Our fall favorites are here! 🍂

This is the tale of two brothers, each born with separate life-threatening medical conditions. I am their mother. I prayed day and night for God to intervene and heal their broken body parts. God said “yes” to one request and “no” to the other.

Or so it may seem.

Our oldest son Anderson was born with a hole in his heart. Because he also has Down syndrome, he was monitored by a team as soon as he made his entrance into the world. The cardiologist walked into my recovery room with a white jacket and a warm smile. He told my husband and me about the defect but said the hole was so small he was 90% sure it would close.

It didn’t.

After months of grieving his Down syndrome diagnosis, and finally beginning to see his extra chromosome as a gift instead of a curse, that same doctor called me. I was pulling into the grocery store after school drop-off, when he said something I’ll never forget, “I sent Anderson’s case to a team in Phoenix, they don’t believe the hole will close. He needs open-heart surgery.”

It felt like a bomb went off and I didn’t know what to do with the pieces left behind. I was angry. I was livid. Really, God? Really? Why would you let me believe you would fix this? After all we’ve been through?

Two years later, I found myself pregnant with another little boy. At 14 weeks, the nurse couldn’t find a heartbeat. That led me into an ultrasound room staring at the most frightening image I’ve ever seen. Our son’s heart was beating, but his abdomen was so distended, it hurt to look at.

It took an entire month for the doctor to give us a diagnosis.

She sat at the foot of the ultrasound bed covered in white crinkled paper with concern spread over her face. She told us our son had a Posterior Urethral Valves—a blockage in the lower urinary tract that affects the kidneys and lung development. She wanted to know where our heads were at because if we were terminating the pregnancy, a decision needed to be made.

The ultrasound tech asked the doctor to look at the pictures of the bladder. It appeared to have a hole. She got up and looked, sat back down and said, “I don’t know if you’re praying people, but this hole in his bladder may be an answered prayer.”

The ruptured bladder was protecting his kidneys.

We transferred our care to a top children’s hospital. Preston’s images didn’t look like a traditional PUV case. So, we went through two days of days of testing—MRI’s, ultrasounds and more to see if the diagnosis was correct. At a roundtable with three specialists, they told us our son did, in fact, have a lower urinary tract obstruction most likely caused by PUVs and we came up with a care plan.

And then Preston came. In a room with nearly two dozen medical professionals, he was born with the most skeptical look on his face. They whisked him away for what would be days of testing.

There were no PUVs.

Weeks later we went back to see if there was a blockage in his upper urinary tract. There wasn’t.

That afternoon we sat down with Preston’s pediatric urologist. I told the doctor I needed him to walk through my pregnancy with me and he was kind enough to do so. I chronicled up until week 25 and he said, “Everything you are describing sounds exactly like a PUV case.”

After months of trauma, a cloud lifted and I could see our son received the miracle we prayed for. It just didn’t look like what I imagined.

Preston only has one functioning kidney and he was born with clubbed feet. He has medical issues, but they are minor and almost nonexistent now. Preston’s never had an invasive surgery or dialysis and with one fully functioning kidney, he should not have to endure what many boys born with PUV’s go through.

A miracle.

So, why did God give one son a miracle and not the other?

I don’t think it is in God’s nature to love my younger son more than the older. I don’t think it’s because we prayed more, although I do believe we are called to pray persistently. I don’t think it’s because we were somehow better people by the time the second medical crisis came around, that somehow our prayers were better received.

I think the answered prayer had very little to do with who we are and very much to do with who God is, even if I don’t understand His ways.

The truth is, none of us will ever know why God chooses to intervene sometimes in this life and not others.

But here’s the thing: I think both of my sons received miracles.

When God wanted to start the Israelite nation, He sent a man to build it. When He wanted to rescue the Israelites from slavery, He sent a man to deliver them. When He wanted to spread the news of Jesus, He sent men and women to build the church.

I believe on this side of heaven, God designed us in such a way to do good works for Him. He designed us to be each other’s miracle workers, to belong to one another and ultimately to belong to Him.

The medical team that stitched Anderson’s heart back together—they are miracle workers. Some of them endured decades of schooling and give up so much of their lives to give children a chance at making a life of their own.

I believe this is the way God designed it. If He said “yes” to miraculously intervening at every request—that would be a perfect world, and not the fallen one we live in.

I know this doesn’t make it easier. I’ve been in the surgical waiting rooms where you may find yourself sitting now. It’s not fair. This life is not fair. But if you find yourself wondering where God is in the middle of your medical crisis, I believe He’s in the surgical room. He’s in the minds and hearts of those imperfect people who said “yes” to an incredible calling to helping others like your child and like mine.

I also believe He’s in the waiting room with you now, even if you don’t feel Him. I believe Jesus came to earth to endure human trials of all kinds; including hearing “no” and feeling abandoned by His own Father.

And sometimes, for reasons I will never know, God says, “yes” to showing His divine nature and bypassing human hands.

Of course, we all want to be the latter. But know if you aren’t, you may have gotten a “no” to divine intervention, but maybe it wasn’t a “no” to a miracle. I know it’s not how you want it, it’s certainly not how I wanted it to be for my first son either. But, a miracle could be waiting at the hands of an ordinary person called to do the extraordinary.

Originally published on the author’s blog

Read Jillian’s open-heart surgery journey and high-risk pregnancy journey

So God Made a Mother book by Leslie Means

If you liked this, you'll love our new book, SO GOD MADE A MOTHER available now!

Order Now

Jillian Benfield

Jillian Benfield is a military wife, mom of three, and one of her kids rocks an extra chromosome- also known as Down syndrome. When she’s not cruising in her minivan taking kids to different schools or doctor appointments, she’s writing about faith, marriage and parenting on her blog, www.JillianBenfield.com Follow her on Facebook

All I Could Do Was Make It to Church Today

In: Faith, Motherhood
Close up of man holding baby in his arms in church pew with kids in background

All I can do is make it to church today. It was the final thought that shut the door on all the other thoughts this morning. The thoughts that said I don’t look good enough. I should put on makeup. I should wear something nicer. I should find a way to paint my nails without them getting smudged up from holding a baby before they dry. The thoughts that said I am not doing good enough. I should have made supper last night. I shouldn’t have used that glass pan that shattered in the oven while trying to steam bake...

Keep Reading

It’s Time to Talk about the Crushing Weight of Motherhood

In: Faith, Motherhood
Mother and three children, color photo

As millennial women and mothers, we have been making waves in the sea of mental health. We have unashamedly and unapologetically shared our postpartum depression and anxiety stories so that future generations won’t feel as though they’re drowning in the weight of it all.  I remember sitting in my living room, staring at my newborn, crying in frustration and fear that I was already failing him.  I remember the pain of trying to use the bathroom for the first time after labor, to have family suddenly stop by, and feeling so embarrassed I screamed and they left, ultimately leaving me...

Keep Reading

Kids Need Grace and So Do Their Moms

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood, Toddler
Woman touching child's forehead

We were having a hard morning. Our house was overrun with toys, I hadn’t had a chance to get dressed, and my stress level was increasing by the minute. To top it all off, my 3-year-old was having a meltdown anytime I spoke to her. Even looking in her general direction was a grave mistake. It was one of those days that as a parent, you know you’re really in for it. I was quickly losing my patience. My frustration began to ooze out of me. I snapped orders, stomped around, and my attitude quite clearly was not pleasant to...

Keep Reading

A Mother Doesn’t Have to Be Prepared to Be Sustained

In: Baby, Faith, Motherhood
Mother cuddling baby on a bed

I feel the warmth radiating from my weeks-old baby girl’s body onto my lap. She sleeps soundly. But I can’t. My jaw is clenched, my forehead is wrinkled, my body is tense. I’ve been in complete survival mode. Our baby girl unexpectedly made her appearance one month early due to some placental deficiencies and was born at three and a half pounds. I wasn’t prepared.  When I saw my sweet girl, my heart was instantly taken over by immense love and immense fear. Fear grabbing me with every thought, every breath. I wasn’t prepared.  She spent some time in the NICU but not...

Keep Reading

A Love That Will Never Leave You

In: Faith, Living
Cover art of book Pilgrim by Ruth Chou Simons

My firstborn spent a semester abroad in his junior year of college. Like any mom who’s separated from her child, I knew the exact distance between him and me those months he was away. It felt like a million miles, but it was actually only 4,533, including one very large body of water. While he was away, we weren’t even on the same continent, and truthfully, I hadn’t expected the ache to be so overwhelming. Thankfully, our weekly chats on video eased the sadness and served to remind me that, in spite of miles and time zones, there was no...

Keep Reading

I’ll Always Be the One Who Loved Them First

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen
Family with three small boys standing in kitchen, color photo

I’m no longer the last person he says goodnight to. That’s a hard pill to swallow. Here we are, just raising these boys, hoping and praying things over their futures, watching them grow, teaching them independence and other life skills, hoping they have heard the things we have said, and praying they make our faith their faith and choose to follow Jesus. And then, just like that, without any warning, without asking my permission, there is someone special in his life. Someone he spends hours on the phone with. Someone he wants to spend his time with. Someone who isn’t...

Keep Reading

Thank You God for Everyday Heroes

In: Faith, Living
Firefighter in gear walking, black-and-white photo

Tonight, our family watched a movie together. It was an action-adventure movie where, against unbelievable odds, the good guy saves the day. At some point during the movie, I turned to my husband, and said, “You’re that guy—the guy that is good in a crisis, who saves the day.” Once, when my husband and I were out for dinner, a woman seated near us fainted and was lying on the floor. The waiters and waitresses ran to her aid but didn’t know what to do. My husband is a firefighter/EMT. He had gone outside to grab a sweater, and when...

Keep Reading

Dear Daughter, about That Other 4-Letter Word

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Portrait of a beautiful little girl in blue shirt

As my kindergartner came bounding through the door back from the park, she seemed ecstatic to tell me all about her adventure, but what came from her sweet mouth was not the usual tale of making friends or playing make-believe. Instead, she stared up at me and said, “A little boy called me ugly.”  As I tried to assess her thoughts on the matter, her big brother was quickly confirming the story and acknowledging to me that it was not a very nice thing to say. As I looked at my husband coming in the door behind them, I could...

Keep Reading

Let Them Have a Bad Day, and Other Wisdom on Raising Teens

In: Faith, Motherhood, Teen, Tween
Mom comforting teen girl with head in hands

I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I have nearly four teens now, and I’ve learned a lot the hard way. I see other parents around me who are just getting to that stage make the same mistakes I did, so I want to share what I’ve learned:   If you want to teach your kids to walk in the way of God, you better not leave out teaching them about forgiveness. That’s a big deal to God. It’s pretty central. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, and the heaviness that comes when you have teenagers, and they...

Keep Reading

My Baby is Going to Kindergarten and God Will Go With Him

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Little boy with green backpack walking to school

My baby is going to kindergarten, and I am not going to cry. Yep, you read that right.  My blessing baby (aka surprise addition) is going to kindergarten in seven days, and I am not a weepy crying mess. My kind quiet 10-year-old is starting his last year of elementary school, and I am not going to cry about that either.  And my firstborn—the tiny, five-pound baby girl who made me a momma—will be in eighth grade. Her last year of middle school before high school. It all seems like big changes and big moments. But I am not going...

Keep Reading