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The Gift

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"You know you don't have to go through with this, right?" he asked. She echoed, "We'd all understand if you chose to walk away from her."

After an excruciatingly slow drive from Birmingham, we finally arrived at Duke when they were just a couple of hours old. We'd said yes to him three weeks earlier when our friend, an adoption attorney, asked us to pray about giving him a home. But her? We'd only known about her since the South Carolina border.

Two babies. I won't lie . . . it felt overwhelming. We kept reminding ourselves, though, that the Lord had gone before us in this, and while we had all been clueless about the second baby, He'd known all along. After maybe an hour or so of processing, talking through the logistics of bringing home twins, and feeling a growing excitement over our growing blessings, the weight grew far heavier when the next phone call came.

"Incompatible with life."

I threw open the car door and raced into the hospital as my husband left to drop off our five big kids. There was a lot of waiting and hall pacing, but eventually we were ushered into a dimly lit NICU room where a thin little baby lay in a small bassinet. She was covered in wires and tubes and her strawberry blonde hair was hidden under a blue wool hat with a pink stripe on it. As gently as they could, the doctors began sharing the news of her earlier ultrasound. The shock didn't come with what they saw but with what they didn't see.

From the neck down, she was what the world would call "perfect". As you neared the top of her brain stem, though, everything went black on the ultrasound of her head. As I stared at the void on the monitor before me, the tears streamed hot down my cheeks. But when I turned back around to look into the face of the life I saw before me–a life made by the hands of a good and loving Creator–Josh and I locked eyes and without saying a single audible word to one another, we told the doctors, "she's our daughter."

Ava. "Filled with life." We pray over the meaning of each child's name before we give it to him or her, and at first it seemed impossible to reconcile the meaning of Ava's name with what the doctors were saying would be a life finished almost before it began. But God has made Himself so near during these last 10 days and He's shown us that we have a lot of life and love to pack into whatever time we have left with her; and when the time comes that she breathes her last breath, her body will be made whole–and her name will find its most perfect completion–in a glorious picture of being truly filled with life eternal.

We need prayer for all of our family as we walk this road of beautifully intermingled sadness and joy. We cuddle her and laugh at her precious little Ava-isms, and then we turn around and bathe our three-pound baby girl in tears of deep sorrow. But in His gentle, all-knowing kindness, the Lord reminds us through her brother Sam's name ("God has heard") that He is present–near to the brokenhearted–and that He is working even this for all of our good and for the glory of His great name.

"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change." – James 1:17
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— A special thank you to Josh and Allison who agreed to let us share their unfolding story of Sam and Ava.  If their story has impacted you and you would like more information on how you can get involved in saving the life of a child through advocating for life, foster care, or adoption, then we recommend the following resources:

To learn more about how you can be involved in addressing the issue of abortion visit our Counter Culture website for more information about abortion ministries.

To learn more about how you can get involved in foster care or adoption visit our Counter Culture website for more information on foster care/adoption ministries.

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