My name is Jenna Smith, and here is my story of our rainbow after the storm....
A "rainbow baby" refers to a baby that is born after miscarriage(s), stillbirth, or infant loss, because in the real world a bright, colorful rainbow follows a storm and gives hope for a better, brighter future. "Rainbow baby" was a term that I honestly knew nothing about until November 2014. It was then that we experienced our first miscarriage. Looking back, while it was devastating, we remained hopeful because having one miscarriage is quite common.
The real devastation came over the next several months. I went on to have three more recurrent miscarriages (four total losses in eleven months), and losing those sweet babies was absolutely heartbreaking. Each miscarriage was a little different in regards to the timing, physical pain, and medical management, but one thing remained constant: the heartbreak. There was also great frustration, as no cause was ever determined, so it left me feeling broken without a way to "fix" the problem. As a nurse, I'm a "fixer" by nature, but I didn't know how to fix this. In between the losses and after, Andy and I both had countless tests and they all came back normal. Two of the babies had testing as well, and the results were normal/inconclusive.
A lot of people who knew my story told me that I was so strong for continuing to try to have a baby after the losses, but in reality I was terrified. I experienced so many various stages of grief, emotions, and thoughts during this time. I was tired. I felt that we were doing everything right, but kept getting the same end result. If I'm being completely honest, I had feelings of guilt as well because we had one precious child already, and that is what some people hope for: just one child. I also contemplated long and hard over whether we should adopt or foster, but I had this overwhelming and relentless desire to carry, birth, and nurse another child. I dreamed of nursing my baby and experiencing that special bond again. As silly as it may sound, I worried that the losses would affect Andy's love for me. I worried that my dream of having another baby may never come true.
The only way we were able to get through this journey is by leaning into God. I can honestly say that I've never prayed harder or more for anything in my entire life. I prayed in the closet of what is now Charlie's nursery each night after putting Emery to bed. I got down on my hands and knees and cried out to God for help. I prayed in the shower, on the way to work, and all throughout the day. We also attended 21 days of prayer (prayer service at our church) before work and prayed consistently for a healthy pregnancy and baby and requested others to do the same. We went up after church services for one on one prayer, and I filled out the prayer request card over and over. I prayed with my physician and medical team before procedures. I also cried out through worship music, which gave me hope.
After a whole lot of praying, discussing, and researching, we ultimately decided to go through in vitro fertilization, as this is what our specialist strongly recommended for us after the third loss. After the fourth failed attempt on our own, we decided to try IVF and it worked! Hallelujah! It was the hardest decision we have ever had to make, but we wanted to give it our all and have no regrets looking back.
All who know me know that I have little patience. I just thought the miscarriages tested my patience. IVF took it to a whole new level. The waiting for the phone call to hear if I was pregnant was excruciating, but I remember so vividly the day I got the call from my doctor. I was actually at work in a room with a patient, and my phone starting vibrating. I excused myself from the room, and my doctor was on the other end. He said in a very calm, but excited voice, “Well, you better answer the phone because I have good news!” My hcg level was in the clouds, and so was I. I was ecstatic. I was PREGNANT! I had concerns that the transfer had failed because I had some cramping and spotting a few days before his call. The next days and weeks ahead were difficult as I continued to have some bleeding, but each lab and ultrasound looked promising. I know the reproductive endocrinologist was probably as ecstatic as we were that this worked because I was not a great patient. I was so worried and relied on him heavily for reassurance. Several times I went in twice a week for ultrasounds. I remember at the end of the first trimester my specialist telling me I had graduated, and he was referring me to a regular OBGYN. This was good news, but I was still nervous. When I met my OB for the first time, I fell in love with her. She was so compassionate, and handled me well. I almost wonder if she had been pre-warned about a needy, neurotic patient named Jenna?!
Ironically, November was the month of my first loss, but it is also now the birth month of our beautiful, precious “rainbow baby” boy, Charles Garrison Smith! Charlie was born on November 14, 2016 at 3:59 pm weighing 8 pounds, 8 ounces and 21 and 1/2 inches. God is so good! “For this child I have prayed, and the Lord granted me the desires of my heart.” 1 Samuel 1:27.
I don't think it is by coincidence that November is also the month of Thanksgiving. We are so extremely thankful for Emery and Charlie. Each baby born into this world truly is a miracle, and after experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss, I believe this with all my heart. While Charlie doesn't erase or take away the pain of the lost babies for us, we were granted a healthy, precious child of God, and we are so grateful.
During the journey, I tried so hard to have "faith over fear." There were days that I did and days the fear won. There were days I dreaded going the restroom because I was so terrified of seeing lots of blood. There were days when I had my ultrasounds I was literally shaking in fear waiting to see/hear the heartbeat. As terrified as I was, I always remained hopeful. I never lost hope that I would eventually have this baby. I know God worked out so many details when I look back on the whole process and believe wholeheartedly that He heard and answered our prayers.
Infertility comes in so many different scenarios for so many women. Some are far more devastating than mine, and outcomes vary greatly for everyone. I remember reading so much negativity when going through recurrent pregnancy loss, so I write my story mainly to encourage others by sharing the positive and also to glorify our Heavenly Father. I write to encourage others who are on a journey to trust that our Father is right there every step of the way. Cry on His shoulder. Fully lean into Him. Let Him know the desires of your heart.
During the journey, I tried to remind myself of these verses, “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus” Philippians 4 6-7.
Know that God knows what is best for each and every one of our lives. He's a good, good Father!
My name is Christine Moore, and this is the story of my “midlife crisis.”
When I was approaching the big 4-0, my biggest health concerns were treating laugh-lines and zits at the same time. My husband Ernie and I had dealt with real life “grown-up” challenges and were a year into a big job change. We could have moved to a different state and away from the roots we had worked so hard to establish for our family. We chose to trust God’s plan and that He was not calling us to another place, but wanted us to trust Him right where we were.
My dear husband was happier in his job than he had been in a long time, and I was enjoying the privilege of being a mostly stay at home mom, working part-time, and enjoying the flexibility of being with our three kids during the crazy, busy life we were living. The blessings were big; the family was good, healthy, smart and funny. In a good place, making future plans and feeling pretty good about making 40 just a number. No need to panic or have a crisis. You need to know, I don’t believe in coincidences, and I do believe that the worst-case scenario sometimes comes true. I love corny jokes, and I believe in a good cliché.
Then, the routine health checkup showed something not normal. Not normal, but nothing to worry about; after all, this girl was the picture of health. Eating right, exercising, managing stress, all part of my daily routine. Because as a Physical Therapist, I felt a particular mandate to practice what I preach. But, I’ve already shared that I believe in the truth of the worst-case scenario. I’m actually kind of the queen of the worst-case scenario, not because I don’t trust God or think bad things are inevitable- it’s just that I cannot count the number of times I’ve said “a one in a million chance is fine until you are that one” and actually saw the one in a million happen.
So, with that in the very back of my mind, the follow-up tests were scheduled and things chugged along as usual. The summer scooted along, eased into fall and then on October 10th, 2014 a routine colonoscopy revealed a colorectal tumor.
Cancer had introduced itself.
The irony of the midlife crisis I thought I’d avoided was not lost on me, I assure you. Insert a beloved cliché here- I actually thought I was dreaming and not yet awake from the anesthesia. Well, I was wide awake, and the work of finding our footing after the floor fell out from under us began. One thing was immediately clear to me: my unbelief in the coincidence was about to be proven 100% correct. If we had pursued a job out of town, we would have been far away from family, friends, UAB and the exact doctors we would need. My mother’s work had created a relationship with one of the best oncologic surgeons in the country. Not coincidence, only God. God had not called us elsewhere because we needed to be right here, and He had already laid this out. Had already honored our obedience by ensuring we would have the support system we needed just as we faced the fight of our lives. It was just the validation we needed in those early, scary, terrible days that God had me in the palm of his hand; He would not leave me nor forsake me. It was comforting, reassuring and a blessing.
So, the midlife crisis was upon me. Make no mistake, I was sad, angry, terrified, begging to be spared, so I could mother my babies, stay with my wonderful husband, parents, family and friends. The bargaining was epic. I asked God just once, “Why me?” His answer was a question right back, “Why not you?” That was it. My crisis would be my calling.
“God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our consciences, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” –CS Lewis.
That quote was one of the very first text messages I received to reinforce that He uses our deepest pain to bring us closer to Him and to be able to minister to a lost and broken world. He told me right away “your faith has made you well.” And the verse I clung to was Mark 11:24: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.” I knew I had at least the faith of a mustard seed, and I began telling my mountain to move!
The crisis turned into total faith in my Jehovah Rapha. And a newfound desire to just be salt and light, to be the megaphone in the world but in a small, still way. To just let His love for me be seen by others and offer hope and maybe, just maybe, point someone to the cross who wouldn’t have gotten there another way. I had cancer. I could only control how I spent every day, and I intended to live, to worship, to grow, to love, to share, to minister, to heal and to be whole again. He would fulfill the promises he made to me.
As I began to delve into the word, images that related to certain scriptures and verses became strangely important to me. I wear a cross necklace almost every day, but the iconography of the cross is almost too cliché. Crosses are “decorative” and pervasive and somehow have lost the real impact. Anchors, arrows, feathers, apples, seeds, hearts, mountains and angel wings all became meaningful reminders of His word and His promises. I began seeking them out, but noticed that these secular items are suddenly quite prevalent in clothing and home décor. Coincidence? I’ll let you answer that. I began wearing a small silver anchor, and it got lots of compliments. It allowed me to share another treasured verse, Hebrews 6:19, “We have this hope as an anchor, firm and secure.” and possibly plant the seeds God wanted sewn.
I can’t explain my obsession, only that I am eager to use worldly things to do some heavenly good. I fail daily, and I don’t think I could witness especially well to someone, but if a cute t-shirt with an arrow can get me talking about my story and how much I have been blessed, then I’m all about it.
There are too many moments of God’s faithfulness and providence during our cancer year to recount in this forum, but I must share one in particular that just tells you all you need to know about my God.
After chemo and radiation, I had a follow up CT scan. Everything was great, except the radiologist saw some fluid around my heart that needed to be checked out. None of the doctors were particularly concerned, but when you have cancer, leave no stone unturned. Worst-case scenario and all… anyway, I had to be admitted to the hospital and have a procedure to have the fluid drawn off my heart with a huge needle! Whatever it takes. I was admitted to the hospital and my nurse was a precious lady. So kind and caring. Since my admission was added last minute, she did not have any of my history and so I began to tell her and I began to cry… and cry… and cry. Uncontrollable, messy, horrible sobbing. “Crying like a baby” crying.
Turns out, her husband has cancer, the kind that should have killed him six months after being diagnosed, but he was alive and fighting. Then, she took my hands and asked to pray. Prayer warrior prayers, demanding that the living water that flows through me wash over every cell in my body, that I would be completely healed of the cancer and that I would grow to an old age and see my grandchildren. This nurse was my angel. She fought for me and interceded for me when I was scared and broken and at my wit’s end. That fluid around my heart turned out to be nothing. They still have no clue why it happened.
God happened. Healing happened. A worst-case scenario turned into a cliché and became a not at all coincidence. That, my friends, is what you call a miracle. After radiation, two rounds of chemo, two surgeries, countless prayers and praises, my cancer crisis is essentially over. My doctors are very confident, the follow up tests are scheduled, and for five years we will wait and see, knowing His faithfulness.
The support and love of our village was overwhelming. The meals, the prayers, the generosity, the love and support were humbling and can never be repaid. We saw the hands and feet in action. Our little village did great things in the fight against cancer and kept us fed, prayed over and blessed during this huge trial. We cannot thank them adequately except that we know that those who give generously will be given back in good measure. Real life didn’t stop, and for that I am grateful.
I struggled, but I kept up with my kids and our life, got to take a hiatus from work and returned with a new empathy for those I love to care for. Clichés didn’t take a break; there were “when it rains it pours” moments and tender moments. I watched my kids grow and change because of time and because of cancer. And, they made me so proud to be their mom by exhibiting quiet strength and faith. There are no words for my dear Ernie Moore. I love him more than I ever thought possible. My rock, my safe place, my logistics guy. He showed me the kids are capable of making their own breakfast, and everyone needs to fold their own socks! Marriage is for better or worse. I hate we had the worse, but it made us better.
So, for my 41st year, I am cancer free and slowly getting back to normal. Except things will never be normal again. We gained through loss; we grew by becoming small. We saw God’s face and Satan’s wrath at being defeated. I have no longer any doubt of the spiritual war being waged. It is real. I have lived it. Satan wanted nothing more than to attack my family, and he prowled like a lion, I guarantee you. He tried to kill, steal and destroy our faith, family, and friendships. There are none of us immune-not to cancer and not to the confusion and strife the enemy wants to dabble in. If cancer can happen to me, it can happen to anyone. But, if healing and victory can happen to me, that can happen for anyone too.
My midlife crisis was cancer. Everyone has one; it’s a cliché, a worst-case scenario and Praise the Lord, not a coincidence!
There was a time when I was blogging/writing about the most painful part of our story, but I haven't done it in so long that I'm not even sure where to start. But here goes...
One of my favorite verses is Lamentations 3:22-23, "The steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies never come to and end. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."
Everything I'm about to write is about Him. It should all point to Him. This is the story He chose to write for us. Some parts are wonderful, some painful, but every part is from the Lord. And, I'm so thankful that He has given us grace to accept each part and believe that He is good and loving toward all He has made.
I grew up in a loving, Christian home with pretty much a picture perfect childhood. When I was old enough to understand the gospel, my "understanding" was very much slanted toward legalism. I thought that if I was going to have a relationship with Jesus then I must DO a, b and c. It all depended on me. And, for me, a, b and c meant reading my bible, praying everyday and sharing my faith with others. I had to be pretty close to perfect. This always left me frustrated and defeated, and I thought the Christian life was just full of do's and don'ts.
My senior year of high school, God finally brought me to a place of surrender. I wanted to know Him. So I went off to college, very hungry to grow as a believer. I knew I was a sinner and needed a Savior, and I began to pray that the Lord would show me what that should "look like" in my everyday life. In college, I met so many other believers that were eager to grow in their faith too, and it was such an encouraging four years, as God began to expand my view of him and show me my purpose in life… to know Him and make Him known.
I met my husband in college, and the first few years of marriage God began to set us free from so much legalism that we had both grown up believing. He introduced us to grace… that it didn't start with us. Everything starts with God. We didn't have to DO anything for our salvation except trust in the finished work of Jesus on the cross! We began to grow in the FREEDOM of the gospel, and it was nothing we could ever earn or measure up to. Because you know what? Perfect people don't need Jesus. They are their own Savior. So this set us on a path of wanting to obey what God had called us to do… but not out of duty. It was finally flowing out of gratitude for what He did for us on the cross, and this made all the difference! God used those years of college and first few years of marriage to lay a strong foundation for us. And, we would need it more than ever in the years to come.
By 2007, God had blessed us with four children. There is nothing like parenthood to show you your need for Jesus! Those years were full of more mercy, grace and forgiveness for all of us. We were living in Illinois, but a job change was bringing us back to Alabama. The kids and I were staying with my parents, and Billy was on his way back to Illinois to take care of moving details. This was July 2008, and our summer had been full of swimming, vacation, catching up with old friends, etc. Our children were 6, 4, 2 and 7 months.
On July 1, our four-year-old daughter, Alaina, came and woke me up around 5:00 am, saying she had thrown up in her bed. She had slept all night and had an empty stomach so there wasn't much, and I didn't think much more about it. She continued to throw up throughout the morning and finally slept most of the afternoon. She got up and walked around some and talked off and on, so I never thought she had anything other than a stomach virus. She slept with me that night and moved and talked in her sleep some.
In the middle of the night, I woke up and couldn't go back to sleep, so I went to the couch. I woke up the next morning and walked back to the bedroom to check on her, and she had fallen off the bed. I immediately had this panicked feeling and went over to get her up. The moment I touched her, I knew something wasn't right. I turned her over and saw her face first and knew she wasn't breathing. We called 911 and did CPR until the paramedics arrived, but I knew that unless God performed a miracle, she was gone.
I went outside and waited. My dad walked outside and looked at me, and I knew. We all fell apart. We were in complete shock and disbelief. I had to tell my husband over the phone that his daughter was gone, and he was 12 hours away. But, even in that moment, I knew God loved me and was with me and would get us through the nightmare. All those years leading up to that moment, God had given us that foundation. Remember that verse? His love for me would never cease. His mercy for me would never come to an end. His faithfulness to me would be great. Those were promises I could trust in the days, weeks and months to come.
Another verse that meant so much to me during that first year of grieving was from Isaiah… "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known, along unfamiliar paths I will guide them. I will turn the darkness into light before them and make the rough places smooth; these ARE the things I will do. I will not forsake them." That was the personal and all-loving God I had come to know. I tried to be as honest as I could with Him. I asked why. I didn't understand. I told him I was at rock bottom. All of a sudden I had so much fear. He took all of that and loved me through it.
He carried us during those completely dark days. When I think back on the first few days, I can still just hear the weeping. My eyes burn when I think back and remember how hard those days were. My close friends went with us the the funeral home and I fell apart when we walked up to the door. With everything in me I didn't want to go in. I remember when the man opened a door and showed us a small white casket. Rock bottom. I felt like I was watching a movie. "I will lead the blind by ways they have not known”... He did. God gave us grace and strength to pick out a casket, plan a funeral and celebrate Alaina's precious life. We worshiped that day. We prayed and sang, "You give and take away, you give and take away, my heart will choose to say, Lord, blessed be your name."
Her death is still somewhat of a medical mystery. We learned from the autopsy that she had viral meningitis, but this form of meningitis is usually not fatal. We will never have all the answers this side of heaven, but we've accepted that.
I would change that part of our story in a heartbeat if I could. But, what I'm completely humbled and thankful for are the things God taught us through it and how he changed me. He softened me. He made my heart much more compassionate. He opened my eyes to the needs of the world and to see hurting people. He made me a better mother. He deepened my longing for heaven and helped me recognize what's eternal and what to let go of because it doesn't matter. He showed me his love and that He would fulfill his promises from his Word. This was huge: He showed me that my greatest need was not to have my daughter back. My greatest need was to KNOW Him… and He had provided a way for me to know Him though Jesus, and that could never be taken from me. I cannot believe that was six years ago. We will never be the same, and that's a good thing.
About three years ago, we started the process of adopting a child form Ethiopia. God had used those years after Alaina's death to show us more of His heart. All the verses in the bible about showing mercy, loving the orphan, the needy, just jumped off the page to me. I realized that every believer is called to live a life of mercy. So a piece of that calling for our family would be to adopt. We felt so clearly led by the Lord to go to Africa.
On February 15, 2014, we brought home a little boy named Gideon. What a gift he has been to our family! Adoption isn't easy. We have had hard and challenging days since coming home, but I wouldn't trade it for anything. God ALWAYS uses the hard to show us our need for Him. I read recently that hard isn't the absence of His goodness. Yes! It is IN the hard that we see His goodness the most!
I don't know what the rest of our story will be. Katie Davis said in her book (Kisses from Katie), "When I look at my life and the miracles I see and what I know, I can trust him for what I don't know… because of what I've seen, I can trust him when I can't see." Yes, I can trust God for whatever He has for us because "His mercies NEVER come to an end!"
"Because He lives, I can face tomorrow, because He lives, all fear is gone; because I know He holds the future, and life is worth the living just because He lives."
When my husband and I started our married life together 15 years ago, we envisioned the American dream for our future, and that included three kids at just the precise time we thought we might like them…sometime in our 20’s sounded good to us. After six years of marriage, we felt like it was time to expand our family. But, we were naïve and had no idea that we would be like a growing number of the population who would struggle with infertility. As Christians serving faithfully in ministries and our church, we assumed God would magically grant us our wish for children because after all, we were doing exactly what He wanted us to do in service to Him. We didn’t know that His plans included years of waiting, trying, and praying through tears.
The Christian friends we surrounded ourselves with at church began to have their own children, and we celebrated their births and their birthdays and then the births of their siblings, as we continued to hope for a family of our own. Month after month, year after year, doctor’s appointments, and a miscarriage came and went in the process. A couple of years after we started trying to build our family, I had a dream that an angel came to me and told me that we would have a baby, but it would not be for a very long time. Another time, I had a vision of a beautiful dark-haired, blue-eyed baby. I wrote down my dreams and visions to see if one day they might come to pass. And, we continued to wait.
Finally, through much prayer and confirmation, we decided God was leading us to domestic infant adoption. We had a wonderful support system built by this time with many young families rooting us on toward our dream of becoming parents. As we began the journey through adoption, we prayed over every detail of the process and asked God for specific things. We had to create an adoptive parent profile of ourselves, basically a brochure highlighting us as a couple and all the reasons we would make great parents for a child. We chose a picture for the front of that profile. One Sunday in our small group at church, we passed that brochure around our class and asked our friends to pray over that picture, that the birth mom carrying our child would see the picture and know we were the ones.
After a month of waiting and not being chosen, I discussed changing the picture on the front of the profile and a friend reminded me that we had prayed over the original picture and to wait. Within a week we were chosen to parent a little boy to be born a few months later! Months after our child’s birth, the birth mom (who might just be reading this!) told me that she had a stack of 40+ profiles to go through, but she kept coming back to ours because of the picture on the front! Don’t tell me God is not in the details!
I mentioned a little boy was expected, but part of the wonder of our story is that during those months we were matched with the birthmother, we decorated his room, nailed “Levi” to the walls, and lovingly washed and packed little monogrammed clothes with his initials and name on them. When the day came for his birth, my husband and I boarded a plane to Texas, and “his” birthmother called and told me the baby had been born, but there had been one change. It was a GIRL!!! We giggled with shock and excitement as we traveled to meet our new daughter! We chose to name our little blonde-haired, blue-eyed girl “Eliana,” which means “God has answered us.” When we returned home, we had a plethora of girl things awaiting us from our supportive group of friends and family who rejoiced with us at our answered prayers and God’s wonderful sense of humor! God provided every dime we needed and met every need we had to the detail of our prayers. He is faithful. He has proven that over and over again!
Today, we have a beautiful open adoption with our daughter’s birthparents, and although we haven’t seen them in several years, we still keep in touch. Not long after we brought our new daughter home, I remembered that dream where the angel told me we would have a baby. I looked at the date of the dream, and it matched up perfectly two years to the day we brought our daughter home from Texas.
Two years after Eliana’s birth, we were contacted about adding to our family through adoption again. After a few weeks of prayer and discussion, the birthmother decided to raise her child. That very same week, I found out I was expecting. Exactly five years earlier, I had learned I was pregnant and due the first week of October. This baby was now due the first week of October as well. After the loss of our first child, I grieved heavily. I was so thrilled to become a mom, no matter how I became one. I was praying that to be able to conceive and carry a pregnancy to term would feel like redemption for a loss I had really wondered why we had to endure. One day, early in this new pregnancy, a friend of mine told me that she had a dream about me, and the Lord had told her to use the words redeemed and redemption. I knew this was confirmation the Lord was going to come through for this child. Indeed, He did redeem that first pregnancy loss.
When our red-headed, green-eyed son came into the world that first week in October of 2011, his birth was unnecessarily traumatic. We were thrilled to add a son to our family and to be blessed with a full-term baby, but the experience of bringing him into the world was terrifying and caused unnecessary anxiety and emotional upheaval. I didn’t know if we would ever be blessed with another child, and I was so unbelievably thankful for the two we had, but I hoped again for another opportunity to see the Lord redeem more pain I had endured. God is a God of redemption. I know that. I see that and experience it. It is why He sent His Son, Jesus.
So, we waited and enjoyed our two blessings and rested in the fact that if God wanted to continue to grow our family, He would. We were thrilled to learn that we were expecting again on Christmas morning of 2012 and were able to see our little one several weeks later on ultrasound. I had an appointment for a follow-up ultrasound for my eight-week checkup, and the night before I went for the ultrasound, I had a dream. In my dream, I saw the ultrasound screen, and an angel held my baby, whose heart was no longer beating. I awakened the next morning with dread and sadness, thinking perhaps my dream had been prophetic and the Lord’s way of gently preparing me for what was to come. As I drove into the parking deck to make my appointment, a song by Natalie Grant began playing on the radio. The song was “Held.” The first line of the song goes, “Two months is too little. They let him go. They had no sudden healing.” The rest of the song talks about how the Lord holds us through the loss of loved ones. I pictured that angel holding my baby, and I knew then the Lord was confirming my dream. Sure enough, the baby had no more heartbeat, and we grieved the loss of another child.
Though the desire to add more children remained, we were confident whatever God wanted for us was best. In May of 2013, while having some time of prayer and study, I sensed the Holy Spirit speaking to me that He would give us more children. I waited for confirmation that I had heard correctly and through scripture, the Lord repeatedly confirmed His promise. I happily shared His promise to me with my husband and we waited to see what the Lord would do and how He would choose to do it.
The same week of October of our son’s birthday and the same week I had been due with the first baby seven years earlier, we found out that we were expecting again. Of course, I was nervous that perhaps we might lose this baby too, but when I was nine weeks pregnant, we began telling people we were expecting. I had dinner with a group of ladies I had not seen in a while. We weren’t friends who saw each other often, but it is always fun to have a girls’ night out over tacos and cheese dip. I announced our pregnancy, and one of the girls had big tears well up in her eyes, as she began to tell me how, for months, she had been led to pray for me, that we would have a baby. She didn’t know why she was supposed to pray this for me, and frankly did not know much of our history, but the Holy Spirit had led her to pray, so she had been obedient. She saw the fruit from her prayers, and I saw a promise from the Lord that this little one was a keeper! I decided not to doubt but to believe He would come through for us and that this birth would be redemption for the traumatic birth I’d had with our son.
As the pregnancy progressed and the due date for another daughter approached, I began to be afraid. I wanted a beautiful birth experience, and I was afraid that all of the events that had played out before were going to come to pass again. About six weeks before her birth, I was worried and anxious reading and preparing for a natural birth. I opened Facebook and saw where someone had posted simply one passage of scripture and no explanation. I read the passage and re-read it and felt strongly it was just for me in that moment. Isaiah 54:10, 11, 13, 14 says, “For the mountains may depart and the hills be removed, but my steadfast love shall not depart from you, and my covenant of peace shall not be removed,” says the Lord, who has compassion on you.”O afflicted one, storm-tossed and not comforted… All your children shall be taught by the Lord and great shall be the peace of your children. In righteousness you shall be established; you shall be far from oppression, for you shall not fear; and from terror, for it shall not come near you.”’ From that moment I was no longer afraid of my birth experience. I had complete peace that God was going to come through with His promise.
The night before our daughter’s birth, I put my children to bed and read them the next story in our children’s Bible. It was the story of Noah and the ark and the rainbow of God’s promise. The next evening, as I was in labor, my husband pulled out of our driveway to take me to the hospital. Before driving away, he took a picture of a double rainbow that was high in the sky above our house… a reminder to me that God would be with me through this birth and that God always keeps His promises! And, do you know what? He was! I had a beautiful, redemptive, natural childbirth experience with our little Sadie, which means princess and mercy. A week after our princess was born, I sat rocking her and looking at her sweet round cheeks, blue eyes, and head full of dark hair. The vision of the baby I had had all those years before came to mind, and I realized that our sweet Sadie matches that vision!
Fifteen years ago when my husband and I married, I could never have guessed the path God would take us to build our family. So many years I wondered if there would only be just the two of us. I’m so thankful we didn’t give up praying and that we waited and followed His leading. Only God knows if Sadie is our caboose, and we will wait to see what or who the future holds. We believe each of our children is a gift (James 1:17), and we look forward to seeing how God will use them for His glory. I think He already has.
God has a way of making something absolutely beautiful out of the complete messes we make in our lives. Each day is full of decisions that have to be made that have an affect on the next decision. One poor decision leads to another, and pretty soon, you’ve dug yourself a hole where there is no way you can climb out on your own. Sound pretty familiar? We’ve all reached the point where we are at the end of our rope and don’t know which way to go. The plans and decisions we make for our life crumble right before our eyes, and we can’t find any peace in understanding. Soon enough, you realize this life you’re trying to build on your own was built on nothing more than sinking sand. As the winds fell, and the floods came, and the wind blew, you see it falling apart right before your eyes. And, so was the case for my life.
I always had a great plan for my life and never considered God or His plans. Because of this, poor decision after poor decision, I married a girl out of college. We live in a society where everyone wants the American dream: a college education, a wife, a house, 2.4 kids, and a great job. And, in my case, this is what I was doing, living the dream. But, the dream soon ended, and we were divorced less than two years later, much to my accord. As a man, the last thing you ever want to do is fail at something, and I had a failed marriage. This was the lowest point in my life. And, what is sad is at this point in my life, I failed to see the sanctity of marriage with God. I regrettably admit, at the time, I merely saw this as a failed relationship.
After my divorce, I started dating again and hit it off with another woman. We had a good relationship as long as we didn’t talk about anything difficult. We would attend church on Sundays and live like hell the rest of the week. And, after a couple of years, we got engaged. It looked like I had found the person I was going to spend my life with. Little did I know, the engagement would be ultimate test of this relationship.
In the midst of this, God started working in my life, and I ended up making the most important decision of my life, to follow Christ. What I didn’t realize was in doing this, He would ask me to sacrifice my engagement, which ended 20 days before the wedding. Once again, another failed relationship and the plans I had laid out were crumbling right before my eyes. Where the divorce was the lowest point in my life, this was no doubt the toughest period of my life. In the trial and tribulation of this time, I was left with two choices: continue to do what I’d always done and expect different results or lean not on my own understanding and trust Christ in all my ways. For the first time in my life, I chose Christ. All He asked was to trust Him!
A few months later, I decided to attend a Uganda missions meeting one evening at church. I never thought about a going on a mission trip, but as it turns out God had other plans. From the moment of leaving that meeting, Uganda was stirring in my heart, and for every excuse why I couldn’t go, God showed me why I could. After exhausting every excuse over the following weeks, it purely came down to an act of obedience in following God, and I decided to go on that trip. What I didn’t realize at the time was this was all part of a greater plan He had set in place. My life would never be the same.
Upon returning from Uganda, I realized even though this was my first trip, it definitely wouldn’t be the last. God had broken my heart, humbled my spirit, and showed me His greatness. This trip lit a fire and a passion in me for God and to serve others like I’ve never experienced before. I also realized that I would have never experienced the blessings from this trip if I had decided not to once again follow God in obedience. But the trip was only part of His plan. The best was yet to come….
When we got back from Uganda, I knew there was another local church going to the same place in Uganda where we had been. One of those going was Kim Tucker. Kim and I went to the same high school and literally grew up six miles from each other. Yet, even in the small community of Corner, we had heard of one another, but never knew each other. That is until our paths crossed one day on Facebook talking about my experience and her upcoming trip to Uganda. This common thread developed a friendship, and we grew close quickly. After she returned from Uganda, we stayed in touch and talked about her trip, but didn’t think about dating. But, God had other plans. And, a couple of months later, we went on our first date.
Ten months later, I’m happy to report that it has been nothing less than incredible. Kim and I often say the only way we will ever make this relationship work is if we place each other second and keep God as the first love in our lives. We have lived each day thanking God for the time we have had, praying he will bless us with more, and trusting wherever He leads us, even if that is in opposite directions. As we have continued to place Christ at the forefront of our relationship, the closer we have grown together.
Kim also has three awesome little girls, Milly, Kameryn, and Heidi. As Kim and I have grown together, these three little girls have been right there and have been nothing but a blessing to my life. By being faithful and obedient to God, He has provided a relationship built on the rock of Jesus Christ. And to show off, He added these three little girls to bless it even more!!
So now, we have come to this day. After months of prayer and growing together, the Lord has confirmed to each of us His plan for us to spend our lives together. And today, I have formally asked Kim to be my wife. Not only have I asked Kim, but I have also asked her girls, so they know I’m making this commitment to them as well.
To the world, marrying a woman with three kids makes absolutely no sense. But to God, this is a great example of the gospel in its purest form, and I am honored to have the awesome responsibility of leading all four of these women as we begin a family together.
As I said above, it’s amazing how God can make something beautiful out of a complete mess. My life is a perfect example of this. Through faith and obedience in Him in all of my ways, He has made His way available to me in my life. I often wonder what would have happened if I didn’t obey Him in going to Uganda last year…. I may have never fully seen God’s greatness through His people, may have never reached where I am in my relationship with Him, and I may have never met Kim.
Ephesians 2 says, “You were once dead in the trespass and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world…. BUT GOD being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespass, made us alive together with Christ….”
Thinking of my own life, I had made great plans for my life, but God’s were better. And, when I decided to stop trying to do life myself and follow Him, He began opening the paths of His ways for me, and my world has never been the same. It is something truly beautiful!
Proverbs 16:9 says, “The heart of a man plans his way but the Lord established his steps.” In no way do I deserve this life, but God has always remained faithful, which continues to blow my mind daily. Looking forward to what He has in store for us lying ahead!!