• Jennifer Hastings

We are all God's Children

Where do I start, from the beginning... the day our lives turned upside down on 9-9-81, almost 38 years ago.

We had arrived in Memphis six weeks prior, thanks to a job opportunity at Holiday Inn. We had been living in Florida and looking back, you could say, God moved us to Tennessee. Kirk was temporally unemployed and when he found work, we found ourselves packing. I was working for Xerox and was able to apply for a job transfer. I only worked one full day of that job. God had different plans for my family. We didn’t know it at the time, but we were going to need to be close to a major children’s hospital.

It was my second day on the job that I received the phone call from the babysitter. Those words every Mom dreads, “They’ve taken your son by ambulance to the hospital.” My heart stopped and my life took an unexpected detour. Unfamiliar with Memphis, my new coworkers explained where I needed to go to and drove my car to the hospital, where we met Kirk. When we arrived at the local ER, we see the ambulance drivers who said, “Don’t try to follow us… just head to LeBonheur.” We continued to the children’s hospital. A social worker was assigned to our family and she handed me a piece of paper with various names of specialty doctors.

Eventually, we made our way into the room to see our son, a lifeless child, a 5-month-old in a baby bed in the ICU unit. How did this happen? The next couple of days became a blur. It is not a time I like to reflect on.

At that moment, I just wanted my Mom. Your Mom can make it all better, but unfortunately not this time. My parents were on vacation when this happened. They were traveling on a ship somewhere in Alaska. I will forever be thankful to the Red Cross for tracking down my parents when I needed them most. God, why did you allow this to happen? Yes, I asked the question but didn’t allow myself to linger there long, there were too many decisions to be made and too many things to do. I took action for my son. He needed me to be his advocate.

We prayed. What for? A miracle. We both thought we knew God.

A college friend reached out and told us their church was praying for us. Who were these people we asked ourselves? People who didn’t even know us were reaching out to us. We both grew up in the church. Wasn’t that enough faith? This kind of faith intrigued us and when Graham was well enough, we vowed to visit this church.

We would later thank this church family as they would become our “family.” Thus beginning our journey that ultimately would lead us to accept Christ as our Savior. It was during a church sermon that we both made a profession of faith. Now our journey would begin - trusting God. At the time, I was trusting anything a Dr. could explain to us. Our son was a medical mystery but soon developed into a complex case compounded with many obstacles. He had suffered a stroke and then came a seizure disorder.

How do you take care of a special needs child? What did those words mean? My life shifted from a nine to five career woman to a stay at home mom. A new identity, and new family norm. There isn’t a manual. It’s all trial and error. Many people asked why or how could this happen to our son. I didn’t have a clear answer. It was at a neighborhood bible study, a sweet lady shared Psalm 139 with me. As I read it, God gave me a clear vision about our son. Psalm 139 declares that God knew Graham before he was formed. He’s not a mystery. He’s a child of God just like you and me. He was not a mistake. He is our gift, greatest gift along with our other two children. And God gave him to us.

As I reflect, Graham has opened more doors and given us many opportunities to share the gospel and life with so many. Oh, the blessings we have received.

Today, more churches and communities are offering programs and opening their doors for the special needs population. Be inspired to reach out and help someone who may not look or act “normal.” We are all God’s children. Where is your mission field? Graham is our mission field. We are blessed to be the parents of Graham Hastings.

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