re·deem

rəˈdēm/

verb

1. compensate for the faults or bad aspects of (something).

2. gain or regain possession of (something) in exchange for payment.

My children are as opposite as they look. One has brown hair and brown eyes with olive skin, the other is blonde, blue eyed with white skin. One is a night owl who has yet to have a cheery morning in his 4.5 years of life, the other usually wakes up smiling and sometimes even singing. We are constantly trying to get one to finish a meal and the other is literally whining for more at the same time (we often wait for the older to take his necessary bites and hand the rest over to brother who has been shouting for more for the last 5 minutes).

I wish I could say I have no idea where they get their personalities, but it’s all too obvious that the older, dramatic one is a lot like me and the other like their father, bless all their hearts. 

This week was Avery’s second birthday and as I do at every birthday I reflect on our life and family. I remember the details of their births and I thank God for his goodness and faithfulness. 
I love looking back, it so much easier to see the good and put the bad in perspective. The retrospect gives me lenses to view the future and it always brings hope because in looking back it’s easier to see the things God was doing all along the way. His past faithfulness makes it easier to believe that for the future. 

For those of you who know Evan’s story you remember the trauma and drama of the emergency c-section, the 15 day NICU stay and the next seven months of tests and medication. It was the beginning of the hardest year of my life with lots of tears and unknowns, a big move, job changes, and with all of those stressors a loneliness and depression that rocked me. It was also a year of growing – in faith, in love, in joy and hope. It was the best lessons I never want to go through again. It was sanctification that I will forever be thankful for and do not look forward to repeating any time soon. It was also seeds of doubt, fear and insecurity that I allowed to be planted and grow and that I didn’t even realize were there until I was pregnant with Avery two years later. 

I’m not good at being pregnant. I’m not one to suffer quietly, so try as I might (or not try) the complaints of discomfort, nausea, and fatigue quickly escaped my lips. These complaints were an obvious cry for help. And praise God for the people who not only put up with me but also loved and helped me along the way. 

But where I needed the most help was in the fear. I was so afraid. Afraid that there would be complications, that there would be another NICU stay, that this one would be worse than before, that it wouldn’t end in life but in death. And if there was life that it would be just as hard or harder. Sleep deprivation, depression, desperation. And this time with a two year old in tow. 

And because hormones and pregnancy were not enough stress on the body and mind I also started this ugly game of 101 ways Gunnar might die before this baby was born. It was hard to sleep and hard to function with all these make believe problems I had to solve. Being crazy is exhausting! 

But oh, how sweet is the love of God and his people. Through much prayer and conversations with Gunn and friends, I got to put words to the fears, and for the first time really address them. Only then was I able to confess and repent for not believing in God’s goodness. For believing that he was able, but not willing to take care of me. For the first time in months I actually started living in the reality that God is bigger than even my worst fears. I didn’t have to be held captive to fear but could instead proclaim truth in the face of it. It felt like this giant wound of faith in my heart had been excised and healing came. 

It was the beginning of so much healing. Healing in places I didn’t even know were hurt. The rest of the pregnancy was still physically uncomfortable, but I felt mentally and spiritually strong again. I was able to fight for truth and stand firm and able to ask for help and prayer whenever the lies flooded in again. 

Avery was due September 1 so we scheduled our c-section for August 29. But my water broke at 12 am on August 12th so we got to have our baby in our arms by 4:45am. 

It was weird to be awake for it. It was even weirder when we got to our room and they left him in there with us. He was so calm and he slept soundly. There were no wires or monitors and it all felt so surreal. A healthy baby boy who ate and slept right away. And then they sent us home with him a day later and we were like freaked out, first-time parents because we didn’t know what to do with a brand new baby at home! 

Our God is the God of redemption. He regains possession of everything the world claims as its own. What sin destroys God rebuilds- be it hearts, lives or circumstances. 

In so many ways Avery’s arrival and even first year of life were practically opposite to Evan’s. It feels that every hurt and fear planted by my first experience God has redeemed in the second. 

I love that it reminds me of the comparison made in 1 Corinthians 15.

1 Corinthians 15:45-49 “So it is written: “The first man Adam became a living being”; the last Adam, a life-giving spirit. The spiritual did not come first, but the natural, and after that the spiritual. The first man was of the dust of the earth; the second man is of heaven. As was the earthly man, so are those who are of the earth; and as is the heavenly man, so also are those who are of heaven. And just as we have borne the image of the earthly man, so shall we bear the image of the heavenly man.”

God made man in his image, but sin ruined it. So God sent Jesus to live a perfect life, to die and take the punishment we deserved, to redeem man to himself. He fixed it and made something beautiful out of the mess we made. 

He saved us, he’s sanctifying us and praise God we are redeemed!

I will forever be grateful for these boys. Evan, my sanctification baby and Avery, my redemption baby. God is so, so good to me! He is so good to us!

And so we celebrated. We gave him gifts and a donut cake aside his eggs and blueberries. We thanked God and we prayed over him. Our hope and dreams for these boys are that they know that no matter what life has or what the world throws at them, that God is good and that He loves them. We pray that they know that they are fearfully and wonderfully made and that Jesus died to pay the price for our sins so that we can live and learn and give our lives for the glory of God. 

I want to teach them to look at the hard things in life and search for the good in them, for there we see Jesus. What stories do you look back on to remember the goodness of God in your life? In the remembering and retelling, we get the chance to proclaim the faithfulness of God that we are so prone to forget.