Letter when Mary was Born

 Originally written on Mother’s Day, 1997
 May 11, 1997

Dear sisters in Christ,

 On this Mother's Day, 1997, I want to write you some thoughts to let you know how God has so faithfully led us through and since the day of the birth of our 4th child, Mary Elizabeth, on April 5, who, as many of you know was born totally blind.

Even before our Mary arrived, God's grace was at work in her name. We had decided on the name Mary, if we had a girl—from my journal in February I wrote, "How wonderful to have the name Mary—who said about God's will for her life, "Be it unto me according to your word." What a wonderful life verse that was said by our Lord's mama. And more than anything, I want you to follow our Lord, with a total undivided heart your whole life long."

Yes, Mary, the mother of Jesus, was saying in today's terms, "Do whatever with my life you want, Lord, I am your servant." What a servant's heart! Is this not our deepest desire for our children? More important than them marrying, or getting a good job, or, yes even seeing, is knowing that they are serving the Lord wholeheartedly as David prayed for this son, Solomon. I think of the great hymn writer, Fanny Crosby, who became blind at six weeks of age due to a doctor's negligence. Her grandmother told her the Lord allowed her physical eyes to be taken away that she may have sharp spiritual eyes.

Oh and how many have eyes yet are blind to God's truth. Many can see, but few have God's vision for their lives. What's more, no eye has seen what God has prepared for those who love Him (1 Cor. 2:9) and no eye can see our Lord on earth! Yes, the Lord has shown me He wants the eyes of our hearts to be open to what He wants for us. "My ways are not your ways" the Psalmist tells us about God. God uses the weak things of the word to confound the wise. Was not our Lord Jesus born and placed on a mattress of hay? Yet this same Jesus who reigns above, this same Jesus wants His power to be bestowed on us when we are weak.

Like all parents, the first thing we so wanted to hear after the birth of our baby is that everything was okay. We were to soon hear in the first few moments of Mary's life that the doctors did not think she had any eyes behind her eyelids. I cannot find the words to adequately express what we felt. The words cut like a knife as my husband tearfully leaned down to tell me what they had suspected. Overwhelmed, we clung to one another as we wept and grieved as we tried to absorb all that was taking place. Looking back, I am now reminded of the verse "...weeping remains for a night, but joy comes in the morning." For we did weep and we did grieve, but we did not stay there.

With the same intensity with which we had clung physically to one another, we were to transfer that clinging to now take hold of God's promises. In my mind, I remembered the words of Romans 8:28, "God works all things together for good to them that love God and are called according to God's purpose." He didn't say all things were good, but that He would work them out for our ultimate good. Now God was putting us to the test. Did I really believe that? Would I trust Him? It was as if God were saying, "Don't look at just what you see, Juana, look to Me and trust in Me." I think I can say that as I lay in that hospital bed taking in all that was happening, that I did trust Him. It was a sheer act of my will, not my feelings.

I remember as I held Mary in those early hours, being so glad she was in our family. She was, I knew, exactly where she was supposed to be.

Terry wanted to read aloud from God's Word. So while it was just us along with Mary and all had left the room, Terry began to read from the sixth Chapter of Matthew. He wanted to read the passage on not worrying about your life, and not worrying about tomorrow – that each day had enough trouble of its own – but to seek His kingdom and His righteousness – oh yes, how many times we had read this but now in out time of need, God was once again saying to us, "Trust Me – trust Me with Mary and with Mary's future."

We then read the passage in John 9 where the disciples questioned Jesus as to why a particular man had been born blind. Did he or his parents sin, they asked? Jesus replied, "Neither. This happened so that the work of God would be shown in his life." Yes, God was confirming to us once again that He wanted to reveal His glory through Mary – that there are no accidents with God. In Psalm 139, the Bible tells us that regarding Mary, her frame was not hidden from You (God) when I was made in the secret place. When I was woven together in the depths of the earth, your eyes saw my unformed body." And God even has each day of her life planned (and yours and mine).

"All the days ordained for me were written in your book (Psalm 139:166). How this per- fectly ties in with what I had written before Mary was born in my February journal. "I love you even before you are here and thank God for you every day and know the Lord has a plan for your life and great and mighty things He will show you. I pray you'll follow Him all the days of your life. In the meantime, I am so grateful to be your mama." I closed that February 22 entry with Jeremiah 29:11, "For I plan I have for you," declares the Lord, "plan to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future."

There were so many other ways the Lord poured His grace on us with Mary's birth. Terry had told our oldest, Blair (daughter, 8) on the telephone that we had a girl and that she was born blind. She had been praying for a little sister for three years. Being a child who holds things very dear to her heart, we were concerned about her and called the friend's house where she was staying while I was in the hospital. The mom said, "They are playing now. All she said when he shopped in the car was 'I have a little sister and she is blind and she's going to grow up to write lots of hymns!' " Yes, the Lord had comforted us at a time when we couldn't be with our daughter.

You see, our daughter drew on her knowledge of Fanny Crosby of whom we had first studied when Blair was 4. It was as if the Lord was saying, "Yes, everything is going to be all right. What you have been instilling all along is in her too." When our five year old son arrived at the hospital, he to me after I had explained about Mary and God's choice for her – "She can hear well and she can feel well, but she can't see." Then he joyfully exclaimed, "but she'll see in heaven!" (Our three year old, Alex, just said, "Marwee Ewizabef!)

There have been so many other "preparations and encouragements." Here are a few:

(too many to mention)

-I have prayed over and over in the last 5 years and have written on a card this prayer: "I am willing receive what You send, to lack what You withhold, to relinquish what You take, to suffer what You inflict, to do what You command, to be what You require."

-Let my obedience be without interruption.

-Phil. 4:8, "Finally brothers, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, what- ever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable, if anything is excellent or praise- worthy, think about such things."
The nurse's words were, "Her hearing is excellent" after Mary's hearing test was done. In other words, God was saying to us, "Look at how I've provided for you; focus on that, not on what I've withheld." And two weeks later, we were praising Him for an excellent MRI and Chromosome Report which indicated normal brain development.

 As a family, we had memorized James, Chapter 1 a few months prior. It begins, "Consider it pure joy my brothers when you face trials of many kinds, ... for the testing of your faith develops perseverance."

In our kitchen we have a scripture which reads, "The Father knows what you need," Matthew 6:8. He knows our need and promises to meet our needs!

And also for Mary (and all of us) – Psalm 84:11, "No good thing have You withheld from me. (If Mary needed sight on earth, God would not have withheld it!) and He will "equip you with every good thing for doing His will." Hebrews 13:21 ... what is pleasing to God."

(and who am I to be displeased when God, our Creator, is pleased with His creation of Mary!)

Later, fear did creep in as we had to return to doctors for various tests. God reminded us over and over again not to fear and that He would be with us and that was enough. (No matter what the results of the tests would be.) "Do not fear, for I am with you." Isaiah 41:10.

2 Chronicles 32.7-8, "Be strong and courageous ... with us is the Lord our God to help us and to fight our battles."

I was amazed when I remembered Ephesians 2:10. God had actually "prepared in advance" for me to do "good works." He planned for me to be Mary's Mama! What an honor to be known as the mother of my Mary and Blair and John and Alex. I am reminded how Mary was willing to be known simply as the mother of Jesus. Our children all belong to the Lord; they are just on loan for us to raise for Him.

-The encouragement shown by other Christians has brought us to tears and are too many to name. Let me just say that the meals cooked, clothes washed, sheets changed, gifts given, notes written, and phone calls received have so encouraged our hearts! And have been gladly received!

-Before Mary was born, Terry picked out the scripture we were to use for our announcement, "By wisdom a house is built, and through understanding it is established; through knowledge, its rooms are filled with rare and beautiful treasures." Proverbs 24:3-4.

-The Lord reminds us in Isaiah, "He gently leads those who have young." He knows we need to be led!

-And let's all remember how Paul spoke of contentment especially as we close with this poem Fanny wrote at nine years of age:

Oh what a happy soul am I
Although I cannot see
I am resolved that in this world contented I will be
How many blessings I enjoy that other people don't
To weep and sigh because I'm blind
I cannot and I won't!

March 20, 1997

 "Dear Lord,

I pray we will take out of our hospital experience, in addition to a healthy baby and mama, a deeper spiritual walk. From the moment our 4th child is born, conform us more to the image of Christ. May Terry and I grown in the Lord, and closer to each other, and come away closer to Christ. May we be more unselfish, more giving, more loving and more patient."

The Proverbs 31 woman – She can smile at the future – I want to be like that! She cheerfully surrenders herself to raising her children. To have a smile on my face about the days to come because the Lord God is in them. Our confidence is in Him.

With love from your sister-in-Christ,