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Jeremy's Story

Sew-Cool Separates

The Living Word

 

Hebrews 4:12  “For the word of God is living and active.  Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.”

 

Is that scripture true?  Is the word of God living and active?  Can a centuries-old book still be applicable and relevant in our lives today?  Well, let me tell you a story.

 

In March of 2003 I was at the very lowest point of my life.

 

A favorite scripture of mine has always been Jeremiah 29:11.  “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to bring you hope and a future.”

But in March of 2003, I was questioning whether God actually did have plans to prosper me.  I certainly felt harmed.

Over the course of two years, I had lost two secure teaching jobs.  Though I was enjoying the lower stress of substitute teaching I wasn't satisfied with it, and yet it appeared that God was not going to give me a fulfilling full-time job.  And though I was proud of the accomplishments of my former students and loved spending time with my niece and nephews, it was apparent that God did not care about my desire for a child of my own.  It even seemed He had stopped blessing my health.  I had gotten anemia, and just walking across my house gave me a headache and made my heart throb.  Where was my hope?  Where was my future?  I had never felt so disappointed and disillusioned. 

But that wasn’t the worst part.  The worst part was the promise.

 

To explain the promise, I have to step back in time another eight months to July of 2002. 

The summer after my second job loss, I had really begun to think about parenthood.  My students had been my babies for so long.  When I finally didn’t have a classroom of my own, I realized I wanted my own child, one who wouldn’t move up a grade and leave my life.  However, Larry and I hadn’t used birth control since our second year of marriage, and six years later, it was obvious that in order to have children we would need either medical help or a miracle.

Since my first days of really reading the Bible as a teenager, the Word of God had become more meaningful to me.  I grew to find that when I prayed for the Holy Spirit’s guidance and then read His Word, I knew I would find encouragement or rebuke meant just for me.  Often a random opening of scripture would bring me to something I hadn’t read in a long time that would jump out in a new way.  So on a morning in late July of 2002, when I prayed and opened God’s word, I needed His encouragement.  I wanted to know that He could take care of me.  I wanted reassurance of my hope and future.

The scripture I opened to was Genesis 18.  In this chapter, three Heavenly visitors came to talk to Abraham, and he hospitably provided refreshments for them.  It was a familiar story, but one I’d always enjoyed.  Then I got to the part about Sarah.  Sarah, old and barren, heard an angel say to her husband, “I will surely return to you at about this time next year, and Sarah your wife will have a son.”  He even repeated the prophecy after Sarah laughed in disbelief.

My heart was warmed as I read this story.  If God could give Sarah—a 90 year old woman—a child, surely he could work with the body of a 30 year old.  In this story I heard my Heavenly Father telling me, “I’m in charge of this—I will take care of you!”  For the moment reassured, I went about my day.

 

A couple of weeks later, during another quiet time, I again prayed for the Holy Spirit’s guidance, and opened my Bible to read.  This time, I found myself in II Kings 4.  Elisha had always been my favorite Bible prophet, so I enjoyed reading the story of the widow’s oil, and then the story of the hospitable Shunnamite woman who built a room on the roof of her home so that the prophet would have a place to stay when he stopped by.

Elisha wanted to do something to repay her for her hospitality.  When he asked his servant Gehazi for a suggestion, Gehazi said, “Well, she has no son and her husband is old.”

So Elisha called her up to the room.  When she stood before him, he spoke.

“About this time next year,” Elisha said, “You will hold a son in your arms.”

 

I stopped reading.  I read the verse again.  “About this time next year, you will hold a son in your arms.” 

I turned back to Genesis and read Sarah’s promise again.  “I will return to you at the appointed time next year and Sarah will have a son.”

 

I sat there.  How crazy.  What a strange coincidence.  The second son-in-a-year story in several weeks.  I wish my future could be that clearly spelled out!

 

A week and a half after that, on August 24, our Bend congregation was at our outdoor church service.   I was sitting on the bank of a river with several women from church.  It was a beautiful day, and we were sharing stories of God’s leading in our lives.  And somehow the conversation turned to children.

“We’ve wanted kids, but it just hasn’t been in God’s plan yet,” I said.  “But we are trying.”

“That's interesting,” said one of the women.  “Because a couple of months ago when I was on my morning walk, I was suddenly impressed to pray for you.  Why don’t she and Larry have kids? I had wondered.  And I’ve been praying for you ever since.”

“I’ve been praying for you, too,” piped up another member of the group.

 

I may be a little dense, but third time’s a charm.  Two promises from scripture, and the prayers of several church members?  I almost couldn’t bear to hope, but I began to think it might actually happen for me.  I almost believed that I might have a son in a year’s time!

 

A week or two later, Larry & I had our first appointment with a fertility specialist.  Though I had wanted to trust God with our futures, back in June after the job loss I had made the appointment.  Maybe this was the method God would use to give us our child.  We were encouraged by the visit with our very reassuring doctor and began to feel more hopeful.

 

Hope and a future.  I could almost feel Jeremiah 29:11 coming true.

 

So it was with excitement that I went to the doctor for the first couple of exams and tests at the beginning of September.  But by the time we’d finally gotten through all the preliminary work and were ready for my first cycle of hormones, it was November.  Exactly nine months to August.

I was excited and anxious at the same time.  What an opportunity for God to prove His power.  He had one shot to make his promise come true.

 

While the waiting was nerve-wracking, during my quiet times, I kept on stumbling onto scripture that reassured me of God’s plan for me to have children.

I read Deuteronomy 7:12-14.  “The Lord your God will keep his covenant of unfailing love with you, as he solemnly promised to your ancestors.  He will love you and bless you and make you into a great nation.  He will give you many children and give fertility to your land and your animals. . .None of your men or women will be childless, and all your livestock will bear young.”  There it was.  Children were a blessing from God.  He claimed the power to provide them, and I believed He could give me a child.

In John 14, I read, “You can ask for anything in my name, and I will do it, because the work of the Son brings glory to the Father.  Yes, ask anything in my name, and I will do it.”  So I asked.  I asked for a son.  In August.

 

Another simple source of inspiration during those days was my daily scripture calendar, one of those tear-off pads with a new verse every day.  In mid-November, right when it was “time,” My daily scripture calendar quoted Matthew 7:7: “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you.” 

I didn’t want to accept the scripture without its context, so I turned to Matthew 7 in my Bible, and read the verses that follow that promise.  “You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead?  Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake?  Of course not!  If you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask Him!”  I had shared our desire for kids with my parents.  I knew they wanted good things for me.  Wouldn’t God also want good things for my future?

Two days later when doubt again came, my scripture calendar said, “But Jesus looked at them and said, ‘With men it is impossible, but not with God; for with God all things are possible.”  Mark 10:27.

And only a few days later, my scripture calendar quoted from Ecclesiastes:  “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart; for God has already accepted your works.”  That day I wrote in my journal, “Lord, do I believe that my prayers have already been answered?  Do I look at my “prophecies” with the faith that in a year from August, I will be holding my son in my arms?”

Then, on Tuesday, November 26, my little scripture calendar shared II Corinthians 9:15.  “Thanks be to God for his indescribable gift!”  Be thankful for a gift beyond words?  How could I be thankful when I didn’t know how my story was going to end?   

 

My period hadn’t come by Christmas.  I took a pregnancy test, but it was negative. In fact, my period hadn’t come in early January—but still another negative test.

 

It seemed like the reminders of Gods’ promise occurred almost daily.  Our pastor asked us when we were going to have kids.  A friend said, “You really should have a baby.”  And in my heart, I was thinking—if only you knew!

But then on a cold day in late January my period came.  And it didn’t go away for eight weeks.  To me it was a cruel sign of God’s broken promise.  I felt so foolish.  How could I have been so na´ve?

 

The fertility tests and treatments hadn’t caused a pregnancy.  Instead, the hormone pills had brought on the heaviest cycle of my life, an eight-week long constant reminder that my body was never going to produce children. 

This horrible cycle caused such severe anemia that I felt like my health was gone, too.  I wondered how the Lord could be so cruel to one of His faith-babies—a girl with the faith of child.  A girl who believed that His word was living and active, and meant for her.

 

The months passed.  I subbed, I recovered from my anemia.  I wondered what the future held.  And yet, all the while, in the back of my mind, I still thought of those promises.

And scripture still reassured me of God’s power and promise.  I stumbled onto Habakkuk 3:17-19:  “Even though the fig trees have no blossoms, and there are no grapes on the vine; even though the olive crop fails, and the fields lie empty and barren, even though the flocks die in the fields and the cattle barns are empty, yet I will rejoice in the Lord!  I will be joyful in the God of my salvation.  The Sovereign Lord is my strength!"

And one day, I prayed for a message from God, and opened my Bible to Haggai.  “I am giving you a promise now while the seed is still in the barn, before you have harvested your grain and before the grapevine, the fig tree, the pomegranate, and the olive tree have produced their crops.  From this day onward I will bless you.”  2:19

 

Summer arrived.  Larry & I went camping with friends.  I took summer classes.

 

And then, on a Friday evening, July 25, Larry & I talked about children.  And for the first time we talked seriously about adoption.  I had never really been positive about adoption, and Larry had never wanted children badly enough to even consider any alternative routes to parenthood.

The conversation was half-serious, half joking.  Larry had the last word, saying, “I don’t think we can afford to buy a baby!” Later that evening as I did my first adoption research on the internet I was not encouraged.  Waiting lists of one to three years; adoption costs of up to $30,000.  Again I chided myself for being so gullible.  It was the end of July, and here I was madly searching for the only way God’s promise of a son in August could come true.  But even God couldn’t make an adoption happen in a month’s time.

The next day in church I was reading over the announcements when I did a double-take.  This is what I read:

Christian Family Adoptions is currently seeking Seventh-day Adventist families interested in adopting new-born children of Caucasian, mixed-race and African-American heritage.

 

I couldn’t help but fill out the on-line application when I got home from church.

 

I called my mother just to get her input, and was surprised to hear her say, “You know, I’ve just been praying that you and Larry would consider adoption.”

And then in talking to my sister Kari, she said that in the past week or two she and and my brother-in-law Monte had said to each other, “Why don’t Becky and Larry consider adoption?”

 

The social worker called the very next day, Sunday evening. 

“How serious about adoption are you?” she asked.

“Pretty serious,” I replied.  Larry & I are the kind of people who only make decisions if we’re willing to carry them out.

“Well,” she responded.  “We have an interesting situation where we are in need of families who are willing to adopt soon.”

“What kind of time frame are you talking about?” I asked.

“Typically it takes one or two or three years to match a family with a baby,” she said.  “But in this case, it could actually be as soon as next month.”

 

Next month.  August. 

 

It must have been one of the fastest adoption application processes in history.  Within a week we had written out our life stories, answered a battery of questions about ourselves, enlisted character references, and scheduled a home study interview.  In another week and a half we had met a birth mother in her home town.

 

Almost nine months previously, when I was thanking God for an indescribable gift I couldn’t yet see, a young woman had become pregnant.  As I had questioned and hoped and prayed, she also was praying for a family for her child.  She had chosen adoption, and watched in disbelief as two different families had fallen through, unable to take her child for one reason or another.

In July, as yet another family had fallen through, she and the social worker had met together and prayed about it.  “I know God has a family for my baby,” she had said.  “Maybe they just don’t know about it yet.”

 

At times during the month of August, I couldn’t believe what I’d let my na´ve faith get me into.  It couldn’t really be true.  God doesn’t prophesy children in today’s world.  I would often ask the Lord for encouragement that I was in his will—I didn’t want to just be choosing adoption out of impatience, or insisting on this particular child just because it would mean an August adoption. 

 

And in moments of doubt I would turn back to God’s living, active scriptures for comfort.  On one particularly difficult day, I began to doubt.  Was I rushing ahead of God’s will when He actually intended for me to wait to have my own biological child?  Was adoption really God’s plan for us? I opened my Bible and found myself in Isaiah 66.  I laughed through tears as I read words about ME, “Before she goes into labor, she gives birth; before the pains come upon her, she delivers a son.  Who has ever heard of such a thing? Who has ever seen such things?”  (vs. 7, NIV.)

 

The wait was a roller coaster ride.  As we waited for the mother to decide between us and another possible adoptive family; as we waited to find out if she’d decided to have family members take in her child instead; as we waited in a hotel room for a call from the social worker the day the baby was born—as we waited to hear if the birth mother actually signed the papers—as we waited for the time when we could go to the hospital to meet our child.

 

As I rehearsed all the little miracles that occurred almost on a daily basis to encourage me along the way, I came up to the last days with a crazy baby faith that God had brought us here and put our little family together in His own weird and wonderful way.

 

On August 26, exactly nine months from November 26, the day I thanked God for His indescribable gift, Jeremy was born.

 

And on August 27, 2003, I held my son in my arms. 

 

So, do I believe that the "word of God is living and active?"  Do you even have to ask? J

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