Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Guest Post by Jarod

I mentioned before that I wanted Jarod to do a guest post sometime telling how God led him in our decision making.  Here is his version....

Before we got the news that something was wrong with our baby, I had just finished reading a book called Plan B. The book is about what to do when God doesn't show up the way you thought He would, and although it seems trivial now, knowing what was to come, I felt that I was already in this place. Courtney and I had all of these dreams and expectations for our lives. Two years before, we had moved to Nashville so that I could start business school at Vanderbilt, and now here I was with no job, a lot of school loans, and a baby on the way. In my mind, I already had God on the stand. Was He who He said He was? Could He really provide for me? Did He lead me to school and then abandon me? My natural reaction to things not happening how I want is frustration with God, but sitting in the ultrasound room, hearing that there was something significantly wrong with our baby was a bigger blow than I had ever experienced. Hearing those words literally took the breath out of me, I had to sit down to keep from passing out. This time, anger wasn't my initial reaction, I was completely devastated. The day was blur and seemed so surreal. I couldn't eat. I cried at times, and other times I just felt numb.

Looking back, the situation reminds me of the story of Abraham and Isaac.

Some time later God tested Abraham. He said to him, “Abraham!" “Here I am,” he replied. Then God said, “Take your son, your only son, whom you love—Isaac—and go to the region of Moriah. Sacrifice him there as a burnt offering on a mountain I will show you.”.... When they reached the place God had told him about, Abraham built an altar there and arranged the wood on it. He bound his son Isaac and laid him on the altar, on top of the wood. Then he reached out his hand and took the knife to slay his son. But the angel of the LORD called out to him from heaven, “Abraham! Abraham!” “Here I am,” he replied. “Do not lay a hand on the boy,” he said. “Do not do anything to him. Now I know that you fear God, because you have not withheld from me your son, your only son.” - Genesis 22:1-2,9-12

It's not that God made Abraham literally sacrifice his son, but God took Abraham to the place where he had to effectively sacrifice him in his mind. If you have been following this blog, you know that God has not taken my child from me yet either, but over the next few dark days, God led me to my own Moriah to face a similar decision.

The situation seemed twisted and perverse. The doctors initial prognosis was that the brain wasn't completely in the skull and would develop lower in the neck and spinal chord. This condition is not viable outside the womb, but not lethal inside. In other words, the doctor's best guess was that Courtney would carry this baby to term, give birth, and then we would bury our child in the weeks to come. It's hard for me to describe how hopeless this situation felt. The doctor's words sounded so final to me that the only two possible outcomes seemed to be early termination or an upcoming funeral. As the husband and father, I felt so alone and isolated. I have an extreme desire to want to fix things and this situation was no different. I wanted what was best for our baby and was willing to do whatever it would take. I didn't want to bring a baby into this world that would live in pain for a few weeks or months. I remember being so mad at God for putting me in this situation and frustrated that He was giving me the decision. If I couldn't trust God to provide a job, or a healthy pregnancy, how could I trust him with this? I remember entertaining the thought of termination, and I am sure even reading this sentence evokes strong opinions, but I wouldn't have cared. That's not to say I didn't know that doing so would be something that would scar me for life and bring lots of judgment, but they were scars that I considered living with if it would ease my child's pain. I remember telling my brother how I never imagined the situation where I would wish for my first-born to miscarry. Laying in bed the night we found out, I wondered how Courtney must have felt with this baby inside her that had such significant issues. I didn't want to bring up things she wasn't thinking about, but I also didn't want her to feel alone in her pain. A mother wanting to nurture this baby inside of her, but also knowing that the developmental abnormalities that were so vividly described to us hours earlier were taking place inside her own body.

After the weekend in Birmingham with family, we returned to Nashville. Courtney started back teaching, and I was left alone with my thoughts, trying to remain focused on applying and interviewing for jobs. Over the next few weeks, I continued to think about a very specific diagram that had stood out to me from a sermon that I had heard a few months back by Pete Wilson, our pastor in Nashville.

dream >> hope >> threat >> trust or control

This seemed to be exactly where I was. God had brought Courtney into my life and given us the dream to start a family, and the night we got a positive pregnancy test, we were so excited and began to place hope in the fact that this dream would become reality. This dream became threatened as we sat in the ultrasound room and heard the devastating news about our baby, and now I was left between trusting God or taking control of the situation. One of Pete's quotes from the sermon was, "Don't abandon your God-given values in the pursuit of your God-given dream." I felt so much peace and freedom once I realized that God was not asking me to make a choice, He was asking me to trust Him in the face of uncertainty. Danish philosopher, Soren Kierkegaard said, "There are many people who reach their conclusions about life like schoolboys: they cheat their master by copying the answer out of a book without having worked the sum out for themselves." Although deep down, Courtney and I knew all along what we should do, I think God took us to a place where we would have to wrestle with it ourselves and come back to what we knew all along. Once Courtney and I felt that there was actually no decision to make, we felt the freedom to ask God for what we wanted... and that was to hold this little child whom we had never met and didn't even know its gender, but who had completely stolen our hearts. In the weeks to come, I fasted, prayed, and placed my hand on Courtney's stomach each night asking God to heal this baby and specifically seal the skull around its brain.

“There are two ways to live: you can live as if nothing is a miracle; you can live as if everything is a miracle.” - Albert Einstein


  1. wow! I couldn't have asked for a better Older Brother and I look up to you so much. Thanks for sharing and being so vulnerable, love you guys and sweet HK

  2. Thank you Jarod and Courtney for sharing your journey with Harper Kate. My prayers are with you all.

  3. Great post. Thanks so much for sharing your heart with us. Clearly God is working through your family.

  4. Really enjoyed reading Jard's eloquent post. What a wonderful husband and daddy!

  5. Thank you all so much for the comments, but more importantly your love & prayers. I pray this blog is a ministry of encouragement to people who read it. Thanks again...Love, Courtney

  6. Oh I am so glad that Jarod did a guest post! I love hearing his perspective of things. We love you guys!