But in a way, it was my birth-day, for twenty-five years ago yesterday I gave birth to our first daughter — third child, first daughter. As I look back, nothing and everything prepared me for that day. O, it wasn’t the gap between her birth and the birth of the son five years previous — though it was. It wasn’t that I knew I was to have a daughter — I didn’t know that; it wasn’t that I was surprised to be having a baby — though I was, initially — for I had prayed for years to have another baby — but years went by; no baby. I guess, in reality, what I was unprepared for was the absolute, astounding, overwhelming joy I experienced that day. The stunning joy and practical disbelief that washed over me at the hearing: it’s a girl… it’s a girl. Crying, I repeated the refrain, it’s a girl, it’s a girl. It’s a girl!
The Lord gave me a gift that day — a gift for which I was and am so undeserving. The inestimable value of the gift of that child remains to this day a mystery to me. The child I prayed for was not the child I received. You see, I didn’t then, and do not now, have the capacity to pray for such a gift. And so my request was insignificant compared to the answer I received.
A few weeks or so before her birth, I began to write down names…. O, the oft rehearsed list of favourite names came easily to me. But then one Sunday morning, during the singing of a hymn in church, a word in the chorus seemed to ring out so boldly to me: Grace… grace… God’s grace… Grace that will pardon and cleanse within… Grace… grace… God’s grace… Grace that is greater than all our sin. My hand resting on my round tummy — the baby moving within… I heard & sang the words: Marvelous, matchless, wondrous… infinite grace… freely bestowed on all who believe…
Grace… I stood there… praying: Lord, I prayed, if this is a baby girl, then one of her names will be Grace… and I will tell her about You.
So, you see, nothing and everything prepared me for the gift of the baby girl that day, twenty-five years ago. Space and time do not allow for the recounting of the ways the Lord has blessed me through the years in the gift of this ‘baby-girl.’ As I told her again yesterday, were it not for her, I’d never have made it through the years. I meant it: I don’t know how I’d have made it were it not for her. What she has given me, what she taught me, what she has been to me, I can never repay. Her gracious, tender, generous ways — her eagerness, thoughtfulness, industriousness and a host of other gifts all wrapped up in merciful loving-kindness carried me through motherhood.
Perhaps only another mother of many could understand the significance of what I’m saying here. I had this daughter’s loving support and help… year after year. Perhaps only a mother who tried to do to many things and had many things slip through the cracks will understand what I’m saying here. I had this daughter’s tireless encouragement. I had this daughter’s enthusiastic help. And then, perhaps only a mother who failed to stay focused, failed to keep priorities straight, failed to daily live in tender devotion to her children, will understand the gift of a daughter who remained loyal and merciful.
So when I opened that card yesterday… I cried. I cried with joy. I cried with sorrow. I cried with regret. I cried with thankfulness that God, in His mercy, has redeemed me, has restored the years the locusts have eaten, has given me new hope, new zeal, new passion, new eyes for motherhood… though I so often didn’t even see my lack, didn’t even grasp my blindness to so many things. I don’t know how the days will go… I don’t know how some sorrows will be corrected in life, I don’t know how some losses will be redeemed, I don’t know how some bitternesses will be sweetened, I don’t know how some brokenness will be mended — but I do know this — back when “my world” came crashing down around me and I wondered if I would ever have joy again; I wondered if we would ever smile again; a few things happened: the first, and most important was that God gave me a new heart. Sincerely, that was most significant.
But one of the other things that happened in those days, was that this daughter, this gift from the Lord, this grace in my life, stood by me. Stands by me still. Her encouragement… I can never repay. O, how I recall crying to her in those days — sorrowful that I had been insensitive to her, sorrowful that I so often didn’t see her — just saw what needed to be done. I sort of became such a perfunctory mother. This daughter helped me to see all this so clearly, so tenderly. I owe her a debt of gratitude I can never repay.
And so yesterday morning — undeserving, I opened the card — the birthday card — and I read the beautiful sentiment of gratitude, a gift from this daughter; this precious daughter, the wind beneath my wings… this gift of grace from the Lord. Marvelous, infinite, matchless grace.
I smile tonight… thankful to the Lord for the long journey. Regretful for some of the days behind me… but Hopeful for the days ahead. Rejoicing at what He has done. To God be the glory.
Happy Birthday ♥ sweet girl.