A Lifetime of Learning...

Thursday, December 17, 2009

(This might be a long one... wanna get a cup of cocoa first?)

Can I just tell you how I feel that God has truly prepared me my whole life for this very specific season? I've always known and believed that each of our experiences in life build upon one another, and help us in our future plans and decisions. Every choice we make in life will impact another choice or circumstance that will arise in the future.

I was 8 years old when my baby brother was born. Though I was young and don't remember any of the deatils, I know that my mom had a very difficult pregnancy with him. She was on bedrest most of the pregnancy. In fact, we didn't even know she was pregnant until she had to go on bedrest and we were wondering why Mom had to be in bed all day! The doctors told my parents that David would have a very slim chance of leading a normal life... because he would certainly be born premature, its was likely that he would be deaf and possibly blind, have mental delays and a whole host of other medical and developmental problems. Well, my brother was born extremely premature on October 8th. He was in the NICU for a very long time. Because I was young, I don't know all the details, but I do know that his outcome was sketchy at best sometimes.

Finally, right before Christmas, David got to come home. He was so tiny, he fit into one of our stockings! Though he still had to be hooked up to a heart monitor at all times, he was home and getting stronger each day. I will never forget the day that David was dedicated in front of our church. I think it was Steve Thomas (but I'm not sure about that) who stood up in front of the congregation with my parents as they held David, and he said "Folks, this is a child, not a choice." That was my first encounter with the thought that there would ever be a choice in continuing a pregnancy. To this day, God's sovereignty, healing and protection shines through in the life of my brother... a smart, flourishing 20-year old college student living in Chicago. He can very much see, hear, speak, walk, think... all things the doctors told him he might not be able to do. Before he was born, my parents had a choice of whether or not to continue with his life, knowing that it might be difficult. But the decided to rely on God and handle with care the life that He entrusted to them, and I am forever greatful for their example.

Though I will never forget that moment in church, I haven't thought about it in years. Fast-forward to college. I had a roomate who had a night of 'indescretion' and thought that she may be pregnant. I took her to a pregnancy care center in our town, and there she received wonderful counseling, caring support and life-changing information. She wasn't pregnant, but I was so impressed with the quality of care and the dignity that she was given, I knew I had to be a part of that ministry. I began volunteer training in January and started counseling there once a week. I learned so much about the sanctity of human life, the beauty of God's designs in His children, and the value that every single beating heart has. I saw beautiful but broken women make heartbreaking decisions... decisions not for life. I saw the effect it had on their lives, their relationships, their souls. I heard the lies that this world told them, and my heart broke along with theirs. I also got to see beautiful, strong women who made difficult decisions for life. I saw how their lives were changed, how their hearts were changed, and the joy that they carried with them. With every flicker of a heartbeat I saw on ultrasound, the truth from so many years ago resonated in my head, "Its a child, not a choice."

Several years, several jobs and several moves later, I have found myself again working in a life-affirming ministry I love. I truly have the best of both worlds here... daily contact with men and women who desperately need to know the love and grace of Christ (and the freedom to share that with them!), while at the same time, being constantly surrounded, uplifted, encouraged and loved by Godly superwomen. Before God even brought Whitney into our lives, He knew that Sean and I would need the support of those who value life just as much as we value our unborn daughter. Through all of this, I can honestly say that I have a greater understanding of where many of my clients are coming from, where as before I had been so protected from the tough decisions that arise with either an unplanned pregnancy or a pregnancy with a poor prenatal diagnosis.

I feel like God has prepared me my whole life for this very season. He has taught me the beautiful, amazing truths of how He creates life. He has given me the support of loving friends and family and co-workers who are 100% behind Sean and I in our decision to carry Whitney until God takes her home. I am enjoying the growth and development of my daughter, even though I can't see her. This may sound silly, but I am so thankful for the scientific advances that allow us to know what is going on in my womb... at 21 days, her heart was beating. By 7 weeks, she had all of her vital organs. She started moving (though I couldn't feel it yet!), and the buds of milk teeth began to appear. By 10 weeks, her hands and feet were perectly formed and her fingerprints already permanently engraved on her skin. By 16 weeks, she had fingernails and eyelashes! I could go on and on about the miracle of our little one. But the point is, I am so thankful that God cared enough about Whitney that he took years to prepare her mamma for the journey of caring for her.

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