Jan 24, 2012

SHINE Spotlight....

Happy Tuesday, SHINE girls. Today's reading is 1 Samuel 17. http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=1%20samuel17&version=MSG

Get ready to be blessed. Grab a kleenex and a cup of coffee.

Our SHINE spotlight girl from last week, Erin Spinks, has chosen this week's SHINE spotlight. Enjoy her precious testimony. I'm still crying over here.

Erin's introduction:

"Next shine girl, Courtney Butler!!!!  I met Courtney about 2 years ago through a friend from Fitzgerald.  I instantly loved her, adored her, connected with her, and started a friendship with her.  She is full of grace!  She shines from the inside out!  Our paths do not pass much but her story and her heart are always dear to me.  She has faith that can move a mountain!  I cannot wait for you to meet her!  Enjoy her and love her with me!!  SHINE, my friend, shine!!"

Courtney's Story:

Remember when Casting Crowns came out with the song “Praise You In This Storm?” The first time I had heard that song was in March of 2006.  That song came on the radio every single day while my mom was driving back and forth from Lake Oconee to Augusta. It played every time.  Every single time.  Amazing how God works, isn’t it?  That beautiful song impacted our lives because that song was us.

I had already gone through some pretty tough times in my young 27 years of life.  At 12, my parents divorced.  At 15, my mom battled breast cancer.  At 25, the greatest man in my life, my daddy, died of a massive heart attack on Easter Sunday.  One would think, “Ok God..that’s enough for a lifetime.  I’m good from here on out, right?”  Wrong.

My husband Jon and I experienced one of the most difficult heartbreaks any parent can experience.  We were newlyweds (not even 10 months) and awaiting the arrival of our first born son, Harrison.  That much was a surprise because we had not planned to be parents so soon!  But hey, we were happy.  Who wouldn’t be?!!  So, here I was 30 weeks pregnant and after being sent to Augusta for what we thought was just more thorough ultrasounds, the doctors told us that Harrison needed to come out via emergency C-section ASAP.  The doctors said he had to come out if there was any chance for him…and even then, they could not assure us that he would live.  Excuse me..what is going on here?  We just had this 3-D ultrasound 2 weeks ago that showed a perfectly healthy baby boy.  Everything was perfect.  He was not supposed to be born until Mother’s Day weekend!  

God’s plan certainly was not what OUR plan was.  Tiny Harrison was born 10 weeks early on March 4, 2006.   Babies can miraculously survive being born premature every day, but Harrison was sick and the doctors could not figure out why.  Every second was crucial.  Every second was also a miracle.  Doctors did not know how long he was going to live.  I, of course, was convinced my child was going to be ok. He has to be, right?  I’ve already been through too much.  We were going to just be here in the NICU a while, but that was ok.  We would walk out as a happy little family, just as I had imagined it would be!  I mean, I had watched probably every episode of TLC’s “A Baby Story”.  This girl was ready!!  We could do this no matter how long we had to stay in the NICU.  We are a tough family so bring it on!  We are equipped and ready to get through this.  Well yes, we could do this, but not in the sense I certainly was thinking.  God’s plan was different.

The morning of March 9th, I sent my husband back to Eatonton to check in with work.  He needed a break, I thought, and since Harrison had not had a bad night, I thought it was safe and would be a normal morning.  My family would be checking on us later that day and we knew the neurologist would be visiting us later that day too.  So, off Jon went for a quick trip back home and I was going to spend my time with Harrison.  Unfortunately the neurologist visited early.  Tests had come back and they weren’t good.  There I was alone in that hospital when I got the devastating news that our newborn son, Harrison, would not make it.
I cried out to God to PLEASE not let my baby die!  We can stay in Augusta as long as it takes.  Just PLEASE let us get out of there with our baby in our arms.  Whatever we needed to do we would do it.  JUST PLEASE, GOD! I AM BEGGING YOU!!!

Here I was, a desperate young mother begging my Heavenly Father to save my son!  God heard my cries.  He could hear the fear in my voice.

At that very moment, God lifted me up off of the floor of the NICU.  I literally felt his strength pick me up. His strong arms held my fragile body and raised me up from that cold and lonely floor.  For the first time in my life, I could LITERALLY feel God.  It was the most incredible thing.  It was as if He had taken a portion of his strength and put it right in my body.  I knew I wasn’t alone.  My Heavenly Father was there.  He really was right there with me to care for me.  Of course he was, right?  He has always been there for me during my heartaches.  But on that day, His strength and Power took over and I FELT HIM.

Psalm 56:3 states “What time I am afraid I will trust in thee.”  I certainly did just that.  I knew God was filling me with the strength I needed. After all, I certainly didn’t think I had any on my own.  He was there to comfort me and get me through this.  I knew this because of the immediate comfort I felt from my Heavenly Father, telling me that we were going to be ok.  We would get through this with Him.

What a blessing it was that we had our son for an entire week.  What a miracle that was!  What a miracle it is for any woman to be able to carry a child and give birth.  There are too many women out there that never get to experience the joy of carrying a child.   I knew to focus on the positives, not drown in my sorrows, for God gave us life.  How could I be angry when He blessed us with Harrison’s precious?  Had I not listened to my mom and gone to the doctor, Harrison would’ve died in utero within the next 48 hours and I would’ve delivered him still born.  To me, there is no greater sadness and for any woman who either miscarries or has to deliver still born, my heart truly breaks.  Whether it was for 7 minutes, 7 hours, or 7 days we had life with Harrison and I praise God for that.   What we didn’t know was whether or not we could have any more children so I knew I had to focus on the many miracles..and believe me, there were so many.
He gave us precious time with our son.  He gave us that joy to hold him in our arms.   We had a fighter in our arms, strength that he felt from us.  Here was a preemie baby who had suffered a brain bleed into the brain stem, thus making it impossible for him to have any movement.  Yet, as I would do little exercises with his limbs, he would resist me.  I would move his little arm one way and he would move it in the opposite direction.  The doctors couldn’t explain it but I could.  That was my powerful God!  My God showed me that He was in control.  Not the doctors.  He gave us many little miracles throughout the week.  The greatest was just being able to hold life in my arms.  What a special gift that was.

In that incredible song “Praise You In This Storm” the lyrics say “I raise my hands and praise the God who gives and takes away.”  I remember waking up on Saturday, March 11, 2006 in the hotel.  I didn’t want to get up.  Call it that mother’s intuition or whatever but I knew this day was it.  All week long I wanted to hear my son cry.  When he was born, he didn’t cry.  I guess he was too sick.  I just wanted to hear my baby cry.  Well, I heard him cry, but it wasn’t in the NICU.  It was in my dreams.  To me, that was a sign that it would be our last day with him.  I wanted to hit the rewind button.  I wanted to wake up from this awful week long dream and still be pregnant.  My dreams of spending the rest of my life with this precious life were about to be stomped on.  My strength was gone.  I…was…a…wreck.

As we held him in our arms knowing we just had a few more minutes, Jon and I told Harrison that it was ok.  Mommy and Daddy would be ok.  He could give up his fight and let go.  Right before he took his last breath, he squeezed Jon’s finger.   Nothing, nothing, nothing could ever take away that joy amidst our pain.  God gave us that last little miracle so we would know that Harrison knew his mommy and daddy were holding him.  We praise God for that.  Without His hand in this, we would not have been so very blessed.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4 tells us “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.”   I know that one of the missions God had for me and Jon was share our story.   Plus, it is continued healing for us both.  We still have our moments of sadness, but we try our best to focus on the blessings.  We chose to praise God in this terrible, terrible storm.  We knew we could handle it because we had our Father and Jon and I had each other.  Yes, our precious first born son was now in Heaven, but our Father blessed us with a life for a week.  That is how we chose to handle the tragedy.  Our specific case was a 1 in 2 million chance.  It took the doctors over 3 months to figure it out.  One might wonder WHY us?  Why are we that 1 in 2 million?  Well, I believe it is because He chose us to be the parents to that special child.  He chose us to be the ones to hold him and love him for that week.  God believed in us…that we could get through it together.  He also believed that we could use our story to hopefully help others in a similar trial.

God has a plan for each of us.  If we can’t trust in God, then who can we put our trust in?  I know there is no other I’d rather put my trust in.  He has proved to me through many storms in my life that He will ALWAYS bring me joy.   My last scripture to share is this.  Psalm 30:5 “..His favor lasts a lifetime.  Weeping may last through the night, but joy comes with the morning.”   That, we know, is the truth!"

Hamilton and Alli Hayes~
Their angel baby....Harrison.

the beautiful Alli Hayes~
she looks a whole lot like their beloved Harrison
~The Butler Family~Jon, Alli Hayes, Courtney, and  Hamilton~


Anonymous said...

I love my friend, Courtney!!! Your strength guides me daily! Your story will be used to do wonders in someone's life. Because of your faithfulness, God will use you to comfort and love others through their own pains. You are beautiful! I am so thankful that God layed your story on my heart last week while I was praying for who I should choose. You speak loudly in love! May God surround you in peace--you will hold that precious Harrison again and I cannot wait to be by your side in heaven when you do!! Rejoicing for that day!!! I love you!
erin spinks <3

Sweet Inlow's said...

I heard your heart and love for Him!! What a blessing you are Courtney.

And girl isn't heaven going to be AWESOME?!?! I have 2 little faces up there I can't wait to smooch and inhale their scent. I was never able to hold them, but I loved them just the same.

God bless you as you continue to shine His Light through your story.

Lisa Inlow

Mary Hudgins Balicki said...

I loved your story, Courtney and it was great to meet you and Heather on Sunday.
Thanks for sharing such amazing grace and strength in that intense storm. Your Harrison is plumb gorgeous, his photo melted my heart. So grateful for the promise that you'll be able to hold him and love on him again.
Blessings to you sister~

Mary Hudgins Balicki said...

Lisa...your words are so precious. I hope I get to catch a glimpse of you loving on your babies in heaven. Seriously. Just the thought of this is almost more than I can take as your Momma love is like no other, it will be an amazing sight. xoxo~!

Women Who Pray said...

Courtney, I'm sure you've read Heaven is for Real...if not, please do. I also have one I didn't get to hold...my George...and I look forward to the day I hold and smooch him...like you, Lisa...I love him just the same as if he were here. I have a precious niece who has 3 there...2 she didn't hold and one she held a little more than a week...Mommyhood has been the best of all worlds...and I'm eternally that at heart! Glad to have you precious women to share this earth with...not all pleasant all the time...but precious just the same!!!! Love you! :) <3

Ladona said...

Courtney, after reading your post, I had to ask God to let my heart be still, as it was rapidly beating with the pain you suffered and as you said with the JOY. How great is our God, so intimate with our details of a wonderous Harrison. Praying for you and your beautiful family and feel blessed to have shared in this miracle with you through your words.

Krischa said...

I feel so blessed by your story! What amazing strength, that yes, only God can give. And aren't we blessed to have that! I often wonder how people that don't have God make it through the struggles of their life. I also have a precious baby in heaven- our 1st (son or daughter). I miscarried at 8 weeks and I didn't know what to do with myself. I didn't want to go on, but I am so glad I did. Mommy to 3 precious kiddos now and each one of them is a true blessing. I have often said that I think it would be harder to carry the baby and deliver it than to miscarry like I did. But you showed the other side of that thought- how it can be such a blessing! Thank you, Thank you, Thank you! I can't wait for all of us mommas to get to heaven and love on our precious babies that God has been loving for us! It was a pure joy and blessing meeting you on Sunday! Keep Shinning!

Kate Wicker said...

Courtney, thank you for the beautiful post and for being such a powerful Christian witness. Your precious Harrison is one of the world's tiniest missionaries because he certainly brought others to Christ.

What an inspiring way to start my day! (I actually read this earlier this morning, but I'm just now getting around to dropping a line.)

God bless!

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for sharing Courtney! Your story definitely touched my heart in many ways. I admire you for the awesome faith you have. You have endured more than most do in a lifetime. Your positive attitude and outlook toward the Lord and the situation is so encouraging to me. I am so sorry for all of the loss and hardship you have had to endure. My heart breaks just thinking about what you have been through. I just pray that the Lord continues to keep His hand on you and your family, and that He has nothing but blessings coming your way! And I am blown away at what He has done through you and what He is doing through you. You told your story beautifully. And Harrison's picture is breathtaking. I know he's waiting on his momma in the Father's arms. Love, Sarah Frachiseur

Terri Abbott said...

Courtney what a blessing for me to meet you last Sunday and to share in hearing your story. Yes, it is an ongoing healing and so amazing how God was with you at every step and came to so strong ....at your weakest moment. Oh, how faithful he is. Joy does come in the morning. Praise Him for his love for you and your family. Who knows how many 'nick's we get on our hearts in this lifetime? But He equips every step just as you have testified. God bless you and yours continually. ALL your family is beautiful. And thank you for being willing to share your heart even tho it quickens those memories. There is much for others in your same place to glean from this. Bless your heart, you're an angel.

Courtney Butler said...

YES! Heaven will be incredibly awesome and I expect all of our babies will be right there waiting on us. We are blessed that we were able to even get pregnant. Blessings to you!

Courtney Butler said...

Thank you, Mary. I enjoyed meeting you too :)

Courtney Butler said...

Yes, I read it last summer at the beach. There's another one my brother gave me to read .. similar to that one .. that i'm about to start! We are all so blessed to have the LOVE of motherhood so ingrained in us all. What a gift we have been given by our Lord and Savior! I just know that all of our babies are awaiting our arrival. One day we will ALL rejoice!

Courtney Butler said...

Thank you Ladona!

Courtney Butler said...

We are so very fortunate to have been blessed with more babies to love. I enjoyed meeting you too and will definitely be praying for you as you begin your new chapter with your little one in February!

Courtney Butler said...

Thank you, Kate. I sure hope our miracle baby has helped bring lost ones closer to our Creator! God Bless you too! :)

Courtney Butler said...

Thank you, Sarah. God blesses me every single day and I praise Him for that daily. Through all my trials I know God loves me and with each pain I was only being prepared for the next. I have to praise Him for preparing me for each. May God continue to pour out His blessings on you :)

Courtney Butler said...

Thank you so much Terri for your kind words. God never intends to hurt us. He only wants us to continue to lean on Him for all our needs. I know that the SHINE girls can help people do just that! I know I look forward to all He has in store for me and my family. You were a joy to meet on Sunday, also. Hope to see you again!

Courtney Butler said...

You are such a dear friend and I greatly appreciate you! God blesses each of us that can call you friend. You are so vibrant! Your attitude is addictive and only helps the rest of us want to be better at all times. XOXO

Rebekah Hudgins said...

Courtney, I love your story and your account of the moments before and after Harrison was born. What a beautiful babe.

Thank you for pouring out your heart. The goodness that spills over to all of us is immeasurable. I love the song, “Praise You In This Storm.” How fitting for you through this time and for all of us through tragedy. So far, this year has brought many storms and it is only January. I am so thankful that He is there is carry us through.

I smile so big when I think of all of the baby reunions that are coming when we all meet Jesus.

God bless you, sister. With Love, Rebekah

Mrs. Lancaster said...

What an amazing testimony God has given you. A way to share God's love and faithfulness to women for years and years to come. That sweet baby went from being safe in his mommy's arms to being safe in the arms of his Father. Heaven is that much more sweet for you...and reunion day will be amazing!!! Thank you for sharing your heart. As a mommy that is pregnant for the third time, with all kinds of fears and worries at the forefront of my mind, your story helped to remind me that Jesus loves this precious little one inside me even more than I do. His will and His plan are all I want for my children..all three of them!

Courtney Butler said...

Lifting you up in prayer as you go through your storms. You are a SHINE girl, sister, so SHINE through them with God holding your hand!

Courtney Butler said...

Praise God that you are also blessed with babies. Prayers lifted for you that your pregnancy goes smoothly and that precious baby is a healthy one. Thank you for your kind words!