Many of you were humbled and moved after reading Embry's birth story on my blog last week and I know Cori and our family much appreciate the prayers and kind words. Friday night, Jon asked if he could write a post on my blog on Monday. He said after reading the comments on her birth story, he wanted to share how the Holy Spirit knocked our socks off in the after math of this story. We fully believe that this story was God breathed and continue to be in awe of the way He's shown His providence, sovereignty, and goodness throughout Embry's life. I pray that Jon's story touches your heart and reminds you that He makes all things work together for those who follow Him.
It's easy for us to look at Embry today and see such a beautiful, smart, happy, smiling girl, but to forget how it all began. As carefully as God knit her in her mother's womb, He wrote an incredible story that, today, I am honored to tell.
Late in the summer of 2012, I felt like God was encouraging me to lead a bible study - something I had never done before. And as is my nature, I put it off for several weeks until I felt I could no longer ignore His promptings. I had to get down to business. I initially had 3 guys in mind that I wanted to include, but as I started to formalize the study, I felt like God was again urging me. INVITE MORE. I'd invite somebody who would encourage me to invite someone else, and that person would recommend another mutual friend. Before long, I was inviting people who didn't even live in the same city as me, and one of those people was Embry's father, Jacob. This was certainly unconventional. You don't generally invite people to join a bible study who live hundreds of miles away, but I felt like God was calling the shots and who was I to get in the way. And in doing so, I decided on an unconventional way for us to get together for the study each week. We would do it by conference call. When all was said and done, I had 10 guys committed to the study. We had guys in different cities and different states, most of which didn't know more than one or two other guys in the group. I had no idea how this was going to turn out, but I knew God would help me through it one way or the other. The basis for the study was to find a deeper relationship with God through more consistent prayer. We were tasked with praying once every 60 minutes for 60 days. Certainly not a study for the faint of heart.
The very first week of the study, I wanted to give all of the guys a chance to get to know each other, so we went around and introduced ourselves to break the ice a bit. I remember being upset that Jake wasn't able to attend our first call, knowing how important it was to get everyone acquainted. The reason he couldn't attend was that he and Cori had gone to the doctor that day and received word about Embry's hydrocephalus -- a day we will always remember well, as much as we'd like to forget it. That night on our call, I had introduced Jacob in his absence. I explained what we had learned earlier that day from the doctors. That night, me and 8 other guys that Jacob didn't know, we took time to pray for Embry. It was such an intense and powerful way to start off the study.
That week ended up being one of the only weeks of the study that Jake would miss. He was by far the most committed guy in the group - always doing his reading, always asking questions, always challenging concepts and digging into the material. I would be lying if I said that didn't notice a change in his demeanor during the weeks of the study. I could tell that everything going on with Cori and Embry was effecting him. He was more on edge, he was angry, he was frustrated, full of questions. All of it was great fuel for spiritual discussion, and more so, I think it really brought all of the guys together because we all felt like we were going through this with him. Week after week, I would share updates with all the guys in our study via text or during our calls. It was so amazing for me to see how these guys who never met Jake were so concerned for everything that was going on and so determined to rally around him. One of which in particular, whose 2 yr old son had to undergo a number of heart surgeries as a newborn, could really empathize with what he was going through and provide much needed support.
Fast forward to the final week of our study. I had a customer meeting run late and force me to postpone our final study call until the following evening. This was the only time that had happened to me over the 2 month study. We get on the call the next night, and as usual, I ask Jake to share an update with everyone on Embry's status. He shares that Embry had been given a clean bill of health that day -- her brain looked perfectly healthy, no excess fluid, no damage, no reason to think she would be anything but a perfectly happy, healthy girl. It was obviously the most amazing news we could have heard. And as we were all celebrating the news, I reminded Jake that no matter how bad things looked, and how tough those couple months were, he was surrounded by family and friends and these 8 guys who were all praying their hearts out for him and Cori and Embry, every step of the way. I remember Jake was quiet for a few moments... and then he made a powerful observation. Not only had we received the worst possible news about Embry's hydrocephalus on the very first day of the study, but we received the best possible news on the very last day of the study which, keep in mind, should have happened a day earlier. At that moment - I'll never forget this - Jake says, "I have goose bumps." And so did everyone else on that call. At that moment, it became so clear why God was encouraging me to start that study, and how perfectly He planned every piece of it.
Our God-daughter Embry is a precious miracle and a constant reminder of His never-ending power, love, and grace.