8 years ago today God ushered into our arms our sweet baby, Joshua Isaac, on August 14, 2002.
I am celebrating him today.
Celebrating the gift of his life and every breath that God breathed into him for 119 beautiful days. Born with a fatal, random genetic condition called Trisomy 18, Joshua astounded the doctors, gave evidence that miracles do continue by God's hand, and taught me in 9 months and 119 days more than I could have learned in a lifetime without him. We have always referred to Joshua as our "Special gift from God" because he was in fact a gift straight from God's hand to our lives. I treasure each day I got to be his mommy and look forward to a blessed and joyous reunion in heaven with him one day.
And I am remembering from where God brought us.
Just as the Israelites remembered through the feast of unleavened bread the victory and freedom they received through God as they were lead out of Egypt, so I too, remember what Christ did in my heart and life through my son, Joshua.
"And Moses said to the people, 'Remember this day in which you went out of Egypt, out of the house of bondage; for by strength of hand the LORD brought you out of this place."
So often we see our children and know that our role is to instruct their hearts toward righteousness....but for me, through Christ, Joshua instructed my heart. He taught me more than I ever taught him. Through his precious life, the chains of fear that held my heart began to be broken. A heart that had always been set on finding solutions and living my life by my terms, was being deconstructed and transformed to be a life set on the foundation of Jesus Christ and trusting in His will and plan, even when I couldn't see the solutions. Trusting that God had all the answers. And upon this foundation, Christ continues to build in my heart and life. A life of faith in Christ Jesus. A life where I can say,
"I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." Galatians 2:20
Many have asked me why I'm not angry with this cancer and how I am able to have joy each day. It is through Jesus Christ alone and my faith in Him. Knowing that this life is not about me. It is not about me defining the lifespan of my children, about the pleasures of this world, about trying to find happiness and contentment outside of Christ, about what my time should look like each day, for my time is not my own; it is all Christ's
That 8 years ago, in April 2002, when we learned that Joshua was sick while I was still only 4 and a half months pregnant, I got angry with God. I let the anger grow into bitterness. I let it bring me into an emotional state of depression, pity and doubt. I laid in my bed for a week and I tried to escape the reality of my life and the life of my son. I mourned his life, a life growing inside of me, but hadn't yet even taken a breath. I mourned my life. A life that wouldn't be defined by a healthy child who would grow into a healthy man. Trying to protect myself from so much unknown and uncertainty. And yet I couldn't.
And I wrestled with God for days until finally one morning His voice was louder than my cries. And I opened my Bible, laying in bed, all alone and I found Him. And He spoke to me in ways that I have never been spoken to before. I began in Romans 5 and kept reading. In the margin of my Bible under Romans 7:13 "But sin, that it might appear sin, was producing death in me....." I have written "this is where I was April 2002. Death was being produced in me as my mind stayed on my emotions, as my mind stayed in fear, as my mind stayed in anger and bitterness. And Satan wanted me pulled so far from the Lord that I felt isolated and on an island of grief and despair.
I continued on and God began a new work in my heart. As He shined his light on my sin he began to lift me out of the pit. "For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) nothing good dwells; for to will is present with me, but how to perform what is good I do not find." Romans 7:18
And I knew I needed God. I couldn't do it by myself. I couldn't get out of this pit of despair. I didn't have the power and I didn't have the energy. I needed God more than ever.
And I couldn't get enough of Him. He began the heart surgery that needed to be done on this selfish, sinful flesh of mine. I remember hanging on His every Word. I couldn't put my Bible down. He lovingly and graciously brought me on to Romans 8. And as I read, the Holy Spirit began to further show me my sin and then bring me to repentance.
God brought me eyes to Matthew 10:37
"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after Me is not worthy of Me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it."
And I remember weeping. Weeping because this was me. This was my sinful heart. I loved my son more than God. So much more that I would turn my back on the one who gave me life and Joshua life and think that I knew better or had a better way. Who was I?
And I went back to Romans.....
"For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, these are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, Abba Father." Romans 8:14-15
"The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs - heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ, if indeed we suffer with Him, that we may also be glorified together." Romans 8:16-17
And again, in my margins I have written next to 8:14....April 13, 2002....I feel like I am suffering as Christ did. Oh let the glory be with Him alone. I am going through my own crucifixion with self. And I continued reading to the end of chapter 8 where nothing can separate us from the love of God which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.
I went back to rest my eyes on the words Abba Father.
This was the verse that struck me. God is my daddy. He will never let me down. He will never leave me. He knows me from the inside out, before the foundation of the world. And He has a plan for me and my son Joshua that is so much bigger than April 2002. I needed to lay my Isaac down. I needed to take Joshua, take Trisomy 18, take my life and give it fully to God. Lord your way, not mine.
And I went to the garden, the Garden of Gethsemane and read as Jesus prayed to His Father before being lead to His death.
I got off of my bed. I knelt down with tears streaming down my face, sobs coming from deep within and I gave Joshua to the Lord. I gave Him my fears. I gave Him my pain. I gave Him my life in a way I never did before. And I prayed as Jesus did,
"Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will." Mark 14:36
And a wave of peace washed over me unlike any I ever experienced before. The peace of the Holy Spirit. The peace that comes as we walk in obedience and submission to the will of our Father. The peace that surpasses understanding.
And so today, I celebrate Joshua. I celebrate my boy. I celebrate and give thanks to my Abba Father who loved me enough to be patient with me, to grow my faith, and to bless me with 119 glorious days with Joshua. I celebrate that as children of God, our lives don't end in the grave and that Joshua today is with our Heavenly Father, whole and perfect.
Today, I am on a whole new journey with breast cancer. But many parts are the same. This time, I'm not angry. I'm not bitter. I'm holding on to the very one who gave me breath. I'm taking the thoughts captive that Satan floods through my mind and the emotions that if not, checked at the gates of heaven, bring me into bondage. I will not let Satan have His way.
I have tried writing this post since 7:00 this morning. I awoke this morning with joy and throughout the day, I have watched Satan try to unravel me and distract me to the point of almost having an emotional breakdown. Satan took every part of my life this morning and began to throw darts and my shield of faith was down. I was weak and unarmed.
Around noon, God opened my eyes to Satan's tactics and through some precious people calling at just the right time, God used them to pray with me and turn me around.
My shield of faith is now held high. Victory is Gods. Joshua's life had purpose. By the grace of God, I can stand in this trail today because of Joshua. I rejoice today in his life and thank God for my beautiful baby boy!