January 10, 2008. 6:15pm. It wasn’t a normal phone call. Your aunt’s in the hospital…24 weeks pregnant…HELLP syndrome. It wasn’t a normal voicemail. 10:23pm. Hearing that your baby cousin is an hour old…weighs 15 ounces…and is 11 inches long… she and your aunt survived the emergency c-section…they’re both in ICU. It wasn’t a normal night…your RA’s and SLD partner praying with you for hours…sleeping with the phone next to your ear…just in case. Calling your cousin 8 hours away...and having to have her talk you out of dropping out and going home for the semester (twice)…realizing that God is bigger than this and we are where we need to be…for some reason.
January 11- Quiet Time-Utmost For His Highest
“Beware of the inclination to dictate to God what consequences you would allow as a condition of your obedience to Him.”
Her pictures were on my door, as I do whenever there’s a new baby…but these pictures were next to the latest updates from the NICU. It wasn’t the normal, “Congrats on your new cousin.” No one knew what to say, or how to say it.
The next month in RHLM would be a (planned in October) study on brokenness. I have to admit…I was not excited about studying brokenness while my baby cousin was in a NICU an hour away. Every song seemed to have a message of hope in suffering or giving everything up to the One who is in control. “I Surrender All”, “Blessed Be Your Name”, “Jesus Bring the Rain” were songs that I had loved for a long time, but they took on an entirely different meaning. Going home the day she had surgery to close the hole in her heart and holding her entire foot with the tips of my fingers…just staring at Hannah Grace. Leaving the NICU was tough…my “oldest cousin” instincts were telling me to stay…just stay and stare at her.
Overhearing that she was getting sicker…texting my team…individually…only to find out later that most of them were together, and stopped what they were doing to pray for Hannah.
Another week at school…another week of keeping up with the updates and keeping up with who wanted updates. Coming back to the dorm and getting swallowed by hugs from my roommate. Trying to keep a normal schedule…never, ever, turning the phone off or putting it out of arms reach. Hoping, praying, and hoping some more.
January 22- QT- Utmost For His Highest-
“Wake yourself up and look to God. Build your hope on Him. No matter how many things seem to be pressing in on you, be determined to push them aside and look to Him.”
Wednesday morning, a girl sings “Held” by Natalie Grant in convo. Hoping that song won’t be applicable to your life.
Hearing a noise out in the quad…opening your door to see your entire leadership team and some girls from your hall there, asking if they can pray with you for a baby they’ll never meet this side of Heaven. Hearing sermons on miracles, and signs and wonders, wondering if it’s a sign that we’re getting a miracle. Never losing hope. Learning that joy is not attached to happiness. Learning that you are not in control.
January 25-Utmost-Leave Room for God
"As servants of God, we must learn to make room for Him--to give God ‘elbow room.’ We plan and figure and predict that this or that will happen, but we forget to make room for God to come in as He chooses. Would we be surprised if God came into our meeting or into our preaching in a way we had never expected to come? Do not look for God to come in a particular way, but do look for Him. The way to make room for Him is to expect Him to come, but not in a certain way. No matter how well we may know God, the great lesson to learn is that He may break in at any minute. We tend to overlook this element of surprise, yet God never works in any other way. Suddenly--God meets our life—‘...when it pleased God...’ (Gal. 1:15)
Keep your life so constantly in touch with God that His surprising power can break through at any point. Live in a constant state of expectancy, and leave room for God to come in as He decides.”
January 27. Sunday morning. Johnnie Moore preached on Job. In fact, the whole semester would be on Job. Writing in the top corner of the first page of Job in your Bible as Johnnie says,
“The appropriate response to suffering is worship, and worship is the first act of faith.”Go to Emily and Chelsey’s to hang out and do some laundry.
2:30pm- mom calls- Hannah’s not going to make it. Never losing hope. Trying not to cry. Trying to call people and get through the phone calls. Calling Sarah.
She went from the arms of her family into the arms of Jesus at 4pm. Trying to rationalize why…realizing that would never be possible. Trying to find a place to be alone…realizing that place does not exist on campus. Getting the, “Are you okay?” and learning that saying, “No.” is just fine. Coming across Psalm 139:13-16 and realizing, yet again, that you are not in control.
January 28- RHLM- continued study on brokenness
“You experience this joy in hopelessness, realizing that if you are ever to be raised up it must be by the hand of God….Whenever His hand is laid upon you, it gives inexpressible peace and comfort, and the sense that ‘underneath are the everlasting arms’ (Deut 33:27), full of support, provision, comfort, and strength.”
Going home for the funeral. Holding my other cousins so I would have something else to focus on…holding them a little tighter. Listening to “Dancing With the Angels” over and over and over…looking forward to day when we will dance together in Heaven.
Realizing that there will never be a complete family picture. Hoping that all of the younger ones will surrender their lives to Christ so all of us can be together some day.
Hannah Grace was here by the grace of God. She wasn’t supposed to survive the 17 days that she did. Her days on earth had a purpose…she was the tiniest person I’ve ever seen…but she was a person. Missing her. A lot. Wondering what she would be like today, on her first birthday. What she would have become. What her voice sounded like. What her laugh sounded like. Realizing, once again, Psalm 139:13-16. Realizing that I will never understand why.
For those of you who were a part of my life at that time, especially my close friends and my leadership team, thank you for the hugs, prayers, and more hugs. I don’t know what I would have done without all of you.
Happy Birthday, Hannah Banana! We’ll see you again, when we’re dancing with the angels.