My friend Cheryl is my "Friend Friday" today on the blog. I have known Cheryl for a long time…from back in our high school days, so I won't say how long that is! Cheryl and I also went to church together when we were in Kentucky. I have watched her walk through a very long, tough, hard valley with such beauty and grace. Her redemption story will bless you so much today!
Every little girl dreams. Most of the time these dreams are pretty similar. Being a princess or perhaps a ballerina. What our wedding will be like. Our knight in shining armor that will become our husband, whisking us away to live by the sea. What we will name our 2.5 children. I think we have all had those dreams as children. It doesn’t take very many years of adulthood to realize those fantasies are not quite reality. Our careers are not full of tinkerbells and seashells. Our husbands did not come and pick us up on a white horse. Life is just....hard.
A very wise friend once told me that sometimes God has to let our dreams die, so His dream for us can come alive. Those are not easy words to live by in the face of disappointment or adversity. Jeremiah 29:11 For I know the plans I have for you...plans to prosper you and not harm you, plans to give you a hope and a future. During a season in my life, I sure didn’t feel like God had my best interests at heart.
After being married for a couple years, we found out that we had some reproductive issues. Several rounds of fertility drugs, three IUIs, and four IVFs left me with empty arms, a broken heart, and some pretty intense anger at God. It was after our third IVF that I really hit my low point.
It was toward the end of my two-week waiting period that follows an in vitro fertilization. It was the dreaded wait to find out whether or not the embryos actually attached. It’s horrible. Any little twinge makes you nervous. I remember this like it was yesterday. We were having a family meal after my husband’s grandmother passed away, and I got really sick. I thought it was my nerves until it dawned on me that nausea is totally a sign of pregnancy.
I rushed home and took a pregnancy test. For the first time EVER, I saw two pink lines!! They were very faint but definitely there. I was ecstatic! It worked! It finally worked! My husband, Kevin, was already talking about starting a college fund, because well...he’s just dorky like that. It was the most amazing feeling ever. God had finally heard my pleas. Fast forward to the next morning. I took another pregnancy test, knowing those pink lines should be getting darker. Well, that wasn’t the case. If anything, the lines were fainter. The following day the lines were not even visible. I called the clinic and the nurse told me that I had experienced what’s called a chemical pregnancy.
When we are in the midst of the storm, sometimes it’s so hard to see God, to hear His voice. Satan fills our minds with lies. I went into a dark place for a very long time and my heart was full of anger. How could He do this to me? How could He be so cruel to give me all that joy just to turn around and take it all away? During this time of darkness, we went on to transfer our final two embryos. In the words of Anne Frank…”I [was] ready for the end to come, whatever that may be.” It was yet another failure. I really hit rock bottom after that. I was angry. Bitter. It was hard to celebrate when friends found out they were expecting. I couldn’t bring myself to go to baby showers. I wasn’t angry at my friends for being pregnant - I was angry at God.
I cried out to Him many times to take away my desire to be a mother if He had no intention of granting it. I was miserable. Several of my friends and family begged me to consider adoption. I didn’t want to do it. I knew that I could never truly love a child that wasn’t my own. Over the period of a few months, God nudged me ever so gently that direction. Sometimes God has put us on our back, so we have a better vantage point of Him.
We completed the training to become foster parents. I had that anxious excitement again. I remember getting our first call for a placement. When the voice on the other end told me it was for a teenage girl, I was very disappointed. I explained how this wasn’t what we were looking for. The next call was for a sibling set ages three to seven, then a call for another teenager. I specifically wrote on all the papers that we wanted a baby. This went on for months. We never got a call for a newborn. It was frustrating to say the least, so frustrating that we decided to close our home. It was obvious that children were just not part of God’s plan for our life. That bitterness started to set in again. On our tenth wedding anniversary, I bought my husband a new ring with the words “Just Us Two” engraved inside. I was done...so done that I engraved it in metal. I had to move on. As much as I tried, I couldn’t, because HE wasn’t done.
After about a year, those feelings came back again. That intense desire to be a mother resurfaced. I tried so hard to ignore it, to just push it out of my mind. I tried to busy myself with this and that, but God kept telling me that this wasn’t the end. He would wake me up at night. I would have such vivid dreams of holding a baby. He put so many signs in front of me that I couldn’t ignore Him anymore. I told Kevin that we had to reopen our home.
A week before Thanksgiving, we got a call for a seven-week-old baby boy. The social worker said this was the baby I had been waiting for. They were unable to find any suitable relatives. The poor thing had a broken rib and a suspected broken clavicle. Kevin and I talked it over for a few minutes on the phone and decided to do it. We raced to Walmart and filled our cart to overflowing with everything a baby would need.
A few hours later, there was a knock at the door. Two social workers came in with the baby sleeping in the carrier and set him on my kitchen table. It was a chilly evening, so there was a blanket over a carrier. I walked over to the table and with trembling hands, I pulled back the blanket and saw Eli for the first time. He looked like an angel sleeping there. I felt the presence of the Lord so strongly in that room. The bond was instant. I leaned over and kissed his little bruised face as tears streamed down mine. This was my baby.
The rollercoaster ride of IVF was nothing compared to the following months. We survived from one court hearing to the next, never knowing what the following week would hold. It was agony. Would they find a relative? Would we be losing him soon? As the weeks passed, Kevin and I fell more in love with Eli. The social workers all told us not to get too attached. How is that possible? My cold, bitter heart was finally starting to beat again, and I need to tell it not to love this baby? I knew in the deepest part of my soul that God sent this angel into my life for a reason. I needed him just as much as he needed me. He was broken and hurt - but so was I.
When I look back on that time in my life, it was so evident that Jesus was carrying me. I could not have made it. Jesus never promised that we would be spared from storms. He promised that He would carry us through them. One sunny afternoon in May, we stood in front of the judge, and Eli became our son.
There are so many truths I have learned during this journey:
God is so good.