Sunday, February 26, 2006

In Memory of Anastasia Grace

Life is Never Worthless
By Michelle Klemp

This was written by my sister Michelle, who lost their baby Anastasia Grace Klemp to the devastating neural tube birth defect known as anencephaly.

Hearing our daughter’s prognosis was devastating. Many expected us to abort. Yet we knew that her life was as precious and meaningful as everyone else’s. God had created her, and had a deliberate purpose in mind. Jesus died for her also, to give her eternal live. And so she was named Anastasia Grace. Anastasia, for the resurrection that comes through Christ. Grace, that we acknowledge we deserve no favor from God because of our sin.

Annie’s kicks were initially a sorrowful reminder of what was to come. However, they quickly became very endearing. A little “Hello”, “Good morning”, or “Good night” for both of her parents, and occasionally a kick for her brothers as well. Our hearts were breaking knowing that she was facing death, but we had the confidence that she was completely in the care of the boundless love of Christ.

While holding Annie in my womb, our wonderful family and friends were holding us, both through their support and prayers. We were very humbled to be the subject of so many prayers and marveled at how awesome it was to see Christian love in action. God also allowed us to see that he was using Annie’s precious life as many people dear to us reported that they had shared her story, witnessing the truths of God’s Word to those around them.

Anastasia continued to be a powerful witness on her last day. Although specialists told us that she was incapable of having any senses, our little girl let every nurse know that she was aware of their efforts to track her. Every time they attempted to gauge her heartbeat, she kicked their instruments and gave them an earful. Every one of them also knew the meaning of her name, and our first priority upon birth. As soon as her Daddy cut her cord, she was whisked to the prepared basin to be baptized.

Though she continued to live outside the womb only an hour, God blessed us through Anastasia by giving us clearer vision to the importance of her life, the power of prayer, and the victory of baptism. We are grateful God gave her to us, and we await the day when we will see her again, at our Savior’s side.

What you sow does not come to life until it dies. When you sow, you do not plant the body that will be, but just a seed, perhaps of wheat or something else. But God gives it a body as he has determined, and to each kind of seed he gives its own body.

So it will be with the resurrection of the dead.
The body that is sown is perishable, it is raised imperishable;
it is sown in dishonor, it is raised in glory;
it is sown in weakness, it is raised in power;
it is sown a natural body, it is raised a spiritual body.
I Corinthians 15:36-38, 42-44

In Memory of
Anastasia Grace Klemp
Date of Birth + Date of Baptism + Date of Death
February 3, 2006

Dear Anastasia,

Although you were alive outside the womb but only an hour, you have touched the lives of many. Despite the recommendation by doctors to have a “selective termination of pregnancy”, your parents chose to give you a chance at life – no matter how short it would be. Through baptism, you became a child of God. An hour later, you joined your Savior in heaven.

At your funeral, there still were tears shed. For me and likely for many others, it was the first funeral of a child I had attended. Seeing your tiny coffin was a reminder of how precious life really is, and how every birth really is a miracle. Some of the tears were shed out of sadness, as your presence would be missed. But they were also tears of joy, knowing that you were now safely in Jesus’ loving arms.

Although you were born with devastating birth defects such as anencephaly and died just an hour later, your life has a purpose. In our human understanding and insight, we don’t know fully what that will be. From the time of that fateful ultrasound up until the present, your story and your family’s faith has been strengthened and shared with others, both in person and through the Internet. Blood samples were taken after your birth and will hopefully contribute to medical understanding and prevention of anencephaly. Perhaps a stronger support system will be formed for expectant parents facing similar situations. As God said to the apostle Paul, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Paul then said, “That is why for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, ... in hardships, … in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:9) Trust in God’s grace and wisdom will carry us through even these most difficult of times.

Your eyes, grey and unseeing on Earth, now eagerly are on the lookout, anticipating the time when you and your family will be reunited in Heaven.
Your hands, unable to clench around the index finger of your parents, are now loudly clapping, praising God.
Your small frame, just over a foot long and curved by a birth defect, now stands erect, boldly proclaiming the wisdom and power of the almighty, omniscient God.
And your lips, once malformed with a cleft palette, now join the choruses above.

Looking forward to seeing you again.

Your loving aunt,

Melissa Enderle