My Birthday Present

I’ve gotten to the point in life that when asked, “What do you want for your birthday,” I usually respond, ” Nothing.” I know this is a frustration to my wife and kids, but stuff is not as important to me, now. So, when my wife asked me THE question on Wednesday in anticipation of my birthday today, I got on Amazon.com and ordered a few camera accessories that should arrive in time for my birthday…not spending much because I’m not sure how much more I want to tie up in my current camera.

My birthday was shaping up to be a low-key affair with some lunch and supper plans with a few friends and family. However, as we know, plans can change in a second. Late last night, we got a text from our middle daughter, Katie, letting us know that she was having some issues with her pregnancy and that she was going to the hospital. Only about seven months along, her water had broken.

The news of her pregnancy originally came to us as she traveled back to Texas after having spent Christmas with us. She had not felt well the entire holiday, so she bought a pregnancy test in Kansas. It was positive. However, her feelings about the pregnancy were never really positive. After delivering her first child last September, this was an “unexpected” pregnancy. But beyond that, something didn’t feel right.

So, when at ten weeks the sonogram technician exited the exam room, saying she needed to get the doctor, my daughter’s feelings were confirmed. She was told that there appeared to be only fluid where the brain should be. While it was too early to conclusively diagnose, the couple was told that it was either anencephaly (absence of all or major part of the brain) or acrania (partial or total absence of the skull).

At that point the question had to be asked… terminate or carry this baby. We sought to instill in our daughters a respect for the sanctity of life and they have personally embraced that tenet of faith as their own. So, Katie and her husband, Daren, didn’t wrestle with that question; she would carry this child and trust God. We were grateful that the healthcare professionals truly supported them in this decision. As Katie sought God’s direction on how to pray for this child, she wrote:

The Spirit has only revealed to me to pray for Life… which could mean spiritual life for my non-Christian friend, life for another child from my baby’s organs, or life for my child.

As the months passed, a clearer diagnosis emerged; acrania, the skull was not forming, a condition that results in death at birth or soon afterward. They also discovered the child was a boy. Soon afterward, they met with a transplant specialist to consider options and discovered the point of viability for transplantation. The baby’s weight would need to be five pounds , so a C-section would be scheduled close to full term. Of course, my wife and I would plan to be there for the birth to have whatever time God might give us with out first grandson.

Those plans,however, all changed with the developments of last night. At 11:40 p.m., we received news that an emergency C-section would occur in the next few hours, giving us no opportunity to be with the kids at this critical time. Due to the premature delivery, transplants would not be possible, either.

As the midnight hour passed, it dawned on me that my first grandson was going to be born on my birthday. Although I would not see him this side of eternity, he would always be my “birthday buddy.” He would be my birthday present on reserve, a treasure in heaven I will one day behold AND hold, healed and whole.

Through a series of texts, I can only approximate that Silas was born between 2:00 a.m. and 3:30 a.m. He lived for about five minutes. Though we will grieve his short earthly life, we have hope that through Jesus Christ, Who is the way, the truth and the LIFE (John 14:6), Silas was welcomed into eternal joy and glory early this morning.

I’ll see you later, Silas! I look forward to unwrapping all that there will be to know of your experiences in the unfettered presence of the Lord!

- Love, Papa

POSTSCRIPT: A few days after my daughter had Silas, she gave a status update on Facebook. I wanted to add her words to this post -

I just wanted to say how unbelievably thankful I am for the prayers, thoughts, love, flowers, meals, and support my family has received over the past several days (and months)!

I am honored to have given Silas Lee 29 weeks of life in my womb and 6 minutes outside of it. His short, sweet life has forever changed Daren and me; we are eternally grateful for our son. Although the heartbreak is very real, God’s peace and absolute goodness through the months of suffering has been, oh how, indescribable.

Thank you again for all the love…we feel it!

Finding Refreshment

Our Iowa heat wave has me reminiscing about the heat and humidity of my Tennessee, childhood summers. We had a two-story (split into four-levels) home with only two, window unit air conditioners —one in the dining room (2nd level) and the other in my parents’ top level bedroom.  I guess my father felt the units were strategically placed since cold air falls, but they really couldn’t keep up with the demands of Memphis summers. After some hard, outdoor play, I can remember heading in for a drink of water or Kool Aid and then lingering in front of the window unit. The cold air from condensation-laden vents came as a welcome relief from an afternoon of play outside.  Refreshed, I would head back out for some more games of baseball, kickball or army with my friends, Steve and Kendall.

What are you doing to find refreshment for your body, soul and spirit? I have received some unsolicited (but caring) advice about my need to make sure I have some times of refreshment built into my schedule. The fact of the matter is, we all need to make sure we have that refreshment…not as an excuse for laziness but as a way of re-energizing for service to the Lord. In Exodus 31, Moses concludes his time with God on Mt. Sinai and the Lord said this:

16 The Israelites must observe the Sabbath… 17 It is a sign forever between Me and the Israelites, for in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, but on the seventh day He rested and was refreshed.

If God “rested and was refreshed,” might we not also need to experience the same?

The most essential and primary way to experience refreshment comes from repentance. Peter said in Acts 3:19:

Therefore repent and turn back, that your sins may be wiped out so that seasons of refreshing may come from the presence of the Lord.

Repentance from sins is a necessity for ongoing, unrepentant sin causes our fellowship with the Lord to be interrupted. Intimacy with God is compromised just as it is in a marriage when a spouse will not admit and make steps of restitution following an indiscretion. Thus, repentance may be your first step back to needed times of refreshment.

More on “refreshment” next time.

Points to Ponder

  • Are there any actions or attitudes in your life from which you need to turn in order that a floodgate of needed refreshment might open onto your life, enabling you to experience the presence of the Lord, again?
  • Think of a time of personal, spiritual refreshment. Did repentance precipitate the refreshment?