It was the fall of 2011. Zaden was a needy infant (if you don't know our backstory with Zaden's weight loss and feeding issues, you can check my blog archives from Sept and Oct 2011), and I was an exhausted mother of 6 trying to keep things together at the front end of a year-long deployment. It was not a season of life that allowed for ease in picking up and leaving the house for a Bible study, so I eagerly and gratefully accepted the opportunity to do an independent study of Priscilla Shirer's Jonah: Navigating a Life Interrupted study at home, watching the DVD sessions on my laptop and doing the daily studies in my own workbook. The topic seemed especially pertinent to my life at the time!
During one of the video sessions, Priscilla talked about the Greek word rhema, meaning a specific word from the Lord. I had learned about this word a few years prior, during a ladies' Bible study of Beth Moore's, John, the Beloved Disciple, and I actually remembered being struck by the subject matter to the point of making notes in my own Bible as I listened to the instruction.
Anyway, there I was...sitting in my kitchen, nursing baby Zaden, taking notes and listening to Priscilla talk about how Jonah had received a rhema word from the Lord, a specific message from God. And suddenly I knew God was putting a rhema word in my own heart. I "heard" the message, clear as day: There will be a girl, and her name will be Rhema. It was so clear I actually stopped the video and sat with my heart pounding for awhile. What?! I was so overwhelmed just trying to keep up with the day-to-day needs of the 6 children we had...I couldn't even imagine having another baby then or ever.
I journaled about the experience in my private prayer journal, recording my thoughts and reactions, and I prayed much over it, but I didn't tell anyone until Ted was home a few months later for his two-week R&R time. We prayed together about God's plans for our family but held this close to our hearts.
Life moved on. We made it through the rest of our year-long separation, welcoming Ted home in May of 2012. We eagerly embraced our new adventure: moving overseas to Naples, Italy, for our next assignment. Amidst the flurry of life in a different country, we learned another child would join our family. I assumed this was our little girl Rhema, about whom I felt God had told me more than a year previously.
But...ha, ha! The ultrasound revealed we were having a BOY! And I knew God had given us Rhema as a girl's name! So, as we welcomed to the family our chunky little boy, Seanin Gabriel, I filed away the thoughts, questions, and perplexity I was feeling at the time. After reading and teaching Richard Stearns' book The Hole in Our Gospel, I wondered if perhaps God would lead us to adopt a little girl someday, and perhaps HER name would be Rhema.
But as you probably already know, God knit Rhema together in my own womb in His own perfect timing. A week after I had completed the Athens Marathon in 2014, I took a pregnancy test and wasn't terribly surprised to see that it was positive. The due date of July 20 seemed rather puzzling to me--we were scheduled to move in August 2015, and moving overseas with a newborn did not sound appealing. With that thought putting a bit of a damper on things, Ted and I kept the news to ourselves for awhile, waiting to surprise the kids and Grandma J with an announcement on Christmas morning.
As always, God's timing proves to be ever so perfect...what we didn't know when we saw those two pink lines was that God had already chosen for Ted to be assigned to a squadron command job that would begin at the end of May, causing us to have to make the overseas move nearly 3 months ahead of schedule! And not only that, but the Lord gave us an assignment in Nebraska, smack in the middle of the country with our families located about the same distance away from us in either direction!
Honestly, we know by now that we can trust our good and gracious Father God. Sometimes we may wonder while we wait, but we KNOW His ways are perfect!
A couple of months after we started sharing the news, an ultrasound confirmed what I suspected to be true: this baby was a GIRL! And I felt peace that she was indeed our little Rhema whom God had planned all along to be a part of our family, just as He knows each and every one of us from ages past, before the foundations of the earth were laid. What an amazing God we have!