Sunday, October 30, 2011



On August 28th, 2010, our son was born. William Ezra Barton. He was our surprise baby. Those who know us well know that a surprise for us was REALLY a surprise, as we had a history of challenges in previous pregnancies, where planning and much waiting and prayer were necessary.

Our first daughter, Ava, was stillborn October 26th, 2004. This was a tremendous loss for us, but through it all, God’s love carried us. And while we were unable to understand why it had to happen the way it happened, in the end I knew that the time we had with her was our gift from God, and the knowledge that God had adopted her into heaven, where we would one day be reunited with her, helped me to move forward with somewhat more of an eternal viewpoint.

So when our little Liam was born, I was thrilled to hold my precious boy in my arms after a fairly smooth labor and delivery. But, several minutes later, some uneasiness entered. His breathing sounded strained. We alerted the nurse, who then took him to watch him for a little bit… which ended up as having him transferred over to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit.) He was put on oxygen, with tubes up his nose, I.V.s hooked to his arms, a feeding tube down his esophagus, monitors on his chest etc. and placed in an enclosed warming bed. He was diagnosed with pneumonia. He looked so tiny and fragile.

After a long 4 days of watching him closely, unable to nurse him or even hold him much, we were exhausted. I had actually been released at that point, and would be sleeping in the one small family lounge in the NICU, and Paul was going to go home and sleep. I remember sitting on the couch/bed that night and crying out to God, too depleted to even shed tears, “Lord, I don’t know what you are planning. I do not understand why my baby is sick. But I trust you. I believe you are a good God, and I believe you love us. It is important for me to tell you that no matter what happens, I will love you. But, right now, I feel alone God. Could you please just let me know you are here with me? I need to feel your presence.”

As I whispered those words, right in front of me, I visibly saw the image of outstretched arms, and I experienced the physical sensation of a warm hug enveloping me. Then, as quick as it happened, I fell instantly asleep.

I awoke to the knocking on the door, just a brief 10 minutes later. “Michelle, Liam is awake… would you like to hold him? He’s doing really well, so you may even try to nurse him.” As I went to my baby, I realized that I felt unusually rested. And I was incredibly encouraged to see Liam’s breathing and heart rate were nice and steady. After holding him for about 40 minutes, we got him situated back into his bed, I kissed him on the head and went back to my room.

I was struck by the realization at that point that my children were not mine at all. They would always belong to my heavenly father. I was fortunate enough to have the privilege of caring for them, like a foster parent, but the Lord would always have true custody of all of us. This thought is what stayed with me as we brought Liam home two days later. Did we ever praise the Lord!

Strangely, just after his 1st birthday, I was walking along the gravel road at YWAM and contemplating what my role was as “mother” to my 3 precious children on earth. The thought had been presented that as parents we are called to “protect” and “shelter” our children, and that perhaps by entering into missions we would not be doing that properly. So on a cool autumn morning in September, as the sun was rising and painting the sky a beautiful orange, I asked my Father what he wanted me to do as a mom. “God, you know my heart. You know I do not wish any harm or illness on my kids. Please guide me. I feel so strongly that you are leading us into missions… but what if I am wrong… maybe now is not the time to bring our kids. Please just give us more confirmation.”

What I got as a reply that morning was a reference to the Bible: Deuteronomy 6:4. “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul and all your strength.” As I was walking, I let that sink in. When I got back to my room I looked it up in my Bible and read several verses that followed. “These commands I give you today are to be upon your hearts. Impress them on your children. Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you rise.” I knew in my heart that this included trusting in him. I also knew that Jesus emphasized this to his disciples as well in Matthew 22: 37-40, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul and all your mind... And you shall love your neighbor as yourself.” Wow. I strongly felt God put on my heart that the most important job I have as a mother is to point my children to HIM. How would I be obeying this command if I did not trust the Lord to go where he called me to go? I can make choices motivated by fear… or I can trust in the Lord that he is with us when we reach out to others, and be the example to my kids that I want them to follow.


Isaiah 58: 6-14
“Is this not the fast that I have chosen:
To loose the bonds of wickedness,
To undo heavy burdens,
To let the oppressed go free,
And that you break every yoke?
Is it not to share your bread with the hungry,
And that you bring to your house the poor who are cast out;
When you see the naked, that you clothe him,
And not hide from your own flesh?
Then your light shall break forth like the morning,
Your healing shall spring forth speedily,
And your righteousness shall go before you;
The glory of your Lord shall be your rear guard.
Then you shall call, and the Lord will answer;
You shall cry and He will say, ‘Here am I.’
If you take away the yoke from your midst,
Extend your soul to the hungry and satisfy the afflicted soul,
Then your light shall dawn in the darkness,
And your darkness shall shine like the noonday.
The Lord will guide you continually,
And satisfy your soul in drought,
And strengthen your bones;
You shall be like a watered garden,
And like a spring of water, whose waters do not fail.
Those from among you shall build the old ruins.
You shall build up the foundations of many generations;
And you shall be called the Repairer of the Breach,
The Restorer of the Streets to Dwell In.”