I have no idea how people survive without Jesus.
I have no idea how people survive without EXPERIENCING Jesus—because there’s a world of difference.
The last week of my life has been soaking with encounters from a real God—interactions so tangibly clear, that my heart never left a safe harbor of peace, even as the fear could have been rising up to choke me—especially after losing our little Luca Gold just a little over a year ago.
But since our Goldie went to be with Jesus last March 5, my heart has been my greatest haven, even though it was beaten to a pulp by death. Since that time, my heart has been the place that I guarded, tended to, and learned to not only listen to as a dear friend, but to use as the central place created by God to encounter Him—which is why He made His home inside.
Questions are never fun. The unknown is just that—unknown. But I have a Counselor, a Helper, and a Comforter who live within, and they don’t just talk to me in the midst of every storm—they become the hands and feet that safely guard my heart with unfathomable peace.
Last Wednesday afternoon, my water broke. I say broke because the doctor said broke, but it was more like a leaky pipe that I was believing to be fixed. At 31 weeks and over two months away from my due date, no one wants the liquid around their baby to start leaking—especially when you know how much more they need to develop. And this was the second time a puncture had come against this pregnancy—bleeding in the first trimester, and amniotic fluid in the third.
On Thursday morning as I lay in the hospital praying and believing for total healing—learning that I would be on bed rest until I gave birth to my daughter—I clearly heard these words loudly in my spirit:
“I am healing your wound.”
They weren’t words I was thinking, they were like bricks that kept hitting me upside the right side of my head, and I heard them clearly on three separate occasions.
“Ok, God,” I would say each time. “I believe you. You are healing my wound. I’m agreeing with You.”
Well clearly, I took that to mean the tear in my amniotic fluid—and didn’t ask about the details. But it had been so concrete in my spirit, I started telling everyone that God was going to do a miracle and close up my tear. I envisioned myself getting up and astounding the doctors—proving to everyone that my God—the God that I serve—is a total miracle worker who operates in the realm of the impossible.
All night on Thursday as I would close my eyes and begin to pray, I could see my heavenly Father sitting on the right side of my bed, brow wrinkled in concerned care, stroking my hair in the darkness and tending to me as His precious little girl. Now, you have to understand, for many years when I’ve prayed, I’ve found it much easier to see Jesus, and the Holy Spirit was never a problem. But as I lay in bed leaking, praying and contending for my miracle, I could literally look up and see the outline of Father’s face in the darkness, causing more peace to rush over my body than I could ever put into words. As Father tended to me, I would look to my left side and Jesus was smiling with His hands on my belly—taking care of my little Birdie. He’d look over at me with the biggest grin on His face and say the words, “Christa, I got this! I got this!” I could feel the Holy Spirit up in my womb with my daughter, and there was no trauma, no fear—just pure joy.
All night Thursday and Friday, I communed with this beautiful Trinity who cared for me in the night. We laid in the darkness together—most of the time just being together instead of doing anything overtly spiritual. I saw them guarding and protecting me and my daughter, smiling as if they weren't worried in the least bit, even laughing many times. Instead of moving into fear, or even warfare—I heard very clearly in my spirit that I was just supposed to rest—and that they would do all the fighting on my behalf.
On Saturday night as my body began to slightly contract, releasing more and more fluid each time, I was definitely bummed. Not fearful—not stressed—but confused and frustrated, especially with the clarity God had been speaking to my spirit about healing my wound.
“Ok, God,” I said Saturday night. “Replenish every drop of this fluid that comes out! I know you can do it, and I need you to do it—and I believe you! I will stand on what you told me—You are healing my wound.”
But as the night progressed, and the contractions moved from tightness to regular intervals, I moved out of the rest that God had told me to safely retreat in, and went into mama-bear war mode. I grabbed my belly, a host of scriptures, and began to declare. I turned on several sermons from my favorite and forever pastor—Bill Johnson—to get my head in the right mindset for the miraculous. Around 4:30 am as the leaking worsened, I heard my Father speak again.
“Christa, I told you I’m healing your wound. But you didn’t ask me what wound I wanted to heal.”
I sat in complete shock with tears streaming down my cheeks, knowing His words were true. But He wasn’t finished speaking.
“Beautiful girl, its time to completely heal the wound in your heart, and in Luke’s heart. And it’s Father’s Day. I’m going to give you both a Father’s Day present that will redeem the loss and heal your wounds.”
As I called in the nurse, letting her know the situation and they began to monitor my contractions, I knew our baby girl would be born soon. I knew that this Father’s Day would be the redemption that we all needed—especially my beautiful husband who has carried Luca’s death so tenderly and heavily—and that all of this was an elaborate plan of restoration that was going to blow us all away.
Wheeling back over to Labor and Delivery at 6:30 am Sunday morning, I put Bill’s Johnson’s sermon from Bethel Church called ‘The Seventh Day.’ I knew that this was a Sunday—the day of rest, and my instructions were to rest and see God do a miracle. I knew that it was Father’s Day, and my husband was going to get the present of his dreams that would heal our wounds. And as Bill instructed the entire congregation to shout out to God for their breakthrough on the podcast at 7:30 am, as if on cue from heaven, the rest of my water broke forth with the sound released on those speakers, sending me straight into active labor.
Breakthrough was coming—released by the sound. Our breakthrough was coming forth—and her name was Birdie James Gifford.
For the next two hours, my body prepared in active labor for the birth of my daughter. And though I’ve had two natural childbirths before and was excited to do it again, you can’t ever really prepare for the amount of pain that comes with each contraction. As the tension would roll into my body like a thousand steamrollers, I would head to be with the Trinity who I could see so clearly. Father was still on my right side, never leaving, always present. Jesus was my cheerleader with the big smile on His face, encouraging me along. Holy Spirit was in my womb with baby girl, laughing and playing with her, making sure there was no trauma.
And because I’m so calm and peaceful the entire time I give birth—never making a sound, never registering any pain—I have to remind myself to tell the nurses what’s going on, otherwise, it can be a bit deceiving.
“Hey guys, I feel pressure in my bottom,” I finally said in between contractions, letting them know they should probably check me. “She’s coming soon.”
As the nurse reached down to check my cervix, realizing I was dilated to an 8, she calmly, but quickly responded, “Yep, call Dr. Bullock as fast as you can. This baby is on its way.”
Within just a few short contractions and a room buzzing with NICU nurses—ready for the worst case scenario of a baby born at 31 weeks—our little Birdie James was born, making her debut before the doctor could even arrive.
She came out screaming and crying, restoring peace where Luca had been so silent.
She came out wiggling and kicking, reviving the life where Luca had been so still.
The redemption of this moment, I can never fully express. The cries of life after the sting of silent death—there is no greater gift a parent could ever know.
A Father’s Day present—-from the perfect Father.
As they pulled her forth and immediately began tending to her, I knew that the likelihood of her laying on my chest was slim to none—but I had still asked Jesus for it to happen anyway, and if you can’t tell, I’m a girl who tends to expect miracles. I knew that 31 week babies are usually whisked away, unable to sustain life on their own without immediate help in the breathing department. But because our little Birdie James was doing so well, breathing and crying out with life with oxygen testing at 92-93%, our NICU nurse (who I just happened to go to high school with), wrapped her up and laid her on my chest—the very thing I had asked Jesus for. She later told us that in her 12 years of nursing, she had never seen this happen with a 31 week old baby.
And the miracles just kept continuing.
Though many thought she would be close to 3 lbs, she was 3lb 10 oz, testing at an 8-9 on the apgar score and breathing without a respirator! Upon arrival in the NICU, the doctor looked at her and said, “This baby is our 31-week baby?” Her levels are amazing, she’s already feeding like a mad woman, (which means I’m pumping all night like a mad woman!), breathing like a champ, and has pulled out her feeding tube 2 times—proving she’s got a lot of fight in her.
Just like her mama. (:
Every day, I feel like I’m going to burst. Every day that we walk in to see her, I sense more heaven in her little NICU room than I ever have in any worship service, conference, or church. The hosts of heaven are singing over our little girl, the God of miracles is tending to her night and day. And because Luke and I are parking our hearts in the safe harbor of peace—it’s literally overflowing into our daughter’s her little body.
I’m astounded what love can do to the physical makeup. I’m amazed at what joy can do to restore and heal. But most of all, I know I’ve found the secret of life. I know that because I’ve learned to keep my heart connected in relationship through any circumstance, I can face anything that comes my way.
I’ve had zero fear—not one ounce of it—from the second my water broke. In fact, I haven’t had one ounce of fear this entire pregnancy. I’ve had zero anxiety—biting my nails about the unknown future, scared of what is to come. I’ve kept my head on the heart of my Father and listened, sitting at the feet of Jesus, and hearing the counsel of the Holy Spirit….and He’s told me everything I’ve needed to know to simply remain at peace.
Thank you for the lavish outpouring of prayers, gifts, comments, and generosity that’s come from friends, acquaintances, and total strangers over the past week. We feel so loved and adored as they continue to roll in. Thank you to the unbelievable doctors and nurses in Labor & Delivery and the NICU at Abilene Regional Medical Center. Though we didn't anticipate having our baby girl two states away from home two months early, we wouldn't have wanted to be anywhere else!
And if you follow me, get ready for an influx of Birdie James pics and updates–we're so proud of our baby girl and expect her out of the NICU before we can blink an eye!
But until then, we stay at peace, because we are hidden safely inside the Prince of Peace. And there's just no other way to live. (: