Jill’s Story

I grew up in Iowa, in a family where we went to church every Sunday. You could only miss if you were sick! My mom was the organist, and my dad taught Sunday school. They read Bible stories to us at Sunday dinner. Yet I didn’t have one of those moments where I could definitively say, “This is when I became a Christian.” I really struggled with that, because the pastor often questioned, “When did you know that you truly accepted Christ as your Lord and Savior?” And I didn’t have a moment. That actually made me doubt; it made me question if I had “done it right.” I struggled with that for years, even into college, despite going to a Christian college where I had required chapel and Bible classes. What I came to discover, however, is that it’s not a one-time thing. It’s a journey. I understand more about what it means for Christ to have died on the cross and risen again now and differently than I did five years ago, than I did ten years ago. And I understand who Jesus is differently now than when I was five. Not that my knowledge of Jesus at age five was any better or worse; it’s just different.

My life in the last year has been crazy. My husband, Ben, and I had struggled with infertility, but a year ago I was finally pregnant and had gotten through the first trimester and the early tests. I’d moved into what I thought would be the “easy” phase of pregnancy, but at 25 weeks, I started having some issues. And when I was 27 weeks, I tested positive that I’d ruptured my membranes, and I suddenly went from being a doctor practicing on the East Bank of the University of Minnesota to being a patient on the West Bank. I was terrified.

I made it almost another two weeks before our daughter, Elizabeth Grace, was born at 29 weeks and 2 days. She was 2 pounds, 8.9 ounces and 14 ¾ inches long. I almost didn’t want to use the name Elizabeth for her; it’s a family name and I’d always loved that name. And the truth was, I didn’t want to have to bury an Elizabeth. Pastor Melissa Schaser baptized her the day she was born. I don’t remember much of anything other than that I cried throughout it.

Elizabeth was in the hospital for 65 days. It was rough—not being able to go home with her, fearing for her health, the tiring routine. That first Mother’s Day, when I wasn’t supposed to be a mom yet. The endless wait until she was able to eat on her own. But she’s beaten the odds and hasn’t had any complications.

As I think back on where God has been in this, the perfect answer would be, “I knew that things were okay and I trusted Him completely.” But that’s just not reality. I was upset, I questioned why this was happening. Why had God finally allowed us to get pregnant, and then seemed to be taking her away?

My first reaction should be to go to God with my concerns, but my first reaction often is What am I going to do? It’s so self-reliant. Through this whole journey, I don’t know how much I personally prayed, but we were lifted up in prayer by SO many people. As I was being wheeled out of one hospital on my way to the U, Margo Arens (CPCer) just happened to be there, and she prayed with me before the paramedics took me. Our parents’ congregations were praying, this congregation was praying—there were people across the country who were praying for us. When I couldn’t pray, others prayed for us, and for that we are eternally grateful. While I still don’t and may never understand why we have gone through this journey, I can look back and see God’s hand in every moment.