Planned by God
“Imagine a priceless vase or ornament is dropped on the floor and smashed to pieces. The woman who loved it kneels down. She picks up the pieces, one by one. She looks at each one in detail, turning it round, as if to remember where it once belonged. The vase was loved and so when it was shattered, every piece was worth picking up, no matter how small. A grieving person will often want to talk about the smallest detail of their loss. It is as if every broken piece is taken up and wept over. When you listen, you may feel that the detail was small, but it is part of something that was supremely valued, part of something dearly loved” (Colin Smith). Our Hope Babies are unique, precious, supremely valued, and dearly loved gifts from God to us; through this series, we speak about them together and remember them.
There are those precious moments, memories that we cling to—that we pour over, again and again. Some of them are full of joy, sweet memories that make us wish we could just turn back time, to experience the moment with greater clarity. Some of those moments are terribly difficult, the emotions still so strong despite any length of time separating us from them. Each memory—whether one that brings us to our knees in sorrow, or one that brings to remembrance the simple joys of motherhood—each one is so precious. Memories, even the difficult and painful ones, contain a remarkable and irreplaceable beauty. They are part of our stories, both your story and mine, that have turned us into the women we are today. They have shaped us, taught us, changed us.
Will you allow me to share with you some difficult and beautiful parts of my story? They hurt, and yet, they simultaneously bring me abundant joy as I dwell on the blessings of the Lord in the midst of my brokenness.
Shoes Never Meant to be Worn
One day on the busy streets of Cajamarca, Peru, my mom and I spent an entire afternoon searching for which gift she would buy for my baby shower. We spent hours, and hours looking, and when our time came to a close, we walked away with a precious pair of baby shoes. I chose them so that they would fit right around the time that my sweet Israel would begin walking.
Israel is our fifth child, and I didn’t pick out very many new things for him; we had quite a collection of baby items already. But those shoes, they were his. They were something I handpicked for my son. They weren’t expensive, they weren’t fancy, but they were special to me. They were special because I picked them out with anticipation, with thoughtfulness. It was my plan to see my son walking and toddling around wearing those little Peruvian shoes. Oh, but the Lord had far greater plans for my Israel.
“Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in Your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.”
I often take the time to think about the shoes that Israel was never meant to wear. The Lord had a plan before that sweet child was knit in my womb. Yes, He knew the moment that I picked those shoes with all the excitement of a pregnant mother, that Israel’s feet would never once touch them. He knew. Yet, He allowed me to walk through the excitement and the anticipation. He gave me room to plan for my life with my son. For that, I am thankful. I praise the Lord for the joys of anticipation and planning.
Yes, but I also praise the Lord for His perfect plan. I praise Him that He knows my son far better than I ever will—and that ultimately, Israel was always His. I was blessed with eight months in the womb, and eight months out. I was blessed to be his, “MOM!” as he liked to say. (Always at more of a yell than a speaking voice.) Before Israel was ever knit in my womb, the Lord had already planned his final breath. When “Baby ‘Real” passed away, I had a choice to make. I had to choose to either walk in thankfulness for the beautiful time that I had, or to walk in anger or hopelessness due to the time I lacked.
So I chose, and continue daily to choose, to trust that as Psalm 139:16 says, all Israel’s days were written in His book, before any came to be.
For quite a while after Israel’s passing, I really struggled whenever I thought of his shoes. I struggled with the thought that he would never grow large enough to wear them. Of course there is still sadness in that thought, a deep and embedded longing for more experiences with him.
Yet, I have joy.
His Earthly Life Was Completed, Not Cut Short
As I think of his shoes, I remember that the Lord never intended for his first steps to be before my eyes. I have joy because I know that this life is temporary, and that which remains my future hope—eternity with my heavenly Father—is my son’s present joy. So each time I find myself tempted to be overcome with sadness for my son’s lack of time on earth, I remind myself that he lacks nothing.
Israel’s life was beautiful, and exactly as long as it was ever intended to be. I regularly come back to, and ponder Psalm 139:16 and remind myself that Israel’s earthly life was completed that snowy February day, not cut short.
I often recall and soak in the memories of his first smiles, and the way he would scrunch his little nose and raise his left eyebrow at me, almost accusatively, only to follow up with a giant and hearty grin. I praise the Lord for the tiny and beautiful details of life.
Yes, I praise Him for His perfect and beautiful plan for my family.
“For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”
Would you join with me in jotting down the precious memories of your little ones, however much time you were given and whatever memories you do have? Whether full of joy or pain—or likely now both—they truly are precious. May your journey of healing continue as you learn how to slowly give your trials piece by piece to the Lord, and find your overwhelming comfort in His arms.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of mercies and God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort those who are in any trouble, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God.”
2 Corinthians 1:3-4
- JessicaHope Mom to Israel
Jessica is a wife, and mom to six sweet babies. Four running around in her home, one in heaven and one on the way. She and her family are serving as missionaries in the Andes mountains of Peru. Much of her time is spent homeschooling her children and learning alongside of them. She enjoys the peace and quietness of sitting at the feet of Jesus. And in her free time she thoroughly enjoys sewing and crafting.
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