I went to a camp this summer with my son. It’s one we hold near and dear to our hearts—a camp for families of special needs. The message we studied that week was Remembrance. If we can remember all the times in our lives where Christ met us, where He rejoiced with us, where He comforted us, and where He answered our prayers, we can look at each day and the unknowns of what our tomorrows hold without fear. We can anticipate how He will be there with us through it all and who He will send to help you hold strongly to Him.
The birth of my oldest son, Caleb, was not only miraculous, but also where Christ drew me to Himself. I had been told I wouldn’t be able to get pregnant. But on one scary day, I found myself in the emergency room and discovered I had been pregnant for over seven months—and I delivered him the same day! The Lord protected us through it all, and He has never stopped His work in our lives.
He led us to our house several months later. My husband, Alex, and I had looked at several houses in the area, all split levels, but God led us to the house we needed for our son, a one-story house.
With this house came some incredible neighbors. One family in particular also had a little baby boy. A friendship quickly blossomed and led me to the church at Brook Hills. She was in a Mom Time Small Group studying marriage, something I definitely needed, as my husband and I were adjusting both to marriage and parenting all at once. I even found a small group for moms of special needs and immediately plugged into it as well. We’d recently received the news that Caleb has cerebral palsy. The Lord brought these women to me because He knew how much I needed their love, support, and encouragement.
I remember the day my son’s physical therapist accidentally blurted out that Caleb would not be able to walk. I left that appointment in tears, just devastated, and ran straight to my small group. I was reminded of how we may never know the whys or what the future holds, but we do know the One who does and His unfailing love for us. It’s a truth I cling to daily.
February 10, 2016 is a day I will never forget. I woke up that morning to discover my husband never came home from work. The night before he had gone into the restaurant where he worked to prepare for the upcoming Valentine’s menu. After I was unable to reach him, I went straight to Facebook hoping someone would know where he was. Within minutes of sending out messages, the ladies from my small group showed up at my house. Their husbands were at the helm ready to give my husband a stern talking to. These women stayed by my side letting me know I was not alone. And, once we received the tragic news that Alex had taken his life, they never left my side. They were there as I planned the funeral, they provided meals, fed me Scripture, cleaned my house, took care of my yard, and even helped build a raised garden bed.
Each year I plant my garden, I fondly remember that wonderful day our church showed up for us—it was a clear vision of what Heaven will be.
Just a few days after Alex left us, Caleb participated in the Mercedes Marathon with the Bell Center. Caleb walked across the finish line in his gait trainer. These women showed up with posters and balloons to cheer him on. One of them brought their GoPro camera for me to wear, and I now have a video of that special day.
Last year, I found myself pregnant. I discovered this sweet baby would be born with Down’s syndrome. The day I had my confirmation ultrasound, these women came with me and held my hands through it all. We discovered an issue with his stomach and the need for surgery to correct it. As I was nearing the end of my pregnancy, my small group leader led me to pray Proverbs 3:5-6, “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not rely on your own understanding; in all your ways know him, and he will make your paths straight.”
I have held these verses close to my heart each and every day since. Sebastian is almost four months and is still in the NICU. I have two amazing groups of women who are walking with me in this journey. And I have Christ in the center of it all.
I may not ever know the whys or what is to come. What I do know is God will never leave. He will always send His children to remind me of His unending love for us and how He will never abandon us. I can look back at the difficult times and remember how He loved me, and I can confidently face my future for, “We know that all things work together for the good of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28, CSB.)
If you are in a small group, I’m sure you can relate to seeing God’s work in your life through the people in your group. If you don’t have a small group, I highly encourage you to get connected. I know you will see all His glory and love for you through them.
Denise Champion is a mom to both Caleb (5), and Sebastian (nearly 4 months). She and her family have been attending Brook Hills since 2014.