Lessons from A Different Path

Crystal Horner, Chattanooga, TN

On January 2nd, 2008 I woke up in a hospital room with a small view of the rising sun. I had been up earlier that night giving birth to my first child. Hudson James Horner was born a bit abruptly as I had gotten an upper respiratory infection and had been sick for several days. That morning I felt time slow down enough for me to enjoy the momentous reality that every new mother wants to remember.

I knew I had been sick and I knew it was hard to breathe; I also knew my newborn was whisked away to the NICU because he was born premature. I only got to give him a small kiss before he left. I knew he was in good hands. My life at that moment was joyous. At this point nothing had been communicated to me about my child’s condition. All I knew that he was premature, I was born 6 weeks premature and I turned out fully functional and not much hindering my development.

I remember 6 months earlier, knowing this was my first pregnancy, and then being told I had gestational diabetes that I would choose to thank the Lord for any circumstance during my pregnancy. The Lord gave me a song to cling to 6 months before Hudson was born.

“Blessed be Your Name …in a land that is plentiful…where streams of abundance flow….Blessed be Your Name, Blessed be Your Name…on the road marked with suffering….though there’s pain in the offering….Blessed be Your Name.” It goes on to reprise, “You give and take away, You give and take away, My heart will choose to say, Lord, Blessed be Your Name.”

I knew that whatever God allowed I was going to CHOOSE to bless the Lord.

That evening as many had come to visit my room, I had still yet to go and see my son (partly because I was still sick and partly cause I knew I wouldn’t get much sleep and should soak up as much sleep as possible). The neonatologists (two of them) came to our room and asked to speak only with us. They told us, “Your son had a hemorrhage in utero, a brain bleed.  He had some seizures a few hours after birth.  We have him on some very strong medications. His cerebral fluid may be clogged because his head is beginning to enlarge” “We will have to wait and see if this will affect his development.”

You may imagine at this moment you would be grief stricken.  Not me. I was sure that my God would not allow major developmental problems for our son. He had called my husband and myself to full time ministry. He had weaned me away from desiring the “American dream”. I was ready to pack my bags and move across the world to serve Him. He would come through and miraculously heal my son and bring Himself glory by showing the doctors. This was my attitude and resolve.


Hudson Horner, birth and now

I can look back now and see through the first year of Hudson’s life I was so angry at God. By 6 months old Hudson could not even hold up his head; so any attempts at sitting up, making eye contact, hitting any milestones would be thwarted. Every time I would scream out to God “WHY?”. His quiet yet steadfast response was “My grace is sufficient for you.” I never really had to live this truth out until now.

Because I love analogies God gave me many of them to help me understand and eventually accept Hudson’s role in our lives. My favorite was the spiritual shots analogy. Just as I had to hold down Hudson many times to allow strangers with huge needles pick and prod him, so was God, but He holding me down. Allowing intense pain for my good and for my growth; not always understanding why and when will it stop. His truth permeated my life.

Nine years later …..

A few things I would like to acknowledge over the past nine years:

1. God is good, period.

2. His grace is sufficient (it may be for just that moment or just that day) but…..

3. His mercies are new every morning.

4. You will survive.

5. God has given us everything we need for life and godliness.

6. God can take our screaming at him. I had a person ask me that first year how is your relationship with God. I said “I’m angry with Him, but I’m telling Him about it.” Even though I was mad I stayed in communication with Him and wrestled with the fact that sometimes what I am feeling is not always what was true.

7. His strength is glorified in our weakness. My western mindset has been taught to be independent and even self -sufficient. Weakness is frowned upon in our culture, however in God’s realm He is glorified in allowing us to hit a place of weakness. It is humbling and it doesn’t feel good but it is okay to not have it all together and be in a place of dependence.

8. I now have a new theology on suffering and I will try my hardest not to thwart God’s plan to allow it in my life. This is what produces endurance to persevere towards the goal of becoming like Jesus.

9. I have been inducted into a sub culture of families who know what it is to be in love and in pain with someone who is totally dependent on you as a parent but also as an advocate.

10. I have learned that marriage is hard enough with children, in-laws, financial pains; but is magnified 100% when you throw in extreme medical challenges and financial pressures of a child with special needs. These marriages need all the support and help it can get. If you know a couple in this similar situation take action and provide practical love and help.

11. Forgiveness is possible but it is painful. It melts away much like holding an ice cube in your hand until it melts. (Really, try this and you’ll understand). It is not instantaneous but it will melt away. You may need to take it day by day but forgiveness will come.

12. I learned more about my relationship with God through parenting a toddler/preschooler than I ever thought possible. (a whole other article)

13. Our purpose on this earth is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection (all other purposes will fall into place).

14. If they told me at 25 weeks gestation that Hudson would be like this I would still have him. He has brought so much joy; taught me lessons I would have never learned, met people and made friends I would have never met, experienced injustices I would have been ignorant of and unable to advocate for, and really I would have never been able to experience God in such a way that I can say I love Him and Know Him and stand in Awe of Him more today than I did on 1/1/08.

In conclusion, I never thought the birth of my first son would encompass so many awesome lessons. Because of his challenges I know that my marriage is worth fighting for, my son and his needs are worth advocating for, my God is worthy of my worship and my life. I would say that is a pretty awesome tribute to my amazing, resilient nine year old boy!

Happy Birthday, Hudson!

Your mommy,

Crystal Horner










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