Twice The Miracle
Brooks and Lindsay Keys' Story
The questions were coming thick and fast.
How could this be happening?
Would the girls survive?
What are we supposed to do?
The news gripped their hearts, squeezing until they had no more breath.
The images of the past few giddy weeks rushed through their minds.
Lindsay and Brooks giggling over Lindsay’s suggestion that maybe all the pregnancy tests were broken. How else to explain a positive result?
Lindsay and Brooks crying and laughing at the first ultrasound at 8 or 9 weeks when the nurse’s soft swipes across Lindsay’s belly found there wasn’t just one, but two heartbeats— Ibby and Lilly.
I just pictured having fun with however many kids the Lord ended up giving us and for us to live our lives following Jesus — Lindsay
Now there was only silence between them, as the two of them sank beneath the breakers and got swept up by the waves of this cascading calamity.
In each other’s eyes, the deeps called wordlessly to the deep in them.
"We were so confused. We were frightened,” Lindsay says. "It felt like everything that could be going wrong was going wrong, especially when everything was going so right."
The Mother of Trials
The pregnancy wasn’t meant to turn out like this, on the verge of being lost in preterm labor. The doctor hadn’t seen it coming. No one had.
"At my 20-week checkup, my doctor said to me, ‘You make having twins look easy,’” Lindsay says. “We just thought, ‘Oh, smooth sailing!’"
To Lindsay, the twins felt like the fulfillment of a promise from God.
Before Lindsay and Brooks had even met, He had placed a burden in Lindsay’s heart to be a wife and a mom.
Sure, when Lindsay was young, she dreamed, as some girls do, of marrying and having a family. But it was after meeting Jesus while a student at Clemson University that it became the focus of her life — perhaps even her purpose.
Before hearing the gospel at NewSpring in November 2002, Lindsay wanted the life that many people do. Wealth, career success, self-fulfillment. And family, so long as it didn’t get in the way.
We knew that If the girls did make it through that would be a miracle and we would celebrate that Jesus answered our prayers — Lindsay
Then came slipping grades and relationship failures in her sophomore year. In the fog of an uncertain future, her identity and self-worth seemed in doubt, so she began to search for what gave life true meaning.
“Little by little, everything started to fall apart, and these things are not fulfilling me the way they once did, so what is the answer to that?" she remembers asking herself. "What is going to fulfill me now that everything else was falling apart?"
Lindsay's party-loving Alpha Delta Pi sorority sister invited her to check out NewSpring, warning her upfront that she didn’t endorse everything about the church.
At the end of that first service in the auditorium of the Rainey Fine Arts Center at Anderson University, Lindsay walked down front and asked Jesus into her life.
“Looking back now I realize that that was the Lord pursuing me, the Lord drawing me in, because ultimately he wanted a relationship with me," Lindsay says.
A Family's Mission
When Lindsay met Jesus, everything changed, including those feelings about motherhood.
After graduation, she took a job as an assistant to Perry Noble. She ditched her plans for a career in marketing to dedicate her life to working for the church, wanting others to experience the same transformation that happened in her own heart.
Lindsay believed that mission, one day, should involve a family to carry on that faith to the next generation. For Perry, she listed her top two life goals simply as "godly wife and godly mom."
Lindsay and Brooks’s relationship didn't appear heaven-sent at first.
I just want us to be able to come back to this night right here and mark this night as a miracle — Perry Noble.
Introduced on an awkward double date by friends, neither felt that cliche romantic spark or some supernatural sense that they were meant for each other. Everything on Lindsay’s "list" for suitable husband material — Brooks wasn’t it.
But when Brooks summoned the courage a couple months later to ask her on a proper date, and they got to know each other, they began to experience the thrill of watching God slowly aligning their hearts and their lives. Ultimately, they saw the highest joy in raising a family that loved God together.
"I knew he had a good reputation of good character. He was hardworking. We enjoyed similar things,” Lindsay says. "I just pictured having fun with however many kids the Lord ended up giving us and for us to live our lives following Jesus."
A Slim Chance
And here they were, three years after Brooks and Lindsay were married.
The children in Lindsay's womb once safely hooked to God’s faithfulness now were dangling on upside down question marks.
At a routine exam on a Friday in mid-January 2014, just 22 weeks and two days into the pregnancy, the doctor saw unmistakable signs that Lindsay’s body was tricking itself into giving birth. She was dilated and at the beginning stages of contractions.
At the hospital, the doctors moved fast to do all they could, including a surgery to stop the leak of fluid from one of the girls' amniotic sacs. Continued fluid loss would have prevented the baby’s growth and development, even if the contractions could be stopped.
The statistics didn’t offer much hope: A 10-percent chance, at best, that the girls’ would make it seven to 10 days before labor took its course.
And that fell well short of the 28-week mark, the threshold when premature babies have a good chance for survival and normal development in the care of a pediatric intensive care unit.
But we also knew if God's plan was not for these girls to survive that we could still trust him — Lindsay
In the grim calculus, the slim chances for the girls was no chance at all if the contractions didn’t stop.
And for that outcome, the doctor’s advice was simple and direct.
"He told us 'Get your people on the phone and start praying. We need a miracle,'” Brooks recalls.
Asking For Favor
News of complications had begun to filter out to Lindsay and Brooks' friends that weekend, but in the drips and drabs of information shared via text message, everyone was slow to grasp the seriousness.
The first Monday night for the Keys in hospital, Perry was readying himself to go on stage at the Anderson campus to teach a Bible study to more than 1,000 people.
Beneath Perry's calm, workmanlike, and at times funny teaching through Acts, no one knew the burden he was carrying for his friends. That is until the very end, when he tearfully begged the church to pray for them.
Like Brooks and Lindsay holding hands 30 minutes north in Greenville, he could not understand. He did not have any answers.
All he knew was that the God who was gracious enough to send his son Jesus to die for His people, could be gracious enough to grant a miracle.
“I want to pray for those two little girls that are just precious to the Lord and are being put together, I believe, for something special,” Perry prayed. “I just pray that God would save them and use them, and I just want us to be able to come back to this night right here and mark this night as a miracle when we gathered together right here and begged God to do something great and glorious for his name."
Despite their fear and the wrenching sadness, Lindsay and Brooks faith was deep enough to know Jesus would help them through the loss, the grief, and the agony.
Their faith was deep enough that they knew they could ask for and expect a miracle, too.
“We knew that If the girls did make it through that would be a miracle and we would celebrate that Jesus answered our prayers,” Lindsay says. “But we also knew if God's plan was not for these girls to survive that we could still trust him, and even though it didn't turn out how we would have hoped, that that was still his plan and that he was still good.”
They had no idea Perry had planned to engage the whole church in prayer for them.
There is no logical explanation for any of it. It’s just a miracle — Brooks
The next day, Lindsay’s contractions slowed. Brooks also felt the calm and trust he needed to lead his wife and their two babies through the storm, something Perry had prayed for him specifically.
Each day the babies stayed inside the womb, they promised to celebrate as a victory and a gift.
“That was the night that things seemed to turn around,” Brooks says. “It definitely wasn’t the end of the story and there were so many things that still needed to take place, but it seemed like God moved in that moment and our story was turning a corner if that makes sense.”
The girls made it the first day, then a second, and then a third. One week turned into a second, and not before long, a month. The progress defied any expectation or explanation.
As the pregnancy neared 28 weeks, with no outward signs of contractions and healthy levels of amniotic fluid for both girls, the doctors began to talk about the possibility of sending Lindsay home from the hospital.
Further testing showed the amniotic fluid still was leaking, however. Yet somehow, Ibby’s amniotic sac was staying full.
"I knew it was part of this miracle that her fluid was so good,” Brooks says. "There is no logical explanation for any of it. It’s just a miracle."
Delivering A Miracle
When it came time for the girls to be born via an emergency Caesarean section at 28 weeks and 6 days, only God’s faithfulness to Brooks and Lindsay prevented them from falling too deeply into fear.
Once the miracle girls were delivered, Lindsey and Brooks celebrated, of course.
But the sight of the babies’ frail little bodies — 2 pounds and 12 ounces and 2 pounds and 13 ounces — wrenched at their hearts as they considered the journey ahead.
"It’s such an emotional time, walking into the NICU and seeing your babies in the incubator and seeing them hooked up to so many different things. It’s overwhelming,” Lindsay says.
But they knew God had brought them this far, and he would carry them the rest of the way.
In 10 weeks, the twins passed the battery of physical tests, cleared their developmental hurdles, and were cleared to go home — together, just as Lindsay had prayed.
For family and friends who had prayed and supported them through, the hope for healthy births weren’t just a promise kept to Brooks and Lindsey, but a promise kept to everyone who trusts in the character of God.
Ibby and Lilly were two ordinary little girls bearing the image of their heavenly Father, brought into the world against the odds.
There is not a day that goes by when I don’t look at them and see these miracles that Jesus has given us and what a privilege that is — Lindsay.
Does God have a special plan for their lives? Yes. Just as special as everyone who receives the gift of life they did not choose and cannot control.
The only reasonable response for Brooks and Lindsay — for anyone — is to simply marvel at the grace of God.
You see it in the wordless look Brooks and Lindsay share every now and then, as they play now with their healthy 9-month-old giggling girls.
Deep calls to deep again.
Having been submerged and swept along in the swirling torrents of fear and doubt, now they have bobbed to the surface on the other side of the waterfalls — staring into awesome, unfathomable, unimaginable glory.
Peering into the mystery of God, Brooks and Lindsay learned you can hold out hope — against circumstances, against logic, against the curse of suffering on this world — and believe that miracles still happen.
"Every time I look at the girls I am in awe,” Lindsay says. "There is not a day that goes by when I don’t look at them and see these miracles that Jesus has given us and what a privilege that is.”