Rhonda and Jason

Rhonda and Jason
Our Wedding Day

Friday, April 13, 2012

God's abundant grace

Gonna give this a whirl now.  The past 48 hours have definitely redefined my understanding of love, pain, fear, trust, faith; I could go on and on.  Like so many experiences in life that people tell you about beforehand, the birth of your child "changes everything".  Add to that some special circumstances and here I am in awe of God's grace for my life.
We have been waiting in anticipation for our daughter Esther's birth.  We have known all along the likelihood of significant complication and potential disaster.  Somehow God has given us peace and comfort throughout our journey.
April 11, 2012 we admitted Rhonda into university of Washington hospital around 4:30 in the afternoon.  We were both anxious and excited.  Several doctors and nurses greeted us with joyful anticipation of Esther's birth.  Except one.  I will call him Dr. Reality Check.  He had a very difficult reminder for us.  Our little girl had a very poor chance of surviving outside the womb.  Her defect is quite severe involving multiple organs including the liver.  Previous ultrasounds did not show enough lung tissue for her to breathe on her own and likely not with a ventilator either.
Somewhere along the way we had allowed ourselves to believe Esther's big struggle would be later on.  That stabilization and transfer to Seattle Children's Hospital were a given.
Rhonda's labor advanced very rapidly with induction treatments and all were caught off guard when she progressed from 4cm dilation to 8 1/2cm over the course of just an hour or so.
Before we new it Rhonda was pushing and two large teams of doctors, specialists and nurses were surrounding us.  I did not look at the clock but believe she pushed for about 20-30minutes before Esther arrived.
Two small cries came from her mouth and I praised the Lord for his grace.  The team of intensivists whisked her away as I followed in tears and full of fear for this next step.  The previous night Dr. Reality Check had prepared me for this moment.  He had made me aware of the seriousness and potential of what would or could happen in this room.
As we rushed through the doors I began to pray asking God for grace, for His favor upon his child.  A child he had chosen Rhonda and I to care for.
The next moments were terrifying.  She was not "doing well" according to the doctor and they needed to insert the breathing tube immediately.  The next seconds were crucial and they were having difficulty placing the tube.  Again the doctor reminded me "she is not doing well".  Assuming he was fishing for a response, all I could do was look him in the eyes questioningly.  My thoughts "what are you going to do about it?", but no words.  He understood.  Then a team member called she had secured the airway.  The doctor moved in and confirmed.  Esther's heart rate dropped.  The doctor called to start chest compressions.  The dam broke.  I couldn't contain myself.  My daughter was slipping away.  I continued to pray.  Her heart rate returned.  The doctor called me to the bedside and told me "hold her hand and talk to your daughter.  She will recognize your voice."
I moved to the table, put my index finger in her hand and told her "papa is here Esther, and Jesus is holding you in His arms."  She opened her eyes and looked up at me with strength and courage that I could only attribute to God's grace.
Things became a bit blurry, I was overwhelmed by God's presence, and my love for His daughter.  The team worked with quickness and surety preparing Esther for the trip she should not have been making to the NICU.
The next several hours were no less heart wrenching and filled with fear, but God's grace prevailed!  Esther made it to Seattle Children's hospital around 9:30.  The next part I will have to pick up later.  It is late, I want to look at Esther and say goodnight a second grace given night.
Thank you to all who have called upon the Lord God in Jesus name on ours and Esther's behalf.  He hears and has extending abundant grace beyond measure.  For that I cry Abba Father.


  1. You guys have been on my heart and in my prayers all day! When I read the updates this morning I just cried and cried for you guys. I prayed desperately that God would let you keep your little girl. Praying for strength and rest for you guys tonight as you continue on this constant roller coaster.

  2. I keep praying for ALL of you!!! God is so good! Jason and Rhonda, you are strong, God fearing people and your little Esther is such a fighter! God has chosen both of you for a reason for the precious gift you have in your hands. As much as I never like hearing this, I will say it to you....He never gives us more then we can handle! My heart aches for you all. I couldn't even begin to imagine how this feels. I will continue to pray for you. I have family and friends all over who have never met you that are praying for you as well. God's love is surrounding you!! I pray for peace for your minds, good healing rest for Esther, strength and courage for all of you!

  3. Rhonda, I don't know you, but we have mutual friends on FB who have been posting updates on your little precious. My prayer for you is for time, perseverance and wisdom for the doctors. Reading your post from yesterday is a reminder of God's immeasurable grace and your amazing strength. Continue to be strong Momma! There are many praying for you!

  4. Praying for Esther and continued strength for her wonderful parents. Keep talking to her and holding her hand, for she knows her momma and dadda are there and loving her. CDH babies are the most critical babies in the NICU and there will be ups and downs, but always have hope and faith. Esther is a warrior princess and is fighting! Sure hope the bleeding issues have calmed down and she stays strong on ECMO....time to give her heart and lungs time to rest and get stronger. Praying for Esther's miracle. To sweet baby Esther, continue to amaze those doctors with your strength and determination. You have so many people around the world cheering you on sweetie....YOU CAN DO THIS!!!

    Ian's mom from CHERUBS

  5. I found your story through friends posting updates on Facebook, so I wanted to drop a quick note and say hi and let you know that my family and I are praying for you all and will continue to pray for your sweet girl!

  6. Praying, praying, praying for you, Jason, Rhonda and sweet Esther! Thank you for sharing your story and your heart on your blog.

  7. Things are a bit blurry here, too, from reading your story! Just asking Jesus to bless and hold all three of you. Thank you for sharing this!

  8. Just amazing how God will give you those little moments of beauty in the midst of extreme pain. I am praying for this sweet little girl!!

  9. Malorie Tjoelker (Friend of Leslie Roosma)April 14, 2012 at 2:12 PM

    Praying for strength for the both of you and your beautiful daughter! I cannot even begin to imagine, your faith is amazing!

    For I know not what the future holds, but I know who holds the future...

  10. Melissa (Bode) TabertApril 14, 2012 at 2:48 PM

    Praying for you. I'm so thankful that God is incontrol of all things! I know he will continue to give you the strenght you need as you walk through this difficult time with Esther. As well as I will be praying for healing for Esther and that God will give the Drs wisdom.

  11. Praying for both of you and little Esther.

    Ps. 139:16-17 All the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be. How precious to me are your thoughts, O God.

  12. When I read the words of the doctor, "Hold her hand and talk to your daughter. She will recognize your voice," I couldn't help but think that is what God is saying to you, "I am holding your hand, you are talking to Me in prayer and I hear you. I recognize your voice ! " Jason and Rhonda, your expressions of love for Esther and God are so very obvious in every word you share. You are showing us what it means to glorify God even in the midst of pain.

  13. Hello , you don't know us but we are friends with Jeremy and Rachel... They told us about your story and asked us to pray for you and your family. I just wanted to say that we and many others are joining with you in prayer for your daughter Esther. We are believing for her complete healing.

    God Bless
    Larry & Christina

  14. This is teary for me too. We had a son who had a heart defect and God took him home. Praise His name. So I understand the trama but I will pray that God will bless, encourage, and strengthen you as we all pray for grace and healing (if God so wills). God be your strength

  15. Hello Rhonda and Jason. I met you at Georgina's shower and wedding. I am Amada Lebel, Georgie's aunt (kind of);)Jessica has filled me in on what is happening and I just want to let you know we are praying for Esther and you both. God is good and merciful.We live in Redmond and would love to come and pray with you at Children's, bring you a meal and just sit with you. Please let us know if there is anything we can do.
    God Bless,
    Tim and Amada Lebel