I started 2017 just like any other year. I sat down to pray, plan, dream and make a list of goals I want to achieve in the coming months. But, this year was a little bit different, in that my soul was craving more than just your average, lose-weight-and-save-money-type-goals. I wanted to look back on 2017 and say it meant something. A pivotal year of my life in which God would use me in extraordinary ways. So I prayed a prayer for just that; that God would push me beyond myself and out of my comfort zone to show His love to others.
Be careful what you pray for….
Last Thursday I was busy, as usual, running errands around town, to and from appointments, lunch with friends, groceries, the works and God stopped me dead in my tracks.
I was on my way home at the end of the day when I received a text message from a friend. It was a screenshot of a post on FaceBook a mutual friend and former co-worker had posted just minutes before. At 20 weeks pregnant with their second son, Bennett, they received some concerning news about the baby. There was a mass located on his neck that wasn’t there on the previous ultrasound. They were referred immediately to a high-risk obstetrician the following morning. After a second look, they determined the cyst was tunneling into Bennett’s chest, but they received good news that it could be removed after birth. Relieved, they left their appointment and were told to continue to come in for weekly visits where they would follow up on the progress of the cyst. Over the next two weeks they would receive the devastating news that the mass had not only grown in size, but was now accumulating fluid into the chest, abdomen and pelvic cavities and causing the baby to go into heart failure. They were told Bennett had only 1-2 weeks to live.
I read every word carefully, trying to comprehend everything I was reading as to form an appropriate response, but I had no words. I only felt one thing, a very strong urgency to pray for Kristin and her baby.
So, here is where my rational mind tried to reason with God, because I knew beyond a shadow of a doubt, He was telling me to do this. I only worked with her for a few short months, she had dated my cousin for a while in high school and I had seen her at family functions, but we weren’t close. I wasn’t even friends with her on FaceBook for crying out loud. I can’t just show up at her doorstep and ask to pray with her over her unborn baby.
It was complete insanity. They were going to think I was a lunatic. But the urgency wouldn’t leave me. Even as I tried to go about my evening, I was constantly reminded of her. So I prayed a bold prayer and told God if He wanted me to pray with Kristin and her baby in person, He would have to make a way for it to happen.
The next night, I received a text from another mutual friend between Kristin and I asking me how much I would charge for a maternity photo session. She wanted to bless Kristin and her family with some memories of the pregnancy. We discussed it and I told her I was willing to do the photos free of charge if she gave my number to Kristin. Again, I am thinking, there’s no way this will actually happen.But God, if you want me to do this, I will. My friend said she would talk it over with Kristin and get back to me.
Saturday came and went. Nothing. I went to church. Went to eat with my family. Nothing. Sunday morning came and went. I went to the gym, ran an errand all the while checking my phone for a missed call or text. Still nothing.
Sunday afternoon, I was visiting my sister and her new puppy and I got a text from a number I didn’t recognize and immediately I knew. It was Kristen, asking to set up a time this week to take the photos. My heart was racing, pounding in my chest. This was it. This was the moment I had prayed for, confirmation He was listening and orchestrating every detail to bring us together so I could pray for her.
We set up a time, Monday afternoon and I went to her home. I got to meet her husband and her precious boy Reid. I sat with them for a minute before we started shooting and told them the story of how I ended up in their living room. When I asked them if I could pray with them, their response was an adamant, “yes, please.” I was relieved to find they didn't think I was a lunatic.
We prayed, we laughed, we cried and God was there. He was there in that moment, His presence so thick and heavy, it was nothing like I had felt before. Kristin and Ryan’s peaceful spirit and demeanor spoke so deeply to my soul. Because how in the world can you carry this kind of a weight and be hopeful much less at peace?
Because Jesus is carrying it for them. Because He is the author and finisher of their faith. His burden is easy and His yolk is light and He invites us to rest peacefully in Him, even when the storms rage. The faith they have in Him for whatever His will may be is how they’re making it through. They won’t come out unscathed, but they will come out alive, well, made better in His image and with a beautiful story to tell of hope and healing.
And this, after all, this is what life is. This wild, inconvenient, yet so simple way Jesus pushes past all boundaries to show His love for us. All He asked for was a prayer, and He moved heaven and earth to make it happen.
Thank you, Kristin, Ryan and Reid for blessing me in more ways than I can explain. Thank you for your willingness to share, to be open about your faith in the Lord and your journey through an unimaginable season of your life.