I got out of bed feeling just as tired as I had been the night before. I wasn’t up more than a few hours before I headed back to bed for a nap.
I complained about my extreme fatigue that day to my friend in an email. She wrote back, “You know what that means. You’re pregnant.” I quickly wrote back that pregnancy wasn’t possible. I had a baby that I was nursing and I hadn’t returned to a normal cycle since I’d had him. Still, she got me thinking. My baby had been nursing less and less. I was so hungry all the time. Hm.
We were getting ready to go on vacation, so I had to make sure I wasn’t pregnant before we left. I bought a pregnancy test and was shocked to discover that it was positive. It was the first time I hadn’t planned a pregnancy.
It was a delightful surprise. Not long before the positive test, my husband had given me a valentine in which he said he’d like to have another baby. I’m sure he wasn’t expecting it so soon. When I gave my husband the news, he exclaimed, “I barely touched you!”
There are no coincidences
When we returned from a lovely family vacation, I had a doctor’s appointment to date the pregnancy as I had no idea how far along I was. When the technician gave me the due date, I was stunned. I cried happy tears all the way home from the clinic, because the date was December 28th, the due date for the baby I had miscarried.
Even though I had wanted to know the gender of our fourth child, I really wanted this baby’s gender to be a surprise–like the rest of the pregnancy. The morning of my 5th month ultrasound, I prayed that the gender would not be revealed to me. I had gotten quite good at reading gender on the screen.
Another answered prayer
The technician scanned and scanned and could not see the baby’s gender. She was extremely frustrated! She knew I had four boys at home and she was dying to know.
But no one knew until the day of her birth and the doctor announced, “It’s a girl!”
When I am tempted to believe that God doesn’t care about me, I remember the circumstances of my daughter’s birth and I know how great is His love for you and me.
Then young women will dance and be glad, young men and old as well. I will turn their mourning into gladness; I will give them comfort and joy instead of sorrow. – Jer. 31:13
My dad changed dramatically when he retired. He had worked his entire life and he was truly happy when his time was his own. He quit smoking after five decades and spent lots of time fishing and spoiling my youngest brother. It was heartbreaking, when it seemed my dad had a new lease on life, to learn that he had COPD. He eventually required full-time oxygen.
I had a hard time watching my father, who had never been afraid of anything, have panic attacks when he couldn't breathe. Traveling and any activities that required him to walk became nearly impossible. At one point, he developed pancreatitis and was given a 50/50 chance of making it. He survived, but I had been warned. My dad was mortal.
Warning or no, I wasn't prepared the evening I got my mother's phone call telling me that my dad was near death once again. I cried and cried and kept saying, "I'm not ready. I'm just not ready." I had recently developed a habit of asking God to communicate with me through His Word. I begged God to let my father live. I loved him so much and I wasn't even sure of his salvation. I opened the Bible randomly and read from Isaiah 38:16, 18
You restored me to health
and let me live.
For the grave cannot praise you,
death cannot sing your praise;
those who go down to the pit
cannot hope for your faithfulness.
I was absolutely convinced that the Lord had heard my prayer and was giving my dad more time. I wasn't disappointed. My dad recovered. He had to move to a nursing home to get the care that he needed, but he never complained. He seemed to enjoy teasing the nurses and staff. I used the extra time with my dad to write him a letter explaining the Gospel and expressing my hope that he had received Christ as his Savior.
During a visit following my letter, my dad said, "Let's talk about what you wrote." He told me that he believed in God and had been baptized in infancy. I still had my doubts. My dad was a humble, generous man, but he had never said anything about God. Was it just because he was quiet? Or did he lack an authentic faith?
My dad and I had a routine. I called him at the nursing home the same night every week. On occasions when I had something else planned, I almost always forgot to call him until the next day. Dad was never upset when I forgot to call, though I always felt awful. I knew he looked forward to our talks. I did, too!
One evening, I realized that I was supposed to be at church the next night, which was my regular night to call Dad. I decided to call him right then. I joked with him that I was really on top of things this time and hadn't forgotten until it was too late. We did the usual chit chatting. I told him about our new mini-van with the remote control door. I said I was walking around like the Queen of Sheba, expecting every door to open for me at the touch of a button. He laughed. He told me that a pastor had come and talked with him for a long time. My dad said, "And you know what? I agreed with everything he said." I was so happy to hear that. I was sure that the pastor had shared the Gospel with my dad and my dad once again affirmed that he believed.
The next evening I was getting ready to go to my church meeting when my mom called. My dad had had a heart attack, she said. They didn't think he was going to make it. In that moment, I knew he wouldn't. When I returned home from church, I got the phone call that confirmed it. My dad was gone. Although I felt ready in comparison to the previous time his life was in danger, I still felt like someone was trying to rip my heart from my chest. I am so thankful my husband was there to hold me up.
Even in my grief, I recognized how loving a God I serve. I'm fully convinced that He moved me to call my father a day early and made sure that I knew my father's salvation was secure. The Lord continued to comfort me as I attended a memorial at the nursing home where he lived. The staff seemed more broken up than I was! Today I continue to be comforted with a vision of my father living in perfect health and peace with the Father of us all.
Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted. (Matthew 5:4)