Bring It.

On September 12, 2010, in Life, Personal, by Chris

I launched this site some five months ago and have had an itch in my head ever since. I had always promised myself, having been an avid peruser of writings by authors far smarter and more articulate, that I would not add to the noise – in print or online – unless I had something truly unique to say.

Fact of the matter is, I’m still waiting. I’ve always been something of a perfectionist, never wanting to do anything unless it measured up to my narcissistic standard of “world class”. But sometimes, you just have to start and cut yourself a little slack as you push ahead.

There was a bigger reason for my delay in beginning this blog, however: I didn’t want to begin while my world felt like it was imploding. Let me give you a little of the backstory.

Almost two years ago (722 days, to be exact), I married a woman that I was convinced did not exist. Jocelyn was the wife that God had planned for me, and I still marvel at the fact that she chose me! Only a year before our wedding, we had not met and I was in the process of making peace with the possibility that, at forty-one years old, God’s plan for me was a life of singleness.

Jocelyn and I spent the next eighteen months in relative wedded bliss, even beating the prevailing attitude that the first year of marriage is the toughest. We were so well matched on so many different levels that our worst disagreement wouldn’t have made it out of the bottom tenth percentile of many couples. We were even navigating through the first trimester of her pregnancy and the attendant waves of nausea that were more often the rule than the exception in Jocelyn’s case.

And then there was the day that it all went sideways. March 24th of this year, we went in for a routine ultrasound meant to eliminate the possibility of a problem with the pregnancy. We came away with something that we frankly hadn’t signed up for. There was an anomaly in the thickness of the Nuchal Fold (called a “soft marker”) that points to a statistically higher possibility of Down Syndrome. The doctors suggested more testing to confirm or refute the results; and after a lot of prayer and soul searching, we agreed to an amniocentesis a few weeks later.

The word from the medical community quickly went from “there is an elevated possibility of a problem” to “we’re pretty darned sure there’s a problem”. During the ultrasound for the amnio, the imaging specialist found a heart defect and the genetic test results eventually confirmed Trisome 21 – a third DNA strand attached to the more typical 21st pair of 23 chromosomes.

I have had only a few screaming matches in my walk with God. They are done in solitude and usually leave my vocal cords pretty raw, but I figure that God wants it all – the good, the bad and the very, very ugly. My only pointed question to him that sunny spring day when we got the preliminary (and normally pretty darned accurate) results was:

What.          Are.          You.          Doing?

I got no (audible) answer that day, but my mind has since been wrestling with the brief words I’ve caught in my moments of reflection and from those prophetic oracles that come from my tribe of trusted friends and confidants. Here’s what I’ve come up with so far:

For over five years, I’ve overseen the Care initiatives at a church of over ten thousand people. I sit on the board of an organization in India that reaches out to the poorest of the poor and currently feeds, houses and educates over two hundred kids who would otherwise have to survive a life of petty crime and prostitution. I’ve seen my share of sad stories. My message to people in pain is hopefully not overly simplistic, and hopefully delivered humbly:

The world needs you.

We need you to move into this challenge and experience the full spectrum of emotion that God has for you in it. We need you to approach this season with the attitude of a student and not a victim. We need you to surround yourself with a trusted community who can encourage and sustain you through the discomfort that will undoubtedly come. This season may be a short one or may last a lifetime; but we will need you to plumb the depths of it, find beauty even in the midst of the struggle and add your stories to the narrative of the One who redeems the world’s brokenness. And in so doing, speak with a credibility that can only be had through suffering a broken world well, knowing that this is only the beginning of a much greater adventure.

That, or something very much like it, is what I tell people in crisis. I wonder if God is leading Jocelyn and I into this wanting me to start putting my money where my mouth is.

So here I sit in the rocking chair of my daughter Julia’s room as my wife takes a much needed nap from the fatigue of the ninth month of pregnancy. We are only a few weeks away from truly knowing the results of God’s craftsmanship. Even now, we still sit in the tension between knowing that God could re-knit our daughter right down to her DNA, or he could choose to do something even greater in us (and in the world) through a little girl with Down Syndrome. In the end, my deepest conviction is that this kid is going to have a massive impact for good.

Worries of the “ninth-month-of-pregnancy” roller coaster and the financial, medical and emotional implications of Julia’s heart defect still catch me by surprise sometimes. But here in the cool of this September afternoon, I can be thankful that Ultimate Good has captured my heart and continues to change the questions I ask of eternity. Today, with still a little fear, but with growing confidence in the God who pursues me, I say:

Bring it.

And I thank you for joining our little family on the new adventure that God has for us.

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15 Responses to Bring It.

  1. Stephanie says:

    Chris and Joc — We love your hearts. You put words to the questions, joys and struggles. I wonder how many other parents your blog will at some point encourage.

    I am thrilled to say that I will be in town for the birth (or first days) of Julia’s life. I can’t wait to meet your miracle.

    Chris — will your writing remain so descriptive when sleep deprivation hits? ; ) (Or will emoticons slip in instead of winks?) The world waits to see! We love you all.

  2. robyn says:

    love your open hearts and open hands before God! we are with you guys, can’t wait to see and hold Julia… soon!!

  3. Karl says:

    Chris & Jos,

    This is a wonderful site, and I look forward to reading your updates… and to meeting your daughter in person! Thanks for letting those of us lucky enough to be in your circle of friends enjoy each step of your journey to parenthood. Marie and I are praying for you guys and are always available if we can help in any way. Julia will bring such joy to so many folks, let’s get this party started! Blessings, Karl & Marie

  4. Pat says:

    Your beautfiul words brought tears to my eyes…tears remembering your pain (and your lost voice) and tears of joy that the “Ultimate Good” has captured your heart as you announce the words…”Bring it!” I know without a doubt that you and Jocelyn will see the wonder of God’s love in Julia and your family will share that love with the world.

    One of my favorite people in the whole world is a 27 year old young woman named Lyndsey. She is funny, loving, sweet and a fun practical joker. Lyndsey just happens to also have Downs. I can’t imagine my world without her. She has made a difference in my life. Julia will do the same for all of us, too.

    Love the blog — keep us all posted regularly! Oh — October 8th is a very good day to be born on (if she is). I’ll turn 60 that day! Much love to you and Jocelyn.

  5. Dana Curtis says:

    Chris and Jocelyn:

    I am touched by the eloquence of your first blog entry. I am sure that God is working all this together for good–although I can also relate to the struggle to find hope in the midst of discouraging “facts.”
    You are already pleasing God with your humility in accepting with gratefulness what God has put before you.

    David and I love you all…we are with you all the way.


  6. Renee says:

    Wow. Thank you for sharing. I am truly inpsired by your words and courage of faith. I have no doubt God is doing something big here, as He always does when things don’t go as planned. I am praying for your family.

  7. Carol says:

    Thank you for your vulnerability and sharing this journey. I love that you are trusting Him with everything and that you say “Bring It”. I’ll keep reading and praying.

  8. Nick Boring says:

    Thank you for your insightful comments and perspective – my self centered little world just got a needed dose of the reality of “kingdom” living through your journey.

  9. Mike says:

    Peace be upon you.

  10. Norine Lozon says:

    Chris, No one can write like you. This is going to be a magnificent journey for you and Jocelyn whatever God has planned and I can’t wait to hear more of how God is working in your lives. I continue to grow myself from your life experiences.

  11. Colleen says:

    Your Julia will arrive like all babies. If she came with papers they would read: Child of God and daughter of Chris and Jocelyn of whom I trust with this precious gift. She will teach you more than you can imagine and in turn you will share with others your lessons.

    As my son once wrote-

    I wondered,
    In situations where
    Nither knows all.
    Who is the teacher and
    Who is the student?
    I would suppose
    That if neither knows,
    Teaching and learning
    Are mutual
    I would suppose……..

    Bring it!!!! Many have your back.
    God bless,

  12. Pam Marshall says:

    Chris, It was almost 2 years to the day that I left KCC and started my own “unexpected journey”. I left you “walking on sunshine”, newly married and delighted with your lot in life. I am now hearing that your lot in life has been redirected. Not where you expected, but where “walking on sunshine” can still be a reality. This little precious life, is coming to you in a body that is not perfect by the world’s standards; but, perfect in the mind of God. She will teach you to love in a way previously not known. I pray for complete Peace in your “bring it on” mindset! I have said those words in my journey…and have been given the Serenity that only our Creator can supply!! So Be it with you!
    Hugs, Pam

  13. Eric Winter says:

    Chris, Thanks for sharing this. I find that Paula and I are right in the very same spot as you are. We have been walking through the last three weeks learning to trust in Jesus and Jesus alone. If you don’t know, we found out three weeks ago that Paula has colon cancer that has spread to her liver. God can and does meet you in the midst of confusion, fear and crisis and He is enough even in the times you are not sure if you believe it.

    Praying that you experience and learn all that God has for you.

  14. Chris says:

    Hey Eric –

    I am so humbled (but honestly not surprised) that you would step out of the situation with your family to reach out to us. I had heard Paula’s condition and have been praying for you all from afar. Kensington shared your testimony video this weekend. It was Jocelyn’s first encounter with the Winter family, and this was just at the beginning of the arising spectre of pregnancy induced hypertension. We’re in the hospital right now getting some extended testing done (mom is fine and docs say the baby’s “doing beautifully).

    The “worry wheel” was spinning at breakneck speed on Sunday, and your words from the midst of the fear and confusion spoke directly to our hearts. We will continue to hold you and your family in prayer.

    Gang – for those of you who missed it, you can check out Eric & Paula’s story here.

    Be well, my friend.

  15. June Hittenberger says:

    I am so grateful that you have published your journey. God has certainly blessed you with a beautiful daughter. I pray that God will continue to bless you both each and EVERY day for the rest of your lives. May your both stay as happy as are right now. Love in Christ, June

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