Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Binding Up the Broken Heart

by LeAnn Henderson 
The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon me, Because the LORD has anointed me To bring good news to the afflicted; He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted, To proclaim liberty to captives And freedom to prisoners; To proclaim the favorable year of the LORD And the day of vengeance of our God; To comfort all who mourn, To grant those who mourn in Zion, Giving them a garland instead of ashes, The oil of gladness instead of mourning, The mantle of praise instead of a spirit of fainting. So they will be called oaks of righteousness, The planting of the LORD, that He may be glorified. (Isaiah 61:1-3)
I have thought a long time about writing this story.  It’s been 17 years since my twins were born.  I go back and forth between wanting to share it and fear of being judged and just feeling overwhelmed at the prospect.  And the story isn't done yet.  But God is the one who gives us these kinds of stories.

When God walked the earth many asked questions and he usually answered with a parable.  This is the parable God answered my question with using my life, taking my hand, and walking me through my own story.  And God is a very good storyteller.  I have written down the details of this story many times. To my memory many of the details are becoming hazy, but the reality of a God who blessed me is not forgotten.  But the trials and cares of life have a way of overriding our memory.  That is why the Lord says so many times, “Remember.”  I write this story now because I need to remember this story as I have done many times over the last two decades when I needed to remember God’s love for me.  I write this story, too, for you--all of you who experience the fire, for all those who need a miracle, for all those who have experienced a broken heart and need to find healing, for all of us seeking God.  And that is all of us.

My story began in earnest sometime in the year 1998. I had reached a point in my life where my stupid mistakes and my perfection training collided.  I realized I could not save myself.  I knew I was as Laman and Lemuel in the Book of Mormon, hard-hearted.  And I was as Alma, who wished a mountain would fall on him and somehow he could cease to exist, and not be brought to stand before a judging God.  I reached the point where I decided I would do just that--cease to exist.  I just would starve myself.  I knew it was futile, but it made me feel better thinking I was actually doing something. 

I did a journal with my little ones at the time and my little five year old would always be as brief as he could.  I would write their words in their journal and have them trace it, in this way teaching them and training them to write, helping them as they needed me less and less.  My son would always write something like, “I am done now," or, "I can play.”  But this particular day, as I was in the depths of self-pity and despair he said, “I want to write, ‘Jesus loves us.’”  I was a little stunned.  Was heaven speaking through my little boy?  But it wasn’t enough and the next day I was still in a dark place when my son announced he wanted to write in his journal,”Jesus forgives us.” And almost like it wasn't him saying that he immediately changed his mind and said, "No, I want to say, 'I can play now.'"  It gave me something to ponder and wonder. I realized then that I really didn’t know if there was a God.  I could not bet my life on it anyhow.  It suddenly became very important to me to know.  My very life--my eternal existence seemed to hang on knowing.  Really knowing.  I had one life to do things right or forever regret it.  Life offered no do-overs.  I realized that I had been right where satan wanted me.  And it triggered a fight in me.

And so I decided I would just ask.  In sincere and deep surrender I got on my knees and prayed (I was always a praying person, if more of the “check it off my list, repeat the same thing” kind of prayers.) 

“God, if you are REAL and I am REALLY talking to you, show me.”  

That had probably been the simplest and most sincere and sincerely humble prayer I had ever offered.  In my heart right then I surrendered myself and my ways, which had crashed and burned, and vowed to try things the Lord’s way.  (If there is anything I have learned from this is that when you ask sincerely, and you are willing to put in 110% of your heart and your soul in surrender and love to Him---God answers.  And hang on while he answers.  The world says show me and I will believe.  God says believe me and I will show you. And boy, does he show you!) 

I was going to find belief if it killed me. 

Sometime around then someone related a dream of theirs in church.  They said they saw a bunch of people out in the ocean drowning.  A cruise ship came by and for a price rescued some of them.  When all those who wanted to get on, and who could pay the price paid it, it moved on, leaving the rest to drown.  After a little while the coast guard came by and rescued the rest. 

"Lord, I am drowning.  But I will wait for the coast guard," I prayed. “Please send the coast guard.”
Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:  For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened. 
I threw myself into the scriptures.  I read every chance I could get.  I began praying all day, conversing with God over everything.  My biggest prayer was, "Lord, heal thou my unbelief," for I frequently came across scriptures that I couldn't bet my life on.  In fact I didn't even know if I really knew any of them were true but more hoped they were true.  I had a blind belief. I wanted more.  Gradually the unbelief began to peel off in distinct layers. The first layer was not believing for sure if there really was such a person as Jesus Christ, who lived 2000 years ago, who was somehow crucified and that somehow did something for me.  The second layer was an unbelief that Christ would want to do that "something" for ME.  The third layer was humiliation that a perfect being could see all my "nakedness" and shame.  It was pride.  I wanted to claim and pay for my own sins.  I was going to be responsible!   And I certainly didn’t want a perfect being to see them.  But I was at least excited that I could feel some belief.  I continued to push past my pride in faithful surrender.  And finally the last tough outer skin came off, revealing a soft tender heart.  I don't know how to describe it other than pure joy.  Joy that he wanted to do that somehow.  Joy that he would do that for me.  Joy that I had hope beyond my mortal, failing ability. 

And soon after that, as I was kneeling upon my bed, a warm feeling began from the top of my head and spread down through every cell of my body.  It filled me with warmth and light and a burning, loving fire.  I couldn't feel the bed under me.  I had no idea what it was, only what it did to me.  It changed me.  After that, whenever I even thought of my old self, I literally felt like I wanted to vomit.   I knew I was a changed person.  I KNEW God lived.  I KNEW he loved me.  I KNEW he wanted ME.  I made a covenant somewhere around there, a solemn covenant that I would go wherever God wanted me to go, I would do whatever he wanted me to do, and I would say whatever he wanted me to say.  My life was not my own anymore.  I belonged to the Lord.  I don't like writing about the old me even now.

Revelation came so frequently after that.  It seemed in a flash a whole book of information would just infuse into my understanding.--understanding that came without effort, straight into my soul.  I guess more as a witness to myself, and to complete my faith that I had done everything in the scriptures to repent, I got re-baptized on my anniversary, June 22, 1999.

One of the things I strove to do was to thank God in everything.   A few months passed and my joy and my relationship with Heavenly Father was growing.  Then one day in late summer 1999 as I was making dinner and I cracked an egg into a bowl, I looked at the yolk, turned away, and when I looked back in the bowl I saw a double yolk.  And at that instant the Spirit whispered, "You're going to have twins."  I told Layne (my husband) that night when he got home.  He thought that was ridiculous and funny. ( He rarely took me serious on spiritual matters then.  Probably a good thing or he would have run for the hills.) I got pregnant soon after that.  I was so sick I felt like I had been on a hundred roller coaster rides all the time.  But I never failed to thank the Lord.  I would kneel at the toilet and almost wish I were sick enough to die, but then thank the Lord that I got to experience just a small taste of what he suffered for me, and submit myself to his will.  His sacrifice was becoming more and more real.  And so was my appreciation for it.  I think angels must've helped take care of my other three children.  The sickness seemed almost more than a sickness as I threw up a little less than before, but I was in pain all the time.  When I knelt to pray the only strength I had to speak was, "Help."

The infamous Y2K was coming up. I was feeling some better by then, and we went to Roy to a family member's house for dinner and fireworks that New Year's Eve.  I half hoped to get blown up up close and personal next-door to Hill AFB, if that was our fate, more than I realized, for I will never forget the clock striking midnight, a few cars driving by, a few fireworks and then we went home.  Nothing.  It was so silent.  No bombs.  No fanfare.  Life was going to go on.  That was the closest I came to murmuring.  But then I caught myself and prayed, "Heavenly Father, you know why I am so sick.  Thank you for the privilege to suffer just a small sample of what you suffered for me.  I will do anything for you."

January came and went, and February began.  I was growing very fast.  I asked my midwife about it, who confirmed that I was bigger than I should be, but could not hear two heartbeats.  She strongly suggested I go get an ultrasound.  And then, all at once my morning sickness left.  I gathered my books around the table to do the first day of homeschool that year with my kids but I couldn't concentrate.  Something was wrong.  What was it?  The ultrasound.  I knew I had to have an ultrasound.  That day.  I called up my husband to OK the funds, and picked up my grandma and went to a "just for fun" ultrasound place.  That confirmed there were twins.  But she seemed to sense that something was wrong or else she didn't want to say, but she highly recommended I go see a doctor.

I was on cloud nine.  But something didn't feel right to me either.  I told Layne, "I feel like I am walking with $20, 000 cash loosely hanging out of my back pocket in downtown Salt Lake City and someone is going to take it from me if I don't do something.  But I don't know what I am supposed to DO."  And then I had a dream.  In my dream my baby was lying on the ground helpless crying, "Help me, Daddy!  Help me, Daddy!"  All around her were lions stalking her.  I was alarmed but could do nothing for her but watch as the lions gathered around her closer and closer until they converged upon her and began eating her.  I looked over the lions and saw her swollen baby stomach, which hadn't actually been touched yet and sighed a relief.  It wasn't too late!  And then I woke up in a sweat.  I dreaded going back to sleep, dreaded facing that nightmare I was sure would haunt me.  But it didn't.  I remembered it long enough to tell Layne the next morning and then it was taken from my memory.  I didn't recall it at all again until I needed to. 

The ultrasound was Thursday.  On Monday I went back to my midwife for a check-up.  And something was wrong.  One of the baby's heartbeats was so incredibly fast, she couldn't count it.  As hard as she tried she could only get a guess.  The doppler wouldn’t give her a reading.  She made a phone call, and I spent that night, 19 weeks pregnant, in the hospital hearing that incredibly fast heartbeat on an expensive monitor (that wouldn’t give an accurate reading either) all night long.  The next day I met the first of nine doctors to work on me, a perinatologist from South Africa with a strong accent, who looked at the records, checked out my babies thoroughly with ultrasound for signs of defects and edema and made a phone call to "the dude to call" at some prestigious university back east.  I could only understand part of the jargon, but enough and maybe more than enough as I caught the drift that no one ever had made it through a case like mine OK.  He hung up the phone, took a breath and said, "Well, we can do two things:  we can do nothing, or we can try.  I say we try."  He ran some tests, put me on a heart medication and sent me home.  My babies' due date:  June 22, 2000, the same date as my anniversary and my re-baptism.

When I got back to my mom's house, I went into my mom's room, knelt down by her bed and offered up myself.  "Lord," I said, "You know this is the best gift I could ever have hoped for.  I never dreamed I could ever receive such a gift.  But I want you to know you can have it.  You are in control anyway, but I want you to know that I freely give them back to you to do with what you want to."  I meant it.  And I knew that God knew that I meant it.  I would never withhold anything from him.  Not even this.  And in that moment as quiet as anything, a peace infused into me and a faith stronger than I had never known.  I KNEW my girls were going to be OK.  I didn't know the here to the there, but I knew the there was going to be alive and well and whole.  I came out of my room and told my mom.  She tried to assure me that I would still be OK if they didn't make it.  She didn't understand.  My faith had been my gift to hold onto.
Yea, and it came to pass that the Lord our God did visit us with assurances that he would deliver us; yea, insomuch that he did speak peace to our souls, and did grant unto us great faith, and did cause us that we should hope for our deliverance in him. (Alma 58:11)
The next few months were a sort of blur.  I had appointments every week for an ultrasound.  But those were frequently interrupted and skipped as I would go back into the hospital.  But for the first few weeks there were just the weekly visits.  Then one day, when I was 23 weeks pregnant, as I dropped my kids off at my sister's house so I could go for my appointment I had a strong impression that I had seen this moment before.  And I knew it was huge.  I told my sister, "Something is going to happen today."  Not knowing what was in store I went to my appointment.  Mr. South African Accent (Dr. Michael Belford) came in, and spent a long time looking at my babies.  I knew he was looking for edema.  And there was plenty of it, around the heart, around the abdominal cavity, around the liver, almost a centimeter on that tiny one pound baby, but no hydrocephalus (none around the brain.)  But my then 23 week baby was dying of heart failure inside me.  The doctor had me meet with him in his office to discuss the situation and options with me.  As I looked around his high-rise office, with his pictures of his two children, I felt a strong brotherly love and compassion for this man.  There were so many in this world who didn't want children, or who were killing unborn babies.  This man was devoting his life to saving every one he could.  An impression came very strong to tell him that mine was going to be one of those cases that would make his job worth it.  I resisted.  It seemed silly somehow.  I wish I would have.  

A profound peace followed me all through this.

They sent me, a skinny 115 lb very pregnant woman, to cardiac ICU with all the old folks and bare glass window rooms, did many more tests, gave me some strong supplements, put me on a few more drugs, and that night I thought I really might die.  Hooked up to all those machines, with a heart rate already way too high, I would feel a pound, Pound, POUND, POUND in my chest as my heart almost leaped out of it, the alarms would all go off, and then I would pray for sleep.  A few minutes later it would repeat as the drugs began to do their work.  And that is how I spent that night, praising God and submitting in a whole new level to his will.

"Lord, please let these drugs do the good things and none of the bad effects," I prayed over and over the next few months.

It didn't always work.  One visit I remember being "high" on those drugs.  Driving from Salt Lake to Provo I was extremely dizzy, cloudy and having difficulty concentrating.  The Doctor cut down my medication but I had to get home still.  I and my oldest son, then seven, rode back home with me swaying my head back and forth to keep the road in my vision level.  It was a delicate balancing act.  They would increase the drugs so they would work on the baby's heartbeat and I would overdose.  So they would cut back the drugs for my sake and the baby's heartbeat would go back into tachycardia.  And it all had to be done within a very tight life-saving window and in a mother whose pregnant blood levels were steadily increasing to double volume or more.

Money was very tight and no matter how hard Layne worked the few months before this we were still struggling.  I was choosing food or medicine at one point.  Layne had to argue with the pharmacist to get my pills, too.  "You don't understand," he told Layne, "They don't give this much to a NORMAL person, let alone a pregnant woman!  I am going to have to verify this before I can give this to you.  You don't understand.  This is FOUR TIMES a normal dose!"

"You don't understand," Layne would argue. "She HAS to have these."  And so, reluctantly, they would give him the medicine that cost our month's food.  Not until later would I see fully the Lord's hand in this as we just qualified for full medical coverage because of our stubborn finances. But I digress... 

When they first sent me to my room it was in the old part of the hospital. It was tiny and dark and had a glum view of a rooftop between buildings. As I lay there I felt someone come in to visit me.  When I turned there was no one there, but immediately I began having contractions.  I explained to the alarmed nurses that I have silent labor and don't ever really know I am in labor until I am significantly progressed. It ended up not being much, but it worried them enough to put me into the plush, full-view labor and delivery suite.  I had a "crash delivery box" beside my bed every time I stayed at the hospital.  All in all I spent 21 days in labor and delivery.  Only one of those days was the delivery.

One of the two perinatologists that worked at the hospital seemed to love telling me my statistics.  He would describe in detail just how hopeless my situation was, seemingly to prepare me or something.  I would look at him, smile, think "That's nice," wonder how he was doing, and say a prayer for him.  I still remember him telling me at this time my healthy baby had a 24% chance of survival.  He told me they were just waiting for the sick baby to die so they could hurry and deliver the healthy one.  That was the only chance she had.

When I asked him about the other one he said, "Oh, she has none.  Too bad your babies aren't one week older.  The soonest we can save a baby is 24 weeks."

The OBGYN seemed to be as fascinated about this as anyone.  He would tell the nurses, or call them in to see.  This hospital stay, as he put the ultrasound wand on my babies, the one that was not sick had her arm over the other one and their heads were together in a loving embrace.  It was very touching.  And very overwhelming.

One of my friends brought me a music box that played "Edelweiss."  It was beautiful wood and glass with two hummingbirds inside.  It was very appropriate, I thought, as one of my babies had the same fluttering heartbeat as that of a hummingbird. I kept thinking about this tiny baby, like the edelweiss flower, white, pure, and entirely dependent upon me.  My friends were so kind during this time, bringing me gifts and hope.  One in particular I will ever be grateful for: my midwife, who was also my aunt, called up and reminded me of a cousin I have who has RH factor and carried twins, doing blood transplants throughout the whole pregnancy, with NO chance really of either of them surviving, and they made it.

"Remember DeeAnn,"  she said with emphasis.  "No one thought they would make it either."

I think she was inspired to call me then because as I lay in this infinitely expensive room with all the monitors attached, all the alarms, all the drugs, with the little red box beside my bed, listening to the music box, with a dying baby inside me, and another one probably being overdosed and risking her life as well, my children off to a babysitter again, my husband struggling to hold things together financially and at home, my family telling me I would be OK regardless, my faith began to waver and my emotions began to crumble.

"Heavenly Father, I want to hold my baby, to comfort her.  I don't know if I can watch my baby die on a screen."

"She is not there.  She is with Jesus," I felt the Spirit whisper.

And then I felt an overwhelming feeling of gratitude.  Here I was, healthy, at least not needing any of this--drugs, ultrasounds, monitoring, steroid shots--all of this was for a sick and dying someone else inside me.  And yet I was the one to "take this child's licking."  I was the one that got the shots, got the overdoses, got the monitoring.

"Oh, Lord.  THANK YOU for giving me the privilege to take all this for my little baby.  I am so grateful that I get to be the one suffering and paying to help this little one who cannot do this for herself."

"I know.  I understand.  I felt the same way."  I suddenly pictured the Savior up on the cross looking down at those for whom he was paying the price for their sins, right as they were committing them.  And I understood that it didn't matter how much they punished him, spat on him, mocked him, tortured him.  The harder they punished him, the more pain he felt, the more it hurt, the more grateful he became that he was able to take that pain for them.  I felt a deep gratitude for this experience, for the blessing of motherhood, for the privilege to be able to sacrifice for others in a way they cannot ever do for themselves.  Truly it is also the privilege of fatherhood, of priesthood, of heaven and God.

That next night as I lay in the hospital bed with a still dying baby inside me my family and friends gathered at a church for a circle prayer that was three circles deep.  My own prayer was simple:  Lord, please bless my family with the faith you blessed me with (so they can be a strength to me, too, and so that they can have that strength, too.)  I laid opened my scriptures and put my finger down and happened to land on Joshua 3:5  "And Joshua said unto the people, Sanctify yourselves: for to morrow the Lord will do wonders among you."  And then I remembered the dream:  the baby crying for help from Daddy--priesthood help, heavenly help, the lions.  It all came back to me clear and strong.  "It wasn't too late."  I went to sleep in great wonder. At 2 or 3 o'clock in the morning the baby's heartbeat stabilized for the first time.  I was overwhelmed.

I got up the next morning and detached all the monitors and cords to go to the bathroom.  When I looked in the mirror in the bathroom I almost fell to the floor.  An overwhelming knowledge of the love that God had for this baby flooded over me.  And I knew that if he loved my baby that much he also loved ME that much.  Tears of gratitude fell down my face, not because my baby was stable for the first time, but for the love of a Heavenly Father. That afternoon I went home. 

I wasn't off the hook once I went home.  But still they kept the visits to once a week.  There were some close calls.  I remember going to church one day and remembering that over-heating could make a baby's heart rate speed up.  I don’t know why that popped into my head but I kept thinking about it.  It wouldn't leave my mind all that afternoon and evening.  By the time I went to bed I knew something was wrong.  One half of my belly wouldn't move.  I nudged.  Nothing.  The next day I went in and sure enough her heart rate had converted back to tachycardia.  Once we watched on ultrasound as three of the heart's chambers were beating steadily at 130 beats per minute, while the fourth chamber was twice that at 240 and higher.  It got as high as 270 beats per minute during the pregnancy.  Not until after my baby was born did I learn from the not-so-optimistic doctor that superventricular tachycardia (my baby's condition) could kill an unborn baby in 18 to 24 hours.  Once I went back in curiosity to see my first ultrasound video.  Sure enough there was a rapidly fluttering heart days before it was discovered. 

I asked what could cause this, to have one baby fine and another one with such a heart rate.  No one could give me answers.

One time I asked the doctor if there was a certain level of heart failure where they would say that one would make it verses one could not make it.  He looked at me incredulously but politely like the naive idiot I was.  "Heart failure is DYING, LeAnn.  Your babies were DYING."

There were times when I would waver in my faith. Three times I remember. I opened up my scriptures randomly and every time put my finger on Doctrine and Covenants 98:1
Verily I say unto you my friends, fear not, let your hearts be comforted; yea, rejoice evermore, and in everything give thanks;  Waiting patiently on the Lord, for your prayers have entered into the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth, and are recorded with this seal and testament—the Lord hath sworn and decreed that they shall be granted.  Therefore, he giveth this promise unto you, with an immutable covenant that they shall be fulfilled; and all things wherewith you have been afflicted shall work together for your good, and to my name’s glory, saith the Lord.
I have never randomly opened to that scripture since.  In fact I have to hunt for it as I can never seem to remember where it is.  

The perinatologist called in some heart specialists.  I remember one day sitting in a wheelchair after being seen, waiting for a call from the cardiologist with my medical file bulging at least two inches thick sitting on my lap.  My South African perinatologist asked the nurse finally what was taking so long.

"He's god!" she blurted out.  "You can never get him when you need him!"

I don't remember now who all the doctors were who helped me.  I do remember they called in a perinatal cardiologist who would work with my baby after she was born.  She had lots of lovely things to scare me with, such as how they were going to stop my baby's heart with an injection as soon as she was born, then try to jump start it again.  This, she told me might jump-start it normally.  Or, you know, there was always the risk that it wouldn't start again.  She also told me that my baby would be on medication for the first 1 1/2 to 2 years of her life.  After that she had a 50% chance of outgrowing her condition.  And if she did outgrow it she had a 50% chance that it would come back at puberty. 

I felt like I was watching a live movie only I was the main actor and I could do nothing but walk through each scene as the Great Director laid the story out.  I felt literally that I was in the palm of God's hand and that he was going to answer my prayers and fulfill his promise.  I just didn't know how.  That’s the fun part in walking with God.  He’s an excellent life-movie director and most faithful travelling companion!

We had moved to a small town to be closer to my family.  But it was remote and far from the hospital and I was concerned about how to get my four kids and myself safely to a babysitter should I go into labor.  I had another concern.  I had been given three different blessings or prayers by three different priesthood holders that my babies would be born naturally.  But I had tried to move both babies head down, had felt their heads bump, and the baby on the bottom turned breach.  Not a good position for natural delivery.  And not a good idea at all. I think because of my lack of faith in this and because of my concerns their delivery went a little differently than it could have.  But it was for the best. 

At 35 weeks the doctors were getting concerned in another way:  I had to get off those medications as my liver couldn't take them much longer.  It was then I had my first and only regular OBGYN check-up. (My South African doctor, whenever he saw me would stop incredulously and exclaim, "I cannot believe you are still going!  Do you realize the odds...?")  At this time I went in for my regular ultrasound and the nurse acted differently.  She brought in the perinatologist, who did an amnio., made sure my kids were OK, and told me we had to deliver that day.  Baby B was not doing well.  I would not be going home in one piece.  Just before midnight my doctors, Dr. Wold and Dr. Young (God has a sense of humor) delivered my two babies who I could not tell apart for the life of me. 

I never saw a happier daddy.  Layne is a reserved, shy person.  He mentioned he was only there for my deliveries because that was what was expected of him but it was hard.  But this time he beamed as he brought out both babies.  (God was reaching out to him, too.)  But the most memorable thing was the conversation he overheard in the room where a new doctor and a team of nurses were working on my babies.

"Nurses!  One of these babies is very sick and we've GOT to figure out which one it is!"

They never did.  From birth, both babies had a normal heart rate.  They ran every test they had.  That's the coolest part of this story.  God was able to take two babies, identical in genes, walk with one "through the valley of the shadow of death" and bring them out on the other side so identical that no one would ever know which one almost died of heart failure and which one never had a problem.  Really this is the story of the power of the atonement.  And this is why I called this story what I did.  And this is why this is really the story of all of us.  We all get our hearts broken, either through the actions or words of others, or through our own stupidity. We all mourn.  We all seek for comfort that only He can really give. Christ has the power to heal.  How much?  I have had 17 years so far to see just how much.

There were a few minor skares after they were born.  The perinatal cardiologist told me if it were to come back it would be within the first 4 months.  I hung a stethoscope over their bed but I couldn't get myself to listen or even feel their tiny chests beating.  One of my girls' chest would turn deep purple in a small circle after bathing when she didn't like getting dried off and would cry.  And once she had a heart rate of 220 during a fever that quickly returned to normal.  The other twin had a seizure.  I woke up with my baby in the midst of it and thought I was watching her die.  But nothing conclusive.  I like it that way.  Not knowing makes the story more complete.

The day before my girls were born I got the impression that my great grandma wanted my delivery done and over with by her birthday, May 26.  She would have been 100.  I was hoping to have them on her birthday.  They were born May 22, 2000 (later I would discover this was my husband’s baptism date), and I came home from the hospital on her birthday. 

Someone asked me why I was so blessed to have twins.  I told them it was because God loved me.  My children sometimes got jealous, telling me they thought I loved the twins more than them.  I did love my twins very much. Not more than the others, but because they gave me a deeper love and appreciation for the miracle of ALL my children. It was difficult to explain to children who had none of their own yet. This, too, is a small part of how the Lord feels about Christ who gave himself so that we could return.
This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.
Why was the Father well pleased with his Son?  Because he gave the Father US, not because he was more beloved as his only son, or because he was the only one who could be perfect.

After this I was like a born again believer.  I was so full of the love and joy of God.  I remember going to a store and it being all I could do to not tell the cashier, "Do you KNOW how much God loves you???" 

I have tasted of sweet, heavenly, Godly love.  I have walked through it.  It has held me through the fires.  And I know he loves you that much too.

I took my babies back afterwards to see the doctor that had had such a part in helping them.  He was beside himself.  "Do you KNOW the odds your babies had?  What would it be?  ...How many babies have been born in this world?  ...Say a one in a million?" 

I believe in that "one in a million" chance.  I believe in miracles.  I believe that God is happy to prove himself to us--even anxious to prove himself to us:  anxious to prove his faithfulness, anxious to show his love.  I BELIEVE in a faithful, loving God, although there are times I have allowed the cares of this world to choke out my remembrance for a time.  And there are times I forget to give that kind of love to others.  That is why I believe God asked me to write and share this story now.  I need to remember.  We all need to remember.

“Ask and ye shall receive,” I hear him saying,“PLEASE ask and keep asking!  I long to show you…” 

Shalie and Shanie today at age 17, both healthy and very different in personality. 


  1. Thank you for sharing this; I needed to hear it.

  2. That was so beautiful! Thank you for sharing this story. I learned and was reminded of some precious truths through reading this. ❤️


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