Deeper Still: A Divine Appointment Indeed

Below is the beautiful story, told by Emily (Miller Grace's mom), about our time in Atlanta and just a few of the amazing things that took place there. I am so thankful for Emily writing it and LifeWay Women's Ministry posting our story... GOD'S STORY... on their main blog. This is the reposted entry below... Amazing!

Deeper Still: A Divine Appointment Indeed

By the time I pulled into the dark parking lot of the hotel at nearly 1:00 a.m., I was spent. I had been trying to get there for what seemed like forever. My heart was pounding and my mind was racing as I handed my keys to the man at the valet desk and made my way to Room 112. Heavier than either the bag on my shoulder or the box of t-shirts in my arms was the need to look into the eyes that were awaiting me, to fall into the arms it had taken me so long to reach. I wondered if I would cry. I thought I might laugh. But when the door slowly opened, I did neither. There, in that little room, were six of the best friends I will ever have. As I hugged them one by one, I began to wonder if that is what Heaven might be like. Our babies are already there, after all, so we have each spent a great deal of time trying to imagine how our eternal home will be. There in that simple hotel room in Atlanta, in the middle of that June night, I believe we were given just a glimpse.

We stayed awake, chatting in our pajamas like old friends instead of women who had just met until our eyes finally closed. Sweet Kenzie fell asleep before the rest of us, as her body is working hard as the Lord knits her third child together in her womb. What a blessed little girl that will be to have one big brother in the world and one big brother in Heaven. Sweet Maddox was born in January and opened his eyes to gaze upon his earthly father just before he closed them and saw his Heavenly One. In a moment, he changed more lives than most people do in many years. We slept in the next morning, and then made our way down to Starbucks to continue our conversations over the very comfort foods (and beverages, of course) that have helped to sustain our broken hearts this year. Just to sit all together at one table instead of in separate drive-thru's scattered all across the country was a miracle and a joy to behold!

That afternoon, we pulled the brown t-shirts I had carried in the night before over our heads and everything changed. Like soldiers dressed for battle, we headed to the airport to gather one more sister before we went to worship together at Deeper Still: The Event. Just four weeks before Karen stepped off that plane, her precious baby boy Jacob Ryan had left his earthly father's arms for his Heavenly Father's hands. Her third son, he had lived a miraculous 138 days in this world as a Trisomy 18 miracle. It was only fitting that Yvette was waiting there to meet her, too. Her third son, Tristan Asher, was the only other one of the babies represented that weekend who had made it home from the hospital. He, too, was a Trisomy 18 miracle and spent an incredible 56 days under our sun before he, too, found complete healing at home in Heaven. When we rejoined our group, I had the privilege of introducing my sweet new friend to every one in the group and one more special grieving mother, our friend Kirsten. By God's divine intervention, that California girl was also in Atlanta and she needed to look into eyes and be embraced by arms who understand just as much as any of us. Her first baby girl, Chloe Faith, was born into the arms of Jesus in April and changed her life forever. Meeting for the first time was such an unnecessary charade. We knew each other by heart.

Kim and I share the bond of being Kentucky girls. Atlanta wasn't our first meeting. I met her for the first time just days after she was given the incredible honor of holding her third daughter, the beautiful Mary Grace, for seven sacred hours. As long as I live, I will never forget how it felt to see that tiny white casket covered in roses resting silently at the front of all those pews. I knew I was standing on holy ground. It had only been six months since my husband and I had endured that impossible task. It was an unspeakable honor to finally embrace the woman I had prayed so fervently for. It broke my heart to know that she, too, understood the pain of standing with an empty, still womb before a tiny casket that held the treasure she had cherished for so long. And yet, even then, she and I knew that the Lord was working. His plan was bigger than we knew. As we exchanged glances and laughter over that lunch table with seven other women who knew the same secret in Atlanta, we believed it more than ever.

I never dreamed when I held my sweet Miller Grace and sang to her until the angels carried her home on the morning of June 28 last year that I would even be standing one year later, much less standing and worshiping our Maker with the mothers of her best friends in Heaven! The two days we spent together with our arms raised high in praise to our Lord, with the names and life spans of our babies written on our backs, were simply too sacred for words. Try as I might, I could never capture the sanctity of such a divine appointment. We shared everything from snacks to tears as Priscilla reminded us that even the Israelites endured a time of wilderness before they were able to stand on the mountain of God. We wept as we watched her throw her elbow in the air, portraying to us how a mother eagle will offer a wing to her little ones when she realizes they cannot fly on their own. We swallowed hard and nodded when she said the Lord will do the same for us. We sat still while our hearts were absolutely moved as Kay Arthur challenged us to open our eyes and see the state of our nation for what it is. We took it to heart when she called us to action. When we sat on the sidewalk to eat our boxed lunches together, we were more determined than ever to make the most of the moments we are given in this world.

We held our breaths as Beth Moore took the stage. She has played such a crucial role in so many of our lives during this season. When she said she felt moved to offer a time of prayer before she spoke, we needed it more than anyone. When we found the strength and the joy we needed to return to our seats, we were thirsty for a Word and she did not disappoint. Grief has a way of making a girl desperate for relief and sweet Beth reminded us that Jesus is the One and Only Deliverer. By the time the praise band took the stage again, our group of eight from all walks of life and all corners of the nation couldn't help but lock hands in the air. I think I will always count those moments I spent with my left hand in Karen's and my right hand in my dear friend Chrissy's among the sweetest I have known. Chrissy and I share the special bond of having held little dark haired girls for five days before they breathed their last against our chests. There is not a doubt in my mind that Eva Janette, Miller Grace, and all their precious friends were worshipping right alongside us that day.

As the event came to a close, our adventure reached its climax. We filed into a small vacant room backstage, and absolutely could not believe it when Beth Moore and her own baby girl followed us in. I can speak for all of us when I say we would give just about anything to have video footage of those moments to watch over and over again on hard days. With all the intensity of a woman on fire for God and all the love of a mother with a heart broken for us, she called us to our knees. As she, her daughter Amanda, and our dear new friend Michelle walked around us and laid their beautiful hands on us, Beth offered up the most beautiful prayer to our Lord that my ears have ever heard. She was undaunted as the sound of our sobbing and the presence of our Lord filled the room. She continued to petition God on our behalf, to ask Him to be glorified in our lives, to make Satan sorry he ever messed with us, to bring healing here and to transform our ashes into beauty. Though I doubt she knew it, Beth Moore instilled in us that day a courage to pray boldly to our Lord, a hope that beauty is indeed on its way even when ashes are all we can see, and a peace that comes only in knowing that His plan is still to prosper us and not to harm us, to give us hope and a future.

I will never forget standing there with one of my hands on the back of Beth Moore and my eyes on the seven women who held my heart, there on the very day on the calendar that my girl finally received healing one year before. June 28th is a day of redemption indeed. I will forever be moved to envision in my mind, again and again and again, how Beth embraced our sweet friend Kristy that day. She is perhaps the most faithful of us all, as she is the mother of two little boys in Heaven. Kristy and I share the bond of being mothers to little ones whose neurological conditions cannot be named or explained, while the rest of our friends' little ones share the commonality of having been diagnosed with Trisomy 18 prior to birth or soon thereafter. Kristy's second son, Isaac Matthew, would be three this year and Asher Joseph, her fourth son, joined his brother just four months ago. To listen as she told Beth her one prayer request in all of this is that the Lord would be glorified somehow spoke volumes to our broken hearts. Only God.

Overwhelmed by His goodness, resting in His grace, we did what all smart women do: we went to the Mexican restaurant! It was then that I finally had the chance to really talk with Angie, the mother of precious Poppy Joy. Her blog was the first one I had dared to read during those first months after Miller Grace left us. I will never forget praying for that beautiful baby girl while she was in Angie's womb, then marveling over her beauty and the joy that filled her pictures that day in December. When I read of her arrival, the beautiful three hours she spent with her family, and her gentle passing all in one post, I realized for the first time that I was not alone. And I began to suspect the Lord was up to something wonderful. As we sat there, changed women knitted together by sorrow and grace, that Saturday afternoon in Atlanta, it was confirmed. He is absolutely on the move.

The Lord does not always work in ways we expect and sometimes, He works in ways that break our hearts. But He is still good and He is still worthy of our praise. No matter the heartache, the joy will always outweigh the sorrow in the end. The weeping may last for a night - or a year - but the joy is on its way. We may be wandering in the wilderness tonight, but we can rest assured that we are on our way to the Promised Land. We cannot afford to waste a single moment that we are given. Little babies that lived six days, five days, three hours, seven hours, one moment, fifty-six days, thirty-five minutes, five days, and one hundred thirty-eight days came to remind us to live each breath to its fullest. Their tiny footprints are big shoes to fill we know, but it is our heart cry and our sincerest prayer that the Lord might use their little legacies and our lives to challenge you to do the same.

"For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother's womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you 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. All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be."- Psalm 139:13-16

Comments

Anonymous said…
Wow, Kenz! All of you have written such powerful statements of your time together. It is truly a miracle to see how God has brought you together through all of this. I feel blessed and changed because of all of your testimonies. What an incredible group of women!

Love, Jess
ITA said…
My precious children (Dusty, Kenzie and Deacon), as this week marks the 6th month anniversary of our little Maddox birth and rebirth in heaven, I am in awe of how our Lord continues to be our rest and our peace. I will be praying for you even as my heart is one with yours. I love you! ITA
ajc4ever said…
That is beautiful...thanks for reposting it. You are in my prayers.
Becky Smith said…
I have followed your story for many months. The power of God is so obvious in your life, and your strength and wisdom encourages me to press into to Jesus, The One and Only. My husband and I had our first baby in November, Sophie. She was diagnosed with Cystic Fibrosis at two weeks old. We are believing God for a complete healing. I thank you for your honesty, your love for Christ, and your willingness to share your story with the world. I was at Deeper Still in Atlanta, and after following your story and many of the other girls that were with you, I was soooo hoping to see you all there. I wanted to hug you and tell you I love you. I know that seems strange for me to tell you I love you, but your love for Jesus is so real, so alive. That is what this life on earth is for. To share that love. Psalm 139 was printed on Sophie's birth announcement. "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made!" Thank you so much for your courage!

Much love,
Becky in Ga
mabrysmith@bellsouth.net
bookworm said…
Thinking of you today...
love, Hannah
Darlene said…
I so enjoyed reading this! Your stories are amazing, and your children are changing the world it seems! how beautiful.
Darlene

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