I like surprises. I like them when they are good and happy and fun, like parties or presents or trips. I don't care for them so much when they are bad. Especially when they seem bad and life altering. Sometimes, though, surprises can come in as bad and life altering and then God transforms into something wonderful. That's the thing about God... only He can do that.
I was at my mom's house the day we found out. Through a text message conversation with my brother Adam, my mom learned that his ex-girlfriend was pregnant. An unplanned baby on the way. It's the news no parent wants to hear. And though the news that we got was about the existence of a new life, the atmosphere in my parents' house was more like death. My mother cried. She grieved the loss of the things a Godly mother wants for her son's life. With this news, the dreams that she had for Adam were forever changed. And while she cried, any intelligent thought that I have ever had in my head left me. I could not think of one single thing to say. So I cried with her. We worried about my brother, the ex-girlfriend, the baby that was on the way, and how my dad was going to take the news. And even though she didn't say it, I know she was wondering what people would think.
Six months later showed a different picture. The shock had worn off. My dad handled the news well. Adam and his ex-girlfriend Stephanie had gotten back together, and my mom and I were in Houston, Texas at the hospital, waiting on a baby. On September 21, 2009, an eight pound, one ounce baby came into the world and she was beautiful. Reagan Page O'Dell was, and still is, the sweetest baby around. She was happy and pleasant. And everyone instantly fell in love with her.
Adam and Stephanie got married January 1, 2010, and their little family has made it through some incredibly difficult things over the last year. But several weeks ago, my brother Adam went forward in a church service, and said that God had called him to preach. I was eleven when Adam was born, and though he is a grown man now, he is still my baby brother. I was so proud of him when I found out. One week later, I was excited to get to take him and Stephanie to Springfield, Missouri to look into the Bible college where both my dad and I graduated. Adam loved it, and he and Stephanie made the decision to move to Missouri for the Spring Semester, which means they are going.... now. And though we have tried to convince them to leave her, they are taking Reagan.
And so our sweet little surprise is leaving. Oh, we love Adam and Stephanie, and we will miss them. I love Stephanie as much as any of my real sisters. But in four months, Adam and Stephanie will be mostly the same. But Reagan? She will have new teeth and will be walking more steadily and will be saying new words and she might not know who I am. And right now she knows how to take pictures with my iPhone and she loves the Smack Talk app, and she might not remember those things later. Talk to any family member about the fact that Reagan is leaving, and you will see us cry.
I look back over the last year and nine months or so, and I think about how much things have changed. I love how God took a situation that seemed kind of hopeless and dreams that seemed kind of lost, and He redeemed them. He turned it all into something beautiful and good. I can look at the whole picture, and it speaks to his goodness and his forgiveness. And I don't want to forget it. Because I know that those hard days will come again in a different form, and I need to remember that God is brilliant at redeeming those bad surprises. If you are in doubt, just watch this and know that I am right.