Stephanie’s Testimony: When God Grows Your Family His Own Way

It had been two and half years of trying. Praying. Hoping. Testing. And nothing to show for it.

We made an appointment, and found ourselves in the fertility specialist’s office, eager for answers. It was there we learned of the obstacles standing in our way. Endometriosis, and multiple cysts in each ovary. I immediately began crying, upset at this first revelation that my body was not as healthy as I had always imagined it to be. The doctor kindly scolded me, telling me that our situation was completely workable.

A few months later, I left his office after our first IUI. I should’ve felt excited at the possibility that this might bring about our first child, but I didn’t. I knew it wouldn’t work. It wasn’t that I felt hopeless about the treatments. But, I felt peaceless. This wasn’t the route God was calling us to.  A few weeks later, the negative test confirmed it.

I couldn’t shake the feeling that we were supposed to build our family a different way. On a cold December night, my husband and I were on a date, and somewhere between the appetizer and main course I mustered up the courage to tell him what had been crowding my thoughts for the past three days.

“I know you wanna keep trying the treatments, but… I wanna adopt.”

I expected him to be my cheerleader, telling me that maybe one or two treatments would be all it would take. After all, I knew he wanted “one of our own,” as people like to say.

But he didn’t. He put down his fork, looked me in the eye, and said, “Let’s do it.”

***

A month later we were sitting in a foster care meeting, feeling led by the Lord to take that risky route (where adoptions are possible only 40% of the time) rather than go through an agency where we’d be guaranteed a newborn.

Four months, several home inspections, and multiple interviews later, we received news that we passed the review board, and we were approved foster parents. We also learned right then that there was a seven-week old girl that needed a new home by Friday.

Of course, we said yes.

We brought that 8-pound bundle home two days later, called her Sweet Pea, and immediately began to pray that she’d become our forever daughter. We asked our friends to pray the same.

Thirteen months later, she did.

***

A month after the adoption, I had an afternoon of excruciating pain.  An appointment with the fertility specialist was booked for the following week.

After his examination, he took off his gloves, defeated.

I hesitated to ask the question, but needed to hear the answer.

“Last time we were here, you seemed so hopeful, so positive that you could help us… now it seems like you can’t?”

He looked me in the eye. “Look, I believe in miracles, but… no. I don’t think you’ll be able to get pregnant. There is just too much scarring. I wouldn’t even recommend in vitro at this point. The odds are just not there… if I were you, I’d think about having your ovaries removed sooner rather than later.”

***

The rest of the year was a mess of emotions, both extreme bliss that we had reached forever with Sweet Pea, and yet also a deep sadness as I struggled to accept the doctor’s diagnosis. Even though I didn’t feel confident in the treatments before, it hurt my heart to think I’d never carry a child inside of me.

Six months later, I began feeling terrible. I scolded myself, wondering how on earth I could ignore his advice when it had gotten so much worse in just a year and a half. How could I not believe it would continue to get worse? Maybe I should’ve had the surgery.

Christmas was coming, and with it, a trip to my parents house in California, 700 miles away. I felt very off, and on the car ride out, I let my husband know how I’d been feeling. Weak, tired, losing weight unintentionally, yet somehow, more bloated than ever.

Christmas Eve, I was watching my mom play with Sweet Pea on the floor, and my husband announced he was going to the store. I motioned him close so no one else would hear, then whispered, “Get a pregnancy test. I know it will be a waste of money, but…”

He smiled sympathetically, and an hour later he handed me the box. I went into the bathroom with not even a hint of enthusiasm, knowing it’d say negative as had all the dozens that came before it.

After testing, I stuck the cap back on and walked to the sink to lay it on the counter where I planned to give it the recommended two minutes. Instead, as I watched the little line work its way across the screen to show that it was working, immediately there was the darkest, clearest, most non-vague plus sign staring me down.

Was this really happening??

It was.

What a Christmas gift.

Seven and a half months later, I delivered a miracle.

That miracle just turned two, and big sister is now four. They are my daily reminders of God’s faithfulness and that He does not work on our timetable. Had we gotten pregnant when we originally planned, we would have never gone the foster route and we wouldn’t have our Sweet Pea. God orchestrated our approval on the exact day she became available, not by chance, but by His divine plan. We were meant to be her parents.

Three weeks before our biological daughter was born, God allowed us to move back to California, something we’d be praying and hoping for years. We lived with my parents that summer, which ended up being the biggest blessing as I had an emergency c-section followed by a really rough recovery. My mom was newly retired and available to take care of Sweet Pea 24/7 so I could focus on healing and our newborn. Looking back, it’s so evident all the ways God took care of us.

His timing really is perfect.  


God is so mysterious sometimes, espcially when He doesn’t answer the way we want Him to. But so often, that “mystery” we felt at the beginning is later replaced by God’s deep wisdom, as He had a plan all along. God is not anxious, and He always knows exactly what He’s doing, and why. To read more about Stephanie’s story, you can check out her blog, Thank You Infertility.

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?” You can also subscribe with your email address, or follow along on my Facebook Page.

When God Surprises You, Big Time

gender reveal boyI had no idea what was coming. I had no idea I would be feeling baby kicks while I write this. I thought I knew the plan–and I thought it was different. Than this.

Last January, we were experiencing our second round of infertility. We had been “trying” since my daughter turned one and I stopped breast-feeding. So we were going on another two years of trying–without success.

As I prayed about the year ahead, seeing only thick fog before me, I heard God speak to my spirit. “Open your arms.” That’s all I heard.

Okay, I thought. I will open my arms. It became my mantra for the year 2016.

I didn’t know what it meant.

I was in a season of darkness. Not bad, spooky, or sinful darkness.

Just the kind of darkness that night brings–the darkness that you can’t see your hand in front of your face. Just dark in the sense that you can’t see the path nicely lit ahead of you.

But you keep walking, trusting God is leading you. Trusting He knows the way, even when you don’t.

Open arms. It became the cry inside me. And the more I opened my arms, in the season of darkness, the more I realized what “open arms” meant.

To have open arms is the posture of surrender.

And the posture of worship.

And the posture of receiving.

All at the same time.

In February, my husband and I felt God was moving our hearts to get certified as foster parents. So we started the process. (Which is only a 90-day process in our county. Crazy! Right?)

I kept praying that God would break my heart for foster children if He wanted us to do it. And He did.

He broke it into a hundred pieces.

Soon, I could not wait to take in these children that desperately needed love. That needed a mama to kiss their faces. That needed a dad, whose arms they felt safe in. Even just for a time.

You know how every ministry is always asking that you give a donation or offering? I always feel torn because, while the causes are always great causes, I am a stay-at-home-mom. I don’t have money that I am making to give. (We do tithe, and I think it’s important to tithe obediently. But for me, tithing is something my husband does, because he makes our families income. I don’t even see it.)

I never feel like I can give out of something that is mine to give.

So when the opportunity to foster came up, I finally felt like there was something I could give. Out of my heart. It wasn’t part of my paycheck. (Because, I don’t have one.) Instead, I could give my most precious treasure–my family. I could share my family, my home, my time. Those were things I did abundantly have right now, that I could share.

And I could welcome the child who needed these things– with open arms, and an open door.

But God surprised me, big time. And He surprised me just one week before we finished our foster certification.

Sometimes you are walking that path in the dark, just trying to faithfully plot along, not knowing where you are going, when suddenly you run right into Him. God. You literally trip over Him. You didn’t even see Him waiting there for you. And He says, “Okay, come with Me. I have something else to show you.”

“I’m going to take you somewhere else, now.”

Well, I ran smack into Him when my husband brought home a pregnancy test, and told me to pee on it.

“What? Why?!” (When you take so many negative tests.. it’s not that fun to keep taking them. It’s not that fun to have 2 minutes where your heart is going to beat out of your chest, then feel it sink like a rock when you read: negative.)

But I did it any way.

And in two minutes, my world changed. I found out: I was pregnant.

My hand shook with the test. And I collapsed to my knees on my bathroom floor. And cried.

I could not believe it.

The thing about surprises is, you never see them coming.

But God always does.

Because He plans them.

(If you want to read more about this story read it my post called, “God Did It Again:Our Second Miracle On the Way.” And if you want to read about the first time God opened my womb out of a long season of barreness and infertility, read, “About My Barrenness.“)

After we found out I was pregnant, our plans changed a little bit. We finished our foster certification–but said we didn’t know when we could accept placements. (Our foster agency is awesome, and they said we could take all the time we needed. Even though, the need in our county is urgent. It was hard because they are literally running out of families who will take in these babies.)

For the first 15 weeks I was feeling pretty sick. But around week 20 I really started to feel better. So we opened our arms again, and got to do some respite care (which is babysitting for foster families.)

So, we got to break in the nursery a little early, as we took in a little 3 month old baby boy for a few weekends. We all fell in love with him. There’s something about having a baby sleep over, and getting to soothe them through the night, that just bonds you. Even if it is only for a weekend.

I didn’t know at the time–what God was preparing us for.

Now, I am a mother of 3-year-old daughter. And I know how to do girls. I know how to love on girls. I know how to play with girls. I know how to change the diapers of girls.

Changing a boy’s diaper kind of scares me.

(And when I changed our foster baby boy’s first poopy diaper, I think I used about 37 baby wipes. Then I got peed on.)

Little did I know, what God’s next surprise was going to be.

The week after we had our foster buddy with us, we had our anatomy scan. We didn’t want to find out the gender in the office, so, the tech put it in an envelope for us. We had planned a gender reveal party for the next day, and invited our families, so we could all find out together.

Now let me tell you, I felt 99% sure I was having a girl.

Selah, my daughter, was 200% sure we were having a girl.

My husband, said he hoped we were having a girl–because Selah was dying for a sister. And praying every night for one. She was hardcore “naming and claiming” a sister.

I even felt like God had given me a girl name for this baby. I couldn’t even think of a boy name. Not one.

So, we were all thinking: girl.

To do the “reveal” we made the same powder they use for the Color Run. We made two batches, one pink and one blue. Although, I kept joking to my husband that we don’t really even need to the blue–because we wouldn’t be needing it.

So, I had NO idea.

That as we tossed the powder in the air–it would be….

gender reveal

BLUE.

This picture completely captures everyone’s true feelings.

My husband is crazy (TOUCHDOWN!!) happy.

I am in shock. (I think my jaw dropped so far it touched our lawn.)

And my 3-year-old girls is in disbelief.

(We are still coaching her to say “brother”, not “sister” when she talks to the baby.)

I know that everyone has a 50/50 chance about the whole gender thing. But, for some reason, when I saw that blue powder falling–I just could not believe it.

I just thought, I was cut out for girls. I am all about girls. And I feel called to minister to girls, and women. Not, boys.

But in that moment, when blue powder covered me: I was surprised again.

By God.

A God who knew all along.

He had a son for me. Not, at least for now, another daughter.

But that’s the thing about God, He is full of surprises.

But the surprise isn’t so much about the change of course in the path, it’s about the One leading you on the path.

He is the surprise. He is the One waiting for you.

It’s not just about opening these little unexpected packages.

He is the One that was unexpected.

And His ways are higher than ours.

When you are walking in a season of “darkness” it’s not about just where you are going. It’s about who is leading you through it. And you just keep walking until you run right into Him.

He is the best surprise.

So, friends, I don’t know what is ahead.

I hope that my son is full term, and healthy, and perfect.

But I don’t know what it will be like. 

I hope we get to love on foster babies, or even adopt at some point.

But I don’t know what God has planned for us. 

I hope I can learn some wrestling moves, and how to to wrangle with boys, and how to enter the world of trucks, and dirt, and crazy boy impulses I can’t even begin to comprehend.

But I don’t know what it will be like. 

I hope we get to love on foster babies, or even adopt at some point.

But I don’t know what God has planned for us.

As much as I want to confidently act like some sort of prophetess.

I am not a prophetess. I am just a person. 

Surprised again, and again, by a loving God.

And isn’t that what we all are?

We are all just people, who don’t really know what is ahead.

All I do know is that God is calling me to have open arms.

And to be honest, it scares me at times. To keep these arms open. Not knowing what it means. Not knowing what I will have to surrender. Or what I will receive.

How I hope it’s full of peace, and joy, and ease.

But I’m not promised that.

I’m only promised, that no matter what happens, God will be there.

God will be here, okay? Right here, in the midst of it.

I need to keep my arms open to Him. To all that He has for me.

And even when I am walking blind, He will surprise me with Himself.

With His very presence.

With the fact that: He’s been waiting for me the whole time.

 

So, to the one walking in the dark. Keep walking.

You will eventually walk straight into Him.

And you might be surprised when you do.

Right now, you might not know where you are going–but God does. You might not know where the path leads–but God does. And whatever surprises that may await you–nothing compares with the One who creates them.

He is the best surprise.

And He is full of surprises.

Because He is God.

“Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.”  Ephesians‬ ‭3:20-21‬ ‭NIV‬‬

So..

Keep your arms open.

Keep your heart open.

Keep your door open.

You don’t know when He may just show up–unexpectedly.

and surprise you.

Big time.