In awe of the gift

9 05 2011

I wasn’t sure if I heard it or felt it or both, but I awoke with a start at 4:30 AM. After the briefest hesitation, I rolled my bulging body out of bed and rushed to the bathroom. The waters had indeed broken. The time had come. And what better day to bring forth a first-born son? May 10, 1981. Mother’s Day.

“Great with child” doesn’t quite describe my condition. I was humongous with child. Weeks earlier, the veteran Lamaze nurse had taken one look at my petite frame with its ridiculously swollen belly and assumed I was having twins. When I told her the doctor assured me there was only one, she raised an eyebrow, unconvinced. But the doctor was right. I wasn’t having twins. After laboring all day, at 9:00 PM fetal distress prompted an emergency c-section, and suddenly everything made sense.

“Someone get this kid a hamburger and fries,” the doctor quipped, as our 10 lb, 4 oz. son wailed his hello to the world and a Happy First-Ever Mother’s Day to me.

Thus my adventure of motherhood began, and I was in awe of the gift. An eternal soul, entrusted to two so young who — like all parents before us — would have to learn this sacred stewardship on the job. And who were we to be honored with such a calling? My comfort lay in the assurance that God wouldn’t have given us this child unless He intended to equip us for the task, and with joyful expectation, I bundled my very bouncy baby home.

We soon discovered that this newborn chunk of masculine humanity had a will to match his size. I remember when he was only a few weeks old, the subdued dread I felt watching his bassinet rock back and forth with the force of his tiny fury. When he got a little older and I took him to parties or events, I couldn’t understand why other babies sat in their carriers, cooing at their moms while mine squawked to be held or fed or diapered on demand.

If I had to describe Jacob’s personality with one word, it would be intense. And that never changed. His sister and then his brother came along, both weighing in at around 7 1/2 pounds, both the contented, cooing sorts, but this first-born remained larger than life, pushing his limits, testing his boundaries, putting us through a non-stop, head-on crash course in how to parent a titanium-willed mini tyrant.

More than anything he kept me on my knees. I had to believe God had a reason (or a multitude of reasons) for this child’s ferocity, and I prayed that his passion would be turned toward the things of Christ. Much to my great joy and relief, when Jacob was a young teen, I saw God’s hand on his life, watched him own his faith, and wondered with delight what he would become. He was brilliant and gifted and daring. A natural leader. What couldn’t God accomplish in and through him?

Then, almost two weeks after his fifteenth birthday, the waters broke again, and with them my hopes, my dreams, and my heart.

There’s a saying that to become a mother is to decide forever to have your heart go walking around outside your body. Much of the time, that means her heart’s delights are multiplied a thousandfold, but it also means when her children suffer, her pain is likewise multiplied.

May is a momentous month in my motherhood adventure, and this one is also a milestone. The Lord gave us fifteen years with Jacob before the waters broke the second time, and this May marks fifteen years of watching Him create beauty in the ripples. I suppose I could be self-indulgently sentimental about that, but one of the most important lessons Jacob teaches me is to embrace every moment for its own worth. Today is the gift, and I receive it with deep gratitude.

“Today is the greatest day, and I am in it.” Jacob wrote those words and taped them above his bedroom door shortly before his baptism by fire, and he lives them now. That intense passion he displayed from the womb has been refined to a flaming brightness, arising from and pointing to one Source. I see him, so reduced in the externals, but so in love with the One who created him for his own pleasure and glory, and I return to a question once thought lost forever. What can’t God accomplish in and through him? He who took five small loaves of bread, gave thanks, broke them, and fed multitudes. There are no limits to what He can do with small, broken things placed in His hands.

We never know all that God is doing, but we can always trust that He is at work, bringing to pass plans formed long ago with perfect faithfulness. His ways always higher. His values upside down from ours. The least are the greatest, and I find myself back at square one. Who are we to be honored with such a calling? My comfort still lies in the assurance that God wouldn’t have given us this man-child unless He intended to equip us for the task.

Tomorrow my first-born turns thirty. Happy Birthday,  dear Jacob. And Happiest Mother’s Day to me.

I’m still in awe of the gift.

Giving thanks in community for:

#94 Jacob’s life in two glorious fifteens
#95 awaiting Naomi’s soon arrival with joyful anticipation, Luke’s and Sarah’s plunge into the adventure
#96 the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead, Who also gives life to our mortal bodies through His Spirit who dwells in us (Romans 8:11)
#97 blue for the sky, and the color green
#98 the Word of God going forth in a quiet dining room evening after evening and not returning empty

To join the chorus of thanksgiving, visit Ann Voskamp’s site.


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40 responses

9 05 2011
Glynn

Happy birthday to Jason – and to his Mom and Dad, too.

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Glynn! 🙂

9 05 2011
Windows and Paper Walls

Happy birthday, sweet boy!

Your gift amazes me. Love the photos. Thanks so much for sharing your heart.

For some reason, this quote is popping in my head:
A long life isn’t good enough, but a good life is long enough.

Love you.

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Cathy. And thanks for sharing the quote. God gives much good, and it is truly enough. Love to you.

9 05 2011
Duane Scott

Your mother heart is so evident here.

Beautifully written.

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Duane. You’re kind.

9 05 2011
HopeUnbroken

i needed so much to read your story of grace today. thank you, really and truly, THANK YOU for sharing it.

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Dear Hope, You’re welcome with all my heart. I’m so glad this spoke to you where you are today. Thanks for letting me know. Joy and grace to you.

9 05 2011
Steph

Beautiful.

Happy Birthday to Jacob, and Happy Mother’s Day to you.

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks so much, Steph.

9 05 2011
tinuviel

This is stunning and brought tears to my eyes, even though I could guess from having read your book where the trajectory would go.

May the Lord continue to equip you for the tasks He appoints. Happy birthday to Jacob and happy Mother’s Day to you.

P.S. Rich Mullins (#97) is one of my favorites, too.

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you! I’m honored you read our story and humbled by your gift of tears. The Lord gives daily grace, and the gifts are everywhere. What a wonder. And Rich Mullins! One of the brighter lights.

Much love.

9 05 2011
Deborah Carr

He wants us to live large. But the places He leads us are not the places we would voluntarily go, are they? And yet, they are the places where He has provided the greatest treasure, should we trust and wait for it.

Having never been a mom, I now get to watch my stepdaughter as she travels this path of heart-stopping moments mingled with heart-bursting joys. And I pray she will find where the source of her strength truly lies.

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Yes! He leads to the places of greatest treasure, and we must learn to dig for it. Thank you, Deborah. I pray with you for your precious stepdaughter.

Love to you, beautiful sister.

9 05 2011
Grace Walker

Quotes abound! Ever see “Strictly Ballroom”? This quote came to mind from that movie, “A life lived in fear is a life half lived.” Live fully!

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

I love that movie! 🙂

9 05 2011
Cherry

I enjoyed reading this! I gave birth to our first-born two days before Mother’s Day, 38 years ago! And since her birth, we had five more gifts from God, our sixth baby weighing 10 lbs 4 oz. at birth, as was your first! Thanks for sharing!

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Wow, Cherry! What an amazing family. Happy Mother’s Day to you and all your gifts.

9 05 2011
Amy

Wow. I read each word of this story with such intensity. Now finding myself in tears and chills and understanding how appropriate that the tone as well as the selection of your words communicated your son in so many ways and levels. “Today is the greatest day and I am in it,” with the crosses. Amazing. My eldest is 14 and I want to embrace each day. . . because it is great. Can’t imagine if her life changed dramatically, but I trust I’d turn to the same God of Hope and Strength as you do for each day’s Grace.
I’m thankful I clicked on this link from A Holy Experience. Blessings.

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Amy, thank you so much for your sweet words! I’m honored and touched by your willingness to enter so fully into our story. Blessings on you and your dear children. The Lord goes before you, and He will prepare you for whatever lies ahead. I pray your journey will be filled with abundance of joy.

Love to you.

9 05 2011
Susan

Once again, Jeanne, I have finished reading one of your posts with tears streaming down my face. My son is 15 now and I can’t imagine what you and your family have gone through. Yet, your faith burns bright and beautiful…you are such an inspiration! God bless you!

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Susan. Your tears and kind words are a gift to me. I pray God’s blessing and grace on you and your family. May you rest in the joyful assurance that He is always good. Happy Mother’s Day and much love.

9 05 2011
katdish

Happy belated Mother’s Day and Happy Birthday to Jacob. “Two glorious fifteens.” Absolutely love that.

xo

10 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Happy Mother’s Day to you, too, my friend. And so much love. xo

11 05 2011
Kerrie

My chest is so full, it feels like bursting. I came from Amy’s and glad I did. Our first 2 children died right after birth. The first was breach and I saw her. She waited for me to view her through a window and then she died after 24 hrs. The second one, a boy died immediately as his lungs were not developed. I had a tonsilectomy in the first weeks of unknown pregnancy and the anesthesia caused anoxia to the fetus at a crucial stage of development. I still mark their birthdays on the calendar with their names and a heart. I will meet them one day again in heaven when someone brings me to them, “this is your daughter, this is your son”. I feel this same compassion and love for Jacob and for you and your family. God bless always, kerrie PS, I have 3 lovely children, 2 girls and a boy, I am very blessed!!

11 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Dear, dear Kerrie. I can’t imagine what you went through. How could I? But the one thing I believe with all my heart is that grace goes far beyond anyone’s imagination. Your compassion is a rare and precious gift. Thank you. Blessings on you and your treasures — both on earth and in heaven.

Much love.

11 05 2011
I Live in an Antbed

What Glory you bring Him through your testimony! I am in awe of what He has done and what you have allowed Him to do. The precious Truth that He will Glorify Himself through them releases our mother-hearts to trust. Otherwise, we couldn’t get out of bed in the morning, could we? Our oldest son (19) is leaving for Africa in a couple of days and the Lord is reminding me that he isn’t and has never been mine. Caleb has always been His. And so we press in deeper and His Grace is sufficient. Always. For whatever He asks of us and of them. Thank you for speaking such powerful Truth. Thank you for testifying of His Trustworthiness. I needed to hear this today. And happiest of birthdays to him and Happy Mother’s Day to you.

11 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you for your kind words and sweet heart! How good of the Lord to remind you that your beloved Caleb is not yours, but His. Our youngest son went to Ivory Coast, West Africa, for nine months when he graduated from college, so I understand the tenderness your heart is experiencing right now. We long for them to know and follow Christ, but oh how we also long to hold them forever and protect them from any harm. What a comfort to know that Caleb will never for a moment be out of God’s sight.

Much love to you and blessings on your precious warrior son.

11 05 2011
Maureen

With one look into your son’s eyes, you come home to yourself.

Happy Birthday to Jacob! And belated Happy Mother’s Day, Jeanne.

11 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Wow, Maureen, what a beautiful thought! Thank you. And thanks for the birthday and Mother’s Day wishes! Much love.

11 05 2011
Kelly Sauer

Such a testimony here, Jeanne. I can hardly read, knowing the story. I still don’t know how to embrace all this ache and beauty at once. I am a little in awe. Thank you for sharing, and happy birthday to Jacob.

11 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you for edging toward the ache and the beauty, Kelly. I agree it’s hard. And I am also in awe. God is so kind and faithful. Who is equal to these things? He alone makes it possible.

Love to you, tender heart.

12 05 2011
laura

I am a little late, but happy laboring day to you, Jeanne and of course, so glad your Jacob was gifted to this world. He is teaching me too–through your words, through your love. Such a gift. And I am in awe of it too.

13 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Laura. Always a joy to see your face, early or late. Much love.

13 05 2011
The Saving Mom

I just came over from HCB to read this amazing story. Thank you so much for sharing. Recently I have been experiencing some fear regarding my kids, but when I read this it disappeared. Thank you! ~Jessica

13 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thanks, Jessica. Your comment means so much to me. For the longest time I feared for my children, but then God revealed something that made a huge difference for me. It’s simply this: we can imagine all sorts of hypothetical horrors, but we can’t appropriate hypothetical grace. God gives grace when we need it, and grace defies imagination. I hope that helps you as much as it does me.

I pray God’s peace and joy for your journey and His blessing on your precious kids.

Love, Jeanne

14 05 2011
chris

hi Jeanne,

hope you had a wonderful Mother’s Day, and a great birthday with Jacob. In this post, as ever, your calm and loving faithfulness is hugely encouraging, and your blog is on my thanksgiving list!

14 05 2011
jeannedamoff

Thank you, Chris. Both days were lovely. And what a high honor your words about my blog! God is good to let us encourage each other. Grateful for you.

16 05 2011
Melanie

Words spoken directly to my heart… from one mother to another… Absolutely breath-taking!

Visiting from the the “Encouragement is Contagious” linky party at my blog, “Only A Breath”! I hope your week is a wonderful one!

Blessings!
Melanie

17 05 2011
Debbie

Your writing is beautiful. I am still praying for my son to return to God…Blessings, Debbie (my sisters and I have started a new blog and would love you to come visit and leave a comment)

Your comments are a gift. Please know I read each one with gratitude.

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