Filing Cabinet Memories

People are often under a wrong assumption about me. For some reason, I am able to give the impression that I’m organized. I’m not sure why. The fact is, I love organization. It just takes me a long time and hard work to achieve it. At any rate, this weekend, I began the long put off task of our filing cabinets. They have been in disarray for quite a long time. And when there is no specific place to put specific papers, they just stack up in very unspecific ways. One reason I put it off is because I knew it was more than a one day project. I also put it off because when going through things, I know I’m not capable of making quick decisions. I have to look at each item, read it, reminisce etc. For instance, I came across a malaria test I had taken that was positive. Have no earthly idea why I saved that – it certainly wasn’t a heavenly idea! Anyway, Saturday afternoon was the day. Well, at least the beginning.

Neal and Trae were playing softball, Tanika was hanging out in her room with a friend, and Tobi was with Grama and Grampa. So I began. I didn’t get very far until I ran into my medical records from Tanika’s birth. As I was reading them, I came across something I hadn’t seen before. Right now I can’t even remember the name for it, but apparently I had some acute infection. Since I didn’t know what it was, I took my first break and did a bit of research on the internet. It was severe infection of the placenta and amniotic fluid. It occurs in 1% of pregnancies, but is higher in premature deliveries. I believe it was the infection that caused Tanika’s premature delivery, and it was also passed on to Tanika at birth. It’s one of the reasons that she had such a hard time. That, and the fact that she was 1lb 7oz. and had lungs the size of teabags! That took me back, and reminded me, yet again, of God’s faithfulness.

I discovered something in my research that confirmed what I think I’ve known. When first pregnant with Tobi, it had been recommended by a Dr. in the US that due to my ‘history’, I start on a low dose antibiotic for the duration of the pregnancy. I told this to the Australian missionary Dr. here in Niger who was overseeing my pregnancy. He said no, that we will only use an antibiotic if an infection occurs. At the time, I really ‘felt strongly’ like I should go ahead and take the antibiotic anyway (it’s available here over the counter so would have been easy to obtain), but decided not to go against what the on-site Dr. said. Thus, I didn’t take it. The pregnancy was troubled, but we made it to South Africa. I went to my first Dr. appt the day after we arrived. The very first question the Doc asked me after reading my medical records was, “What antibiotic are you taking?” Of course he assumed I was taking one. I explained what happened and he said I needed to start one immediately. One week later I was hospitalized, and 2 times more after that before Tobi was finally delivered by C-section – because I was in labor with an infection. The infection affected both him and I, and I ended up in ICU. I’ve learned something about listening to God in all this. We were blindsided by Tanika’s prematurity, but with Tobi, we knew the possibilities. So we knew how to pray. We were believing for full term, of course. There are many theological positions one can and does take. Things that may or may not be clear. But there is one belief in which I will never waver and no one can convince me of otherwise. God is good. I know God can use negative situations to bring glory to Himself, but I also believe that oftentimes those things could have been prevented if we would have been listening when the Holy Spirit speaks to us. Case in point: my ‘feeling strongly’ that I should take the antibiotic from the beginning as recommended. That was the Holy Spirit speaking. I didn’t look into why at the time, but my research on Saturday makes it clear. Once this bacterial infection occurs in pregnancy, especially in premature delivery, it is very likely that it can recur in subsequent pregnancies. Therefore a standard prescription is given for those in my ‘condition’. However, God’s goodness prevails over my lack of hearing or ignorance, and we have Tobi to show for it.

Also in my organizing, I came across a journal Trae started writing when we went to South Africa (not voluntarily mind you, I made him do it as part of his school). There were some precious entries and prayers for Tobi in it. Here are my two favorite. Trae was 8 when he wrote these.

March 9th, 2000

Yesterday something great happened. Mom had a baby. It was a boy. He is very cute. His whole name is Tobi Goodmanson Childs. Trae

March 25th, 2000

Dear God,

Please hear our prayer. Heal “Toby, (mis-spelled his name) and any infections. Lord…Bless him. So that he can breath on his own, breath oxygen, and he will have blood. And thank you for giveing us Toby. And everybody says Amen.

PS. We saw Toy Story 2 and I’m hoping for a friend.

Tobi was pretty touched by all the writing his big brother did about him. I couldn’t find Tanika’s journal and she reminded me that hers was burned in the fire in our house in November of 2000. I was really bummed about that, because actually, she is the writer in the family.

Before I got much further, another file required my attention….My sister, Tammy, went to heaven February 27th, 2002. I’ve talked about her frequently since then, always without getting emotional. For some reason, this time, as I was reading through letters I had written to her while I was a student at ORU and she was in Germany, I started crying. Really boo-hooing. Sitting there by myself. In the letters I was telling her about Neal. I read the poem my mom had written about her, I saw the pictures we had taken the last time we were together. I read the card from her funeral where she was 39 years old and left behind her 4 children, Melissa, Jamie, Cassie, and Jesse. Then I remembered watching the video of her funeral service. I remember how I felt when I saw my younger brother and sister walk down the aisle of the church together to view her and thinking that I should be there – I’m the big sister now. All of this because of a filing cabinet! But that’s not all. While sitting there, Pastor Moctar came over. Knocked, and walked in….to observe me sitting by myself amidst piles of folders and papers and pictures, blubbering. Poor man, he didn’t know what to say or do. I began to explain, and he ‘got’ to see the letters and pictures I was looking at. He was very gracious and kept on saying, “I’m sorry, it’s okay”. Yes, I assured him it was okay. I just miss my sister. And though I don’t understand it all, I’m still convinced of God’s goodness.

I have finally finished filing my memories, and the office is restored to order. For now.

3 thoughts on “Filing Cabinet Memories

  1. tracy

    I know just how you feel. I lost my sister who was also 39 in 2002. Most times I can remember her with a smile, but occasionally the tears come. I think of them as God’s way of cleansing the hurt and washing my heart so that it will be ready to love the many sisters in Christ that he brings me. Hope you realize how precious are those times we have to spend in rememberance truly are. God is good and he is faithful and I rejoice with you as you look at your children and see the answer to so many prayers. In His service, Tracy

  2. Laura

    Hi, I immediately started crying just reading your blog about the file cabinent. Hope I can see to read the rest of it.
    I don’t go to Goodwill because I start thinking about all the previous owners of all the stuff and wonder why they had to get rid of it all. Silly me.

  3. Tammy

    I remember all that you and Neal endured with Tanika, and I remember admiring your faith and dedication as parents. I now am mom and I too have faced and continue to face a long, hard road with my daughter, Doris. As I think back to your situation with Tanika and as think about what she’s like today, I am encouraged that God is good and that he works miracles when we are attentive to his voice, stand upon His word, and BELIEVE that HE will do what He has promised. I am also enouraged by your story about your sister. I too have lost a dear loved one (mom) in 2003. The sorry that these kinds of losses bring is unexplicable. However, I again admire your faith and dedication to God in that situation, because depression did not get the best of you, and you continued to serve God to the fullest in the mist of that trial. I thank the Lord for knowing you and respect you for your commitment to the kingdom. I only hope that I can be as strong in my trials as you have been in yours.

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