As I have been replaying the highlights of this past year like a movie reel in my mind over recent weeks, floods of various emotions have overwhelmed me like storms. Some of them are expected, because I've wrestled with them before and can see them coming, but others come completely out of nowhere and leave me like a pile of mush on the floor. On this day a year ago, January 11, 2015, I was going back and forth between the refrigerator to get more ice cold water, the couch to lay down and try to regain some strength, and the bathroom to deal with the sickness that had staked its claim over my body several days prior. I'd made two phone calls to the doctor's office by this point because I was so sick (and because everyone thought I had the flu), and I remember holding my baby bump in my hands and begging for God-breathed protection from whatever was happening during those rare moments when I was able. The next morning (twelve minutes after seven, to be exact), my water broke and even in my pitiful, severely dehydrated, nearly motionless state, I rejoiced at the reality that was before me: this was the day I was going to meet my son.
I frequently replay the events of that day + the weeks that came before + followed, because I never want to forget about the grace that covered us like a blanket, protecting us from so many almosts + could have beens. We are still under that blanket, God is still mighty to save + restore, and the healing is still fresh in my soul. Miracles are constantly happening all around us, miracles that are both big and small, and we have experienced a full range of them since I first learned I was pregnant. Braxton was completely unaffected by the disease that tried to kill both of us, and although those first few days after his birth were some of the darkest I (and many others) have ever known, my body was progressively healed within several months of the initial trauma. Several of my most treasured dreams were ripped away from me a year ago, and I still feel the sting of those wounds when certain questions are asked or when an announcement is made. Am I bitter? No; the Holy Spirit has been so good to me from the very beginning, speaking prayers and promises over me as I pray with a heavy heart -- but I am still grieving over the death of the dreams that began taking root in my heart when I was just a little girl. Do I believe that Braxton will grow up as an only child? Again, no. We are simply skipping a step in our original plans, and learning to believe this glorious, exhilarating truth in a new circumstance: the plans He has for us are always more magnificent than the ones we make for ourselves.
The grace that kept us safe during pregnancy + delivery is the same grace that has sustained us since, especially on the days + in the moments when praise is more of a sacrifice than a delight. Even if the whole world ignores the miraculous wonders of the good Father who makes all things work for the good of those who love Him, I pray I would remain steadfast in telling my story + singing my song: that the One who lives in me is greater than the one who seeks to kill, steal from, and destroy me (1 John 4:4 // John 10:10). I've believed that each new day is a miracle for as long as I can remember, but that belief was further solidified into the core of who I am when I was so close to breathing my last breath.
Charles Spurgeon once wrote, "A good character is the best tombstone. Those who loved you and were helped by you will remember you when forget-me-nots have withered. Carve your name on hearts, not on marble." God spared me that day, but it wasn't for or about me at all. When the clouds part and I am welcomed home, I pray that I spent my life giving more than I took, serving more than I was served, blessing others with the blessings I receive myself, loving out of purity instead of a what's-in-it-for-me attitude, and sprinkling the Gospel everywhere I tread.
My husband, the man who I have loved since before I truly knew what love was, could have been a widower. My son could have grown up with only pictures of me to look at and words to read about my anticipation of his arrival, but never be able to hear me tell him in my own voice how fiercely I loved him. My family and friends could have mourned and wept and been left with only memories. God spared more than just my life that day. He answered the prayers of people all over the world, and He rescued me by His mercy.
Tomorrow is Braxton's first birthday, but I consider it to be mine, as well. A mama was born that day, too, and she is living proof that nothing is impossible for God (Luke 1:37).