Before our daughter Finnley was born, a sweet couple from our church encouraged us to buy a Bible and pray scriptures over “Poppy” (this was our semi-gender-neutral nickname since we were waiting until birth to know the gender).
We took their advice and purchased a Notebook Bible the following week. We claimed a few verses her life, marking the date, journalling our prayers in the margins, and noting what they meant to us as our pregnancy progressed… I can’t begin to tell you how much they mean so much to us now.
Throughout the course of our pregnancy with our little “Fair Warrior”, we grew more and more thankful for our Abba’s Word and His promises.
It was the summer of 2014, we had family staying with us from Costa Rica. I was only a few weeks along when several signs of a miscarriage hit me in the middle of Bahamma Bucks like a pile of bricks. Our friends had lost their baby a few weeks prior, and I braced myself for the worst. I struggled to conceal my sobs in the bathroom stall, “Oh God. Please no. Please. Help us to trust You no matter the outcome.” Something was wrong — really, really wrong. Johnny rushed me to the Emergency Room, and our nightmare began to unravel.
“I’m sorry, we just can’t seem to detect a heartbeat.” I’ll never forget those words as the doctor awkwardly blurted them out faster than we could process them. Another doctor came in to the room and explained that “the baby may just be really small”, and “sometimes these things can happen, but it could be a false alarm.” I sat there cold, in a robe. Dumbfounded. They ordered me to be on bedrest, explained “you will know one way or another– soon”, and sent us home.
We prayed. And waited. And clung to His word. And prayed. And cried. And continued to claim scriptures over our little “Poppy’s” unborn life. We waited…
Nine days later, we held hands — and our breaths, as the sonographer turned up the volume. A heartbeat! I’d never been so happy to hear what sounded like a “little train” in my whole life. (This sweet moment was one of the handful of times I’ve ever seen my husband cry.)
The Lord was using these trials to remind me: “my” children, are really His children. And I can entrust “my” children to Him, knowing full-well– without a shadow of a doubt, that He loves them more than I ever could.
I struggled throughout our pregnancy. Often sobbing on the bathroom floor, wrestling with doubt, insecurity, and fighting the lies as my mind often seemed riddled with fear.
I can’t tell you how many times we haven’t known what to pray, so we’ve just prayed the Word. His Word is alive and active. It brings change, centers our hearts on Christ, destroys the lies of fear and false security, and fills our hearts with hope.
“There’s no way everyone feels like this, something is wrong.” I would often tell Johnny. At 28 weeks, I knew something was wrong. I called my doctor but everything seemed to check out.
Three days later, I showed up to my check-up appointment (the first appointment without Johnny because it was his 2nd day in the office at a new job) and once again, my greatest fears were realized.
Upon entering the exam room, the nurse looked at me and proceeded to say, “Rachel, you don’t look good.” …I wanted to yell, “Oh awesome, thank you!” Because after all, this was, in fact, exactly what every pregnant woman wants to hear, right?! She continued, “I’ve never seen a blood pressure this high. Rachel, you’re a walking coma, sit down, we need to get you to the emergency room.”
Wait… what! Breathe. Just breathe. I heard my doctor fast-walking down the hall.
My doctor hadn’t even entered the room before she asked, “Where’s Johnny? He never misses an appointment.”
I collapsed into a semi-slumped-over ball of sobs. “It’s his second day at a new job! Am I not going to be able to go back to work? I need to call my boss.”
I verbally processed all of my responsibilities aloud until my doctor finally cut me off, “Rachel, hear me honey, you’re not going back to work, you’re body is shutting down due to severe preeclampsia, you could die, we have to get this baby out.”
WAIT WHAT. I wrestled to process and did my best to argue in the midst of a hormonal, full-on, old-fashioned pregnant lady ugly-cry. “No. No. NO. This was my 28-week check-up. I don’t even have newborn clothes yet! My baby shower hasn’t even happened. We don’t have a name! HOLD THE BUS.”
Thankfully, the office manager happened to be a friend of our family. As soon as she heard the news she ran to my room, bear-hugged me, and prayed the words I was too shell-shocked to utter.
Before I knew it, I was rushed to the ER. With 2% battery left on my phone. Devastated beyond comprehension. Without my husband. While my mother out of the country on a mission trip. And with absolutely zero sign (or thought) of a “perfectly packed hospital bag.”
And just like that, OCD/control-freak Rachel was completely, utterly, entirely out of control — of everything. But this is exactly where God set me free. This is where I learned to truly rely on His Word. The three days that followed were a blur, as medical teams fought to keep me stable.
They explained to Johnny that they had done everything they could do to bring my blood pressure down, but my body wasn’t responding. To top things off, my doctor discovered the culprit for why our baby was measuring so small: IUGR (Intrauterine Growth Restriction). The umbilical cord had been delivering a mere fraction of the nutrients required for her growth– for God only knows how long. The baby had to come out.
They sent in a NICU nurse who began to warn us of what “to expect.” They proceeded to explain, “Your child could be very small. And if he/she survives, she will mostly likely struggle greatly, because she has abnormally developed, and will probably never grow to be the normal size of a child/teen/adult.”
At 29-weeks, on October 22, 2014, an emergency c-section was scheduled and our perfect little miracle, Finnley Haven, was born at 2.4 pounds, 14inches long. Suddenly, we knew exactly why the names “Finnley Haven” (“Fair Warrior” / “Safe Place”) had been on our hearts.
I was so medicated, I don’t personally recall anything that happened those first three days. But I’m grateful for them. And although I wouldn’t wish it on anyone, I’m grateful for the following two months that our daughter spent in the NICU, as well.
It was in those days, that Abba taught me how to rely on His word. He taught me that I am not self-sufficient, nor am I in control. He taught me to surrender our daughter early on. And I would walk through it all over again if need be. Because in the end, it really was; for my good and for His glory. Throughout it all, Abba carried us. His Word sustained us.
Today, Finnley Haven is in perfect health– and she’s the spunkiest little thing you’ll ever meet! She is almost average weight and has undergone NONE of the estimated 9 surgeries that she would “need.” At almost every doctor appointment, the nurses double-check that they have the right patient, because they “thought they had the wrong chart.” Her life is living proof of God’s sovereignty and incredible, miraculous ways.
But as I was praying for our daughter this morning, I was convicted. For almost three years, I’ve prayed for Finnley. I’ve prayed for Finnley’s Salvation, for Finnley’s safety, for Finnley’s character, for Finnley’s faith, for Finnley’s life.
Even still, I sensed the Holy Spirit challenging me, “She May Be Small, Pray Big Prayers Anyway.”
I continued to pray and it all finally clicked: I’ve been praying for my daughter.
I’ve prayed for my daughter. But will I stand in the gap and pray for all those that she will encounter– the people in her life who I could never reach? For her teachers, for her friends, for her coaches, for her friends’ parents, and for her classmates. For all those who may hear her story, and wonder “why” or “how”.
Because you see, it’s not just about my daughter’s life, or her story, or our story. In fact, it’s not about us at all. It’s about God’s story at work in our lives. It’s about His plan and His purposes. Our lives were created to live, reflect, and share His powerful, miraculous love.
Praying for our children’s Salvation is just one part of our Savior’s master plan. As parents, our greatest responsibility is to raise disciples of Christ who love Him, know His Word, follow His teachings, recognize that they are fearfully and wonderfully made in our Abba’s image, and share this amazing news of the Gospel with others.
Do we really believe that our children are just as much a part of Christ’s rescue mission as we are? If we believe it, we’ll pray it. It’s a bold prayer, it’s a big prayer. So, although they may be small, pray big prayers anyway.
May we learn to be dependent on His Word, as we grow and abide in Christ throughout each season of motherhood. I challenge you to pick up a Bible and pray it over your child (and yourself!)
I hope this has encouraged your mamacita hearts as much as it’s encouraged mine,
By Bob Hostetler
1. Salvation—”Lord, let salvation spring up within my children, that they may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, with eternal glory.” (Isa. 45:8; 2 Tim. 2:10)
2. Growth in Grace—”I pray that my children may grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 3:18)
3. Love—”Grant, Lord, that my children may learn to live a life of love, through the Spirit who dwells in them. (Gal. 5:25; Eph. 5:2)
4. Honesty and Integrity—”May integrity and honesty be their virtue and their protection.” (Ps. 25:21)
5. Self-Control—”Father, help my children not to be like many others around them, but let them be alert and self-controlled in all they do.”
(1 Thess. 5:6)>
6. Love for God’s Word—”May my children grow to find Your Word more precious than much pure gold and sweeter than honey from the comb.” (Ps. 19:10)
7. Justice—”God, help my children to love justice as You do and act justly in all they do.” (Ps. 11:7; Mic. 6:8)
8. Mercy—”May my children always be merciful, just as their Father is merciful.” (Luke 6:36)
9. Respect (for self, others, and authority)—”Father, grant that my children may show proper respect to everyone, as Your Word commands.(1 Pet. 2:17)
10. Biblical Self-Esteem—”Help my children develop a strong self-esteem that is rooted in the realization that they are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus.” (Eph. 2:10)
11. Faithfulness—”Let love and faithfulness never leave my children, but bind these twin virtues around their necks and write them on the tablet of their hearts.” (Prov. 3:3)
12. Courage—”May my children always be strong and courageous in their character. (Deut. 31:6)
13. Purity—”Create in them a pure heart, O God, and let that purity of heart be shown in their actions.” (Ps. 51:10)
14. Kindness—”Lord, may my children always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.” (1 Thess. 5:15)
15. Generosity—”Grant that my children may be generous and willing to share, and so lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age.” (1 Tim. 6:18-19)
16. Peace-Loving—”Father, let my children make every effort to do what leads to peace.” (Rom. 14:19)
17. Joy—”May my children be filled with the joy given by the Holy Spirit.” (1 Thes. 1:6)
18. Perseverance—”Lord, teach my children perseverance in all they do, and help them especially to run with perseverance the race marked out for them.” (Heb. 12:1)
19. Humility—”God, please cultivate in my children the ability to show true humility toward all.” (Titus 3:2)
20. Compassion—”Lord, please clothe my children with the virtue of compassion.” (Col. 3:12)
21. Responsibility—”Grant that my children may learn responsibility, for each one should carry his own load.” (Gal. 6:5)
22. Contentment—”Father, teach my children the secret of being content in any and every situation, through Him who gives them strength.” (Phil. 4:12-13)
23. Faith—”I pray that faith will find root and grow in my children’s hearts, that by faith they may gain what has been promised to them.” (Luke 17:5-6; Heb. 11:1-40)
24. A Servant’s Heart—”God, please help my children develop servant’s hearts, that they may serve wholeheartedly, as if they were serving the Lord, not men.” (Eph. 6:7)
25. Hope—”May the God of hope grant that my children may overflow with hope and hopefulness by the power of the Holy Spirit.” (Rom. 15:13)
26. Willingness and Ability to Work—”Teach my children, Lord, to value work and to work at it with all their heart, as working for the Lord and not for men.” (Col. 3:23)
27. Passion for God—”Lord, please instill in my children a soul that ‘followeth hard after thee,’ one that clings passionately to You.” (Ps. 63:8)
28.Self-Discipline—”Father, I pray that my children may acquire a disciplined and prudent life, doing what is right and just and fair.” (Prov. 1:3)
29. Prayerfulness—”Grant, Lord, that my children’s lives may be marked by prayerfulness, that they may learn to pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers.” (1 Thess. 5:17)
30. Gratitude—”Help my children to live lives that are always overflowing with thankfulness and always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph. 5:20;Col. 2:7