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God Carried Us Through

January 01, 2016

God had drawn her to Himself and saved her soul, so when she and her husband learned their unborn baby had a fatal disorder, they knew where to turn.

By Maria Green

Growing up, I went to a church where I was taught to know right from wrong, that Jesus loved me and had died for me, and that we should do our best to do what He wants us to. I’m grateful for that because it helped me have a tender heart. However, I was not told that I could have a personal relationship with God, so I was trying to live a life that honored Him in my own strength. I tried to be good, but it felt as if I was never good enough. I didn’t really know if my prayers were being answered. I was continually searching for something; there was always a place in my heart that was just empty.

When I went to college, I rebelled against God and did things that I knew were not right. I looked in all the wrong places for something to fill the void in my heart—alcohol, drugs, boyfriends. All it brought was heartache. Then, when I was about twenty years old, my brother started attending the Apostolic Faith Church and was saved. For four years he lived his life before me, prayed for me, and loved me with God’s love. I came to a number of church concerts, really enjoyed the music, and thought everybody was very nice, but that is as far as it went.

By the time I was twenty-four, I had graduated from college and was working in my chosen field. I had an apartment, a car, and friends. I thought everything was great. But I didn’t have the Lord in my heart, and God started talking to me. I realized it was hypocritical to tell the young people I worked with not to do certain things and then go out and do those exact things, and that bothered me. 

One night while celebrating my brother’s birthday at the home of his Christian in-laws, I was so miserable that I started crying, but didn’t know why. On the drive home, I sat in the back seat with my sunglasses on so my brother and sister-in-law wouldn’t see my tears. I didn’t know what it was at the time, but God had given me a mighty dose of conviction.

Later that night, I finally started asking my brother some questions. At first, I was very resistant to his answers. We had gone to church all the time growing up and I thought that made me right with God, but he was talking about something different and I didn’t understand it. Actually, it seemed ridiculous to me. I didn’t think I was a bad person; I didn’t want to believe that I was a sinner. I thought the people at his church had been brainwashed.

I had thought it was rude for anyone to call me a sinner, but when God showed me I was a sinner and needed to be forgiven, I couldn’t argue with Him.

I was unsure what to believe anymore, but I had known God as a child and I trusted Him. I knew He wouldn’t lie to me, so I started reading the Bible and listening to Him. I intended to prove that what my brother’s church was teaching was wrong, but instead found that everything they were telling me was right from the Bible. I had thought it was rude for anyone to call me a sinner, but when God showed me I was a sinner and needed to be forgiven, I couldn’t argue with Him.

During this time, I came to a few services with my brother. One Tuesday night, I started crying as we sang the hymn at the end of the service. I felt so sorry for everything I had ever done. I didn’t really understand what was going on, and I didn’t get saved that night, but God gave me a repentant heart.

The following Sunday night, the Lord showed me how much He really loved me. I didn’t know I could be loved so much! He showed me how miserable I was—miserable enough to get on my knees, apologize, and agree to live a different life. He came in, took away my big load of sin, and changed my life in so many ways.

A couple of months later the Lord sanctified me, and that was even better than being saved. Then a few months after that, He filled me with the Holy Spirit, and that was the best thing that had ever happened to me.

I lost some of my friends when I chose this way. They didn’t understand what had happened to me and they weren’t supportive of it. There were times of learning and exploring my heart to see if this was really my choice. But it has been worth it; every second has been worth the choice to leave that old life behind. I love living a life of holiness.

The Lord has been so good to me. In 1998 He blessed me with a wonderful Christian husband. Neil loves God and his priority is to serve the Lord and that’s important to me. In 2004, God healed me of asthma which I’d had since I was three years old. He has helped us in financial, work, and family situations.

When we were expecting our first child, I went to what was supposed to be a routine appointment several weeks before our baby’s due date. It was scary when the doctor said I had a serious condition and needed to have the baby right away. He sent me to the hospital immediately, and I walked in praying, “I’m not supposed to be by myself; this isn’t how it’s supposed to be!” but I sensed the Lord saying, “You’re not alone; I am right here,” and I knew everything was going to be okay. It was, and we were blessed to welcome a healthy baby boy, Tyler, into our family.

A couple of years later, we were excited to find out we were expecting again. But at our first ultrasound, the doctor told us our baby girl might not survive the pregnancy. We immediately turned to the Lord with all of our emotions and fears. A few weeks later, a specialist confirmed the first doctor’s concern: our baby had a fatal disorder called Trisomy 18. We were devastated, but again turned to the Lord and each other for comfort.

The doctors suggested we end the pregnancy, but that wasn’t an option. She was a gift from God. We purposed to have every minute, every second, that we possibly could with her.

The pregnancy progressed. I could still feel her kicking. We decided to name her Paige Elizabeth. So many times in those months God reassured us that He was still with us and that He loved this baby even more than we did; that was a real comfort.

I got to the point where I had one prayer—that God would give us just ten minutes with our little girl. I wanted to tell her hello and goodbye, how much I loved her, that she was part of our family, and that I was so grateful for her. I wanted her to see her dad, and her brother, and some of her family if that was possible. That was my prayer: just ten minutes.

The pregnancy progressed and eventually labor began. There were some scary moments when they thought her heartbeat had gone down, but I cried out to the Lord desperately from my heart and immediately had peace from God—the kind that is only from Him—and again I was so grateful.

Paige was delivered very quickly and she looked just like her big brother. She was beautiful! I thanked God over and over. We looked at the clock, and ten minutes went by. We looked at the clock and ten more minutes went by. The doctors had said she wouldn’t make it, but she had survived birth. There were a few times when she would stop breathing for a few moments, but then go on fighting for life. I was amazed and so grateful for this gift that we had been given.

Eventually, they let us take her home from the hospital. That was exciting and scary. She had special needs and we really had to fight with the medical professionals to get care for her. They kept saying, “You know, she has Trisomy 18, and she’s not going to live very long.” And I kept saying, “Yes, but Paige is our daughter and we want the best possible care for her.”

The next several months were very challenging. Paige didn’t sleep well, so we weren’t getting much rest either. I was trying to care for both her and Tyler, and to be a good wife. Sometimes I would get really tired and discouraged or afraid because there was nothing I could do to comfort Paige or make her suffering or crying stop. At those times I would hand her to Neil or whoever happened to be at our house and go into the bedroom and cry out to God. Every time, He would give me the strength to get up and go back out there and enjoy this child, my family, and the life He had given us.

We were also so thankful for supportive family and friends. Sometimes someone would come and stay up all night with her so we could get some sleep. Or someone would bring us a meal or take Tyler to do a fun activity. The wonderful family of God was praying for us. We couldn’t have asked for more.

Somehow the Lord helped us to navigate the medical system, and eventually we got some really great doctors who were able to help Paige be more comfortable. There were huge waiting lists for those doctors, but God was helping get her into appointments within just a few days or a week.

Her quality of life was better the next few months. We got more smiles, coos, and giggles. She would make funny faces at us. And there were things she would do just for certain people. She would grab Neil’s nose and squeeze it. She loved to watch Tyler play with his trains and listen as he told her about them. The doctors said all of that was impossible, but she was “fearfully and wonderfully made” and we were watching her Creator make it possible. We read books together. We went to the zoo, the park, and the beach. We came to church and went to friends’ houses. We didn’t know how long her life would last, and we were treasuring every moment as a gift from God.

Then one Friday night, we came to church and Paige was exceedingly happy. She was smiling at everyone and reacting to people. She didn’t have much hair, but there was a little curl on her head and I thought, Oh she has curly hair like her brother! She had never been quite so alert and excited and we were enjoying it.

Soon after we got home that evening, she started having breathing troubles. It was a long night and, once again, we were crying out to God for help. Neil called our pastor, and as he had done so many times before, he came over to pray with us. We knew God was there, yet Paige continued to get worse. I didn’t want her to suffer anymore. But she was a feisty little thing, and she just kept fighting.

I had asked the Lord for ten minutes with our little girl, and He had given us ten months.

The next morning, some of our extended family came over and their support was so encouraging. Paige eventually calmed down and slept peacefully for a while. Then at about one o’clock in the afternoon, she woke up and took her last breath. I was holding her in my arms when she died. I was looking her right in the eyes and telling her how much I loved her and that I didn’t want her to hurt anymore, that I wanted her to be with Jesus in Heaven, and that I would see her again. I had asked the Lord for ten minutes with our little girl, and He had given us ten months.

About a week after Paige passed away, a darkness set in that I didn’t expect and had never experienced. I missed her so much, felt so alone, and couldn’t find the strength and peace that God had given me so many times before when I would go into our bedroom and pray. I didn’t feel anything except the continual grief and hurt when I prayed. But I knew God was there—just because I couldn’t see or feel Him didn’t mean He wasn’t there—and I just kept hanging on.

Neil was grieving too, of course. It was difficult for him to forget the struggles Paige had gone through. He felt that as a father and a man he should have been able to protect her from the suffering somehow. He said later that at one point he didn’t even want to live anymore. He felt like he didn’t know anyone who had gone through what we had, but then God showed him that He did—He had watched His Child suffer and die also. God was so faithful to comfort Neil and gently remind him that his wife and son needed him. And he, too, was determined not to give up.

A long year of doing what needed to be done and trying to stay strong followed Paige’s death. Neil and I did our best to be there for each other, and he was wonderful about protecting our hurting little family. We continued teaching Tyler about Jesus and how much He loves us. It was a quiet, dark time, but we knew God was there, and He was faithful to carry us through.

In the years since, God has continued to be with us and has brought joy back into our lives. He added another daughter to our family, and Hope is just as beautiful and feisty as her sister was. Tyler and Hope have both given their hearts to Jesus, and we all look forward to seeing Paige in Heaven someday. I’m so grateful for my wonderful Christian husband, three beautiful children, and a personal relationship with a loving God. What more could I ask for?

About the author

Maria Green and her family attend the Apostolic Faith Church in Portland, Oregon.