Tag Archives: daughter blessing

The Preemie, Stephanie May Kelley


Happy Birthday, Stephanie, my second-born, my preemie, my miracle-girl, my rainbow woman.  You are the child I prayed for, and God gave me what I asked!

It is your 25th birthday.  How fast the years have flown.  Much like my pregnancy with you, when you arrived a full 5+ weeks early, on a  beautiful lilac-scented day in Kokomo, IN, even beating Prince William, after whom you were “scheduled” to be born.

In retrospect, at the hospital, they should have stopped the labor and tried to determine what was causing the bleeding (was it “The Twister” –  that amusement park ride that pinned my head to the back of the seat?).

Five or more weeks early is too early.

Instead, my doctor said I probably just mis-calculated the date and he estimated that you weighed well over 7 pounds and he didn’t even put me on a monitor before breaking my water to get labor underway.  I had always liked his old-fashioned, grandfatherly ways, but being the older and wiser woman I am now, I should have slapped him a good one.

A little after 2 on a Friday afternoon, here you came, full of trust in the parents God had given you, and we, probably not worthy of it.  I really couldn’t tell what was happening.

At first, they all oohed and awed, the medical staff.  You were tiny. They did the first apgar and gave you an 8 out of 10.  They let dad hold you while I looked on.  The second apgar had dropped to 4 and they started looking frantic and they didn’t even let me hold you, you were whisked from the room.  Not only did I not know what was going on, they placated me with assurances and didn’t tell me anything.  They were the authorities – just “taking precautions.”

Later they told me a team was coming from Indianapolis to “help.”

By the time I saw you again at 7:30 pm, you were wired up on the sides of your head and on breathing machines and I could only touch your hand through a small opening in the incubator.  A crisis life team, who had been at work saving your life when I couldn’t even comprehend how much saving you needed, was transporting you to James Whitcomb Riley Hospital in Indianapolis and I could only say good-bye.

The lady in the bed next to me and all her firends were smoking.  As I watched you struggle to breathe, “pre-mature infant lung disease,” they called it (your chest caved in where developed lungs would be normally), I asked a nurse to remove the smokers.  They assurred me you were safe from it.  That didn’t matter.  It was all I knew to do to protect you.  I wanted you to breathe safely…

In what felt like the middle of the night, but was probably only 10:30 or 11:00, your doctor called from Children’s to say that they had you stabilized.  In monotone, he told me it was unlikely you would leave there in anything less than 3 months and that he was giving you a “30% chance of survival.” It was a shock to my system.  It was unthinkable.  It was not even on my radar that you might die.  He asked if I had questions and I couldn’t even think of any – grogginess?  stupity?  Probably both..

In those moments, I became instantly alert and I cried out to God on your behalf.  I did not feel like some giant woman of faith.  I knew my prayers were feeble compared to many, but I was a mommy on a mission to knock on heaven’s door for the life of my newborn, struggling-to-breathe, yet unnamed baby girl who was too many miles from me.  And I will tell you that soon, very soon, the Presence of the Lord washed over me, bringing such peace, that never once did I doubt the Lord would show up for you when I could not.  That night, I was not alone and I met God in a new way.  I met Him as a healer.  Like Hannah in the Bible, who prayed for a child, He heard my prayer. I knew He was with you, too…

When I was finally released, in terrible pain from the worst stitches ever and the discomfort of having no child to nurse (at the time, I didn’t comprehend the emotion of that – everything inside is screaming out: where is my baby?) I prepared to go to Indianapolis to see you.  A song was playing,

“He means more to me today because of yesterday
I was in the valley and I had to pray
Then He showed me His favor in a special way
He means more to me today because of yesterday…”

I cried when I heard those words, because they were true. I was getting to know the Healer in a way I had never needed to know Him before.

Ten days later, Children’s Hospital released you to come back to Kokomo because you were progressing so well every day.  They were in awe.  We were rare, they told us.  At 12 days old, Howard Community Hospital released you to come home.  They said your lungs were actually recovering and developing every day.  Though you were only 4 and half pounds when we brought you home, you were gaining weight each day just like you should be – not much, but a little.  It was miraculous in every way!

God healed you, Stephanie!  The Creator finished the work and you came home with the loudest cry we had ever heard.  And you cried a lot and I thought we were doing something wrong, but you were just working those little lungs, strengthening them up!


When I sat down to fill out the birth announcements I had chosen in the weeks before you were born, the scripture on them seemed suddenly prophetic.  I had read it before, surely, but now I read it with full understanding:

“For this child I prayed and the LORD has granted that which I asked of Him.” 1 Samuel 1.27

You were a gift for Tara, you’re “Rainbow Bear,” a child of promise. You could talk in lovely conversations by 18 months, but weren’t an early walker, as you preferred to be carried like a princess.  You came with the softest heart for people around you (the odd little girl from a harsh home would call you to read to her, which you would faithfully do for long periods, keeping her company – and you couldn’t even read yet!), and the most developed sense of humor – always making your sisters laugh.  I remember you falling asleep in the middle of singing the alphabet song and awaking a few hours later to pick up right where you left off.  At our conference with your 2nd grade teacher, she said you were the child who, when some one dropped a pencil across the room, would run to pick it up for them.  She said, “That is who Stephanie is.”

She was right.  You are the one in the family who makes sure everyone gets honored regularly and that they receive the most thoughtful gifts and that no one forgets special things coming up.  You watch over us all with great care.

You gave us a wonderful son when you chose, so well, Tristan, as your husband.  You gave us our first grandchild, Gavin, and our first granddaughter, Guinivere and they thrill our hearts and are mothered so well by you.  Any moment now – you will bring us a new granddaughter (our 4th grandchild).  I hope she comes today – right on your birthday – as a special gift of celebration of who you are, Stephie.  But whatever – Happy Birthday, my sweet one.  Thank-you for all the happy days you have brought (and I will ever cherish the extra 5 weeks we have had together!).

Great love,  mom

NOTE TO SELF:  I am blessed! I don’t deserve it, but I am blessed…

(pictures:  Stephanie at 4 months and about 10 pounds, Stephie and me at her 3rd grade play, Stephanie (8 months pregnant and glowing!) and her family on Easter at Northern Hills, where, by the way, she and Tris helped lead some incredible worship! 

Liquid Joy – Tara J. Powers


Happy Birthday to my first-born.

May 9, 1979 was such a special day, I could not have comprehended it at the time.  There was no way for me to know at exactly 7:16 p.m. when you made your first appearance, how my life was about to change, how God was going to make Himself so real, His love so apparent, my life so blessed by your coming.  I didn’t realize at the time that you were going to be a river of “liquid joy” that would wash over my heart and gift me and cause me to flourish in a way I’d never had the opportunity to before.

Liquid joy.  That was a name Lisa Bierer gave you when you were about 12 or 13.  It summed you up beautifully.  From the time you arrived, I’d never seen such unabashed happiness and innate joy in a human being.

I was serious and sarcastic.  I was un-trusting and wounded.  You slid down the very rays of the sun into my house and life and arms and coaxed the hope in my heart to grow and believe life could be different.  You refused to leave me in my hidden guilt-driven, shame-based stupor, but even as a toddler, pulled me into the merry-go-round that is life.  You lived your whole life (almost) as a joyfully obedient girl, a big Jesus-lover, full of compassion and mercy for everyone around you.

Us. Est. 1979

You grew and you blessed us all.  First, there was just me and you.  Then dad came along and we were a family.  Because I was so young and naive and really stupid about being a mom, you, naturally as the first born, had to help teach me what it was all about.  For all the siblings who followed, you stood in the gap and represented them, watched over them and defended them.

The giggles and laughter and make-believe and street ball-games and bike races and tether-ball matches that never ended and babysitting businesses and new neighbors as friends and pretend weddings and dress-up and bread sticks from mixes and first boyfriends and ska and singing competitions and basketball and volleyball teams and Five Iron Frenzy and funny fashions and crazy hair and piercings and innocence and sweetness and exuberance and passion – these are all things Stephanie and Tredessa and Rocky and Stormie have to thank you for.  I adore you for them all.

When you were 14, I was going through some heartbreak.  You were praying for me and came to me with a song to listen to and you carefully gave me a word of encouragement, a word of rebuke, too, really, but with utmost caution.  I listened and as I stood doing the dishes, listening to the song and thinking about what you’d just told me, I was strongly aware that God Himself had sent you and I trembled inside from both the discipline of it and the awe that my little Tara was so sensitive to the things of God.

Hope seemed lost for a time.  There were those days when the enemy of your soul set out to rip you away from God’s plan for your life.  It was a time of grave danger to your heart, your mind, your soul, your spirit, and even your physical being.  You’d been away from home for quite awhile, but had returned for a couple of months and when you were leaving again, the enemy tried to tell me I was losing you (to this poor choice/direction you were taking) for good.  That morning before you left the house (and you saw the hot, stinging tears shoot from my eyes as I plead with you not to go), I wrote this in a notebook:

8.4.02  It’s the morning of the day Tara is moving out, disentangling herself of the strong emotional ties we have – trying to make her own way, trying to shine to us, not realizing that I have already seen her light so bright – spots dance before my eyes.
Already the house seems empty.  Already a void grows.
I have to trust God that my sorrows over what could’ve been –
the seeming loss of all hope will give way to what He knows can be greater-
and that in all things
He is at work, making a way and that
His love will not let her go.

And it didn’t.  His love didn’t let you go and when things seemed the most hopeless – God was about to turn it all around.  Those days were hard, my love, but I am so thankful that I learned to pray during that time.  I learned to battle for what was God’s and I grew in faith. I will ever cherish what was accomplished for God’s glory and for you!


You are an incredible mother to Hunter.  I love how you love your husband, Dave.  I am inspired by and admire your work for the kingdom of God.  I am so pleased with you, honey.  Your mommy is so pleased with you! God gave you to me (what a gift).  I gave you back to Him.  And look at what He is doing!

Happy Birthday, Tara…Love, mom

NOTE TO SELF:  I was so honored to have Tara with me last night at the Chapel Hill MOPS group! Give her an extra hug for that!

(photos: Tara and I when she was 2 and Tara with her husband, Dave, and son Hunter – who is 2!)

Stormie Dae “She’s the baby-gotta love her!”


A couple of days after splashing in the pool with our first 4 kids during an unusually hot and sunny beginning to spring in Sioux City, Iowa, a freak ice storm hit the area and there were many travel warnings.  “Don’t go out in this unless you have to,” they said.

We had to.

It was high-time for baby number 5, Stormie Dae Rhoades, to arrive and luckily, we lived just a block from the hospital, perhaps 3 if you count having to go around and enter at the emergency room exit (an area where just weeks later, Rocky, age 1 & 1/2 would “drive” our car into the side of the hospital wall when we had to make a quick trip back…that is another story entirely…).

Back then, you didn’t know the sex of the baby ahead of time.  It was all speculation, but a very strong heartbeat and her mammoth size pointed toward a strong, healthy girl.  She had been due on April 2.  Thirteen very long days later: volia!  And weighing in at 9 pounds, 10 ounces, we were certain we had not mixed up the dates.

Stormie was planned as a “gift” for her brother, Rocky (in a sort of “oh, we’re pregnant again” **surprise** way).  We’d had a girl…then another…then another…and one more try for that boy…we may have stopped having kids then if Rocky, the fourth child, hadn’t turned out to be a B O Y!  We felt we must try for a brother for him, or at least make him an older brother to a sister so he could learn to hold his own.  I would say to this very day, even as she is turning 21, she remains a great gift to Rocky (the only sister who took no crap off of him) and a great gift to us all.

How she got her name.  Naturally, you have already figured out that since she was born in a freak ice and snow storm, the name “Stormie” fits, but what you don’t know is that I had almost used the name “Stormie” with every single previous daughter.

When I was pregnant with Tara, I ran across some lyrics written by Stormie Omartian called, “Seasons of the Soul.”  I was so moved by them, Tara nearly had a different name.

By the time Steph came along a few years later, I had read a magazine article or two about Stormie Omartian and heard more of her music and Stephie was in line to get the name, but she ended up being premature and the name “Stormie” just seemed too overwhelming for our tiny, struggling-to-breathe baby girl.  When our third daughter came along “Stormie” was on the table again, but we decided to go with “Tredessa” (the name of a sweet little girl I babysat as a teen) because she looked so exotic.  “Stormie” didn’t seem right for Rocky, either, so it was still available when our last little one was born and there was no question by that time.

So, really – she was named for Stormie Omartian – an incredibly godly woman whose personal testimony and way of communicating through song has touched my life deeply over the years (not to mention her notoriety as one of the leading prayer authors/experts alive today).  My Stormie reads Stormie Omartian’s books and knows she is named for a woman who trusted God to turn her hurts into healing for others, an admirable life, worthy of emulation.

The servant.  Stormie is a servant-hearted girl and big giver. The whole family can rely on her and she keeps “adopting” needy children around the world to support.  I have seen her quietly give big gifts to families in crisis and watched her cry big tears for the broken.  Her heart is bigger than she is, held ever-so-gently by the compassionate hands of Christ, I have no doubt.


 Stormie, I am so pleased with you.  You have been our little Stinky, mommy’s cuddler.  I have seen you play in a tutu (with your long, skinny toothpick legs) doing a roller-skating routine and watched you careen by with scraped knees chasing Rocky on rollerblades.  I got to watch the woman in you emerge when, as you wore your first bra and wore a dress and tights and black, patent-leather shoes in honor of the milestone, you told us, “It feels so nice to be a lady.”

When you saw a need on a worship team and were asked to learn, you spent countless hours alone learning to play the bass to bring glory to God, to be a blessing.  And just this past Sunday, on Easter, I watched you in the shadows once again, playing for His Name, His acclaim with your siblings and I loved you even more…again. I am waiting for you to go public with that beautiful voice, when the time is right and the song rises so strong within you that it cannot be silenced. I am so pleased with you, Stormie – who God has created you to be, and how you are dying to self to become that woman.

Happy birthday, Stormkins.  Your mommy loves you.  “As long as you’re living, my baby you’ll be…” Mom

NOTE TO SELF: Kiss my little Stormkins all over her face.  Give her many, many hugs.  Celebrate her life and thank God for the joy she has brought to me.

(pictured: Top- Stormie, 9 months & me in Jan. 1987; Above – That’s me and the baby on Easter Sunday 2007)