Friday, April 24, 2015

Happy Birthday, Mom, and the Story of Christa.


Today I tell the story of how Christa came to be.  

In September of 1984, I kissed my husband goodbye in Pensacola, Florida, and boarded a plane bound for Minnesota to be with mom during the difficult journey that lay before her. My mother had been diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.  Randy and I had been married 3 1/2 years and wanted children very badly.  My body would not cooperate and Randy's deployment cycle with the Navy didn't always help.  We had decided to take a week of leave and go camping in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  It was just a 30 minute drive from our home in Pensacola.  Our campsite could have been shown in Better Homes and Gardens, it  was so lavishly arrayed.  We were camping in style.  After we set the site up just the way we wanted, I went to the pay phone (no cell phones for anyone back then).  Mom had a doctor's appointment earlier that day for a suspicious spot on an x-ray.  She cried when she answered the phone, "It's cancer.  I already have tumors in the lymph nodes in my neck.  I only have a short time to live.  How am I going to do this alone."  As I hung up, I heard Randy saying, "We'll have you on a plane tomorrow." And with that we packed the entire campsite into the back of the car with the help of the kind couple camped across from us and the head lights from their vehicle.  I was to stay with my mother until she entered a local hospice in February 1985.  On March 9, 1985, at the age of 47, Elaine Knox-Wagner was transported to Heaven.  She had battled her cancer since August and was weary.  I was so sad to see her go, but grateful for the time she had on earth with all of us.  On March 12, we said our goodbyes at her graveside and on March 13 Randy took me home to Pensacola.

The next Sunday came and as is our privilege, we went to church.  Our church family and pastor had been such a blessing during the past months.  When we arrived I was greeted with hugs and tears and.....many pregnant friends.  It seems that spring in Florida wasn't just bringing dogwood blooms this year.  That afternoon as we drove home, I stared out the window and didn't talk much.  Randy didn't push me.  He let me just stare.  I was accusing God, "I asked for a baby and all I got was a dead mother.  How is that fair?  How is that right?!" It seemed I only encountered silence.

"Never mistake God's seeming absence or silence as a sign of indifference or impotence. He waits to be gracious!"  And therefore will the LORD wait, that he may be gracious unto you, Isaiah 30:18a.  

I heard this in a sermon recently and realized this was what the Lord had shown me during that trial of loss and grief in 1985.

Randy and I prayed about it and determined that we should adopt a child.  In May, our son Eddie became a part of our family at the age of 6.  

Praise the Lord for Eddie, but I still wanted a baby so we started praying and asking the Lord for one.  I specifically asked the Lord for a baby to be born on my mother's birthday, April 24, 1986.  I had it figured out that if I got pregnant in July, the baby would be born in April.  July came...nothing. August came and I thought, "The baby could be a little early and be born in April."  September.....it would be okay if the baby was a preemie.  October, November, December, January.  I knew I wasn't going to have a baby.  Not in April.  Not in May.  Not ever.  It wasn't to be.  October 1986 came and my friend Nan and I were visiting a woman that had cancer.  We were sharing God's simple and perfect plan of salvation.  The woman became a child of the King that day.  A few days later, she called Nan and said that she remembered how I had mentioned we adopted our son.  She told Nan about a baby her sister was fostering and gave her the lawyers name for us to call.  Call I did. 5 times that day.  The first four times I did talk with the secretary.  It turned out that the woman had given the lawyers information to 5 other people.  His secretary told me that I would need to speak directly to him and he was in court all day.  At 5:30 I tried calling for the fifth time!  Randy said they wouldn't be there still at 6:30 eastern time.  I argued the point of importunity:  troublesomely urgent :  overly persistent in request or demand.  Weren't we both surprised when the lawyer himself answered the last time!!  He told me that his office received so many calls that day, he had decided that the first person to call when he was in the office would be the first couple he would consider.  With that, a little paperwork (okay a lot of paperwork), some time, money, and a court hearing: Christa was in our home.  Her birth date?  April 21, 1986!!!  She was our gift.  All the nights I cried, All the nights I begged.  All the nights I despaired.  God was waiting to be gracious.  He was working. Working on a little girl for the Johnson family.

So on my mother's birthday, I thank the Lord for His gift of life.  The life of my mother.  The life of my daughter.  The life of His son that will allow us one day a glorious reunion!