Welcome…to the dark side…
I really don’t have any dark sides that I am aware of…as in things I hide away from others. I do have areas of my life that are less like the noon day all aglow by the blazing light of the sun and more like the very early morning. That part of the day that is still in the birthing stage. The part that most miss the magic of, because they are too tired to get up for it or too busy to be still and look at it. It is the part of the day that is cloaked in reverence…and wonder…and possibility.
This garden of my life does not get many visitors. I don’t hide it, but there have been but few to take the time to see and understand and appreciate this space. (Please note, appreciate does not equal agree. Agreement is not requirement for friendship.)
In this garden of my life is the story of sweet Bethany.
I have always wanted 3 children. More specifically, 2 boys and a girl in that order. August 13, 2004, Joe got me off to a good start. And bam! March 9, 2007, the arrival of Gabe and BrookelynClaire (in that order) completed that life goal.
I don’t remember exactly how old the twins were, but I remember everything else about the day I was folding teeny tiny preemie clothes (they wore that size for quite a while) when something so surprising and powerful happened that it was like some invisible thing gob smacked me and possessed my body! An overwhelming desire for another baby.
It was such a strong sensation that it actually startled me. I jumped up real quick and ran inside and stood by the couch. After calming myself, I chalked it up to an ailment I had never before heard of, but suddenly, without a doubt, knew existed: post-partum euphoria. I would see about getting pills for that.
Weeks and months passed, but the feeling did not abate. Long story short, Garrin quickly identified this as crazy talk not to be entertained. In a culture where surpassing the average 2.5 children per household had already won me a few less than favorable comments, I didn’t have any one to talk to about it….except Jesus.
So that’s what I did. And after a crazy IUD experience, I told God that I wanted to know what He had to say on the matter. I threw out all of my opinions and things I had been taught, and I spent a lot of time praying and studying what He had to say about it.
(DISCLAIMER: These are my beliefs based on my study, not beliefs I try to convince others of or judge them for or entice them to adhere to)
Conclusion: I have learned that I cannot in my own timing at my own whim create a life He did not ordain, but I can stop them. The latter I have regretted, and the former I have every time been blessed by.
My husband did not share this belief, and I respected that. In fact, Holy Spirit had instructed me to not bring the subject up to him at all. But I brought it up to Jesus…a lot.
In May of 2009 in Florida, Garrin asked me if I had been “praying about that baby thing.” When I answered in the affirmative he said, “Stop. If you nag, I can tune you out. But when the Holy Spirit nags, I can’t get away from it.” We had a laugh about it, and nothing else was said.
Later that summer, I felt impressed to bring up this matter again. I was scared. I didn’t want to bring it up. I knew how Garrin felt, and the last time I had brought it up had not gone well AT ALL.
I felt the nudge again, and more than I was afraid of confrontation, I was terrified of missing out on what God had for us. So I went to the altar to pray for courage. As I prayed, a sweet lady prayed over me and shared scripture the Lord had impressed on her heart. They were all scriptures about being a mother and the scriptures God had been pointing out to me. Poor woman, I think I just wept and stared.
Lying in bed that night, I very timidly said (as in it took forever for me to even get it out), “Garrin, I think God would have us trust Him for the size of our family.” And very quickly he said, “I know. But I am not talking about this tonight, so go to sleep.” It was all I could do to not jump out of bed! What had he just said?!! I didn’t talk about it…to him. But Jesus and I were up way into the night marveling at how He works.
It took longer than our experience had taught us it should take for me to get pregnant. but the week after Garrin said, “I quit. Riding this emotional roller coaster is ridiculous when we already have three perfect kids,” we found out we were expecting.
We wanted a name that meant, “God is gracious,” because that is exactly what we were experiencing after our very slow obedience…munificent graciousness. It took quite a lot of looking, but we found Gianna, and it was perfect.
Two weeks before she was to be born, we were still unsettled on a name. At the end of a church service, when the building was already emptying, and Garrin had gone out with the children to pull up the car; I found myself walking toward Cindy Jacobs at the alter. She had been our guest speaker that night. A name I had never heard prior to her introduction. These were my EXACT words:
“We are having a baby in a few days. Will you pray that we have peace about the name?”
I expected a sweet little obligatory prayer for peace…and honestly, I don’t remember really anticipating any change. But this is what I got:
“The LORD says this child’s name is to be Bethany…”
followed by a long bit of prophecy over the life of the child I carried. My head shot up…I wanted to say, “but I don’t really like that name. It just really isn’t my style.” I wanted to say, “Could you try again…and who told you I was having a girl?!”
I could feel His presence. At the end she said, “The name its self isn’t what is important. It is the meaning of the name that matters.” I left in awe…and wondering how to explain this to my husband…and thinking, “Loophole!! I’ll just find something I like better with the same meaning. There are always dozens of names with the same meaning.”
I looked up the meaning of the name right away: “house of figs” or “house of poverty”…so far I was only feeling confused. Its third meaning is “house of answers”. She was certainly an answer to a very long, continuous prayer…but I didn’t really feel like that was it. And I was frustrated, nothing else meant house of figs or house of answers. Ugh…
Out of curiosity, and what I can now only assume was the Holy Spirit, I dug deeper. I looked into the etymology and break down of the name in the original Hebrew. And I experience a thud of awe strike my heart even now when I think about it…it was what had been prophesied over this babe growing in my belly.
After much prayer, we decided it was indeed God that changed her name that night. With less than two weeks before her arrival, her moniker was changed and people informed. She would be
Bethany Gianna ~ House of answers; where the wounded, afflicted, and the poor find solace; where Jesus went to find respite and companionship; a place where peace is found; a house near to where sins were atoned for in the Old Testament and where He stands upon His triumphant return in the New Testament…it means to answer or respond or testify; timely or ready
Bethany Gianna is my tangible reminder everyday that God answers prayer. He is faithful. His timing is perfect. Just because some good thing is in His plan for your life doesn’t mean you wont have to go through some hard, some disappointment, some feeling like the promise may never come before it manifests. Conversely, just because you cant see so much as a glimmer of the promise in the far off distance of this treacherous night you are now walking doesn’t mean He doesn’t have the answer ready for you to be given at the designated time.
You remind me to go to peace when I am storm tossed. Your name reminds me that Jesus does not abandon those in the house of affliction. He communes with them. In the house of the humble lived some of Christ’s dearest friends: many miracles occurred there. Stay humble.
God’s graciousness toward us runs through my house every day with giggles and long hair. And though 7 perfect years have passed since His graciousness wrapped in flesh came to our home, you remind me to look for it when I feel there is no reason to hope for it any more.
I hope big for you my girl.
Stay strong. Just as you are slow to conform to my view of how your room should be organized, stand strong against the pressures of this world to conform.
Continue to overflow with joy in such a way that little drops of it spill all around you as you bounce through your day.
Continue to enjoy every season of your life, savoring every morsel.
And my pledge to you stands: I will not exhaust myself and steal your beauty by trying to mold you into who I was or what I have envisioned you to be. In truth, I have no presupposed visions of your future…I have been amazed at the many miracles that brought you into our lives and the many miracles that have occurred around your little life. I know without the slightest doubt that you are God’s plan, and what He has in store will leave me in humble awe of Him in you.
I developed a habit when you were but a wee thing of calling you “My Beth.” I am frequently reminded of the night as I rocked you to sleep in the quiet of your nursery how Father scolded me, “She is not yours. She is mine. Do not forget that and begin trying to shape my child into your image.” It stung and it calmed me all at once. I did want to keep you, just as you were, all for myself; but what a relief it was to know someone so much more powerful, someone all good was who you belonged to.
Sweet girl, I wish I could promise you a life full of sunshine and all good things, but that would be a lie. I do not know what joys or sorrows the annals of your life will hold. But I do know that in it there will be blinding rays of His glory. Do not be fooled to think my darling that a life lived in Him is a life without pain or that a life He has called is lived out on a stage. These beliefs leave all those who hold them disillusioned, questioning their faith, and questioning God and His goodness.
Know that regardless of what your circumstances may hold, a life lived in God has joy in the darkest nights, hope when all seems lost, peace in the most ravaging hells, and comfort in the lonely places. It is a life that, in the face of loneliness has deep companionship. It is a life that exudes the beauty of one favored by a King in a world of sin’s ugly.
Lastly dear Bethany, do not ever lose sight of where your home lies and where your awards are stored. Do not ever fight for today or expect to fully grasp the beauty of a life while here. Our home is heaven. Store your treasures there. Fight for eternity. And know the answers to all you do not understand here, is with your Father there.
All my love to my most gracious answer on the anniversary of your birth.