January 14th

You have to give a little to get a little. I’m sure we’ve all heard that saying.

For the last couple January 14ths…and I’m sure for every January 14th to come…I’ve taken some time to reflect. It’s the day that God changed my life. Rocked my world. I didn’t want to give anything, but I gave a lot. But, oh what I got in return!

She didn’t even stand 5 feet tall, but she had the heart of a giant. She had a pin-tight perm and wore her pants too high. She usually smelled a little like baby powder. Her hands were cold to touch, but warm with love. I saw her almost every day of the first 17 years of my life. I grew up across the street. Every day after school, I’d dial that same phone number to be sure she was home from work. She worked up until the day she went into the hospital…She was devoted like that. When she answered, I’d take off in that same diagonal path across the street. We’d go to the “playroom”, and she’d let me be whomever I dreamed of that day. I was the teacher, she was my student. I was the pageant contestant, she was my judge. I was the musician, she was my audience. She was so much more than my grandmother. She was my friend.

She loved reading. She sang Kenny Rogers in the passenger seat of my grandpa’s truck in the most horribly beautiful voice that I’ll never forget. She could cook like nobody’s business…macaroni & cheese, chicken & dumplings, pork chops & eggs, biscuits & pepper. She collected wind chimes and magnets. Everyone in the family brought them to her, wherever they may have gone, and you could barely see the white of her refrigerator for them.

I was her only granddaughter. And as much as she loved those boys, I knew I had a special place in her heart. When I met my future husband, she accepted him as if he were already a part of the family. She was nosy and gullible. He was a jokester, and she believed anything he told her. She loved him like he was one of her own.

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On January 14, 2013, she went home. Home to be with Jesus. I know that’s where she went because her big black Bible full of markings, her life, her constant reminder to stay in church and stay talking to God…they told me so.

For 31 years, she’d been a gift to me. Giving her up was a sacrifice. One that I wasn’t prepared to make. She had fallen on Christmas Day, broken her shoulder. I didn’t see her that day. It still breaks my heart into a million pieces to think of that. If she’d known why, I know she would’ve understood…

I was pregnant. I was about 7 weeks into my 8th pregnancy. If you follow the blog at all, you’ll know that it was my also my 8th unsuccessful pregnancy. But, at that point, I was still trying to do everything right. Medicines taken by scheduled alarms on my phone, so as to not be even 10 minutes off. Injections of blood thinners that left painful bruises all over my stomach. As much rest as I could possibly tolerate. And that’s why, that Christmas we chose to not travel the hour and a half drive to her house. It was the first Christmas in my life that I hadn’t seen her. She didn’t know I was pregnant.

Every Christmas Eve, the whole family would gather in her living room. We’d laugh and joke and exchange gifts. My grandfather would be the biggest kid of us all, so excited to open his packages.  Those wood paneled walls and brown shag carpet hold some of the best memories of my childhood. Then, we’d take the picture. Memaw & Pop with the grandkids. I have one from every year, up until he died in ’05. Then, we continued without him up until that Christmas. All they ever wanted was for their entire family to be together. And we always were.

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She had one of the worst types of humerus fractures. The first doctor that saw her placed her in a sling. It was only after a couple very painful weeks…weeks of her not eating, not sleeping, in pain…that she sought another opinion. She needed surgery to repair the break.

She was admitted to the hospital on January 13th, in preparation for surgery the following morning. While she was downstairs in the hospital lobby, waiting to be admitted & taken to her room, I was upstairs in the obstetricians’ office being told the news. We’d lost the baby. Five floors and one secret separated us.

I was heartbroken, but I couldn’t let it show. I didn’t want her to know I’d lost the baby…didn’t want her to know I’d even been pregnant. She would’ve been as heartbroken as we were…Maybe more. Every time a piece of us died with another lost baby, a piece of her had died too. I didn’t want to see it in her face again. So, we decided not to tell her until we were safely out of the first trimester….which never happened.

I sat in her room a while that afternoon. She was in so much pain that we didn’t chat much. Her two children put their offenses aside and chatted, and she was obviously pleased. It makes me so happy to know that was one of the last things she saw.  I told her I’d stay with her that night, but she insisted I go home and “take care of her baby”.

Oh, how she loved that baby! He was about 15 months old, and was the apple of her eye. JW had taken him to visit her the week before she went in the hospital. And although she didn’t make it up out of her bed, he’d toddled all over her room…into everything, and she didn’t mind one bit. The last words she spoke to me were about them. “Give JW and my baby a kiss for me.”

And that was it. At 6pm, I went home to meet my little family at the dinner table. I had no appetite, but loads of worry. And at 3am the following morning, God showed me how much He wanted me to give.

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There weren’t many things I could’ve imagined that would’ve been as bad as losing that pregnancy. But losing her was one of them. I felt like God had taken too much. More than I should’ve had to give. I couldn’t see, or even imagine, what He had in store to give me in return.

I’d strayed from him. My heart had become bitter. I’d made choices I’m not proud of. I’d done things that are embarrassing to me now. My prayer life was pretty close to nonexistent. I didn’t “have” a church. I opened my Bible when I needed something. I thought about God, and the blessing He’d given me in the adoption of my son…but I didn’t praise Him, or audibly thank Him, or give Him glory.

He took from me. It wasn’t a punishment…that isn’t how He works…but it sure felt like one. And one might think “How mean! How awful!” Right? But, in taking away, He set into motion that which would give. He gave us desperation. We were desperate for hope. He’s not mean or awful. He opened our eyes! He showed us what we needed…what was missing!

“And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose” Romans 8:28

Friends, there’s always a choice. I know some of us have been through more than others. Some of us have hurts so deep they’re unimaginable to the rest of us. But know this! He is a good, good Father! And He’s never going to take away, without giving in return! Whatever He has set in motion is always integral to the purpose of your life.

I now know that these losses…that hurt…was part of my bigger picture, so that I would search for answers. Search for hope. Search for Him!

God truly, truly works for good. That’s not to say that all things that happen to us are good. Losing my baby wasn’t good. Losing her wasn’t good. Not even by any stretch of the imagination. But friends, God promises us that He will work all things together for the good of them who love Him! The present circumstance may not be good. But maybe, just maybe, the bigger picture is amazing!

It’s like a puzzle. One piece alone is pointless. It shows us nothing. But, when you put all those pieces together…they all make your “big picture”. All of your circumstances, all of the things that you go through, they’re all just one little piece of your big puzzle. Some are hold the background, some are the focal point…some are good, some are “bad”…but without each one of them, you can’t see the bigger picture.

From all that sadness, all the bad, He gave me new life. He led me to a church that would change my relationship with Him in ways I never could’ve imagined. He showed me how to get back into sync with Him. He surrounded me with a new family…a church family. He put aside all of my bondage, and opened my eyes to new ideas, new people, a new way of living. He showed me His love, and how to replicate it toward others. He gave me a renewed strength in my marriage, and showed me how to build it on His Word. He showed me how to parent my baby, and how to show him His love. He changed almost every aspect of my life. He made me NEW in Him!

Then, he gave me the most unimaginable gift of all. He gave me a successful pregnancy. One that beat all odds, broke all the chains, and was based on the foundation of His Word.

And today, we laugh about how much this 10 month old baby acts like that beloved 83 year old woman.

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“The Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord.” -Job 1:21

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