The Courageous Call

I don’t want to make prayer seem formulaic–123–I prayed, I got. That’s not how it works–at least not for me. I’ve prayed for decades about certain situations and nothing’s changed.

But almost 25 years ago, God surprised me. Big time.

One morning, my mother-in-law Carolyn called. “Julie,” she said softly. “It’s hard to explain, but I was reading the Bible and ….” She hesitated. “This time next year, you’re going to have a baby.”

For half a second, I felt a tingly glow.

What if she’s right?

Carolyn’s not the kind of person who goes around saying, “God said to tell you…”

And then a flash of terror.

I wanted to slam the phone down. Hide. Throw up. Run away.

Our daughters were six and eight, and a few months earlier, we lost our son, Robbie, who was born with anencephaly.

“And it’s going to be a boy,” Carolyn proclaimed.

Why would she say something like this?

I couldn’t breathe. Felt my heart rip open.

We wanted risk-free lives. Safe. Confined.

“Thanks, but we’ve decided. No more children.”

I was still grieving. The color baby blue, the Pamper aisle, and little boys wearing overalls brought tears.

Several weeks after the phone call, something happened.

Faith began as one tiny glimmer shining in my heart.  It spread to my husband.

On August 6, 1991, our son Thomas was born.

This past Monday, I called Carolyn to ask her about that phone call 25 years ago.

How? Why? What?

“It was raining,” she said. “Dark. Dreary. Even inside the house. I was in the den. I picked up my Bible. When I read Genesis 18:10, the words fell into my spirit. That’s the only way I can explain it. I knew they were for you. From God. ”

“I don’t think I ever thanked you. If you hadn’t made that courageous call, Thomas wouldn’t be here.”

Dear readers, I can’t explain why God worked this way. We could’ve had our hearts ripped out again.

I only know the miracle began with the phone call.

And a tiny dot of faith.

“Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and unfathomable His ways!” Romans 11:33

Have you ever been surprised by God’s goodness? Please share!





  1. anna haney says:

    Wow. This has to be your most powerful one yet. I am in awe. While your writing always moves me, I am more in awe, as it should be, at the power of God. Thank you for this beautiful reminder.

    • And wow–Anna, that you would say this is the most powerful one…just brings me back to Him.

      Because I never know how He will lead me each week. I never know what I’ll write about until right before. God doesn’t seem to be moving me to write a bunch of posts in advance (which is how my usual self is!).

      It’s just week by week. And thank you, as always, for reading and for writing to me.

      I’m praying for you.

  2. Patricia Martin says:

    Such a beautiful story, Julie! I am so glad that God gave you Thomas. (; God gave us our cats after we had a bad time with another cat breeder and we were very sad- God enjoys surprising us though.(; I am sure that God has a habit of blessing us at certain times so we grow more in Him. Blessings to you and your family!

    • Hey Patricia,

      I know–I really think He must love surprising us. And we can’t predict anything about how it will happen!! So happy about your cats!

      xoxoxo And I’m praying about your sociology class.

  3. The seeds of faith grow into mighty oaks. Thank you for sharing this story of courage and glory. The blessings and caring words of others can change lives and help others. God was sharing that same message with me in Isaiah 61 this morning. May we give what God has given to us. I am thankful Carolyn did. Blessings in His glory!

    • I’m soooo thankful for Carolyn too, Tom.

      Yes, yes!! These tiny seeds of faith grow into mighty oaks. Love that! Sounds like Scripture??

      Blessings on your writing today.

  4. Anna Haney says:

    I read this post when I first woke up this morning, and I decided to read it again now that I am more awake and it it is more powerful now than it was then.
    When I got married for the first time at age 47 and left my beloved teaching job, I felt, without a doubt, that getting another one in the next county would be so easy. But it wasn’t. First, there was a paper work mixup at the central office. Then no interviews. I took an adjunct faculty position at a community college, but I felt it was just a temporary situation until God found me a teaching home. The following spring, as soon as job postings were available, I started the hunt again. On a whim, I applied for another position at the community college, doing what I left 11 years prior–burnt out and vowing not to return. Again, not even an interview. But I got the higher ed job. Now the teaching profession is not the same one I left, so I know that God closed that door to me because He had a better one for me to open.

    • Yes, Anna!!! That’s what I’m talking about–surprised by God. And the thing is, we don’t always “see” it and recognize it as Him as it’s happening. I mean, it took 25 years for me to actually thank Carolyn and see His hand in this and be able to write it.

      Love reading this about how “on a whim” you applied for another position.

  5. Mike ~ says:

    Thank you Carolyn for your faith and courage to make that call.
    Thank you Julie for your heart, and sharing this beautiful story.
    Thank You Father for the miracle. You are good…..all the time ~

  6. Thank you for this lovely message of a bold mother-in-law and a heart ready to receive.

  7. ArieStrob says:

    Hi Julie, I have been going through a personal situation where I have brought fear and despair to the situation. Last week my neighbor came by (and we don’t normally see each other) and the topic came up. She noticed I had a bottle of Holy Water and said it would be good to sprinkle it on me for ‘doors to open.’ So I stood in my front doorway and let her do it. The next day I had news that lightened the burden significantly. However, the important part is that her belief uplifted me – she brought hope to me when I could not draw it up myself. I feel like crying as I write this as it was such a beautiful gift. Maybe on Facebook I will post a photo and a comment on how a non-Catholic girl like me even has a bottle of Holy Water. 🙂 Love, Arie

    • Ohhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, yes, Arie!!!!! I love this story!!!!! What a story!!!!

      It’s that HER belief lifted you!!! So beautiful. Thank you for telling our little group here.


  8. Kaitlyn and I are in the process of re-living all of the sadness associated with Hailey’s release to heaven in order to share it in a book we will write together. It’s hard to go back…to feel the pain…to relive those moments. It’s even harder to take a step forward in faith. Trusting. Loving.

    Thomas is a beautiful young man. What a blessing. Hugs and love.

    • Whew, B.J.

      I know. I know. What a gift you two are giving each other to walk through this pain together, and then to share it with the world.

      I’m praying for you.

  9. Roberta Messner says:

    Please believe with me. Roberta Messner

  10. I love how God works. I remember once, a number of years ago, I worked as a lobbyist for Christian Coalition of New York. I was leaving the capitol building for the day, when one of the aides caught me. She told me she’s been diagnosed with a brain tumor and would I pray for her. I did and went on home. A little while later, I read the Scripture that God doesn’t give us a spirit of fear but of love and a sound mind. As soon as I read the words “sound mind” I knew they were for her. I didn’t have her phone number so I drove back to the capitol to deliver them. The joy in her eyes when she realized how much God loved her to send me back with that message was worth the time and effort it took. I’ve always remembered the blessing of being a deliverer of God’s love that way.

    • Yes, Ane!!! That’s exactly what I’m talking about–and what I think Carolyn meant. Hope she reads these comments. We just know, don’t we, when His Sweet Spirit slips a message in our heart for someone. And so kind of you to drive back and find her.

  11. Julie Gilleand says:

    Oh, thanks for sharing this, Leaf Sister. The Lord surprised me too one day, through the story of Hosea. Actually a poem based on Hosea I heard in a sermon online ( I knew that I knew I heard God say to me through it that he wanted to restore my marriage. I’d been divorced 10 years and there were reasons why! Hearing this scared the life out of me! So adamant was I that that was NEVER going to happen, I was prepared to say no to the Lord on this one, not caring whether it was His will or not! But over the course of about a year, he gradually changed my heart through one lovely thing after another until my no turned into a yes. This was before my ex-husband and father of our three sons had stepped back into our lives, but I knew that I knew he would — and he did. Even then I needed many confirmations to feel sure about it, even so far and my going alone to Pike’s Peak just to seek the Lord for direction. I came home with my answer and a few months later we remarried. We are five years into our 2nd marriage to each other now and it has been a rough road. So many things have caused me to question whether I really ever heard from God or not, but ever single time I question, He reaffirms it to me in some special way. Today it was through your blog. Thank you again, so much.

    • Leaf Sister, what a beautiful testimony. I love it that you went to Pike’s Peak for direction from God. How appropriate.

      And I understand what you mean about Him confirming what He told you. He’s done that very same thing for me–like I’ll be ready to give up or quit and just when I get to that point, He sends Love my way.

      Thank you so much for sharing with our group here.

      So touched me that He spoke to you through my blog…b/c I don’t pre-plan this. He works with me one week at a time and leads me.

      Love you.
      Leaf Sister

  12. What I love about this story is the strong faith of the older woman speaking into your life. God bless her! She did what older women in the faith are supposed to do! And, it’s hard.


    • SO true, Jill! I thought that same thing yesterday (now that I’m the Older Woman!)

      Thank you. I completely agree~~~

  13. A tiny dot of faith…oh Julie, that’s all we need isn’t it?
    And, Oh I love that sweet Thomas xo

  14. Amazing, Julie. What a testament of faith and courage. How blessed Carolyn was that God spoke through her and that you stilled yourself to listen. And what a wonderful “living” example of God’s faithfulness in your son. Love you, friend.

    • I know, Carla. I never saw it until this past week–the courage it took for Carolyn to pick up the phone and call me.

      Love you right back.

  15. Shelley Elaine says:

    So true…so true…in VBS today our “motto” was…Even when I don’t understand, Jesus still loves me. So thankful for miraculous dots of faith to encourage us during the decades of praying….what a beautiful reminder…thanks Julie!

    • Love it, love it, Shelley.

      Thank you so much for writing, reading, and teaching VBS! I know you’re right where you’re supposed to be this week–loving on the children. Like He did and does!

  16. Elizabeth says:

    What a wonderful miracle!!!

  17. I also woke early this morning and read this- what a gift to start my day! It has stayed with me all day and I had to come back and read through it again. I don’t always have human understanding for how God works, the whys, and hows, etc. But I love that I am learning to be open to it, all of it. And I love the idea of the “tiny dot of faith.” Thankful for the blessing of your beautiful story! Love to you!

    • Another blog reader said she read it twice too, Vicky. Means more than you know–to hear that you read it twice.

      I used to try and figure out all His whys and hows. But we can’t, can’t we?

      I guess that’s part of why the Surrender Concept has blown me away.

      All my love.

  18. Sandra Walker says:

    So inspiring as always. Please pray that God will surprise me as the season of taking care of my mother is over. She went to be with Jesus last Wednesday. Lots to do but am so tired and don’t know what to do with myself. It’s so hard when it’s your mother no matter how old they were and you are. Got a wonderul praise, though. My precious husband got “all clear” on his CT and bone scans. I asked the Lord to let us enjoy each other for a while longer and He has answered that one!

    • I’d love to pray, Sandra. I’m hugging you in my heart right now. Praying you get some rest. Good sweet rest. Lots of sleep. Even healthy food to take care of yourself.

      Wonderfulllllllllllllllll about your husband!!!

      So much love my friend. xoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxoxo

  19. marci says:

    God still gives us miracles, and still speaks to us. What a wonderful story and blessing to recieve such a message. So glad for you that your MIL told you what the Lord had pressed on her.- the message for you. And what a blessing it was! I can only imagine how you must have felt when you first heard that message, while the wound from your first son, and what happened was so fresh.
    Thank you so much for sharing it with us. I read this post the day you wrote it , yet felt I needed to ponder all the meaning behind it. And all the many times God has spoken to me, often through others. I cannot say anything quite like an announcement that I would have a baby. .. though my husband and I had been married for 10 1/2 yrs before I became pregnant and I had given up on having a child. .. If some one had told me.. “Next year about this time you…..”.Well, I don’t know how I would have taken that. But after such a long wait, every day I stopped and thanked God for her. I can think of so many times God has given me more than I could possilbly ask for. He has healed relationships I thought were gone forever. He has given us things we never thought we could possibly have, and has seen us through to the other side of every storm we have been through.

    When I see the other comments, I also get so much from them. The one above touched my heart so much that I find myself praying for her needs. My father just found out that he again has cancer in his hip, which he had 20 yrs ago also. He will soon be 95, but as she seemed to say, we are never ready and want to have them with us a little longer. So I pray for myself, my dad, and for Sandra.

    • Marci, do you realize how sweet your spirit is? How tender your heart is? And how He’s working through you?

      I teared up reading about how you give Him glory for healing relationships. Sometimes I think there is no bigger miracle–when we see families/friendships fall apart and we can’t see any way they can be mended. And then He does His mighty work. Whew!

      And your precious child–you’d almost given up.

      You’re right. We’re never ready to say goodbye. I’ll add your daddy to my prayer list.

      It stirs my heart to se how you’re praying for Sandra. I hope she sees this!

      So much love to you.

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