"For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for wholeness and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope."
"More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given us." Romans 5:3-5
"Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer." Romans 12:12
Hope has been my word for the year...and a half. :-) Late last fall when we found out about Jethro's heart, it was devastating. The prognosis was very grim; they didn't really expect him to make it to birth, and if he did make it that far, they said it was very likely that he would die within the first week or so. I can't even tell you how suffocating that appointment was. I was deeply panicked and grieved at the same time and I was quite honestly terrified of walking through the grief of losing another child. I knew that God is faithful, and I knew that He would carry me through whatever He had for us, but I just didn't want to go there again.
As I regained my bearings a bit and began to pray, I felt God impress me with the knowledge that He would not miraculously heal Jethro's heart. I prayed for it, but as I prayed, I just knew that this was a journey we were going to have to take. However, as I prayed, God also gave me a very sure feeling that everything was going to be okay. Now, I will admit to you, I didn't know what "okay" meant. I knew it could mean that Jethro would die, and we would once again find God faithful within that grief. I also knew it could mean that Jethro would live and we would find God faithful within that path. One thing I have learned over the last several years is that God's definitions and my definitions don't often mesh up, but God's are always right. So, although I didn't really know what okay meant, it did give me a great sense of peace because I knew that whatever God had in store for us He would be there to strenthen us and hold us steady.
Jethro was born dead, and after extensive efforts on the Drs part, God allowed him to be resuscitated. By the time I woke up from surgery, my little boy was safely ensconced in the NICU, sedated, intubated, and hooked up to many monitors. That was a Friday. Over the weekend, he held his own, and talking with the various Drs, I got the impression that although they were cautious, they felt he was doing okay. Monday arrived, and so did Dr. Jensen. We had seen him during my pregnancy, and I was anxious to get his opinion on how Jethro was doing. He sat us down and talked to us about how serious a condition Jethro was in. When I asked him if he was at all hopeful over how well Jethro had done over the weekend his answer was a simple, "No". He explained 4 different surgery options and why each one was not an ideal plan ~ also explaining that the surgeon's might refuse to do surgery because of the condition of his heart...and then he suggested that we might want to consider 'comfort care'. Which is basically making baby comfortable while they die. I was hysterical ~ not in a loud, frantic way, but I began to cry, and I could not stop. I felt like I had lost my baby. I finally had to get up and leave. Poor Dr. Jensen. He was in a lose-lose situation, not only having to deliver hard news to a Mama and Daddy, but having to deliver that news to a post-partum, post-surgery hormonal Mama.
I had lost my bearings. I felt like I had either mis-understood God, or that I was having an epic fail of faith. I called my mom, and I called a friend who had had an Ebstein's baby the year we lost Tucker. I knew she had to have had the same conversation with their cardiologists. Mike finally came to my room and we talked about 'the options'. I also got in touch with a local heart mom, and bless her, she came right down to the hospital and talked with me for hours. I asked her about how they came to the decision to go the surgery route, and many, many other things. By that evening, I had calmed down much, and Mike and I had determined what has led us through all this time ~ if there is life, there is hope. We would fight tooth and nail if need be to get Jethro the care he needed to live.
Within the next day or two we talked with the surgeon, who came to us with a surgical plan (thank you, Lord!), and the die was cast. Jethro had the first of his surgeries at 10 days.
This has been a long, hard year. We've been through so much, and yet, we can honestly say that God has been more than faithful, and we are tremendously blessed. I wanted to share this because I think sometimes we really get down on ourselves when we lose sight of God's promises. But, I believe that's just a part of the human condition. It's how we react when we are in that spot. Am I going to turn my back on God because I think that suddenly He's not faithful, or I feel like He's turned His back? Or, am I going to stay the course, trust His word, even when it doesn't 'feel' true, and believe? If I falter, am I going to continue the fall, or am I going to catch myself and lift my heart heavenward once again?
If Jethro had died, would I be able to say these things? Yes. Yes, I would. And, six years after Tucker died, I can say that I am so thankful for that experience. Please don't misunderstand, I would *love* to be raising my sweet boy ~ there is a definite hole in our home where an active little 6 year old boy should be ~ but I am thankful to have had and lost Tucker, because I believe that part of God's purpose for Tucker was to prepare me to parent Jethro. To be able to walk through all this uncertainty and upheaval in trust and faith ~ and that is a true gift from God.
So, what does hope look like at our house right now? Let me share some pictures with you from Jethro's first Christmas...a Christmas we weren't sure we would have.
|Opening his first present|
|Who took my picture!?!? ( I got this look *every* time I snapped a shot!)|
|This makes me laugh every time. Christmas is apparently a very surprising holiday.|
|Opening (or eating) presents at Pak and Grammie's house.|
I am so very thankful that I serve a sovereign, faithful God. A God of hope.