20 weeks +6: This Time I Will Praise the LORD

I’m preparing for another day of worship to my faithful Father.  But this Sunday is not just any Sunday. On this Sunday, I am 20 weeks and 6 days… filled with LIFE.  I’ve experienced some pretty remarkable days that rank pretty high on my list of favorites–a beautiful wedding day, the births of Eli and Eden.  But I don’t know that I have ever been more thankful for any other day in my life than I am of this day. On this day, I have carried this baby just one more day.  This time, I will praise the LORD.

We are currently on the hunt for another name.  I had the perfect name for a baby girl.  It was one that would have told our entire story with this baby, all within her name.  I chose it immediately, the same day that we learned of the pregnancy. But would you believe that this baby is a boy?  (Let the tradition continue!)  I had planned to have a name chosen by the time we learned gender so that we could ask our sweet friends to lift this sweet babe by name.  Unfortunately, that mystery name is still floating around out there in the vast unknown.

We have been keeping our hearts open to anything that we might encounter in the search process, though!  Since all of my other babies’ names were based in the Bible, that’s been my primary source. So stories of Biblical names have been of particular interest to me as I read and study this year.

A few months ago, I was reading the story of Jacob’s sons, paying close attention to their names and the meanings behind them.  As I read, I was touched by Leah in a way that I haven’t been before, and I could identify with her on a new level. The first three of her boys–Reuben, Simeon, and Levi–were named with her struggling marriage and her sorely neglected heart at the forefront of her mind.  “Because the LORD has looked upon my affliction; for now my husband will love me” (Gen. 29:32).  “Because the LORD has heard that I am hated, he has given me this son also” (Gen. 29:33).  “Now this time my husband will be attached to me, because I have borne him three sons” (Gen. 29:34).  Poor Leah!  Like every woman, she only wanted to be loved.  Her life must have been consumed with disappointment.  If it could creep into even the days beautified with the births of her babies, then it surely must have clung closely throughout every day.  What astounded me, though, as I read was the change as she bestowed her fourth son with the name Judah.  The footnote in the ESV says that Judah sounds like the Hebrew word for “praise”. With his birth she said simply, “This time I will praise the LORD.”  Do you see the shift in her focus?  From herself and her struggles, her disappointments, her longing…to her LORD and the good that He had done in her life.

Her words struck a hard chord of accusation in my heart.  This time I will praise the LORD.  Our pregnancy with Thea caught us completely by surprise.  We didn’t tell a soul for several weeks–not even the kids or our parents–because I needed to be able to share the news without grieving tears.  Imagine! Grieving over new life!  There certainly was little room for praise on my lips.  I said often, “I know this must be God’s will, and that He knows what’s best for our family.  And I know that once this baby comes, these thoughts will be long forgotten, and I will love him or her until my heart feels like it’s going to burst, but…”  So many people could testify to hearing these exact words from my mouth!  These are not words of which I am proud.  As a matter of fact, these words and these feelings I regret more than most any others in my life.  But they are truth.

After months of struggle, I finally mustered some excitement about the pregnancy.  I think it was something about the Christmas season, seeing the excitement in the eyes of the kids as they planned for their little sister.  And then, just weeks later at 20 weeks, 5 days, I lost all of it–her life, her future, and every small ounce of excitement–all gone within moments.  I was left with the numbing question, “This is what is best for our family?  We were content with our lives, with our family, and now I’m left with this insatiable, aching emptiness.  This is best?!”  Needless to say, it took several more months before I was able to say and mean that God had blessed me with Thea, that she was His gift, that perhaps He gave me an emptiness in order that I could learn to be filled only by Him.  The day finally did come, but oh, it was such a long and painful journey!

Coincidentally, it was a long and painful journey that I remember every part of–every twist in the path, every rock that caused me to stumble, every rainbow that crossed the sky, and every ray of sun bursting through the fog.  It’s strange because I remember so little of life during that time, but every step of that journey has been etched into my soul.  I look back on it all and say [Even in] this time I will praise the LORD.

Today, with 20 weeks and SIX days of life inside of me, I am ever so thankful.  I am thankful that He chose me, that He chose our family for this path.  I am thankful for this one more day, and I am thankful for every day.  And every day I will say, regardless of where this journey leads, This time I will praise the LORD.”

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