On January 23, 1937, a baby girl was born in the backwoods town of Florala. Florala balances precariously on the border of Florida and Alabama. (Bet you had already deduced that fact.)
The young mom giving birth to the little girl left ten other children at home. As the contractions increased in severity, there was no adoring husband to hold her hand or smooth her furrowed brow. He had walked out on the family when the eleventh pregnancy was revealed.
There was no sterile hospital. She couldn't afford it.
No midwife to monitor the labor process.
Not even a faithful friend.
This woman walked alone to an abandoned service station. Nothing more than burlap sacks at the broken windows kept out the cold. She endured the pains, patiently suffered in solitude, and waited for her body to do what it had done ten times before.
When the baby girl finally came into the world, the brave young lady tied and cut the umbilical cord. She wrapped the crying baby in tattered cloths she'd washed in preparation for the moment.
And although further details get sketchy, it is known that somehow the woman got word to a judge in the area that she wanted him to find a home for the new soul.
Regular readers have already guessed. That baby girl survived. She grew up and eventually gave birth to her own little girls - one of which was me.
My mom often rehearsed the story; as much for herself as for us. Always careful to point out that her birth mom could easily have chosen to not let that baby live. In many ways, it would have been easier for the young woman living in such dire circumstances.
It's extremely cold in north Florida today. I find myself wondering how cold it was in 1937! We never knew if Mom was born during the day or in the middle of a dark night. Did that birth mother feel hopeless, worthless, forgotten?
Mom spent countless hours through the years searching for the woman who gave her life. She never found her. But Mom made certain that we knew how thankful she was for the choices the woman made.
During the final weeks of her life, Mom had highlighted and dated several passages with special significance to her:
"I am fearfully and wonderfully made."
"You knit me together in my mother's womb."
"You knew all my days before even one of them came to pass."
In the silence and cold loneliness of that abandoned service station, I'm sure the young woman had no idea how many lives her choice would impact. But God knew the plans He had for that "unwanted" child.
She filled the longings of a barren woman who adopted her. She grew up to marry a young man and walk beside him pastoring several congregations. Two of her three children also became pastors ministering to thousands of people through the years.
She learned to pray, laugh, encourage, challenge........
I hope that one day when we all reach heaven, I'll finally have the opportunity to meet the anonymous woman who impacted so many lives simply by choosing life. What a day that will be!