"Every good and perfect gift is from above..." James 1:17
Boys, sitting still, and waiting aren’t typically a winning combination. But on this particular day, my three guys’ behavior seemed impeccable. They sat and they waited and then they listened. They weren’t really listening to me because I was fairly quiet, only adding an occasional polite response to a woman who had decided to relay some of her life wisdom on me that afternoon. I have no idea what her name was, but can we just call her “Marge”? Marge had seen my boys, commented on how handsome they were and then launched into a fifteen minute diatribe on how boys were good, but girls, oh my, girls, they are something else. And how I must, I simply must have one. I knew she meant well. Marge was proud of the girls in her own life and wanted me to experience some of the girl-filled wonder she had.
I sat and listened, nodding and smiling. Marge had made it sound so easy--as if I could just go through a drive-thru and order one. One little girl please, pigtails, extra sugar, hold the attitude.
I made eye contact with one of my guys which he returned with an eye roll. Another offered a half grin. They knew. This wasn’t their first time hearing the “Girls are Golden” speech from someone. They’ve heard it from cashiers, waitresses, salesmen, you name it. They also knew that when we got home I would hug them and assure them I’m thrilled to be a mommy to three boys.
Marge made a good argument that day. She was exactly right. Girls are simply wonderful.
I know because I had one. I have one. My daughter, my girl, Kelsey Wynn. And this is her story.
Be Still and Know
"In His hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." Job 12:10
Fear and comfort oozed into my life simultaneously. They don’t seem to belong together, but are complimentary companions. The fear arrived abruptly, interrupting an ideal Saturday night complete with my husband, a movie, and a bowl of ice cream. It came in the form of a pain that took away my breath. Only eight weeks into my pregnancy, I understood all about typical growing pains; but I also had the memory of two prior miscarriages. And so with thirty seconds of discomfort, the seed of fear began to grow into hours of worry.
Within moments, the soothing balm of His Word impressed upon my heart, “Be still and know that I am God.”
Between the verse, prayer, and a night of rest, I felt soothed. Replaying my doubts on the drive to church the next morning began the cycle again. However, as we rounded a corner, another application of the ointment stared at me from a church’s marquee: “Be still and know that I am God.”
My body and my actions were quite capable of following this command to be still, to not worry. My mind was another story. Yet, when the fear presented itself, so did that verse reminding me that God was in control. I heard it on the radio, in Bible studies, and read it in my morning devotions. It became my theme for the pregnancy.
At some point, it seemed that my fears concerning something ominous happening to Kelsey before birth seemed to ease, only to be transferred to the thought of her childhood, her life. I wanted to protect her from harm. How would that be possible in a world filled with so many hazards? We would show her the love of Jesus. We would pray that she would love Him, know Him, and look to Him in all things.
Though not in the manner I wanted, that’s what happened. She knows Him completely and everyday walks basking in the love of Jesus. So perhaps the verse wasn’t for me after all. It’s her life story.
February 13, 2009: the day I checked into the hospital to deliver my baby who would be born still. It was one of the worst days of my life, but it was also one of the dearest. I got to hold her in my arms. What a sweet and lovely and pretty girl she was and surely would have grown to be. We rocked her and sang to her…gestures for a longing mommy and daddy rather than for the life that was already complete. We longed to return to the joy, the hope, the expectation of her life with us. And saying goodbye left me feeling torn between heaven and earth. It also left me with an enormous feeling of isolation and shame. Though others didn’t abandon me, I felt alone. Though I had loved her with my all, I felt ashamed. Mothers are to bring forth life, not death. I took some time off work, avoided stepping foot into church, and darted in and out of daily errands as quickly as possible. When walking through the doors of a public place, I felt as if a neon sign clicked on over my head announcing to the world: “Her baby died.” I desperately wanted to hide for a really long time.
"Those who sow in tears will reap with songs of joy." Psalms 126:5
“Mommy, what store did you buy me from?”
“Mommy didn’t buy you from a store. God made you.”
“But you took the pieces to God and He built me.”
“That’s right baby. He built you.”
I sat in astonishment at the words my three year old had just uttered. How he came up with this idea, these words, I don’t know. But what I do know is that somehow God had taken the pieces of me…pieces of brokenness, grief, fear, guilt, isolation, and tiny crumbles of hope. He put in me a healing heart with an added glimmer of hope….another beating heart.
It was exactly one year and one month after Kelsey’s death that I discovered that once again, another life was growing inside mine.
On the day we found out he was a boy, I wept. I sat in the passenger seat driving home from the doctor’s office with my very best posture and allowed the tears to fall. Periodically, I rubbed my swollen belly and whispered my apologies for the tears and reassured him that I loved him more than anyone ever could. I didn’t cry because he was a boy. I cried because I missed my little girl. I cried because I was scared another girl would have been seen by some as a replacement. I cried because if she had lived, would he have been formed? And I cried because I loved him and couldn’t bear the thought of another goodbye.
At some point in this journey, I became sick of the tears. Yet, on November 16, 2010, I laid on the operating room table and whispered a prayer begging for more: “Please let him cry.“ A medical assistant heard me and leaned over and quietly assured me, “He’s going to cry.”
And moments later, my ten pound, five ounce rainbow baby entered the world. The tears flowed again, although this time in relief and joy, as I heard his cries. For several minutes, the only sentence my lips could form was, “Thank You, God.” I yelled it, I whispered it, I cried it, “Thank You, God.”
“The Lord your God is with you, He is mighty to save. He will take great delight in you, He will quiet you with His love, He will rejoice over you with singing.” Zephaniah 3:17
My boys’ bedroom floor became my altar in the months following Kelsey’s death. There, among the scattered Legos and army men, I bent my knees and begged for the Lord to come near. Nothing sacred about the place, only the convenience of the Ipod with speakers. I suppose moving it to another location would have taken too much time and effort. It was precious time…anytime I found myself alone in the house, I would steal away for some moments alone with the music and my God who felt so far away. But it was there, as I listened and wept and poured my soul on the carpet, that I knew He had not left me. The songs became my prayers; the ones I composed on my own consisted of two words: “Help me.” Expressions and praises that my own heart could not form came through the music. Scriptures, that I hadn’t the strength to read, came alive with an accompaniment of the piano and violin. A meager offering on my part met by abundant mercy on His.
I’ve written with the expectation of telling Kelsey’s story. It seems that in doing so, I’ve discovered much of mine. Perhaps that is because the short time I carried her changed my life. Her earthly body was oh, so tiny, but her impact on my heart is enormous. I’m thankful that the Maker of the Universe created her life and handed me the privilege of being her mommy.
As believers, we spend a bulk of our parenthood introducing our children to and teaching them about Jesus. “Who made you?” we ask. “God loves you,” we remind. We hold their hands and lead them to Sunday School in hopes they will hide His Word in their hearts. What an honor it will be one day to take my daughter’s hand as she leads me to the feet of Jesus.
I conclude with a list of songs and Scriptures that have accompanied me on this journey of grief. God bless!
”Perfect Peace” by Laura Story
“Send Me a Rainbow” by Laura Story
“I Will Carry You” by Selah
“Unredeemed” by Selah
“Small Enough” by Nichole Nordeman
“Every Season” by Nichole Nordeman
“Held” by Natalie Grant
“Another Time, Another Place” by Sandi Patty and Larnelle Harris
“Yours” by Steven Curtis Chapman
“Beauty Will Rise” (The Album) by Steven Curtis Chapman
“Be still, and know that I am God; I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth.” Psalm 46:10
“But now, this is what the Lord says--He who created you, O Jacob, He who formed you, O Israel: ‘Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.’”
Isaiah 43: 1-3
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit.” Psalm 34:18
“So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you. I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” Isaiah 41:10
“I am still confident of this: I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living. Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.” Psalm 27: 13-14
Thank you for reading. My prayer is that all who hear the story of Kelsey Wynn will know and experience the love and the hope and healing of my Lord Jesus Christ.