June 18th is a very special day. It is Emily's (or "Emiwey" as she calls herself) birthday. She turns 3 this year. Emily and her mama, Amanda, hold a special place in my heart. Amanda and I met at Bryan College in 2007, where we both attended for our freshman year. After that year, we both left that school and ended up walking our own paths, apart from Jesus. We both ended up in unplanned pregnancies at the age of 19. We both chose LIFE. We both had baby girls. And the Lord used the lives of our sweet girls to change ours forever. The only difference is Amanda's daughter is here on earth and my daughter is in Heaven.
This is Amanda's amazing, beautiful, God-scripted story. It brings tears to my eyes each time I read it and each time I look into the face of Emily, a sweet gift from above.
"Nothing is a waste. A life is never a mistake.
In May of 2008, I made the decision to stop attending Bryan College. Can't say I haven't struggled with some regret of this decision. But, the story goes on. And gets better. My time at Bryan forced me to examine my own beliefs, their authenticity, and who I really was or was pretending to be. I left it all--denied it all. No longer would I consider myself a Christian, and no longer would I place my trust or faith in a God that all of these Bryan people pretended to believe in. Needless to say, my attitude was bitter.
In the fall of 2008, I was waiting tables at Texas Roadhouse and going to school at Pellissippi State. I was living alone in Oak Ridge in a cluster of buildings that could be classified as "the projects". Well, not entirely alone. I had my dog, Molly, who was my company, friend, and a fur coat to cry on. Was this what I had chosen for myself? Leaving the comfy new dorm at Bryan surrounded by a sweet roommate that loved me dearly for the projects? I left all that for being scared to come home at midnight after closing the restaurant for fear of who would be lurking about my building?
In November, I realized I felt funny. I thought it was just a stomach flu I couldn't shake and the 5 pounds I had lost were due to my limited supply of food. Wrong. In an impulse decision, I made the trip to Walmart, purchased a pregnancy test, and took it. It only took about 5 seconds to show a "positive" result and it only took my hands another 5 seconds to find my stomach and begin loving the child within. Scared is an understatement here--as it is with most single mothers and "unplanned" pregnancies. I called my mom. Thank goodness for a mom who had walked in similar shoes, understood my fears, and loved me despite my situation.
I took 5 more tests. They were all positive. I began seeing a doctor in Oak Ridge. My best friend, Connie went with me to the first appointment. There in that dark tiny room, the ultra sound technician showed us the baby's heart beating. A white and black fluttering on the screen. And then...she turned the volume on and we heard it. I would never be the same again. A sense of reality soon flooded the doubts and feelings of unreality. Along with that comes worry, excitement, dread, and just plain uneasiness.
I ended up losing twenty pounds in the first trimester of the pregnancy and was advised by the doctors to move home. Gladly! I switched doctors--loved the new one--and waited out the rest of the pregnancy. I didn't tell the family until I was 20 weeks along and could hide it no more. Talk about scary. But guess what? They still loved me. And little did I know they would absolutely adore my child.
On June 18, 2009, Emily was born around 10:30. The doctors had put me on bed rest for the last month because I supposedly had IUGR (Intra-Uterine Growth Restriction) and the baby was super small. They induced me a week early because they thought that she could grow better on the outside. Wrong. She was 7 lbs 12 oz. Completely healthy, completely normal, and completely beautiful. An absolute miracle. That was the day it all changed for me.
Throughout the pregnancy, I had been chatting and habitually Facebooking this guy. He talked to me about my faith (or lack of), my doubts, and my past. He was an instrumental part of God's plan to bring me back around. His name is Jonathan. And he proposed 7 months later.
Emily's life changed my life. Emily's heart has changed mine. Her sweet life continues to touch people. Just a smile on her face can brighten an entire room. I'm so thankful for her life. And I am so thankful for my God, who gave me the courage to make the choice of life, even if I wasn't aware of His presence in the situation.
She continues to touch my heart, teach me so many new things, and love me unconditionally. She has the unbridled power to bring a smile to the most downtrodden face, whether it be my familiar face or that of a complete stranger. Her life is precious. The miracle of life never ceases to amaze me. And the faith that I have in the Creator of life continues to grow.
The praise be Thine."
Look at the beauty of one life and how God uses one so beautifully. So profoundly. If it weren't for Lily and Emily, I wonder where and who Amanda and I would be today. We would be totally different people. Perhaps still lost. The fact is God used these lives to bring us out of the darkness and into His glorious light. And I praise Him.
Sometimes I imagine if Lily were still here, would she and "Miss Em" as I call her, be best friends? Would they look forward to the next time they got to see each other? I cannot let my mind wander there too much, for it leaves me with a deep longing that cannot be satisfied...at least on this side of Heaven.
HAPPY 3RD BIRTHDAY, EMILY!
I LOVE YOU, SWEET GIRL!!