Don’t Throw Yourself Away

“What’s this?” My husband said holding something at the top of the stairs. “Why was it in the trash?”
He walked down the steps holding it in his hand.

It was a picture. Of me, when I was fifteen. I remember it was taken by my friend during a sleep-over at her house. I’m just standing there with my duffle bag over my shoulder. And I have kind of an awkward smile. My clothes don’t fit right. My hair is puffy.

“I hate that picture,” I told him. That was why I threw it away when Selah ran upstairs with it the other day in her hand, when she and her dad were cleaning out the basement.

“No,” he said. “Don’t do that.”

“Do what?” I said.

“You don’t throw pictures of yourself away. We don’t do that. We keep them. These are memories, Bekah. Someday people will want to look back on pictures of us–even if we didn’t like them.”

I never knew he felt this way. Or that he had such great conviction about it. My daughter didn’t see me shove it into the trash.

But he saw it in there, the next day, in the little wastebasket in our bedroom.

And he reached down, and pulled it out.

He pulled me out of the garbage.

And isn’t this just what Jesus does?

We throw ourselves away. We bury ourselves under the garbage. We wish away some of our years. Wishing they never happened. Not even wanting to remember. Who we were, or how we looked then.

We just want to forget.

But He…

He loves us. We are precious to Him. And He carefully reaches into the garbage, and pulls out that picture of us. Looks at it with love. Cherishing the awkward smile, loving the puffy hair. Loving the girl under those ill-fitting clothes. And all the confusion of who we were. And wanted to be.

Holds us against His warm chest. And whispers, so gently, and so firmly, “Don’t do that.”

“Don’t throw yourself away. Not ever.”

Bethany’s Testimony

After being married for seven years, my husband and I decided we were ready to start a family. After three or four months of trying, we were thrilled to learn we were pregnant! Sadly, we miscarried at 14 weeks. I always pictured myself as a strong woman who wouldn’t be very emotional. So, I was surprised when I was devastated over our miscarriage, but I assumed I would move on easily and we would get pregnant again quickly.

After months and months of negative pregnancy tests, my husband and I decided to get checked out to figure out why we hadn’t conceived again. All the tests came back normal, and the doctors were unable to tell us why we hadn’t become pregnant again. For two years, I was on an emotional roller coaster. I found myself crying at unexpected times, and felt like the story of my life had been over taken by the pain and struggle of our miscarried and unexplained infertility.

As I talked about this with my spiritual director, she suggested I pray through a scripture in John where Jesus asked the disciples what they wanted from him. When I got to that part of the scripture, I asked the Lord to take away my pain and sadness from our miscarriage and infertility, and to give me joy.

The very first time I prayed that, I heard the Lord say, “I will.”

And honestly after that point, things that would have made me cry, didn’t anymore. I still longed to be pregnant but the overwhelming theme of my story was no longer pain and sadness. I truly believe God healed my heart at that point.

As we continued to try to conceive, my husband brought up adoption and foster-to-adopt. I wasn’t opposed to adopting, but I knew I couldn’t have my heart in both places and wasn’t ready to let go of my desire to become pregnant.

One Sunday my plans changed, and I was at church when I hadn’t expected to be. Our worship leaders sang Hillsong’s song, “Oceans.” During that song, I felt the Lord telling me that no matter how tough adoption would be, to keep my trust in him and He would get me through. I needed to turn all my worries and concerns over to him. I knew after that experience I was ready to move forward with adoption and put my desire for a biological child on the back burner.

We met with an adoption agency and turned in our application in September 2016 for private adoption and foster-to-adopt. They told us it could take years to be matched with a family. We completed our home study and all the required classes at the end of February 2017, and were cleared for adoption/foster-to-adopt.

Two weeks later, just as we were finishing putting together a crib in case we were called for foster care, we got a call telling us about a woman who was placing her child for adoption. We met with her and she chose us to be the family she placed her baby with! She invited us to come for doctors appointments, ultrasounds, and to be present for the birth of the baby – all things I never thought would be possible with adoption. At the end of May, our daughter was born and our family has begun to grow!

For those who wonder if God pays attention to details, He does.

In our state, birth parents have 30 days to change their mind about placing their child for adoption. The day that expired was June 30…the due date of our baby who we miscarried 3 years earlier! God is good and a day that once brought sadness will now be remembered with joy!

As I sit and write this, our beautiful daughter is sleeping on my chest. Although God’s plan for our family is not like I ever imagined it would be, I wouldn’t have it any other way. I have learned to trust God and have seen His love and provision in so many ways that would not have been possible if our journey to parenthood had been different. I don’t know what our future has in store – biological children, more adopted children, or both (my hope) – I know God is good even in our times of struggle and pain. When all I saw was sadness, God saw a beautiful story that had been yet to be told.

–Bethany


Thank you Bethany for sharing your testimony of longing, and infertility, and how God took your sadness and turned it into joy! It really is amazing how HE is working in every detail of our lives! What an inspiring and uplifting testimony, thank you for being so raw and vulnerable with us today Bethany!

If you would like to share your testimony of how God has healed your womb, or how He has healed, or is healing your soul (whether or not you have a baby) please email me at [email protected] and check out the writer’s guidelines at “Want To Share Your Testimony?” I feature a Testimony each Tuesday, you can also subscribe with your email address, or follow along on my Facebook Page.

Love, Rebekah

 

Don’t Forget To Add Love

I have a confession. My husband makes better chocolate chip cookies than I do. “It’s the dough,” he tells me. My cookie dough is always over worked, and my cookies are flat as pancakes. “You shouldn’t use that “thing,” he says. By that “thing,” he means my Kitchen Aid mixer. He calls it the “machine.” And gives me a look when I turn it on.

He turns it off.

“Cookies need love,” he tells me. “You need to get your hands in the dough.” He takes the metal bowl from the mixer, and takes an old-school wooden spoon and mixes the dough. “It’s too hard for me to mix that way,” I tell him. He looks up with his green eyes, sets the spoon down, puts his bare hands into the dough to make sure it’s mixed well. But not over worked.

He pops some into his mouth, “Perfect,” he says with a smile.

I sit at the counter and watch, like a student.

“See Bekah,” he says, “You need to add love,” he tells me. I push my Pampered Chef cookie dough scooper across the counter towards him. He purposefully ignores it. Instead, he takes two metal spoons from the drawer. “Why don’t you just use my scooper?” I ask. He gives me a look, shakes his head. Continues gently scooping with his two metal spoons. Until each one is carefully set on the tray.

And somehow, eight minutes later…his cookies turn out perfect. Every time.

“It’s because I add love,” he tells me. I can’t help but laugh. “Okay,” I say.

But I’ve been thinking about my husband’s cookies lately. I think about them when I’m making chili, adding in the spices, or cutting the tops off the strawberries. I think about them when I’m making the cookie dough. I hear his tender voice in my mind, “Don’t forget to add love.”

So, I do. I shut off the “machine” mode my mind automatically kicks into. And I add love. It’s those moments I stir just a little softer. I put my hands in the dough. I remember who I’m cutting the strawberries for. My daughter who squeals with delight like it’s Christmas morning when I hand her a bowl of them. My husband who will enjoy this dinner tonight, and needs a wife who will laugh across the table from him–and not frown, because she’s so busy doing all the “things.” And I think of my own mama body, that needs this food, these nutrients–to make milk for my baby boy, and energy, to care for this family, and myself–with joy.  And to do these things, finding pleasure in them. Because there is this secret, hidden pleasure you feel…when you add love.

And there’s a lump in my throat. Because I know he’s right.

You need to add love. It makes it taste better. 

It’s so easy to do it. To get caught in the routine, in the machine.

And sometimes you just get lost in it. The hustle. Like the dough whirling around in the Kitchen Aid mixer, beating hard against it’s metal sides. Because there’s always meals to plan, and food to buy, and cook, and clean off plates, and clothes, that need washed. Going round and round and round–in the machine. Like a carousel you can’t jump off of.

And sometimes you need a strong hand to reach over, and shut the machine off. And remind you to set all your gadgets down. And stick your bare hands in the dough. And…

Remember to add love. 

When you are cutting up the apples, and cheese, and turkey for lunch,

don’t forget to add love. 

When you are cooking dinner, and stirring the sauce, adding the spices,

don’t forget to add love. 

When you are filling the washer with dirty clothes, and pouring in the detergent and softener,

 don’t forget to add love. 

It’s the smallest thing, and yet the biggest thing. It is the most subtle and the most powerful thing you can do. And it somehow changes the world–their world, and yours.

And maybe that’s why God reminded us to “love” in 1 Corinthians 13…because He knew we’d forget. And He said…it’s not about how “spiritual” you are, it’s not about how much you can “accomplish,” or “do,” it’s not even about how much of your “self” you can give away–to your home, to your kids, or to other people. It’s about doing it with love.

“Love is patient and kind…it is not irritable or resentful…Love bears all things, hopes all things, endures all things…”

“So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three, but the greatest of these is love.” 1 Corinthians 13:13

It’s a small thing. But it’s the biggest thing.

The smile, the gentle touch, the laugh at their joke.

The way you stroke their hair.

They won’t ask for it,

But they will taste it when it’s there.

And so will you.

So roll your sleeves up, mama. Stick your bare hands in the dough. Let the flour fly like confetti. Sweep it up with a smile. Because this is your life, and theirs.

And it all tastes so much better when you,

remember to add love.

Angela’s Testimony

My husband and I both come from a large family and we dreamed of having a big family, too. Everything seemed so perfect when we decided to have a baby. And then the disappointment set in. Months and months passed.

All around us people were having babies. Then years passed and those people had more babies. We became the only couple out of our family and friends to not have a child. Talk about isolation and despair, and confusion and yes, anger and so many other horrible feelings. It was the darkest time of my life. My heart yearned and ached with all my being to be a mother. Instead, I felt empty and the pain got worse. As silly as it sounds, I even thought that maybe God didn’t love me.

Around the two year mark, we went through infertility testing and learned that there is nothing physically wrong; our infertility is unexplained. At that point we strongly felt it was just a matter of God’s timing and we turned down infertility treatments. From that moment , God’s plans took us in ways that we never imagined.

Over the next year, we bought our first home, then my husband had to have extensive back surgery. He started college at 30 as he felt led to teach and coach high school kids. I went back to school to specialize in an area of nursing. We also moved my elderly grandparents into our home and became their primary caregivers. Not only did our physical lives change drastically but internally God was giving our hearts and minds a makeover too. Looking back I see this was a crucial time and God was planting seeds and growing us individually and as a strong couple. He helped my husband mature and become disciplined and responsible. The love and devotion he showed my grandparents was inspiring and we learned how to work well as a team. I found new strength and faith during this time and grew to cling to God for both. Despite our cries and prayers, I see now that because of His love, He didn’t give us a child during that time! More time passed.

One day, my husband and I discussed it and thought we would pursue infertility treatments. Little did we know, I was already pregnant! I will never forget how excited and overjoyed I was to see a positive sign in place of almost 5 years of negative signs each month. I was shaking as I called to my husband and we both jumped for joy and held each other and cried and hugged. Even our dogs jumped and barked in excitement! We were sobbing in happiness when we saw that little heart beat on the monitor. We sobbed 6 weeks later when we learned the day before our 6th wedding anniversary that our baby had died sometime around 12 weeks.

That was one of the hardest days of our life. How could it be that after all this time we could finally be given something so precious only for it to be taken away? But something happened then. It was a defining moment and it was the moment I can truly say that I fell in love with our Lord Jesus Christ.

In all our pain and in all of our heartache we reached out to Him for peace, for understanding, for comfort. I learned that the deeper and larger your hurt is, the bigger the space is for God to fill it with his presence and peace and love.

 

Rather than focusing on our devastation and loss, we decided to focus on Hope. We shifted our tears of pain to tears of praise for His grace and love and thanked Him for our baby who did have life, no matter how short. Having been pregnant once, we had hope I would be again.

Amazingly, 10 months later, our beautiful, miracle, daughter was born. Her name is Elliana which means “God has answered me.” We named her just before I was emergently hospitalized my 18th week of pregnancy. I spent the next 5 months on strict bedrest. It was a challenging journey and a time of spiritual growth, a time when God, family, friends and even strangers wrapped us in love and courage. It’s a beautiful testimony to share another time.

What I’d like to share now is for all those couples who suffer from a broken heart and empty arms. I know this pain so well. It’s unfair, lonely and agonizing. But God has big plans for you (Jeremiah 29:11). Where you are right now is where He wants you to be IF you acknowledge Him (Proverbs 3:6.) Believe that! Ask God to help you embrace where you are in life, no matter how sad or difficult. Try hard to be thankful for the present. The story God has written for my life is so much more beautiful than I could ever have planned and much of the source of that beauty is derived from heartache and pain. Isn’t that the basis for the gospel story and His saving grace!?

I’ve learned when you pray big, God answers bigger. Be ready!

Paul tells us specifically to “Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer” (Romans 12:12). God is writing your story, too. I believe, just as He promises and like He has shown me, that your story is a beautiful testimony of God’s love and faithfulness. You might not be at the part you want yet, but God is working up to it and these chapters have purpose (Ecclesiastes 3). The best part is that even through the hard or sad times, if you ask God to be with you, He will (Jeremiah 29:12-13). During this time, don’t despair! “Delight yourself in the Lord and he will answer the desires of your heart” (Psalm 37:4).

We don’t know why or when or how, but God does and He is faithful and mighty. I pray my story glorifies Him and inspires you in peace and joy. He is the awesome creator and author of your life and mine. Trust in Him and His perfect plans and timing.

–Angela


Thank you Angela for sharing your story! Broken hearts and loneliness are two things I think a lot of us can relate to, especially as we are here talking about infertility and difficulty in pregnancy. You’re so right though, God’s plans and His timing are BEST, as He IS the Author of our lives.

If you would like to share your testimony of how God has healed your womb, or how He has healed, or is healing your soul (whether or not you have a baby) please email me [email protected] and check out the writer’s guidelines at “Want To Share Your Testimony?” I feature a Testimony each Tuesday, you can also subscribe with your email address, or follow along on my Facebook Page.

Love, Rebekah

Eva’s Testimony

It has been my prayer that the Lord would receive glory from the story He is writing in my life. I am so overwhelmed by His love toward us that it is truly a humbling experience to tell you now what He has done!

Growing up I always thought I would get married and have kids all at the same time… that’s how everyone did it right!? My husband and I had been married for three and a half years before we thought about trying. Just as soon as we talked about it a missed period and positive test told us we were expecting our first! It was a magical moment and we were thrilled! Life just seemed to be falling into place according to my plan, until…

We started to pray with our firstborn (then 2 1/2) that the Lord would bless us with another child. We also were praying for His will and timing…
I have never waited for something so long in my life. It has been a journey full of tears, hurts, deepening of my faith and coming to the point of complete surrender to the Lord. My life is His and He can do with it whatever he wills. There is a joy and freedom in this like no other.
My life is His.
His story has included some dark and cloudy moments though. After three years of unexplained infertility and crying out to the Lord we were elated when those two lines appeared on a positive pregnancy test!! Shocked and amazed we fell to our knees in worship that God would choose this for us! However, two short weeks later we found that this precious gift was not ours to keep. In those two weeks I let my heart dream all of the big dreams that I had been holding back for three years. Though my heart was broken to pieces the Lord was ever present with us through it all. He comforted us in ways I never knew possible and we experienced His peace in new ways that surpassed our understanding.
My heart was unsure how to move forward from this experience. I knew I wanted to glorify Him with this no matter what and I know He will continue to use this difficult heart-wrenching experience in the years to come. Nothing is wasted with our God.
This is not the end… A couple of short months later a different kind of shock and awe hit us when that pregnancy test was positive again! Oh my. My heart was thrown for a loop. Everything was different now. Am I headed for more heartache? Will I be able to hold this baby in my arms? These and so many other questions immediately flooded in. In all honesty I have to say that I struggled for a week before my heart calmed enough to hear that still small voice say, “I was with you then, I’m with you still.” I’m so thankful for the prayer support He surrounded me with during this time. I leaned into Him again and made the choice to trust. This is His story.
Today I hold a precious beautiful baby boy in my arms as I write this out. My heart was prepared for the Lord to grow our family in other ways and maybe He still will. I had hoped, but was submitted to whatever would happen. Sometimes we are called to wait and sometimes our prayers are not answered the way we had hoped they would be, but God is sovereign over it all. My prayer is that through my experience God would receive glory and that you, my sweet sisters in Christ, would be encouraged and take heart. Our Lord may not always give us what we want, but we can be assured that he is always working for the good of our souls.
–Eva

 Thanks so much for sharing your testimony Eva! We celebrate the life of your precious baby boy and all that God has done in you and through you on this journey!

If you would like to share your testimony of how God has healed your womb, or how He has healed, or is healing your soul (whether or not you have a baby) please email me [email protected] and check out the writer’s guidelines at “Want To Share Your Testimony?” I feature a Testimony each Tuesday, you can also subscribe with your email address, or follow along on my Facebook Page.

Love, Rebekah