Flopping ourselves onto my bed, my sister and I gushed with dreams and plans.
Just moments before, we had held hands and tiptoed into the bathroom to read the results together…my home pregnancy test was positive! Kristina and I were both pregnant and our due dates were just 2 weeks apart! We laughed and talked and planned out our pregnancies together that morning. Months later our ultrasounds displayed more exciting news…boys! We were both having boys! We had everything! Two little boy cousins who would grow up together, get into mischief and steal their momma & auntie’s hearts.
At 39 weeks, my sister’s emergency C-section began to unravel everything. In three eternal, but brief days, my sweet perfect nephew, Oliver was gone. Although my womb was still swollen with my own son, my heart suddenly was empty.
I grew up in the church. I went to Christian camps every summer, attended bible college after high school. I knew the lingo. I knew the verses. “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good.” But this. This? How can a good God take away everything and still remain good? How can He just rip away everything I thought He had given to my family? How can one baby die… be laid out in a tiny casket at the alter of the church, and another baby be born perfectly healthy just two weeks later? How does a family, a brand new mother, keep her fragile heart together for her new son, when her nephew and all her plans are suddenly gone? How does a family enter into the darkest depths of an infant’s grave site and then turn around and celebrate the sunrise of another child’s life?
The first year of my son Isaiah’s life, was a very dark one for me. I kept no baby book. Why should I keep track of his first steps when his cousin would never have the chance to walk this earth? Why should my arms be full when my sister’s arms were so very empty?
My “anything” prayer wasn’t prayed in one single moment, on one certain day. Somehow, in His gentle kindness, God my Father held my crumbled heart in His hands and slowly built it back together. As He restored the pieces, He blew His Holy Spirit into me and graciously gave me new faith. New strength. Jesus built a new heart in me that trusts Him like never before. A heart that, though timid at times, says, “God, I will do anything for you. Anything.”
It has been over two and a half years since my world fell apart that September day. Over two and a half years that Jesus has been teaching me the truth… this world is not my home. Eternity is just over the horizon and there is a Kingdom to be fought for here and now. The Spirit has given me new eyes. Eyes to see that my own silly selfish plans are just that. Silly and selfish.
I struggled with the desire to have more babies. I wanted more than one child, but I did not want to hold another newborn or walk through pregnancy again. For me, those were the places where tragedy struck.
Just five short months ago, with our hearts made stronger than before, my husband and I decided the time had come to try for another child. Quickly we became pregnant and quickly my fear arose. Yet, once again, in His gentle way, my Father met me and breathed His truth into my fearful soul. There, on my bed, I sat. This time without my sister. I sat on my bed, just God and I. Very clearly He spoke to my spirit, telling me His truth. He told me that He had made me strong and brave. I sat clutching my bible, my body heaving up and down, crying a snotty ugly cry. I didn’t want to be strong. I didn’t know how to be brave. But He kindly reminded me of “anything.” My deepest heart longed to do anything, anything for this sweet, sweet Jesus. In that moment, I put on the words He spoke about me. Even though I was scared to death of being brave for God.
Days later at my church’s annual women’s retreat, He confirmed His word. Our church had purchased the IF: Gathering 2015 videos. The theme of our retreat was faith. This was the second time I had listened to the amazing speakers from IF. But this time, the Lord spoke to me even deeper. No longer would I live in fear of losing my tiny baby. So at just 7.5 weeks pregnant, prompted by the Holy Spirit (and the persistent prodding of my closest friend who could read my heart in my eyes), I stood. My knees were shaking as I shared my story before 75 women from my church. I proclaimed to the teary-eyed ladies, “whether I carry this baby nine weeks or nine months, I will rejoice. I will celebrate this life with joy and faith.”
Four weeks later, at an 11 week ultrasound, I found out that my dear baby’s heart had stopped beating right around nine weeks.
My sister is pregnant with her fourth child now. My husband and I are still a little family of three. But because of His grace and for His glory, my heart sings like never before. I trust Him, my King. He gives and takes away. He is altogether good. And for Him and the sake of His Kingdom, I will do anything. Even if that anything, is walking through grief and giving up my control.
He has made me brave. My name, Ingrid, means “king’s daughter.” I used to walk with my head down, trying hard to win God’s approval. I grew up on a potato farm where everyone was expected to pull their own weight. We worked hard and were proud of it. My exhausting works based faith grew from a work ethic that was meant for the farm, not for the throne room of the Almighty. I lived out my faith foolishly believing I was in control. Yet, when I thought God was stripping me of my “everything,” He, in His sovereignty, was preparing my heart for “anything.”
He has made His Kingdom so real to me. He is teaching me how to live out my identity, as the King’s daughter. Not arrogantly, but humbly bold. I long to see my sisters in Christ walk in the identity that is truly theirs also. This is not about me, about how my life turns out. This is not about me being safe, comfortable and happy. This is about me living a surrendered, reckless and courageous life… So that His glory, His story would be made known. Its about seeing people live out their calling, seeing people set free. For that cause, for this everlasting Kingdom, for my mighty and soon coming King, I will do anything.
Because in doing anything for Jesus, I have found my everything.