Solomon’s Birth Story

Solomon AugustineMorning Solomon
10.24.2015
7:53 am
4 pounds 7 ounces
17 1/2 inches
7 weeks and 2 days premature

“Are you pregnant?” Austin smiled as he held up the positive home pregnancy test I had left sitting on the bathroom sink for him to find in the morning. I was already up and reading the Bible as I drank my coffee.

I nodded.

We were thrilled with anticipating another sweet child – and a little overwhelmed with uncertainty over what this pregnancy might hold. The last one ended, well, unexpectedly.

From that moment on we did everything we could to lower the risk of premature birth and breech presentation. My incredible doctor and her team developed a really good care plan to give this baby every chance to make it to full term so that we could have an uncomplicated, unmedicated VBAC.

Aside from the routine prenatal appointments, I went in once a week for a (very painful) shot of progesterone in my hip muscle that was supposed to prevent contractions from changing the cervix. I had extra ultrasounds to keep a close eye on the placenta, cervix, and baby’s position.

I was proactive in exercises, stretches, chiropractic care, and positioning to keep everything aligned and open so that baby would have room to flip head down with no obstacles.

And of course, most of all, we had a lot of prayer support for this whole pregnancy.

And for the most part, everything was smooth sailing. It all seemed to be working great.

We had a little hiccup around 22 weeks. I had over-exerted myself on a hot day and had a lot of Braxton-Hicks contractions. Too many. We drove to the hospital as I held back tears. But they put on the monitor to watch me for a few hours and checked my cervix and everything was perfectly fine. Bullet dodged!

I took it easy after that, being extra careful not to participate in any kind of activity that could trigger contractions.

32 weeks pregnant and optimistic.

32 weeks pregnant and optimistic.

We reached 31 weeks and I started to get nervous. I went into labor at 32 weeks last time, and even though I had every reason to be confident that the same thing would not happen this time, I still got a little anxious.

Then at 31 weeks and 3 days I got a really bad stomach bug. Let me be clear that I am not exaggerating when I say this is by far the worst stomach bug I have ever had in my life. I’ll spare you the details, but it hit hard, it hit fast, and it was bloody. I couldn’t keep down even a sip of water and got severely dehydrated in just a couple of hours. So we headed to the ER and I was wheelchaired back to the Labor & Delivery wing of the hospital so they could also keep an eye on baby as they treated me.

A few hours later, the bug relented and I started to feel better. I had a couple of bags of IV fluid in me, and the baby’s heartbeat and movements were good. But the nurse noticed just a couple of weird contractions. Normally, they would be easily ignored, but because of my history she just wanted to be safe and run a couple of tests. The fetal fibronectin test came back positive. It’s not conclusive, but a positive means that you are at a high risk of going into labor within two weeks. And my cervix was open – 2 cm and 80% effaced. Not good.

I was admitted and immediately put on Magnesium Sulfate. I won’t go into details about that drug. You can read more about it in my daughter’s birth story. But it wasn’t pleasant.

It did work, however. I was on Mag for 48 hours so that we had time to get two shots of a steroid called Betamethazone – a drug that triggers the production of surfactant so that the baby’s lungs mature more quickly. The Mag also can prevent brain injuries or defects in preterm babies.

I was back in the one place I had most feared for two years – fighting against premature labor on harsh drugs that wreak havoc on your body. And this time, it was four days earlier in the pregnancy than last time.

But they worked! Two days later I had no contractions and hadn’t progressed any further, so I was discharged and put on modified rest. We were so relieved. It was different than last time. Last time, labor never truly stalled and just a few days later our daughter was born by emergency C-section. This time, the labor never truly got going. We all posited that the dehydration just triggered something a little funny and that I would probably just hang out at 2 cm for a few weeks and be able to deliver a [more] full-term baby.

We settled into this optimism for a whole week. I just knew that this time was different and that we had every reason to expect that this was just a hiccup. We prayed hard that we could have just 27 more days. If we could make it just 27 more days, we’d get to 36 weeks and we could proactively turn baby head down with an ECV if needed. And he’d be much bigger and more mature, so we could probably avoid NICU this time.

I woke up Friday morning feeling…different. 32 weeks and 4 days. Deep down, somewhere in that motherly instinct section of my mind, I knew that this baby was coming soon. But I pushed that away and tried to remain optimistic. After all, I had no signs of labor. You’re just being paranoid, I told myself.

We had some wonderful friends bring us dinner. Shortly after they left, I began feeling contractions. Not one here, another there. One every 5 minutes. Suddenly.

We went to the hospital. Surely they’ll strap on the monitor, the contractions will calm down, they’ll give me a tocolytic shot, and we’ll go home. Yet, part of me despaired that we’d be doing this over and over for several weeks and I felt defeated and overwhelmed by that thought.

Sure enough, I was having regular contractions 5-10 minutes apart. But my cervix hadn’t changed! It was still only 2cm. So they gave me a shot of terbutaline and watched the monitor for a couple of hours. I kept contracting. They called the doctor. Around 3:00 in the morning, they gave me another shot. I continued contracting. They got stronger and stronger. I couldn’t get through them without some serious breathing and vocalizing. I knew. I just knew all night. I knew I was in labor and that it wouldn’t stop. I knew we were having a baby. And I could feel right where his head was – at the top of my belly just under my rib cage. I knew we were having a C-section.

The doctor came in as the sun came up and we called my doula, Shannon (God bless that woman! Seriously!) and the doctor confirmed what we already knew. I broke down. The one thing we prayed would not happen. The one thing we feared for months. And here we were at its threshold.

They began prepping me for surgery. There was no rush this time, like last time, though. I wasn’t in transition, so we could ease into it, so to speak. We prayed. My doula rubbed my back and helped me through contractions and spoke such encouraging words to me and Austin.

All prepped and just waiting with excitement for the doctor to make the incision!

All prepped and just waiting with excitement for the doctor to make the incision!

Finally, the time came. They wheeled me back into the OR and got me up on the table. The anesthesiologist put in the spinal and I lay down, numbing quickly as they put up the drapes and got the room all set up.

And the most amazing thing happened.

God pulled back the cloud and let me see his grace, pouring joy into me until the moment was full of it.

Soon my husband was at my side stroking my hair and we smiled with excitement over the moment coming – when we would get to meet our son.

The doctor cut into me and with excitement in her voice (and at my request) explained to me moment by moment what she was doing. “I’m cutting into the skin,” “I’m pulling aside your bladder now,” “Ok! I’m cutting into your uterus!” (The nurses kept telling me I should consider being a nurse…) And then the beautiful moment of birth came. “Do you know what you’re having???? This baby’s coming out rear-first! It’s a boy!!!!”

Joy spilled from the corners of my eyes and I laughed with happiness. Austin – amazingly – had looked over the curtain and watched the whole surgery, but they lowered the curtain and held up our son all covered in the beautiful mess of birth and crying the most beautiful cries! He was perfect and amazing and a gift and a treasure in all of his 32 weeks and 5 days glory. And we announced his name to the room – Solomon Augustine, our mighty peace.

Sorry if you find this gross. Actually, not really sorry. Placentas are downright fascinating. Seriously fascinating.

Sorry if you find this gross. Actually, not really sorry. Placentas are downright fascinating. Seriously fascinating.

They took him over and cleaned him off and called Austin over to cut his cord. I asked to see the placenta (“You should really consider nursing, Megan”).  And then Austin brought our son over to me to see him clean and handsome all swaddled and content before he had to be taken back to the NICU as they stitched me up (and I fought waves of nausea…it happens when you get sliced in half).

I went to post-op recovery where Shannon met me and we celebrated and laughed as I told her the joy of Solomon’s birth while the nurse checked and checked my vitals and sensations as the spinal wore off.

A short time later, they wheeled my whole bed into the NICU and I held Solomon for the first time – for as long as I wanted – and just wondered at his face and toes and fingers and coos.

The first time I got to hold Solomon. I am so in love!

The first time I got to hold Solomon. I am so in love!

I never could have imagined that I would be thankful for a repeat C-section. In my wildest dreams, I never could have comprehended being so thankful for it that I was glad we had the surgery instead of a VBAC. But I am. I struggled before Solomon’s birth, wondering why God was asking us to walk through the one thing we asked him to spare us from. But he took our hands and gently led us through it to show us that even our worst fear could be redeemed. Solomon’s birth wasn’t just ok because hey, healthy mom healthy baby. His birth was fun and exciting and I honestly wouldn’t have it any other way now. God made beauty from ashes; he gave us strength in our fears. In our desperate weakness he was so very incredibly lovingly overwhelmingly strong. (Sorry writer folks, but this moment really deserves all those adverbs.)

Family photo! Well, minus Joey. We'll get one with her after we're able to bring Solomon home in a few weeks.

Family photo! Well, minus Joey. We’ll get one with her after we’re able to bring Solomon home in a few weeks.

Solomon’s strong. He didn’t need oxygen at all (thank God for the steroid shots) and he’s been eating well and growing well. He’s feisty and a fighter, but he’s also so easily calm and content. He’s truly a miracle.

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He’s doing so well, but he’s still so small. Officially, the expected discharge date is his due date (December 14), but it’s also reasonable to expect that he’ll be there another month or so. It’s all up to him. I have one small request. I know it’s exciting to dream of him coming home (oh believe me I know!), but please please please do not ask us when or if they’ve given us a time frame. They haven’t. They won’t. We probably won’t know until the very day the doctor says, “Do you want to take him home today?” Until then, it’s a painful question to ponder. Instead, we really appreciate encouraging words, prayers, and of course compliments on how beautiful and amazing he is! 😉

Praise God from whom all blessings flow
Praise Him all creatures here below
Praise Him above all heavenly host
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost

Amen.

New Look!

Don’t worry, you’re in the right place.

Considering the change in focus of this blog over the past several months, it was time to update the look and title.

Thank you so much for reading and supporting!

As always, more to come soon!

Sleep Deprived and Camera Crazy

Two thoughts:

1. I had always heard about the sleep deprivation new parents experience. You know, the new parents you know with the zombie look on their faces exasperatedly tell you, “She woke us up every ten minutes last night!”

Ok. Yes, that does happen. Last night for example. In our house, we take turns. Last night was Austin’s turn. Tonight will be mine. That way, we each get at least one good night of sleep every other day. In theory. (Granted, even on Austin’s nights I still have to wake up to feed her when she’s hungry.) Last night, however, Joey fussed all night – enough to wake both of us. She was fine… just noisy and squirmy. Just enough. We’d doze off and then “squeak squawk grunt gurgle”… silence. For another 5-10 minutes. Then “whine spit up gurgle squeak grunt”… silence. Over and over.

(It’s a good thing she’s so cute.)

Now, for those of you who don’t know me well, I like my sleep. Long stretches of uninterrupted sleep. Long stretches. Uninterrupted. Let’s face it, I can be downright lazy. And oh so grumpy when I do have to get up. So, the idea of a newborn waking me up every couple of hours (if only we could be so lucky) really intimidated me. A lot.

But, dear expectant parents (or really anyone contemplating having a child and scared of this idea), here’s the thing: God gives grace. Lots of grace. He equips you for what He calls you to.

Like today, for example. I got maybe 5 hours of very interrupted sleep last night. It was a little hard getting up this morning, but believe it or not – I feel great today. I mean really great. I have energy and joy. I love my little girl – who, incidentally, has been wide awake and quite energetic all morning herself. And I am energized and motivated to actually get done what needs to get done today. (Blog-induced procrastinating aside.)

Yes, to be fair, some days are better than others. It does take a bit of getting used to. And there are moments at 3 in the morning when she starts crying to eat again (even though I fed her at 2) where I get frustrated and just. want. her. to. suck. it. up. and. sleep.

But she can’t help it. She’s brand new to this life, to this world. All she knows at that moment is that her tummy is empty and it really doesn’t feel good. I’m learning how to give grace so much more than I’ve ever had to before.

The time will come when we’ll probably let her cry it out and encourage her to learn to sleep through the night. But right now is the time I learn to let go of myself and give grace to a beautiful little baby God has entrusted to me.

2. We literally have thousands of pictures of Joey. No, not exaggerating. And she’s only 9 weeks old. As Jim Gaffigan put it, “I’m pretty sure I have more pictures of my kids than my parents ever even looked at me.”

I was bothered by this for a while, to be honest. Some nebulous concept of missing life because I’m stuck behind a lens or something like that.

And a great many pictures and videos have been posted on Facebook. Again… I struggled with whether or not to do that. (So I stopped for a day and was inundated with messages and texts and calls asking me to put up more pics. Inundated.)

And here’s what I’ve realized: this current world generation is the most documented generation the world has ever seen, and that’s a really cool thing. We capture everything from monumental historical moments to the mundane “hey! the cat’s asleep! *click*” moments. There are incredibly famous, world-shaking, life-changing historical figures whose faces and childhoods and voices are entirely unknown to us, completely lost. 1000 years from now, humanity will be able to look back to our time and see specific faces, know specific names, hear our voices, listen to our music and learn so much about who we are, what is important to us, what a typical day in our lives is like, what our childhoods and adolescent experiences are like.

Yes, this should be documented wisely. There are certain privacies we should protect and we most certainly need to be aware of the predation and bullying that can happen online. And we most certainly should make the actual relationship more important than the picture that merely captures a piece of it. But what a wonderful thing to be able to capture it!

So here’s a little gem from this morning:

Joey wide awake and read for the day first thing in the morning. What a precious little moment!

Joey wide awake and ready for the day first thing in the morning. What a precious little moment!

Tuesday Grace Letters

My sweet friend Kara had a wonderful idea. Every Tuesday, we will write grace-filled letters and link them all together at her blog – Mundane Faithfulness. (If you haven’t checked out her blog yet, definitely do it!) This week, we are writing a letter to ourselves 10 years from now.

Dear 2024 Meg,

With the challenge to write of grace to myself 10 years from now, I can’t help but thinking back to who I was 10 years ago. It’s been quite the trip down memory lane this week. 10 years ago (for me, 20 for you), I was living in Huntsville and just getting ready to graduate from high school. Here’s a little reminder:

Megan Senior Formal Portrait 1

Yikes! Lips closely pressed together to hide the braces and dear Lord why had I not discovered bangs and a straight iron yet? I barely remember that young woman because I’ve changed so much in the years between then and now. 

The world was still wide open in front of me. I had delusions of grandeur. I was going to change the world and make a huge name for myself. I was going to travel all over the planet, fly to the moon (literally), get degree upon degree, write books, paint masterpieces.

I was also incurably selfish, self-centered, and elitist. The world was my oyster (whatever the heck that means), and everything and everyone in it was a means to an end for me. School was there for me to succeed at, friendships and relationships served my need for approval and worthiness and value, even faith was something I lived out to feel my goodness and contribution to the world.

Maybe I’m being a little harsh on myself. Many who were close to me back then probably thought I was a pretty decent young woman, with everything going for her.

That’s just it. I had everything going for me, and because of that I had yet to learn humility.

It’s amazing to me to think over all I have been through in the past 10 years that have changed and shaped and molded me into such a different person today.

A short time in Kenya with the Maasai learning how incredibly uncomfortable I am outside my comfort zone and how incredibly inadequate I am to solve the world’s problems.

Years in college where I met “iron-sharpening-iron” type friends who walked with me and called me to be a better woman.

Life in West Africa, being brought to the edge of myself, to the depth of loneliness, to the profound dependence on God and His Word.

Falling in love with and marrying a man who has taught me how to be refreshingly real about who I am and who Christ is.

Life in the first real community I’ve known – the depth of grace-filled friendship, vulnerability, and unconditional love, steeped daily in the gospel.

The trauma of a fire that forced me to reconsider what I hold dear in the world and what is just extra.

A move to a new place and new style of life that showed me once again God’s faithfulness in providing just what we needed just when we needed it.

The birth of a beautiful daughter and the foray into motherhood where I am learning how good God is, how selfish I still am, and how sufficient His grace is.

I never would have imagined 10 years ago that my life story would include these vignettes. As I said before, I had delusions of grandeur – none of which has come true so far, most of which I have joyfully let go of for the sake of something so much better.

If it had all been up to me, today I would be an astronaut, working with NASA on our return to the moon or the mission to Mars. (No, not kidding.) I’d have at least one PhD and dozens of stamps in my passport. I also would not have had the incredible life I have, the husband I love, the beautiful daughter I adore, the friendships I cherish, the beautiful moments of the light of God’s grace shining through the cracks in the darkness of the difficulties I’ve been through.

I have no idea where you’ll be 10 years from now. But I am confident of this, that I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living (Psalm 27.13).

swaddled

This beautiful little girl will be turning 10. Now that is hard to imagine! God, give me the grace to love her well, teach her truth, and show her your goodness. I’ll be 38, so it’s likely we’ll be done having kids. How many more will we have? What will be their names? Personalities? What will our family have gone through?

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We will have been married for 13 years by then. Hopefully we’ll be better at taking pictures of us instead of just taking pictures of each other! Ha! We have both grown and learned and changed so much in just the last 3 years, what will 10 more be like? I can’t wait to see.

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And our little ice cream shop. God willing, Armadillos will still be going strong. We’re so blessed God brought us to this!

I think, after all this, what I most want to say is to remember the goodness and grace of God. Of all I wanted 10 years ago, I have almost none of it. But the incredible life I have lived was all an incredible gift of God’s grace – so much better than what I thought I wanted. I am confident that even though I cannot fathom who or where or what we’ll be in 2024, that too will all be by grace.

Love,
Meg of 2014

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Welcome Home Joey!

One happy Mama! Doc had just given the order for Joey's discharge!

One happy Mama! Doc had just given the order for Joey’s discharge!

After 24 days in the NICU, we finally got to bring sweet Joey home with us yesterday! What a wonderful day! 24 days seems like a very long time, but it also seems like such a short time. For Joey, it’s most of her life. It struck me yesterday as we took her down the elevator and out through the hospital’s front door that she had spent her entire life in that building so far. We smiled when we realized that the drive home was her first car ride. It was her first cold winter day outside. The first time coming into the warmth and comfort of her own home. It may sound cheesy to call the moment “magical,” but it is also very accurate.

And the last 24 hours at home have been nothing short of absolutely fantastic. When I woke up in the middle of the night, it wasn’t to the cold and ruthless pull of a breast pump, it was to the warmth and nourishing of my own sweet baby girl. We all actually slept well last night, despite the fact that I didn’t have the monitor beeping to tell me she was ok. I will admit that my ears were fine-tuned to Joey’s noises, and every squeak and shuffle woke me, calling me to watch her breathe. When I got up this morning, the first thing I saw was my beautiful daughter and my amazing husband. We finally felt like a family. I didn’t have to hurry up and shower and get dressed to rush to the hospital today. I was able to snuggle up with Joey and go about the day normally, but with the beautiful addition of a daughter to spend it with. We played and organized the nursery and folded laundry and read stories and sang songs and ate and rested together throughout the day. And the best part is, I didn’t have to tell her “goodbye” at the end of it all! We just kept going right on into the evening together and will continue into the night together and into tomorrow morning together and on and on together as a family.

All bundled up and ready to go home!

All bundled up and ready to go home!

I love being a stay-at-home mom. I know I’m still in the “honeymoon” phase at the end of only the first day, but this truly has been such a wonderful day.

Joey has done remarkably well. We are just in awe of how God continues to bless our little family. The nurses kept remarking how incredible it was that she was able to come home a full month before she was originally expected to go home. It is incredible to me that if she had gone full term, Joey would not have entered our lives for another month – I’d still be very pregnant, and this beautiful little girl would still be hidden in the depths of the womb.

Having said that, she is still very premature – 4 and a half weeks premature at this moment. While healthy and strong enough to come home, she is still small and vulnerable to the world. She still has to wear a small monitor any time we are not directly handling and looking at her – as I type this she lies in the bouncer next to me all snuggled up, and under her blanket and adorable onesie the monitor keeps an eye on my daughter’s respiration and heart rate, ready to let me know if either drops to dangerously low levels. So far, the alarms on the monitor have been silent. I pray God keeps them that way.

She also came home on medicine to stimulate her brain and lungs to “remember” to breathe. It is normal for preemie babies to have something called “periodic breathing.” It is just what it sounds like – they’ll breathe normally with the occasional long pause simply because the immature brain stem “forgets” to send the signal to breathe. Usually she can bring herself back from a stall like that, but just in case she doesn’t, the alarm will let me know I need to come stimulate her. Again, I’m not worried about this. She only needed stimulation a few times while in the hospital and never needed any further intervention. And she hasn’t even needed stimulation in several days.

Snuggling with Daddy on the couch at home!!

Snuggling with Daddy on the couch at home!!

Finally, we have done everything we can to protect her from the harsh flu and RSV season this year. (It’s bad… our hospital alone in our small town had 3 near-fatal cases of the flu in the NICU and PICU last week alone.) We are so excited to have everyone meet our Josephine, but we also hope you understand that at this time it is so very important that she not have many visitors, be brought into public places with many people, or be touched or held by many people – especially children and anyone who has anything even remotely resembling a cold or flu symptoms. RSV is notorious for seeming like a mild cold in an adult or older child, but being deadly for an infant – especially a premature one.

Again, we can’t wait for you to meet our daughter, but we are also going to be very protective of her health and safety until flu and RSV season ends this April or May.

And finally, I cannot say “thank you” enough to the many people who have poured out love on our family by providing meals and gifts and prayers and messages of encouragement. You have been such an incredible blessing to our family through such an incredible, life-changing season. Thank you from the bottom of our hearts!

On mommy's lap at home!

On mommy’s lap at home!

Guest Blogger: Dad’s Eye View “God in His Abundance Will Add His Favor and Grace”

I am continually amazed at how much grace and mercy we have received from God over this last week. Joey is doing an amazing job, breathing on her own, basically keeping herself warm, and feeding herself decently. As I am typing this I am in the NICU right now and as I look around it floors me how blessed we have been. I will explain this a little later.

When I first met with our doctor he said that he is amazed at how well 32-33 week old babies are doing. Five years ago it would be so much harder to work with that young of a kid, but now they seem to be much better. That is God’s grace. She started breathing on her own 2 hours after she was out of the womb. That is God’s mercy.

We have been blessed with being able to meet other parents in here, as well as talk to some old friends that have gone through what we have gone through and that has been amazing. Thanks Joel! To hear about similar stories and struggles has been greatly encouraging. We have heard about many of the other kiddos in our NICU that are not doing as “well”. One might be life flighted to Denver to have surgery! I cannot even imagine trying to deal with that. There isn’t much to be said about the daily routines with Joey. We wake up, go to the hospital. Cry. Hold Joey. After 4-5 hours go home. Cry. Sleep until the evening because we are emotionally exhausted. Go back to the hospital. Hold Joey. At 10pm, we have to peel ourselves away from Joey, sob uncontrollably, and drive home without our girl. Oh ya, Meg pumps every 3 hours, even overnight. Sounds like fun right? That is pretty much our daily routine.

Now we have also been blessed with how amazing our church family and friends have been. As you can see by our busy schedule, we do not necessarily have time to cook dinner. Well, they have brought over dinner ever since we went to the hospital on 12/31. And they have meals planned all the way through January!

Wait, don’t forget that because of what my Dad and Dave and ultimately God has done with Armadillo’s I get to have 4 months off and God timed this baby so that she came during the off season. This means I can spend all the time I want here with my girl and don’t have to worry about work. How narrow minded and self centered I am though as I have been blessed with meeting other parents and hearing the struggles they deal with. One even lives hours away! They have to juggle with work and driving back here to see their kid.

Now I look at all these blessings that God has provided for us and say to myself “Ya, I deserve this, I have been fairly obedient to God. I try my best to follow his rules. I go to church every Sunday, I read the Bible, shoot, I have even started evangelizing! Plus, Meg and I have prayed a lot for this little girl so God kind of has to do this for us. Everyone has told us how amazing parents we are, and we are really good parents. We have read a lot of books to prepare us. We read the Bible to Joey every day. On top of all that, God is love so He had to do this for his children. Right? Isn’t that what Christianity is all about? Obeying God so he can bless me here on earth with a beautiful family and children? Or maybe an amazing job that gives me time off over the winter?”

The reality is, I deserve none of this. I deserve eternity in hell for my transgressions. Sometimes I don’t want to drive over to the hospital because of the inconvenience. When Meg was in labor, I didn’t want to keep running back and forth to the hospital because all those trips were exhausting. Of course I quickly dismiss those thoughts but I still have them. That is the first instinct of my sinful heart. I am a sinner and so is my wife. She would be the first to admit it. We do not deserve this beautiful child. We do not deserve such a wonderful church family. But despite all of these things, God has chosen to bless us. We don’t deserve any of these blessings, but we have gotten them anyway. You see, we are all sinners and deserve God’s wrath. We have rebelled against a perfect and holy God. Meg and I have tried to “earn” our salvation by doing “good” works. So have you. If your faith is in anything else besides the work of Christ, or if you try to add to His work with things you have done, then you are in trouble. You need to surrender your life to Christ. And only God can do this miraculous change in your life. We are all sinners and need to repent.

The title of this blog post is what Josephine Anneliese means. The only reason we have this girl, the only reason we have the other temporal blessings, is because of the greatest blessing of all. Being saved from God’s wrath. The reason we named her that is not because of the those temporal blessings, but because of what Christ did on the cross. You see, God treated Christ as if he had lived our lives and poured out his wrath on Christ, so that God can treat us as if we had lived His life. That is the abundant grace that we have been given. 2 Corinthians 5:21.

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Dear Joey

JoeyDear Joey,

Welcome to life my beautiful daughter! These few days are the first moments of eternity for you, and that is an incredible thing. It has been such a delight watching you take it all in, your wide eyes gulping in bits of this enormous world you have found yourself in. Every experience – every moment, sight, sound, smell, feeling – a new thing.

This is quite an incredible world you’ve come into. I look forward to the day you take in your first sunset, the first time you notice flowers blooming, the moments you first feel the warmth of the sun, the bite of wind, the refreshment of rain, the beauty of clean snow. As your wonderful mind grows and matures you’ll begin to experience creativity, design, the beauty of logic and order, the wonder of art and music and dance.

And in your life you have been blessed with parents full of love for each other and love for you. It is a deep, unconditional love that God has filled us full of, so full that it overflows into you. You’ll grow up knowing the security of a love that never diminishes and is not dependent on what you do or say, but is constant just because we want to give it to you. If you grow into the most talented, most intelligent, most beautiful, most outgoing and charming, most well-behaved young woman we have ever known, we will love you. Please understand, my dear daughter, that we won’t love you because of these things. Your life is not about pleasing your daddy and me. We are pleased with you just because we wanted you and loved you. If you grow into a failure, forever struggling with school, shy and unable to make friends, defiant and strong-willed, disobedient and willfully wicked, we will love you. Nothing you ever do will cause us to love you any less. We will love you through it.

As your mother, I desperately want your life to be full of wonder and beauty and happiness.  I don’t want you ever to experience pain or disappointment or tragedy or loss. I don’t want you to struggle with sins and their consequences. But I know you will.

This beautiful, large, incredible world is under a curse. It’s an ancient curse that runs deep, touches every part of creation, and spans back to the very beginning of the world. You’ll feel this curse every day of your life. Some days it will just be a whisper – a small disappointment, the 24-hour flu, frustration when you don’t want to do what your daddy or I ask of you. Some days the sting of the curse will dig deep and hard – a harsh rejection, an unforeseen tragedy, a result of a sinful choice.

You need to know, Josephine Anneliese, that while this curse is very real and sometimes very close, it does not have the final say. We tell you all of the time about Jesus, and I look forward to the day your soul understands and trusts what it is that we’ve told you – that He has conquered and defeated this curse, taken away its power, and will completely abolish it from creation when He returns. Your very name is a reminder of this Joesphine Anneliese – God will add his grace and favor in abundance.

Someday, if I haven’t already, I will tell you the incredible story of your birth, of how you entered into this beautiful, cursed world. From the very beginning of your life, sweet Joey, you are a picture and testimony of the grace of God. Whenever I see you, hear your name, remember the incredible first moments of your life, I remember God’s amazing, life-giving, curse-conquering grace.

I love you my beautiful daughter. I can’t believe God chose me to be your mother, but I am so glad He did. I thank Him every day for giving you to us, for allowing us to be a part of the incredible story of your life He is writing. Always remember, every moment – the good and the bad, the beautiful and the hideous, the easy and the difficult – all of it is a gift of grace from a loving God. Always remember that no matter what you are loved more than you can comprehend, just because we want to love you. Your life will not be defined but what you succeed or fail at, or by what you achieve or experience or miss, but by who loves you.

Welcome to eternity my beloved Joey. I look forward to every moment of it with you.

Love,
Mommy