During the same week as Asher was born 2 other little boys entered this world and were named Asher. I think it's fascinating how I have never known an Asher and on the same week as my Asher came two others came. And both of them had no idea about our name choice prior to them picking their sons' name. I wanted to tell you about each of them because it's just a constant reminder that no matter what the circumstance God has you in, we need His grace to endure and His mercy to rest in His strength.
The first little Asher was born to Ben and Anna Johnsen, Ben's sister is actually a member of my church and I photographed Ben and Anna's wedding last year. What a God glorifying event it was.
Well I asked them to share about How God has blessed them through this precious new addition to their family.
Here is what they wrote:
Like you I had not known a baby named Asher either. Both Ben and I liked the meaning of the name and pray that he will indeed be happy and blessed in the LORD! As you may have heard our Asher has downs syndrome. In particular he has a type called mosaicism. It isa chromosomal error that only occurs in some of the cells in the body. So some of his cells are normal and some have an extra chromosome attached to the #21 chromosome, which gives him trisomy 21. (The presence of three #21 chromosomes) We had one ultrasound during our pregnancy and no signs were detected. So we were surprised to learn that Asher had downs when he was born. The first week was of course the hardest. We were surprised. We also began reevaluating our expectations for him. They had told us the day he was born that they suspected he had downs. It was four days before the test results came back and we knew for sure. The hardest part was waiting. I typically run low on patience most of the time anyway so waiting for the official news was really hard for me. But it was on Wed of that week (he was born on Monday morning at 5:42am) that I saw my Savior. God had taught me a lesson in my college years. Simply stated, He always has good things for his children and He is always doing us good. So if Asher would have been born without downs it would not have been good. This doesn't make sense in my finite thinking but, it is true. I remember crying that day and in the midst of my tears grew a big smile, I know He is here with us and is LORD in this very situation. The disciples once asked Jesus who sinned the man or his parents, that he was born blind? Jesus said, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life". John 9:1-3 "Let them know that this is your hand; you, O LORD, have done it!" Psalm 109:27
There are days that continue to be difficult and always there is one place to go, lean, and abide and that is in Jesus' arms. I truly couldn't imagine going through this without Jesus. Also we have seen God's grace through our church body time after time. I know the church body is praying for us because we can truly feel their prayers carrying us through. I could list so many ways God has provided through our church family enough to fill a page. But here I will just tell one story. When Ben joined the church he started going to a home fellowship group and the host family had a son with downs. When we were married we continued in this same group. Little did we know how this family would bless us when our son was born. We now see God's providential hand in leading us to this particular group. Their encouragement and support have been phenomenal. They understand exactly what awaits us, the challenges, joys and heartaches. They have helped us take steps in the right direction emotionally, spiritually, and practically.
I want to share a poem that has since been set to music, but the words have helped bring proper perspective during the past days.
Light Shining Out of Darkness
God moves in a mysterious way,
His wonders to perform;
He plants his footsteps in the sea,
And rides upon the storm.
Deep in unfathomable mines
Of never failing skill,
He treasures up his bright designs,
And works his sovereign will.
Ye fearful saints, fresh courage take,
The clouds ye so much dread
Are big with mercy, and shall break
In blessings on your head.
Judge not the Lord by feeble sense,
But trust him for his grace;
Behind a frowning providence,
He hides a smiling face.
His purposes will ripen fast,
Unfolding ev'ry hour;
The bud may have a bitter taste,
But sweet will be the flow'r.
Blind unbelief is sure to err,
And scan his work in vain;
God is his own interpreter,
And he will make it plain.
Love, Anna Johnsen mother to Asher Russell born august 2nd
Five days later a second Asher was born to a family in my own church family, Stephanie and Adam. Stephanie was a trooper during pregnancy, Asher gave her heartburn like crazy and she too had to brave the summer heat all summer long. It was fun comparing notes with her and the other MANY pregnant women in our church… I think we had like one every 2-3 weeks for most of the year. I noticed the last Sunday we were at church together before our babies were born that her baby had dropped and her belly was OUT there!! And for good reason, Asher Luke Saxton was a big healthy boy….He came into the world at a whopping 9lbs. 10ozs. Stephanie really was a trooper!!!
After going home, now a new family of 3, here is her testimony to her need of Grace in the beginnings of parenthood.
"Parenthood is hard, but God enables a mommy and daddy to persevere with joy. I honestly don't know how those who don't know Jesus and aren't able to communicate with God through the power of his blood get through an average day with a newborn.
I have tried to write these (few paragraphs…as Casey put it) for a few weeks now, but can't put into words my answer to the question of a specific time when Adam and I have needed God's grace. I feel like it is a daily continual need, which God meets in the most incredible ways. Overall our son is healthy, happy, and sleeping through the night so one could think that we wouldn't struggle or find ourselves in need of God's strength and grace as much as new parents who are visibly having a more difficult time with their newborn's many needs. I think, though, that for us it hasn't been our child that has made caring for a newborn difficult and challenging. It is being the parent. God has allowed Adam and I to experience different things as we have cared for Asher in order that we may be sanctified daily. As new parents are struck by the many temptations to forget God in the little trials that come each day and to not die to ourselves in order to put the other first despite tiredness and irritability and our huge learning curve in parenting. But God is faithful to us despite ourselves and continues to daily show us His love and tender mercy as we love and tenderly care for this precious gift of our son. A few weeks ago God saw fit to demonstrate His care and His sovereignty over our family. Asher Luke had to be hospitalized due to a high fever, irritability, a lack of willingness to eat, and a total body rash. You can imagine how hard it was for Adam and I to watch our 5 week old be catheterized, have fluid drawn from his spinal cord, and be hooked up to an IV. It may have been one of the hardest things that we have had to experience thus far. By God's grace, we were drawn closer together as parents, and our sin was revealed to us. Our selfishness became very apparent as well as my anxiety. God lead Adam into a strong position of leadership where he reminded me of God's sovereignty and my need to trust Him with our son's health and life.
I wouldn't wish that experience on anyone, but I am grateful that it occurred because it brought us closer together as a family and drew out the sin that we needed to kill. By God's grace, we walked through that trial and can look back at the healing power of God and His nearness during that time and now, we are empowered with greater faith and a stronger marriage to be able to face the trials, big and small, God may bring into our family in the coming years.
Stephanie Saxon, Mother to Asher Luke, born August 6th
Well just two days later, you all know the story of my little guy. He was here such a short time and came into our lives so silently and sweet and yet left our world with such an impact that I and many others will never be the same. I've shared on here how it's only God's grace that keeps me sane and not despairing, because while my child is perfect and complete… I'm not. I battle with where my identity lies and battle with doubt and fear…. all things that I know are answered and eradicated by truth of the Word and the Person of Christ. I need Christ to get through each day. Even my "good days" I need Christ lest I'm tempted to "coast" on my reserve of grace, if there is such a thing, and find myself dried up and unable to live in the grace provided me that very moment. And I constantly have to remind myself that if I'm not fighting against sin and striving for holiness now, will I when the next child comes? Katy in 'Stepping Heavenward' wrote in her diary, "….I have had time to carry my tired, oppressed heart to my compassionate Savior and to tell Him what I cannot utter to any human ear, How strange it is that when, through many years of leisure and strength, prayer was only a task, it is now my chief solace if I can only snatch time for it." It is true that often weakness and being in overwhelming situations drive us to the feet of the Savior but may we also not waste our strength when walking strong and forget to still bend our knee in total dependence.
~ Casey Chappell, Mother to Asher Daniel, born August 9th.
Lord, use these three Asher's to Your glory and your name sake! May they all surpass their parents in knowledge of You and may they be tools of sanctification and grace in their parents lives. Sustain us as parents and help us to see you as almighty and in control and sovereign and good and better… all because you gave us such gifts in these precious little ones. thank you. amen.