Monday, October 22, 2012

Giving Credit Where Credit Is Due

Evie and her 1-year candle on her birthday
"Oh give thanks to the LORD, call upon his name; 
make known his deeds among the peoples!
Sing to him, sing praises to him, 
tell of all his wondrous works!" - Psalm 105:1-2

{What follows is my feeble attempt to give God the praise for all He has done in our lives over this past year in the form of a single blog post.}

I went to a Christian college (yay OBU!), and all of us there had to take a required course freshman year called Biblical Interpretation. For this course, we had to write an exegetical paper. For those of you who don't know what exegesis is, it is not, as it is popularly referred to around OBU, "extra-Jesus." Rather, it is a paper (that we considered ENORMOUS at the time) that digs deeply into a few verses of Scripture. To write an exegetical paper well, you need to spend a good bit of time researching commentaries, Bible dictionaries, articles, etc., to get a grasp of what the author who wrote the passage truly meant for it to communicate to his audience, and then you need to bridge that gap to today's world, isolating the spiritual truth that applies to our lives in 2012. You need to get a feel for the audience it was addressed to, the historical circumstances surrounding its writing, its literary context, the Greek or Hebrew it was originally written in, and any other literary devices used within it. Writing an exegetical paper is indeed quite the undertaking. (And I'm sure my well-versed seminarian friends will balk at my definition, because I'm sure it's not a perfect definition - but that is, I hope, a good summation of it. And I'm too lazy to look up a better one.) (Not that I struggle with a bizarre combo of laziness and perfectionism AT ALL.)

Well, our professor assigned passages to each of us, and my assigned passage to exegete was Ephesians 3:14-21, which says: "For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith -- that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen."

Being the 18-year-old college kid that I was, I was quite proud of the knowledge I had gained from exegeting that passage once I turned that paper in. In seminary, I even revisited the same passage for a different paper I wrote, and I thought I gained an even greater understanding of the passage when I did so. Of course I did increase my familiarity with it, after all that study, but only on a purely academic level. This past year, God has given me a real-life understanding of what it means that God is able to do far more abundantly than all we ask or think. And guess what, folks? No I know I still only get one iota of it all. That is seriously one profound passage and one amazing promise! And yet sometimes I confess that I still struggle with doubt that God will come through for me.

This past year, I have had to come face-to-face with the fact that God gave me a solid "NO" in response to my prayers from early on in my pregnancy that my girls would NOT experience twin-to-twin transfusion. Despite praying earnestly that He would spare us from this and encouraging many others to pray the same thing as well, on October 10, 2011, I learned that they did in fact have it. At 29 weeks. And that my body was reacting to it in dangerous ways as well. God, who I know was perfectly able to prevent it from ever happening, allowed what I feared so very much to happen anyway.

I still don't understand why, and I suppose I never will, but I have learned a lot along the way. For starters, TTTS kills more babies each year than SIDS does, and yet I have two strong, precious, one-year-old survivors. Praise God. Had He not allowed our lives to take this route, we never would have seen His provision in getting us through it every step of the way. We would never have been able to witness how He would use the prayers of so many to work so many wondrous things. Had I not had two preemie twins, there's a good chance we wouldn't have moved back to Memphis, and yet here we are -- and I believe this is right where we need to be for now. Praise God. I believe He has received so much glory through these girls over the past year (and for restoring my health as well -- something that was certainly no given at the time). He alone deserves all the praise for getting us through. Not a day goes by that I am not acutely aware of His infinite mercy in saving our lives. Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen.

One more thing before I move onto the pictures. Not to get all political, but I have, as you would probably guess, always been a pro-lifer. But until now, I see that my stance has been purely academic. I haven't been touched by the issue personally until this year. But when I first laid eyes on my 1 lb 15 oz Evie and 2 lb 14 oz Tamsie, and when I see where God has brought them today, oh my. Words cannot express how very pro-life I am and how I want others to see the glory of a precious, tiny life. I can't wait until my girls are a little bit bigger and I have time to get involved with Life Choices. And I'm not even going to apologize for trotting out Psalm 139:13-18 at a time like this:

"For you formed my inward parts;
you knitted me together in my mother's womb.
I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.
Wonderful are your works;
my soul knows it very well.
My frame was not hidden from you,
when I was being made in secret,
intricately woven in the depths of the earth.
Your eyes saw my unformed substance;
in your book were written, every one of them,
the days that were formed for me,
when as yet there was none of them.
How precious to me are your thoughts, O God!
How vast is the sum of them!
If I would count them, they are more than the sand...."

You can unfriend me, block me, unsubscribe,, or whatever, but I will stand by what I believe to my core is the truth: Every life is worth saving. Even teeny, tiny ones.

OK, one more thing! Just typing that reminded me of something amazing that occurred to me after T and E's birthday party: Every single baby guest present at their party has been intensely prayed for. Each one is a miracle baby. Some of them were born prematurely with many health issues. Some were born to mothers who had previously miscarried. Some were born to mothers who had been told that they would, in all likelihood, never have children. Every baby there is a total gift to all of us. Praise God.

On with the pictures! Enjoy!

Moments before the arrival of T and E. Or maybe it was moments after. Who knows - I have no recollection of this moment with the Vaf!
The first picture we have of Tamsie
Tamsie, four days old. Chris and I are giving her compression care. (Tiffany, I'm forever grateful for these early pictures of my girls.) (Clearly, any of these that are professional-looking came from her!)
The first picture we have of Evangelyn
Evie, 4 days old, with Chris's hand
Here's Tamsie with the NICU bear. I wish I knew which family member the bear came from, but it was given to us to take pictures of with the girls as they grow. {Now I know that it came from the girls' sweet YaYa! Thank you so much for such a special gift!} The bear looks like a giant compared to little T!
Little baby Evangelyn and the NICU bear
Evangelyn, 1 month old, and her daddy
Evie, 1 month old. It was a big deal that we caught her with her eyes open in this pic.
Sleepy 1-month old Tamsie
1-month old Tamsie in her open-air crib! Yee haw!
Evangelyn and Tamsie at 2 months. They had been home from the hospital for 5 days when they turned 2 months old.
Tamsie and Evie on their 3-month birthday

Tamsie and Evie at 4 months. These were their preemie dresses and bonnets they wore for their hospital photos.
4-month old Tamsie
4-month old Evangelyn
5-month old Tamsie and Evie, not in the greatest of moods
5-month old Tamsie hanging out in her PJs
5-month old Evangelyn, ready for picture time to come to a close
6-month old T and E
6-month old Tamsie
6-month old Evie
7-month old Evie
7-month old Tamsie
7-month old E and T
8-month E and T
Melissa took this picture of them at around 8 months, and it turned out MUCH better than my iPhone attempt, so here it is!
9-month Evangelyn and Tamsie
9-month old Evie
9-month Tamsie
Tamsie at 10 months
Evie at 10 months
Tamsie and Evangelyn at 10 months

Evangelyn and Tamsie at 11 months

Happy first birthday to my babies, Evangelyn and Tamsie!!! This is the first monthwe were able to take their picture at our new home. (Thanks for the pic, Melissa!!) 

Family. (Melissa obviously took this picture too!) (Tamsie is still looking sassy here - I love it!)
And a couple of bonus pictures from Sunday, then I'm out!
Tamsie was giving me this sweet look as I loaded her into her carseat on the way to church.
Love. (Thank you, YaYa, for the gorgeous outfits!)
I'll leave you with this verse for the night: "My mouth will speak in praise of the LORD. Let every creature praise His holy Name forever and ever" (Psalm 145:21).


  1. Hi Shelby! I am in awe of this post. It came at the perfect time for me. I'm so glad I sent that friend request. God Bless you and those absolutely breath-taking miracles!

  2. Beautiful Pics Shelby! They were so tiny. So glad you all are doing well.

  3. Thanks so much, y'all! We're just so thankful to see God at work in their little lives.