Forty nine years ago today, a beautiful little girl was born to me. It had been a difficult pregnancy, much of it spent in bed, but Kristi Leigh McClain entered this world with all ten fingers and all ten toes, a head full of black hair, and perfect form.
She kept me waiting five weeks past my due date, following the pattern of my mother who had all three of her children weeks late. Because my pregnancy had been fraught with problems, Dr. Phillips felt this extra time was needed for Kristi’s well being. Some years after she was born, he told me of his expectation that I would not carry my baby to term, but would miscarry. He held a special affection for Kristi, feeling she was somewhat a miracle he helped bring into being.
When my daughter was just seven years old, she came to me and said she wanted to give her heart to Jesus. The picture of us standing in the kitchen where that conversation happened is burned into my mind and heart forever—a precious memory. We went to her room, knelt by her bed and prayed the prayer that gave Kristi second birth. Her immersion baptism was in a pool of unheated water and she told me afterward that the water was cold, but when she came up it felt “so good.” I knew in my heart that Kristi’s feeling wasn’t about arising into a warmer temperature, but knowing the joy of being the Lord’s.
From the beginning, Kristi had a sweet and compassionate spirit. Her nature was to give and share whatever she had; she would do without for another to have something they wanted. She forgave quickly and easily. And, of course, that sensitive heart often brought heartbreak from those who would take advantage.
Kristi was always a good student and graduated high school a year early. Her college years further revealed her love for learning. Soon after graduation, she and her college sweetheart married and she became Mrs. Mark Hearn. Mark was sent straight from the Lord to love and stand beside her in the years to come, where Kristi would have one health issue after the other.
I don’t think it is just a mother’s overprotective heart when I say Kristi has had more adversity than most. On quite a few occasions she has escaped death itself. The Lord brought her through a severe vaccine reaction as a child, a boating accident as a teen, a highway accident with a semi truck in young adulthood, cancer that was originally misdiagnosed a few years back, and the shutting down of her kidneys and cardiac arrest not quite two years ago. This is just a partial list, a list I’ve kept since her early childhood when I realized God had special angels watching over my child. She has suffered with chronic pain for 15 or more years. Yet through it all, her faith has remained strong and sure. She has never said, “Why me?” Rather, “God has a reason for this. He has always taken care of me and He always will.” She has used her health problems to witness to the God who has saved her time and again. She looks for opportunities to proclaim His goodness on each medical visit—and there are many.
Thought it hurts a mother’s heart to see her child go through so much, it is a supreme joy to know her love for the Lord and her trust in Him. Many parents don’t know if their children have eternal security and I have the chief blessing of that assurance. Why Kristi has had trial after trial, I don’t know; I do know they have made her better and not bitter.
I love you, my darling daughter. I delight in your steadfast faith in the One who made you and called as His own at a very tender age. You are an example of courage and strength that comes from adversity when placed in the hands of the Lord.
I celebrate you today as the beautiful gift you are. I love you more than anyone else on this earth; you come second only to God. Thank you for being my daughter and an example of faith under fire.
In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 1:6-7 ESV)
Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him. (James 1:12 ESV)
Jean Williams said:
Pat, spoken like a true mother. I hear the love and respect in every word. Happy birthday, Kristi! I’m still praying for you. :))
Pat Luffman Rowland said:
Thank you, Jean, for those continued prayers. I know the Lord hears and I know He will answer.
Ernestine S. Bonicelli said:
Thank you for sharing your “birthday letter” with us! It is a beautiful one, describing a most beautiful life. To us who know Christ, it is a life more to be desired for our children than any earthly fame or fortune, to be sure. I bless Kristi as well, and thank God for a child of His who is so faithful to Him. She is truly the “salt and light” we are all called to be.
Pat Luffman Rowland said:
I am grateful beyond ability to say for my child’s faith. Thank you, Ernestine, for your comments. I will forward them to Kristi to be sure she sees them.