This blog is a chance for us to tell our story and shine the light on the God who wrote it.

It is also a place for me to bring into the spotlight the millions of orphans around the world who are waiting for the Body of Christ to fulfill God's command to "care for orphans and widows in their distress" (James 1:27)

Soli deo Gloria... (All Glory to God Alone).


Naming Miracles (Part 2)

...(continued from yesterday.  Please read yesterday's post first.)

This was one of those below-the-surface names.  But it came bubbling up one day in a conversation with my husband and he called me right out on it.  Told me I'd named it wrong and gave credit to the wrong side in doing so.  (It is so outside of his nature to confront or call me- or anyone- out like that that it got my attention right away!)  

We had been talking about an extremely dark and painful season our family had gone through over the course of about six months over a year ago.  It is not an experience that can be easily summed up so when we were discussing it, I made an offhand remark calling it "Our Little Nightmare".

And certainly, that name is totally valid.  Many of those days felt exactly like we were living in a nightmare.  We were coming up on the one year mark of the precipitating event, and I was having flashbacks.  And it was like I was reliving the nightmare all over at random times throughout the day.  In the carpool line.  At the grocery store.  In my bed at night...

All the sudden I'd be there again...
Lying on a pull-out sofa in the hospital at 2 a.m. unable to sleep and literally shaking from the inside-out, my body succumbing to a state of shock.
Standing in the courtroom and my knees just giving and I'm buckling and I don't know how I got here.  
Clutching the hospital room phone in the bathroom choking on my tears and trying to find the words to tell my friend what was happening and could she please come quickly.

It still felt like a nightmare because that's the name I'd given it.

Which would've been fine if that's all there was.

If all it was was darkness and pain and brokenness.  But truth is, all that darkness was the just the perfect backdrop for our faithful and powerful God to do His best work.

Because into the nightmare pushed the Light.  All His people and the love poured out.

And then came the miracles.  

We must have been told literally a hundred times over the course of the next few months-  that just doesn't happen.  There is no way this is going to happen.  We've never seen this happen before!  We even signed waivers saying we wouldn't hold anyone responsible if said thing didn't happen.  Lots of waivers.

Truth is, right from the start we saw the power of God.  We walked through some very difficult days and fear threatened to take up residence in me.  But in the end, it was all just a chance for God to show Himself faithful.  Just a chance for Him to show the lengths He would go through to fight injustice and bring one of His precious daughters into a family.  This temporary "nightmare" was simply the perfect setting for a flood of breathtaking miracles.  For where does light shine so clear and pure if not in the darkest night?

 It was here, in our dark night, that God came and showed us all that He still does miracles... still shows up on behalf of those who call out to Him in weakness.

Like Joseph, we could say with confidence, "What you meant for harm, God meant for good!"

And this was Scott's gentle challenge to me as we sat there a year later remembering - how will you name this, Haley?  Who will you give credit to when you remember this season in our lives?

 The fact that I'd named it all "Our Little Nightmare" revealed that my focus was really on the power of darkness that took us so off-guard.  But what our experience taught us was that we may have underestimated the power of darkness, yes... but we also saw that the power of darkness is limited.  And God's power is limit-less.

Really, I was continuing to give darkness power over me by letting fear in.  Naming the whole thing in honor of the darkness.

But how do you stop the memories?  I didn't want to think of these things- they just came flooding back when my mind would wander.

Then one day a friend who knew of my struggle encouraged me to ask God to show me where He was in all of those horrific moments.  She, too, had a traumatic memory of her own.  She had gone through an unwanted abortion years ago and had found profound comfort when God answered her prayer to show her where He was in that room when she lost her baby.

By God's grace, over time as I prayed and others prayed for me, He has replaced the horrible feelings of abandonment in my "nightmare" moments by literally showing me where He was in each of them.  Of course He was there and everywhere, and I'd always known that.  But now I'm able to remember each of these moments and the emotions that come are the feelings of being held and protected.  I see the scene in my head but I also see God taking a very active role that I just simply could not see before.

You see, God is renaming my story!

Before I felt abandoned.  Now I feel held.

Before I felt fearful.  Now I feel protected.

Before I felt attacked.  Now I feel victorious.

Because my God is in the business of restoring and redeeming, He has given me new memories.  New adjectives to describe my experiences.

But there was one thing He left for me.

As I've gone through this healing process, there was still one thing missing.  I needed a new name for it all.  And God had left this naming part up to me.  It would be an act of faith for me to no longer remember it all as "Our Little Nightmare".   To give it another name that better reflected the limitless power of God and the fact that, in the end, victory belonged to Him.

And that's where Gabby comes in.  I left that basketball game on World Down Syndrome Day and drove to a little nearby fishing town.  And I sat quietly for a long time.  I thought a lot about Eden and Gabby.  And I thought a lot about the chance I had to rename our experience.  And that's when I remembered that Gabby had another name- that once she was renamed, too, to better reflect what God was doing in her life.  Gabrielle was renamed Miracle.  

And that was the day "Our Little Nightmare" became "Our Great Big Miracle".

"I will tell of the kindnesses of the LORD, the deeds for which he is to be praised, according to all the LORD has done for us-- yes, the many good things he has done for (us), according to his compassion and many kindnesses".  Isaiah 63:7


Naming Miracles

They called her "Miracle" until she was almost nine.  It was only after meeting her again years later that I learned her name was really Gabrielle.

Why 'Miracle'? I asked her mom recently.

She told me about the early days of Gabrielle's life.  Born with Down Syndrome and many resulting complications, they were told Gabby wouldn't live but a few days.  And if she did, she would never walk or talk.

But God had other plans for Gabby.  And as she began to do all the things the doctors said she would never do, she was given the name, "Miracle".  One doctor even crossed out the name "Gabrielle" on her chart and wrote "Miracle".  Like a statement- let's name this what it really is!

miracle (noun)-  a surprising and welcome event that is not explicable by natural or scientific laws and is therefore considered to be the work of a divine agency

Look, Gabby's journey has not been easy.  She and her family have faced many, many difficulties along the way.  In the early years of her life, Gabby had a number of surgeries.  Which means her family spent countless hours at the doctor and in the hospital. And perhaps there were times when they longed for an easier road.  More beach vacations and less blood draws, maybe?

But her parents chose to call her "Miracle" anyway.  The way I see it, it was an act of faith.  It was a choice to focus on the incredible work of their faithful God instead of the daily challenges they faced. And it was a decision to focus on the beauty and abilities their daughter possessed rather than the "disabilities" listed on her medical chart.  Like drawing a line in the sand and saying this is holy ground.  

I'm sure many of their days have felt not-so-miraculous and more-like-ordinary. And many, many days have presented challenges that felt insurmountable.  But maybe some days remembering that they were participating in a miracle kept them going.  Kept them moving forward when they wanted to buckle.  I'm not sure, but I am sure of this-

What we name something or someone matters.  

I read today that there are more than nine hundred names for God in the Bible.  Each one revealing a facet of who God really is.  And God himself renames a number of His followers at pivotal moments in their lives- with new names that seem to define how God sees them.

Simon becomes Peter.  Peter means "Rock". Jesus speaks purpose and meaning into this man when he renames him.  Peter didn't know this at the time, but there would be a moment in his life- not far away- when he would look more like shifting sand than like rock.  I wonder if in those identity-shaking days between his denial of Christ and Jesus' reinstatement of him - did Peter ever cling to his name for dear life?  I'm Peter.  I am a rock.  God has chosen this name for me and he doesn't make mistakes and though I feel like I have utterly failed Him I choose to believe He sees something I don't here.

Clearly, in the mind of God, there is something in a name.

Sometimes we don't even know we've named something.  Some, faced with the same circumstances as Gabby's family, would have named her something else.  Not right out loud, but somewhere just below the surface a name is given and it sounds more like burden than like miracle.

Somewhere along the way, Miracle became Gabby again, but her family has not lost sight of what a gift... what a miracle their daughter really is.

Today I watched Gabby play in a basketball game with our daughter, Eden.  These girls love their basketball games!  When Gabby scores she turns toward the stands and does a pretty awesome toe-touch.  If she gets enough applause and the music is playing just right, she'll do a dance for us.  Oh, and we got the Gator chomp a few times today, too.

Every week when we see Gabby at church, she gives me a hug.  Or six.  This girl knows how to love big.  She is a gift to the world- just a beautiful miracle sent from God to remind us He's there.

The day of the girls' basketball game was World Down Syndrome Day, and I thought a lot about our Eden and her precious friend, Gabby.

 I also thought about naming things.  And the weight a name bears.

And then I remembered something I had named.  Something it was time to rename.

(will be continued tomorrow...)