Tonight as I was praying over my daughter before bed time I thanked God for baby steps. Now that may not seem unusual to those reading this but I have not given you all of the information. My daughter is eighteen years old and a freshman in college. Needless to say this brought memories of her journey so far gushing into my mind like the Hoover Dam had been breached. My daughter was born premature. She entered this world at 28 weeks and weighed a little over two pounds. Her birth was in June 1996 and I was certain she would not live. She was born at Appalachian Regional Hospital that wasn’t really equipped for this type of birth. Her due date wasn’t until September. But with the help of the Good Lord, the expertise of doctors and nurses at Appalachian Regional Hospital and the transfer staff and hospital staff at Cabell Huntington Hospital my daughter lived. Not only lived, but graduated as Co-Valedictorian from high school this year. That doesn’t seem like a “great feat” until I share more of the story. Being born so premature we were told by the doctors that she would have a more difficult time learning than other children and would most certainly always be behind.
Now back to baby steps. If we would have believed the reports of all of the medical specialists then we would have been miserable. Paul spoke in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “ If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” Of course Paul was speaking regarding the resurrection of those in Christ and that serving Christ holds much more in the afterlife than we could even begin to understand. But Paul also says we DO have the hope of Christ in this life as well. So with a hope and a faith in Christ in THIS life, we watched as our daughter began to grow. She was released from Cabell Huntington Hospital on August 2, 1996 at the great weight of 4.5 pounds. Remember she wasn’t even due until September. What a miracle. But it came thru baby steps. Literally, baby steps. My daughter did not learn to walk until about 15 months old. She was learning to walk it seems around the same time she was learning to talk. And we did have set backs along the way. But we always took baby steps. And now the epiphany as I am praying over my daughter, who was not supposed to live, if she did live would be mentally disabled. The epiphany that thru baby steps we have experienced miracle after miracle, from being told she would be mentally disabled to Valedictorian. But again, it all came in baby steps, while we held onto God’s Big Hand.
Let us be careful to not be so laser focused on our destination that we forget to enjoy the journey. I have a friend, Ed Maynard of Chattaroy WV. He always told me to be careful when I blinked. For every time I blinked time would be passing by with the speed of a fighter jet. You have your baby, blink, you have a toddler, blink, you have child, blink, you have a teen, blink, you have a high school graduate, blink, you have a college freshman. I know in a few more blinks she will be married and I will have grandchildren. All of you with children know exactly where I am coming from.
Last week we spoke about foundations. My son, who is every bit as special as my daughter, is a sophomore at Nolan Christian Academy. I was raised at Nolan, attended the school, as did most people from Millers Creek to Dans Branch. I spoke about gushing memories earlier in this article. My trips to Nolan Christian Academy to pick up my son certainly causes memories to flood my mind. The soccer field sits only feet away from where I lived as toddler. The school sits on the same ground as the old Nolan Grade School. I allow myself to go back to those days in my imagination. I remember recess, the EPIC kickball games, lining up after the bell sounded to let us know recess was over. No worries. No cares. I then begin to think how my parents blinked and here I am today. I lost my father in this world in December 2011. He waits for me in Heaven. My mother still lives at Nolan and I wonder about her memories as she volunteers at Nolan Christian Academy and the memories that must at times overtake her. She only lived away from Nolan for a few years in the early 1970’s.
I realize I am telling a story that resonates with a lot of people, particularly if you are over 35. We all had our little neighborhoods we grew up in, had a local grade school, a Moms and Pops country store and made lots of memories and relationships. Even in Williamson there was East End, West End and Town. Our area was more populated then than it is now.
I know my daughter will continue to take steps towards the plans God has for her. All of us, every day, we take steps towards our future and eventually we will leave this world, just as all of those dear, precious people in our communities have gone on. Again, the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 15:19 “ If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable.” So earlier I focused on our hope in Christ for this life. But I leave you this Friday with hope for the future. The future of a Heaven and a New Earth. A hope of being with those precious Saints that have already made it there. Acts 4:12 says “ Neither is there salvation in any other, for there is no other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved.” Peter is referring to Jesus, as is stated in Acts chapter 2. May God bless you and keep you and make His face shine upon you and give you peace. Amen