It’s November! The 11th month of the year is 4 glorious weeks of exhilarating football games, homemade pumpkin pie and jumping raucously in the leaves. It is the month of geese flying southward, pulling out Gramma’s well-loved recipes and going on that annual family hayride.
However, the most important aspect of this month that marks the beginning of the holiday season is the time that is set aside for sincere gratitude and thankfulness. November reminds us of the strength of counting our benefits and not whining about our deficits. There is no other month that carries such a strong regard for the giving of heartfelt thanks and the joyful taking stock of one’s blessings.
But what if this November, you are more aware of what you don’t have rather than what you do have? What if Thanksgiving 2013 is a painful reminder of the prayers that have not yet been answered and the “Blessing List” that lies dormant and bare?
My friend, Monica, is one of my heroines in life. She is a sister of the heart, a partner in ministry and a dream-builder extraordinaire. Monica has prayed for nearly 7 years for another baby … and yet her arms and her nursery are longingly empty. Her message and her heart challenge me to pray again … to believe again … and to give thanks “in spite of” and not only “because of.”
This is Monica’s story and Monica’s blog. Maybe you will find yourself between the lines of this heartfelt journey.
I thought about writing this many times over the past 7 years. I’ve written and re-written it in my mind too many times to count. I’ve always waited because I thought…once the deepest desire of my heart has been fulfilled…that’s when I can share the testimony. That is when I can encourage someone else to hang in there…the promise is coming. But here’s what I’ve learned through this journey…the testimony doesn’t necessarily come in one big bang at the end of the road. Sometimes, it’s during the lowest of lows…during the deepest pain and despair…and even during the relentless questions of the heart…that the true testimony is birthed.
This journey began for me about 8 years ago, on a cold winter morning in February. Paul and I had been married for just over 8 months. We had decided early on that we would wait until we’d been married for one year before we started a family. But after eight months of wedded bliss…I didn’t want to wait any longer! I was ready for babies!! That morning in February…as I was blow-drying my hair…the Lord spoke to my heart. I heard the name “Faith”….and then “Faith Marie”. It was so clear to me that I think I’ll never forget the feeling of hearing my Jesus whisper that name to the deepest part of my soul.
A few weeks later, I heard Him whisper the name Zachary. Imagine hearing two names…within a couple of weeks! My poor husband had no say in the name of our son. There was no discussion about names…no baby name books being poured through. I just knew that we were either going to have a “Zachary” or a “Faith”!
About a month later, we found out we were pregnant!! I’ve wanted a little girl since I can remember. I have a sister…and she has three daughters…and my mom was one of two girls. And the Lord had given me the name ‘Faith’! Never in my wildest imagination could I ever picture myself with a boy! So, when I found out we were pregnant with a boy…I was slightly shell shocked. However, over the next 9 months…I fell completely, head over heels, over the moon in love with my Zachary. And when he was born, I thought…THIS is what perfection looks like! (And I still think that today, 7 years later)
We were beyond blessed with our beautiful little family. And so, when Zachary was about 10 months old…we decided this would be the perfect time to do it again! We were pregnant with Zachary exactly one month after we decided to begin trying. We took it for granted the second time would be so easy.
However, with each month that passed with a negative pregnancy test, I had to fight feelings of fear. I had to fight off the nasty little “I” word (Infertility) that would creep into my thoughts. After several months, we began fertility treatments. And after years and years of herbs, and acupuncture, and holistic treatments, and pills, and needles, and hormones….praying and declaring…seeking God’s wisdom and guidance at every turn…I wasn’t getting pregnant. One of the biggest blows came after several more tests and procedures and a consult with an IVF doctor. My test results showed early menopause and no chance of IVF working. He told us our only hope was to use an egg donor or do traditional adoption. The news was almost more than I could bare.
BUT – during all of these years…and more negative pregnancy tests than one person should ever have to endure…I knew that Jesus was with me. I felt Him near me every time I would cry out in despair…each time I questioned whether I had really heard the name Faith…He would reassure me. “Now FAITH is the assurance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not yet seen” (Hebrews 11:1)
My God would send me scriptures and encouragers and the deepest knowledge that He loved me….and He understood the pain…and my anger would never make Him move away from me or love me less.
Earlier this year, we adopted 2 embryos through the Snowflakes Embryo Adoption program. We knew that my body wasn’t producing eggs…but the doctors told us that I could easily carry a baby. And that has always been my deep desire…to be pregnant again. To feel the life growing inside me…to feel those magical first kicks…to feel my baby move as soon as she felt her daddy’s hand on my stomach. I loved those beautiful nine months with Zachary…and I desperately want it again.
The process of embryo adoption was daunting. It’s treated just like a traditional adoption, so we went through the homestudy and began the process of choosing the family who’s babies we would adopt and grow inside me. When we received word that a family had chosen us to adopt their embryos, I prayed that the Lord would give us a sign so that we knew that these were the babies He had for us.
I’ll never forget the day I received the pictures of the family. I’ve never in my life felt more loved by the God who created this universe! When I opened the first picture, I saw two little boys who could’ve been my son’s twins. These were the siblings of the embryos that we were about to adopt. When I put the picture of the one little boy next to a picture of me when I was his age…we could’ve been brother and sister. The resemblance was uncanny. I knew that God had answered our prayers. The God who was so big that He created the Grand Canyon….knew the deepest desire of my heart.
We began the process of getting my body ready to accept these babies. We flew to Kansas standing and declaring that we would come home pregnant! Our friends sent us off with letters and cards of encouragement….declarations over these babies, who had been wanted for so many years. We came home after the procedure…after being told by the doctor that the embryos didn’t look great…still full of hope and declaring all of the promises that God had given us. I had called this baby by name for 7 years. My little Faith…my vision of blonde curls and freckles on her nose…the little girl who would grow up to be my best friend. The moment was finally here…we couldn’t wait to celebrate with all of the friends and family who had stood beside us…prayed with us for so many years. This little girl who had lived only in my heart…
Two weeks later, the doctor called from Kansas with words that would literally…truly…smash my heart into a million pieces. We were not pregnant. Those two babies that had been placed inside me were now in heaven.
The hours and even days after that phone call are a blur. I felt like I had lost two babies. I felt like God had broken my heart. It hurt to talk to God…it hurt to read my Bible…it hurt to look at all of the scriptures that I had declared over this baby. Everything just hurt.
But, He never left my side. Slowly…and ever so gently…I could hear Him whispering to me. I knew that God still loved me. I knew that He had a plan for me…a great plan…to prosper me and not to harm me. I knew that, although my heart was broken, it wasn’t Jesus who had broken it. I needed to let Him back in…because He was the ONLY one who could truly heal my heart.
I remember asking – WHY? Why would you send me this beautiful, perfect match – the perfect fit for our family and then take these babies to heaven? His answer was soft, gentle, and so comforting. He gave me that match to show me just how deeply and intimately He knows my heart…my deepest desires…the dreams inside me that no one else knows. He knows. He sees.
I am still working through the process of letting Him heal my heart. I am still learning how to live with an unanswered prayer…by thanking Him for the million prayers that He HAS answered. Jesus has been with me at every valley and every mountain top of this journey. I am learning that the testimony isn’t really about the destination…it’s about finding God during the journey. It’s about choosing to declare that He is a good God…He does want the best for me…He loves me…and He never has or never will leave my side. I will be thankful for every good gift that He has so graciously poured out in my life. That He continues to pour into my life. It’s a choice I make everyday…to be thankful…to worship while I’m waiting…to trust Him.
That..…is my testimony.
Habakkuk 2:3 – For the vision is yet for the appointed time; it hastens toward the goal and it will not fail. Though it tarries, wait for it; for it will certainly come, it will not delay.
1 Chronicles 16:11 – Seek the Lord and His strength; Seek His face continually.
Proverbs 16:9 – In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.
Jeremiah 17:7 – Blessed is the (wo)man who trusts in the Lord and whose trust is in the Lord.
Monica is Mom to Zachary, Wife to Paul. and the Executive Director at Just Joy! Ministries. Her blog is called “Faith for the Journey”