Neonatal Infant: Part II
This article was written in the first person narrative. It was written by my daughter, Stephanie Black, and edited and expanded by me, Stephen Key.
My name is Stephanie. But for the grace of God, I shouldn’t be here on earth to tell you my story. The odds were stacked against me when I was born and I am thankful that I am alive and well to this very day to share my thoughts.
It all started on the 5th of September, 1976. Ironically it was the same year as the bicentennial celebration of the independence of the United States of America. I can truthfully say that it was also the celebration of the first day of the rest of my life.
As set forth in “Neonatal Infant: Part I”, I was born with a tumor in my throat. I really don’t remember what I went through during those early moments when I first arrived. My skin was discolored, I was told, and I had trouble breathing. It wasn’t until later years that I was able to grasp the meaning of it all.
I know that Mom and Dad were very distraught over the whole ordeal. But my Grandparents added another dimension to the saga. I learned that my Grandfather created his own firestorm. He began fighting with the doctors and demanding that they take remedial action to save my life. Being a former Baptist minister, he pulled no punches. On a saner note, he also spent time in prayer with my Grandmother to bring the Lord into the mix.
The Pre-Teenager Identity
As a result of all that happened back then, God did spare my life. The amazing thing was that I had a very pain-free childhood growing up. Other than some hearing loss in my left ear due to the surgery, I have not had any serious issues with my health since then.
What issues I did have were those with 2 very aggressive siblings. They competed with each other over everything. Since I was so small, I felt it was safer to sit on the sidelines and just watch them. It was my way of keeping myself out of trouble.
As I grew, I was indirectly a part of ministries that my parents were involved with. I sort of fit in with the shenanigans that ensued when they picked up kids for Sunday School on the church bus. My father’s position as youth director began to give me some insights into my role in serving the Lord at my then very young age. But still, there were some clouds over my head.
During those beginning years, I was told I was a very sweet and lovable child. At least up until the day an antagonistic little boy hit me at church and made my eye swell up. My Dad had to take me to the hospital. The next time he came at me, I clobbered him. I think then it became clear I had a very strong temperament.
Another time I was with my Mom at an old-town style shopping area when some lady gave my mother a dirty look as she passed. Being very protective of Mom at the time, I followed the woman and bumped her hard as she tried to go through a doorway. Not sure why I did that, but I guess it was just me.
Teenager Becomes Spiritual
Moving on from that early childhood, I went through a very cool-clothes look as a young girl, to a sort-of an all-black dark period in my teenage years. As we moved around a lot from home to home, I eventually changed my outlook on things. I also got used to a wanderlust feeling of not staying in one place too long.
At one point in my life, I wound up living in a storm-damaged house with my older sister, her first husband, and 2 kids. It was during the aftermath of Hurricane Andrew where my Dad was involved as a contractor rebuilding homes. It was a difficult time for me in more ways than one.
When that period came to an end, I found myself residing in Utah with my Grandparents. After a prolonged absence from the pulpit, My Grandfather was now a Baptist Minister once again in a small church there. His sermons often referred to the trials of my birth as a basis for some of the messages to his congregation. It was at this time that my spiritual enlightenment began to take shape.
Being there in Utah is where I met a young man who got my attention. Shaun, along with his parents, was part of a ministry that helped small churches with their building programs. There, helping my Grandfather’s church group build a new sanctuary, we sort of dated. He was 15 years of age, I was 17 , and this went on for about 2 years. Eventually, however, we moved apart. Following our parents in different directions, we still stayed in touch.
This period was also a time when I became very interested in inspirational women speakers who based their teachings from the Bible. My favorite, at the time, was Barbara Johnson. She gave impetus to my desire to minister to other women and become a speaker someday myself. I knew that, shortly after I received Jesus Christ as my personal Savior, I would be pursuing more meaning to my life. A life that God had spared.
Becoming A Woman
I eventually moved, with my parents, back to Florida. One day I received a fateful envelope in the mail. Shaun had sent me a letter making it official that he was breaking up his relationship with me. It broke my heart.
After that moment, it felt as though I was going through a very destructive part of my life. I dated other boys, but there was no spark with them. Enter Shaun’s sister, Angie. She saw how miserable he was after terminating our relationship, and worked to get us back together. Eventually her Cupid-inspired tenacity worked. We reconnected and he wound up asking me to marry him.
It was not all happiness though. My Grandfather was chosen to perform the ceremony at his church in Utah. Sometime before our big day, he was preaching at a funeral service and collapsed on the pulpit platform. Two paramedics just happened to be there. They tried to revive him to no avail. A stroke had ended his life.
We still moved forward with the wedding as planned. Afterwards, we lived in Nevada for a while before the economy took a nosedive. We made the decision to go to Florida where my husband would work with my Dad. There, we sort of became yuppies, only planning to have children after 2 years went by. Little did we know that planning was going to turn into frustration. A full 10 years elapsed with no babies to call my own.
Rebirth Of Spiritual Longings
During this period, we wound up back in Nevada. One high point in my life was attending a Beth Moore conference in Las Vegas, Nevada with other members of the church we were now part of.
At the end of her speaking venue, she began to mingle with everyone. I was standing in a crowd when Ms. Moore came over and asked me if there was anything in my life she could pray for. With a bit of a serious look in my face, I mentioned that I really wanted to have children. And that is what she prayed with me for. It was the year of 2008 and on the day of my birthday. Coincidence?
Finally, In January of the year 2011, I gave birth to my first child. A few years later, I had another son. Thankfully, both Joshua and Daniel entered the world with no problems. Certainly nothing to compare with what I went through as a baby. I now had two new reasons to praise the Lord because of what he was doing for me in my life.
My story has been a convoluted journey with many ups and downs. Repeated financial difficulties, loss of our home, and the threshold of bankruptcy has tested our resolve. Marriage difficulties brought both of us to a near collapse of our relationship together. We did not have very many examples in our life to help guide us.
But fortitude and the desire to allow God to guide us took hold of our lives. Both Shaun and I decided we were going to pray our way through all our troubles. We prepared ourselves to listen to what the Lord had to tell us. We would begin to allow Him to fill us with the Holy Spirit. To free ourselves up, we decided on a very difficult path.
Recently Shaun and I celebrated our 20th wedding anniversary. We definitely needed the Lord’s help to get us this far. He promised He would give it and He delivered.
The decision to use all our resources to pay off our debtors was a difficult one. But we did it, and now we are debt free. This included living in a converted school bus for a while with our children. I personally feel that this scenario is a narrow road that is not fit for the faint hearted. It is very easy to just give it all up and throw in the towel.
“Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Mark 7:13-14
There are so many Bible verses that would speak to, and comfort, me when I was struggling with all the negative events of my life. The road is still long for us, but we can look back and say that we have been faithful and patient. As a result, God has rewarded us by keeping us in His sights and honoring His commitments to our future.
It is my dream to have our own home, built with our own funds, in a place where we can serve the Lord. It would be a base of operations to go out and minister to others, telling them about the Lord Jesus Christ and how He can help their lives. Just like the way He let me survive my ordeals as a new-born infant, get married, and give me the patience to wait for my two beautiful children. Just like He did to save my soul and help me through all my trials.
You can make dreams come true by yourself with a bit of luck on the way. Or you can climb on the back of the God who created you and follow His direction. You will receive all the blessings that come as he molds you into the person He wants you to be.
Yes, it is a hard road to follow. But your dream will become the one He wants for you. Maybe not the one you originally want, but His just the same. Your joy will soon be there to follow.