February 8, 2014
My dear Christopher,
Your father and I prayed for you before we even knew you. We prayed for you the moment we knew you were part of our lives. We were excited, anxious, happy, and maybe even a little shocked to know we were really, truly, having a baby.
My pregnancy with you became high risk when I started contracting very early on. We ended up on bed rest together, you and I. Medicines, home monitors, doctor visits, a few tears, lots of prayer. Lots of prayer. The baby we had come to love was fighting so hard to make it safely into this world.
During one of my quiet times of prayer during my pregnancy, I marked your name next to Isaiah 43:1 “But now, thus says the Lord, your Creator, O Jacob, And He who formed you, O Israel, “Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine.” You have been God’s child long before you were mine. I also have this note written next to chapter 43: This chapter reveals the love and care of the One whose spirit lives in us. I never knew how often I would go back to this chapter.
Twenty one years ago you came into this world with a fighting spirit. You made your arrival five weeks early. We worked so hard to get you here safely. There was a whole slew of people in the delivery room. So many people helping your entrance into this world – high risk doctors, nurses, the NICU team, your father, but without a doubt, the Great Physician. The presence of God provided the strength and courage we needed.
When you finally made your arrival at 10:39pm, they bathed you very quickly, weighed you (7lbs 13oz – at 35 weeks), and showed us our little boy for the first time. You looked like a prize fighter. My poor, sweet baby was so beat up from being born. We heard your tears, saw your little face for just a few seconds, and then you were taken to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit.
Daddy was able to go see you get settled in the NICU after knowing I was okay. Finally around 2:00am, I was able to see you. I was running a fever so I wasn’t allowed to get close to you. It broke my heart to see this baby all hooked up to monitors, bruised, and an oxygen tent over your head.
We weren’t allowed to hold you until you were four days old. What a feeling to finally hold you in my arms the very first time!!! You spent ten days in NICU, next to some babies that were only one and two pounds. I remember one of the nurses arguing with me that you weren’t really early because “how can he be THAT big?” **Piece of advice to future nurses– never argue with a woman who’s just had a baby.
I know you know this story already. It is not the fact that you are now 21 and legally able to buy alcohol that has me amazed this birthday. What amazes me is how you have kept that fighting spirit. You have never once complained. As a little boy, you didn’t complain. You have always thought of others. You have honored your parents. You have shown kindness, you have remained faithful through trials, you have persevered, you continue to allow the Holy Spirit to work in you. You are producing fruit my child! Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self control. (Admit it, you’re singing that, aren’t you?)
Do you see how you have grown? Branches weren’t designed to produce fruit, they were designed to have fruit produced through them. The vine does the work. The fruit is a product of the sap that runs from the vine into the branch. “I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he will bear much fruit. Apart from me, you can do nothing.” John 15:5
As I’ve watched you fight this battle, and fight you have, I have been humbled by you. I don’t know if I would be able to handle myself with such grace. You have let your gentleness be known to all and the Lord is near. You have chosen to learn to be content in whatever circumstances you are facing. I know this has not been easy but you have chosen not to complain.
I saved this text from you because I don’t want you to ever forget what you wrote regarding God as Protector:
Some would say that God didn’t protect me when I was diagnosed with Lymphoma, that He stood by and watched.
But God HAS protected me, both physically and mentally. In the physical aspect, I’m alive and getting stronger every day. In the mental aspect, He protected me from thinking morbid thoughts and instead gave me hope.
Even when I thought I couldn’t handle anymore physical or mental pain, I would remember ‘My God, my Protector, is watching over me.’ And that made me smile.
This maturity is what fills my heart with joy as you reach this milestone birthday.
I love you Christopher, more than you will ever know. Always know that your father and I will never stop praying for you.
Happy, happy birthday Shaw boy!