I’m Lawrence Chermely, and this is how I’ve been living deeply.
”When we were going to the hospital for the potential delivery of our son Andy at 23 weeks, I was more afraid for my wife Caroline. I’d had a lot of dreams during this time: Caroline would deliver Andy, and he actually ended up living in most of my dreams, but Caroline would not make it. I remember one very vivid dream where Jesus was holding Andy and He was just reaching back and saying, ‘Take my hand. I’ve got this. Just follow my lead.’ Two weeks before his delivery, we were at the doctor’s for a regular checkup and the doctor was like, ‘Don’t freak out, Lawrence. I’m about to admit your wife to the hospital. She has pre-eclampsia (pregnancy-induced high blood pressure).’ It was pretty scary. My first thought was, ‘Okay, are we going to live here at the hospital? We’re not even in the third trimester yet. Are we going to be in the hospital the whole trimester?’ They were like, ‘Oh, we would love for that to be the case but right now, we might be delivering tonight.’ So they were actually preparing us to deliver that night, and I was freaking out. What kept the delivery from happening was they gave Caroline a whole bunch of magnesium. It made the blood pressure come down enough to where they did not have to deliver that day. If we would have delivered that day, Andy wouldn’t be here. He was too small. They told us each day in the hospital was like gold for us in terms of Andy’s chances. He was born a couple weeks later on a Friday. Then Sunday, the doctors came into our room -we were still in the hospital- and basically told us they didn’t think he was going to make it through the day and that we needed to go spend the morning with him. We were just in tears thinking he was going to die that day. They had just spent the past 45 minutes resuscitating him. They didn’t think he’d make it through the day, but he did. We had a friend updating our Caring Bridge profile, so our friends at CSPC saw what was happening. So did missionaries across the world that CSPC supports. All kinds of people were praying for Andy.
I’m self-employed as a plumber. And when we had to go to the hospital, it was amazing. God just silenced my phone. I had been worried about taking care of people; worried I might lose my customers. When Caroline got well enough to leave the hospital, we got home and it was like when we walked through the door my phone just started ringing. I think I had three or four jobs within the first five minutes of being home. And I was like, ‘Wow, God. Thank you. You hear our cries and you’re providing.’ I was thankful for that; the timing of it. Once Andy was home, after spending 108 days in the hospital, it was still really difficult. We didn’t really go anywhere- he was still on oxygen. If he’d have gotten sick, he’d be back in the hospital. He wasn’t allowed to be in public or around other children. So it was an isolating time. Caroline and I would have to take turns doing things to care for him. Visits would be through a window at our house. Once it got to be summertime, we were able to take him to church and get him baptized. And that day [Senior Pastor] John Wood baptized him was a pretty special day. Looking back on everything connected to the start of Andy’s life, what really stands out to me are the prayers, from before Andy was born until after he was born and the whole NICU stay. It’s not uncommon for us to be at church on a Sunday and someone says, ‘Hey, I prayed for you.’ I met somebody recently through a leadership class, went up to introduce myself to him, and he said, ‘You know, I prayed with you 10 years ago.’ And I got emotional because I knew exactly what he was talking about. It was while Andy was in the NICU, so Caroline and I would take turns going to church. They were baptizing babies at church that day and I lost it. I walked out of the sanctuary, just because it was still so early and we thought Andy was going to die. So this guy followed me out and asked if I was okay. I said ‘Not really’, so he prayed with me outside the church. Memories like that are meaningful. And people will see Andy now doing so well and say, ‘That’s your son?!’ That’s really cool.
CSPC just served us and loved us so well. Caroline would be sick at the hospital, and I’d go down to get a snack or something and there would be 20 or 30 people from church down in the waiting area. People would do their Bible studies there, just to be in the hospital and be praying for us. I didn’t even know many of these people, but I would tell them to just keep doing what they were doing so I could take a picture with my phone and then go back to show Caroline. That was really encouraging. Another thing that stands out: Before Andy was born, we were in the labor & delivery room. And those rooms had big blown-up baby faces on the walls, which were really difficult emotionally for us to have to see at the time. Our hardest times were at night because your mind just starts rolling, and you’re staring at these big blown-up baby heads on the walls. Now we were part of the Pursuit Sunday school class -they were a big part of the church loving on us- and they would always ask, ‘What can we do?’ I remember saying, ‘Can you do something about these walls?’ So they made us a bunch of posters with Scripture written in glow-in-the-dark paint. They covered the baby faces with those, and at night all this Scripture was just glowing around us. All the doctors and nurses said, ‘There’s just something special about being in this room.’ The Holy Spirit was at work. We felt God’s presence. In my whole life, I’d never seen a church that loved quite like that before. These people were Jesus’s hands and feet to us during the hardest time of our lives, and it made all the difference.”