She grips me tight and whispers, “Stay! I like you so much.” I give her one last kiss and wriggle free from her tired arms. When she catches me peeking back for a final glance before I flick the light out, she begs again, “Stay!”

Annie is learning to go to bed on her own. I’m learning to let her. That sweet embrace and warm invitation to sit there by her through the night are hard to turn down. Besides, she likes me so much!


Especially as the moments steal her away to undergo her third open heart surgery, on August 1, I want to stay in this day before forever. I don’t know if I’ll get them back on the other side of the procedure; I don’t even know if I’ll get her back.

My final looks have gotten longer. I’ve studied every breath, tried to seal every touch in my mind for the days ahead.

Audrey pops out of her room early on a weekday morning. She carefully laid out three outfit options. Dressed in one, she already had her bow clipped in. “I did it all myself, Momma! Even my bow, see?” I note how pretty she looks from the bow, but mostly the glisten of pride in her eyes. I tuck the sparkle away for another day soon when her brightness might be hidden.


I creak the backdoor open to announce dinner’s readiness. I decide instead to watch Matt sweep the girls up higher higher, Daddy, in their swings. He sends them flying to squeal and kick in full underdog delight. So what if we have to enjoy a cold chicken dish on the deck as audience to a live fishing show taught by my 5-year-old and 3-year-old fishing pros who “aren’t hungry yet.”


The inevitable of tomorrow morning is trying to swallow me up. “Stay. I like you so much!” I plead with every last normal moment. “Stay, let me soak you up a little longer so that my memory will never let you go.”

Stay, routine tuck ins.

Stay, sparkling eyes.

Stay, giggling girls and swinging Daddy.

Recently Annie informed me that when she gets older, older and bigger, bigger she’s getting a cat. And when she’s a mom with that cat, she’ll name him Gilbert. Stay dreaming, brave girl.

As I listened to her future plans, knowing the grim statistics that they’ll ever come true, I drowned in the what ifs. Literally gasping for short breaths underneath the tightness of my chest, I cried for time to stop. For this moment to stay.

A verse I’ve been meditating on came to mind: “You keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on you, because he trusts in you.”

perfect peace

Tomorrow morning instead of begging Annie to stay with me in my arms, I’ll choose courage. I’ll hand her over to the surgeon who will work to repair her broken birth heart. Instead of standing in fear and desperation over the reality of it all,  I’ll coax myself:

Stay, mind, on the nearness of God’s presence. Stay, heart, in the hope of eternity. Stay, faith, in the strong anchor of our good God.

Would you pray that with me? That I’ll choose faith no matter the outcome. That my 3-year-old Annie’s life will make God better and more widely known no matter what happens behind the operating room doors. That my husband and I will believe that God’s plan for our family is in fact the right plan for our family.

May God be glorified in all things.


For more on Annie’s story and for surgery updates, read Tracy’s blog.  You might also like these posts

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20 thoughts on “Stay”

  1. Hello dear sister,
    How is Annie now, I have prayed for good health .
    Please share you’re testimony . May our wonder working God use you for the extension of his kingdom.

  2. Our family will be praying for your Annie and your family. We lift the doctors and surgeons up today as they give her a new heart.

  3. Dear Father,
    You are good and kind and merciful. You are the great physician, the creator, healer, restorer. We ask for complete healing for Annie so she may love and serve you on this earth, so we may enjoy her precious life for a lifetime. We know you are able and willing to heal, but if you do not, may we know that you are still loving kind and merciful, may your will be done and not ours. Comfort us, give us peace and confidence in your love. May we not be anxious and worried about anything, but in everything by prayer, and supplication with thanksgiving present our requests to You, and Your peace which transcends all human understanding will guard our hearts and minds through the blood of Christ Jesus. Philippians 4:6-7.

    I am sorry for your trials. Our 23 year old son had surgery at 4 months of age to correct a birth defect. God was a very present help.

  4. I know God will guide the doctor’s hand and give your baby girl the heart to keep her bringing joy to all of you. You are in my prayers.

  5. I am praying for you and your whole family. The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord turn His face toward you and give you peace. Numbers 6:24-26.

  6. Holding your precious Annie and your entire family in prayer. I have an Annie as well. She is a darling, little six-month-old.

  7. I heard recently at an event fundraiser for families like yours that God doesn’t allow “set backs” he allows “set ups!!” I pray that this new journey tomorrow is a set up!! His glory, his love, his mercy revealed! Remember no matter what the outcome there is an ultimate reward.

  8. God bless you all – Our God is a miracle working God and He can do the impossible – Know it – Praise Him for his miracles – Praise Him for Annie! God bless you Annie – you are God’s wonderful miracle!! I’m praying for you beautiful, precious girl xoxoxo

  9. Praying for you all. Faith is greater than fear. Don’t give up and lose the battle to the enemy.


  11. Yes Tracy I am praying today and will continue for the specific requests you wrote. I’m sure God meant for me to read and share in this esp. today due to my own family issues . This definitely opened my eyes and heart to be aware of others burdens, concerns and to keep our focus on God’s will. I’m so thankful your family knows Him as comforter as you put your whole trust in His plan for your beautiful baby girl. Praying for big sister also. With love – Your sister in Christ.

  12. I like that, pray that you will choose faith no matter what.

    I too find myself caring and holding my precious baby not doing good. We are waiting to see a new doctor to plan for her next surgery.

    Only my daughter is 36 yrs. old, suffering from a malfunctioning Baclofen pump. A fragile 75 lbs, she wakes early to turn on her side.

    Lord bless our children for they are Your delight.

    1. Barbara Rainey

      I’m so sorry about your daughter Virginia. What a long journey the two of you have been on. I pray this new doctor will provide help that will make a difference for you precious girl.

  13. Psalm 46: 10 – “Be still and I know that I am God”. Rest in the Lord knowing that He is in control. I am praying for your baby girl

  14. Praying with you and your precious family. You are a beautiful example & are doing a great job of giving Him glory as you continue on your challenging journey. Thank you for being brave, choosing courage and letting God rule & reign in your family’s life. You are doing what we all aspire to do.

  15. I am praying for Annie, you, your husband, and your entire family. Jehovah Rapha is a healing God and I know that your daughter is in His capable hands. He is also Jehovah Shalom who will give you all peace during this trying time.

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