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A Voice In the Night

I heard her first cries only for a moment before they hurried her off, but it was enough. Oh, how I loved her. Her olive skin, dark eyes, and black hair were clearly all her daddy; but I told myself at least her mouth, wide open in protest, was mine. Truly God had heard my prayers in the night and had given me this precious gift. We lived in Germany then, far from the wisdom of our parents, but we had the newest baby “doo- dads” and felt certain we would be fine.

She was 16 months old when we transferred back to the States. We delighted in sharing our princess with family and spent a wonderful Christmas all together before her daddy went off to his new job. We stayed behind to wait for housing.  She spent her days happily toddling around, raising her arms for a lift up to see the tree or sitting for a moment on Grandpa’s lap before wandering off to see what Granny was doing. Yet one day she was quieter than usual, and when it came time for bed she went down a little too easily. My sister invited me to go see a movie, and my parents agreed to listen for her as she slept.

Everyone was asleep when we returned, so I peeked into the room she shared with my youngest sister. She had kicked off her covers but seemed to be sleeping peacefully.  I tiptoed to the room I shared with another sister, climbed into bed, and snuggled down under the warm covers. All these years later, I still remember the Voice.  “Go get the baby.” I sat up and quietly called out to my sister, but her steady breathing confirmed what I already knew. Deciding it was just my overactive mind sliding into sleep, I lay back down.  Before my head even touched the pillow I clearly heard the insistent Voice. “Go get the baby!” I flew out of the room.

Her tiny body stiffened repeatedly as it convulsed. I snatched her up, put her face against mine, but felt no breath. Her eyes were clamped shut as she jerked and her skin was so hot. I burst into my parents’ room without knocking. They were confused at first, but Mom’s nurse’s training took over.  Whispering soothingly, she carried my baby into the bathroom, turned the cold-water faucet on and stuck the baby’s head right under the flow. In seconds, the convulsions stopped. I was astounded. I had done all of the reading, taken all those motherhood classes, and I did not know to do that.  Mom took her temperature, and the mercury in the old thermometer went to the very end — past the 106 mark. I held her tightly against me as we sped to the hospital. They admitted her, put fluids into her body and took other fluids out, poked holes all over, but never determined what caused the fever. Three days later we took a happy, hungry, completely healed baby home.

She is still beautiful at thirty-one years of age — an engineer happily married to a pharmacist we think deserves her. She has grown up knowing this story, so I recently asked if she had any thoughts about why God rescued her that day. She said God must have a plan in mind especially for her even if she doesn’t know what it is. As I think about her answer, I recognize it is one that exemplifies faith. She hasn’t seen His plan for her but rests in believing that there certainly is one.

the second born’s second chance

She was 6 when her brother was born. We marveled at his handsomeness and felt a little smug knowing we had created another beautiful child. From the beginning he was easy. We thought he was so good because we were experienced parents who knew how it all worked, but truthfully his happy nature was another one of God’s great gifts. His all-boy antics made us laugh often.

He was 8 when we moved to the town where his story took place. It had been a difficult move. We had taken our kids from a place they loved and moved them far away with “things will be better” promises we weren’t sure we could keep. I was upstairs unpacking when she began screaming. I heard her words but could not comprehend them, and horrifying images flooded my imagination. I tore down the stairs and out the front door in time to hear their daddy cry out at the sight before him. He bent over something crumpled on the driveway. It was our son. She was still screaming, her hands over her face. I looked up to see the baby (more about him later) standing in the door of the moving truck looking down at our son. My thoughts spun as I tried to understand what he was doing up there. Our kids knew the rules and knew they weren’t allowed near the moving truck, much less IN it. Focus! I turned back to the driveway. My husband gently rolled our son onto his back. His tiny body lay still; half-open eyes stared up at nothing as blood began to spread out around his head. I ran inside, called 911, and threw myself to the floor. I begged God not to take my son. I told Him I knew I should pray, “Your will be done,” but I pleaded that it be His will to let him stay. A sudden stillness came over me, a peace I had never felt before. I stopped crying and went outside.

He stopped breathing just as the paramedics arrived. They were superbly trained and quickly placed the bag over his little face.  I was grateful for the strong hands that squeezed it over and over again as they rolled him to the ambulance. We were new in town and did not know where they were taking him, but a neighbor climbed in our car and directed us without mentioning he had no ride home. Our minds overloaded as test results came in: concussion, skull fracture, frontal lobe injury, and possible permanent brain damage. How could three kids’ decision to break the rules and play on the moving truck result in a fall that caused so much damage? I tried to grab onto the peace that found me on my kitchen floor, but it was elusive. I focused on something else. “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding” (Proverbs 3:5). There I found peace.

He woke up on the third day. There was a period of time that involved short-term memory loss and a stride that veered strangely to the left, but healing did come. Today he is 25 years old, still handsome, and occasionally delights in aggravating his sister. He honorably served four years in a Special Forces group, trained in Africa, and even jumped out of planes! Indeed, he has been gloriously healed. Now he is completing his undergraduate degree in Health Care Administration. I haven’t asked him if he knows why God saved him, but there’s no doubt He did. I am certainly excited to see what his purpose is!

the baby’s wild ride

She was 12 and he was 6 when the baby was born. We were quite proud to have yet again produced a beautiful child, this one a blue- eyed, strawberry-ish blonde. Clearly we had this parenting thing solidly down because his babyhood just cruised on by for us. The baby taught himself to read by the time he was 3, had an old man’s wisdom that was a little intimidating, and could hold his own in any spiritual debate before he was 10. The baby’s story is less traumatic than the other two, but it is no less dramatic.

With a promise to stop at the gas station for a treat, we took the baby bike riding along a moderately busy street one beautiful Saturday afternoon. He was only 6, so we thought we would protect him by riding in a line with his father taking the lead.  As we approached one intersection, the baby pulled out and barreled ahead of us. He reached the corner and turned around to wait. We could see that it was clear ahead, so his dad motioned for him to go straight ahead. Only he didn’t do that.  Inexplicably he put his head down, began to pedal and shot off left into traffic! The speed limit on that road is 45 miles per hour — enough to flatten any small boy on his bike. We were stunned as he pedaled madly on. My husband waved his arms at the cars and screamed for them to STOP! Even though I was too far back to reach him, I threw my bike to the ground and ran toward him. But I also watched. I could not turn away, and I am grateful I could not. I saw my baby pedaling furiously, helmeted head down as if watching his own feet. He entered the first lane just as a car crossed the intersection. Without even looking up, the baby veered sharply behind the car, missing it completely. He continued on and swerved twice, in front of and then behind two more cars. The baby’s bike, seemingly without his help, turned again and went between two more cars, but the vehicle in the final lane saw him and stopped just as he passed in front. He went right on up the curb and hopped off his bike. Finally — he looked up at us for the first time.

I have played this scene over and over in my mind. Not once did he look up to see where he was going. How did he steer his bike around all of those cars? The answer is clear to me. He rode his bike onto a busy road, but the Lord’s angel directed his path. The baby is 19 years old now, a junior in college. When he completes his undergraduate studies, he intends to go on to seminary. His plan is to serve the Lord in ministry as a music minister and perhaps, later, a pastor. He may even write a controversial book on the plight of churches today. In light of those plans, I could say I know why God saved the baby. Except for one thing — “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8- 9). So, I could be completely wrong about that.

God’s timing is perfect, and absolutely nothing can derail the plans He has for every single child He sends to us. I don’t pretend to believe my children are anything exceptional that God would choose to rescue them, and I do not claim to be a most favored mother that He would reverse three calamitous courses and allow them to stay. What I do know is that He is God. Before He ever knit their bodies together inside mine, He knew my children.  He had already seen the end of each story long before they were ever born and stepped in. What especially comforts me is what I know today. Every heartbeat, every breath my children take, is proof that He saves them still.

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