Last summer on multiple occasions with no prompting or explanation, Townes would look at me earnestly and say, “Mama, I am waiting.”
I would look back at his big blue eyes with a multitude of my own thoughts…what are you waiting on…More snacks…Another show to watch…more trucks? We already got you a new puppy.
So, I would ask him, “what are you waiting on?”
Townes: “My baby sister.”
Well, I don’t know about you or how you may have perceived this but the first time this happened I chalked it up to some “little idea” that must have come from his show, Bluey, or from his friend, Finn, who indeed has a little sister.
But, after about the third time, I decided I had to shut this “little idea” down. I calmly explained one day as we were leaving church that a little sister was not in the cards – Townes was to be our one and only – our singular pride and joy. I may or may not have even gone as far as to suggest that whoever he was talking too that was putting these “ideas” in his head, we should discontinue.
Little did I know that Townes clearly has a more direct communication line to the Holy Spirit then I do or maybe he just pays better attention. Likely, the Lord was attempting to use my son as his messenger, and I was either too stubborn to accept it or too self-consumed to consider what Townes was suggesting as a possible truth.
And as I type this, I hear myself saying “his thoughts are not my thoughts, his ways are not your ways nor his plans my plans.” (Isaiah 55:8-9) And a big emphasis on the “my” here because last fall my world was rocked.
Sometime last November, I learned I was expecting. On a scale of 1-10, 10 being the best I could have received the news and 1 being the least, I would grade myself at a big fat goose egg – 0.
I could give you a sundry list of reasons why but at the very core and the brutal honest answer is I was comfortable with how things were.
I had grown to love the little life and family of 5 (yes, the dogs count) we had created. I was thriving in our routine and felt that while the toddler stage has its challenges, I am much more equipped. I didn’t miss the diapers, the constant fashion show of changing clothes due to spit up or ewwwww, the other, the bottles, the strict routine around nap schedules and bedtime.
Even more truthfully – I didn’t want to do “hard” again. And so, I grieved, I pulled back, retreating into my self-reflective shell, rarely even letting Scott in.
There were days I knew what was happening wasn’t good, but I couldn’t seem to claw my way out, but as the Lord so often does, he was kind, he was patient, and he was gracious. And miraculously through other people, worship music and prayer, he slowly started to put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
The Holy Spirit revealed to me ever so gently the wounds and trauma buried deep inside surrounding Townes’s birth. The pain that lingered from not holding Townes when he was born much less not being given a small glimpse of my child. The loneliness of the sterile OR where I lay isolated with no idea of his condition. And the emptiness of my own heart while I waited for any update.
One morning a friend sent me a song, one I had never heard. She led with, this song reminds me of what you told me, “Jesus was in that OR with you and he was with your son.” The Lord used my own words of encouragement for a friend who underwent a traumatic birthing experience, to circle back to me, to pursue me, to rescue. He set out to restore the holes, or as scripture so beautifully tells us in Psalm 147, bind up the brokenness I wasn’t even aware existed within the deepest parts of my soul. Slowly but surely through the beautiful song, “There was Jesus” by Zach Williams and Dolly Parton (the queen!), and the power of “repeat”, he began clearing out the grim and filling me instead with his grace.
When I was pregnant with Townes, one of the conversations I remember that occurred often at appointments was when the doctors would ask you about future children (which honestly at the time was to far-fetched to imagine, we were just trying to keep our current one alive). While we have been told numerous times there is no explanation or research that can yet ascertain the cause of certain pediatric heart defects, Townes’s hypoplastic left heart syndrome included, the occurrence of it in Townes, puts the couple at higher risk for a repeat scenario with future children.
While I never allowed these “warnings” much space to fester or grow, the knowledge lay dormant like a virus waiting to be activated. After our first visit to the doctor for Baby #2, we were told that for our twenty-week appointment and full body scan we would go back to our high-risk. While I understand this in practice — the high-risk OB’s office has more advanced equipment and the ability to detect any potential issues more clearly –emotionally, if I allowed it, I may find myself leaning more on science than faith – staring back at the scales of Lady Justice – science weighing one side and faith the other.
I take our pups for a walk most mornings as it’s the way I make room for the Lord. I generally spend the time in prayer, listening to worship music or sermons. One cold morning in January as I was praying about the new child we would welcome to our family and still walking through some inner healing, I very clearly heard the Lord say, “I will redeem everything that was stolen from you.”
Hear me when I say, I knew the Lord was not discounting Townes or the abundance that has followed since his birth. Townes far exceeds any vision or dream I could have conjured up on my own. He is the toughest most tender little boy – with a heart so full of goodness, kindness, and joy. Townes is a walking example of the fruits of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Just the other day, he came in to tell me that he had picked out one of his own lovey’s to give Ella Jane and returned the next day with his pillow to let me know he didn’t need it anymore but that he wanted to leave it in Ella Jane’s bed for her.
The Lord was impressing upon me that he would redeem what we lost during the birth of Townes – our first glance, our first chance to hold him, our experience to be together as a family, even something as small as our first family picture. The Lord would continue to heal the trauma, replace the bitter with sweet and fill our holes with his beauty.
We, once again, claim victory over what Satan attempted to steal (John 10:10). The Lord has been on a mission with me – and I know the same is for you. I was reminded of Psalm 34 where David writes, “the Lord redeems the soul of his servants.” For me, in a two-step process the Lord began that very work. Perhaps he isn’t done yet as I prepare emotionally and mentally for what is to come but I do have full assurance of his love for me. Our Father in Heaven cares so deeply for us that he speaks to the places we aren’t aware even exist.
I was given a foundation for this new life; the Lord gifted me confidence in the outcome. His words to me allowed me to walk in peace towards our twenty-week scan and the few appointments that followed. Anytime, I felt my mind wander back to those words spoken about being a higher risk for reoccurrence, like a tether his words drew me back. Sometimes it felt as if I was in a game of tug, only in this game the Lord maintained control (oh and great news – she passed all her echocardiograms with perfect scores – a full, beautiful heart). My only responsibility in the process has been to lean in, believe the truth in what the Lord shared, with gratitude look forward in anticipation and rest only in his faithfulness.
We go into tomorrow resting in Hebrews 10:23, “Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful.” With a grateful heart and a confidence that the Lord is who he says he is we ask that you join us in prayer as we welcome Townes’s sister, Ella Jane, to the world. The sister Townes called into being months before and a sister he has been ecstatic about for over a year.
And for you, I know the Lord will pursue you in the same capacity he did me and I pray for your eyes and hearts to be opened to experience him. I pray his tenderness and compassion heals, restores and redeems maybe even the very parts of your soul you don’t know need it.
Redemption is near and available to us all!
Inspire Hope –
Maleah, Scott & Townes