Our first child was born at the hospital and the birth was scheduled with an induction. Other than the fact that we had a beautiful baby girl, Catherine Grace, the results of that induction were not so good and we learned the hard way that it’s so much better to allow God to call that baby from the womb at His appointed time, rather than scheduling a birth to suit ourselves. We don’t schedule death. Why, then, do we make it common practice to schedule birth? So we had the rest of our children at home, trusting God with the time of birth, knowing that He has a divinely appointed time for each baby to take their first breath.
Our son came 2 years later and I surprised my mother, who was visiting from five hundred miles away, as I introduced her to my midwife when she showed up at my front door for my first prenatal appointment. As the three of us sat around my kitchen table waiting on my midwife to figure out the due date, I told my mother that the baby would be born on her birthday. She was amused at my prophetic words. Indeed, the due date was set for 4 days following her 56th birthday. At 9:00 PM on October 12 my mother called to check on us. I told her there were no signs of a baby except that I felt very good all day. Once again she showed her amusement and joked with me that I’d better get busy if I was to have a baby on her birthday. Less than six hours later my sister called her, waking her in the middle the night to wish her a happy birthday and to congratulate her on her first grandson, Bobby Landis.
One year later we said goodbye as her body lay in a casket. After the burial my mother’s family gathered for food and celebrated my son’s first birthday. As I watched my little boy enjoy his cake and heard the laughter of family all around us I marveled at how God caused the end of one life and the beginning of another to collide so that the tears that had been shed moments earlier were overcome with laughter. The celebration of birth and life in the midst of sorrow soothed our broken hearts like warm May breezes that push back April clouds and insist that peace and hope take center stage.
Hope. She was due on Pearl Harbor Day and as I took my daily walk down our road to encourage Hope’s arrival, I kicked at the gravel saying out loud, “This is a stupid time to have a baby.” Childish? Sure, but I had an excuse. I was pregnant. My husband, Bobby, was running sound for our church and dress rehearsals for the huge Christmas production were underway. And he was dedicated. It wasn’t his way to ask for time off for the birth of a baby. He didn’t want to inconvenience anyone and he certainly didn’t think anyone else could do his job as well as he. He had to be there and I knew it would take the hand of God to work this one out. And He did. There had been a dress rehearsal on Thursday night and on Friday I felt so good (again) that I raked leaves all that day. On Friday night we went to our Sunday School class Christmas party where someone had the crazy idea that a group of 100 people should play the white elephant gift game. For over 2 hours we fought over stupid novelties and oddities and it seemed that everyone wanted whatever gift I’d chosen so that I was forced to get up and down numerous times to go fetch a new gift. We got home late and after we put the babies to bed, my husband quickly put himself to bed as he had the final dress rehearsal early in the morning. He’d only been asleep 30 minutes when I woke him with the words, “It’s time.” Rebecca Hope Bowen arrived in the wee hours of the morning on her due date and after her joyful debut, she and I took over our bed forcing Bobby to find a place to sleep in our spare bedroom. He got a couple of hours of sleep and reported for duty at the church before the rest of the crew arrived. He was tired but didn’t miss a beat ….nor a birth.
Our fourth child, another girl, was expected to arrive around the 10th of February. My husband was working for a tree-cutting company at the time and they were scheduled to work a couple of hours away from home for a week leading up to my due date. Again, I was tempted to worry about his absence occurring when I went into labor. Instead God surprised us with a baby coming 10 days early! Just like the last time, Bobby had gone to bed but I woke him 30 minutes later announcing that it was time to have another baby. He methodically rolled out of bed and proceeded to get things ready for Adia Faith to make her entrance. By this time he knew what to do. Faith was born less than 90 minutes after I woke Bobby and yes, the midwife made it in time.
Women have babies while their husbands are away all the time. It wouldn’t be the end of the world to have a baby while Bobby was busy away from home but certainly my hopes were for him to pray over me, to pray over the baby, to welcome our child, to deliver the baby, if possible. God had shown me three times that He could be trusted with the timely births of our children. He proved that His scheduled births were on time every time. Even if Bobby missed a birth, I knew God would be there and it was His presence I needed the most. But Bobby hadn’t missed a birth…..yet.
When Faith was not quite 2 years old, our family began to travel and minister with music across America. And when we calculated the due date for our fifth child, we realized Bobby had us touring for 3 weeks in Texas, Oklahoma, and New Mexico in the days surrounding the due date. Obviously, I was not going to be doing any touring and I knew without question, God would, again, prove He was in control and baby #5 would arrive at just the right time.
Bobby’s departure date drew closer and closer. I walked not once a day, but twice a day. I refrained from eating foods I’d heard might delay labor. I prayed, and finally, in desperation, bargained with God. Bobby canceled the first singing appointment, hoping that our baby would be born that night and he’d leave the following morning. However, there was no baby and Bobby reasoned that he could not put leaving off any longer. It was pouring down rain as the 3 children waited in the car while their daddy and I stood outside. With an attempt to encourage me he quickly said, “He’ll wait ’til I get back to be born.” With tears in my eyes and a huge lump in my throat I rolled my eyes and sarcastically said, “yeah, right!” I knew there was no possibility of that happening with a fifth baby whose siblings had all been born early or on time, not to mention the fact that “daddy’s” return was over a week AFTER baby’s due date.
Every night at bedtime I’d make sure all was ready for Skyping Bobby and the children in case I went into labor after midnight as I’d done with the other children. Every morning I’d awaken and realize nothing happened. Baby’s due date came and went like the cold March winds that blew outside. My midwife visited me around the due date and I watched her brow furrow as she checked my rising blood pressure. We prayed and we waited.
Eight days after the due date she came once more, solemn as she checked my blood pressure, but believing God had a plan. My first instinct was to look up Toxemia on the Internet but I changed my mind knowing I’d only be tempted to worry and that wouldn’t bring my blood pressure down. Rather, I decided to be as ignorant and obedient as possible.
“I’m leaving my bag here. I’ll be back tonight because you’re gonna have a baby tonight. That baby is waiting for his daddy to get here,” she said. And then she gave me instructions for the day. “Eat 6-8 eggs today and soak in a bath of Epsom salts.” I did exactly as I was told. I’m glad I love eggs.
As she spoke these words, Bobby and the kids had already driven the first one hundred fifty of the one thousand-mile trek toward home. They only stopped to refuel and grab some prepackaged truck stop food to eat in the car. The kids were in a race with a baby brother they’d not yet met and Bobby was excited to deliver and hold his awaited son.
At last, extremely weary, they pulled in the driveway at 9:45 PM and 2 hours later I had my first contraction. Three hours after the first contraction, Justis Loy Bowen made a screaming entrance.
God knew all along that I’d be just fine without my husband but He also wanted to show what He could do if He were given the opportunity. So many times we don’t wait on Him and we rob ourselves of experiencing some of His greatest surprises. If we could discipline ourselves to wait and see what the Lord will do in the uncertain times in our lives, we might just see miraculous births, job promotions, waters parted, dead people raised to life, or maybe the Holy Spirit poured out. God’s word does promise that when we wait on Him our strength is renewed, we soar above problems with wings like eagles, and we run and walk without wearing out. (Isaiah 40:31)
The next time you’re up against a wall and you don’t know what to do, wait on the Lord. I promise you will NOT be disappointed in a God who will never fail you.