Saturday, February 12, 2011

the Lord has made me happy

this is the story of how God brought me joy in one of my darkest hours.  it is a story celebrating the lives of two great men - my grandpa and my oldest son asher.  i hope that by letting you in on such a personal part of my journey, you too can find joy in whatever you are walking through.

nine months pregnant at my grandpa's memorial service - we all wore one of his ties in honor of him

seven years ago i was walking through one of the hardest seasons on my life.  my grandpa was diagnosed in the fall of 2003 with an inoperable malignant tumor and pancreatic cancer.  we found this out the morning after getting home from a trip to st. louis, where we missed our flight in san francisco and ended up sleeping on the floor of the airport because we couldn't afford a hotel, i was pregnant, and had terrible food poisoning from bad chinese food.  i was sleeping on my mom's couch terribly sick, waiting for the good report after my grandpa's routine gall stone surgery.  instead i was told the news you never want to hear.  my food poisoning got so bad that the same night i ended up in the same hospital my grandpa was in recovering from his surgery and processing the "c" word diagnosis.  what a horrible monday.

the next few months were some of the hardest i have walked through in my 31 years.  my family believes that God's will is still to heal every disease, just like when Jesus was walking on this earth, and so we stood for healing in the midst of a hopeless diagnosis from the medical community.  we knew that God would have to do a miracle.  my faith was stretched almost to the breaking point, like a tightly stretched rubber band.  many times i thought i would snap.  i had such intense nausea from pregnancy, was teaching full-time the hardest class i had ever taught, was hospitalized twice during pregnancy because i couldn't keep anything down or in, and was at my grandparents' house nearly every day praying for healing and for God to intervene.

it was not the way i expected my first pregnancy to go.  i didn't have the normal excitement/anticipation that first time moms experience.  i didn't nest at all while pregnant with my first son.  instead i had intense emotion.  intense vomiting.  intense battle with fear.  intense prayers similar to the psalmist when he cried out to the Lord for his very life.  intensity was the main theme to my first pregnancy, not excited anticipation.

and yet, this was the baby i had prayed for as long as i could remember.  when i was a young teenager the Lord prompted my heart to pray for my son asher.  i didn't yet have a son, for i was only a young teen who only had hopes of getting married and having a family, but i felt so strongly i was to pray for this specific baby by name.  i felt strongly that i was to pray for him from the book of the revelation of Jesus chapters 2 and 3, where Jesus sent 7 letters to 7 churches.  i felt i was to pray for him to be an overcomer.  you see, God spoke to my heart that my son would live in the last days of this age and i was to pray for him to overcome and see the rewards Jesus promised to overcomers.

my grandpa died 3 1/2 weeks before asher was born.  i was privileged to be there with him not only during literally his final moments, but almost constantly for the last couple weeks of his life.  my whole family on my mom's side ended up "moving in" to my grandparents' house, camping out on the floor with babies and all.  i had first rights to the bathroom, since i was due any day and was one of the few who got to sleep on a bed.   one of the most amazing and yet saddest experiences for me during those last days was when my grandpa laid hands on each one of us and gave us his blessing.  he even laid hands on my belly and blessed asher.  that meant so much to me.  one of the hardest things for me after asher was born was the fact that my grandpa just barely missed meeting my baby.   i am so thankful that he laid hands on him and blessed him.

the morning after the night my grandpa died, i went to my baby shower.  many of my family members told me it would be okay if i canceled it and that people would understand, but as hard as it was to go after what i had been through it was important to me to go.  in the months of pain and grieving not only my grandpa's death but even the horrible disease that he was fighting, i hadn't really celebrated the life i was carrying within me.  i needed to go to the shower for asher.  you see, in a strange way it was like the psalmist said, though there is pain in the night, joy comes in the morning.  i wouldn't say that the shower was full of laughter and what most would consider joy.  my eyes were puffy and swollen, my face tear-stained, and my mind foggy from grief.  but the name of the child i was carrying within me was happy.  God had told me 10 years before he was born that his name was to be happy his name was joy.  the Lord has made me happy.  asher was the joy that came in the morning.  joy wasn't an outward expression or even a feeling.  for me, the joy in the morning was my son.

happythe Lord has made me happy. in my pain and disappointment, in my grief,  in my questions and doubt and hard-hit faith the Lord gave me a child named happy.

it is so interesting to me that i went into labor on my grandpa's birthday and had asher the next day on my grandma's birthday.  most my family was hoping and praying that asher would be born on grandpa's birthday, february 11th, and i felt intense pressure to control something completely out of my control.  but God had His timing and it was good.  laboring all night i again experienced the reality of pain in the night, but joy in the morning.  at 8:38am, with the warm rays of morning sunlight coming through the eastern window of my delivery room, asher made me a mama for the first time.

asher being born on my grandma's birthday, seven years ago today, brought her joy as well in the midst of pain.  God's timing is always perfect.

God already had His hand on this little baby before he was even born in so many ways.  besides urging me to pray for him 10 years before he was born, we later found out that He led some bethel school of ministry students to pray in room 312 of the hospital he was born in about a week before his birth... the very room he was delivered in!  asher completely stopped breathing at 4 hours old, turning purple and limp in my arms while i nursed him for the second time ever.  never in all my life will i forget that moment or the image that haunted me for over a month every time i would blink my eyes.  asher had a brush with death, but God had other plans.  sometimes i wonder if this was one of the reasons why God urged me to pray for my son asher to be an overcomer.

asher, i am so honored to be your mom and that God would entrust me to raise you and guide you towards Him.  you are an overcomer in every sense of the word.  God has a plan for you and a reason why He did not take you home to be with Him on that day.  i take it extremely seriously and want you to know that you belong to Him alone and He is the keeper of your life.

you are so much like your grandpa great.  i believe that a part of the mantle he carried to be a full time minister to the Lord was passed on to you when he prayed for you while you were still in my womb.  you were called to be set apart for the purposes of the Lord.  you will never lead an ordinary life.  many times you may ask me why you don't do things like everyone else.  son, i will remind you, those who live ordinary lives don't ever do the extraordinary.  you were called to extraordinary.

you are an intercessor and carry a healing anointing.  when we would pray for my grandpa and you were in my womb, you would move and get excited whenever someone would start praying for healing.  you could feel the Holy Spirit even then son!  you have always loved to pray!

you are my happy boy.  did you know you laughed before they say a baby should laugh?  not a little laugh, but a giant boisterous belly laugh, just like my grandpa!  oh you have brought me so much joy in the smack middle of so much pain.  you brought comfort to my heart.  you ministered healing to your mama's heart even in your young age.  the Lord has made me happy by giving me you. 

i love you asher ian.  you made me a mama.  i can't believe you are already seven and yet in some ways i can't believe you are only seven.  you are such a man of God and your desire is already to give Him everything.  you carry so much wisdom, strength, humility and joy beyond your years.  i believe you will be anointed with the oil of joy, just like Jesus, because you love what He loves and hates what He hates.

i love you asher.  

here are some my favorite pictures, not entirely in age order but close...  thank you for allowing me to share part of my journey with you my readers.  i would love your comments below on how God has brought you joy in the midst of dark times or ways He has brought you hope that He cares for you.   

 if He did it for me, He will do it for you. 



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