Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Pearl Joy Brown

Dear, sweet, beautiful, cuddly Pearl,

I wrote these words last week after holding them in my heart for weeks after meeting you. I have cried with news from your parents, both tears of sadness and of hope. More and more everyday those tears have turned to those of complete and utter JOY, for you are a warrior princess and are giving this whole world a run for its money.

Now that a whole community of folks near and far are gathering to write words to you, I am thrilled to chime in the beautiful chorus of happy, hopeful, grateful words and thoughts. Pearl, thank you for what you have taught me about the Lord's goodness, about the sanctity of life. Thank you for being a red-headed warrior. You are a special little girl with a wonderful family. Thank you for touching my heart and removing so many fears. I love you, Pearl Joy.

With so much love,


Recently some old Nashville friends of mine were given a gift. That gift's name is Pearl Joy Brown. 

You can read the full story of their journey on their Wordpress blog

Their story, in a nutshell, is this: At 20 weeks gestation, Ruth and Eric Brown's baby, their third child, was diagnosed with a supposedly fatal neural disorder. Doctors urged induced labor, essentially a mid-pregnancy abortion. Ruth and Eric said no. Pearl Joy Brown was born on July 27th (also Maggie's birthday!) and came out a fighter. She hasn't stopped fighting and it has been more than five weeks since her birthday -- five weeks, when the doctors predicted she would have little more than five minutes of life outside the womb.

I had the wonderful privilege of meeting Pearl a couple weeks ago. I got to cuddle her tiny body, reminding me of the sweetness of the first few weeks of an infant's life. I got to hear her sleepy, whistling snore and see her little tongue moving around as she dreamed baby dreams.

Though Pearl's life, so graciously given by God, is a miracle through and through, most miraculous to me is Ruth and Eric's acceptance of the limitations of Pearl's life. In looking forward to having more children, there has been a fear in my heart of the terrifying "what if" of a miscarriage, of having a child disabled in some way. I have feared for my own heart, feeling unable to bear a burden of that kind, unable to accept the difficult things that God gives.

What Pearl has taught me is that it is not a burden to care for a life that is not "normal." 

It is a privilege. 

It is an honor. 

And in fact, it is what God planned as he knit little Pearl together in her mother's womb. She is 100% perfect, exactly who God intended her to be.

While Pearl was in utero, Ruth and Eric laid down their parenting expectations, their hopes and dreams for their third child. They accepted that their only time with Pearl might be when she was safe in Ruth's womb. They rejoiced in that time spent with Pearl. They were overwhelmed with joy at the privilege of spending hours, then days, now weeks with her.

They laid down their expectations of "normal" and in exchange God has granted them the "new normal" of rejoicing in the small. The new normal means celebrating life by the minute. The new normal means having weekly "cupcake days" to thank God for granting more and more time with Pearl Joy. The new normal means that when doctors tell them that Pearl may never read, may never walk, may never communicate verbally, they laugh because they count it a beautiful privilege just to care for Pearl, whatever form that may take.

Pearl is not like you and I. Her brain does not function at the same level as a fully developed infant. She cannot always breathe on her own and often must fight for breath. Her little body has seizures at least hourly, sometimes more. Many would consider this an impaired life. Many would not, did not, consider this a life worth preserving. And yet, her small life has taught me and countless others the beauty of Creation and of human life, whatever form that life may take, however different it may look from "normal."

Through the Browns, I see a new normalcy in two parents who have given their hopes and dreams up to God and in exchange have received pure Joy.

Pearl Joy has taught me a new normal -- normalcy seen through the lens of God's eyes, not my own. A normal that is thankful for each tiny breath and has unconditional gratitude for human life in all its forms. 

We love you, Ruth, Eric, Brennan, Abbey, little Pearl - you are in our hearts and our prayers. 

If you feel moved to support the Brown family, here's where you can contribute to their biggest tangible need right now. Let's do something awesome here.

To follow Pearl updates, you can view Eric's twitter page even if you don't have a twitter account. All photos in this blog post are from Eric's twitter. He has been great at keeping everyone up to date with what is happening and with posting photos of little Pearl.

Every day brings new challenges for the Browns and it is a big deal to have community supporting them in this time. They appreciate the support of folks both near and far, friends and strangers alike. Please keep them and Pearl in your prayers. God is faithful and good.


  1. Friend, this is just beautiful. I second every emotion felt and every truth learned here. Her life is a gift indeed, and not just to her mama and papa. Love you, friend.

  2. I love you and I love this post! God is so good.