This has been one of the most challenging, beautiful years of my life, and I know I speak for your Daddy as well. We have enjoyed 17 years of marital bliss. He is the best choice I ever made in my life. I am always in awe of how kind the Lord was in my youth to let me marry a man who would so many years later still love me and our family so well; who would always strive to be the best he could be for us. I'm so thankful. That being said, neither of us could have ever imagined a day like August 17th. We could never have seen this coming, especially with four Cystic Fibrosis-free children born before you. It has taught us so much.
I've been mulling over all the Lord has taught me or that I have realized since your birth. This time in our lives will always be so bittersweet for me. The year 2011 brought the dream realized of another precious daughter, and with the gift of you also brought the then devastating news of your Cystic Fibrosis. I say "then" because my heart is filled with peace today. I am running a race here on earth, Kate, as are you, and we are not yet at the finish. I will continually have to choose to throw off the weight of the unknown parts of your future (which would hinder me) and run with perseverance this race marked out for us.
1 Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, 2 fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. 3 Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart. Hebrews 12:1-3
In all these thoughts swirling in my head, I have tried to jot them down along the way over the last few weeks. God has been so good to us. I will forever proclaim his goodness and faithfulness to us in every moment. I have never felt more secure in my faith, Kate, and I will never stop telling you of his faithfulness.
My people, hear my teaching; listen to the words of my mouth. 2 I will open my mouth with a parable; I will utter hidden things, things from of old—3 things we have heard and known,
things our ancestors have told us. 4 We will not hide them from their descendants; we will tell the next generation the praiseworthy deeds of the LORD, his power, and the wonders he has done. 5 He decreed statutes for Jacob and established the law in Israel, which he commanded our ancestors to teach their children, 6 so the next generation would know them, even the children yet to be born, and they in turn would tell their children. 7 Then they would put their trust in God and would not forget his deeds but would keep his commands. Psalm 78:1-7
What your Mama has learned in recent months:
1. Life is a surprise; the kind of party that caught her off guard when she least expected it.
2. People are amazing. They have loved us in better ways than we could possibly imagine when we felt the bottom fall out of our lives.
3. God's faithfulness surprises her; day in, day out.
4. Joy IS found in suffering.
5. She can rise to the challenge when the Lord allows pain in her life that changes it forever. It is not of her own doing! It is the realization that her dependence on Christ is where she is fully satisfied, not crippled.
6. Everyone's life is a beautiful gift. We lie to ourselves and go against what God says when we think that a child isn't a blessing because of the parent's ages, circumstances or financial ability or if the child is not perfect and could have been terminated given the right prenatal tests. God alone opens and closes the womb (Hannah, anyone?) and we prove ourselves ignorant and humanistic when we decide whose life is worthy of our celebration.
7. Jesus is the gift; he is the treasure. Give me Jesus! This world is temporary and worth holding onto very lightly. Eternity with my Savior is what I long for. The coolest jeans or hair? That's fun, but so here-and-now. The treasure? It's worth my time and my heart. All mysteries will be revealed, the eternal death of sin, no tears, no pit-in-your-stomach pain. Bliss with the Author of all joy: YES.
8. Life changes. People who were fixtures in her life will sometimes go, and the Lord will bring people into her life to love, teach, pray for, encourage, and refine as an extension of Himself.
9. Life submitted to Christ is sanctifying and beautiful, not boring and restrictive.
10. My most precious Kate Elisabeth, your life and circumstances have taught me more than I've learned at any other point in my life about what is true, what is important, and what is eternal. I will be thankful forever for that.
I can't wait for you to start a list of what you've learned and what you're learning. It will be a precious list of his faithfulness to you and your joy in him. Merry first Christmas to you, Kate. You are so loved and well loved.