We are nearly 36 weeks pregnant with our second baby boy; this time last year we were unknowingly spending our final hours with our first.
I didn’t know if I would write this final chapter of our pregnancy with Caleb. The month of October has been filled with waves of emotions that were mostly for my private prayers and journaling with Jesus alone. Until yesterday, I assumed they would remain that way.
But then I received this card in the mail. It is a birthday card for Levi from my brother and sister-in-law, and as I looked over the beautifully painted cotton fields and written Psalm beneath, God whispered to my heart that there was more for me to write here.
First, I must take you back to October of last year when we were just 38 weeks pregnant with Levi. I pulled out my camera one last time and walked out to the field of white cotton behind our house, capturing these final moments while Levi’s heart still beat in my belly. Afterwards, we had a prayer walk over the farm for him; we asked God to bless him and to give us the grace we needed as his parents in the coming days.
There were many things we did while pregnant with Levi that I know now were by God’s grace and leading. We wrote letters to him in all three trimesters; only He knew those 9 months would be all we had, and that those letters would later be read at his funeral. And, we documented so much of him in my belly — photos we now treasure with all our hearts as they are all we have of him while he was still alive.
The cotton fields that we stood in to capture those final days with Levi were harvested just days after he was born. All-too-soon, just like our son’s life, the ground stood bare once again.
Tomorrow will be one year since we said goodbye until we meet Him in glory. Indeed, this year has been a walk through a deep valley — a time that our own ground has laid bare. But when God blessed us with another precious life, we chose to document each trimester in this field of cotton because in just a couple of weeks, when we look into our rainbow baby’s eyes, we never want to forget in a new season of light what God graciously taught us in the dark.
I used to be afraid of the valley; I would desperately try to control the outcome of my life to avoid that low and barren place. But Levi’s life has taught me that it is in the valley that the Lord plants His seeds. It is in the valley that we see His rawest and deepest love for us. It is in the valley that we truly learn His “peace that surpasses all understanding” (Philippians 4:7). It is in the valley that we experience how powerfully He sustains (Psalm 55:22).
And only when we walk through the valley can we experience the beautiful harvest that is on the other side. The seeds sown in tears that bring forth new, abundant life in Christ.
As we celebrate Levi’s first birthday tomorrow, we know there will be many more tears. But because of God’s grace, there will also be joy over how He has used Levi’s short life to bring Him glory here.
“Those who sow in tears shall reap with shouts of joy” – Psalm 126:5
Indeed, a joyful harvest awaits.