Psalm 37:4 “Delight yourself also in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.”
During the first week of September, 1995, my husband and I went on a little vacation to the Smoky Mountains. For me, this was going to be a vacation of new thinking. A vacation of forgetting the past and being open to whatever God’s plans for me were.
You see, for 3+ years before that, I had been obsessed with becoming pregnant. It’s all I longed for. It’s what I prayed for. It’s what consumed my thoughts. It consumed me, actually, in a very unhealthy way. I was even on fertility medicine, but nothing worked for me. I probably should have invested stocks in Pregnancy Tests.
Through that period of time in my life, I just kept claiming the verse “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” God knew my desires were to be a mom, even though I was told early on I would never have children. So over and over, month after month as I learned that I was not pregnant, I just kept quoting that verse. Praying it. Internalizing it. Trying to understand God’s plan. I had always learned that we should pray specifically, so I prayed repeatedly and very specifically that God would not only let me have a baby, but that the baby would be a girl, and that her name would be Amber. I was a pastor’s wife, and I was delighting in the things of God, right? Isn’t that what I was supposed to do to get the desires of my heart? Well, not really. As much as I would like to say that I was delighting in the Lord, I was actually delighting in the desires of MY heart, not in the things of the Lord.
Just a few weeks before our vacation, as I sat down to read my Bible again, my eyes were opened to a new way of reading that verse. I realized that it’s only when my desires are in line with God’s desires that I’m actually delighting in Him. Then, and only then, will He give me the desires of my heart. That night, I experienced a complete catharsis. I wept uncontrollably, and I gave God all my desires. I told Him that if He didn’t want me to be a mom, then I didn’t want that either. And somehow, my heart’s desire really desired that – because it seemed that was what God wanted. And I truly wanted to be in line with His will for my life.
That night, I yielded all the desires I had held on to for so long. I went off the fertility medicine, and I set my mind on new things. A few weeks later, we were off to have a little vacation in the Smoky Mountains, just Frank and I. We were having a great time, and for once, I wasn't obsessed with becoming pregnant.
SideNote: Before getting married, I had this crazy dream of getting married and then jumping out of an airplane with my husband to start our life together. However, that dream came to a screaming halt as Frank and I became engaged. Under no circumstances was he going to do that. It was him or the airplane, and thankfully, it was a close call, but I chose him. :)
So while we were on vacation, I had the opportunity to go indoor SkyDiving. If you’ve never done it before, you really must try it. It gives you the feeling of SkyDiving without ever having to even jump out of a plane. You go into this large cylinder shaped tower where there is a jet engine pointing upward, covered by a large industrial screen. You go through a little training class on how to position your body to catch the air, sign your life away in waivers, put on an airsuit, and then float through the tunnel. It was one of the most exhilarating things I had ever done to that point in my life.
The next day, we were planning on going to Dollywood. For some reason, I had this crazy thought. “I better check to make sure I’m not pregnant so I can ride the roller coasters.” Why I didn’t think of that before I went SkyDiving, I don’t know, but alas, there I was in the hotel room, consumed once again with the thought. But this time, it wasn’t a hopeful wish, it was a preventative check. We went to the local drugstore, picked up a PT, and went back to the hotel. Frank chilled out and fell asleep watching TV.
If you know me at all, you know I don’t like to wait. Patience is not something I’m good with. I spied that pregnancy test, still in its package, and stared at it. After all the failed tests previously, I knew it was best to wait until the first morning’s…well, you know. But in true Beth fashion, I went ahead and decided to check. Within only a minute, a faint positive appeared.
“Frank! FRANK! FRANK!!!!” I screamed.
I scared him to death, I am sure. He thought I was dying. In truth, I was. My heart was pounding so fast that I didn’t even know if I could breathe. Never had a test turned positive. He tried to calm me down; he tried to keep me grounded. He tried to remind me that false positives do happen. But in my heart of hearts, I knew otherwise. I knew I was pregnant.
The next morning, I wrote this letter to my parents…
9-6-95, 7 AM
Dear Grandma and Grandpa,
Mommy and daddy have waited a long time to tell you I’m coming to meet you. They’ve been praying for me, too. Now it looks like God answered their prayers.
I’m sure I’ll have brown hair, and maybe I’ll have blue eyes like you, Grandma. Do you remember mommy had blue eyes when she was a baby? Maybe I’ll have brown eyes like you, Grandpa…or maybe even hazel eyes like my mommy and daddy.
I hope I’m smart like my daddy and can sing like my mommy. It would be nice if I’m a girl, but being a boy wouldn’t be so bad! As long as I’m healthy… Please pray for me and my mommy and daddy. They are so excited! I’ll see you next year some time.
I love you!
We found the closest post office, and we mailed the letter. I was on cloud 9, to say the least, and I suddenly didn’t want to be on vacation any longer. I wanted to get home. To get to a doctor. To get a blood test. I wanted to tell everyone. But first, I needed someone else to confirm what I believed to be true.
And true it was.
We later learned we were indeed having a girl, and I was finally going to have my “Amber” that I had prayed so specifically for! On May 20th, 1996 at 8:19 PM, 18 years ago tonight, I was blessed with one of the most incredible gifts – the gift of an 8 lb. 14 oz. daughter.
I know God had special plans for that little girl. I knew it because I knew she was my miracle baby. I knew it because God just works like that. My little baby didn’t stay a baby very long. She started talking at 7 months, and at 1 year, she was communicating in full sentences. I really think by the time she reached junior high, she was an adult in a child’s body. She thought like an adult, reasoned like an adult, and aside from a very rare outbreak of emotions, she acted like an adult. When most parents were complaining about their rebellious teenaged mouthy daughters, all I could do was thank God for the one He had loaned me.
Where did the time go? I literally blinked my eyes one time, and those 18 years slipped by. I went to bed one night with a baby in diapers, and I woke up the next with an adult living upstairs. It is beyond my scope of understanding how this happened. But tonight, my baby girl officially said goodbye to childhood and hello to adulthood as she celebrated her 18th birthday.
I think about the time when she was 2 ½ years old, standing on a piano bench at church, telling people how they can accept Jesus into their life, even though she herself had yet to even understand that decision for herself. I think about the time when she was in Colombia with me as a 9 year old, sharing her love for God with 1500+ people in an outdoor stadium. Or when she was asked to represent the USA at the International Festival of Talented Children in Asia. God has opened up so many doors for this girl in the last 18 years and has granted her success that yields a pretty impressive resume, even by adult standards.
On a superficial level, some may look at Amber and judge her by her accomplishments, without trying to get to know who she really is on the inside. If that is you, you wouldn’t be the first one to do that, so let me set the record straight. Win or lose, first or last, this girl’s only real priority is to live for an Audience of One. She longs to serve and give of herself to others for the cause of Christ. She cares deeply about her friends and truly is one of the most humble people you could have a conversation with. She isn’t a super-smart, naturally brilliant child protégé; in fact, she’s graduating 9th in her class only due to her hard work ethic and discipline. She exhibits what it means to have character in every sense of the word, making choices to put the Lord first, even if that isn’t the popular thing to do. I could go on and on, and I’m sure by now you really wish I wouldn’t. (And if Amber happens to read this, she would wish I hadn't even written this!)
Someone once told me, “You don’t deserve her.” As mad as that comment made me and as much as it hurt, well, deep down I know that’s true. I don’t deserve her. I definitely gave my parents some serious grief and lip as a teenager! But for whatever reason, God saw fit to loan me for the last 18 years this precious gift of a daughter.
I go back to where I started, claiming that verse “Delight yourself in the Lord, and He will give you the desires of your heart.” Did he give me MY desires? At face value, one may answer with a definitive “YES!” But that’s not the real story. I truly believe God gave us Amber because I came to a point that I relinquished my wills and desires to desiring only whatever His Master-Plan was for my life. It was only when I truly sought Him wholeheartedly that my desires were in line with His desires. It was when I delighted in the Lord, in what He wanted, not on what I wanted and dreamed for.
Do I deserve her? No, I most definitely do not. But especially tonight, on her 18th birthday, as I contemplate the incredible blessing she is to so many, I cannot thank my God enough for trusting me to parent this beautiful, Godly, newly officially an adult, Amber Kay.
--- Beth Banfill