I’ve been promising you Natalie’s story for a long time. I need to get it in writing so that one day my baby girl can read it and see just how “on purpose” a fifth baby can be in God’s precious plans for a family.
Last summer as Mitchell began to nurse less and less I knew that the time was coming when we could begin anticipating the possibility of another baby being on the way. We had much upheaval ahead with John’s job situation being very much in the air and not knowing where we would end up living. There was so much going on, including a very active one year old, a newly turned three year in need of much consistent discipline, a four year old starting kindergarten, and a seven year old starting second grade (I homeschool both of them). All of them were involved in lots of extra sports and other activities. John and I had conversations about my physical strength, about whether I could handle another baby right now. We talked about watching the calendar, looking into natural family planning a bit, and waiting a little longer before we had number five. The more we talked, the more this nagging feeling in me grew. This quiet little voice whispering, “Have I ever failed you? You have given this area to Me from the beginning of your marriage. Have I ever messed up? You say you can’t, but what about Me doing it through you? I thought that’s what we were doing.” As I thought about taking this decision more into my own hands (which is laughable, since it never really is – take it from a woman who has been pregnant ten times in eight years and had five children), I felt less and less peace. Talk about a burden! I have trusted a faithful God in this area and He has carried me through unexpected and wild circumstances to bring Himself glory and in the meantime to bless me beyond measure or belief. After a short time, all I wanted was to hand this decision back over to Him and go back to the peace of waiting on His timing!
However, the first month that I knew there was a possibility of being pregnant was taken care of for us because I was going to be out of town visiting family when my niece was born. We were gone for several days and came home. Sorry to those of you who aren’t interested, but to understand this story, you have to know that they could make a calendar off of me. I am a clock when it comes to this stuff. At one point I had my cycle timed to 28 days and 12 hours. Every month. The night I got back, the kids were praying at bedtime. Now, you have to know that the week after Mitchell was born Kailey began praying daily for a baby sister. (This required deep breaths from postpartum Mommy.) And she had said the same prayer faithfully. That night, however, her prayer was slightly different. She prayed, “Dear God, please send me a baby sister right now.” I remember laughing and telling John, “Look out! Did you hear Kailey’s prayer change?” Then I went on my way knowing that she would have to be patient a little longer. Ha! Me in all my wisdom.
To make a long story short, there never was a second cycle for me and by our tenth anniversary I knew that God had rearranged my time by weeks, more than it had ever been off before, because it was time for Kailey to get her baby sister. Somehow those early, usually very scary and difficult first weeks where I wonder if I will be able to carry the baby flew by in peace. Somehow you just had to know it would be a sister. And sure enough, by the time we got to that sonogram in November, there was a healthy baby girl on that monitor, and my dates were even more off than I had thought. This is only the second time I have carried back to back without miscarriages in between so that was a beautiful victory in and of itself!
As we began looking at names, I came across Natalie and that one meaning of it was Christmas Day. I thought to myself that for our family Christmas is a celebration of Jesus. It was during that holiday season that we saw our healthy baby girl, answer to prayer for the first time. How fitting. She would be our blessing, our celebration of Jesus. Then I began looking for a middle name that would reflect Kailey’s answer to prayer. That was right in front of me. Because the rest of this story actually goes back another 20+ years. At that point there was another little girl praying for a sister. She had been praying for one for more than five years. That little girl was me. It was one of my earlier faith-building experiences. As I prayed, God told me that my almost 40 year old mom would have a 5th baby and that she would be my sister. I remember writing a note to my parents telling them what God had said. As they always did, they believed and encouraged me, and then we were all delighted to find out a baby was on the way shortly after. Then I began praying for that baby (we didn’t find out the gender) to be born on Mother’s Day. I had someone tell me God didn’t answer prayers like that, but my parents disagreed and told me to pray what was on my heart. Only a few hours after midnight on Mother’s Day 1991 (two weeks before my mom’s due date), “It’s a girl” was heard in our house and my sister, Carissa Joelle, became a flesh and blood picture of God’s love for me. Because of all that God has done in my little family over the past crazy months, on April 20, 2012 I was in the same room of the same house at that same ranch where I grew up when Natalie Joelle was born. Yes, we gave this next generation, prayed for, 5th baby, little sister to a second born girl with three brothers who was praying and praying, the same middle name. Partially because of the similarity of the stories my daughter and I now share. Partially because of the meaning of the name Joelle, “God has heard.” Oh, yes, He has. Again and again.
Over the months before Natalie was born and in the months since, I cannot count how many times Kailey has looked up at me and said, “I can’t believe God would do this for me. Answer my prayers and give me exactly what I prayed for. She is so perfect!” And I know EXACTLY how she feels. And I know that feeling will not end anytime soon. That 20 years from now she will still feel the wonder of God’s provision like I did a month ago watching my prayed for sister walk down the aisle to the man God has sent to answer HER prayers and to be her husband. His grace and provision just keep going and going. And I bless my parents for not closing the doors on my faith and instead allowing me to call out to God for what my heart desired. And I thank God for his mercy when my faith falters and for bringing me back to trust in His timing. I know I will have to be reminded again and again in my frailty, but He is so good. In these days with our precious gift, I am constantly aware that I have no desire to be in charge of my future or my family’s future. It is never easy, but the payoff is so far beyond the sacrifice, it’s not worth considering an alternative. I just want to stand back, put my all into this calling, and watch HIS story unfold through me. All glory to His Name.