Unexpected Blessings

I remember the first moments I found out I was pregnant with our second child, Knox. Holding that unexpectedly positive pregnancy test, I felt shock, disbelief and, if I’m being quite honest, dread. Such a departure from the happy dance and squealing when I read “PREGNANT” for the first time with our daughter, Presley. And with that stark difference in experience, I felt a suffocating wave of shame for my initial negative, but truthful, feelings about what I knew deep down would eventually be one of the great loves of my life.

When I showed my husband, Bobby, the positive pregnancy test, I saw my own fears reflected as he turned and looked at our fourteen-month-old daughter. We didn’t “woohoo” or jump up and down or cry tears of joy. We just sat with the fact that I was pregnant. Presley played in the yard. Oblivious to the life-altering news that meant her monopoly on our time, love, and affection was about to come to a screeching halt.

You see, I am obsessed with my firstborn (as most people are). I joked that I held her her entire first year of life, but it wasn’t so funny that I hadn’t slept more than three consecutive hours since her birth. Maybe sleep deprivation played a part in my uneasiness, but the truth was, I had big plans for our little family of three. We had decided not to even try for a second baby until Presley was at least three years old, and now this tiny human was essentially ruining how I planned to run my family. My dreams of the endless adventures of the three Isbell amigos turned to vapor.But that pregnancy would prove to the most beautiful, and life-saving, blessing of my life.

Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) tells us 11 “He has made everything beautiful in its time. He has also set eternity in the human heart; yet[a] no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.”

And Knox was exactly that- beautiful in every way possible. Smiley from the very beginning, he was the perfect addition to our family. Easy to love, from the first second I held him, there was no hesitation that Knox was exactly what God knew I would need for the next season of my life.

Five months into my sweet son’s life, I found a lump while breastfeeding. Breast cancer. Stage four. I just remember holding Knox with such a profound sense of gratitude and sadness. Thankful that I had had him before my body became incapable of carrying more babies and sad that I may be leaving before he would even remember his mommy. He was also the perfect motivation to fight for my life.

Just like Ecclesiastes 3:11 tells us “…no one can fathom what God has done from beginning to end.” I can’t fathom why God chose me for this battle. But we’re not called to ask “why,” so I haven’t. I just have to trust His plan for my life.

Since I’ve been diagnosed, my timeline for my own life has disappeared and I am fully relying on God to map out my future. There is a freedom that comes with relinquishing that desire for control or that need to shape our own lives. Had I had my way, not only would I not have my beautiful son, but who knows how long I would have sat with cancer unknowingly eating away at my body before it was discovered. So instead of presuming that I know best, I can rest knowing that God has seen the beginning and the end and all the steps in between are His to number.

Only God has the entire book. Our job is to just prayerfully turn the pages and enjoy the story as it unfolds.

I have been blessed to not only respond incredibly well to treatment but, more importantly, to still be here learning about my child every single day. He is goofy and affectionate and clumsy and so, so pure. Just like little boys should be. When I think back to a time where there was even a whisper of disappointment at being pregnant, I see that gapped-tooth smile and I am exceedingly grateful for God’s perfect timing. —Haley Isbell


Read along with us for the next few weeks as we explore the gift in God’s Timing.

Can you remember a time when a trial ended up being a blessing in disguise? Share your story with Breath on Paper and encourage others who may be facing a trial of their own.

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Haley is an Alabama native who lives with her chicken farmer husband, Bobby, and two beautiful babies Presley (3 ½) and Knox (22 months) in Moody, Alabama. Haley has always had a passion for reading and storytelling which has given her a strong background to share her testimony in a dynamic way.

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