lol–but I have experienced it personally (James 1:2-4).  Jesus said in this world we will have tribulation, but to take heart, for He has overcome the world!  The grace he gives us to overcome cannot come from anyone but Him, so our faith becomes more real and solid as we face trials in Christ.

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So with love and joy in my heart, I want to wish Shawn and Matt a very happy anniversary!  Thank you for your love, care, and compassion for me as I walked through the fire and then through the years of trying to find where I fit in the life of singleness.  I know that you put your own pain aside to be there for me when I needed you.  We have shared so much, but I won’t write about it all.  (Moms tend to embarrass their children, you know!)

I pray for you Paul’s prayer for the Ephesians, Ephesians 3:14-19:

For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name.  I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in you inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.  And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge-that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God!

Love you so much!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Losing Chelsea

Unconditional love:  Is that why God created pets?  I think so.  They can’t do anything for us except show us unconditional love.  They will survive on a minimal amount of attention, but they will thrive on love lavished on them.  We are like God to them.  We determine when they will eat, when they will go out and come in, where they will sleep, and if they get a walk or playtime with a ball.  They watch our every move.  I like to call them “eternal optimists.”

Chelsea was special because no one wanted her when Mark found her being offered for adoption on a store parking lot.  She had been abused and would have surely been put down if he hadn’t taken her.  But just like in ministry, my husband is drawn to those who have no hope and need to know the unconditional love and healing of Jesus.

Mark and my stepdaughter Michelle loved this funny little dog that could jump a six-foot fence and run faster than a speeding bullet to catch a ball or a Frisbee.  Slowly trust was built, and Chelsea had found her safe place in her new home.  When I came on the scene, she had to have time to accept me and my dog Maggie, but she did, and we became part of “the pack.”

Chelsea was gentle and affectionate with us but very wary of strangers.  She didn’t want to be away from her people and would take the screens off the windows to try to get in if left too long outside.  As a result, we still have no screens on any of our windows.  She would never leave our yard even if she jumped the fence, but would come scratch on the front door or just wait for us to come home if we were gone.  She liked to sneak up on our white couch in the front room, leaving her dark hair all over the sticky fabric.  That drove me nuts.  But she was part of the family, and we loved her just the way she was.

A few weeks ago on a Saturday afternoon, we took Chelsea and Chloe, our little Bichon, to my daughter and son-in-law’s house and put them in the backyard with their dog while we all left to attend our grandson Colton’s birthday party.  Our house is for sale and was going to be shown that afternoon, so we couldn’t leave the dogs at home.  When we went back to pick them up after the party, Chelsea was gone.  She hadn’t wanted us to leave her there, but we didn’t think she would leave their yard.  No doubt she was looking for Mark.

The search began.  Driving, driving, and more driving.  Handing out fliers, talking to everyone we saw outside.  Posting on websites for lost pets, posting fliers around town.  Even after Mark had hip surgery that Monday, he was back out there with his crutches looking the very next day.  Family members and some friends tirelessly searched.  Michelle’s boyfriend Spencer came in from Memphis and searched day and night for three days, followed by Michelle when she got a day off from work.  Our daughter-in-law Jenn drove around many days with babies in tow in carseats.  Hopeful leads came in, but all were a dead-end.

How long do you continue to search?  In the end, we know that she is God’s dog as are all things He created.  There has to be a release, but when a dog is lost, there is no closure.  I cannot imagine the anguish of parents with missing children.  When my little Maggie died because of an auto-immune response to tic fever, I was able to hold her and say goodbye with my family gathered around.  Mark would have liked to have that kind of closure as well.

Now I’m asking the Lord what it is He wants to teach us through this experience.  And I think I know.  He too loves us unconditionally.  We are completely dependent on Him to save us, or we will perish for all eternity.  There is nothing we can do to earn His love and nothing we can do to lose it.  All we have to do is say yes to Him and receive.  He hurts when we hurt.  And He will come looking for us if we wander away.

Most of all, I’m brought to the realization once again that love and pain go hand in hand.  If we didn’t love, we wouldn’t grieve over the loss of who we love.  When Jesus died on the cross for our sins, He bore the physical pain of crucifixion and emotional pain of separation from the Father.  He loved us when we were unlovable, bruised by the enemy and hurt by the world.  If I can trust that Jesus would do that for me, then I can surely trust Him with the life of our little pets that bring us so much joy.  And I can praise him for enlarging our hearts, for to not know sorrow is to not know love, and to not know love is to not truly live.

Chelsea, you were a good dog.  Maybe you will show up one day, or maybe you are already jumping and running in heaven.  Jesus, thank you for bringing more of the knowledge of how you love us through our time with this little dog.  Wherever she may be, we will trust that she is safely in your care now.  Amen.

Chelsea

Going Home

IMG_0148.JPG (2)Emma Elyse is one today.  Her birth and my mother’s death occurred just days apart. When my daughter Shawn married Matt in September 2007, her dad had died just six weeks earlier.  I was so worried that my mother would pass away and that Shawn would go into labor at the same time.  I was sick thinking about the possibility that a death could cast a shadow on another joyous occasion. If a mother could order times and seasons, I would have done everything in my power to separate those two occasions.  But that right belongs to God alone.

Last week Mark and I traveled up to my hometown Blytheville for my niece’s high school graduation, exactly a year from the date of my mother’s passing, May 15.  I had not been back since her funeral and had not yet seen her headstone in place at the little cemetery in Manila, Arkansas.  At the time she passed away, she was suffering mentally and IMG_0454physically with Alzheimer’s, so it wasn’t hard to give her up and let her go to be with Jesus. I was so focused on getting back to Conway before Emma was born that I don’t think I shed a tear at the funeral!

However, on the trip up last week, traveling the familiar path home, memories came flooding back as we passed through the little towns where so many aunts and uncles lived, all gone now.  My thoughts didn’t focus on a very ill mother, but the healthy one who gave me life and did her best to take care of me in the midst of her own burdens and brokenness.  I was going to the home of my childhood, but my mother would never be there again.  The tears came.

We think we can leave our past behind, but it is always a part of us.  When I went off to college, I vowed never to return to my hometown to live, too many childhood and teenage wounds.  I wanted to get as far away as I could.  My scholarship allowed that to happen, so I went to the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville, the other corner of the state. It is obvious that the Lord had planned another path for me, but He never wanted me to forget where I was from.  He wanted me to make peace with it. Now, finally, I see all the ways God protected me, keeping me innocent at a time in my life that I was very needy.  I clearly see and appreciate the sacrifices my mother made for my brother and me.

How can we have the capacity to feel joy and sorrow, happiness and pain, at the same time?  Why does God allow us to be stretched to both extremes?  Paul says in Hebrews 12:2 that “for the joy set before Him, Jesus endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  He endured not only the excruciating pain of the cross, but the unimaginable sorrow of being separated from the Father.  Why?  For the joy set before him.  What was the joy?  We are, those who call upon Him as Savior.  He endured it all so we could be with Him through all eternity.  He endured it so we could be healed and have abundant life.

We feel joy and sorrow at the same time because we are made in the image of God.  It is Christ in me, the hope of glory. It is a gift.  If we can’t feel our pain, our brokenness, the depth of our sin, then how can we know our own need?  It is what drives us to seek Him. We are incomplete without Him.  We cannot know the joy and the fullness of life until we have tasted of the divine in our relationship with Jesus, that which we will one day partake of fully as meet Him face to face.

Tomorrow there is going to be a one-year-old birthday celebration for Miss Emma.  IMG_1039With the birth of every grandchild, my heart stretches and stretches to hold more love.  Isn’t that exactly like our God?  His love knows no limits.  He is love.  Jesus, I am overwhelmed by your goodness.  Thank you for the gift of life and all it contains.  Let us never become numb to the joys and the sorrows of this life, but let them wash over us and bring us closer to you. Holy Spirit, help us to not be afraid to feel, for you have truly created us to be like you and to know you in ways we can’t even fathom right now.  Incredible. You are amazing, Lord.

Happy birthday, sweet Emma!  Nana loves you.

 

Becoming Less

The decision has been made to move to Texas.  A lease has been signed on a rental, and we are in the process of getting our house ready to sell.  When we finished the paperwork last night, I felt like I had been punched in the stomach as reality hit.  This is actually going to happen.  The Lord has given us so much confirmation that we are to go that to not move would be disobedience.  Whether it’s for one year or ten years, we don’t know.  We are excited because we’re certain He is leading, but it won’t be easy.

The other morning I was led to John 3:30:  “He must become greater; I must become less.”  Of course, in this passage John the Baptist is talking about Jesus, but it applies to our lives as well.  As we continue walking with God, the Holy Spirit gradually conforms us to the image of His Son.  Sanctification is a process of dying to self, our fleshly nature, and becoming more like Christ.  In the natural, this is often a painful process, but in Christ it ultimately produces inexpressible joy.  Oswald Chambers speaks of this as attending our own white funeral“:

No one experiences complete sanctification without going through a white funeral-the burial of the old life. If there has never been this crucial moment of change through death, sanctification will never be more than an elusive dream. There must be a “white funeral,” a death with only one resurrection-a resurrection into the life of Jesus Christ. Nothing can defeat a life like this. It has oneness with God for only one purpose— to be a witness for Him. (My Utmost for His Highest, January 15.)

The Spirit showed me this principle also applies to us as parents.  I see my children with their own families established, adults now carrying adult responsibilities.  They don’t need me in the same way anymore, and those precious little ones are theirs.  I raised my children as well as I could, though certainly not perfectly.  And I loved every minute of it.  The fact that I am close to them and they welcome me into their lives is a mother’s reward.  But Mom isn’t in first place in their lives now, nor second place, maybe not even third.  And that is healthy, the way it should be.

To be called by the Lord to spend the rest of my life for His purposes is a gift.  I know that He is calling me unto himself, and I know that whatever God chooses to do through Mark and me will impact our family for Christ for generations.  God says in Exodus 20:6 that he will show love to a thousand generations of those who love Him and keep His commandments.  Mark and I are called, with all our weaknesses and imperfections.  We are humbled and grateful.  We will be obedient.

So I cheer them on, my beautiful family.  I will pray for them, encourage and support them, and be a part of their lives forever.  There will be many, many visits and phone calls and face-time.  But I let go of my need to be connected in the same way as when they were children and teenagers.  I let go of needing them to need me, my fear that if I move I will somehow lose them.  And I praise God that He has given me a legacy in three wonderful children, an amazing daughter-in-law and sons-in-law, and five (so far) grandchildren.

Lord Jesus, you must always become greater in my life, and I must become less.  I welcome that.  But I also acknowledge that I have become less in the lives of my children, as it should be.  White funerals are painful, but they are necessary as we pass from one stage of life to another.  What has been cannot be recaptured.  What will be is in your hands.  I trust you, Lord, and I entrust my children to you, the Faithful One.  Thank you for the blessing of family, and thank you for this new adventure with my husband.  I know it will be wonderful and that you will work it for good.  In your precious name, amen..

 

My One New Year’s Resolution

For many years my New Year’s resolutions have been about self-improvement-exercise more, eat healthy, read the Bible through in a year (which never works for me), get organized.  Those are all good things, and there’s certainly nothing wrong in making them.  But for me it’s usually hit or miss in keeping them.  It’s an empty pursuit at best, because the focus is on self.  What’s missing is I haven’t asked God what he wants on that list.

It says in God’s Word that it is wrong to assume what we’ll be doing tomorrow or a year from now, to calculate on our own as if we had control over the future.  James 4:14-15 says, “…..yet you do not know what tomorrow will bring.  What is your life?  For you are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  Instead you ought to say, ‘If the Lord wills, we will live and do this and that.'”  When we don’t include the Lord in our resolution-making, we are missing out on inviting God to reveal the things, great or small, that he would have us do to move closer to him and his purposes for our lives.

Father God, where do you want me today, tomorrow, a year from now?  How do you want me to operate in the spiritual gifts you have given me?  Something is stirring in my heart that tells me you have plans that will stretch me beyond what I thought possible or have even desired in my safe, comfortable life.  I have said I want to be only in your will.  And the testing is coming; it’s literally at my doorstep. Will you have us leave our children and grandchildren and move out of state to further the ministry to which you have called us? Do you want to show me if I really do love you above all else, family, home, possessions?

We may be renting or selling our home to move to another state and live in a little RV, at least for a while, to follow the call of God on our lives.  Or there is a possibility we may live in another city in a little rent house that we own and are trying to sell, one that is in a different kind of neighborhood than we have ever lived.  The Lord has been methodically subtracting the currency of this world from our lives in order to replace it with the currency of the kingdom, which is faith.

My husband is a visionary and has willingly given up the rest of his life to follow God in his calling.  I have struggled with my woman’s need for security to know how to follow a man that is willing to risk all to be in the will of God.  My spirit agrees; there is nothing I want more than to be living out his purpose for my life.  But saying those words and surrendering are two different things.  It has been more of a process for me, one that I’ve struggled with at times.  However, this I have known in the hard times in my life:  There is a sweetness with the Lord that cannot be experienced until we have to trust him completely.

So how do you follow a visionary?  This is what I’ve learned so far.  You don’t look back.  You keep your eyes straight ahead on Jesus and submit to the leadership of your husband, for to do so is the same as submitting to Christ (Ephesians 5:22-24).  You realize your life really is a vapor.  You lay down your need for security in this world and marvel that God has allowed you, indeed chosen you, to be part of a great faith adventure. And he has already written the script.

Jesus, 2014 will no doubt bring great change in our lives.  I have said yes to you.  My one New Year’s resolution for this year and forever is to be in your will.  You know better than I do what should go on my list to make that a reality.  But how do I do that?  I know the keys are surrender and obedience.  The testing is and will be tough.  I know I’m not strong enough, but you have said that your grace is sufficient for me, that your power is perfected in my weakness (II Corinthians 12:9).

Lord, I pray today not only for myself, but for all those who will read this post, that the words of Paul in Philippians 3:13(b) and 14 will be true for us. “One thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.”  Help us to press on, Lord Jesus.  Keep moving us upward, that our hopes and dreams and visions are not earthbound.  Give us eyes to see what you have planned for each of us, and help us to live out your will, one day at a time, to bring glory to you.  Amen.

Merry Christmas From Our Family to Yours

On this blessed Christmas Day, I want to thank all of you who have subscribed to receive posts from Little Potted Plant.  I am humbled and honored that something I’ve experienced and written about has connected with you.  God never intended for us to journey through this life on our own.  Please comment or email anytime.  I would love to hear from you!  I’m excited about the new year to see what God has in store for us.  I pray for each of you that God would light the path he has already ordained for you and bless you with abundant life!

I thought you might like to see some pictures of our growing family:)  Thank you again, and God bless you!

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Celebrating the Miracle of Life-Our New Grandchild

The Little Potted Plant wants to officially announce the birth of our fifth grandchild and third granddaughter,IMG_0423 Kennedy Marie Hyatt, born August 26th. She is perfect in every way, all eight pounds, four ounces of her. I think she will be a redhead like her mom and Granny Alice. I hope so.

I once again had the privilege of being present when a new grandchild is born, witnessing this holy miracle of life. And once again, I’m mindful that all the days God ordained for Kennedy have already been written in His book before the first one came to pass (Psalm 139). My daughter-in-law’s pregnancy had some rough spots, but God once again proved his faithfulness.

Jennifer and Steven had discovered they would have a baby girl on a routine ultrasound in their doctor’s office. Later they were sent to the med center in Little Rock for some genetic testing–no worrisome signs were present at all. It was just for information and preparation if there should be a problem. The first blood test came back as a healthy baby boy. What? They had clearly seen a baby girl now on more than one ultrasound. The test was supposed to be 99% accurate, so it had to be wrong. Frantic internet searches were done by family members as the medical community just seemed, well, puzzled.

So the decision was made to repeat the tests. Ultrasound still perfect, and this time the blood test did say baby girl, but with borderline Down’s Syndrome. What did that mean? Medical professionals didn’t know. The test was too new to put a percentage on it. The only sure way to know was amniocentesis. They asked themselves if that was necessary. They of course would be having the baby no matter what. Still, it would be good to know ahead of time, or would it? They decided to schedule the amnio at the med center, but not until Jen was far enough along that the baby would be okay if the procedure put her into labor.

It was the 5th of July when I accompanied them to the med center. They were still unsure whether they would have the procedure, but they wanted to do all they could. More ultrasounds. Perfect little girl; no sign of Down’s. Do they do the amnio to make absolutely, positively sure? The specialist decided for them. It was too dangerous based on the position of the baby, and besides, why take any risk when the ultrasounds looked so good? Jen cried with relief because she didn’t really want to have the procedure anyway.

Much prayer was offered up to the Lord by many faithful friends and family members. We all chose to believe this child would be healthy. But even more so, we all believed that God knew what He was doing, and this child would be a blessing no matter what. My son and daughter-in-law have great faith, and it has been a joy to witness their faith expressed through the many trials they have endured, including the devastating miscarriage with their first pregnancy and a health scare with their firstborn Lane that proved to be nothing.

Jennifer and Steven chose to believe that God is a healer and was protecting their baby. It was both encouraging and humbling to see them, having all the normal concerns of an expectant couple plus the heightened anxiety of the test results, choosing to believe that God is good, that He had a purpose and a plan for them and Kennedy, and they would accept His will, no matter what. But God chose to let this cup pass from them.

Our lives are not random. The Word tells us in Acts 17 that the time in history and place where we would live is divinely appointed. God has a purpose for each of our lives in the generation to which he has called us. There will be times in our lives when the cup of suffering will not pass, but we must remember for those who belong to Christ, it will be necessary to fulfill our purpose in our generation. And according to James 1, these trials are for our good, to mature our faith. Enduring them while continuing to praise God brings Him much glory.

Little Kennedy has joined big brother Lane and made the Hyatts a family of four. If she had had Down’s, I have no doubt the blessings would have outweighed the challenges. Our hearts are broken for those we see drinking the cup, like a friend’s daughter and son-in-law who lost their son at eight months’ pregnant, or the family that lost their 12-year-old son a year ago while playing in the rain. We “weep with those who weep,” but when it’s time to rejoice, we do so with our whole hearts. Either way, we trust. We endure. We hope. For He is good.

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