I came tumbling into the world with a song in my heart and a love for the arts….music, dancing, singing, and story-telling. I quickly realized that there was more than a joyful celebration at every turn. As a natural observer, I took in a lot of information and had few safe outlets to cast my insight. I noticed that my mother and father were markedly different in almost every way. They came from different religious backgrounds. They handled loss differently. They communicated differently. And many times, I felt stuck in the middle. My father buried his dream of having a son with an overconsumption of alcohol. My mother stood up courageously and took me to church. She denied that there was a problem at all, and expected me to be the perfect distraction. And oh, how I loved them both.
Feeling the pain of dissension and watching the erosion of my father’s addiction caused me to call out and ask for God to do what only He could do. I found a verse in the bible, and I began to claim it. “Call to me and I will tell you unsearchable things that you do not know” (Jeremiah 3:33). I wondered if there really was a God that had access to resources that I could not find on my own. Was there a God who had planned pivotal intersections in my life and in those I loved with the intention of delivering us to a life of freedom? What was impossible on my own became possible when cast upon a loving, merciful God.
As a young girl, I read stories from my mother’s Ann Kiemel book collection and I was moved by the relationship that Ann had with a very personal God. I wasn’t intimidated by the size of her books or the text, written in all lowercase letters. She was out to change her world with a great big God inside of her. I wanted God to change my world too.
In the absence of safe places to talk about my fears and dreams, I began to write. I made sure the pages of my journal were hidden from everyone but God. Through writing, I found a platform to speak of things that were too big for me, too hurtful for me to utter. It brought me great relief to have a voice, if only on paper. After journaling for some time, I began to notice the ways that God had worked things out for good, sifting each circumstance through His loving filter. I began to trust God, even though many parts of my life did not line up.
In my teen years, I spent hours in the library and began collecting my own set of books. I loved words and found writing to be a powerful form of art… a place where an emotion could take shape, the truth could be proclaimed and decisions could be made, in private.
I would often stumble upon one of my favorite words… “hope,” and I gravitated to it. There was a lot to hope for in my life, coming out of a less-than-perfect family (oh, haven’t we all…). I found that there were some things that, no matter how much I wanted them to change or resolve, were unmovable. I hoped that the God who knew the intimate desires of my heart would find answers to the problems that I could not solve. I found through the years, He could.
Days after turning thirty, my husband and I decided we would like to start a family of our own. One year later, we found ourselves in the office of an infertility specialist, answering very personal questions and analyzing the likelihood of having children at all.
Up until that point in my life, it had never crossed my mind….the thought of not becoming parents. Of having a door closed that I could not open…at. all. I never dreamed that someone could look me in the eye and deliver such a set of sobering news. “The chances of conception were very slim… almost impossible.” Although I was a young 31 years-old, my ovaries had aged prematurely and I might not even respond to the most aggressive medically advanced treatments.
I sunk down quietly in my seat. I did not have any energy, or will, or anything to say….at. all.
Over the next five years, my husband and I would grieve the loss of seven babies after several unsuccessful attempts using in-vitro fertilization. Unlike some mothers who have lost children, I never held our babies. My experience was different. I remember how it felt when they told me that my genetic material had been linked with my husband. There was an overwhelming sense of grief when I knew that life had begun, and then, for some unknown reason could not continue.
The grieving didn’t start with a failed in-vitro attempt…it started several years back with every menstral cycle, with every phone call from a pregnant friend. My fear was compounded by the multitude of tests, and results, and research. I grieved the lack of normalcy, I grieved the lack of finances, I grieved when I looked at my husband’s face and wanted to have children who looked like both of us. I grieved when I saw families who had children that resembled their parents, and I ached when I thought about our future without children. I grieved, and there was no relief from the sadness.
Regardless of the outcome, our lives had changed.
I became a Mother, and David…a Father.
Sacrifices were made.
We sat through dozens of appointments, in the middle of Ob/Gyn waiting rooms full of women with big bellies, husbands giddy and sappy over their accomplishment.
I came in feeling defeated, my arms full of a stack of medical records that I plunked down…records that were the only evidence that we were moving forward in this area of our lives…a big black folder that plunked down to the big gaping sound of nothingness.
After researching possible causes for implantation failure, it became clear that an auto-immune disorder was the root cause. Doctors felt that I would be at par with other women, if given a medication to suppress my overactive immune system. I never felt ok about it in my gut. I was never convince I would be the best carrier. The following year, I became pregnant on my own. Immune suppressing drugs were dripped in to my veins in hopes of saving the pregnancy. Unfortunately, I lost that baby too.
Given some time, I came to the conclusion…I would have to release my desire to carry the frozen embryos that had been preserved, and another woman would carry our children, only to release them back to us.
David and I have two children, carried by two different women.
They have pieces of David and some mannerisms of mine. They have no idea that God has literally lifted them out of the cold, silent bottom of a nitrogen tank. I guess none of us will ever fully understand God’s great overarching love for us.
My life has been infringed with the miraculous. Sprinkled with celebrations. Been crafted by a God that knows how to build our trust and support us during rough patches. God has used each push and pull to draw me closer to Him. In return I try to daily submit my brokenness to Him so that He can transform it into beauty.
God, in His mercy, has allowed me to hold onto my faith and peek out of the darkness. I think that, in and of itself, is a miracle. And my father’s story is no less miraculous, believe me. God moved him from a tight web of addiction to a sweet, celebrated deliverance. God pursued my father with a relentless love and drove him right into the heart of God’s perfect plan. And just in time.
My parents were present for the birth of my first long-awaited, prayed-for son. One generation ushered in the next. My father, who appeared well at the time, would soon be diagnosed with stage four cancer and pass away 26 days later. But that is another part of the story.
Only God can create a life. Only God can change a life.
You can read more about the divine intersection of these events in my upcoming book, The Purest Gift. To be notified of its release date, sign up here…