A story from Vanessa:
During the weeks leading up to Maggie's birth, my days, hours, minutes were filled with hand-wringing, tear-fighting and pleading with the Lord. As her suspected (and eventual) delivery date neared, that changed slightly. During those days leading up to her birth, I'd go before the Father with my requests for my niece and her parents and I began to hear my verbiage and I'd cringe. I realized that my intentions may have been good, but I wasn't praying as our Savior had instructed me to: "Not my will, but yours be done." After having this realization my heart, nor my prayers changed instantaneously, but in this new awareness I realized that with EVERY prayer I'd prayed previously, I'd been asking the Father with the boldness He's given us for MY will to be done. I'd requested time and time again for results that would result in the ultimate comfort of my family, their lives, their finances and ultimately-my comfort. A week before Maggie's birth I confessed to my cousin that I'd never known the meaning of that prayer. Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me, yet not my will, but yours be done. At what time had my prayers ever allowed margin for such humility amidst my wishing and hoping for favorable outcomes? They hadn't. Not until my Maggie came. Oh, Maggie May.
The weekend of Maggie's birth was immense. It's hard to put words to the intensity of emotion and power that were present on the second floor waiting area of that hospital. The space was filled with kids, half-eaten bags of chips, friends, family, rapidly-wiggling fingers frantically updating others-and the Lord's presence was so there. I know He's always there, but this was palpable. Prayers were offered and I don't remember the words that were uttered, but I could almost FEEL that groaning in me as the Spirit was heaving our heavy hearts before the Lord. Uh! It was terrible then feeling shaky and pacing and studying my parents for cues that would signal how I should act-the way I might as an eight year old at my first funeral-but looking back now, the memories of those hours (and hours and hours and hours) in the hospital are not lit with bleak hospital light, but they almost glow. His will be done.
The following day I had the opportunity (thank you Stephen, Joy and lenient nurses in the NICU!) to meet my niecey-piecey. I was nervous! I'd never seen such a tiny life hooked up to tubes and what if I cried? Would that be okay or had Stephen seen too many tears for a lifetime? Should I be squeally and excited as I wanted to be or would the Mag-ster sense my intense energy and get worked up? Upon walking into her corner of the room, I noticed two men on either side of her bed keeping vigil. "It's Michael and Gabriel!!" I thought. I stared at the beauty in the plastic crib and was humbled. Awed. Just awash with love. She was made in His image. Maggie was made in the image of our God and I was witnessing another facet of our Lord's beauty. Wow. I'm sure I cracked a lot of jokes to my brother and I'm sure I acted strangely, but I was simply falling in love. With Maggie. With our God. This gift of life, this creation that our Lord spent time personally knitting together in my sister, Joy's womb was filling us with so much love that it was immeasurable. Every child is a miracle, every life a creation of the Creator-but this fight for life we were witnessing was something powerful. Not my will, but yours be done Lord.
I don't wish to sound as though I'm romanticizing my niece's birth story. There was nothing romantic or lovely about the anguish I saw in eyes of all present or the way my brother slumped into my Dad's arms when he was finally out of fuel and just needed to be held. There is however, something romantic and beautiful about the will of our Father. Maggie's body, that by human standards is weak, impaired, disabled, and different, ushered the Spirit into the waiting room of that hospital as well as the hearts of hundreds of people before the Father in prayers. Your will be done. That same life, with the sweetest little fuzzy head, spurred me to change my posture before the Lord-forever. That baby, the one fighting to live, she encouraged the Body where Stephen and Joy worship in Austin, along with the Church across the nation and reaching out onto other continents to BE THE BODY! To function as the body of Christ can and should, fulfilling needs of dog-sitting, praying, crying, rejoicing, fulfilling financial needs, baking cookies, traveling, being present and silent, sending cards and writing encouraging Facebook messages. Your will be done, Lord.