I’m sorry to have been so remiss in my ramblings, but we had a big event to celebrate this weekend as our oldest, Hannah, turned 4! We made the celebration last all weekend long with a party with the extended family, a Strawberry Shortcake party with friends, and a special birthday lunch with just Mommy, Daddy, and Brother. We. Are. Exhausted!
Before Hannah came into our lives, my heart was so heavy. We had been trying to have a baby for five years, and all I wanted was to be a mom. That’s it. I never had many aspirations beyond being a wife and a mom. And yet my arms ached with emptiness for years. I enjoyed my friends’ babies but went home empty-armed once again.
My theme song during that time was “I Would Die for That” by Kellie Coffey. I still cry listening to that song, but now I am amazed at where God has led me!
It was just at the point when I felt that my dream was dying that I began to really study Hannah’s story in I Samuel. Here was a woman who was adored by her husband but ached with the emptiness of her womb.
“There was a certain man from Ramathaim, a Zuphite[a] from the hill country of Ephraim, whose name was Elkanah son of Jeroham, the son of Elihu, the son of Tohu, the son of Zuph, an Ephraimite. 2 He had two wives; one was called Hannah and the other Peninnah. Peninnah had children, but Hannah had none. Year after year this man went up from his town to worship and sacrifice to the LORD Almighty at Shiloh, where Hophni and Phinehas, the two sons of Eli, were priests of the LORD. 4 Whenever the day came for Elkanah to sacrifice, he would give portions of the meat to his wife Peninnah and to all her sons and daughters. 5 But to Hannah he gave a double portion because he loved her, and the LORD had closed her womb” (I Sam. 1:1-5).
I knew EXACTLY what Hannah was enduring! I have a husband who adores me, too, but there was always something missing. Someone missing. Our home did not feel complete. I cried out to the Lord just as Hannah did, begging Him to give me a child, and I promised – just like Hannah did – that I would dedicate my child to His service.
“And she made a vow, saying, “LORD Almighty, if you will only look on your servant’s misery and remember me, and not forget your servant but give her a son [or a daughter], then I will give him [or her] to the LORD for all the days of his [or her] life. . .” (I Sam. 1:11)
What struck me the most as I studied Hannah was that she left her burden at the altar! She poured out her heart to the Lord; and “then she went her way and ate something, and her face was no longer downcast” (I Sam. 1:18).
I remember that studying Hannah was a turning point for me. It was in that moment that I realized that God had the perfect family for me – whether it was always just Jamie and me or whether we had a dozen kids! So I poured out my heart to Him and “[my] face was no longer downcast.”
It wasn’t too long after I gave it all over to God that we were expecting Hannah, whose name means “grace of God.” I truly felt God’s grace in those days leading up to Hannah’s birth. Her arrival in our home was nothing short of miraculous, and the people involved in our life at that time could truly see God’s hand working as we anticipated her arrival!
I can remember meeting our daughter for the first time, hair covering her from head to toe! She was so tiny, just 6 lbs. 10 oz., and I had never been in charge of a newborn before I became a mom. In fact, I was afraid to even hold her, looking to the nurse to help me in changing her and feeding her. Of course, before long, I felt competent in what I was doing, but those first few days I was pretty unsure of myself!
As we returned home, now a family of three instead of just two, I remember so vividly walking into her nursery for the very first time. The rocking chair, where I had sat many nights crying my heart out to God, was now a place to rock my daughter and to pray over her life. I could scarcely comprehend the magnitude of God’s love for me as I held this tiny new life in my now-full arms.
But I had not forgotten my promise to God either, and I knew that I needed to dedicate her to His service and instruct her along the way as she grew. And now, as I gaze at my beautiful, four-year-old, who has lost most of her baby fuzz, I am still reminded of God’s grace, still reminded of His promises, and still reminded of His great love for me.
Hannah is already devoted to loving God and serving Him. She is a constant blessing, although she is far from perfect and is actually quite moody! But she makes friends easily, shares the Gospel willingly, and loves God openly. As she continues to blossom into the woman that God will have her to be, I cannot help but remember my empty arms and how the Lord has filled them above all that I could ask or think!
“For this child I prayed; and the LORD hath given me my petition which I asked of Him” (I Sam. 1:27) – KJV.
Happy Birthday, Hannah!