Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Stephanie


The doctor walked in, looked me in the eye and said, "We're not sure she's going to make it."  After that, I think I must have blacked out.  I woke up and there was a religious-looking man dressed in black with a white collar in the room, asking me in a gentle and sympathetic voice if I wanted him to pray for me.  He prayed and then once he left I said my own prayer.  

I thought I didn't deserve to have my prayer answered because I wasn't living a life for God at all - as a matter of fact, since I left home to get married and start a family, I had completely turned my back on God and didn't even go to church anymore.  But things seemed dire at this point.  Would He listen?

A few days prior to this my daughter Stephanie, who was four at the time, came down with the chickenpox.  She was very sick from the get-go but the second day of her illness, it got much worse.  Her fever spiked to 106 and I was terrified.  I'd taken her into the doctor several times and was told, "It's just the chickenpox.  Give her ibuprofen and give it time, she'll be fine."  But things weren't fine.  Her body was swelling and she was moaning as if she was in tremendous pain.  She couldn't even stand for me to touch her.  I finally called the ambulance and said, "You are taking her to the hospital right now and I'm not bringing her home until you tell me what is wrong with her!"  They took her to the hospital.  Mother’s intuition can save a child's life!

At the hospital, they ran several tests and we began to wait.  The following day, Stephanie was unconscious and four doctors with very serious looks on their faces filed into the room with clipboards.  They were telling me she had the flesh-eating bacteria and that her body had gone into septic shock.  The nurses had to cut off her hospital bracelet twice and replace it because it kept getting so tight from the swelling that ballooned her tiny body.  She was now unconscious and it seemed hopeless.  Doctors crowded around her, poked at her, took x-rays and blood and now they were telling me they did not think she would make it.  I was absolutely devastated.

I think a part of me believed God was punishing me for running from Him.  I even think a part of me, due to a legalistic upbringing, believed I deserved it.  But that morning I found myself praying for the first time in years.  Through loud sobs, I begged God not to take my baby away.  I told Him I was sorry for turning my back on Him and that if He took her away I was I afraid I would not survive.  I begged Him to please let me keep her.  I told Him that if He would allow me to keep her, I would dedicate her to Him - she would be all His.  I wasn't sure how that would all work out, but I remember vividly that I was not willing to give up myself, but that I was willing to give her to Him.  I knew I had already proven that I couldn't live up to the standards of a good Christian, so maybe she could?  My ideas of God were so twisted.

God chose to heal my daughter, much to the doctor's surprise.  She was in intensive care for two weeks at a Children's Hospital in Norfolk, VA.  It was the longest and most frightening two weeks of my life.  But God gave me the grace I needed to get through this time.  To this day I think, "How did I do that?!" and then I remember the grace.  He helped me through it.

The doctors said she would have permanent lung damage after her terrible bout with this life-threatening illness.  But she would prove them all wrong and heal completely!  The only thing permanent is the scar on her side where they made an incision to help drain fluid from her right lung.  She is truly a miracle!

Over the next few years, Stephanie developed a love for Jesus that I cannot explain.  I certainly cannot take credit for it!  She wanted to go to church.  So my husband and I would drop her off and come back and pick her up or we'd send her with her grandparents.  I didn't go with her - honestly I think there was a part of me that didn't want to ruin it for her.  She was doing so well and I thought I was a failure in God's eyes (or at least that's what I was convinced of).

As I watched my daughter grow up loving Jesus, I saw something in her that I desperately wanted. She wasn't religious at all - it wasn't about keeping rules and playing the church game - it was about grace and relationship.  It was beautiful.  I began going to church to see if I could find what it was that she had.  Eventually, the Lord did open my eyes to the Truth and I gave my life to Jesus in February 2003, along with my husband.  I often smile when I think about how I thought dedicating my daughter to Him was such a better idea than dedicating myself. God knew that He would use that relationship with her to get to her father, and me too!  He's so good.

Today, Stephanie is 22-year old graduate of North Greenville University where she majored in Intercultural Studies.  She is passionately in love with Jesus.  In two days, God will be taking her on an incredible adventure on the other side of the world where she will be working in Southeast Asia as a Storytelling Facilitator in Linguistics.  I’m not surprised!  I’ve known for a very long time that God had big plans for her.

I look at her often and thank God for allowing her to stay here with us for so many years and for allowing her to be a vessel for Him to show us Himself through her witness.  I know that few weeks back in 1994 had to have been the most difficult of my life, but I also know that through that difficult time, God brought me into a real relationship with Him.  

And saying goodbye to her will be another difficult moment in my life that I can honestly say I’m feeling quite bitter sweet about.  She’s special.  Anyone who knows her knows this.  We will definitely feel a void in our lives when she leaves., no doubt about it.  My mom heart can almost feel the pain that Hannah had in her heart when she left Samuel at the temple after dedicating him to God (1 Samuel1).  Her husband spoke to her once, saying, "May the Lord help you keep your promise."  What a beautiful thing to say.  May the Lord help me to keep my promise, as well.  But just like Hannah knew about Samuel, I know Stephanie was never mine to begin with.  I just get to be her Momma – and what a blessing it is to be her Momma! 

Stephanie…go get’em girl.   You were born for this.  The plans He has for you are beyond your comprehension!  I’m so proud of you and I love you more than words can express. 

For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord.  They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.  – Jeremiah 29:11

2 comments:

Lillian said...

Awesome! May God Bless Her! :)

Susan said...

Oh my goodness. I'm sobbing up here in Vancouver. What a beautiful story! Bless you Stephanie as you go live out his love!

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