Thursday, April 24, 2014

Ephraim and Sarah. A story of Redemption.

Sometimes out of the blue a thought, a song, a story will jump out of nowhere and remind me. Remind me of my journey. My journey is one of so much life and yet mingled in the chaos of raising five children there is the reality of five more children waiting for me in heaven.

The other morning I was rushing around the kitchen doing the "get dressed- eat your breakfast-do your homework-get your shoes on-stop fighting with your sister now" routine. I was combing Hope's hair and telling some one else to stop dawdling and all of sudden I started thinking of them. The five babies in heaven. My thoughts were not left to themselves for long before they were interrupted by another child needing something in the madness of the morning rush out the door.

That morning I was headed to the gym after I got the kids on the bus and as I was driving I got a text from my sister-in-law saying I needed to listen to a broadcast that morning on miscarriage.
 "That's weird", I thought to myself, "I was just thinking about them this morning".
Later that afternoon on my way to get my haircut I had a few minutes of silence and alone time and I listened to the broadcast on my phone. All of a sudden I am crying. God was continuing to touch and heal parts of my heart.

The reality is I am so incredibly blessed by the five children I have and my cup feels full and running over. Yet sometimes there is still an ache. I don't dwell on it long but sometimes it is there. And maybe there will always be a little ache for those babies in heaven. And that's okay. 

But I am seeing more and more that in the midst of the losses is woven incredible testimonies of God's faithfulness, compassion and caring love for us.  It's in those times He seemed to be scooping us up and carrying us when we didn't  think we had the strength. His voice is often loudest in those times. And looking back I can see Him there.

Lately I have been feeling like part of my healing is in writing out the stories of the babies in heavens and in doing so seeing God's fingerprints and the stories of redemption He is weaving.

Here is one of those stories.

The year was 2004 and we were just shy of two years of marriage. It had been whirlwind of a two years and we had just celebrated our firstborns first birthday. We were returning home from a week at the beach with Mark's family and the last day or so there I had not been feeling good. "Could I be pregnant?" I remember asking Mark as we drove the turnpike home from the beach. I took a test that night when we got home and much to our surprise I was pregnant! We made the announcement on our second anniversary on Sept 14th, calling our families to say "two years of marriage and two kids". We were very excited despite being surprised by the pregnancy! We had high hopes for this little family that we were growing!
 On October 5th I was about 12-13 weeks along and the first trimester had been rough, a lot more sickness than my pregnancy with Moses. We were leading a small group at the time and that night we asked them to pray over me and the baby. As we prayed many in the group began to get prophetic words about the baby. They began to pray out encouraging words calling forth the destiny of this little one growing inside of me. One of girls prayed that our baby would be "a son at Mark's right hand" and that he would be a leader and a mighty warrior with speed and strength. A lot of the things that they had prayed had confirmed things that God had already been speaking to Mark about the baby and his name. After everyone left we talked about it and Mark shared with me how he felt we should name the baby Ephraim Benjamin after his grandfather on his mother's side. Our son was called to redeem a family name and generation.  Ephraim in the bible was the second son blessed as the first and Benjamin means "son at my right hand". It seemed weird to me to be picking out names this early when we didn't even know for sure what we were having but it did seem like God was confirming things in our hearts about this baby and his calling and destiny.
 October 9th I got out of bed, ate breakfast and got Moses up and dressed for the day. I was up in his room putting away some clothes when all of sudden I felt a gush, as if my water had broken.  In a panic I called Mark and as soon as I heard his voice I lost it. He began to pray for me and changed his plans and came home for the day. As the day progressed I began to bleed. I rested on the couch or tried to rest, really I couldn't think of anything else. I remember sobbing and pleading with the Lord to save our baby. At this point in my life I believed that if we prayed that God would heal our baby. The thought that we would lose the baby wasn't a possibility. We got every intercessor we could think of praying and warring for our babies life.
(side note: I still believe that if we pray God can heal our baby! I also know that sometimes His answer to our prayers do not always look like what we thought. My babies are healed and whole in heaven.)

I remember that night as we were preparing to go to bed calling our friend Ryan to pray for us. As he prayed he asked us if we were willing to trust that God was God even if we lost our baby. That was the moment I knew that maybe Ephraim wasn't going to make it. And I needed to surrender. Mark and I cried on the couch surrendering our lives and Ephraim's to Him.
The next morning I woke up to painful cramping and more bleeding. It felt like the beginning of labor. We called the doctor and they told us to come in right away. By the time I got there things were intensifying and I ended up miscarrying in the triage area of the hospital.

Going home felt so empty. My womb felt empty. My heart felt  heavy. I remember stopping and getting subs at Smileys, going to Musser park and just sitting at a picnic table crying and talking, shocked at what had just occurred. We felt very thankful for the night with our small group where those prophetic words had been spoken and that we had decided to give our baby in heaven a name. We also felt hopeful even in the loss that we were going to have more children. I remember feeling sad yet hopeful, strangely hopeful.
His presence was also very close during this time bringing comfort through friends and family, prayers and words of encouragement. A few short days after the miscarriage I was helping to lead a worship set at the house of prayer we were a part of at the time. We were singing verses from Psalm 91. When I got to verses 9 and 10 I just froze. I wasn't sure if I could truly sing the words, "If you make the Lord your refuge-the Most High your dwelling then no harm will befall you and no disaster will come near your tent.". Up until this point I had not wrestled too much with "why" but that night I was struggling with the whys and the questions. It certainly felt like "disaster had come to our tent" and harm had fallen on us. I went home after the worship set and looked up the verse in my new living translation and in that version it said "no evil will conquer you". The Lord was speaking to my heart that harm may come but it will not conquer me if I am rooted in Him. It was a battle to trust that God is who he says he is but as I chose to lay down my fears and questions, peace came. I believed God was going to bring redemption.

Fast forward to a month later, November 17th, we are getting ready to fly on an airplane across the world to Hawaii to minister at a YWAM base. In the midst of packing I had stopped by at my neighbor and friend Terah's house for a few minutes. As we talked somehow it came up that I still didn't get my period yet since the miscarriage.
"Maybe you are pregnant", she exclaimed excitedly, "Here I have an extra test go into the bathroom and take it. " She practically shoved me into the small bathroom off her kitchen where I nervously peed on the stick. Instantly the lines appeared. I. was. pregnant. As I walked out of the bathroom holding my positive test my friend said these words to me, "No more holding back."

Just a little over a month later I was already pregnant! Later when I went for my first prenatal visit they would say that it was near impossible what happened. My due date literally changed by only a few weeks. Crazy!

That little impossibility was Sarah.
The redemption of Ephraim's short life was first daughter! In her God fulfilled my heart's desire for a little girl. And through her I believe God is redeeming a generation.
I look forward to meeting Ephraim Benjamin someday in heaven and I cherish the gift of mothering Sarah Elizabeth here on earth.

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