It’s the eve of Audrey’s 7th birthday!
Seven years ago today I was busy readying for Audrey’s arrival. I was cleaning and organizing and trying to stay calm. Mom and dad were arriving and helping with me accomplish my last minute to-do list. Doug was writing me a poem! Doug is quite the poet (for those who didn’t know it…sorry, I couldn’t resist)! He would give me that poem early the next morning before leaving for the hospital and would sob my heart out.
Tangible Answer to Prayer
Her birth day would be a day like none other. Physically, it was the most wretched day in my life. In every other way, it was the best day of my life, aside from my wedding day. Audrey has been the most tangible answer to prayer I’ve ever experienced. And thanks to her, it doesn’t matter if I’m ever able to have another child, she has qualified me as a MOM! That day started an emotional tradition in our home on her birthday of praying over her and reading to her Psalm 139. Doug and I especially cannot hold it together when we read to her:
For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you, when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance ;in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand.
I awake, and I am still with you
We tried for 4 years to have Audrey. It’s now been 12 years that we have been trying to grow a family. We begged God for a child and invested countless dollars, prayers, doctor visits, and discussions trying to have a child. I’m not sure what it’s like to want a child and have the desire granted immediately. I will never know that. But I think, in a way, having a child after trying for so long and desiring so intently, that it’s likened to anything in life that you work hard for and have to wait for. For some, attaining cars, clothes, vacations, retirement, etc comes to them with little effort and little wait. But for the most part, life would seem to support the idea that for those that work harder to achieve their dreams, freedom, possessions, etc, they love and appreciate that more than the easily, and quickly gotten gain. And so it is with Audrey – she has been the prize that cost me more blood, sweat, tears, and money than the average kid out there! She is so precious to me.
I Set My Love Upon Her
Although she’s turning 7, I suppose I have loved her now for about 7 years and 38 weeks! That instant I was told I was pregnant, I chose to set my love upon her. I didn’t even know she was a’ her’, but I loved her! I had loved her before I knew what she would look like, what her personality would be like, what her giggle sounded like. I loved her knowing she could come out with limbs missing, brain not working, or whatever. I had decided if she was green and purple polka-dotted with pink horns, I did love her! I loved her with a hope for who she’d become and with the acceptance that she might not ever be that. And I loved her with the anticipation that she would not love me back in the same way.
When the nurse placed her in my arms and I looked into her little blue and yellow jaundiced gooey eyes, I loved her with all the love possible. I knew there’d be days that she’d wear me out, make me mad, try my patience and tell me she didn’t love me. But I made that choice to love her until my last breath!
Doug – My Husband, Her Daddy
Her birthday marked a day, too, that I would love Doug even more and in a whole new way. On that first night she was born, before we let anyone see her we prayed over her and we sang to her our special song(see below). Then when friends and family had all left the hospital, the nurse brought our wailing Audrey into our room all tightly swaddled (just as she loved to be until about 9 months old!!). She placed Audrey in Doug’s arms and she was instantly soothed. That was a start to a still on-going trend of being Daddy’s girl and I saw Doug in a whole new light. It was another hope/dream that I had fostered in my heart but had finally gotten to see come to fruition. Doug, my husband, now a Daddy. He cuddled her close and looked at me with tears in his eyes and said "Wow, this is amazing! I could do this all over again tomorrow night! How soon do you think we’ll have to wait to do this again?" I don’t suppose I will EVER forget that moment. It’s truly a remarkable thing when not only is a wife’s dream a husband’s dream, but also when both people’s dream gets answered at the same moment! Not only was Audrey my prize, but she was Doug’s – the person I love most on this planet, and the person I most wanted to make happy, was pleased! It was one of those moments I wish I could have frozen in time and been assured by God Himself that never would I ever forget this pinnacle moment of happiness and gratefulness in both our lives. Audrey Jillian, weighing 7lbs even, all yellow and with one ear tipped out, we had found a God blessing us in a new way, never experienced before or since!
Doug and I have loved these 7 years God has given us with Audrey. She is a fabulous kid! She’s spunky, empathetic, intelligent, and funny. She’s constantly full of drama and pithy statements. Her vocabulary skills are better than most adults and her excitement is contagious. She’s been very into drawing and crafty things this year. She’s gotten all A’s in school. Her achievement tests would make any high-school momma proud. She’s taught us deeply about our Heavenly Father and has caused us to praise God more fully for His provisions. Although she can confound us with her deep inquisitions on life’s most weighty matters, she’s given out countless opportunities to ponder some deep Biblical theology! She’s entering into an age of snarky, sassy attitudes, but we trust that God will continue to give us wisdom and patience and that Audrey’s heart would be tender towards her Maker.
Our greatest, deepest desire and prayer for her is that she would deny herself, take up her cross, and follow Christ. It makes no difference at all how intelligent she is, how kind her words may be, or how cute she is. What matters most and for all eternity is that she would see the punishment her sin deserves, that she repent, trust only in the saving merit of Jesus’s blood, and obey God’s Word. Her greatest ‘success’, most beautiful reward, or highest praise mean nothing to us if she does not trust Christ for her salvation.
We do find her growing-up to be a very bittersweet moment. We cherish the years we’ve been given with her. We delight in seeing her learn and experience new things. But each new moment we have with her means former memories are forgotten. So often I wish I could remember the sound of her toddler voice, her first prayer, her funny sayings, what her cheek felt like against mine as she slept in my arms, etc. But as she gets older, I do too, and I forget….I guess I shouldn’t continue down this road of thought….enough tears have been shed today already.
The other aspect that makes the moment sad for us, is the unfulfilled desires for siblings for her. For a long time now Audrey’s not had a playmate, someone to share in life’s excitements, someone to minister to, someone to minister to her. She’s not had anyone else to laugh with, learn with, and pretend with, share with. And for as much as that pains us all now, I can’t help but wonder how deep that life-long solitude will affect her.
Being the youngest in my family, I’ve always, only known what life is like with siblings. Holidays and birthdays were more fun because of siblings. Playtime was always better with a playmate. Vacations were always richer because of siblings. Laughter was always a little longer because of a sibling. You can’t have reunions with out siblings. Reunions have always been a huge part of my life. When I think about life way down the road and I’m dead and gone, my sibling’s have plenty of kids to start their own big reunions and traditions. Audrey will have no one. When Doug and I are dying and needing care in old age, it’ll be all on her shoulders, with no one to help her. My sweetest memories involve all my siblings’ weddings and the birth of their kids. Audrey will not be in any weddings and won’t have nieces and nephews. I call on siblings when disaster hits, joys are fulfilled, Scriptures are confusing, sin is threatening, and times are lonely. Who will be Audrey’s iron sharpening iron? Who will help on her walk through this life? Had it not been for my brother, and our long talks over the phone and on each other’s beds late into the evening, I may never have given Christ my heart.
Our Portion Forever
I am not in despair. If God can cause the blind to see, the lame to walk, the sinner to be saved, the guilty to be set free, and the condemned to be made clean, He can surely and without trouble make Audrey whole, sanctified, and joyful. He can be her Prince of Peace. He will be faithful to complete the work that He has started in her. And Audrey can discover and claim the truths in Psalm 73:25-26
Whom have I in heaven but You?
And there is none upon earth that I desire besides You.
My flesh and my heart fail;
But God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.
This verse has been earmarked in my Bible for 15+years as I’m often tempted to put my hope in people. I make Doug and Audrey and even the dream for more babies into an idol, thinking they will give me all the joy I need. If Audrey should ever desire a sibling in the way that I desire a sibling for her, I pray that this will be her heart’s cry.
We are doubtful that Audrey will have a sibling. But we say to her these words from 2 Timothy 3:
But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;
And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
That the man of God may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto all good works.
And we pray that, with or without siblings, may she find Doug and I to have faithfully and richly loved her with the love that only we can give her. May she say that she saw Christ in us. May she forgive us for the times we’ve been impatient, or not as encouraging as we should, or selfish with our time. May she be grateful for the level of accountability we’ve held her to and be grateful for the hard work we’ve made her do. May she trusts our heart and finds shelter in our authority. May she look as us and say that God is good!
We used to sing to Audrey when she was in the womb Fernando Ortega’s song, "If You Were Mine". We changed a few words to change the verbs to present tense the night that she was born. This is Audrey’s song!
When my heart is troubled and I am weighed down,
Then I like to think of how this lonesome world has changed
Now I can see your face, & hold you in my arms
Cause you are mine, cause you are mine.
If you have a bad dream I will jump inside it,
And I will fight for you with all the strength that I can find.
I will lead you home by your tiny hand
Cause you are mine, cause you are mine.
I will sing of love on the blackest night.
I will sing of God, and how His goodness fills our lives.
I will sing to you, til the morning light
Cause you are mine, cause you are mine.