I often wondered when my own “life bomb” would occur. When would that moment come where suddenly things were no longer perfect? I’ve always had a keen awareness of how fortunate my life has been. I was born into a wonderful family, had a perfect childhood, and had walked through life without any overwhelming challenges.
While I was pregnant with my second child, my husband, Matthew, and I struggled to find affordable childcare. I was working full time and financially there was no possible way for me to quit my job and stay home. Fear took over as I became overwhelmed, endlessly searching for a solution.
One morning at church, I felt the Lord say to me,
Do NOT worry.”
The message came as a command, and without a doubt, I knew it was from Him. Right there in that moment everything changed. As I decided to listen and obey Him, the Lord immediately took my fears and replaced them with His peace. I had no idea how everything would work out when I confidently turned in my resignation so I could stay home and care for our children, but I fully trusted the Lord, believing that He would provide.
In the final weeks of my pregnancy I felt the Lord speak to me again. This time He said, “This baby will need your extra attention.”
I thought, “Well, then it’s a good thing I’ll be staying home!”
Shortly after, we welcomed Tate Ryan into the world. Tate’s name was chosen when I was a little girl. I had always wanted a boy and had spent years daydreaming about what Tate would be like. The Tate I imagined was tall and strong like his dad, athletic like his uncles, and Mr. Personality like his grandpa.
Moments after Tate was born a pediatric nurse from the NICU came into our room to share the unexpected news that Tate was born with Down syndrome. Two things occurred in that moment: first, the Lord immediately reminded me of His words “This baby will need your extra attention,” and second, I was devastated.
The hours after Tate’s birth were the most challenging moments I have ever experienced. There were no calls of celebration to our parents, only a quick text message to let them know Tate had arrived safely. My eyes were swollen from tears of grief while my head was pounding in pain from all of the questions, doubts, and troubling thoughts floating around in my mind: “Tate will never drive a car. Tate will never get married. Tate will never have his own children. I know nothing about Down syndrome. I’m not qualified to take care of my own baby.” Nevertheless, Matthew and I knew deep down that Tate was our son, created in God’s own perfect image.
In the midst of my doubt, I witnessed the Lord’s words to me come full circle. What I thought was a word from the Lord about my job was indeed so much more. Somehow in those hours of doubt and fear, the peace of God that transcends all understanding was with me. As the daylight appeared, the doubts and questions began to soften, and the peace of God grew stronger. His words “do NOT worry” were so real even as we opened the educational material from the hospital and began to read the list of challenges our baby would likely experience. We made a decision in that moment that we would seek the Lord’s guidance first when it came to caring for Tate.
Tate’s first year was very challenging as he did experience several medical complications. “Do NOT worry” was at the forefront of my mind as I became well acquainted with the children’s hospital and all of Tate’s specialty providers. When we reached his first birthday, we were beyond excited to celebrate the fact that he was literally still alive. We felt like we had overcome our biggest mountains. Little did we know that a few months following Tate’s first birthday, he would be diagnosed with Acute Myeloid Leukemia and spend nearly seven months in the hospital.
Cancer is one of the worst “life bombs” I can think of, and yet I still view my life as nearly perfect. I still believe that God has been so faithful and so good to our family. In some ways, I feel as if I still haven’t experienced a “life bomb.” What I’ve learned is that bombs destroy, but a life lived in obedience to the Lord can survive and even thrive amidst the destruction. Proverbs 4:10 (NLT) says, “My child, listen to me and do as I say, and you will have a long, good life.” Because I made the decision to listen to His command, I have experienced a peace that I can never explain. It allowed me to hand over my family’s finances and watch as the Lord provided for us in ways better than I could have imagined. It allowed me to go through the deep valleys with a smile on my face and gratitude in my heart. It gave me the opportunity to shine a light for Jesus while simultaneously walking through my darkest hours.
Tate is so much more than the boy that I daydreamed about. He is a walking miracle and living proof that God fearfully and wonderfully made him exactly the way He intended. My joyful little boy has touched more lives in his short two years than I have in my entire life! He is the strongest and most motivated person I know, and though there may still be “life bombs” in our future, God already knows, and because of Him, we will NOT worry.
About the Author
Dannette (Gillum) DeLaMatter is a graduate of Eugene Bible College. She currently resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband, Matthew, and their two children, Haley Rae, age six, and Tate, age two. She loves being a stay-at-home mom, serving at her church, and supporting other special moms of children with special needs.