Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Testimony Tuesday - Meet Katie

I want to say a quick word about Testimony Tuesday.  I've had several people tell me that all of the testimonies so far are people who have grown up in church or been saved early in life.  That may be true.  I say hang with me because I have lots of people in the wings and some will have different stories.  I also want to say that only part of a testimony is how you meet Jesus.  A BIG part of your testimony is what happens after that - how God works in your life after you are saved.  And a lot of the people who are sharing may have been saved early - but their lives have been anything but simple or easy.  God works through everyone differently and our stories are ALL important and powerful.

Today the testimony comes from one of the sweetest and most beautiful girls I have ever met.  I met Katie Rowe many years ago.  She is a high school best friend of my friend Hillary and we share a lot of mutual friends.  Katie has a precious heart for others.  She is so Godly and a wonderful mother and wife.  Everyone who knows her, loves her.  I'm so honored she would share with us today.  You can read more about her on her blog - The Rowe Family.  She has an amazing story - I hope you will read it all.  

Hi! I’m Katie Rowe and so happy to be here on Kelly’s Testimony Tuesday. Many of you first “met” me 4 ½ years ago on this blog when Kelly asked for prayer for my unborn daughter and me. Thank you thank you for praying for us. I know it’s only by prayer and God’s grace that I am here today.

I’ll back up a little bit. I grew up in a loving Christian home and have an amazing family. I came to know the LORD when I was nine years old and love Him with everything in me. I married Jason my high school sweetheart after I graduated from Baylor and life was good.

Jason and I had our perfect plan. We wanted to wait to have kids 5-7 years after we were married and our son Zach was born in the fall after we celebrated our five year anniversary.

That first year was difficult and by far the hardest on our marriage. We loved each other and our son but a baby was a BIG shock to us. Thankfully as Zach turned 3 months, then 6 months, then one year things became easier and our little family was much happier.

Jason and I continued with our plan and were pregnant with our daughter Reese when Zach turned one. We felt very blessed because we had always wanted three or four kids close together in age.

In May ’09 when I was 6 months pregnant with Reese I was diagnosed with meningitis and encephalitis. At this point in the last 21 months I had been to the ER four times.

The three earlier visits were for severe food poisoning, a ruptured ovarian cyst, and a partially ruptured appendix.

I was first misdiagnosed with pre-eclampsia (but had no symptoms) but my obstetrician’s husband (who is also an ob) saved my life by ordering me to be flown to UAMS in Little Rock. I was put on the floor with the twenty-four sickest people in the state.

All this time I was in and out of consciousness with a unimaginable headache. I remember very little but what I do remember is very clear. The doctors were careful with Reese and she never showed any sign of distress but they did not know what to do with me. Nothing they were trying was helping.

On day five in the hospital I started getting better and becoming more aware. They almost had to put in a feeding tube because I wouldn’t eat. I remember my mom feeding me jello and basically forcing me to eat.

I was so weak. Over the next few weeks my mind fully healed but my body felt like I was seventy years old. It was hard to walk, and I couldn’t even bathe myself. I remember trying to type on my computer but my brain and fingers had a hard time connecting. All of this was extremely frustrating, but I was very thankful to be alive.

Throughout this time the support and love from friends and complete strangers poured out to our families was beyond incredible.

After I was home I felt such relief and victory that we had made it past a horrible time. Everyone was praying, Reese was growing, and I was getting stronger every day. Little did I know the very worst was yet to come.

I focused on having a fun summer with our little boy and soaking up every minute I had left with him before he had a little sister. On August 11 I went in to have Reese’s heart rate checked because I noticed she wasn’t moving like she normally did.  I was not worried at this point because I was innocent and naïve. What I would give to have that back!

I thought I would hear her heartbeat, and everything would be fine. When I heard her precious heart beating, I was reassured.

However, it was not fluctuating like it should have been. The doctor on call told us Reese was in some kind of distress, and that she needed to be born right away. No one had any idea what kind of stress she was in, and Reese was delivered by emergency C section.

When she was born we immediately knew something was wrong. The neonatal physician and nurses began working quickly on her, saying medical terms you never want to hear about your baby. Over the next several hours our family and friends flooded the hospital in support of us and our little girl.

Reese was perfectly formed but had very little brain activity. All of her other organs were healthy and fully functioning. Of course without her brain performing like it should over those next vital hours after birth, we knew there was very little hope.

Reese caused me to stand on what I said I believed since I was nine years old. I remember thinking I understood how people could turn their backs on GOD. I was at a crossroads in my faith, but for me there was no choice. If I abandoned GOD it would be the death of me, so I held onto Him as tightly as I could no matter how badly I hurt.

The next two days were the hardest yet most peaceful days of my life. Devastating because we were realizing what needed to be done, but amazing because I was with our daughter.

Jason and I made the decision to let Reese go. I will always remember him looking at me and saying, “I want her to be free.” We wanted her to live life to it’s fullest, and Heaven was the only way. Her little body was not meant to live on this earth.

She was just passing through, an innocent presence who changed our lives forever. Jason and I held her in our arms as she went to be with Jesus August 13th, 2009. She was two days old. It’s like my dad once said, “She came in a hurry, as if she had some place important to go.”

Looking back I believe one of the reasons God allowed me to become so sick while I was pregnant with Reese was to provide for Jason and me a foundation of support and prayer. He knew we would desperately need people surrounding us when Reese went to Heaven.

The Lord allowed us to become pregnant two months after she went to Heaven. The first year without Reese Zach kept me going and being pregnant with Colson gave me hope. He was born July 13th, 2010, eleven months to the day Reese left this earth.

Only GOD could do this! He makes new life from death. Death is our enemy and one day WILL be abolished.
Both of our boys are wonderful gifts to us! Zach is almost six and Colson is three. Reese is a very normal part of our lives, and the boys know they have a sister in Heaven.

Over the past four years there have been days I wanted to give up. I am different woman in my loss and grief and there is an inner struggle with the old me. I had to learn several boundaries and continue to learn more of what I can and cannot do.

The Lord gave me Ecclesiastes 3:11 after Reese went to Heaven, “He has made everything beautiful in its time.” Jason and I found out that God’s plan was not ours. And we’re still finding this out. He’s still making Reese’s life beautiful. And ours as well.

GOD blessed me so much with an amazing husband and two healthy boys on this earth. This should be enough, right? But inside I still crave more because of the emptiness Reese left behind. Right now GOD uses this to make me hunger for Heaven and not be content in this world. This world is not my home.

Our path is one I would never choose for us or anyone else, but GOD is faithful. I love Him and I trust Him with everything inside me. He shows Himself in the details of my day. God’s Word became more alive after Reese went to Heaven and Heaven became more real because she is there.
1 Corinthians 13:12 says, “Now I know in part but then I will know fully as I am fully known.” Now we only know part of what’s going on BUT because God knows us fully (because He is in our hearts) one day we will fully know His plan. I will keep hoping because His Word is truth and He is faithful. Thank you so much for letting me share my heart today!

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