Precious Testimonies

Astri's Story

Submitted 11/9/09

Steven Brandt

Astriís story 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 of times.

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 thereĒ.

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 work place.

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 room.

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 fine.

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 stay!

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.

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