“You think we should put the tree here?” I asked my mom. “Sure, that looks like a good spot,” she replied.
I wasted no time and jumped on the shovel to dig a hole. A hole was quickly dug and we dropped the beautiful Scarlet Laceleaf Japanese maple tree into the ground. On our hands and knees, we filled in the empty spaces around the roots with a combination of potting soil and dirt. We finished and as I jumped up suddenly a thought occurred to me: The last time I had used a shovel I was 15 weeks pregnant and ended up going on bed rest that evening because I started to have cramping from too much exertion while working in the yard. I shuddered at the thought. How scared I had been because I thought we might lose Joshua, all because I had wanted to dig out some weeds.
My mom and I walked over to some potted plants I had in another area of the front yard. “Remember this plant you bought me, mom? It was towards the end of my pregnancy, as I recall.” “Oh yes, I remember that!” she exclaimed. “We walked into the store just to buy you a few plants, and you were in excruciating pain the whole rest of the day because of it– if I recall correctly.” As she was talking, I suddenly remembered wincing in pain with each bump in the road on the trip home from the store that day. I then remember not being able to help my mom put any of those plants in a pot or in the ground. She had had to do it all.
But these were not singular memories. Most days of my pregnancy were pain-filled. Most days I was begging others for prayer and begging the Lord to help me get through it. During that time, I had forgotten what it was like to not be in pain. I learned a lot about myself and chronic pain during that time. But even greater, I learned about the Lord’s abundant grace. I don’t reflect on those days with fear or bitterness, because of how God carried me through it. I will always be grateful for the experience. There are some things you can’t learn about the Lord by simply having head-knowledge.
For the first time in a really long season, I am experiencing life without pain! I haven’t felt this healthy for at least 7 years, which was when I first started to experience symptoms of endometriosis. I see now how extremely good pregnancy has been for my body. I am enjoying being able to do pretty much whatever I would like without pain of any kind. It is marvelous! I am thankful for each day I have that I get to be pain-free. I don’t know how long it will last. Either way, I feel so blessed to be able to take care of Joshua in the absence of pain. It is a gift!
And so this Scarlet Laceleaf Japanese maple tree– which my mom bought in honor of Joshua’s birth– will always serve as a reminder to me of God’s grace– whether it be for the birth of our son or for carrying me through the hard days prior to his birth. I will recall the ease with which I was able to put this tree into the ground and thank God for these days in which I am living without pain.