Finding Joy in the Journey

Defining Moment

I often have a song stuck in my head. One day last week, the song was Defining Moment by Newsong:

There comes a time in every heart, a time of real decision

When we reach the point of choosing how we will live our lives.

All our hopes, all our dreams will rise up from that moment,

The moment we surrender and choose to follow Christ.

He’s been waiting all our lives to hear us say,

“I am Yours, Lord, take my hand and lead the way.”

Consider some defining moments in scripture: Peter letting go of his net; Abraham raising the dagger over Isaac; Esther confronting the king; and Stephen facing the angry mob. And Jesus when He prayed, “Father, if You are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but Yours be done.” Consider the moment Judas took hold of the purse holding 30 pieces of silver. I’m sure you can think of other defining moments and recognize your own.

After giving it much thought, I decided I’ve had two defining moments. The first came when I was ten years old. I realized one Sunday night in November, 1974 that I was a sinner and I needed Jesus. I prayed and surrendered my life to Him that night.

It would be many years later when I would face a crisis of faith. Our son was only two years of age when my husband and I decided we wanted to give him a brother or a sister. I remember praying daily for a little girl. “Father, please bless us with a healthy baby and if it’s Your will, I would love to have a little girl,” I said, over and over again.

God heard those prayers, and only two months later, we learned I was expecting again We were so excited! Unfortunately, our excitement turned to fear.  The pregnancy was not an easy one. I began to have complications very early on. At twelve weeks, we were surprised to see two babies in our first ultrasound. I will never forget the look on my husband’s face!  He was positively green!

The complications worsened; I was put on bed rest at only 17 weeks. Three different physicians told us, “Most couples in your situation would have an abortion.”  This was not an option for us; we believe God creates all life.  At 24 weeks, my doctor put me in the hospital. The hardest part of my stay in the hospital was watching the nurses’ faces as they tried to find the babies’ heartbeats. I found myself reassuring them the babies were alive. For four weeks, I endured painful injections of a steroid to help the babies’ lungs develop.

I remember one of my doctors telling me not to have any hope for the twins, “Your babies are going to die,” she said. I looked her square in the eye and said, “With God, there is always hope!  If He decides to save my babies, He will!”

On the first morning of my 28th week of pregnancy, knowing the babies would be born that day (I will spare you the details), I prayed for God to make my babies’ lungs strong, to heal them and let them live a normal life. Sure enough, September 19, 1994 Sarah Faith and Lauren Hope were born.  I still remember the joy I felt when I heard Sarah cry!  My babies’ lungs were supposed to be so under-developed they would die, yet she cried! I heard her voice! Poor little Lauren had no voice when she was born; she had to be resuscitated for 20 minutes.  And at one day old, she had to have surgery to repair a ruptured bowel. Our precious little Lauren Hope never fully recovered from surgery, she fought to live from her first moment on earth. The first two days after they were born, I divided my time between our little angels, but was sent back to bed when I collapsed in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit. Even then, it was so hard to leave.

By the end of the week, I got to go home. I was glad to be with my family, especially Joshua, who was still a baby himself. We made two trips to the hospital every day to visit our precious little girls. Sarah Faith had a feeding tube; her nurses were giving her my milk.  I got to change her diaper and feed her. She was pink and looked so healthy; she was moving her arms and legs and growing. We had so much hope we would bring her home. Lauren Hope had several close calls, but she was a fighter. Two weeks after their birth, I was in our apartment getting dressed to go to the hospital when the phone rang. It was our pediatrician. “Sarah has developed a staph infection,” he said, “She may go into septic shock. We may lose her.” I thought he must be mistaken; he must have the babies mixed up. Sarah was the healthy one.

But Sarah Faith was dying. Her tiny body could not fight off the staph infection; she went into cardiac arrest. Here was this tiny baby we had held so much hope for, dying in my arms! “Why, God, why?” I shouted at Him, though in my heart. Outwardly, I was calm.  I sang Jesus Loves Me as I rocked Sarah. I told her that she was going to a beautiful place and Jesus would meet her there. I assured her that Mommy and Daddy and Joshua would be with her one day too. As Sarah grew still, all I could think about was Joshua. I wanted to hold my son. I was crying. Ken was crying. The nurses cried and their pediatrician did too.

Lauren Hope fought for three more weeks, but she went into renal failure. Her doctor told us it was time to let her go.  Believing that God could work a miracle at any moment, we didn’t know what to do. We called our pastor in England (My husband was in the Air Force; we were stationed there when this journey began.)  He told us, “It’s not wrong to let a dying body die.” So, here we were once more.  Ken held Lauren and spoke softly to her as they turned off her life support. As the monitors grew silent and our little girl left this world, I felt numb. Did God answer my prayers? At the time, I didn’t think so. I’ll never forget what the NICU staff told us, “We have never seen a couple with more faith.”

My defining moment came when I understood that God did answer my prayers for healing. He simply chose to answer them His way. I had to accept His way was best for our little girls. Gone was the anger; the hurt remained, but I felt joy too. I often speak of our daughters.  Their birthday is “Family Day,” a day we pause to celebrate and talk to our daughters. We thank God we have each other and look forward to the day we will see our sweet little girls again.  This year marked our 18th Family Day.

When you believe He’s all you need

That will be your defining moment

As you live your life walking in His light

Trusting Him completely

That will be your defining moment

All of heaven celebrates when they hear someone say

“I am Yours, Lord, take my hand and lead the way.”

His amazing grace is such a mystery,

How in an instant it can make your life complete.

The tears flow freely as I type these words, but now, 18 years later, they are tears of joy. I’m looking forward to spending eternity with our sweet daughters. Happy Birthday, Sarah Faith and Lauren Hope! I wonder if there’s birthday cake in heaven?

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