Today my daughter, Erica Key, share her story of overcoming fear. I’m proud of how she sought God to overcome her own fears after her sister lost a child. Here’s her story.
I loved having a sister. My sister Caitlin, five years younger than me, I shared a room most of my childhood, but also shared a love for singing Beatles songs. We’d drive around our town of Holland, Michigan with the windows down, belting all kinds of harmonies. I guess it was in those days we solidified a bond and I knew I would do anything to protect my sweet, hilarious, smart little sister.
Fast forward a decade-ish when Caitlin and I were living in the same city and had families of our own and were able to share the hilarities of little children. By 2014, I had 3 boys (a single then a set of twins) under four (yes, really) and Caitlin had one daughter. I was thrilled when she announced she was having a second baby!
She wanted to be surprised about the gender but let me have the privilege of knowing the secret via a note from an ultrasound tech. I’ll never forget how excited I was to find out it was another girl. I even got to be in the delivery room when Juniper Sage Brown came into the world. Holding her was such a joy. Juni, as we called her, was a peaceful, beautiful, healthy little girl.
Juniper felt like a deposit from heaven, even holding her was special. I remember going over to visit a few days after they came home from the hospital, fulling expecting the normal chaos of bringing home a newborn. It was the opposite however- there was such a serenity in their home, as if Juniper was vessel of peace from God himself infiltrating everyone around her.
That glorious peace was wrecked five months later, on April 15, 2013. Caitlin called me and told me my niece had gone to her heavenly home. I was in shock; it was our worst nightmare come true. Every day I woke up hoping it was a dream- a nightmare; but it wasn’t.
Just before Juniper passed, my husband and I had had a date night and an exciting conversation where we agreed we would love to have a fourth child. Even though having twins had been very hard, God was changing our hearts to make room for another child. We would give our desire to Him and see what happened.
But now everything was different. That anticipation for another baby was replaced by fear and dread for the future. So I hardened my heart and I held my boys closer. I hated living in a world where a mom could lose a child.
I had to face those fears head on. Shortly after Juni passed, I had a nephew born on my husband’s side of the family, a precious little guy Jasper. I was so so so happy for my brother and sister-in-law, but again fear crept in. We drove up to Tennessee to meet our nephew and of course I was in love with him. I remember holding him and feeling an ache and a joy at the same time. My sister-in-law is a counselor and a kind listener so of course she compassionately listened as we shared the tragedy of the previous month. I wanted to protect her and Jeremy as new parents and shield them of the reality but I couldn’t. It was a very difficult afternoon as I dealt with the fear of losing another niece or nephew. I knew what could happen.
On the drive home from Tennessee, I looked out the car window as the rain drizzled against the glass. I was deep in my thoughts and fears of the future. The Lord is so kind, though. He speaks to us in mysterious and wonderful ways. Gently he coaxed me to the truth I desperately needed. As painful tears rolled down my cheeks, I looked at the beautiful Tennessee mountain horizon and saw a rainbow in the distance.
I ignored it at first, but the rainbow became brighter, more vibrant and as we drove along I felt so drawn to it. The Lord was using this display of nature to heal something in me. I knew I needed to take a picture of it so I took about five. As I was admiring the inspiring scene, God was whispering a promise to me. He told me I would never again have to lose a child in my family again. He would protect my children and my siblings’ children from this unimaginable tragedy. I trusted the Lord and His word. My heart softened. God was healing me and taking away my fears, making a way for something new and beautiful. It was a gift and I have gone back to that moment of His word and leaned on it more than once.
Going forward with this new founded peace, my husband and I decided we would try to have another baby. I got pregnant in time for my husband’s birthday and announced to him we would have a summer baby! We already had three boys but decided we wanted to be surprised so we didn’t find out the gender. It totally didn’t matter boy or girl, we just wanted a healthy baby.
With a new baby coming we began to think about names. Choosing baby names has always been difficult for us. I want to look at a million baby books and my husband, not as much. We had our boy name picked out, but were still finalizing our girl name. Jonathan has always liked tom-boyish nicknames for a girl and so we both agreed we wanted to incorporate “Jo” somehow. We looked up Joanna, Joanne and Josephine and when I heard Josephine, I knew that was the one. I added Joy to it and thought Josephine Joy could be nicknamed “JoJo.”
Then I looked up the meaning of Josephine and it said, “God will increase.” Wow, God will increase Joy. Josephine (God will increase) Joy! My heart leaped and I blurted out to my husband, “Oh my goodness, look at the meaning of Josephine. We just have to have a girl!”
On a hot, humid July morning, God did increase our joy, our entire family’s joy. Josephine Joy Key was born nine days late at a healthy 9 pounds 4 ounces. You’d never guess she was such a big baby as she’s quite a petite little thing. I cannot even tell you how much joy God has added to my life, my husband’s life, in fact my whole family’s life. She is such a blessing. And now, at age three she has taken up singing and just hearing her sweet chorus of “Amazing Grace” fills my heart with gladness. God knew my family would need it.
When I think of my rainbow story I reflect on this verse. “Consider it pure joy my brothers, whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith produces perseverance. Let perseverance finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.” James 1:2-4.