Cherry Snow. It was the color of the new nail polish I applied that morning. I had a slice of toast and listened to my Steven Curtis Chapman album. It was cloudy and a bit cool for the end of April, so I slipped on a jacket. Two surprise pink tulips greeted me in my front flower garden as I left the house.
Remembering or even noticing details has never been my strength, but on April 30, 2001, God granted me an exceptional memory.
I woke up that Monday morning and put on my cutest maternity clothes. It was our first visit to the perinatologist. Our baby had measured small at the appointment four weeks before at my 23 week appointment. As a precaution, I was sent to see the specialist.
My nerves were fried from worrying, but I knew I shouldn’t panic. After all, this was most likely just an unnecessary visit and, as a bonus, I’d have another chance to see our baby on a more sophisticated ultrasound. It was also a much needed “skip day” from teaching. Never having used a personal day, I actually felt a little guilty about it. Plus, my mom and I were going to enjoy a lunch out before she went with me to my appointment at the hospital.
In normal circumstances, my husband would be with me. However, the police academy was two hours away and, again, there was nothing to be concerned about. He kissed me and assured me that God was in control before he drove back to Des Moines early on that same day.
As I got ready, my tummy started to feel tight and squeeze intermittently. Being a new mother, I didn’t realize that I was having contractions. The tightness continued in frequency and length throughout lunch and grew even stronger as the ultrasound tech performed measurements in complete silence.
My mom looked concerned, leaning forward in her chair, but remained her constant comforting and calm self. “Can you see her moving? Is everything okay?” My voice sounded like an echo.
“Your baby is not alive.” I don’t know how my doctor sounded so loving and kind saying those words, but he did.
This is when God sharpened my memory to a level that can only be explained as divine. I needed to call the police academy to speak with my husband. I wanted to call my mother-in-law’s office so she could pray. I felt like my school needed to know that I would be taking some time off. Every single number from every single contact that I would possibly need rolled off my tongue.
I was taken to a delivery room to be prepped for delivering a baby. My water broke on my own and there was no time to start an IV or any pain medications. All of the nurses were amazing as they navigated an inexperienced 25 year old through the painful delivery of a stillborn baby.
Chad raced to the hospital from the academy, but didn’t make it in time for the delivery. Ava Faith was born at 27 weeks with my mom and dad by my side. (I’m so thankful they were there.) She was 13.8 oz and 11 ¼ in long.
That’s when my memory took a turn. The rest of the evening was a blur. I’m told I cried continuously for the remainder of the hospital stay. I don’t remember. I know I held her and she was beautiful and then somehow I was home. Home with an empty uterus, no baby, and breasts full of milk.
I didn’t think I could survive this heartache. Managing life seemed impossible. This is where my testimony of how God helped me through begins.
Pretending like I was the picture-perfect woman of faith would be a lie. It was hard. Becoming a mother was what my heart longed for, but trusting His timing was a hard lesson. After many months of tears and even yelling at God, I surrendered. I felt His embrace and just let him hold me. My faith grew and His faithfulness throughout my trials was revealed.
One clear lesson I learned is that when you go through tough times, you can either choose to run from God or run TO Him. You can be bitter and angry for the rest of your life or you can listen to His leading and let Him mold you into the person He wants you to be. Keep going to church. Maintain friendships with like-minded people. Read the bible. Don’t run away….it’s so easy to want to do that.
Am I the same person I was before Ava went to be with Jesus? No. Am I thankful? Absolutely. I’m so humbled to know that God loves me enough to shape me into a better person.
1 Peter 1:7 says, “..that the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ.”
My faith was tried. For sure. But that verse brought me comfort along with the Ginny Owens’ song, “If You Want Me To.” (If you haven’t heard it, look it up.) She sings, “So if all of these trials bring me closer to you, then I will go through the fire if you want me to.”
Going through the fire is not something that anyone ever wants to do. But I know that God loves me. He has used my trials to refine me and I’m forever changed. And forever grateful.
Friends – Emily here. Janna’s testimony – m o v e s – me. I am grateful for her bravery and obedience to share how Goad can work through any circumstance to make it for HIS good. NO matter what you are going through – or have been through – I want you to know that you are NOT alone.
Every single person who has shared their testimony on this site would be more than happy to walk through your darkness with you and give you guidance through prayer. I myself – and I know many of my friends agree -that God allows us to come through these trials we face not only a stronger human but also closer to Him. And we are called to share these stories with you so that you are so aware that you are NEVER ALONE.
You, friend, are loved by the most amazing Lord of All. And no matter what, He is for you. He accepts you right where you are and will walk alongside you through your troubles and tribulations- ( the good and boring stuff too). Would you allow me to pray for you?
I thank you for my friend reading these words right now. I thank you for their willingness to open themselves up to hear someone else’s story, and how you moved in their lives. Father, I ask that you work in their lives and carry them through their darkness. I ask that you bring people into their lives that would help keep them on the path that YOU have laid out before them.
Father, You are worthy of all of our praises. You are good and mighty. Thank you for the blessings of life that you have poured out on us. Open our eyes to see how we can share these blessings with those around us. Place people on our paths that will help lead us to you.