I became a servant of this gospel by the gift of God’s grace given me through the working of his power. –Ephesians 3:7
My first Bible study at my church led me to ask some pretty powerful things of God. It didn’t seem powerful at the time, but looking back on how it’s changed my life…wow. My parents had me baptized when I was an infant in the Catholic church, and there I spent the Sundays of my youth. As an adult, I fell away from regularly attending church but still considered myself a Christian. I never didn’t believe, though I never thought to have an active relationship with God. The result, for me, was that I didn’t feel I experienced that ONE moment where I gave my life over to Jesus. Through this particular Bible study, I often prayed for God to reveal to me what my moment was…I assumed it already happened.
My moment occurred on March 26, 2014. Twenty weeks pregnant with our third child, my day began with the anatomy scan. The tech warned I had a complete placenta previa, which may result in some limitations. I remember being obsessed with this and reading up on it, but then talked to other women who had the same issue and in both cases, it resolved. It didn’t strike me odd, then, when my OB personally called me that afternoon. Due to scheduling issues, I hadn’t seen her immediately following my scan. She began the conversation telling me about the previa, to which I fired away questions. She cut me off and said that isn’t what concerned her. She then told me there were some “markers” on my anatomy scan that concerned her, and went into detail. I don’t remember most of this conversation, but the words “trisomy 18”, “Down’s syndrome”, and “other chromosomal abnormalities not compatible with life” stuck out. In an instant, my entire world stopped. I cried, and she told me the next steps. I hung up with her, called my husband. We cried, and he said he’d be home soon.
I then called my friend, the one who had invited us to church – this is such an important fact in understanding how God had been working in me through her for months. I remember sobbing on the phone, and I remember her telling me to pray. Maybe it should have been obvious, but at that moment it wasn’t. My entire world was crashing down and I just wanted to curl up in a ball and cry. Pray. I hung up with her, checked on my kids who were watching TV, and went upstairs. For the first time in my whole life, I dropped to my knees and prayed like I never had before. I prayed for the life of my child, regardless of health issues. I just wanted her. I then prayed for her health. I also reached out via Facebook, asking for prayers and Scriptures without giving anyone details of what was going on. I couldn’t say the words my doctor said to me without breaking down.
God hears prayers. God worked to reach me through every single person who contacted me over the next few days. Those who texted me to see how I was doing, those who sent me Scriptures, those who reached out to my husband. My dear friend who went with me to have blood work done the morning after the phone call. The overwhelming support we received blew me away. I get emotional just thinking about it. I have a journal where I recorded all the Scripture people sent me, and where I wrote letters to Caitlin. The 10 days between that life-changing phone call and our appointment with the high risk doctor were crucial in the direction of my life. Instead of being angry and wondering why God would put us through something like this, and instead of turning AWAY from God, I turned TO God. I prayed for my sweet baby girl. I prayed thanksgiving for her. I prayed for the strength to handle any health issues she might have. I prayed understanding, knowing that He had a plan for me and it is a plan for good. Through my prayers, and especially through the intercessory prayers of all our amazing friends, God gave me peace. In the middle of the darkest period of my life, I felt peace. I knew God wouldn’t give me more than I could handle. He reached me through my friends, but He also worked in others through me. I remember receiving a couple messages about how inspiring my posts sharing Scripture were. The possibility of health issues in my baby girl resulted in loved ones praying for her that maybe didn’t pray much, if at all.
Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. –Romans 5:4
I now know my day. I fully gave my life over to Jesus that day, broken on my knees in my bedroom while my kids watched TV downstairs. For the first time in my life, I completely surrendered to God, knowing that only through Him could I get through the next days, months, years. So many people were instrumental in helping me get to that point. My dear, sweet, loving friend – she knows who she is – led me to the church and the people that would wrap their arms around me and my family in our darkest hour, and for the remainder of a difficult pregnancy. Every single person who prayed for us. I don’t mean that lightly. EVERY. SINGLE. ONE. Intercessory prayer is truly an amazing thing, and God loves it.
Know that God is using you to further His kingdom, even if you don’t realize it. Reach out to that friend, or acquaintance, who is struggling right now. If you tell someone you will pray for them, do it. Right then, at that moment. It doesn’t have to be a long, eloquent prayer. It can be as simple as: “God, I lift up _____ to you. You know the need. Be with them.” Send someone who is hurting an uplifting verse, or a story that has helped you. You may never know how it impacted them, but God will use you for good. I could tell my friend a thousand times this story – if I could ever get through it without crying – and she still wouldn’t truly know the impact she’s had on my life. Be that person, and know you don’t need the recognition. God sees, God enables.
I promise this very day that I will repay two blessings for each of your troubles. –Zechariah 9:12
After a very long, difficult pregnancy God fulfilled this promise to our family. On July 23, 2014 Caitlin Grace was born, completely healthy. God also blessed us with an amazing doctor, and worked through her to keep me alive. God is so good. No matter what obstacles come up in my life, Caitlin Grace will be my reminder of God’s grace and love. To those of you who prayed for us, thank you from the depths of my heart. God put exactly the right people in our lives at exactly the right moment. His timing is perfect.