Unconsciously pressing her hand gently against her belly, Julie gazed down at her pregnancy test results. She couldn't believe there was life growing inside of her.
She was seventeen and she was frightened out of her wits.
"What am I going to do?" she asked herself, tears streaming down her face.
This sort of thing was only supposed to happen to the "partiers" the "rebels", and other "sinners".
Julie was none of those things. She had each been born into a family of deep faith and high moral values. This pregnancy was not the result of careless partying or random casual sex. It was different. Julie felt she was truly in love with the father of her baby.
Julie had quite literally cut her teeth on the back of a church pew. She was a good student, homecoming queen, and the apple of her father's eye. She believed more than anything that God would someday use her to make a difference in the world.
Never the less, the people of the small town she lived in wouldn't see it that way. Her future was surely ruined. How could she change the world and be a teenage parent at the same time?
This baby wasn't meant to be. She had to find a way out of the pregnancy. Julie felt sick at the thought of it. She had been raised to believe that abortion was murder, yet it seemed now to be her only option.
Sleep didn't come easily to Julie that night. Staring wide eyed at the ceiling, she tried to convince herself that the life she was carrying was really not a baby at all. At this point it was still a meaningless mass of cells. It didn't even have a heartbeat yet. If she could have an abortion before the heart started beating on its own, it couldn’t possibly be considered murder in God's eyes. Could it?
Finally, after she had cried until there were no tears left, she drifted off to a restless sleep.
Shortly thereafter, Julie found herself standing over a bassinette. She was oddly curious about the sweet smelling bundle lying inside. Trembling, Julie pulled back the bright pink blanket to reveal a beautiful baby girl.
A cap of coal black hair covered her perfectly round head. Her olive skin was flawless. The infant gazed up at Julie; its large, dark, oval shaped eyes piercing her soul. What was left of Julie’s resolve melted away as the baby’s eyes met her own. Instantly she felt an overwhelming sense of love and longing for this little one.
She couldn’t wait to feel the warmth of this child in her arms or its gentle breath against her skin. Julie reached into the bassinette to pick the baby up.
Without warning, the infant disappeared.
Julie awakened with a start.
She sat up in her bed, clutching her belly in an attempt to hug the child she now understood to be very much alive and growing inside her.
On a cold Christmas morning some twenty eight years later the phone rang at Julie's house.
"Hello!" two tiny voices sounded in unison. "Merry Christmas Mamaw!" the voices giggled excitedly.
Julie laughed. "Merry Christmas Hannah and Samuel!"
"Mom?" Julie's daughter, Amelia chimed in. "The twins couldn't wait to tell you about their Christmas this morning."
"And I can't wait to hear about it!” Julie replied.
She drank in every word the toddlers had to say about their day so far away in Africa.
When she could get a word in edgewise, Amelia would fill her mother in with bits of news about her ministry. To date, she and her husband had trained and sent seventy five missionaries out into the African bush to preach the gospel. The salvations and miracles they reported as a result of their work were astounding.
"This is so awesome Mom!" Amelia enthusiastically added. “You must come see what God is doing in Africa!"
Her passion for her calling was obvious.
Julie nodded in agreement. God was doing awesome things indeed.
Smiling as she hung up the phone, Julie couldn’t help but remember that day so long ago when she thought her dream of changing the world had come to an end. She had chosen instead to become a mother. Now she realized that her unexpected pregnancy had not been the end of that dream at all.
It was only the beginning.
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