Thursday, July 11, 2013

Naming Isaac: Finding Hope Beyond the Bitter-Sweet Future

Please Note: I will continue typing a small paragraph at the top about our recent, day-to-day interactions or stories reguarding Isaac. The "real" posts will begin immediately after, starting with the title of the blog post. 

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Tomorrow Scott and I will meet one of the last times in the office of our dearest doctor/neonatologist, moral supporter and friend, to discuss as best we can how we are going to handle the birth of Isaac, and the intense medical decisions we have awaiting us come delivery. 

At one point, it seemed that any decision we could make would put Isaac through cascading events of "torture." As we listened to the options, whether we chose a medical route or a non-invasive route post-delivery, each set of opposing options were undesirable and it is very difficult to face all of them. The doctor apologized to us, about having to make such decisions. This was her first time counseling a couple with such challenging options- usually there are few to none in our kind of circumstance. 

Either way, in the medical world, the ultimate outcome is supposed to be the same. To us, however, the outcome is a matter of God's plan for Isaac's life, and nothing less.  

Isaac's story: Post 5

Finding Hope Beyond the Bitter-Sweet Future

Written at current 33 weeks gestation

You would think that faith reaches its highest possible point here: a complete acceptance and trust in God's will, whatever it may be, even faith in not being healed, and moving forward with the necessary actions required to show such trust and complete alignment of our will with his.

It is not always so.

In some cases, faith beyond this kind of faith is asked of us. For me, it has been the most difficult and slow coming to reach, to ignite within my heart and mind, and keep aglow, yet, it has also been the most comforting as the warmth of so much hope and growth of spirit and character surrounds my soul even amidst the unknown events that are soon to unfold before us.

In the beginning, I wanted so badly for a miracle because I wanted it for Isaac, for my family, for me. Then I saw the broader picture, and humbled myself to the point of having faith in him not being healed if that were God's will. Only once I reached that point in my faith could God teach me the next step in faith. He doesn't want us to become complacent with the "It is what it is and so it must be God's will" mindset. Rather, never giving up on Him and his ability to work miracles in all things is what became clear to me that I was to do. It seemed easier having already accepted a "fate" for Isaac at one point, to just keep it that way so I could move through it, but now God was the one wanting me to have faith in a miracle, to continue to have hope, as impressed upon me on several different personal experiences and occasions.

Little did I know, that the day we named our baby boy, would spark the beginning of the most intense kind of faith I've ever had to practice, and more than that, it would spark within me a deeper knowledge of Heavenly Father's incredible love from a perspective I could not have witnessed before.

If you asked me today, I could not tell you the meaning of our daughter Sydney's name. I simply have not looked it up. We didn't officially name her until the name was written on the birth certificate in the hospital.

Isaac has had an official name since he was the size of a bell pepper. Because we were told his life would be short, we wanted to get to know him as well as possible while he was in the womb, comparitively "safe and sound."We wanted his name to have a special meaning and so every name we looked up we also made sure of what it meant.

The name Isaac, in biblical terms means "child of the covenant/child of the promise," to us, being married in the covenant, he is ours now and forever. The name Asher means "fortunate, blessed, happy," as we know will be and is his outcome, no matter what.

Isaac Asher Walton:
"Fortunate/blessed child of the covenant."

But the reason we chose "Isaac" has less to do with the meaning of the name and more to do with the story behind it.

Already on our short running list of boy names, the name Isaac didn't stand out so dramatically and emotionally as it did the day someone recounted this story, an old story, a true one, that very much hit home to me.

We've gotten very close to Isaac since the day we named him. We have come to know him so well, even our extended family members feel so similarly. It kind of feels to Scott and I like I will always be pregnant with Isaac and he will keep being our brother and son from within. We are very comfortable with how we are now- and yet, we only have a few more weeks of this hopeful kind of time with Isaac.

However, our hope extends beyond his birth, beyond the unknown, and even beyond what is medically "expected." The story behind his name has much to do with why we still have hope, hope in a miracle, even amidst having faith in him not being healed.

And so the story goes~
(If you know the story of Abraham and Isaac, you may prefer to skip down to the black print, where the blog picks back up~however, it is a wonderful story to review and is the basis for much of our faith and hope.)

     "Abraham and Sarah had been married about thirty years but had been unable to have children. Sarah was becoming old and Abraham was worried. The Lord had told him that through his descendants the nations of the earth would be blessed, but without children he would have no descendants. Abraham prayed about these concerns, and the Lord promised him that he would someday have a son. Abraham did not know how this promise could be fulfilled. He knew it would take a miracle for Sarah to have a baby in her old age, but Abraham had faith.
Many more years passed. Abraham was about one hundred years old and Sarah ninety when the Lord told Abraham the exciting news: Sarah would soon give birth to a son, who should be named Isaac. Abraham was so happy that he bowed his face to the earth and humbly thanked the Lord.
When the baby was born, Sarah rejoiced. After forty years of waiting she finally had a baby; she knew that his birth was truly a great blessing of the Lord.
Abraham and Sarah loved and cared for Isaac. As he grew, they taught him about Heavenly Father and taught him how to pray. He was a fine boy, and Abraham and Sarah were very proud of him.
One day, when Isaac was a grown boy, Abraham received a revelation. The Lord said, “Take now thy son, thine only son Isaac, whom thou lovest, and get thee into the land of Moriah, and offer him there for a burnt offering upon one of the mountains which I will show thee.”
Abraham was heartsick, and many questions ran through his mind. How could he offer his precious son as a burnt offering? Abraham hated the idea of human sacrifice. And how could he have descendants to bless the nations of the earth if Isaac were killed? Why would the Lord command him to do such a terrible thing, especially after he had waited so long to have a son? But because Abraham was a man of great faith, he prepared to obey the Lord’s command.
Abraham and Isaac arose early in the morning, saddled the donkey, and took two young servants with them. Carrying wood for the burnt offering, they set out for the land of Moriah. For three days they traveled. Abraham’s heart was heavy with sorrow; he loved Isaac so much. Why had he received this commandment?
Finally he could see Moriah in the distance. Abraham instructed the two servants, “Abide with the donkey, and Isaac and I will go yonder and worship.”
Abraham placed the bundle of wood to be used for the burnt offering on Isaac’s back, while he carried a knife and a flame to light the fire.
While they walked together toward Moriah to make their offering, Isaac realized that they had forgotten something and asked, “Behold the fire and the wood, but where is the lamb for the burnt offering?”
With sadness Abraham answered, “My son, God will provide himself a lamb for a burnt offering.”
When they came to the place, Abraham built an altar and put the wood upon it. Then with feelings of despair he bound Isaac with strong bands and laid him across the altar. Isaac realized what this meant, but he trusted his father. He knew his father would only do what was right. Isaac was willing to have his life sacrificed if his father commanded.
Abraham’s heart ached, but with knife in hand he lifted his arm to kill his beloved son.
Just then the voice of an angel called unto him, saying, “Abraham, Abraham, lay not thine hand upon the lad; neither do thou anything unto him; for now I know that thou fearest God, seeing thou hast not withheld thy son from me.”
Relief and gratitude filled Abraham. Abraham then knew that the Lord was testing his faith; because Abraham had been obedient, he had passed the test. He thanked the Lord. Then lifting up his eyes, he beheld a ram caught by his horns in a thicket. Abraham took the ram and offered it for a burnt offering instead of his son.
Again the angel of the Lord called to Abraham from heaven, saying, “Thus saith the Lord, because thou didst not withhold thy son, thou shalt be blessed. Thy descendants will be as numerous as the stars of heaven and as the sand on the seashore. And through all thy descendants shall the earth be blessed because thou hast obeyed my voice.”
*Story quoted from at THIS link
*A scriptural account of this is found in the Holy Bible, Genesis chapter 22

Initially, I associated the story of Abraham and Isaac with sacrifice, knowing that we too, were being asked to sacrifice our only son. It is not the same kind of sacrifice as unexpectedly loosing a child in a sudden car wreck, or going in to an ultrasound appointment to find out your baby has already passed on. I don't know which would be worse. 

However, we were warned.

We found out very early in this pregnancy what was wrong and were even warned prior to that through a priesthood blessing only 2 days after it was even possible to find out we were pregnant. 

God has led us into this refiners fire, and I'm sure we have yet to bare the most intense of its heat. Yet, through this fire of what many would call a "trial," we are discovering it to be a real blessing, definitely refining, and the blessings are still unfolding; I'm sure the greatest of them are yet to come.

Just like us, Abraham too, knew he was asked to sacrifice his son. Abraham was obedient to the will of 

God and moved forward with faith, yet in the last second before this difficult sacrifice, his hand was stopped and his son was saved and replaced by another sacrificial offering, a ram found in the "thicket" (bushes). 

Likewise, Christ is the ram provided for us that we too may be saved. 

Even Christ himself, the most perfect person to walk the face of the earth, had hope until his bitter end:

"..Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me:
nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done."
Luke 22:42

There was no "ram in the thicket" to take the place of Christ, for he was the ram, the ultimate sacrifice. He knew what was asked of him by the Father, and He was willing- yet he had hope, even in the last hour, that it be removed from him.

There may not be a "ram in the thicket," for our little Isaac, that he may live a life on this earth bearing a most miraculous of miracles, or maybe the sacrifice has been what we've experienced all along the way, or what is to come and that is all that is required, but either way, we have hope, until the bitter-sweet future, that God may heal Isaac. 

We know that He can. We don't know that He won't. We accept and have faith if he doesn't, and yet we know, even against all odds, that with God, all things are possible, and through faith, miracles are brought forth.

I have searched and prayed for an answer to know God's will concerning Isaac's life. I would have loved for God to impress upon my soul one way or another what His will is for him, so I could more easily align my will with His and have faith in that one outcome, and yet the only answer I have gotten is to "not give up hope; continue to have faith so that He can bless me with miracles." 
Of course those miracles can come in life or death, however through personal experiences I know that the kind of faith and hope God is asking of me is faith and hope in an earthly miracle; a miracle we will witness with our own eyes, not just in our hearts. 

We continue to pray for him to be healed of Trisomy 18, so that we may raise him up in our home unto the Lord, and we will do so until the bitter-sweet beginning of Isaac's future, 

whether his future is 

heavenly or earthly

If Isaac is not healed here on earth, if that is not the miracle we witness with our eyes, our faith and hope in such is most definitely not in vain, but rather a blessing of strength in obedience, in spirit, in character. 

What God is testing us over may have nothing to do with Isaac himself, but everything to do with our obedience to the impressions we have received and to the faith and hope we have already obtained. Our personal salvation rests on this~ our faith. The salvation of all mankind rests on faith. We are being blessed for some reason to obtain faith in a way we never could without this experience.

It was this past Easter that both Scott and I came home from church with two very tender experiences that complimented each other beautifully~ Separately, we had each watched the same short video clip on the crucifixion of the Savior prior to his resurrection. 

Scott experienced an immediate likening of Christ to our baby Isaac- completely innocent, sent here to suffer physical, emotional pain and die, ultimately for the benefit of all mankind- Isaac, for the benefit of all who have been touched by his story and life.
My experience was that on the other end of the sacrifice- Heavenly Father's sacrifice. He sacrificed his most innocent, perfect, only begotten son. I always have known this, but never before had I felt even a fraction of the amount of difficulty it takes to actually sacrifice your child. I knew the intense pain I have felt reguarding Isaac's supposed short life and for a moment, on a very small scale, I could empathize with my Heavenly Father and the sacrifice it was for him to let His son go through that. In the moment I related with this sacrifice He had made for me, and all mankind, I instantly felt a most overwhelming love. He loves me that much that He was willing to go through what I'm going through with Isaac, but on a much larger, more difficult scale. That is a very intense love that I never had been able to feel in such a way before experiencing a similar kind of sacrifice.

Our Heavenly Father loves us- a lot.

Sometimes God will let us know His will, and in other times, He won't. He does in his all-knowing wisdom what is best for each of us pertaining to our growth and faith.

I don't know God's will concerning Isaac, but I do know that it is God's will for us to continue to have hope and build our faith, and so we are doing just that- as hard as it is, facing the facts of science and having accepted and found faith already that "Isaac is expected to die young." 

We are sure of nothing except 

that God's plan for us and for Isaac, 
whatever the outcome may be, 
healing or no healing, 

will bring us the most joy,

as we remain faithful, and full of hope.

We know that,

and that is all we need to

find hope beyond the bitter-sweet future

which we face very, very soon.


  1. Stephanie, I am so grateful you are being so open and sharing this. Thank you. I wish I were there physically to support you in a couple weeks, but my prayers will be with your family. Take care!

    1. Thanks Stormie :) We sure miss you around here :/ I'm glad we have a few of your beach belongings to remember you by until we get to see you again! Thanks for your prayers! Love ya

  2. This is so beautifully written! I am amazed at how humbly you let this experience shape, mold and refine your faith. Thanks for sharing.

  3. Steph, you are such a great example to me. Thank you for sharing your insights about the Gospel. Sydney and Isaac are lucky to have you as their mom.

  4. Thanks you guys!!! You are sweet. Your comments make me happy :)

  5. Again, I am amazed by you. Beautiful testimony. Beautiful humility. Beautiful heart. You are such a beautiful woman. I want to be like you, Stephanie. Thank you for sharing. Thank you for allowing this experience to bring you closer to Christ, and for sharing it with others and bringing us closer to Him as well. Thank you for living the gospel...for being a doer of the word, and not a hearer only. I love you!


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