There are some things in life that always stay with you. They leave you so changed, and even when you’re not consciously thinking about it, it’s almost an ever present awareness. Then there are times that it all floods back.

I’ve been remembering a lot lately about my daughter’s birth. If you are squeamish, you might not want to look at the pictures. She was born at 27 weeks and spent her first 3 months of life in the hospital. Because I was under general anesthesia for the delivery, the first time I saw her was about 3:00 a.m. (after an afternoon delivery) when I was enough awake again and able to see clearly. She was in the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit; I was in my own hospital room. I woke up excited to see the picture and asked my husband to turn on the lights and bring it over: “I can see now! Let me see her!” This is what I saw the first time I saw my daughter.

She was just over 2 pounds, and though this picture makes her look big, she was so small. She looked so much like my son did at birth, only obviously sick. They try to prepare you for a premature birth, and in some ways, I was, but not for that moment. I immediately cried and told my husband, “We have to pray right now.” We finished praying, and in walked the neonatologist. He had seen our light on and wanted to talk to us. He told us, “She’s touch and go.” She had had a reaction to the surfactant that they use to help the baby’s lungs, and they had sucked it back out, but she was extremely sick. He just wanted us to know.

Thus began the roller coaster ride that is the NICU, up and down moments for the next few months, life or death moments. When we saw her the following day, she was still lying on the little flat bed with what looked like saran wrap over it. That’s where they keep the preemies until they are stable enough for the incubator seen below. (By the way, I took pictures of pictures for this, so the flash makes some bright lights on these pictures.)

It’s so amazing to think a baby can be born this early and live! When she got home from the hospital, she looked more like this below — you can see her head had been often shaved for IVs and her muscles were very tight (the clinched fists). She was on an apnea monitor for a while, so you see the cord. And she was still pretty tiny, maybe 5 pounds here.

By Christmas time, she was 5 months old and about 7 1/2 pounds, and starting to look more like a normal baby. (That’s a flash glare on her head!)

It was a long couple of years. Here she is today, many miracles later, still small, but healthy.

There are times when it comes flooding back, and these last couple of weeks have been those times. I took her to her well check at the doctor’s last week. We talked about how well she has been these last 2 winters despite early asthma problems, and I realized how many health issues she has overcome. Though she never made her catch up growth, she is on the growth charts, even if just barely! These things make me very thankful to the Lord.

When I see that she has a mind that can think and she is doing well in school; when I see her heart for the Lord and love for Him; when I read the things she writes; when I see her work hard to run and keep up in P.E. (even if she comes in closer to the end), I am thankful. Thankful that this baby was healed to see and think and grow and live. Thankful to the Lord.

We had Fine Arts Day at school yesterday where the children could share their poetry and Scripture memory and hymns. In my daughter’s class, they recited Psalm 103 together, blessing the Lord that He forgives sin, heals diseases, redeems our lives from the pit, crowns us with lovingkindness and tender mercies, and satisfies us. Then each student recited one of the verses. The verses my daughter said (Psalm 103:17-18) were ones that were key verses for me in 2009 as I studied the fear of the Lord in depth that year.

She said, “But the steadfast love of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear him, and his righteousness to children’s children, to those who keep his covenant and remember to do his commandments.”

These were just promises I had reflected on and verses I had even shared in a video that I did for our school. Then to hear them coming out of her mouth — that those were the verses she was given to say alone — it was just a sweet blessing.

My heart is so full of the things He has done, the miracles He has worked, the things He has shown me. Great and marvelous are His works, mighty and powerful is He, and I praise Him and thank Him!

Psalm 145:6 “Men shall speak of the power of Thine awesome acts, and I will tell of Your greatness.”

Praise to a Powerful God

Exodus 15:2 “The LORD is my strength and song, and He has become my salvation; He is my God, and I will praise Him; My father’s God, and I will exalt Him.”

I am team teaching the 2nd and 3rd grade Sunday school classes at church this summer, and it was my week to give the lesson. We have been studying Exodus and how God delivered His people, the Israelites, from slavery in Egypt. Last week, we learned about the 10 plagues. Today, it was on the Israelites’ crossing the Red Sea on dry ground. We talked about what a powerful God we have, and how our response should be to praise Him as the people did in Exodus 15!

Just as God rescued His people from slavery in Egypt, so He rescues from the slavery of sin anyone who believes on the name of His Son, Jesus, who died for our sins and rose again! We can live a life of hope and praise Him for giving us salvation!

As I think about ways I’ve seen God work powerfully in my life, I remember 8 years ago this very day. While living in Virginia, but visiting family in Memphis, I was 5 months pregnant, or 23 weeks, 6 days to be exact. My pregnancy had not been easy from the start, but we were not aware of the seriousness of the situation. Things worsened in Memphis, and I was admitted to the hospital, with the doctors telling us they would do their best to save my life and the life of my baby.

For the next 23 days, the doctors did all they could to sustain the pregnancy. My daughter was born later that month, 3 months before her due date. She spent the next 3 months in the hospital in Memphis. Our short vacation turned into an almost 6 month stay!

As I remember those days, I remember God’s mighty power. We truly saw His hand at work in every detail. There were little miracles along the way and things that the doctors could not explain. The condition I had during my pregnancy was incompatible with life. The perinatologist made it very clear: “Your baby is a miracle. People don’t believe in miracles today, but she is a miracle.”

So I praise Him today, not just for taking us safely through that time, but for the lessons He taught me through the suffering. God’s design and ways are perfect, and He used that pain to lift my eyes to Him, to help me begin to long to know Him. These were just the seeds being planted that would grow into full bloom over the coming years. And as they did, He gave me great joy that I didn’t know was possible.