I want to introduce you to my grandchildren:
MY TWO STEP-GRANDCHILDREN, HOLLY AND CODY, WITH MISSY, PAT AND ANGEL AT ANGEL’S BAPTISM
First Came an Angel, Then Came a Baby
by Sue Hellman
I looked up the definition of Grandmother in the dictionary and found Grandmother defined as, noun. The mother of one’s father or mother; a female ancestor.
That’s it???? I couldn’t believe it. Being a grandmother is so much more. Apparently Mr. Webster never asked Mrs. Webster how she would define ‘grandmother’. If he had, I think the definition would read something more like, Grandmother: noun. Important person in the life of a grandchild, yet does not have to do anything special, except be there; Grandmothers don’t have to be smart, only be willing answer a variety of senseless questions; Grandmothers spend their days playing, reading and loving their grandchildren. The sparkle in her grandchild’s eyes when she enters the room, is her delight. Being a grandmother is like falling in love—if you haven’t experienced it, you can’t imagine how fantastic it is.
I have loved and lost a grandchild, spent countless days praying and hoping for a grandchild, and then hoped and prayed some more. This is the story of God’s redemptive miracle of love given and received, wrapped in the form of a baby.
Unable to conceive after five years of fertility drugs and surgery, my daughter, Missy, and her husband, Tim, were thrilled when a young, expectant mother, who was unable to care for her child, asked them to adopt her baby girl. Believing this was the answer to many prayers, our family waited anxiously for the baby’s birth. Janai was born on December 17, 2001. When I held Janai for the first time, something magical happened. Though she was just a few hours old, it was as if this little baby knew me and I knew her. I had never experienced anything like this before, even with my own children. I watched her grow and I loved her with my whole heart for six months. Then she was gone.
Janai didn’t die, but she left our family and we were devastated. Unaware that Missy and Tim’s marriage was in trouble, our family was stunned when Missy announced that she was divorcing Tim. Despite our family’s best efforts to dissuade her, in June 2002, Missy left Tim and returned Janai to her birth mother. My heart was shattered—broken in places I never expected would be healed again. The hurt, anger and betrayal from my own daughter tormented me for months as I tried to resolve what I was powerless to change.
As usual, it comes like a crushing wave. Breathing becomes labored and suddenly everything around me is gone, as if I’m falling down a well and I can’t see anything but darkness. I had heard her on the radio. Some woman. She was describing her grandaughter. She said that little girl has enabled her to see colors she’s never seen before, and to hear sounds she’s never heard before. She asked the DJ on play a song by Stevie Wonder. The songs was, “Isn’t she wonderful?” You can hear the love, the wonder, the awe, the pride, the fulfillment in that Grama’s voice.
I struggle to breathe. I feel the hot sword enter my heart. As I squeeze my eyes shut to fight back the hot tears, I wonder: WHY? Why did that beautiful time have to end? How could something so impossible, happen? Here I am again. Back at the beginning. How is this supposed to work? Will I ever get used to this? Will I ever be able to avoid the pain? I fear the answer is no. So I tuck the pain away. I know it will come back and visit me again, probably suddenly, unexpectedly, as now. But for now, I’m putting it to bed.
Then I see a rainbow. (poem written in 2005)
Over the next few years our relationship slowly healed, as we learned to extend and receive the gift of forgiveness. I came to understand the tremendous pain and internal conflict my daughter had been in. Like the Biblical story of two mothers, when King Solomon ordered the baby cut in half, and the real mother sacrificed to save the child, Missy sacrificed her relationship with her family to save Janai from the bitterness of divorce. Missy let Janai go, knowing that Janai’s birth mother loved her and was now able to care for her.
Missy married a man named Pat and eventually gave her life back to the Lord, yet continued to struggle with infertility. Meanwhile, Pat also came to know the Lord and their lives began to change. In 2004, a one-year old boy named Omar came to live with them when his mother, a drug addict, was facing a jail sentence. We called him Sunshine because of his ability to bring a bright smile to all of our faces. We expected Omar would become a member of our family. I loved Omar, but tried to guard my heart. But the thing about grandchildren—I considered him my grandson—is they have the ability to grab those parts of our heart that we try to keep hidden and stuffed. When Omar had been with our family for almost a year, Omar’s mother, now rehabilitated, wanted him back. There was nothing Missy and Pat could do. Hearts breaking, in May 2005, they drove Omar and all his possessions to Oklahoma and left him with a mother he no longer knew. But God’s grace covered the situation and today, Omar is doing well with his mom. Missy and Pat are his godparents and remain in contact with him.
Years went by. Missy and Pat continued to pursue adoption, while Missy remained unable to conceive. There were times when circumstances looked hopeful, imminent even, to adopt a baby—the nursery was prepared and paperwork ready for signature—then at the last possible moment, the biological family would change their minds. It was a horrible experience—getting hopes up for a baby, then hopes dashed. Each loss was another devastating blow added to a series of disappointments.
Then in December 2007, Missy and Pat received an unexpected phone call. There was a baby in Iowa. She was two months old. Her name was Angel.
I remember when Missy told me. I didn’t expect anything to come of this news, there had been too much disappointment and loss for any expectations. Missy and Pat drove to Iowa to meet Angel. The authorities told them that the process would take time and not to get their hopes up for Angel to be home with them by Christmas.
But God had a different time schedule in mind. All the paperwork flowed, the authorities were in their offices and the door was opened for Angel to legally be adopted by Missy and Pat on December 17, 2007—exactly six years to the day of Janai’s birth!
And so Angel was home. Home for Christmas. To be honest, I must tell you that I tried to guard my heart from falling in love with Angel, but every time I was with her, and to this very day, she captures another part of my heart, that I willingly surrender.
Then in March of 2008, we received more wonderful news. After ten years of infertility, when it seemed hopeless that Missy would ever conceive, God opened her womb. Missy was pregnant!
My Christmas miracle is God’s redemption of all of our lives—broken family relationships and broken hearts healed. He sent a little baby named Angel into our family, an angel who brings us tremendous joy. Soon another baby will join our family, a baby born in December, a month that God seems intent on redeeming for us.
The Lord inspired me to write this song, which I often sing to Angel. It is a story of our Christmas miracle—a reminder of the greatest miracle of all, Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior.
She’d been waiting for such a long time
to be a Mom her womb it cried
And just when it seemed she’d run out of time
a baby named Angel came into her life!
Yes, a baby named Angel she needed a home
Angel became theirs, it’s where she belonged
suddenly came more good news
God had opened up her womb! A baby would be joining them soon!
Now as she holds Angel on her knee
inside of her a baby is growing
She thinks of a girl named Mary
who long ago experienced a similar thing: First came an Angel, then a baby!
To Mary an angel had come
He told her about the promised one
the One who is God’s own son!
And she would be the mother of this one!
A baby named Jesus, the Promised One!
First came an Angel, then came a baby! What an amazing story to tell!
NOTE: This story was written before Caleb was born. Caleb was born on December 17, 2008!!!!! God continues to redeem that day for our family!