She's Fine ... She is Just Fine!

We already had 4 incredible children!  Matthew, our oldest, had just entered his teen years and Christopher, the second-born, was only two years behind.  Jordan, our precocious 5 year old, had just started kindergarten and then sweet Joy was a 3 year old princess filled with sparkle and sweetness.

Our family was complete … or so we thought.

After years of infertility and sending babies to heaven, I had learned to be content with the four that I had been given.  My heart was full … my days were busy … and my laundry basket was running over!

And then I got the flu that hung on for months.  I just didn’t feel right … my “get up and go had got up and gone”.  I had, what my grandmother would call, a “general malaise”.

I finally went to the doctors after months of lethargy and nausea … and you guessed it!  My flu had a name!  I was pregnant!

No one else will ever know the strength of my love for you!  After all, you are the only one who knows what my heart sounds like from the inside.

May 30, 1994.  That may have been an ordinary day in your life, but in my life, it was a day of consequence and importance.  It was a day of unmatched miracles and of prayers that were answered.

The baby was 10 days overdue and so I was finally induced.  Her heart rate did not handle labor and delivery well and a specialist was called quickly to the labor and delivery room. This brilliant and gifted doctor discovered that the umbilical cord was wrapped around her little neck 4 times.  This specialist had been delivering babies for over 30 years and had never delivered a baby alive with the cord wrapped around its neck to this extent.

Did I mention that she was a miracle?

It was totally silent in the room when she was born.  There was no cry … no shout of joy … no pronouncement of her gender.

The delivery room had been filled with pediatricians, the NICU staff and other specialists who whisked her still body quickly to the intensive care unit.  Craig, my husband, went with the baby.  I kept saying to my compassionate nurse, “Tricia … is she o.k.?”

Tricia, while wiping my hair away from my face, gently replied, “Carol, I just don’t know.  I just don’t know.”

“Tricia … just tell me that she is going to be o.k.!”

“Carol, I can’t tell you that.  We will tell you as soon as we know something.”

I worshipped.  I cried.  I prayed.  I begged God to heal my baby.

After several hours, Craig walked calmly to my bedside with a carefully wrapped bundle in his arms.  With him was his cousin, Kathy, who was a NICU nurse at Duke University Medical Center.  She had left her job instantly when she heard that my baby was in trouble and came over with the team who had been summoned.

Tricia was still with me … and we looked at Craig and Kathy with our hearts in our throats.  Craig and Kathy were crying … and smiling … Joni Rebecca McLeod was fine!  Her scores were miraculous!  She had black, curly hair and freckles dancing across her miniature nose.  When Craig handed her to me, I looked at Tricia and sobbed, “Tricia … she’s o.k.!  She’s just fine!”

Such a BIG miracle in such a little girl!

Joni Rebecca McLeod had arrived. We named her after both of her grandmothers because that is what you do when you have 5 children!  

Joni didn’t walk until she was 19 months old!  She didn’t need to walk … she had 4 older siblings and 2 parents who never put her down!

It’s the little memories that will last a lifetime …

I’ll never forget the morning in August of 1999 as we prepared to homeschool Joni Becca for her kindergarten year.  (Yes, I was a homeschool mom for 23 years!)  Over the 5 very short years of her life, Joni had watched all of her older siblings receive the annual curriculum in the mail.  Joni always felt left out when there was nothing in the box for her! Now … trust me … the day that the homeschool curriculum arrived for the year was like Christmas, the Fourth of July and your birthday all rolled into one!  That year, as Joni opened her very first box of curriculum, she looked at me with her serious blue eyes and declared, “I have waited my whole life for ‘culliculum’!”

A daughter is someone who reaches for your hand … and forever touches your heart.

Joni was painfully shy as a little girl.  She hid behind my skirts, whispered her restaurant orders in my ear and made her older sister, Joy, do all of her talking for her.  Joni was finally delivered from severe bashfulness when, at ten years old, she decided to join our church’s Bible Quiz team.  This girl discovered that she could indeed talk … that she could memorize … that she could spout off facts so quickly that it would make your head spin!

And though she be but little … she is fierce!

Where have 22 years gone?  Where have ballet recitals … and birthday parties … and American Girl Dolls … and high school basketball … and Bible Quiz … and Fine Arts competitions … and pajama parties gone?!

On Saturday, April 30, 2016, Joni Rebecca McLeod is graduating from Oral Roberts University in Tulsa, Oklahoma.  As if one college degree wasn’t enough … this quiet scholar has earned two college degrees in four years.  She will be awarded a degree in International Community Development and another degree in Leadership.  She is graduating Magna cum Laude.

While in college, Joni has been a wing chaplain, an RA and a head RA.  She has led college missions’ trips to Belize and to Puerto Rico.

On June 15, 2016, Joni will be flying to Chennai, India, to serve for a year.

Little girls with dreams become women with vision!

I am proud, it’s true.  But more than that … I am humbled.  I am honored that I am her mom.  I am amazed by the young woman that she has become.

Her birth was a miracle … and her life continues to be a miracle in the making.

Sometimes when I am in need of a miracle … I look into my daughter’s eyes … and realize that I have already created one.

Oh … and one more thing … Tricia … my sweet nurse from the Labor and Delivery room … if you are reading this … guess what?!  That little baby girl who was born that day?!  She’s fine … she is just fine!