Last week we had a special day where my wife, Marjorie, was ordained and we also had a graduation ceremony for our oldest daughter, Faith. That day was December 11, which I hope we’ll always remember. In talking about Christmas memories last Saturday night, however, it suddenly dawned on me that December 11 already had a significant place in our hearts, and the earlier memory also commemorated two events.
December 11, 1986 was the day we found out that we were pregnant with Faith. It was also the day that my dog, named Cat (nope, not going to explain that now), died. It was also the day before my wife and I were to host our first Christmas party as a married couple — and we were both devastated and in tears, but for dramatically different reasons.
Not even two months into our marriage and she started to feel strange. The thought that she might be pregnant was absurd, but she asked her sister, who had had a baby, if she had felt like this, or felt such and such, when she first became pregnant. Her sister said, “Yeah, but why would you want to know – you can’t get pregnant?” Nevertheless, she bought a home pregnancy test and woke me up that fateful morning to tell me, in tears, that she was pregnant. These were not tears of joy, and I knew how and why she felt like she did, so I also knew better than to jump out of bed shouting, “Yesss!” and doing Arsenio Hall “woo, woo, woo’s!” while pumping my fist.
Meanwhile, my dog was taking all this in and coming to a conclusion of her own. You see, I had found my dog when she was a puppy and about a month after I had left home to go to college. She had been abandoned and was ripping into my trash outside my mobile home. I can’t remember the thought process behind taking this terrier-mix mutt into my home, but that’s what I did and that’s where she stayed for the next 11 years (she was along side me in the Iowa adventure I described yesterday). She was the single responsibility of my single years; I know that there were many nights I would likely have not have come home if I hadn’t had to let her out. I was learning something of what it was like to have to adjust myself to someone else’s needs.
Of course, neither of us knowing any better, we spoiled each other rotten. My dog got used to preferred treatment and the cozy spot against my backside on the bed. When I got married she had to accommodate serious adjustments in her lifestyle and privileges – as well as enduring a cat in the house, too. I think when she heard the wail, “I’m pregnant!” she decided, “that’s it, that’s all I can stand, and my work here is finished.” She had found me a month after I was on my own, and had stayed a little more than a month after I was married. When we came home from seeing the doctor, who confirmed the home-test, my little dog had expired in the laundry room.
Talk about your double-whammies.
Marjorie was a Christian at the time she had had her tubes tied, but wasn’t actively pursuing that life. In the intervening years she had made great changes in her life and priorities – except in this particular area where she had some deep-seated issues. She confessed that she felt as if she had been betrayed, not incredibly blessed, by God. I was nearly as unsettled. I was new to the revelation of God working and acting in my life, and changes were coming at me pretty fast. Most of these had been good, but that day I was confronted with the slam of one door in my life shutting at the same time another was thrown open.
We called our pastors and Marjorie told them what was happening and how she felt (they were already well-acquainted with her history). When she was finished I told them how I was feeling and we mentioned that we had this big party coming up the next night and we were in no shape to go through with it. Our pastors advised that we needed our friends around us and we should go ahead with our plans. They also called some of those friends and arranged for them to show up early the next day to do the cleaning and help with the baking and other party preparations. Our pastors had been right, we did need our friends and the party went very well.
It took a little time but Marjorie soon came around as well. She remembered that her constant prayer had been, “God, change me,” and “I want your will more than my own.” She enthusiastically embraced the miracle taking shape in her and bonded with this new life inside, knowing intuitively that it was a girl and deciding her name was going to be Faith.
Also, in time, the date of December 11th faded in our awareness to the point when we scheduled this month’s events we were looking at convenient dates that worked for the most people. These things didn’t have to take place this month, but we felt compelled to do so. Only after all was said and done did we realize the way our lives had just so happened to loop around us. Marjorie’s ministry and Faith had both been incubating before we became aware of them, and both were then confirmed to us and to the world. At the same time, we all were seeing that Faith had some loops of her own.
What to make of it all? I don’t know, exactly, other than this one thought: so many times we look for God in signs and wonders and we almost miss the nod and the wink.