Since this is my story, I thought I would start at the beginning. Although I am an ordinary person, my birth is no ordinary story.
I was born at 30 weeks gestation, ten weeks prematurely...back in 1970 before ultrasounds and sonograms and miracle devices that give preemies a better chance of survival. The doctors suggested that my mother choose between her life and mine in the delivery room. She chose me. The doctors told her it was a miracle that either of us lived. The doctor's last words as he whisked me away to the NICU were, "Pray she's a fighter."
So with a 50% chance of surviving, I fought my way to every breath of air. All day long and all night long as I lay in the incubator, I kicked my feet. Never stopping for six weeks. Kicking and kicking. Doctors say that the motion kept me alive. The constant movement reminded my heart to beat and my lungs to breathe.
Today I know the truth. God was fighting for me.
Why? Because He has a purpose for this ordinary girl. My extraordinary God has called me to use this ordinary life to testify of His goodness.
I was an extraordinary baby that grew into a very ordinary girl with a mom and a dad and a baby brother. I lived in an ordinary house in an ordinary neighborhood. I felt extremely ordinary but there was specialness in that. Security in that. My mom and my dad loved me very much and I was a very happy little girl. I was constantly reminded that although I led an ordinary life, my little life had been anything but ordinary. I had to fight to eat, to walk, to talk, to run and to read. What seemed ordinary was filled with miraculous milestones.
Then one day when I was five, I came home to eat dinner and my daddy wasn't there. He would never sit around our dinner table again. I would see him every other weekend. He would call me, he would celebrate birthdays and holidays with me but when I went to bed at night he would not be the one who tucked me in and he would never be there to protect me again. Even though I had asked Jesus to come live in my heart and help me obey him just months earlier, I began to doubt that he really loved me. I reasoned that if God was real, he would surely bring my daddy home.
That night my daddy left, I cried myself to sleep. It was the first time I remember soaking my pillow with tears wishing for sleep to come and relieve me of the pain and sadness that seemed to hang over my life like a dark cloud. Although I would live my days as if nothing were wrong, under the cover of night, I would shed buckets of tears and pray that God would remove the darkness. Sleep was the only escape from the lingering sadness.
But even in the pain that I experienced as a little girl when my family split, there was a deep knowledge that I would be okay, there was the spirit of a fighter that was stirring in my soul and there was One fighting for me. The Father who would never disappoint. Any time I doubted my destiny, whatever that was, both my mother and my father would remind me of the odds I was capable of overcoming. Then my birth story was retold and I was reminded that I was a fighter.
The beauty of my birth was that any time I doubted God had a purpose somewhere in the back of my mind, I knew the truth. He did. He allowed me to survive entering this world against all odds. Surely there was a reason.
"This reason" would be an alluding purpose, an unasked question floating all around me for many years. I would hear an indistinguishable voice beckoning me in a direction I couldn't quite determine for years. It would take lots of trust, many missteps and tons of failures before the path was clear. Through it all, I never stopped fighting and God never stopped calling.
"So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand...Fear not, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine. When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the LORD, your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior." (Isaiah 41:10 & 43:1b, 2 &3a)