Sunday, December 21, 2014


Huntsville, AL 2007

The tears just came, pouring from my eyes and dripping through my fingers as I held my hands to my face. My husband was busy doing a jig. He picked me up and swung me around the kitchen, grinning from ear to ear.

Two lines.

It can't be.

We're moving to Thailand in a few months. This situation we've been living in for a year has sapped me of my strength and my confidence in my ability to do anything.

No, God. This can't be. This is the worst possible time for a baby.  

 Chiang Mai, Thailand, 2008 

I cannot stand this anymore! I need air-conditioning. I need real food. I need water colder than the showers I take back home. I want to get out of this country!

The thoughts were racing through my mind. Transitioning into our first overseas experience had been hard. Really hard. I sat in our bed longing for a bit of coolness as hot season melted my nine-month-pregnant body. My husband came in and tried not to touch my sweaty skin as he put his arm behind my pillow.

"Can we at least pick a middle name for this baby? I just want to accomplish something. Anything." I shot out, anger being the new usual way I dealt with stress and 100 degree weather.

Gentle and calm man that he is, he thought for a while. "What about Joy?"

And it was settled.  I was just glad we had decided on something.

Chiang Mai Ram Hospital and Suandok Hospital, Chiang Mai, Thailand May 2008

Both parents were crying over the little pink bundle in their arms. The doctor gently laid a hand on the father's shoulders, and a nurse knelt down beside the mother. I could see a tiny face amidst the flannel and wondered through teary eyes of my own what was wrong. Then I looked down at the tiny face in my arms, and the doctor's words rang in my ears:

"Do not leave the hospital. She is very sick. We need to do a lumbar puncture. Call your husband now."

I subconsciously felt along the tiny spine, feeling the heat of the fever and noticing once again the lethargy that had taken over her previously energetic personality. There was no way I was going to let them stick my four-day-old baby with a large needle ...  in her backbone ... No way.

Finally, at a government hospital, the diagnosis came back: Meningitis. It had already made it to her brain.  The next two weeks were filled with her cries as she was stuck over and over again with IVs. Her veins were just too tiny.

By God's mercy, we never felt the terror of her possible death nor even the seriousness of her condition. What I did feel was joy. I held her close to my heart, smelled her sweet scent, kissed her sweet cheeks, and joy filled my heart.

How could I have ever not wanted her, my Melanie Joy?

I wanted her now with a fierceness I didn't know I was capable of.  I repented on my knees before the Lord with that little girl in my arms. I promised Him I would never again despise His blessings.

Kampong Speu, Village Phum Po, Cambodia 2014

Now, I am thankful every day for all the joy in our life. Six little gifts from God so far, six little joys live in the place I call home. I am so thankful for the lesson God taught me through our second daughter:

We never knew what great joy the Lord can give us until we give our lives, every part, over to Him.

Join in the JOY over at Velvet Ashes this week!

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