begins in late 2003. Joni, her son Adam, and I
had been living together in Texas for about half
a year and we were struggling pretty hard.
Struggling financially as we always have, but
also struggling to adapt to our new lives as a
family. It was October of that year that Joni
discovered she was pregnant.
Now, I wonít try to describe Joniís thoughts or
feelings here because that is her story to tell,
but I can give you my own perspective. I was
scared. The thought of having a baby was
exciting, but mostly it was scary.
First of all, what would my family think? Joni
and I were not married and I worried that they
would not approve. Also, how on earth were we
going to afford a baby? We were barely paying
the bills as it was. And would I be a good
father? I already had a six-year old daughter
back in Nebraska that I had only seen a couple
As you can see, I was really hung up on things
like universal approval and money and failure.
Well, without God in my life these are the kinds
of things that consumed me. These are the things
I thought were important. Itís sad to think
about those days.
In spite of all my fear and worry, I gradually
got used to the idea of having a baby. We talked
about names. Joni liked the name Steven for a
boy, go figure. I liked the name Astri for a
girl. I was big into genealogy at the time and
the name Astri appeared several times in a
Norwegian branch of my family.
Okay, fast forward to April 2004. It was a
Monday and I had gone to work as usual. At
around 9 or 10 that morning Joni called me and
said, ďI need to go to the hospitalĒ. Oh boy,
not good. The baby was not due until June. I
raced home as fast as I could to pick up Joni
and Adam and off we went. Adam is, and was,
home-schooled if youíre wondering why he was
home. The hospital was only about a mile away so
that was good.
They took Joni in right away to make her
comfortable while Adam and I went off to fill
out paperwork. But we were all together again in
time for the ultrasound. The doctor confirmed
what we were already beginning to suspect. The
baby was no longer living.
After that, they put Joni in a delivery room.
All that was left to do was wait. They said the
baby would come out naturally. They were going
to make Adam wait outside when it was time but I
think God had other plans. Joni gave birth very
quickly and sooner than was expected. The three
of us were alone in the room when it happened.
Maybe youíre thinking that wasnít a good place
for an 8 year old to be, but Iím glad Adam can
look back on that experience and say, ďI was
Astri Celia Brandt was born on April 26, 2004.
She would have been 5 this year and starting
school. She was with us for such a short time,
and yet she will be with us forever.
Mark 10:14 But when Jesus saw it, he was much
displeased and said unto them; Suffer the little
children to come unto me, and forbid them not,
for of such is the kingdom of God.
Does that feel like the end of the story? Nope,
thatís only the beginning. You see, it was Astri
that eventually brought me to God.
After Astri was born I took a week off to stay
home with Joni and didnít return to work until
the following Monday.
Now, I should mention here that I never told
anyone at work about Astri. In fact I never even
told anyone that Joni was pregnant. This was
mainly because I didnít really have any friends
at work. I mostly keep to myself and was not in
the habit of discussing my personal life in the
I canít remember exactly what day it was. I know
it was either Tuesday or Wednesday of that week
but canít remember which. Anyway, I was sitting
in the break room that day reading my book. In
those days, I always spent my free-time alone,
reading. Maybe thatís why I didnít have any
friends. Food for thought. I had the entire room
to myself that day which was a little bit
unusual. This was a fair-sized office building
and there was almost always someone in the break
So I was sitting there reading, or at least
staring at my book. Probably I was just sitting
there thinking. Then a lady came into the room
and walked over to the coffee pot. I knew who
she was because we had worked in the same
department for a while, but I didn't say hi or
anything because, like I said, Iím not very
sociable. I just sat there with my book while
she busied herself pouring coffee and getting
sugar and creamer and all that. Then she came
over to the table where I was sitting and
started talking to me. Ugh!
ďAre you all right Steve?Ē she said. Right away
I was wondering if she had found out about Astri
somehow. I hadnít told anyone so she couldnít
really know. Maybe I just looked tired or
something. I lied and told her I was fine.
ďAre you sure?Ē she said. Now I was really
starting to wonder. If she didnít know about
Astri, why would she be asking me if Iím okay? I
didnít typically converse with people about
anything other than work. Why couldnít she just
leave me alone? Again I lied and told her I was
Then she said the words that changed my life. I
still get goose-bumps when I think about it. She
looked me right in the eye and said, ďThe Lord
asked me to come over here and tell you that
everything is going to be okay.Ē
Can you imagine? What on earth do you say to
someone after something like that? Well, I was
in denial. I kind of laughed a little and said,
ďHe did?Ē Yeah, I know, that response was just
too clever for words.
Well, she left me alone after that, but the
damage was done. I drifted through the rest of
the day and then went home. I told Joni what had
happened and she told me that she had been
praying for God to comfort me.
I wish I could tell you that my life took a
complete one-eighty right then and there, but I
canít. God slapped me right upside the head and
said ďEnough is enough, listen up!Ē but it still
took me a while to come around.
The important thing is, the chain reaction had
begun. No matter how hard I tried, and I did
try, I could no longer deny the existence of
God. He knew it would take something extreme to
reach me, so he did something extreme. He gave
me incontrovertible and undeniable proof. I
wasnít ready to hand over my whole life yet, but
I knew there was someone to hand it over to, if
I chose to.
So anytime those doubts start to creep in on me
in the small hours of the night, all I have to
do is remember that day in the break room and I
feel comforted. God didnít go to all that
trouble just to leave me hanging five years
later. I know He loves me, and He is here to
Jeremiah 31:3 The Lord hath appeared of old unto
me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an
everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness
have I drawn thee.