Psalm 107:1-2, 43
“Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good; his love endures forever.
Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story-…
Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the LORD.”
In the past few months I have had the opportunity to share my story with different moms’ groups and my church. As I sat down and wrote out what God has done in my life over the last 10 years, I stood amazed at God’s perfect plan for my life. I was able to look back and see a loving God that though He allowed me to struggle, chose to walk very closely alongside me and my family through deep water.
“‘Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have summoned you by name; you are mine.
When I pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.
For I am the Lord your God….'”
For many years, I felt as if the river of life would sweep over me or the fire would surely burn me. I won’t lie and say that the last 10 years were the easiest years of my life, but I will say that within those 10 years, I have gotten to see a glimpse of my Savior and experience an intimacy with Him that I have never experienced before.
My aim with this post is to stop and remember how God has proven himself faithful in my life. For the sake of time, I won’t share every detail of my story, but I do want to share the times where God showed up. My prayer is that God can use my story in your life – that you can see a God who was faithful in the midst of difficult circumstances.
Growing up in a Christian home, I knew what it meant (or so I thought) to be a Christian and what I needed to “do”. Prior to my mom passing away in 2006, I would have told you that if you just do what God wants you to be doing, then life will turn out the way you want it to. But when my mom died from pancreatic cancer when she was only 60, I found myself in unfamiliar territory. My family and I had done everything we were supposed to do when my mom got sick: we had her go to the doctor, we prayed and believed God for healing, we thanked God for all that he had done in the midst of mom being sick, and yet – my mom still passed from this Earth into Heaven. I knew that ultimately it was good that she was in Heaven but it didn’t feel good. For 27 years, I grew up needing a mom and on Feb 26, 2006 I no longer had my mom walking alongside me. I don’t think I ever doubted God’s existence after her death, but I definitely wondered if I could or should trust God with my heart again.
Luckily, as it says in 1 John 3:20 “God is greater than our hearts…” and God in his infinite grace opened up the door for me to attend a Bible Study (Gracestoration) that has forever changed the way I see God and His grace. God used this study to restore my trust in Him and to change the way I viewed Him. Like I said before, I used to think that my relationship with God was solely based on what I was doing for Him and how I can win His approval. But through Gracestoration, I learned about God’s amazing grace that was gifted to me through Jesus’ death on the Cross and this gift is given freely to me regardless of what I have done or what I am doing. I no longer needed to win the approval of God because with Jesus’ blood painted on the doorpost of my heart, I am forgiven and free. I learned that God desires to do life with us and to come alongside us and love on us through our struggles and disappointments.
He will always rescue our hearts even if He doesn’t choose to rescue us or remove us from the difficult situation.
About a year after my mom died, my husband and I started trying to have children. After a couple of years without a pregnancy we decided to start infertility treatment. And after 4 failed IUIs (intrauterine inception) with two different doctors, we were faced with a decision to either pursue more infertility treatment or adoption. After looking into both options, we felt God was leading us toward adoption. I wish I could tell you that I was completely at peace and excited about adoption, but I was terrified. In the realm of adoption, you often hear all of the difficult stories that exist in the adoption world and after the loss of my mom and the loss of being able to get pregnant, I wasn’t sure I could handle more loss. But I consistently felt God encouraging me to entrust my dream for a family to Him and allow Him to create our family His way and in His time.
After only a few months of being homestudy approved, we were chosen by a birthmom who was 5 months pregnant with a baby boy. We had the opportunity to go to all of her doctor appointments and go to lunch or dinner afterwards so that we could build a relationship with her and her family. When the time came for the baby to be born, the birthmom chose to have us in the room when she delivered. I was actually helping her push and getting to watch this precious boy come into the world. I realize now that God had heard my countless hours of whining, complaining, and begging to be pregnant.
And though he didn’t gift me with my own pregnancy, he gifted me with the opportunity to come alongside this beautiful young woman and walk her through her pregnancy and birth of a baby boy.
The moment that he was born, I remember staying at the birthmom’s side even though the nurses were working with the baby a few feet away. The birthmom’s aunt had to tell me several times to go over and be with the baby. Finally I heard and understood what she was saying and I left to meet and care for my son. But I will never forget that moment because I had to shift my focus from the birthmom to this tiny baby.
Hours before we left the hospital, I remember holding our son in our hospital room and I just started crying uncontrollably. Here I was holding someone else’s baby that she had decided to entrust to me, and my heart tore in two for her and the loss she must have been going through. Within a few hours later, the birthmom ended up leaving the hospital without her son and we got to go home as parents for the first time.
It was during the birth of our son, that God did a miracle in my heart. Prior to getting matched with a birthmom, my sole concern was having a baby to call our own. But as I left the hospital, I started to grasp the complexity of adoption: while we were rejoicing, a young woman was at home mourning. My son will always have two mothers but yet I am the one God has chosen to raise Him. This past year of parenting my son has been long and exhausting but when I look back at how God went out of his way to gift us with this amazing little boy, my strength is renewed and my heart is encouraged.
When my son was 18 months old, we felt led to move from MI to IN for my husband’s job. After about a year and a half of living here, we became homestudy approved again for another domestic adoption, this time with a small agency here in IN. While I was making our profile book, I felt compelled to finish it quickly. Being that it was our second book, it came together in less than a week. About one week after we were approved and the books were sent to the printers, I ended up getting shingles on the left side of my trunk. I didn’t know then that my pain would become a constant companion over the next few years.
I also could have never imagined that going through something so painful would bring about such a beautiful dependence on my Savior for EVERYTHING.
A few months after I had shingles, my pain had started to subside a bit and I was starting to function better every day. In mid-April we got a call from our agency that we were matched with a birthmom who was due in 6 weeks and the sex of the baby was unknown. Unlike the last birthmom, this one wanted it totally closed, which gave me time to heal and to prepare our house for another baby. Within 5 1/2 weeks, we had a beautiful baby girl who looked just like her brother.
If you have read my blog in the last year, you know how I have continued to struggle with postherpetic neuralgia (nerve pain due to shingles) since the birth of our daughter. By last summer, I was unable to function and care for my kids. But by God’s amazing grace, I was able to get an appointment at Mayo Clinic and find a treatment regimen that has worked and given me my life back.
What I realized when I put my whole story together, is that at the very beginning of trying to have kids, God knew that I would get shingles in Jan of 2013, and that the medicine I would be on to manage the pain would not be safe for pregnancy nor would my skin tolerate the stretching and expansion of pregnancy. In His infinite grace, he encouraged us to adopt our son so that by the time I got shingles, adoption was already on our radar and was a part of our plan for growing our family. With my son’s adoption He allowed me to get as close as I possibly could to being pregnant without actually having a pregnancy of my own, knowing that by the time my daughter came around, I would not have the emotional or physical strength for an open adoption.
Ironically, I believe that God used my chronic pain to help heal my heart from the wounds of infertility. After having so much pain and struggling to care for my kids, I am now content with the children he has blessed me with and no longer have a deep longing for a biological child.
I couldn’t always see God’s hand in the midst of the struggle but now I am confident that God is good all the time and that His love endures forever.
He is always in this mess we call life; we just need to be looking for Him.
I’m not sure what you are going through right now, but I challenge you to choose to believe that God is good and He loves you abundantly. Your current circumstances may be difficult and may not feel good, but I can guarantee that His ways are always better and always good even if it doesn’t make sense now.
“‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD.
‘As the heavens are higher than the earth,
so are my ways higher that your ways
and my thoughts than your thoughts.'”
If you are struggling to see God in your current circumstances I’d love to talk to you, pray for you, or encourage you any way I can. Please comment below and let me know how I can come alongside you or leave your contact info and I’d love to speak with you privately.