Tuesday, May 1, 2012

May Day

It was early morning when I led my oldest daughter and a small host of her friends, then in eighth grade, secretly through the halls of their school on a mission of encouragement . . . delivering May baskets filled with fresh flowers.  We got the okay from the administration and they let us in to deliver our baskets to all the teachers and staff.  I will never forget what one of the school cafeteria cooks said, "this is the best thing that's ever happened to me."  To think that a rather plain paper cone filled with simple beauty could be someone's best thing had an impact on us.

But it was on May 1st even further back that a best thing happened to me.  God delivered a May bouquet wrapped in grace which I dearly treasure, my daughter of 18 today.  This daughter was not given in the usual way.  No, her delivery became, quite ironically, a cry for mayday, like a ship's crew desperate for help in the fury of a storm.
Under normal circumstances we believe that childbirth is not an emergency, and therefore does not require the panic or intervention which can accompany some hospital births, and were what the medical field would consider low risk.  We had already experienced an uneventful home birth with our firstborn and so decided to have our second at home as well.  But it was different with her.  God had something He wanted to show us . . . His power over life and death.
We believe in proper prenatal checkups and received superb care from a midwife/registered nurse and her assistant who had already delivered close to 700 babies, one of which was my son Tyler.  But partially into the labor, mayday struck.  I know every woman has a story and thinks hers is the worst, so I don't intend to be over dramatic, but I will say it was a traumatic experience.

My husband is a firm believer in being a participator in this world of child birth and so he did extensive study on the subject and was there to assist and to cover me in prayer.  But the baby's size became an issue.  We experienced severe shoulder distocia and as a last resort our midwife purposely attempted to break her collar bone in order to get her out.  The upper arm was broken instead but it was enough give to deliver her . . . all 11 pounds of her.

But once born there remained an eerie stillness, an unnatural quiet, as she lay there lifeless.  The cord had been wrapped around her neck and was in poor condition, only a tiny thread of life still channeled through it.  Our midwife was prepared for this scenario and tried various methods, but could not get her to breathe.  Time ticked by which seemed like hours.  Finally, our midwife told us there was nothing else they could do.  We thought we may have lost her.  

It was at this point that my husband took the lead.  He placed his hands on her chest and commanded, "little baby girl, in the name of Jesus, breathe."  She opened her eyes for half a second . . . paused . . . and then inhaled with the biggest breath a baby could take, directly from the hand of God.  I am very familiar with the stories in the Bible of Jesus raising the dead, but that was back then and I was very distant from it.  Now I was witness to His power over death here. . . in my own house.  We had not yet picked out a middle name, but now knew what it should be. . .Grace. . . Heather Grace, because except for the grace of God, she would not be with us today. 

But she had yet another problem.  Her other arm hung limp with palsy.  She was taken to the hospital to bind up her wounds. There we were told to work the palsied arm back and forth every time she nursed for a good chance she would be able to move it on her own.  God was gracious to heal both arms above expectation and gave her great strength.

To this day I believe there was more going on than meets the eye, unseen forces in the realm of darkness fighting against her life.  This life would be powerful and effective for the kingdom of God and shortly after her birth God began a work in our lives to bring us into full time Christian ministry.  I believe attempts were made to stop that from happening. 

Heather was born on a Sunday, appropriate, since she's always had a tender heart towards God, seeking after Him wholeheartedly.  At a young age she gave her life to Him and desires to follow His lead wherever that may take her.  And this life, delivered from the hand of death, seems destined to do the same for others.

One July 4th no one noticed that her baby sister had fallen into the lake.  But Heather was onto it, herself only ten years old.  With no hesitation she jumped right in and rescued her from drowning.  It seems fitting that she would be a lifeguard all four summers of her high school years.  She is not the flippant sort, seeking only a nice tan or lazy man's work, but takes it very seriously.  I still remember the day she came home from guarding at the pool to tell me of her sense of accomplishment at performing her first rescue.
Now she seeks a career in nursing in hopes of using that skill in overseas missions.  She has found a Bible college where the nursing program takes her to Africa for their internship.  She is also excited about the possibility of assisting the medical team while on campus during the school year.  It seems a perfect fit as she has always been even keel in emergency situations. 
But one thing I love most about this girl is her love for life.  She emulates a joy that is contagious poured out on her love for others, and especially children.  What a blessing she has been in the lives of her two little sisters.  They are best friends as she plays their games and their interests with them for hours.  Dress up, dolls, detective, hide and seek, forts, princess role play, and her personal favorite, coloring.

She is also very creative, frequently coming up with crazy ideas.  Once she knit nose warmers for each of us.  It proved to be a very entertaining Christmas, to say the least.  Another year she made us foot rollers/massages out of beads strung on yarn with a verse about God watching over our steps.  
The latest "game" is to tag her room with sticky notes when she is away for school trips.  And when we arrived home recently after our sudden week away, she had returned the favor, decorating her sister's room with streamers, welcome home signs, and of course, sticky notes.  I was especially blessed by the meaningful touches she did for mom, with laundry folded and put away, dishes done, and clean rooms sprinkled here and there with fresh flowers.

Heather delights with being in the middle of the fun.  She loves watching NASCAR racing with her Dad and wishes with all her heart that we had saved our 280z car for her.  We thought about it, but decided it would be better handed on to another than to sit around in the driveway until she was old enough to drive.  Besides, me thinks she is safer in our old clunker instead. 
Her brother has been her constant companion.  When they were young, strangers would comment on how cute the twins were, despite the fact that they are 18 months apart. Tyler was small for his age and Heather large, and so they were almost identical in size and looked very much alike.  It is hard for me to find pictures of their childhood where they are not in them together.  I won't deny there are squabbles when one riles the other, but for the most part they have been each others support over the years.

Heather is one of my best friends as well and I love sitting up late talking the night away.  Sometimes the guys will go off and do their manly things, and it is so much fun to have a daughter to watch a "girly" movie with me, or to go shopping, or simply to understand.  One time I noticed some pretty journal type books on her desk and she told me they were for Ivy and Summer . . . for when they reach their teen years.  She is writing down tips and advice on all she is learning about coping with middle and high school.  She plans to give it to them when they enter that stage of life.  I was very touched, to say the least.

When I was first married, I never wanted any girls, only boys, because I thought girls were harder to raise.  Besides the fact that I didn't feel very confident in the area of hair, make up, or style, you know, girly sort of things.  And I thought I could never be a good mom for daughters.  Yet God has given me three and I love them to death.  Plus I think it takes a certain kind of man to be a good father to daughters and believe my husband is one of them.  As I was recently sorting through old pictures, I realized that I have bunches of them with her and her Dad, always delight strewn across her face. 
Heather, you are a joy, and I know you often think yourself rather clumsy, but in reality, you emulate grace.  When you were in grade school, we were at a friend's house for a party and you didn't know the adults were watching.  You expressed such a carefree spirit that you did perfect cartwheels all across their back yard.  Your feet scarcely touched the ground. . . light. . . winsome.  The hosts commented on what a graceful girl you are.  And I don't think they meant only on the outside!
The life God has given along with His abundant grace, flows out from within you. . . permeates your entire being. . . drips with His joy.  We are so blessed to have you in this family, and take great delight in your life.  Happy 18th birthday!


  1. What a beautiful tribute to God and to your daughter. Our children are such gifts and they are God's heritage... not ours so to speak.
    I have thoroughly enjoyed your writings, Jewel and thank you for sharing your heart. It is a blessing to many. Love, Blossom

  2. A lovely gift to us to read about your wonderful daughter ... blessings on you all!

  3. How is she 18 already!? She has certainly grown into a beautiful women. Happy Birthday Heather! Well done Jeff and Jewel :)

  4. Thanks for your encouraging comments! Yes, I don't know where the years have gone, but I will say, enjoy your kids now, while they are young. It is such a short time that we have them under our roofs.

  5. What a beautiful testimony of God's grace from birth to present. What a gift God has given you -- and her. :)
    I also find it interesting that you never thought you were girly. I remember when you stayed with us for a weekend or something while you were at college and as a little girl thinking how you knew how to curl your hair and were so pretty. :)

  6. Love, love, love! I learned so much I didn't know before. Such a breathtaking display of God's love. (You should send this in to a magazine)

  7. Love it, and love your Heather and the beautiful young woman she has become! You and all of your girls are beautiful. Thanks for sharing.