Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Golden Birthday for the Girl Who Made My Bitter Waters Sweet

A little over five years ago, my mother died.  I was pregnant with our sixth child.   Talk about poor timing.  What was God thinking?  How could He take my mom then?  Couldn't He have waited to take her home AFTER my baby was born?  How could I deal with death when I should be excited and anticipating the birth of a child?  It did not make any sense to me.

The months leading to my little girl's birth had been a roller coaster.  I was making frequent trips back to South Dakota to visit my dying mother.  The baby was transverse and my doctor was concerned my water would break on one of my six hour road trips.  With a transverse baby, the concern is that if your water breaks, there is nothing blocking the birth canal and the umbilical cord can exit the birth canal, depriving the baby of blood and oxygen--causing brain damage.    Our doctor was familiar with the route and knew that hospitals were few and far between.  He wasn't thrilled I needed to travel, but didn't tell me not to.  He understood my need to be with my mom.  He advised me to get out of the car and walk around every hour, and continually stressed the importance that I would need to get to a hospital ASAP for a C-section if my water broke.  But God protected us from that concern.  The pregnancy continued on and I made it through the funeral and the weeks following. 

Then in God's perfect timing, exactly three weeks after mom died, our daughter entered the world.  It was the most bittersweet time in my life.  I had never known bittersweet until the moment I held that baby in my arms and looked her in the eyes.  She was the spitting image of my mother.  Everything about her reminded me of my mom.  Her squinty eyes, her cute little nose, even her feet, ankles and toes were exact replicas of my mother's.  I couldn't decide if I should cry tears of joy or weep tears of sorrow.

My husband stood at my side with his arm around my shoulders.  My doctor stood on the other side, holding my hand.  All three of us were admiring this creation of God.  It was as though the world had stopped for a moment.  The birthing room was silent.  No one was moving about.  I whispered, "I wish I could call my mom and tell her."  My doctor replied, "I am sure she knows."  He patted my hand and then said,  "Congratulations mom, she's beautiful."  Bittersweet.  That's the only word I can use to describe that moment in time.

We named our daughter Mara Grace.  Mara means bitter.  In the book of Ruth, after Naomi's husband and sons had died, Naomi, along with her daughter-in-law Ruth, left Moab to return to Bethlehem.  Upon her arrival, Naomi told her people to call her Mara...because her life had been made very bitter.  

Mara is also mentioned in the book of Exodus, but spelled differently, and this is the real reason for going with that name.  Don't ask me why we chose to spell her name Mara instead of Marah, those months after mom's death are still just a blur in my mind.   I think we took a vote of all our family members and hospital visitors and 'Mara' won out.  

The Israelites had left the captivity of Egypt and had traveled in the desert for three days without finding water.  Then in Exodus 15:23-25: When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.)  So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, "What are we to drink?"  Then Moses cried out to the Lord and the Lord showed him a piece of wood.  He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet.

You see, I was bitter.  I was angry that God had taken my mother from me.  Then just three short weeks later, he blessed me beyond measure.  With a child who, every day of her life thus far, has reminded me of my mom.  Not a day goes by that I don't look at her and see my mom.  For that I am so very thankful.  God knows what He's doing.  He is SO good and gives us what we need.  Don't ever doubt that. 

Happy Golden Birthday Maiden.  Mara Grace.  It is by God's grace through your birth, beloved child, that my bitter waters were made sweet.  Thank you, Lord.  She is a true blessing from you!


  1. Happy Birthday, Dear Mara. Happy Birthday to you....You have already done great things in your life. You've made this world a sweeter place for so many.

  2. Oh, you're making me cry. That's such an awesome testimony. Hugs to you!

  3. I really, really enjoyed reading this. I was born in a similar way - my mother's mother died just before I was born. I don't have children, but I'm nearing the age when my mother had me. I can't even begin to imagine going through a pregnancy and childbirth without one's mother.

    I've only known one Mara. (Actually, a Mara Naomi.) I think Mara Grace is perfect. And a Happy Birthday to her!

  4. I had tears the instant I saw the picture of you and your mom and then reading the story really did me in! You had such a special mom that gave you many blessings in your life and now your daughter Mara is that new blessing, not replacing but extending the blessing of your mom! I miss her too...especially that laugh of hers. I though about her alot a few weeks ago when we were in Pierre. She used to always meet us for supper and sometimes even watched the kids shoot...what an awesome woman.

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  6. Ok, I'm trying again so that it comes out the way I mean it!

    What an amazing story. I can't imagine how hard that must have been!

    I'm so glad you have sweet Mara Grace! (Although I have to admit - her name just seems wrong! Her name should be Maiden! ;) )

  7. Thanks for writing that. I remember that time. Isn't cool how God chooses to bless us?

  8. What bitter sweet touching memories, what a wonderful birth story you have for Maiden. I may be just a bit "off the wall" sometimes..but I bet their souls met in heaven. One coming and one going..
    Thanks for sharing your story, I am sure it was a most difficult time for you, and Mother's Day is this weekend and you are thinking of her. Think happy thoughts! I am sure that is what she would have wanted! I only say that because it is what I would want my girls to do if I were gone:)

  9. That was so beautiful. We do need to remember that God does definitely know what he is doing.
    How wonderful to have such a blessing in your life.


  10. What a beautiful post. How precious!
    Mrs. White


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