The Song Before the Sermon
It was the “song before the sermon” and just before the congregation was asked to stand, Dana’s phone started vibrating against her hip. She looked down and flipped it over to see the screen saying, LISA. I heard the phone too and looked over as she discreetly showed me the phone. I also saw the look on her face that meant, “I need to take this call.”
Lisa is an adoption attorney and she rarely calls when it’s not something important and usually urgent.
Dana scooted down the pew heading towards the center aisle of the church building, her head down trying to be as inconspicuous or disruptive as possible. Her pace picked up as she reached the aisle that led to the foyer. She was anxious to answer before Lisa hung up without causing any further distractions to the worship service. As soon as she cleared the auditorium doors she accepted the call. “Hey Lisa, I’m in church…what’s up?”
Twelve hours prior a twenty something woman walked into “St. Joes” hospital with abdominal pain. She was 23 weeks pregnant and bleeding. Two hours later she delivered a one pound one ounce baby girl. She was shorter in length than a #2 yellow lead pencil, the kind we all use in grade school. Her skin was translucent not having been completely developed, you could see her tiny heart pulsing in her chest. Except to the NICU doctors and nurses, she looked incomprehensibly small.
Amber, [not her real name] the woman giving birth had filed an adoption plan not long after discovering she was pregnant. She was working with Jodi, an adoption facilitator several states away. Jodi had arranged a match with a family to adopt Amber’s baby. When Jodi got word of Amber’s premature delivery and heard the size and weight and the precarious medical condition she immediately passed the information on to the matched family. Early that same Sunday morning that adopting family “walked away”. They simply didn’t believe this tiny fragile life would live or could not imagine the journey they would face with a 23 week old preemie.
For the one pound one ounce little girl that just entered the world, everything was already falling apart.
Her birth mother could not care for her and would be leaving the hospital later the same day she was born. The family planning to provide and care for her walked away having never seen her face. The doctors tasked with saving this fragile life were unclear on the extent of efforts to make in order to prolong her life and she had no one to speak on her behalf.
Her world, the one she couldn’t see, consisted of a fourteen by twenty two inch long NICU incubator, infrared lights to keep her warm and a plethora of tubes to keep her breathing and fed. There was no one but a code of medical ethics and a protocol of care to guide what happened to her next.
Jodi was frantic. She called Lisa in Phoenix AZ who was the adoption attorney working on the case. It was Sunday morning and early. Lisa answered and Jodi sort of exploded out of the dire and urgent situation. Her family walked, the birth mother would be discharged in a matter of a few hours and had no desire or ability to parent. Once she was gone the baby had one of two fates, if she did not progress well and soon the doctors would most likely “pull the plug”. If she does somehow miraculously survive she will become a “ward of the state” and begin her life’s journey in the foster care system. Jodi almost yelled in desperation, “Do you have a family…any family that might take this baby?”
Lisa listened longer than she wanted to because she already had an answer, at least a hopeful, possible answer but Jodi was on such an emotional roll, Lisa just let her finish. As Jodi took a breath, Lisa interjected…”YES I DO”. Jodi, skeptical that Lisa really understood both the urgency and the magnitude of the challenges the newborn was facing continued, “They cannot walk away from this. They’ve got to understand I’m not cutting any costs on this adoption, it is what it is. They absolutely need to be ready to give verbal consents and fly to Phoenix today, tomorrow morning at the latest. You really have a family ready to do all that!!!”
Lisa, smiling to herself and trying to deescalate Jodi’s emotional state calmly said, “Yep pretty sure I do. Let me call Dana with Sacred Selections.” Jodi had no idea who Dana or Sacred Selections was and really in the moment she didn’t care or need to know. Jodi just said, “Okay call her NOW!” Lisa replied, “I will but just to let you know she’s probably in church.” To Jodi this was such a frustrating and pointless reason for not being available.
A minute later Dana’s phone started vibrating on the pew as we all stood to sing.DONATE
Tests and Temptations
Dana tucked herself into the corner of the pew placed in the church foyer. Several young mothers paced by rocking sleeping or whimpering infants in their arms. They would smile as they passed by and caught Dana’s eye. They knew!
“Hey Lisa, I’m in church what’s up?” Lisa is a wonderful adoption attorney and serves as a judge in Maricopa county. She is tenderhearted, compassionate, streetwise and a fighter when it comes to helping save children. She has been and continues to be one of Dana’s most trusted “warriors” and loyal to the core in helping the fatherless. “Sorry to bother you, I knew you’d be in church and I told Jodi so. So here’s what’s going on…kind of a tough situation but I told Jodi if anyone could help in a case like this it would probably be you and your network of amazing families.” Dana listened, knowing there would be a big “but” at the end of the compliment.
Lisa continued quickly with the limited version and information Jodi had passed on. Lisa’s main focus was to convey the emotional urgency of finding a family…IMMEDIATELY. The last thing Jodi said before Lisa hung up, nearly cutting her off was, “We (meaning you) have one hour to find someone or I’m moving on.” Dana listened carefully, trying to grasp and remember every little detail. It needed to be accurate and reliable. It would be all she had to tell a couple who would answer her call, next. As she listened her mind was already going “to and fro” from recent and past experiences with couples who might, could or would step into this gap. The mothers with their sleeping children continue walking by and Dana knew the decisions that happened next could lead to another fatherless child someday being gently rocked to sleep.
Lisa finished with, “According to Jodi we have about an hour before she needs to start looking for another option. I know this isn’t much time.” Dana glanced at her cell phone clock. 10:45 AM Pacific Time. Dana said, “I have a family in mind, they would be perfect for this situation.” Lisa interrupted, “Can I merge Jodi on the call?” “Sure”. Less than a minute later Jodi joined the call. Lisa started by saying, “Jodi I’ve got Dana with Sacred Selections on the line.” Jodi, “Hi Dana, and immediately continued, “Did Lisa fill you in?” “Yes briefly” “Jodi kept rolling, “This is a tough one, Lisa said you might know someone that can take this situation.” Her tone was more of a challenge than a question. “Yes, I think I have the perfect family for this.” Before Dana could continue Jodi said, “Can you call them now!” Dana answered, trying to get some control back over the situation and the emotional level of the conversation, “Well yes but they might not be able to take the call immediately. Right now they’re in church and he’s the preacher.” Jodi’s eyes widened thinking to herself, “What is with all these people in church?” Little did she know how important this would be in the events and story to follow.
Eight hundred miles away Scott was in the pulpit about halfway through his morning sermon to the Monroe church of Christ. His topic this morning was “Why Temptation is so Tempting”. Scott’s wife Jenna sat close to the front, their four adopted children sat quietly beside her and Holly their biological daughter and the oldest sat a few pews behind them with some friends. The older ones were listening and taking notes, the younger ones just patiently swinging their legs. Scott’s phone sat on the pew next to the arm rest, Jenna’s was in silent mode buried towards the bottom of her purse. At 11:10 both phones rang. Dana left a message. “Call me as soon as you get this message!” A few minutes later the phone screens lit up and each got a text “It’s Dana call me!”
Tests and temptations come in two basic flavors. The ones that tempt us with things that we shouldn’t do and those that tempt us to walk away from things that we could or should do.
Scott finished his lesson. When the closing prayer was made Jenna gathered up their belongings on the pew. She picked up Scott’s phone and dropped it in her purse. Scott as usual was already in the church foyer shaking hands, listening to comments, compliments and critiques on the morning message and saying goodbye to the brothers and sisters leaving the building. Neither had yet checked their phones.
Scott and Jenna had made plans to have lunch with some friends at a fast food Mexican restaurant not far from the church building. The waitress brought a couple of tables together to seat the party of twelve and Jenna was the last to finally sit down after getting the rest of the kids “situated” at their places. As Jenna sat her purse down beside her chair Scott’s phone was still sitting on the top of all the stuff a woman’s purse holds. The phone lit up and she saw the text from Dana for the first time. It was 11:42 AM.
Jenna, dug further into her purse and grabbed her phone. The urgency was immediately apparent. Three missed calls and four text messages…all “Call me ASAP”. Jenna didn’t take the time to listen to the voicemails, she flashed her phone in front of Scott who was preoccupied trying to figure out what the kids wanted for lunch. He glanced up to see Jenna with wide eyes and a grimace on her face. He looked at the phone and saw the text from Dana. Jenna pushed her chair back from the table and darted outside.
Scott stayed at the table continuing to figure out what the kids wanted and maintaining some friendly decorum with their Sunday lunch guests. It proved to be quite difficult to focus on what to eat while watching Jenna pacing back and forth in the parking lot just a few yards away. He could see her clearly about half the time. She was swinging in and out of view like a pendulum about every 20 seconds. The look on her face had gone from surprise to deep concern or maybe that was anger. Scott managed to get the food ordered and was half listening to the conversation their friends were making anxious to catch up after a long spell not seeing them. Scott was very aware of being distracted. He couldn’t help it, he told me later, “You never know what to expect when Dana calls. It’s never about nothing, it’s always about something, usually life changing.” And clearly from the look on Jenna’s face and her pace this wasn’t a “nothing” conversation.
Jenna took Dana’s call for many reasons. One she’s a good friend, second Dana doesn’t call for no reason and three historically those reasons have changed lives…dramatically. Scott and Jenna are truly selfless servants. They have on three prior occasions answered the call. They have put the interests of three other “least of these” persons before their own and have set three new plates at their table.
As soon as JENNA popped up on Dana’s phone she answered. “Jenna, oh I’m so glad you answered” Jenna immediately apologized, “I’m so sorry we just now saw all your calls and texts.” “I know you were in church” Dana said, “Listen I’ll get right to this.” In less than a minute all she knew was passed on without much emotion but with a great sense of urgency. As Dana finished with her “intel” she glanced at the time again. According to Jodi’s deadline, Dana stated the simple facts, “Do you want this child or not?” This may seem a harsh thing to say and an unreasonable question to ask but it’s an insight into an amazing relationship between seasoned soldiers and veterans of spiritual warfare.
Jenna’s mind was spinning. Fifteen minutes ago the most important decision she was contemplating was “fish tacos” or a chimichanga. All she could think to say and with all the respect she wanted to pay to Dana she managed to say, “We’ll pray about it.” Dana’s mind was split between to fires about two explode, the first was Jodi’s line in the sand, “You’ve got one hour and I’m going to have to move on” and the baby sitting with a bandage over her eyes completely sightless and without a voice for any direction her fifteen hour old life might take. So Dana flatly said, “I understand you need to pray. You have three minutes to call me back.”
Jenna had been here before. She was flashing back two years to a similar call from Dana and a previous prayer she and Scott had made. The short walk back through the doors to the smells of salsa, churros and enchiladas, the sounds of pleasant chatter and a normal Sunday lunch all faded into gray. Jenna was shifting her mind to serving again. She sat down beside Scott, leaned over and said, “This time it’s 23 weeks.”
Scott looked at Jenna when his eyes met hers; they were communicating on a level absolutely no one else could comprehend. He said, “Is there anyone else?” Jenna calmly, determinedly said, “No…there’s no one else”. They didn’t say a word but their prayers were heard.DONATE
I’d like to make one thing perfectly clear.
Scott bowed his head for just a moment. He lifted it up and managed a small determined smile and said to his wife, “Call her back and ask what we need to do next.” Within minutes Scott, Jenna, Dana, Jodi and Lisa were on a call together. Scott told me in less than the time it took me to finish a burrito supreme Jenna and I were parents again.
Surreal, unlikely, incredulous, exaggeration, amplified for dramatic effect or the “God honest truth”? In the space of three minutes, over Sunday lunch at a fast food joint a young couple makes a decision to drop everything, travel 1,504 miles from Seattle to Phoenix, walk into a NICU and adopt a preemie born at 23 weeks weighing one pound, with an uncertain chance of surviving the next few weeks let alone a lifetime? It does sort of stretch the limits of belief. There are two immediate questions that come to mind. How could someone make such a monumental decision with so little information and in such a short time and why would they do so at such personal risk and inconvenience?
Let’s take how first. Scott and Jenna had been here before. The reason they got the call, the reason Dana was able to say, “Pray and call me back in three minutes”, the reason Jenna understood and walked back into the Mexican restaurant and quietly told Scott, “We are the only ones”, the reason they could “walk in faith, going not knowing was because they “had been here before.” They were also prepared, ready “in season and out of season” and ready to give not only a reason for their hope and faith but prepared and ready to act on their faith.
Two years prior Scott and Jenna had answered another call. They responded to help a 26 week old preemie born all the way across the country in Florida. Cozy was born 3 weeks farther along [at 26 weeks] than her soon to be sister but faced all the extreme contingencies of survival, cognitive, sensory, developmental and other health challenges that such early gestational delivered babies face. Over the next two years Scott, Jenna and their other four children had seen the “miracle” of Cozy’s journey. She had beaten all the odds, predictions and dire consequences that were very real possibilities at the moment of her birth and the weeks and months that followed.
Scott and Jenna’s story that Sunday afternoon reminded me of the day the young, chosen but not yet crowned king David walked into the valley of Elah and the camp where Saul’s Israelite army was facing Goliath. As the story is told in 1 Samuel 17, David arrived just as the army was going out to face the Philistines. As he found his brothers and was talking with them, Goliath stepped forward with his daily challenge. In a moment David asks, “What shall be done for the man who kills this Philistine?” David immediately answers the call and his willingness to confront this “reproach” on Israel makes its way to king Saul. David addresses Saul with calmness and confidence, “Let no man’s heart fail because of him; your servant will go and fight this Philistine.”
As you read Scott and Jenna’s story you may be thinking like Saul, how could you possibly face this giant, this incredible situation and in a moment know that you must step forward. Saul saw the impossible, David saw the possibility. “Your servant used to keep his father’s sheep, and when a lion or a bear came and took a lamb out of the flock, I went after it and struck it, and delivered the lamb from its mouth, when it rose against me, I caught it by its beard, and struck and killed it.” [1 Samuel 17:33-35] David had been here before. This is how Scott and Jenna could face this giant, pray and respond in a short three minutes. This is how Dana could put them into the story, confront them with this Goliath and know they would likely step up and save the lamb. They all had been here before.
Why did David step into the Valley of Elah and face this Goliath? Because, “the battle is the Lord’s and He will give you into our hands.” [1 Samuel 17:47]. Why did Jenna face her Goliath and walk up to Scott and say, “There is no one else”. Not only because who else was so prepared, who else had faced the lion and the bear, who else could better see through this fog of fear and uncertainty than the two of them who had seen God deliver from the paw of the lion and the paw of the bear. Jenna saw a tiny girl barely clinging to life by the threads of tubes and wires, yet still marvelously and wonderfully made in the image of her Creator. Jenna, couldn’t walk away without giving her a family and a name by which to be remembered. Her story may be short but she would not leave this world simply as “baby girl” and a “product of conception.”
The first act of grace was simply the gift of a family and a name. This was Jenna’s why and over the next several hours they figured out how. They chose for her the name Eve which means “LIFE”
As the call, discussions and plans were being made, Eve was taking a turn for the worse. Her vital signs were concerning. Her heart rate was high, her breathing shallow and oxygen levels dropping. You could see her tiny chest rapidly rising and falling, overlaid with mottled skin of pink and blue, classic signs of cyanosis. The nurses and neonatologists were conversing and sharing opinions on what to do. The birth mother had checked herself out of the hospital and no one was able to contact her. Even though there had previously been an adoption plan in place, that family had walked away and no one had stepped forward to offer a home. The baby was completely without a voice. Her life hung in the balance of medical professionals, hospital protocols and with the interests of the “state of Arizona.”
Legally and ethically this little life was in a gray zone. Who could or would speak on her behalf and make the many decisions that were rapidly looking for answers.
As soon as Scott and Jenna said, “Yes”, Jodi called the hospital and was connected to the NICU. “There’s a family coming” she told the nurse that answered the phone. “When?” was the one word reply and the nurse relayed the baby’s worsening condition. Jodi assured the nurse, “First thing tomorrow morning. They should be at the hospital before noon on Monday.” The nurse promised to pass on this new development to the doctors immediately. Dana meanwhile started telling everyone at church to start praying for the health of this newborn. The next twelve hours would be critical.
After the conference call with the agency and the attorney it was determined the best time to fly to Phoenix would be on the first Southwest flight out of Seattle, SeaTac airport. Scott took care of the fight reservations and Jenna started packing. He called the church elders to notify them of the situation, the urgency and an estimate of the time he would be gone. They fully supported their decision to save this child and made all the arrangements to cover his duties while gone. The matter of the kids and the dog didn’t hit them until the middle of a previously scheduled meeting with friends that Sunday night. Scott mentioned something that needed to be done the following day, Monday and Jenna looked at him incredulously…”Aren’t you going to tell them?” “Oh yeah…right…” Scott was very embarrassed at the oversight and absentmindedness, “We are flying to Phoenix in the morning too…” and he told the rest of the story. Immediately their friends volunteered. “I’ll take the dog while you’re gone.” Another, “What time are you leaving? I’ll stay at your house with the kids?” “Did you say you’re catching the 6 AM flight? What time to you want to leave? I’ll take you.” Instantly a project team was formed. They all became part of the journey that straightened out the twists and turns and cleared the way to Phoenix.
Scott and Jenna didn’t manage to get much sleep Sunday night. They headed to SeaTac International airport just after 4 AM Monday morning. They were able to call the NICU before leaving the house and received encouraging reports about Eve. Late Sunday night and through the early Monday morning hours she had started to stabilize and there were improvements in her breathing and oxygen levels. Their decision and plans to come had bought Eve the time she needed before medical protocols and the interests of the “state” were obligated to speak on her behalf.
It’s about a four hour flight from Seattle to Phoenix and another ninety minutes to get bags, rent a car and make the drive to St. Joe’s hospital. All the time Scott and Jenna were bouncing back and forth between exhaustion and anxiety and faith and hope. They both were going back two years, the first time they walked into the dark unknown and into the bright lights and unfamiliar sounds of a neonatal intensive care unit. How they had faced those fears, the prayers they’d prayed, how they processed all the information thrown at them, how they managed to sort it out, how they managed to determine what values, filters and priorities they should give to conflicting stories, data, statistics and possible outcomes. In the middle of it all and guiding them was one simple idea, “caring for a child” was a good thing to do.
Just before noon Phoenix time, Scott and Jenna arrived at the hospital. A volunteer met them at the check in desk and escorted them to the St. Joe’s NICU. So many memories were flooding their minds as they walked down the polished tile floors, passing doctors and nurses in a variety of colored scrubs, stethoscopes hanging around their necks and medical charts in hand. The closer they got to the NICU the more they passed IV poles, bags of fluids, monitors and bassinets. The volunteer brought them to the nurses station just outside the NICU itself. Quick introductions were made and as soon as they said, “We’re Scott and Jenna. We just arrived from Seattle for Eve” the nurses faced absolutely lit up and just as quickly changed to a look of concern and urgency. “So glad you’re here. Let me take you to the NICU, the doctors are waiting.”
As the heavy wooden door to the NICU swung open, the sounds, the sights, the smells, the memories all came flooding back. Immediately two masked doctors in pale blue scrubs came over with one of the nurses. Even though Scott and Jenna couldn’t see their faces they could sense the concerns on all their faces by the squinting of their eyes and the furrows on their brows.
In less than 24 hours they had been made aware of a fragile life, they decided to step again in faith to help, they decided to take the responsibility of caring, to shoulder the burden of life and death decisions and to clearly put the interest of another above their own and here they were facing all the realities of those choices.
One of the doctors stepped towards them, extended his hand and his first words to Scott and Jenna were, “Have you given any thought about burial plans or organ donation?” Both Scott and Jenna’s eyes went wide. Scott looked at Jenna the same way he had when they first got the news about Eve just 24 hours earlier sitting in the Mexican restaurant. They didn’t say anything but everything between them and what to say next was completely and clearly communicated.
Scott knew Jenna wanted to handle this. Jenna is all of maybe five feet, petite and has a wonderful inviting smile, but when she took a step forward to answer the doctor’s question she was as big and bold as any Goliath you might imagine. It was all business and determination. What she said next changed the course of every decision, course of action, frame of reference and perspectives of life for countless numbers of people there and then and into the future.
“Doctor,” Jenna said, “I’d like to make one thing perfectly clear. We are Eve’s parents now and every decision we make will be made from the perspective and the goal that Eve is going to leave this hospital with us and will be our daughter.”
In that moment, with that sentence and proclamation absolutely everything did change. Eve finally had a voice from someone who would speak on her behalf.
There is an epilogue to this story and so many amazing lessons that were taught through the life of Eve and those two people that gave her a voice. Please stay tuned.DONATE
Eve’s Story Epilogue
When Jenna became Eve’s voice, the one pound baby girl’s reality changed. It was as if Jenna’s words became Eve’s life.
It materialized in tangible and measurable ways. The first paradigm shift was simply the way the doctors and nurses saw Eve. She was no longer preemie baby girl she was Eve, the daughter of Mr. Scott and Mrs. Jenna. The value of her little life had just been multiplied by and through the lives of very real, very concerned, very loving parents..
“Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.” Philippians 2:4
On Sunday February 18th, Scott and Jenna sat down with good friends at a local Mexican restaurant close to the church building where Scott preached. They sat down already with full plates, but not of Mexican food. Plates full of life. They had 1 biological daughter and 4 adopted children. They had plenty of interests going on at the moment. And then Dana called. There was someone in a predicament that Scott and Jenna were uniquely qualified, positioned and experienced to handle. They had an abundance of personal interests to manage and consider and yet…they put the interests of Eve above themselves. This was a “living sacrifice”.
Once on a dusty road Jesus listened to His disciples arguing in their small group behind Him about who among them would be “the greatest in the kingdom.” When they all arrived in the small town of Capernaum on the north shore on the Sea of Galilee, the Master knew it was time for another lesson. So He begins by answering the question of greatness in His kingdom. “If anyone desires to be first, he shall be last of all and servant of all.” Clearly not quite the image of greatness the disciples had envisioned. But Jesus wasn’t done clarifying the concepts of greatness. He adds to the characteristic of greatness a powerful illustration. He may have paused for a moment and looked intently into the eyes of Peter, James, John and the rest, looking closely at their faces and thinking to Himself, “Are they getting this?” And to be sure, Jesus looked around and laid eyes on a young boy. He gathered him into His arms and made His second point, “Whoever receives one of these little children in My name receives Me; and whoever receives Me, receives not Me but Him who sent Me.” [Mark 9:33-37]. His beautiful and powerful message was: greatness in the kingdom comes by putting yourself last and serving. This view of one’s purpose in life is like the care we give or the care we take for the interests of a child. On Monday morning February 19th as Scott and Jenna walked into the NICU at St. Joe’s hospital they walked in together as “the greatest in the kingdom.”
What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger…and better prepared.
Scott and Jenna got the call to rescue Eve because they were veterans. They had been in this crucible before. They had seen that the battle for a premature life really does belong to the Lord. It has many parallels in principle to the unique experiences David had in the valley of Elah when he answered the call to slay Goliath. He had also seen “the battle belongs to the Lord” and the same God that delivered him from the lion and the bear would deliver Goliath into his hands as well.
We naturally assume the choices they made in these stories and the actions they took because we read them as historical events, one in the ancient past and one much closer to home. Both stories and all parties could easily have seen their present challenges in entirely different ways, made completely different choices and taken another path forward.
David may have considered Goliath as bigger and more threatening than a lion or bear. Facing the giant in full sight of both armies and the consequences of losing to that “reproach on Israel” might have been seen in an entirely different light than facing a lion or bear in the loneliness of a Judean hillside. David may have thought to himself and in his private conversation with God, “Look I’ve already face the lion, faced the bear to do my job. I have already demonstrated my courage and integrity to my father and family caring for our flocks. I’ve clearly done my part. It’s time for someone else to step and show some faith and courage. I’ve already served as a good example.”
You can probably imagine being in Jenna’s shoes as she answered Dana’s call that Sunday. “What? Are you serious? We have four already! Thanks for thinking of us but now’s really not a good time. Let us know if we can help in some other way. Happy to do that and share our experiences. Maybe that will inspire them?”
100 Days, 43 Flights, 0 Dollars
Eve spent exactly 100 days at St Joseph’s hospital in Phoenix, Arizona. Scott and / or Jenna made 43 flights during that time between Seattle and Phoenix. They never paid a dime of their own for airfare. Friends, family, members of their local congregation, and others who worshipped elsewhere knew of their need and contributed funds and airline miles to clear the path, remove the barriers and encourage them in this incredible journey of courage, love and faith on behalf of Eve. Scott and Jenna were the troops in the fight and well supported in their battle. Imagine making the 1500 mile flight from Seattle to Phoenix and back again forty three times.
“For this is the will of God that by doing good you will put to silence the ignorance of foolish men.” 1 Peter 2:15
What’s a sortie? It is about a four hour flight. That’s 86 hops, 129,000 miles and 344 hours. Imagine a single reading light shining at the rear of a Southwest 737 cabin on a late night or early morning flight. Picture a flight attendant noticing a familiar and tired face with a warming smile, looking down and saying, “I know I’ve seen you on this flight before, what’s your trip about?” And Jenna would begin talking about life – Eve’s story.
Jenna can’t remember all the faces, all the conversations and certainly all the names but she remembers the collective collage of their expressions, their prayers and their well wishes. She remembers the wide eyes and the tears, and the heart felt “God bless you”. She remembers people listening intently, rethinking their own views on the sanctity of life, pro-life and pro-choice positions. She remembers the stares as a passenger sitting inches away looked intently at her thinking, “Why…How”. She remembers the countless times she would repeat Dana’s three word phrase, “It’s all God.” Jenna would wonder time after time as she stepped off the plane, “What would the passenger remember about Eve, her story and the conversations we had. How would their decisions and actions change? How would Eve’s little life, so new in its telling, ripple through time?
Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.
For 100 days, even under the bright lights of the NICU, Scott and Jenna beamed. Nurse after nurse, doctor after doctor, shift after shift, day after day the medical staff at St. Joe’s saw the labor of love, the perseverance, the prayers and long suffering, the selfless devotion to “a little one such as…” Eve from this amazing couple living in Seattle Washington. How did this light shine in the hearts of these nurses? Jenna still, after three years, gets calls from some of these nurses. They ask of course about Eve, they also ask Jenna to pray for them on behalf of any variety of challenges they’re facing in the moment. Jenna always does and always reminds them that God listens to the prayers, the pleads and the praise of His children. And she tells them how to become one. Jenna, chuckled as she shared the stories of these calls, “They always say…’I know, but I want you to pray because I know He hears your prayers.’”
St. Joseph’s hospital is a teaching hospital. Dozens of new pediatric specialists and neonatologists complete the final stages of their residency in the NICU where Eve spent the first 100 days of her life. Few of these residents or the seasoned physicians expected Eve to survive or heavily discounted her odds and nearly everyone predicted serious and significant physical challenges ahead if she, by some miracle, made it. Some medical journals place the lower limits of survivability of a premature baby at 24 weeks. Many states place the limit at 22 weeks gestation for a legal abortion. Eve had managed to arrive right in the middle between the upper limit of death and the lower limit of living. Without Scott and Jenna’s voice no one could have spoken on her behalf during that first week between life and death.
No one knows for sure what those resident’s thought as they made decisions about Eve’s medical condition and care during those 100 days. But until the preemie in incubator four had a name and a family the decisions that were made were made from data, statistics, protocols and codes of medical ethics. It is not that difficult to imagine those same residents facing another “Eve” or counseling another woman choosing between her interests and that of her child’s and thinking “I’ve seen life at this age in the womb and it can live”. They have seen the transformation in perceptions and care when someone steps in and speaks for these that have no voice. Life is good, precious and purposeful.
Eve is thriving. That little number two pencil is already drawing a beautiful picture and telling an amazing story. Her first line might begin with, “Yeah though I walk through the valley of death, Thou are with me.” And He was in the person of Scott and Jenna.DONATE