In my life, I have been an intimate part of 6 births. My 4 children and my niece and nephew. My "Labor" stories are as fresh in my mind as if they each took place yesterday. I remember what I ate, how I felt, the events in detail that led up to their arrival. I am not a very good pregnant person, but put me in labor and I am in bliss. Just knowing that the life inside of me is ready to take its first breath is overwhelmingly wonderful. To know that God made me for this purpose, that He gave us this gift is amazing and as I wait with every push for those precious babies to make their way into the world I am reminded of His love and care for me.
Literally, being on the opposite end of that is awesome as well. To actually cheer on Stef as she pushed and pushed for Briggs and Camille to come into this world was an extraordinary experience. To know that you would see that child take their first breath and hear their first cry is overwhelming.
It is insufficient to say that these experiences changed me, that they made me closer to God and that they made me so thankful. So thankful for life.
Last year, on this day and about this time, I experienced something very similiar. Instead of watching and waiting for a baby to be born, I watched, waited and grieved as I experienced a Heavenly birth.
To be a part of her death was a gift for myself, my Mom, Bob and Brian. To hold her hands as she drew those last breaths are a gift. My memory of encouraging Stef are words like "You can do it. You are doing a great job. One more push" But with Mary Ann, the words were "You are almost home - repeating to her words from 2 Timothy - You have fought the good fight, you have finished the race - you have kept the faith."
To know that just as I encouraged Stef to hang in there, to keep pushing to work through those labor pains, I envision those who have gone before Mary Ann doing the same. "Come on, you're almost home, you can do it, we can't wait to see you."
Can you imagine? Can you even imagine?
With all my heart I wanted to hold on to her, not to let go. Knowing that letting go would mean I was giving up something that I did not feel like I should have to give up. Letting go of the relationship that I had with her. I did not want to, I found comfort in just sitting on her bed, I found comfort in every breath she took. But she eventually took that last breath, hearts here were broken but I do no think that was the scene in Heaven. I know that there was rejoicing and singing and praising.
Praise be to God.
In 2 Timothy 4:7 the scripture says: "I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Now there is in store for me the Crown of Righeousness."
She received that crown because she did keep the faith. When adversities came her way, she kept the faith. When many would have thrown in the towel, she kept the faith. She left a legacy, a legacy of keeping the faith.
Though for the past year, I have cried many tears, my heart has yearned for her, my ear has ached to hear her voice I have comfort in knowing that she kept the faith.
Today I am thankful for her legacy. And I am thankful because of her faith, her death was really a birth. Maybe, you do not have the confidence or assurance that your death would be that. Maybe you worry about what will happen when you die, today would be a great day to find that answer. To find the assurance and hope that comes alone from Jesus Christ.
"For we know that if our earthly house, this tent is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.
Therefore we are always confident, knowing that while we are at home in the body we are absent from the Lord. We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body is to present for the Lord."
2 Cor. 5: 1, 6-8
I am thankful for the assurance that I have - are you?