Monday, September 21, 2015


In the spring of 1980, my husband and I learned we were expecting our first child. Many of the events of that year of promise are recorded in my novel, The Children Are Tender, but the fictionalized version of that pregnancy does not include the despair I felt as I wasted away due to Hyperemesis Gravidarum, which is extreme morning sickness that results in loss of more than 10% of one's body weight. And then, in my third month, I suffered a series of viruses culminating with one that caused arthritic pain so severe I became bedridden for over a week. I was told that having that particular virus at my child's stage of gestation could cause birth defects (human parvovirus B19/Fifth disease).  I was also given two high powered injections for nausea in the emergency room and took a daily medication (one that is no longer used during pregnancy) to alleviate the constant sickness.

I was convinced that my unborn child had been harmed by all I'd suffered.

You can imagine the desperation and grief of my prayers as I cried out to the Lord. In response He provided a poem, a miraculous provision in those pre-internet days to a person who never sought out or read poetry if she could help it. But this one cropped up in a daily devotional I was reading at the time, and I copied it onto a piece of notebook paper and taped it to my refrigerator. I read it daily during the remainder of my pregnancy, and it kept it's place of honor, center front on the frig, for years after until it was yellowed and stained with age.

Based on Jeremiah 29:11, Freda Hanbury Allen's poem "My Plans for Thee" provided a lifeline to my faith.  I read, reread, claimed, prayed, and memorized Allen's illumination of the trust in God that brings peace of mind and heart. I clung to these words hour by hour through dark nights of sickness and fear for myself and my unborn child.

In the fifth month of my pregnancy I walked into my Sunday School classroom and though no students had yet arrived, there waiting for me was an acquaintance whom I liked but had kept a polite distance from because she was a little "out there" in her faith. I remember that she once gave a spontaneous rendition of a praise song in the middle of a Bible Study, much to the embarrassed surprise of a group of ladies whose routine weekly meeting was stirred to unexpected alertness by  her exuberance. 

"I want to pray for you and your baby," she said, and with no further explanation she placed her hands on my modest baby bump and prayed for healing for my child. And like Elizabeth, who felt her baby leap in the presence of the mother of our Lord, my child leapt within my womb, and I felt the warmth of the Holy Spirit flood me.  Four months later, our healthy baby girl was born.

Fast forward 35 years, to a time when I am in my eleventh year of taking care of my mother, who has Alzheimer's. With such a history of faith building events in my life, one would think that nowadays I ought to be able to calmly trust the Lord for my present as a caregiver and for a future that seems uncertain.  However, I'm ashamed to say I do still struggle with trusting God when my circumstances are difficult.

But, yesterday afternoon our daughter, Melinda, paid a visit accompanied by her two beautiful sons, ages 3 and 7.  Melinda will give birth to our third grandson next month, and as I hugged her goodbye I remembered my pregnancy with her. As I pulled her close, I realized I was holding in my arms tangible proof of the certainty of God's ability to bring beauty from the ashes of suffering and fear.

We serve a God worthy of our full trust. If you are undergoing a difficult or dark time as a caregiver I hope this poem will encourage your heart as it has mine through the years.
My Plans for Thee
For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
  - Jeremiah 29:11

        The love of God a perfect plan
        Is planning now for thee;
        It holds "a future and a hope,"
        Which yet thou canst not see.

        Though for a season, in the dark,
        He asks thy perfect trust,
        E'en that thou in surrender "lay
        Thy treasure in the dust,"

        Yet He is planning all the while;
        Unerringly He guides
        The life of him who holds His will
        More dear than all besides.

        Trust were not trust if thou could'st see
        The ending of the way;
        Nor could'st thou learn His songs by night,
        Were life one radiant day.

        Amid the shadows here He works
        The plan designed above:
        "A future and, a hope" for thee,
        In His exceeding love.

        "A future" - of abiding fruit,
        With loving kindness crowned;
        "A hope" - which shall thine own transcend,
        As Heaven the earth around.

        Though veiled as yet, one day thine eyes
        Shall see His plan unfold,
        And clouds that darkened once the path
        Shall shine with Heaven's gold.

        Enriched to all eternity
        The steadfast soul shall stand,
        That, "unoffended," trusted Him
        Who all life's pathway planned.

- Freda Hanbury Allen.


  1. Good morning, not sure when this was written but I stumbled upon it while searching for Frieda Allen's poetry. This was written beautifully. Thank you for sharing your heart. I'm a 57 year old mom and grandmother and what else can I say except Jesus has been faithful all the way to me too. I grew up under alcoholism and divorce with my parents but the Lord gave me a beautiful life with many blessings both earthly and spiritual. Wherever you are in your walk with the Lord may He uphold you as we look forward to His appearing! Thanks for sharing. P. S. Check out the hymn "All the Way My Savior Leads Me".

    1. I hope you see this reply to your comment, Suzanne, because you have encouraged me today. I've listened to the hymn "All the Way My Savior Leads Me" and have been so blessed. The Youtube version I found begins with a quote from Fanny Crosby that begins "Oh what a happy soul I am though I cannot see..." Only the Lord could know that I would find this quote and encouraging hymn on a day when I'm worried about my eyesight! Thank you so much for taking your time to comment. Looking forward to meeting you someday as we look forward together for His appearing!