Thursday, October 11, 2012

Remembering the Miracle - Part 3

Our "new normal" was established soon enough.  We spent many of our hours filling Joanna's stomach with specialized food, and then cleaning her up when her body rejected it.  We spent many of our days each week visiting specialists and scheduling more appointments.  We spent many of our nights listening for the shrill beeping of her apnea monitor, alerting us that she'd stopped breathing.


It seemed that every other month that passed, we'd drop another specialist.  "She looks good to me," they'd say.  "You're lucky. "

And to them she was another unlikely statistic, but to us she was a breathing example of God's power and grace.  

He is still fighting for her. 

And we'd continue to have hard days, when she'd vomit around the clock, and we'd be back in the hospital, and we'd add another medication in an effort to control her body, and go to another specialist who couldn't figure out why she was always sick.  

But for the next several months, she would continue to grow, develop, meet all of her milestones to the surprise of her therapists and doctors.  At a GI appointment in Philadelphia with a top doctor, we were told - "I've been in this field for 30 years.  I have never seen a 24 wk preemie doing as well as your Joanna."  God was confirming to us that in the midst of fear, inconvenience, and lingering medical questions, he was taking care of her.


With each passing month, Joanna moved closer and closer to "normalcy."  And as the gap grew smaller, so did my capacity to remember God's faithfulness.  
And so every once in awhile, God would remind me - of what happened, of what could have been:


She sat across me with a small little 4-year-old in her lap.  Her other daughter was at home.  The woman I was speaking to had triplets, 23 weeks gestation, and was sharing her story.  Her situation started remarkably similar to mine, yet with such a different end.

Her only son had died hours after delivery.  The little girl sitting in her lap was blind.   She had severe cerebral palsy, and the mental capacity of an 18-month-old.  She was there for the same reason I was - her child lacked the ability to eat.  And so much more.

I watched her cradle her daughter and heard her speak words of joy and thankfulness, echoing the sentiment of every other mother - I wouldn't trade my children for the world.  Yet her child was not like every other mother's.  Her child would never look into her mother's face, would never walk without her mother's support.  They would never speak on an adult level or share breakfast together because this little girl couldn't even get food down into her belly without the help of a tube.

And once again the question would come, like it did back in the hospital - "Why me, God?"  Except this time, it was different.  This time, it was a "Why would you be so kind?  Why would you save MY child when others have been lost?"  And His whisper comes to me through the tiny fingers and vacant eyes of the little girl across from me:  Do not forget.


God has been faithful to us.  He continues to prove His faithfulness, even when I am unfaithful and forget His kindness, His protection, His plan far grander than my own.

Just shy of 2 1/2 years, Joanna's story has already changed lives.  And the only thing she did was LIVE.

Because the LIFE in her breathes the goodness of Her Creator.
And the WEAKNESS in her proves the power of Her Protector.
And though she doesn't know it, and doesn't even care, God delights in using the weak vessels of the world to show His greatness, His glory, His Good News.

Give me the grace, oh God, each time I lay my eyes on this "weak vessel" of mine, to remember.

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