It has been several weeks since I have completed a single post. My personal goal is to publish a blog at least once a week (on Thursdays) and if I am able to twice a week (on Tuesdays). However, our family recently added a fourth child to the mix, Calvin Knox. The last three weeks have been a trial and a half! From the rough labor to the unknown problems, little Calvin’s arrival has brought a great deal of stress to our family.

Now, this is not to say that we do not love him. We adore him!

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Soren holding Calvin for the first time.

He has already been such a blessing and wonderful addition to our family. Our other three children absolutely love him, and my wife and I enjoy simply staring at his cute, old-man looking face. But with his arrival came a lot of stress.

First, we think the labor was difficult for him. My wife spent over 21 hours in labor, and it seems that his head was a little crooked in the birth canal. In addition, the doctor had to use a vacuum to get Calvin out. Calvin’s head, as you can imagine, had a lot of trauma. The doctor assured us, though, that he would be fine and the swelling would go down within a few weeks.

Second, several of his toes are fused together. My wife and I find it adorable, but the doctor was concerned that there might be an underlining genetic issue.

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This is Soren’s hearing test. It was one of many tests this little guy endured.

They told us that everything looked good with his vitals and that he would probably need light surgery to correct the fusing. Again, it seemed that everything would be fine.

Third, while we were at the hospital, one of Calvin’s pediatricians requested an ultrasound of his kidneys. We were not aware of this, and my wife and I became very nervous. All three of our other children never had an ultrasound of anything on them, and so we began to worry about our little boy. The pediatrician explained that she wanted to check on his kidneys because Calvin’s tummy was extended, there may be a problem with his kidneys. Everything checked out fine, though.

Fourth, while we were at the hospital, Calvin seemed to be feeding well. He only lost a small amount of weight, and everything looked as though he were doing fine. At the first post-hospital appointment (Monday morning), however, Calvin had lost a significant amount of weight.

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My sweet wife, Hannah, holding our second son and fourth child. 

He was not getting enough milk, and the doctor was very concerned. The pediatrician found that his mouth was small, the roof of his mouth was high, and his suck was weak. He would have difficulty eating, and though she offered several suggestions to help the little fella, she suggested we talk to a pathologist.

Fifth, at the next appointment (Thursday of the same week), Calvin’s temperature was low (96). With the coronavirus, only Hannah was allowed to accompany Calvin, and when I received a call, Hannah was upset. She said the doctor was sending Calvin to the Shriner’s Hospital in Greenville for possible sepsis. At this point, my wife and I were extremely worried about Calvin. It seemed for every step forward he took three steps back. My mom drove to pick up our three older children, while Hannah and I went to Shriner’s. Again, because of the coronavirus, only one parent was allowed. My brave wife accompanied our little boy, while I waited in the parking lot.

This period was unsettling. I was away from our other children, our newborn son, and my wife. I was completely helpless. I recently completed a study through Psalm 119 of the word affliction. Two of the verses that contain that word came to mind, no doubt due to our gracious God the Spirit: Psalm 119:71 and 92.

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Our daughter, London, holding Calvin for the first time.

These two verses, along with Romans 8:28, provided a tidal wave of encouragement. I prayed and begged God for His healing of our little boy, for strength for my wife, and for His name to be glorified in everything.

While in the parking lot, I attempted to work. But it is almost impossible in such a situation to concentrate on anything else. I tried waiting in the ER waiting room, but they closed it, again due to the coronavirus. After discussing it with my wife, I headed home. I was completely alone, my mom even took our dog, Levi. It was eerily quiet. There were no children running around, singing songs or whistling, no dog barking, just silence. My wife’s thirtieth birthday was the coming Sunday, and so I wrapped her presents, not sure at this point if she would be home.

Later that evening (Thursday still) my wife called and told me all the tests that they would be running. It was a huge list, requiring at least a two-day stay at the hospital. The doctor told her that, if Calvin tested positive for sepsis, he would possibly need a 14-21 day stay. With each update, my wife received it seemed Calvin’s condition was becoming worse. Now my wife was upset, obviously, but she was trusting in the Lord in a way that she had never done before. Her faith in our sovereign God was displayed in a strong way, and I could not be more proud of her!

Friday came and with it, I went back to Shriner’s. I waited in the parking lot, once again, attempting to work and complete some assignments for school. My wife called and had me meet her. This was the first time we had seen each other in 24 hours, but it seemed like a month. Calvin was doing well, but we were still waiting for several test results. Many people all over the country were praying for our little Calvin, and it still overwhelms me at the love and care so many have shown our family.

Friday afternoon I decided to go and get our older children. With the unknown hospital stay, and with the fact that I was missing them like crazy, we decided to bring them back home. I was excited to get our children together! They asked questions about Calvin and momma, and the older two prayed for their little brother.

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Ellie loves her little brother “Cauvin”! 

Friday evening my wife said that two of the three tests came back negative for sepsis, and things started to look up. They scheduled a full-body x-ray to check for any bone defects, at which Calvin would have been referred to a genetic specialist. The X-ray came back negative for any issues, and once again we were overwhelmed by God’s graciousness.

Saturday morning came and the doctor told Hannah that if the last test came back negative, she could take Calvin home. It was better than Christmas morning! We were excited and could not wait to get our family back together.

I took the other three children and ran a couple of errands, eagerly awaiting a call from Hannah saying she and Calvin would be released. We returned home after the errands and right after I unloaded the last bag my phone rang. It was Hannah. I answered it and Hannah said, “We’re coming home!” Even typing this brings tears to my eyes. In a whirlwind of activity and concern, God answered the prayers of many of His children, graciously allowing our little Calvin to be well and return home. I loaded the kids back into the van and headed straight to the hospital where my beautiful bride and precious son were awaiting.

I cannot explain why God allowed us to go through this. But what I can do is offer a few lessons that God taught us. I hope and pray that they will help you when you go through dark waters.

BY GOING THROUGH AFFLICTION, MY WIFE AND I LEARNED TO TRUST GOD’S WORD

Psalm 119:71 states, “It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Your statutes.”[1] It was good, the psalmist says. While I would never choose to go through something like that again, I can honestly say it was good. I learned that God comforts in an intimate and inconceivable way. That was good. I learned that God’s Word did not change with my dire circumstances. At a point in which everything seemed to be unraveling, God was sitting on His throne (Isaiah 6:1). None of this took Him by surprise. Everything was going according to His marvelous plan (Rom. 8:28). It was good that I was afflicted. When I was separated from my wife, knowing that she struggles with both depression and anxiety, I knew that God was with her and would never leave her (Matt. 28:20; Heb. 13:5). It was good that we were afflicted. When we considered the fact that our little boy may not live, the treasure of our hearts was challenged (Matt. 6:19-21). Did we value our children’s lives over our God? Were we more concerned with our own desires more than God’s glory? It was good that we were afflicted.

God’s Word provided comfort during this affliction, and with this tool, we learned God’s Word better.

BY GOING THROUGH AFFLICTION, WE REALIZED THAT WITHOUT GOD, WE WOULD HAVE PERISHED

The psalmist writes, “If Your law had not been my delight, Then I would have perished in my affliction.”[2] The psalmist realized that, without a loving relationship with God, affliction would have overcome him. My wife and I learned, through affliction, that God is the most important part of our lives. He was a refuge to which we would flee, whether reading His Word or praying to Him. The affliction was simply a tool that reminded us and continues to remind us, that God is the most important part of our lives.

We live great lives, enjoying our home, our church, and our family. And it is easy for us to become focused on those things rather than on God. Affliction reminded us, however, that God is the center of our lives. Our relationship with Him, given to us by His grace, is the anchor. We would have never been able to go through this trial without God.

BY GOING THROUGH AFFLICTION, WE WERE REMINDED THAT ALL THINGS WORK TOGETHER FOR GOOD

Paul writes in Romans 8:28, “And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose.”[3] Paul writes all things. This includes that wonderful times, such as the day I married the most beautiful, sweet, and amazing lady, Hannah. It included the churches in which I served, the births of our other three children, the long walks with my wife, the sweet sunrises, the laughing and singing of our children, the lovely afternoon nap, and so on. Those are all good things. But all things also include those dark times. The times when you watch your sweet, practically perfect grandmother waste away through Alzheimer’s. The times when you have bills due but not enough money. Those times when you argue with your spouse. And yes, even those times when your child could be deathly ill.

As we waited for updates and tests, while separated from each other and our children, we learned on a practical level that all things work together for good. My wife, as I mentioned earlier, has struggled with anxiety. Yet, as she is growing in her walk with our Heavenly Father, she would write on Facebook, “Please pray with us that we will find out what’s going on with our little guy and that God would be glorified through this situation!”[4] We are learning that all things work together for good, even those difficult, life-altering times.

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Thank you to all who prayed for our little boy. God has graciously answered our prayers!

This period of our life has been one of the most stressful. Yet, it has also been a season of growth. We are reminded of the preciousness of life, of the joys of being together, and of God’s sovereign rule. We are reminded that, even in the midst of this trying time, that God’s goodness has not changed one iota. We are reminded that His Word is a treasure trove of encouragement, challenge, and balance.

__________

For the study of affliction in Psalm 119, see these links:

A Study in Affliction: An Introduction to Psalm 119 and the Believer’s Trials

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 1)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 2)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 3)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 4)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 5)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 6)

A Study in Affliction: The Sufficiency of God’s Word in Psalm 119 for the Believer’s Affliction (Part 7)

__________

[1] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 119:71.

[2] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ps 119:92.

[3] New American Standard Bible: 1995 Update (La Habra, CA: The Lockman Foundation, 1995), Ro 8:28.

[4] https://www.facebook.com/hannah.o.howell

6 thoughts on “Lessons I learned from the Birth of Our Son

  1. Thank you for the reminder that God is just as present with us in the trials as in the blessings. We have been praying for your family and little Calvin and we rejoice in God’s grace and healing. Great scriptures as I was reminded of watching God work in the life of our own son as a baby nearly 40 years ago. I cried as I read your beautiful post and thanked God once again for His goodness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hey you guys! We miss you! It seems like forever since we have connected. How are you guys? And thank you for the prayers! We certainly appreciate them!

      I would love to hear more about your son.

      Like

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