Mother’s Day, May 12th and ‘Evan Almighty’ — Oh My!
Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and incomprehensible things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3 — Holman Bible).
Mother’s Day fell on May 12th in 1996, just as it did this year. I know this because that was the year God told me, time and time again, that something great and incomprehensible concerning me becoming a mother would happen — yes, on May 12th.
I don’t really remember specifically what I said when I called out to God that year. I just know I prayed… a lot. And I wrote out many of my prayers — just like the prophet Habakkuk did when instructed by God —
Write down this vision; clearly inscribe it on tablets so one may easily read it. For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it testifies of the end and will not lie. Though it delays, wait for it, since it will certainly come and not be late (Hab. 2:2, 3 — Holman Bible).
So I obeyed, too — writing down in my journal what I felt God was showing me, a “vision” of sorts.
Rewind. The vision first came in 1993 — in the early hours one morning. I was waking up but not fully awake — still in that foggy state between sleep and alert. Suddenly I saw a rainbow. I asked God, “Why is there a rainbow?” and He replied, “Because a promise will be fulfilled.”
Then I woke up fully and discovered I was still in bed. What was the promise to be fulfilled? I knew without doubt: God had promised to make me a mom. But when?
I’d already been waiting what felt like a lifetime, though I was only twenty-three. After all, there’d never been anything I desired more than to be a mommy. Becoming one, however, was proving to be more difficult than I’d ever imagined. Having married when I was only nineteen and Bill twenty, we’d been hoping for (and not preventing) a baby for a couple years by this time. Still nothing.
So when this rainbow-vision hung behind my closed eyes that morning, a new hope stirred within me, and God continued to show me signs of His promise. Rainbows kept appearing, and my faith continued to grow — from 1993 until 1996, and beyond.
Besides rainbows, God began to give me another “sign” of His promise. He continually used a particular number, much like in the movie Evan Almighty, which is a modern-day Noah’s Ark story. Released in 2007, Steve Carell plays Evan Baxter, a newly elected member to Congress who begins to receive signs from God (Morgan Freeman) informing him that he is to build an ark. Strange things begin to happen to confirm God’s plan to a skeptical Evan — including showing him the number 614 (the reference for the chapter and verse in Genesis where God says, “Make yourself an ark…”). For example, Evan begins to wake up to his digital alarm clock reading “6:14” — even though he hadn’t set it for this particular time.
Like Evan, I too began waking up at a particular time — 5:12 — and God used this number to show me His plans and purposes in unique and strategic ways over the course of several years. So when I saw this comedy in 2007, almost fourteen years after God began to speak to me in a similar manner, I cried as much as I laughed — so moved by the memory of God’s faithfulness and how He’d spoken to me and shared with me, as Jeremiah says, “great and unsearchable things…” It made all the difference — lifting me from a pit of despair to help me better understand that it was as I delighted in God that He would make His desires for me my own. As Psalm 37:4 says —
Delight yourself in the LORD, and He will give you the desires of your heart.
Thus, I began to believe whole-heartedly that He would do something extraordinary on 5:12 — or, as I came to understand, May 12th. I just didn’t know the year.
In late May 1996, Bill and I were preparing to move to South Carolina from the Lexington, Kentucky area — where we’d lived for almost eight years. Bill was finishing up medical school at the University of KY, and he’d matched for his orthopedic residency at a hospital in Greenville, SC; hence the move.
I had mixed emotions about this change. Although I loved Kentucky, I believed God would do amazing things in South Carolina. I’d procured a 3rd grade teaching position; we’d purchased our first home; and we were already connected with a church we liked — not to mention that minor detail… something about me becoming a mother.
A friend had recently brought a passage of scripture to my attention, which encouraged me as I prepared to leave behind so much of what was both familiar and dear to my heart. The passage was Psalm 113:9 —
He settles the barren woman in her home and makes her a happy mother of children.
By this time, Bill and I had been waiting for a child for over five years, and I’d been clinging to my rainbow-vision and “5:12” for several years. This verse gave me so much hope.
One morning near the end of May, as I had my quiet time with the Lord, He asked me, “What does ‘5:12’ mean to you?”
I knew what I thought, and so I answered, “It has to do with me becoming a mom.”
He then asked me, “What was ‘5:12’ this year?”
I knew. “Mother’s Day,” I replied.
In my Bible study that morning, I’d been reading Genesis 18 — the story of Abraham and the three visitors. Verse 10 says —
The LORD said, “I will certainly come back to you this time next year, and your wife Sarah will have a son!
And my heart knew! “By this time next year, LORD — is that what You’re telling me? By this time next year, I’ll have a son? I’ll give Bill a son?”
Again, I called out to God and He seemed to answer me, telling me something great and incomprehensible. My heart swelled, despite the emptiness of my womb.
We moved to South Carolina — saying goodbye to so much of what we’d loved in Kentucky. I had so much peace in my heart, not to mention joy — believing that God was about to do sometime wonderful. I truly believed He’d answered me when I’d called to Him — telling me that by May 12, 1997, I’d give Bill a son.
Not long after we were settled in our new home, a young student named Sara whom I’d taught in Kentucky sent me a letter and a picture she’d painted. Her mom wrote a little note along with her daughter’s — explaining the picture.
Again, the rainbow — a sure sign that God was up to something.
I taught my little class of 3rd graders faithfully that year, and I tried to not grow discouraged when there was no sign of pregnancy. I didn’t understand what God had meant, but I’d come to trust Him. I knew that His word never returned void (Isaiah 55:11). It would accomplish what He desired; so I did my best to go out each day “with joy and be peacefully guided” (Is. 55:12).
May 12, 1997 came and went with no definitive answer. I sometimes battled discouragement — I won’t lie. But mostly I walked by faith. Bill and I began to discuss the idea of adoption — deciding to wait, however, until the new year to pursue any agencies or talk to any attorneys. I began teaching again in the fall — this time, a class of happy 5th graders.
January 2, 1998 — I wasted no time. It was a Friday, and I went to talk with a friend named Carri Uram who was the founder of an adoption ministry called The Special Link. It was dark by the time I left her office, but my heart felt light — many of my questions concerning what had felt arduous having been answered. We had a plan. There was a glimmer of hope.
Bill and I worked to gather photographs for our adoption portfolio, and we each wrote birthmother letters. I made copies and created packets, which I then delivered to adoption attorneys in the area, as well as several adoption agencies. I gave one to Carri at The Special Link, too. We were on our way.
One day I received a call while teaching. It was Carri. She’d received a call from a birthmom — a young college student named Cindy who attended the University of South Carolina. She wanted to meet us as soon as possible. She was due with a baby boy in only two weeks.
We met Cindy in an attorney’s office in Columbia, SC that Friday. She was shy and reserved — her swollen abdomen somewhat hidden behind a baggy gray sweatshirt. She’d told no family and very few friends about her pregnancy. For months, she’d hoped to parent but then decided to place — a friend having told her about The Special Link and its emphasis on open adoption. She wanted to know her baby was safe and loved, would cherish pictures and letters, and she’d love an occasional phone call.
Before we left that evening, all the preliminary papers were signed, and I told her I’d come to her next doctor appointment. Bill and I drove home in a daze that night — believing the time had come. We were finally going to be parents.
I traveled back to Columbia a few days later to take Cindy to her appointment where I was thrilled to see an almost full-term baby boy on the ultrasound screen. We had lunch after, and Cindy began to open up — sharing with me more about her life and a little bit about the baby’s birthfather. Before I left, she gave me a teddy bear that had been hers — a gift for our soon-to-be-born son — and a photograph of the birthfather.
Dorian (Ian) Samuel — whose name means “gracious Gift of God for whom we prayed” — was born on Tuesday, February 3, 1998 at 3:15 in the afternoon. Bill and I were present for his arrival, and Bill even cut his cord. We spent the next two days sharing parental duties with Cindy — feeding him and changing him, giving him all the love new parents can offer.
During the course of our time, I was able to share with Cindy more about the season of waiting — how God had been faithful through it all, each step of the way. At one point, when I’d shared about how the Lord had used “5:12” to confirm His plans and purposes, she looked at me, amazed.
“That’s when Ian was conceived,” she said. “May 12, 1997.”
And I understood. This young woman carried her baby, whom we named Ian (“Gift”), from his conception on May 12th 1997 until she gave him to us — the greatest of Gifts — on the day of his birth, February 3, 1998.
By this time next year, [she] will give you a son…
Bill wasn’t Abraham in this story, and I wasn’t Sarah. Cindy Abrams was the one who would give us her son — whose life began just when God said it would. Right on time — on 5/12.
Rainbows in the sky will always be a sign of God’s promise — and Mother’s Day will always be my favorite day of the year.
Go ahead — Call to God! See what great and incomprehensible things He might say!
He just might sound like Morgan Freeman and use a crazy comedian like Steve Carell.
But one thing’s for sure — His promises are true, and He is always faithful.