Tragic loss in the IF community

Hi sweet friends, today on Twitter, A Calm Persistence shared a video from an IF YouTuber who just announced her pregnancy after 7 years of infertility only to lose her husband, Royce, in a car accident before she could share the good news with him.

Kristy shared the following heartbreaking update as well as a Go Fund Me account that a fellow IF sister started for her.

Sadly, they were struggling financially and she cancelled her husband’s life insurance policy to save money just two weeks before his death, never assuming that she would lose her 35 year old husband. She is worried for the baby she now carries as she is dealing with an understandable amount of grief and is not able to fully care for her body and this baby as she would like to. Please be in prayer for the child, for peace for Kristy, for support financially and emotionally not just online but from her community in real life.

Please take the time to pray and especially take the time to give, even if it’s just a little bit. Every little bit will help and will show her that she is not alone.

The link to the Go Fund Me account can be found by clicking here.

I can’t understand why God allows tragic things like this to happen. I just will never be able to make sense of it in this life. All I can do is pray and be a source of love in the world. There are just too many hurting people to do anything less than love a world in need. And in times like this when I don’t have answers for why God allows tragedy, I rely on the truth in this verse: “Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.” Death and tragedy can’t make sense to us, we can’t understand it, and that’s okay. We don’t have to know all the answers – we just need to have faith and devote ourselves to loving deeply. That’s all any of us can do in a time like this.

So I challenge you to do that today. Send a comment to Kristy, offer a prayer to God, and give generously to make the burden of her loss a little bit lighter.

Love and prayers to you all,

Amber

Good gifts

I remember after my first three miscarriages reading the verse, “If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him” and feeling totally rejected by God. A miscarriage certainly didn’t seem like a good gift to me.

Last year, I found this verse in a different book, the above verse coming from Matthew and this next verse coming from Luke. I’ll highlight the changed words in bold so you can see what I’m getting at:

“Which of you fathers, if your son asks for a fish, will give him a snake instead? Or if he asks for an egg, will give him a scorpion? If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

In the first verse I shared, the words are a good gift. In Luke, he calls the good gift, the Holy Spirit.

Jesus is our good and perfect gift. “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.”

Similarly in Genesis, Abram (before he become Abraham) was told what his true reward was.

“Do not be afraid, Abram. I am your shield, your very great reward.”

If God should never give us another gift in this life, we know that we already have all we need through Jesus Christ our Lord. He is our perfect gift, who came down from Heaven to die on the cross to save us from all our sins. He gives the Holy Spirit to be with us through all things, therefore, we have all we need.

It doesn’t feel like a good gift when we suffer, but we know that we have the comfort of the Lord on our side and a beautiful plan in place to redeem all that has been lost, and to wipe away every tear from our eyes. When we trust in Him, we will not be put to shame.

And finally, because I love this verse so very much and read it this morning, I’ll share it with you all and pray that you have a blessed day.

“As Jesus was saying these things, a woman in the crowd called out, “Blessed is the mother who gave you birth and nursed you.” He replied, “Blessed rather are those who hear the word of God and obey it.”

The Lord doesn’t see things as we see them with our limited perspectives. A gift and blessing in our mind should be something we can see and hold and touch, but the best gifts in life come by faith in what is unseen.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding.”

Have faith in what is unseen, trust in what you can’t understand, and believe that God is for you and with you always. It might not make sense now, but I promise you someday the puzzle pieces will fit together and we will stand in awe of our loving God and Savior.

With love and prayers,

Amber

Goodbye for now

Whenever I see or talk with Jonathan’s grandmother on the phone and we end the conversation, she always says, “Goodbye for now.” I like the hopefulness in that declaration, saying goodbye, but knowing that it is only temporary.

Jonathan and I are making some major life changes. I wrote an entire post the other day explaining all about our decision process and my excitement in the changes we are making, only to click something when I was trying to publish my post that brought me back to my dashboard page. I went to look at the drafts, but there was no draft for the post I had just spent hours writing.

So now, I’ll just keep my explanation short and sweet: blogging is going to be on a temporary hold.

Jonathan and I, in an effort to increase our efforts in paying off debt are going to be cancelling many services that we don’t need, such as text messaging, Netflix and cable, and we are going to be downgrading other services that we use. One of the things we will be downgrading is our internet. We are going to get the lowest package of internet that will allow us to check our bank account online and email. I might still have the ability to blog, but if the internet is as slow as the public library, I won’t be able to.

I do have a laptop, however, so I can always go to Starbucks or even my in-laws house to use wi-fi and write an update.

We are going to be saving a lot of money every month on these changes we are making, but I have greater reasons for wanting to simplify our life beyond just getting out of debt.

I feel that the internet is a stumbling block in my life and one that leads to a lot of pain and heartache for me, and that often times leads me into sin. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve let something I read on Facebook or YouTube or a blog slip into my mind, followed by my heart, and finally followed by my actions.

And even though I love this community and love following you all, sometimes reading about infertility constantly and writing about it has played a negative role in my life. I used to read the forums at the bump.com when I first started experiencing recurrent miscarriages and I would follow along on the TTC after loss forum. I remember even if I was having a perfectly good day, I could in a moment’s time feel angry and sad because someone shared what they were going through, or something that someone had said to them that was hurtful. I noticed that it was making me bitter and only contributing to my isolation. I stopped using that forum over a year ago and my life has been so much better for it.

And perhaps this will make someone angry to read, that I’m saying blogging about infertility is bad, but hear me correctly please: it’s bad for ME right now. I need a break from infertility. I need to start living my life outside of the internet. I need to walk away from what God has been urging me to walk away from for some time now. It’s bigger than just the blog – there’s so many reasons and I don’t know that I have words to fully convey what I’m feeling. I just need something different in my life.

After so many losses, I can’t control what happens to me. We live in a fallen world, bad things are going to happen. It’s a guarantee. But in my house, I can control what I spend my time doing. I can control feeling peace in my own house.

So it’s my desire to remove the internet as an option to fill my time, my mind and my heart with. Instead I’m going to be busy at home and focused on a more simple way of living. We made this decision on Friday evening and plan to go this morning to downgrade our services. But by Saturday morning, I was ready to begin this change, I didn’t want to wait, so we decided to enjoy our weekend as if we had already cancelled our services.

I felt like I had so much more time on my hands. And instead of going out to see a movie or watching something on TV, Jonathan and I made a picnic lunch and went to the park for a free date. The weather was beautiful outside and my husband opened up talking more than he ever does. In fact, he talked more than me which is really something since I tend to be the chatter box.

I enjoyed it so much that we did it again on Sunday. And I think it’s going to be my new favorite activity when he has a day off!  I’m even thinking that I might enjoy going on my own and bringing my bible with me to enjoy lunch and spend time in prayer. Or I could invite a friend to come along with me – that would be a great time too.

I’m looking forward to this change and I believe that it is going to be good for my healing and recovery and good for my marriage. I feel like so many positive changes are going to come from this and I can’t wait to see all that the Lord will do in the next year. There is much to look forward to and I’m excited to begin a new journey!

I could go on in explanation but I think you all get the point. This is goodbye, but only for now. I will update you all and let you know how I’m doing and of course as often as I can, I’ll check up on your blogs as well.

Love and prayers to you all,

Amber

P.S. There is always email! If anyone wants to get in touch with me outside of the blog, send me an email at: thefrugalwed@yahoo.com. I’ll probably be able to check that more frequently and get back with you sooner. If you need prayer or just someone to vent to, please email me and I’d love to support you through that.

My Crisis of Faith: A Greater Yes

I have desired to write this story for several months now, but have struggled with knowing where and how to begin. And once I finally wrote this story, I have struggled with wondering if I should post it, but have finally decided that I want to share this.  My testimony of coming to know Jesus as my Savior is by far the best story of my life, because I was born-again and given a future and a hope, but this story was the turning point for my faith and is without a doubt a story of heartache and redemption.  If you don’t have time now to read this story, I hope you’ll come back again to see the miracle of healing that happened in my life.  This might just be the most important story I will ever tell about how God transformed my heart and my faith.

I became a Christian in 2005 when I was 17 but really struggled for many years learning about my faith in Christ and knowing what it means to follow in His footsteps.  I was alone the night that I was saved and I didn’t go out shouting from the rooftops that I was a believer, because I frankly didn’t know what to do with my faith.  Thankfully, God stepped in and placed people in my path who helped me.  My senior year of high school, a friend invited me to attend youth group at church on Wednesday nights and another friend from my choir class invited me to several church events and a bible study that met before school.  These two people had no idea that I had just that year turned my life over to Christ.  I wasn’t out and about talking about my faith, and yet, the Holy Spirit led these two people to invite me to events that helped give me an understanding of my new faith.  That is truly a miracle to me!

In college, against the advice of my father, I joined a sorority.  I had a desire to attend church groups on campus, but I didn’t have any friends that were believers and I was afraid to attend on my own.  My dad was helping me move into my sorority house when a group of students came to see if we needed help moving into the dorm.  I shrugged them off and said, “No thank you” while my dad said, “Oh yes please.”  And what would you know, it was a group called Lutheran Student Fellowship.  At the beginning of every school year, they began their first ministry event by helping students move in.

And the first boy that I met on campus who was a member of this group? Jonathan, my husband.  He was helping me move items into the sorority house and I remember being alone with him at one point in time, talking with him and thinking, “He is really cute.  And he loves Jesus!” What’s truly funny is that I actually went to college with the hopes that I would find a husband and specifically a husband that loved Jesus.  I remember being at freshman orientation with my mom, eating in the cafeteria and seeing a boy praying with his family before they ate.  As a new baby Christian, praying before my meal in public seemed like a really big deal.  I looked at the boy praying with his family and said, “Mom, look at him praying! I want to marry someone like that!” She joked with me that I was at college to get my MRS. degree.

Jonathan and I didn’t end up dating right away.  We connected on Facebook and he sent me a message saying that if I ever needed anything to give him a call, but I figured he was just being a nice Christian boy and probably had no interest in dating me, a freshman.  I desperately wanted to attend the Lutheran fellowship group so that I could be involved in a Christian organization and also get to know Jonathan better, but was never able to get my friends to tag along with me.

And with that, sorority life took over and my faith really started to die down.  The temptations of college life and good times separated me from God and I didn’t really think about Jesus all that much because of it.

The next semester, in January, I went to a party and ran into Jonathan.  He was really excited to see me again.  He had deleted Facebook and Myspace (ha, anyone remember that?) but in an effort to start talking with me, he re-activated his accounts and started sending me messages online asking if we could meet up.  For the rest of the month we went to basketball games, out to eat, and he invited me to parties at his apartment.  We had our first date on Valentine’s Day but didn’t officially start dating until March 7, 2007.

To say that Jonathan and I were unequally yoked was an understatement.  He was saving himself for marriage, while I was not a virgin.  He had been a believer for as long as he could remember, while I was completely new to my faith, and really had no idea what to do with myself.

Jonathan encouraged me to attend weekly meetings with the Lutheran Student Fellowship and attend church every Sunday.  I would complain and say that I didn’t think that I needed to, while he would firmly insist that I go.  I guess I really loved him because I listened, and I’m thankful that he was able to talk me into going.

I really enjoyed going to the fellowship group and my faith was really taking off again for the next year. It was exciting to be involved in fellowship with other Christians again and I enjoyed learning more about my Savior.

But in August 2009, I was diagnosed with Endometriosis during a laparoscopic surgery that removed an ovarian cyst.  The next year and a half, I wasted my life by worrying about the future and wondering if I would be able to have children.  I was so afraid that I would be infertile. My faith was struggling through this because I felt depressed and anxious about my disease.

The following year, in August 2010, Jonathan’s sister gave birth to our nephew Ezekiel Jacob.  She invited all of the family to attend the church service in their town where she had Ezekiel dedicated to God.  During the service, a woman gave her testimony of praise to God for healing her husband of cancer, and I thought to myself, “I should pray for God to heal my endometriosis.”

I prayed to God and asked Him to heal my endometriosis and my relationship with Him was restored again.  I totally forgot about my prayer for healing and didn’t really expect anything to happen at all, but He gave me peace and I was excited to have a restored relationship with Him.  I had been so distant from God for a long time and I was excited to come to Him again.

In January 2011, I had my second laparoscopic surgery and the doctor discovered that I no longer had endometriosis. The doctor removed a simple vaginal septation that was causing me pain, but discovered that endometriosis was no longer present.  I was healed! The doctor actually told me that it was like looking at two completely different women.  In 2009, my ovaries were such a disaster, and in 2011, I looked perfect and healthy.

After my healing, my faith really took off.  That month, we moved to a new town to start our lives together and Jonathan started his police career and was working in the police academy training to become an officer. We joined the church where our nephew had been dedicated to God and where I heard the testimony of healing and prayed for God to heal me.  And God healed me of a disease that had caused me crippling pain for so many years.

The next month, on February 27, 2011, Jonathan and I were married in our new church home!

I was excited to be a member of a church and to have a church family.  Though I had attended church previously, this was the first time that I had desired to belong to a church and to be an active member of a church.  I started attending bible studies and volunteering to help with different ministries.  It was truly, truly an exciting time in my newlywed life.

And finally, nothing in my life was standing in the way of my relationship with God.

In April of that same year, Jonathan and I attended a bible study fellowship group with his parents and watched a film inspired by a young teenager, called A Greater Yes: The Story of Amy Newhouse.  Amy had a heart that was on fire for Jesus and had a faith that was contagious and inspiring.  She battled cancer and her life and faith were an example of never-ending hope in Christ.  Amy believed that God hears us when we pray and she challenged her community to call on Him and believe in Him.  She believed in God’s power to heal her of cancer but believed that if he said “no” it was only because He had a greater yes planned.

This movie and the story of Amy’s faith and her journey to battle cancer, inspired me to pray, “God, I want to have faith like that.  Lord, whatever I need to go through in this life to bring you glory, let your will be done.”

Just two months later, we had our first positive pregnancy test, followed by our first miscarriage.  God graciously reminded me of the prayer that I had prayed and He worked powerfully in me throughout that first week of my miscarriage to increase my faith in Him and to believe that He was saying “no” to my prayers for healing my baby because He had a much greater yes planned.  That first miscarriage started on the first day of teaching Vacation bible school and it was one of the most memorable weeks of my life.  On one hand, it was tragic and on the other, it was a beautiful moment in my life.  Seeing the needs of the children and being able to share the love of Christ with the kids was a gift from God.

In September 2011 I started teaching 6th grade Sunday school with my mother-in-law.  I was excited to start this adventure and really enjoyed our first meeting with the kids.  After church and eating lunch with Jon’s family, we came home, only to find my Bunny, Buttercup, of 7 years, dead.  The shock of finding her dead and seeing her lifeless body just consumed me for months to come.  There was no peace in her death.  It was tragic.  I couldn’t get the image out of my head of finding her like that and knowing we weren’t there when she passed away.  It broke my heart in a way that I didn’t expect.  I knew that she was getting older but I didn’t realize how much her death would hurt me.

cute bunny

That was also the start of the first day of my period.  Cycle day 1 that would lead to my second pregnancy.  A few weeks later, we found out we were pregnant for a second time, with a baby due to be born June 10, 2012 – the 1 year anniversary of finding out we were pregnant with our first baby.

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I was unbelievably happy to see that second line get darker and darker as the week went on.  My first pregnancy ended early, right at 4 weeks, but this one seemed to be going much differently.  As each week passed, I became more and more excited about having a baby.  We nicknamed our baby, Baby M.  M for baby Mueller and also because I was thinking it was going to be a boy. I dreamed of naming our first-born son, Matthew.

I was cautiously hopeful that Matthew would be our rainbow baby after losing our first child and Buttercup.  But on November 13, at 10 weeks pregnant, I started bleeding.

The next morning we went for an ultrasound to find that baby M had died.  The ultrasound was followed by blood work that showed low platelet levels and the next day I was sent to the emergency room because my blood levels continued to drop dangerously low.  Thankfully my body was only spotting the entire time I was in the hospital with low platelets and I didn’t start to officially miscarry the baby until several days later when my platelet levels were high enough.  God was definitely protecting my life during this time, though at the time I was devastated by my loss and wished that death would end my suffering.  The Saturday that I officially miscarried baby M was the worst day of my life.  I ended up back in the hospital because I was bleeding too heavily and needed to be monitored in case my blood levels dropped back down.  The doctor and nurse had to do a procedure to clear out some of the blood clots and it made me feel incredibly violated and humiliated.  After they left the room, silent tears rolled down my face as I looked around the room.  Blood was everywhere and I suddenly realized that I was seeing death all around me, and it wasn’t just any death, it was the death of my beloved child, who died too soon in my womb.  That day changed me forever.  The sight of that hospital room haunted me and I thought I would never be happy again.

A few weeks after the miscarriage, I was sitting on my bed and was haunted by the images of both Buttercup’s death and baby M’s death.  At that moment, God replaced the horrible images with a vision.  I saw a little baby boy, with bright blonde hair, and a big beautiful smile.  He was giggling and petting a very plump and healthy looking Buttercup.  The image was perfect and I knew that it was a vision of my baby M and Buttercup in Heaven.  I praised God for this image and for the comfort it gave me and the peace it brought to know that they were not dead, but alive, living in paradise.  I didn’t need to feel haunted and consumed by their deaths any longer because they were living and I will see them again when Jesus comes to bring me home.

I decided that I wanted to name our two babies that we had lost and I wanted to honor them with the names I had desired to give our first-born children.  I wanted a girl named Abiygale and a boy named Matthew.  A part of me hurt knowing that I would not be giving the names I had dreamed of for so long to the children I will hopefully someday give birth to, but I also knew that I loved my babies so very much and I knew that these names belonged to them, and someday, I will get to hold them in Heaven and whisper, “I love you Matthew. I love you Abiygale.”

Though the vision of Matthew and Buttercup gave me great peace, it was still a deep struggle managing my grief and sadness.  I missed being pregnant with Matthew and I was devastated that I would not get to see him in this life.  I wouldn’t get to feel his kicks or see my belly grow any bigger.  My heart ached every time I reached down to hold my belly only to remember that it wasn’t getting bigger anymore and that Matthew wasn’t living there any longer.

During my pregnancy with baby Matthew, I got exciting news that my brother and sister-in-law were pregnant with a baby girl.  This was a miracle! Regina had been diagnosed with PCOS at 18 and was told by doctors that she would likely never be able to get pregnant.  I’m not sure how long my brother and Regina had tried to conceive, but they had been married since 2007 and didn’t get pregnant with Autumn Rose until 2011 so I imagine they struggled with fertility treatments for a long time before getting pregnant.

I had been nervous when I found out that I was pregnant with Matthew.  Here I was, younger than my brother and Regina, and I knew they didn’t have good chances of getting pregnant.  The thought of my pregnancy with baby Matthew hurting them made me feel sick to my stomach with fear.  I was so happy for me and Jonathan, but I didn’t want to hurt them.  When my dad called to tell me they were pregnant, I couldn’t stop saying, “Praise God! Praise God!”  I couldn’t believe how perfect everything was turning out.  Regina and I both were given horrible odds of getting pregnant, and here we both were, pregnant at the same time.  Regina was due just one month before me and I dreamed of going to meet my niece and holding her in my arms with baby M kicking away in my stomach, just one month away from holding my own little miracle.  I dreamed of how awesome it would be to have cousins close together in age and thought of all the fun times they would have together growing up.  It was a dream come true.

Until my nightmare unfolded and all of my dreams for baby M came crashing down.

I was completely excited and happy for my brother and sister-in-law and there weren’t two other people in the world that I had prayed more for and hoped to get pregnant.  My big brother was going to be an amazing father.  He helped raise me and he was the best big brother in the world.  There was absolutely no feelings of jealousy over my niece.  Only pure sadness that my little one wouldn’t be here to celebrate with us.

In December, we suffered another loss when Jonathan’s grandfather died just one month after we lost Matthew.  I took a break from my grief for the moment to help grandma and our family.  After grandpa’s death, I just felt exhausted.  I didn’t want to deal with my own grief anymore.

I felt sick with worry over how I would respond going to Regina’s baby shower and going to meet my niece.  Would I break down and everyone think I was a horrible person for feeling sad? It caused me such great anguish that I wanted to start trying to conceive again immediately.  I didn’t know how to handle my grief.  I didn’t know how to get through the next year without a new baby to make things better.  Logically, now I can see that was the worst idea because I needed to take time to grieve and to heal.  But when you are dealing with something so traumatic like the loss of a child, logic goes out the window.

After just one cycle post miscarriage, we became pregnant again with our third baby, who I named Hope.  We had three ultrasounds during our pregnancy with Hope, one of which we got to see her precious little heart beating.  It was the most amazing sight.

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Two weeks later, we went in for another ultrasound and I had started to lose my pregnancy symptoms.  I knew it wasn’t going to be good news, but I prayed and hoped anyways.  Hope’s heart had stopped beating at 10 weeks pregnant, and I was left to wonder, “Why would God allow this to happen again?”

Some well-meaning family and friends said that maybe we had just tried too soon and that’s why we lost the baby.  Dear family and friends, you don’t need to try to explain why a loss happens.  You don’t know, so just don’t do it, okay? That puts the blame on me, the mother, and causes me to deal with grief on top of guilt.  Please, think before you speak.  Loss moms are dealing with a world of pain that you can’t possibly understand until you go through this yourself.  Be kind, very cautious, and gentle.

After Hope’s loss, I finally let it sink in that something was horribly wrong with my body and I needed to take a break from trying to have a baby for a long time.  I knew the process of grief and learning to accept this fate was going to be a painful and long journey, but I needed to do this.

I purchased a new journal and began to write about my journey through grief.  The days passed by slowly and I didn’t know if I would ever recover and feel joy again.

My first journal entry:

“I was just looking at my wall calendar to see the date and wondered why the 23rd seemed significant to me.  And then I remembered it was our first ultrasound to see baby Hope a month ago.  And it was a good ultrasound.  Everything looked perfect for that point in pregnancy.  I was 5 weeks and 5 days.  I should be 10 weeks pregnant today, but instead, I am bleeding.  Just like my second pregnancy with baby Matthew.  On Monday we went for our scheduled ultrasound to find out if this was going to be our take-home baby, but both me and Jon had sinking feelings that baby Hope had died.  There was one night last week when I touched my belly and it felt empty – like there was no longer a connection.  I spent much of the weekend waiting in tears and sorrow for the ultrasound.  Jon actually said, “I don’t want to go.” I kept thinking that in a dream world, we would show up to the ultrasound and see a beautiful baby with a strong heartbeat, but feeling utterly defeated by doubts that dreams don’t come true for me.  But I prayed anyways and hoped that God’s plan would include us having baby Hope in our arms to love and care for and to give us peace and joy.  I want my babies here with me, but I’m also glad that they won’t ever feel the sorrow that me and Jon have endured.  But I can’t help but wonder why God would allow this to happen 3 times in 9 months time, why he would allow this to happen around baby Abiygale’s due date and right before our one year wedding anniversary.  I feel guilty that maybe this is all happening because I need to learn a lesson or change and mature, but then I wonder, why Jon has to suffer with me? I just don’t know anything.  And it hurts.  And it makes me angry and sad and confused and full of doubts and questions.  And now I’m left to plan, what’s next? How do I grow and mature? I should give up control and take a long break from family planning to heal and allow God to fix me.  But I can’t help but doubt how I am ever going to make it through this.  I don’t even want to go to church because of the painful reminders of what I’ve lost.  I don’t want to see my family and hear about Zeke or the excitement of baby Autumn and her upcoming birth.  How can I participate in these things and not be broken down with total despair? But also, how can I ever feel happy again if I’m isolated from family and friends? What am I going to do? I want to be strong and I want to be faithful, but I am so weak.  I get angry and bitter and it hurts me so badly.  I can’t stand the person I’ve become.  A thought occurred to me while writing this, that Jesus was insulted and by people who He loved and was going to die for.  And my faith challenges me to “daily take up my cross and follow Jesus.”  So I guess the Holy Spirit is telling me that I can and should participate in these events with family.  Which also means if he is calling me to do this then he will walk with me through it.  I’ve felt the power of the Holy Spirit giving me strength and peace before, so I guess I need to trust in Him and call on his strength when I feel like I can’t do it.  And if something becomes too painful or people aren’t discussing things I want to hear, I will leave the room and take a break.  I will not give up! I will make it through this! And I will become stronger with the Lord’s helping hand by my side.

Verses for February 23 2012 journal entry: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener.  He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.  You are already clean because of the word I have spoken to you.  Remain in me, and I will remain in you.  No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine.  Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” John 15:1-4

“This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.” John 15:8

“Consider it pure joy, my brothers, whenever you face trails of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.  Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be mature and complete, not lacking anything.”  James 1:1-4

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

A prayer I prayed in my journal entry from February 24, the day I officially miscarried baby Hope:

“I’m hopeful that during this time, I will grow spiritually and bear much fruit.  I hope to gain patience and self-control and kindness.  I hope to no longer be quick to grow angry and to not harbor bitter and jealous feelings against another.  I hope to learn to truly love all the people God places in my path and to offer the same love, forgiveness, and grace that He gives to me.  I pray that Satan will no longer see me as a weak target to attack, but will learn that my faith is laid on solid foundation of my Lord Jesus Christ, and I cannot be shaken.  I pray that I will be a blessing to others and that when people see my deeds they will believe in the love that God has given me and know that they have that same gift waiting to be opened.”

Part of my journal entry from February 24: “Tonight I was writing an introduction post on the Hannah’s prayer ministry boards and it made me so excited to think about my testimony of healing from endometriosis.  As I was in pain today, I remembered that pain used to be a monthly occurrence for me, and I’m so thankful that God saved me from that suffering.  Today’s pain also made me think about Jesus’ death on the cross and I wondered why he would be willing to go through that pain for me? The only way I can make sense of it is to think of his love for me in terms of how I love my children.  I hate going through this pain physically and emotionally, but I would do it all again because of the souls we created and gave life to.  Even so, I’m still amazed.  My pain cannot possibly even stand on the same agonizing level of the death on a cross – the nails pierced through his hands – the rejection from his creation – the weight of the world’s sins upon Him.  How truly great is His love for me! How great! Thank you God for everything that has led me to you and to the fulfillment and total joy of knowing your love for me.  Wow! I love you Lord! Praise your Holy name!

March 23, 2012 journal entry: “It has been one month since I had the miscarriage.  It feels like so much longer.  The days pass by with turtle-like speed and I hate it.  This pain is so difficult to deal with.  There are times when I am okay and then other times when I feel horribly angry, hurt and completely and totally hopeless.  And in the times when I feel hopeless, I can feel a spiritual battle around me.  I begin to question and doubt God,  I feel angry with him for not saving me from this pain, and I cry out in sorrow for answers.  Sometimes I even struggle with thoughts of suicide and wishing that I could end my pain.  Tonight I even thought that Jon would be so much happier without me and he would probably go on to have children and a happy life because he deserves that.  And then I even thought about running away and divorcing him so that I wouldn’t cause him any more pain.  I’m reading Job again because I really relate to that suffering and I could have written these exact words: “I despise my life; I would not live forever.  Let me alone; my days have no meaning.” I know that we will most likely have children through adoption and that will make me happy, but I doubt it will happen for many years.  And this last month has felt terribly long and I can’t imagine suffering through this pain for years.  It wouldn’t be so horrible if it wasn’t such a constant reminder, but I feel like there is no escape.  I don’t even want to go to church because of the baby-filled world.  And Regina is having a baby – THIS year – of all years! And I am so, so scared that Stephanie will be next (my sister-in-law).  And then there is Zeke and it just hurts to be around him, so I avoid family gatherings.  And I’m totally isolated.  And when I actually go out, it is thrown in my face so much that I prefer being alone.  I’m either alone and sad or out and miserable with anger.  And on Sunday we went to a wedding and we were the only couple there without children.  And one of the bridesmaids was, of course, pregnant with TWINS, YAY, for her! My period started today so I’m sure that hormones have played a major role in my attitude. But still, this sucks.  When will it get better? God, I need you! Please help me!

Part of my journal entry from May 4, 2012: “Today was not so good – I went to my hematologist and he apologized for our loss and said a few kind words.  My platelet levels are great so that is a relief, and even better, I won’t have to have blood tests taken for another 6 months! Wahhoo! My arm is happy! Talking about the miscarriage definitely makes it difficult to feel happy and I’m certain that is why today has been crummy.  Finally I decided to pray and tell God how I was feeling and I was crying and saying that I don’t trust Him to prevent me from getting hurt again and I don’t know what to do about birth control. After that I read my bible and stumbled upon the story of Jesus calming the storm and he tells his disciples, “Do you still have no faith?”  I know that my faith is weak and I need to trust in the Lord better, but it is hard! How can I  stop worrying? How can I know what to do? I don’t want to want a baby anymore because I don’t want to lose another baby.  It just hurts so much.  This life is hard and it will be so awesome to make it home someday.  For now, I am fighting the good fight and growing stronger everyday as Christ gives me strength.”

Journal entry from July 21, 2012: “I am trying to accept the very real possibility that we might not be able to have a child.  For the last year, hope in a future pregnancy has made it easier to continue on – hoping that maybe we would find a problem or maybe I could change my diet or avoid stress.  But now I am starting to understand that I do not have control over this – only God does.  I am trying to accept that it is time to give up on this dream.  It hurts badly.  I spend so much time crying and hurting.  I know that my faith in God and following Christ is more important than motherhood and I want so badly to make God number 1 in my life.  But giving up on my dreams for a family hurts deeply.  I wish I could have both.  I wish that my desire for a baby didn’t have to come between me and God. And even when I think about choosing God and giving up on my dream, I still have this sliver of hope that he will honor my faithfulness and reward me with a baby.  I feel so hopeless and depressed and I wonder how long I will feel this way.  Please God, help me!”

Journal entry from August 22, 2012: “I wonder when I will feel better – it has been months and it feels like I’ll never be the same Amber again.  I try so hard but the truth is – I’m a big mess.  Hopefully the grief recovery class will make a big difference.  Today I got baby Hope’s sunset picture in my email and it is so beautiful.  It makes me sad to have it though and not be pregnant instead with her kicking away in my belly.  Oh Lord, this mother is grieving.  Please comfort me and give me a miracle, give me something to keep going.  I need something good to happen.  I thank you for my husband, Sweetpea and Pebbles, but tonight, I ask for a baby.”

August 23: “Today was a better day at work, though I have a feeling tomorrow will not go so well.  I am having a deep struggle again trusting that God is for us instead of against.  Sometimes I just feel like God doesn’t care about me – like He is too busy giving everyone else a miracle to give me a baby.  But I know that my feelings are not what counts; His word is the truth.  It’s just much easier to say this than to actually believe it.  I’m also struggling with being patient and waiting to try again until we are ready.  I just wish that Jon wanted to try.  I wish that we were finished grieving and I wish that we could have a baby.  This journey sucks. Why must I have such a strong desire for a child? I’m tired of being sad; I’m tired of being angry; I’m tired of longing for something I can’t have.  I’m not feeling very strong right now.  I want to just give up.”

During the summer of 2012, our dog Sweetpea injured her leg and we took her in to have surgery only to find out that she had chronic kidney failure and the risk of having surgery was too great.  Thankfully, we found a method to help her leg heal without the use of surgery, called towel walking.  We said many prayers when she was first injured and I believe that God gave us a miracle because within the next week, she was better.  We continued to towel walk her to help her go potty, but she enjoyed the next few months of her life and her happy spirit let us know that it just wasn’t her time to go yet.

But in October 2012, Sweetpea’s health started to decline.  She was on a lot of medication for her kidney disease and it was causing her to get sick to her stomach.  We changed her diet to boiled rice and chicken to help her stomach settle, but that weekend she took a turn for the worse.  On Saturday, October 20, we drove to Houston for my little sister’s birthday party, thinking that Sweetpea would be just fine.  Jonathan’s parents came over to take care of her and take her potty outside.  When we came home that night she happily greeted us and I had no idea that in a matter of hours, everything was going to change.

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She started to throw up and Jonathan woke up to take care of her and sleep on the floor next to her.  She went back to bed after the first episode of vomiting.  Early the next morning, she threw up again, and after that final episode of vomiting, she was done.  We could smell a toxic smell coming from her body and the life had just been drained from her eyes.  We did some searching on the internet and found that she was displaying the symptoms of end stage kidney failure and we knew that unless things changed big time, we would have to take her to the vet the next morning to put her to sleep.

Jonathan wanted to take her on a drive by some horses that she would usually get excited about, to see if that would lift her spirits, but she was too tired to care.  When she didn’t react to the horses, I think Jonathan was able to accept in his mind that she was telling us it was her time.

We spent all day that Sunday cuddled into her, petting her and loving her.  It was such a gift to have that extra time with her and to comfort her while she rested peacefully.  We are so thankful to God that she never suffered.

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The next morning we took her to the vet’s office and went inside the room.  The vet took her back one more time for an IV and after that brought her back to us to spend a little time with her before they started the process.  We laid her down on a plush blanket and stroked her hair and we told her how much we loved having her in our lives and would miss her for the rest of our lives.  They started the medication and Jonathan was stretched behind her neck holding her and I was sitting right next to him petting her fur.  She looked back for me as they started the medication and I got closer to her face so that both Jonathan and I were holding right next to her as she slipped away from this world.  As soon as the vet told us that she was gone, I went into shock and started to cry uncontrollably.  Again, I didn’t realize until it happened, the weight of how heartbreaking her loss would be.

She was my best friend, always by my side.  She gave me so much comfort during each of our losses and she would look up at me with worry when I would cry.  She was our baby and her loss left a giant hole in my heart.

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November 19, 2012 journal entry: “A year ago today, I miscarried baby Matthew.  How I wish we could spend this day on a happier note, but instead we’ve suffered more loss.  On October 22, we put Sweetpea to sleep.  Oh God, I miss her so much.  I can’t understand why we have to keep losing so much.  When will our happy time come? And my mind hopes, maybe God will finally give us our rainbow baby after so much heartbreak.  Maybe 2013 will be a good year after a horrible two years.  But then at the same time, we could still suffer.  Next year could be worse or ever just filled with the same.  I hope that God will give us our miracle baby.  I guess I should just wait to see what happens and try to not worry.  Much easier said than done.”

March 15, 2013 journal entry: It has been over a year now since losing baby Hope.  Baby Abiygale’s due date day, February 16th came and I wondered how strange it would be to actually have a one year old had the world not fallen apart.  Though we really didn’t try,  I was hopeful that we would be pregnant that month.  Of course, I started my period 5 days early, the day before our 2 year wedding anniversary.  So I’ve now “celebrated” 2 anniversaries in a row bleeding – the first one of course because of the miscarriage.  I’ve been trying to eat extremely healthy and work out but I keep getting sick with sinus infections which is extremely frustrating.  I just feel defeated – every time I try to get better and heal – I am knocked back down.  It feels like my purpose in life is to be sad.  It’s also hard to connect with God – I just don’t want to.  I’m angry that he doesn’t seem to care enough to stop my sadness.  I don’t trust Him at all.  How many more times will he break my heart? How many more months of negative pregnancy tests? Who will become pregnant next? How many more tears will I have to cry? Why won’t he save me from this pain? I hate my life – I won’t give up – but I despise being here.  So we moved into Jon’s parents house in January because they are going to China and want us to take care of the house, and it has been very difficult living here.  Every time I think things might be getting better, they get worse again.  I want to move into our own place and tell them to forget about China, but Jon wants to stay so we can pay off debt quickly.  But he doesn’t understand that it is hard already being depressed without feeling horribly uncomfortable in this house.  UGH! I miss the way life used to be.  Homemaking and having Sweetpea here with me.  Sure, I had the miscarriages but at least I loved being home and I had my puppy and it was peaceful in my house.  Now I’m living in a house I’m not comfortable with, Sweetpea is dead, and I still don’t have a baby.  I’m so tired of being sad – will this ever end? Or will I forever be a bitter, sobbing woman? God, please, please, end this suffering.”

As you can see from my journal entries, I started out strong in my faith, desiring to remain faithful to God and wanting to see His glory revealed through all of this sorrow and heartache.  But more loss, more struggles, and more hard times led me to question God, to doubt His love for me, and to come to a crossroads in my faith journey.

In January, I started attending a Beth Moore video series bible study at my church, called Stepping Up: A Journey Through the Psalms of Ascent. I had just quit my job and was excited to be a homemaker again. I was diagnosed with Celiac disease in December and was excited to start trying to conceive again, with the hopes that a gluten-free diet would prevent me from having another miscarriage.  And I was really excited for my Stepping Up bible study.

The Stepping Up study explores Psalms 120 through 134.  The ancient Israelites would pilgrimage to the temple in Jerusalem singing these Psalms on the way to the festivals.  As new testament believers who have been saved by the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, our entire life is a pilgrimage on our journey passing through this life to the new Jerusalem.  This study is about stepping up in our faith to meet with God and to grow closer and closer in fellowship with Him.

The first few weeks of the study were going well, but as life continued to get in the way, as it always seems to, my faith started to crumble beneath me.  My heart was growing more and more weary as we were beginning to try to conceive again.  I wanted so much to focus on God, and God alone, but it seemed like my heart was only content with my desire for a baby.  I knew that God was not number one, a baby was number one.  As much as I wanted God to be enough, I wouldn’t let Him take His rightful place in my heart.

In March, my cat Pebbles started to get very ill and we took her to the vet who was able to help her feel better but diagnosed her with kidney disease, the disease that killed Sweetpea just 6 months before.  My heart broke! Three babies, Buttercup, Sweetpea, and now Pebbles was sick and would die who knows when? Why was God allowing so much loss to just continue in our lives?  Every time I started to move on and begin healing from one loss, another loved one would die.  How much more suffering could I possibly endure?

I knew that God was real.  By this point in time, I had seen God reveal Himself in so many ways that I did not doubt His existence.  I just questioned whether or not I wanted to follow Him.  My depression became so deep that I was ready to give up on my faith in Christ, to surrender to my enemies, and say, “I give up.  I can’t follow Christ anymore!”

My depression became darker and darker and I wanted an escape.  There is no logical reasoning in depression.  The darkness that surrounds you removes all logical options and makes you feel as if there is only one way to end the pain: death.

Since the second miscarriage with baby Matthew, in my darkest moments, I would often pray and beg God to end my life and take me home so that I would no longer suffer.  But by March 2013, instead of just wishing for death to end my suffering, I started to plan my death.  How would I do it? When would I do it?

It is hard for me to even fully remember this dark hour in my life.  It’s such a painful time to think back on and to see how dangerously close I came to losing everything.  I remember the one thought that managed to break through the evil was, “Why, when I was on a journey to grow closer to God and to step up towards Him, has He allowed me to fall so far that I’m giving up on my faith and ready to end my life?”

Easter weekend was coming up, and here I was, ready to betray my Savior and walk away from the beautiful gift He died to give me.

My heart was grieved over this choice I was making.  I had been through so much, I had come so far, and how could I fall now after everything I had been through with God? I thought to myself, “Why has God allowed my faith to suffer so much pressure to the point of giving up? I was so involved in serving during my pregnancy with Matthew and if I hadn’t miscarried, I could have done great things for the kingdom of God! But now I’m not serving anyone or doing anything for God.  Now I’m full of anger and heartbreak and what is that possibly doing?”

I decided to open up my Beth Moore, Stepping Up study, and give God one last chance before I gave up.  I needed total revival or I was done and ready to give up.

And speak, He did!

The day’s homework session, that I should have done weeks before hand, was titled, To Laugh Again, a session looking over Psalm 126.  But first, Beth Moore shares part of her testimony of a time in her life when she had a crisis of faith and Christ allowed Satan to sift her as wheat.  Christ allowed this same thing to happen to Peter in Luke 22:31-32.  When I went to look and read the scripture, my jaw dropped. I’m going to change the names here to apply to myself, because I believe that God was speaking to me, on this day:

“Amber, Amber, Satan has asked to sift you as wheat.  But I have prayed for you, Amber, that your faith may not fail.  And when you have turned back, strengthen your sisters.”

This scripture of course was Jesus speaking to Peter foretelling of Peter’s denial of Christ, three times.  Peter does end up denying Christ three times, but after Jesus dies and is resurrected, we see that Jesus restores Peter’s faith.  And restore Peter’s faith, He does.  In Matthew chapter 16, Jesus tells Peter, “And I tell you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church, and the gates of Hades will not overcome it.”

Beth shares of her own experience where Christ allowed Satan “the longest leash he’s ever had in her life”:

“In a similar way Christ allowed Satan greater access to Peter in Luke 22:31-32, I believe God permitted the enemy to sift me like wheat in my early thirties.  The experience is part of my testimony, and I continue to share it because I don’t want others caught off guard by the enemy’s schemes.  My faithful Father allowed this excruciating process, first of all, because I had something that needed sifting.  God is practical.  He doesn’t allow people to be sifted who have nothing they need radically extracted from their lives. 

Second, Jesus knew something I didn’t.  He knew that even after the severest beating of my life and by far the deepest brokenness, He’d forgive me, heal me, crucify that self-destructive part of me, and stand me back on my feet through the measureless power of His Spirit.  Instead of being finished for life, which I could have easily assumed, Christ sent me forth in the echo of Luke 22:32 to strengthen my sisters.  Strangely, it was not the end of my ministry.  It was the beginning.  An entire Bible study ministry followed those dreadfully dark days when despair overtook me. 

Christ is both Alpha and Omega.  When our lives are immersed in Him, every ending, everything we believe to be the death of us is instead a hand-engraved invitation to a new beginning.  God is so much better than He has to be.  The kinds of things God chooses to do in our lives that are “immeasurably more than we ask or imagine” are not out of obligation.  They gush from unbridled affection.”

The rest of the study goes into moving up with God as we looked at Psalm 126 which says:

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.  Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy.  Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”  The Lord had done great things for us; we were joyful.  Restore our fortunes, Lord, like watercourses in the Negev.  Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.  Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.”

The message translation starts the second half of the psalm saying: “And now, God, do it again – bring rains to our drought-stricken lives.”

The first three verses speak of God’s wonderful works in the past.  In my own life, I thought of my healing from endometriosis.  The second three verses petition God to do something like it again.

Beth continues on in this study sharing:

“Have you ever experienced something almost too good to be true? (RAISES HAND: My healing from endometriosis!) The psalmist described a time when God did something so glorious and undeserved for the Israelites they felt they had to be dreaming.  They couldn’t keep from laughing.  Their new reality seemed so absurdly opposite from where they’d been that God alone could have done it.”

“Isn’t having laughter restored to our souls after a time of sadness and drought just the best?  I love to laugh, and I cherish knowing when it’s a divine gift that has come like a huge bow on a package of restoration.  Now let’s think about the remaining parts of the time line.  Reflect back on Limburg’s words.  “Psalm 126 comes from a people who are living between the times, between a good time remembered and another good time hoped for.”  Could the verses of Psalm 126 describe you? Have you seen the wonderful works of God in the past but you could really use one now? You may be in a terrible situation right now. 

Take heart that God sees you and is moved by your plight.  He still performs wonders.  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.  Profess your belief to Him daily that you will see evidence of His gracious hand and, like the psalmist David, stay confident of this: “I will see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living.  Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

The healing that took place in this one short hour of study is nothing short of a divine miracle.

Oh, the months of learning and growing, I still had to face, and let’s be honest, still have to face now over a year later, but in one minute, with one verse, Jesus said, “I prayed for you.  I love you. I’m here for you.  I’ve allowed this, because I am going to use it for a glorious good, and you are going to jump for joy when you see what I’m doing.”  With one verse, Jesus set me back on track, restored my faith, and gave me purpose again.  He said “no” to my prayers before, because He had planned a “greater yes” all along.

I scribbled notes all throughout that bible study session saying that I didn’t want to put my hope in having a baby and asking God for a miracle baby.  I wanted to put my hope in my faith in God and being used for ministry work.  I’m smiling now, at the things God has revealed in the last year about what is to come.  Keep reading, friends.

I was wondering during this study if God wanted me to start an infertility support group.  I started praying about it, but it’s been a year now, and it hasn’t quite worked out.  I believe that God has grown my blog and that has been my miscarriage/infertility ministry that I was dreaming about.  I do still wonder if God will call me to start a group through my church, but for now, I’m ever thankful for the blogging community and the healing that has happened through journeying together with other hurting women.

The next month in April, I looked at my calendar and realized I was due to start my period on my 26th birthday and was totally bummed.  I also realized that if we tried to conceive and got pregnant, our baby would be due on December 31st.  I’ve always had this silly dream of having a Christmas baby, and I was thrilled when I found out that my March cycle wasn’t my last chance at having a December baby.

Of course, things didn’t go as I planned.

The weekend before my birthday, my niece, Autumn was turning 1, and I was excited to go see my family, but obviously sad that little Matthew wasn’t there to celebrate with us.  In 2012, I survived 3 due dates.  In 2013, I had to survive what should have been first birthday parties for my babies.  Instead, my arms were still empty.  There was something about hearing the “happy birthday” song that just broke my heart, and I couldn’t help but to get my hopes up for a baby that cycle.  I took a pregnancy test the night before we left for Houston for the birthday party, and it was negative.  My heart sank that we would not have our rainbow baby in 2013.

The birthday party was wonderful, but we all gathered around the TV to watch some videos that my brother had made.  The first video was from pregnancy to Autumn’s birth and the second was her first year of life.  The first video of the birth and seeing my sister-in-law look down at her baby with tears streaming down her face, tore me up inside.  I was so, so happy for my brother and his wife, but oh the pain of not getting to do this with my babies.  The agony of never knowing if I will ever get to do that.

That night when I got home, I cried and cried and cried.  And prayed my heart out.  I couldn’t take the pain of wanting a baby anymore and I finally said, “Lord God, I surrender my desire to have a baby to you.  If you never give me a child, I will love and serve you anyways.  You are enough for me.”

The peace that flooded over me is something I can’t describe other than to use the word, miracle.

I surrendered my deepest desire to God and in turn, He filled me with a peace that only He can give.

I do believe, that if God never blesses us with children in this life, I will still live an abundant and glorious life, because I have all I need through Christ Jesus my Lord.

BUT, I believe that God might just have plans to bless me and Jonathan with this precious gift, after all.  Keep reading, friends, it just gets better and better.

I surrendered my desire for a baby to God on Saturday, April 20, 2013.  With my period due to start on my birthday, April 23, I felt a little bummed out and prayed that God would give me a good gift for my birthday.  Jonathan surprised me by getting the day off of work.  He had previously tried to get the day off but wasn’t given the day because of short staff.  He tried one more time and his sgt. gave him the day.  I cried tears of joy that God had answered my prayer, and I didn’t even care that I was on my period for my birthday.  I was just so happy that God loved me and my husband loved me.

The day after my birthday, chaos erupted.  Jonathan called me from the hospital after being injured during a fight with a suspect.  He injured his knee and was bit on the nose, but thankfully three random citizens came to help Jonathan hold the guy down until back up came (there was a female officer on scene that froze, but that’s a different story).  Jonathan could have been killed that day and I thank God for his protection and for the three citizens that came to help a police officer.  They are my angels.

That same night, my grandfather from my dad’s side of the family ended up in the hospital on his death-bed.  The rest of the week was a rush of events dealing with worker’s comp, doctor’s visits and trying to make it to Corpus Christi in time to see my Grandpa Dreiling to say our goodbyes.

The entire week, Jonathan couldn’t stop talking about how calm I was and at peace about everything that was going wrong around me.  He said that he had been scared to call me and tell me he was in the hospital.  In fact, he wanted to just wait until he got home that night to tell me. He was worried I would tell him to quit his job.  But when I remained calm on the phone, in the hospital, and the entire week after finding out my Grandfather was near the end of his life, Jonathan knew that something dramatic had changed in my life.

Something dramatic did change in my life: first, the day that God restored my faith when he told me in my bible study that He was praying for me that my faith wouldn’t fail.  Second, the night that I finally had enough with my desire for a baby and lifted my hands up to God and said, “Take this desire. I surrender it to you, because I know that only You can satisfy me.”

Words can’t really explain how it happens.  I had read stories before of people surrendering something to God, but I never knew how to go about doing it or believed that it was even possible for me.  I certainly prayed for a long time that I would desire God more than a baby, but it wasn’t until those two defining moments in my life, when I finally realized, my desire for a baby was becoming an idol in my life and the bitterness was destroying me from the inside out.  I finally came to a place where I realized, a baby can’t fill this void, only God can, and He is enough for me.

Something spiritual happened during that time.  I finally released my grip on my biggest dream for my life and gave it to God, and in turn, He gave me “the peace of God which transcends all understanding”.

In a series of events that can only be described as a gift from God, my entire family was able to make it to Corpus Christi from all over the country that weekend to be together and to say goodbye to Grandpa Dreiling.

As my dad was walking me and Jonathan through the hospital to see Grandpa (and Jon was limping along behind us on crutches – poor thing), I was telling my dad about a week I spent with Grandpa and Mimi when I was in the 4th grade.  He and Mimi had taught me the Lord’s Prayer throughout the week and even though I didn’t have a clue who Jesus was or didn’t really know what to think about God, I would pray that prayer at night for many years before I found Jesus for myself in 2005.

We went in to talk with my Grandpa and throughout the conversation, my Grandpa started to share the very same memory with us about the week I spent with him and Mimi.  Me and my dad both started to tear up and my dad told him how special the Lord’s Prayer had been in my life after that and that I was now a believer too.  And together, we all held hands, and prayed:

“Our Father, who art in Heaven, Hallowed be thy name.  Thy kingdom come, thy will be done in earth, as it is in Heaven. Give us this day, our daily bread. And forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.  And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For thine is the kingdom, the power, and the glory, forever and ever. Amen.”

It was the most beautiful moment to be able to pray together and remember that special time I was able to spend with my grandparents as a child.

My grandfather passed away the week after my birthday, on April 30 with his beloved son, John, by his side. The funeral was scheduled for the following Friday just before Mother’s Day weekend.  It was a beautiful celebration of Grandpa’s life with all of the family and I’m thankful that God’s hand was at work with all the details throughout those two precious weeks in time.

On the way back from the funeral, we were driving the long drive home from Corpus Christ and listening to my favorite Christian radio station, KLOVE.  KLOVE has a very special place in my heart and has ministered to me on several different occasions.  I not only love their music, but I love their ministry and the work they do.  So on the way home, I was thinking about Mother’s Day coming up and thinking about how sad I felt that my babies are not here with me to celebrate.

A woman came on the radio to give her testimony and shared that when her mother was on her death bed, she was going in and out of consciousness before breathing her last breath.  Before she passed away, she shared with her family that she saw 4 children playing together in Heaven.  The daughter started to figure things out in her head and realized that was the number of children their family members had lost to miscarriage.

Me and Jonathan just looked at each other and I melted into a puddle of tears thinking of my own precious little ones in Heaven.

Later on in the car ride, another woman came on to share her testimony.  She had suffered from several miscarriages, and although God had never given her a child, she wanted to call in and share that God is faithful and that we can trust in Him.  She said she wanted to share this message for anyone out there that is going through the same struggles because she remembered how hard Mother’s Day always was when she was trying to have a baby.

Words can’t really describe how I felt on that car ride driving home from my Grandfather’s funeral.  I was tired from a long few weeks and I was trying to prepare myself for one of the most dreaded holidays of the year.  To have these women calling in sharing these beautiful testimonies was just a reminder that God was thinking about me and that everything was going to be okay.

I debated back and forth in my mind on going to church service for Mother’s Day, but when I woke up that next morning still feeling exhausted from the week’s events, I decided to stay home and rest.  At the time, we were still staying with my in-laws, preparing to watch their home as they went to China for a year, and it was really difficult to spend the day there.  My in-laws are perfectly nice people, but I was going through a lot during those months, and we really needed to be in our own place, where I could focus on getting better.  Sometimes, you need to just be able to have personal space to cry or throw a fit.  Needless to say, the peace of God was starting to leave on this day, and I fell apart.

Jonathan had to leave for work and I felt absolutely miserable.  I was beyond tired of this journey.  I didn’t even understand what I was really so upset about, but I spent the day crying my eyes out and praying for God to make it all better.  I just needed a break from my life for a little bit.

In the middle of one of my big crying fits, my phone started to ring, and I looked down to see my dad calling.  I tried to calm myself enough to be able to answer the phone without him knowing I had been sobbing my eyes out.

My dad was calling because he needed to drive to Corpus Christi for a few days to help pack up my Grandpa’s house, while at the same time, my step-mother, Kelli was supposed to leave for a business trip that week, and they needed someone to take care of the kids.  Of course he offered to pay me for my time, but I jumped at the chance to “get away” from my current living situation and spend some time with my little brother and sister.

My dad treated me to lunch when I got there that week before leaving for Corpus and he could sense that something was wrong with me.  He started to question me more about what all was going on, and learned that I was really struggling with our living situation but felt guilty letting everyone down and telling my mother-in-law that we didn’t want to help them go to China.  But my dad could see the stress it was causing, to me and to my marriage, and he said, “You don’t need any extra burden placed on you or your marriage.  Law enforcement is enough of a burden on a marriage.  Your new diagnosis of Celiac disease is enough of a burden on you.  You are going through a lot of changes right now and it’s okay to take time to focus on you and getting healthy.”  (For any of you who are wondering why taking care of someone’s house is such a big deal: Jon’s Aunt Shirley is mentally handicapped and I would be taking care of her, a big house, 3 dogs, and all of their other responsibilities such as finances that they wouldn’t be able to manage while oversees.) At this point in my life, I was just struggling with trying to figure out how to manage my gluten free diet.

I spent the next few days hanging out with my little brother and sister and so enjoyed their company, and enjoyed getting to play the “mom role” of taking the kids to school, cooking meals for them, and watching my little brother at baseball practice.  Even though I had surrendered this desire to God for a baby, I still wondered in my head, if I would ever get to play “the mom role” full time, with kids of my own.

The night that my dad came home, we had one of our great, long conversations, talking about life and faith.  My dad is pretty much one of my favorite people to talk about Jesus with.  He just gets it! My dad encouraged me again to talk with Jonathan about our living situation and even recommended that if I’m struggling with talking about it, to write him a letter explaining how I’m feeling.  He really gave me the push I needed to think about myself and reminded me that I didn’t need to feel guilty for thinking about myself and my marriage and that “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”  I guess I had been living with this sense of obligation for so long, that I forgot that God has so much grace for me, and that He’s going to love me no matter what.  It was like someone lifted a burden off of my shoulders to say, “It’s okay. You don’t have to be perfect and do everything right.  It’s okay to think about yourself every now and then.”

That same night, my dad shared with me something special that he found in my Grandpa Dreiling’s desk.  It was a stack of notecards, a cardboard testimony if you will, sharing about a time in his life when he had a crisis of faith.  I know that this story is getting very long, but I don’t want to leave anything important out, so I’m going to share the testimony that my Grandpa wrote about.  The title of the story, is Statement of Faith, 1987 (how interesting that this story was shared the same year that I was born!):

Questions:

  • Did you ever have a faith crisis?
  • Did you ever feel that the Lord let you down?
  • What did you do about it?

Let me tell you my story . . .I was born the 3rd child in a family of nine children to Richard & Molly Dreiling,Hays, Kansas . . . My father was a Catholic, my mother was a Lutheran who converted to Catholicism shortly before marriage . .

Religion – Catholic with a Lutheran flavor played a very important part of my heritage.  From birth on, to family, to school my Christian faith played a very important part – I was Catholic educated in grade and high school . . .I entered the Navy – approx two years – came home and began my college career – I graduated from Fort Hays State University in 1951 with a BS degree in Business Administration . . .

During my sophomore year in college, I married my childhood sweetheart (Mary Rose Ruder) and to our happy marriage the Lord blessed us with four sons – Richard, Fred, David & John . . .

Upon graduation from college I worked for the Lytle family for 34 years – I never worried, had a very comfortable life style permitting me to take care of my family responsibilities . . . How then could I possibly have a faith crisis when everything was going my way?

  1. Loving and devoted parents
  2. Brothers and sisters
  3. Solid Christian education
  4. Very happy marriage
  5. Four sons that I’m very proud of
  6. Comfortable financial security

As I said – my Christian faith played a very important part of my life – how could I have a faith crisis!!!!

December 11, 1980 was the day of infamy.  I came home from work about 7:15 pm and found my wife of 34 years brain dead.  Within twenty four hours she was removed from the life support equipment – I can’t tell you what happened over the next several weeks as I was in shock – my whole life & purpose fell apart.  The Lord took away the one I loved – what was there to live for – why Lord, why me!!!

My Catholic faith did not seem to comfort me – how could a loving Lord who had given me so very much take away my most precious treasure?For several months I had a severe faith crisis – I questioned, the answers did not satisfy me.  My faith of 54 years was not supporting me – guiding me – or was it that I wouldn’t let it?!!

I visited with my pastor, we prayed together, he counseled me – and then slowly but surely my faith became a beacon.  I was reminded that the Lord did not promise me (or even you) a Rose garden. He gave His Son Jesus Christ and promised us more: the greatest gift of all “salvation”.  I also received great comfort from Hebrew text, “The Lord will not tempt you beyond your strength.”

I realized that my faith had never been challenged before – slowly but surely, with plenty of help and prayers, I began to accept what had happened.  Christianity was the answer to life and death for me!

Now let’s end my statement of faith on an upbeat note – once I met and overcame my “faith crisis” I put my trust in the Lord.  Yes, I even made a deal with him. 

While enjoying a scrumptious dinner at the MGM Hotel in Las Vegas, I noted I was the only single person there.  I said to the Lord, “Is this what you want for me? If not than you go find someone for me – someone to share my life with.”  Within three months of that deal with the Lord, I met Mickey Jameson (whom I had known for five or six years) and within another eight months we were married – we both firmly believe that the Lord brought us together. 

I say to you – trust in the Lord – He is our Shepherd – He will see you through any crisis.  I think the Lord longs to test us, but not beyond our strength. 

May the Lord bless us all!”

I had not told my dad about my own crisis of faith.  I didn’t share that after having this crisis of faith, I made my own “deal” with God, telling Him that I trust Him either way, whether He should give me a baby or not.  My dad had no clue.  And here he was, sharing with me this beautiful testimony from my Grandpa Dreiling, about his very own crisis of faith.  Even after I read it, I kept it to myself.  I just smiled in my heart.

Maybe God and my Grandpa Dreiling were trying to send me a message.  I didn’t know what to think about it, but I knew that, like my Grandpa, I could trust in the Lord.

That night my dad also shared with me a picture he found, in my Grandpa’s desk drawer, of me and my Grandpa swimming together.  I said, “Dad! Get out of here – that’s from the week I spent with Grandpa and Mimi when they taught me the Lord’s prayer.  They took me swimming one night at a friend’s house.”  I guess that week really was special to my grandpa, as he saved that picture in his desk drawer from so many years before.  Now, I have it in my own keepsakes box, to remember Him and His beautiful faith in Christ.

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I returned home that weekend and wrote Jonathan a letter, telling him how much I love him and respect his opinion, but that we needed to move out on our own again so that I could focus on my own healing and our marriage.  We had been fighting for months over this decision and could never agree, but with lots of prayer, and gentle discussion, Jonathan said that it was ultimately my decision, and even though he had a desire to pay off debt, we could do what I wanted.  In exchange for taking care of Shirley and the house, his parents would be giving us free rent, so we would be saving several hundred dollars a month and could pay off all of our debt.

I respected Jonathan’s desire to become debt free, but I wanted to do it in our own way, and I was willing to get a job again if I needed to.

My dad encouraged me to pray very specifically about moving.  He had this funny story about how nervous he was before a big storm was coming.  He just didn’t think the old tree in his back yard could make it and was worried it would fall on the house or a neighbor’s house.  So he went outside, and prayed specifically over the tree and told God, “You can let the tree fall, this way, that way, or that way.  Just not here, here, or here.” The morning after the storm, my dad went outside to see the tree had fallen in such a way that it was absolutely answered pray.

So I prayed that first of all, we would be able to move as soon as possible.  The sooner the better! I also prayed that the rent would be a good deal and affordable, allowing us to continue to pay off debt.  I prayed that there would be a moving special that would help us move in sooner and save us some money on moving expenses.  And finally, I prayed that it wouldn’t be a horrible living environment – I wanted to save money, but I also didn’t want to live somewhere that wasn’t safe.

On Monday morning we went apartment shopping to see what was out there.  I couldn’t contain my excitement that my husband was finally on the same page as me wanting to get our own place again! Yippeee! The first apartment we looked at was outrageously expensive in terms of moving costs, with deposits and pet deposits (at this time, we still had Pebbles).  The next apartment was a great price on rent, but it didn’t have a washer and dryer connection, so we would have to figure out what to do with our washer and dryer.  But because of the awesome price on rent, we were considering moving there.  But I’ll be honest, I wasn’t in love with the apartment at all.  It was really small, kind of smelly (lol), and not the safest spot in town. It also wouldn’t be ready to move into for two more weeks, and two weeks felt like an eternity to me. The third apartment that we looked at would have been great, but again they didn’t have a washer and dryer connection and it was much more expensive.  We told them no thank you, but they said, “Wait a minute.  You might be interested in one of our sister apartments.”  I didn’t want to waste anymore time, but Jonathan suggested we give it a try.

I didn’t even want to look inside the apartment because I didn’t want to get my hopes up, but when she started to share that they had a summer special at the time with two weeks free rent, no deposits down, and immediate move in, I replied, “Yup! Let’s take a tour!”  It was the perfect apartment.  It was like it was hand-picked by God just for me.  It was a one bedroom which was much smaller than our first apartment that we had, but it included several closets and cabinets which would end up being plenty of room for all of our stuff.  And, it had a washer and dryer connection! We jumped on it and went home to tell Jonathan’s parents the news.  Thankfully they were very understanding and didn’t hold it against me that I couldn’t help them.

We moved the very next day.

Jonathan and I couldn’t stop talking about how perfectly everything had come together, so smoothly and quickly.  Even during the move, we were able to get all of our things moved into the apartment, during a storm, just the two of us.  We were driving the moving truck to the apartment and it was literally pouring hail.  Pretty symbolic of our life, if I do say so myself!  The hardest part of the move was getting the washer and dryer up the stairs.  We had a dolly to help us, and we got the washer up the stairs no problem.  Next, we moved to the dryer, and I was on the bottom pushing up, while Jonathan was above pulling.  Because the dryer was significantly lighter than the washer, I pushed a little too hard, and it came off the dolly, and started rolling down the stairs RIGHT AT ME!

Thankfully I was able to jump out of the way, without hurting myself, and the dyer suffered a minor dent, but still worked great.

I definitely think the Lord’s hand was in our move, and in the protection of my life from the dryer! Ha – it still cracks us up to this day.

The move to our own apartment made a huge difference in giving me peace and healing from all the sadness I had been through, and it was wonderful for our marriage.  Even our cat, Pebbles, started to feel a lot better and wasn’t getting sick as often now.  It gave me hope that we still had a lot more time with our sweet little kitty cat.

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On June 10, 2013, on the 2 year anniversary of finding out I was pregnant with baby Abiygale, and on the “due date/should be birthday” of my 2nd baby Matthew, I was feeling a little sad remembering my little ones.  I found an article on Yahoo talking about horrible poverty in Haiti and how bad things still were even so many years after the hurricane.  My heart was moved for these people living there and I wanted to give a one time gift to help.  So I jumped over to the Compassion website to see if they were doing anything special to help the people in Haiti.

Right on the front page was little Sabenca, from Haiti.  Today, June 10, was her birthday, and she needed a sponsor!

I knew that God had brought me these special connections on this very memorable day, and I called Jonathan in the room and said, “Can we sponsor a second child?”  Of course, he agreed!

God was always working in my life, on special days like that, and on days when my faith was feeling weak and I needed a little something extra to lift me up, to show me that all of my losses and struggles have a purpose.  He is not allowing me to go through these storms in my life for no reason.  He will use all of this for a glorious purpose, for a greater yes.

And so when we had our fourth pregnancy in September 2013, followed by our 4th miscarriage, it was with a strength that comes from knowing He is in control, that I was able to say, “The Lord gives and the Lord takes away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

We named that baby Faith, because she inspired me to walk out on the water to Jesus, and believe that He can calm the storm.  Her short life inspired me to have faith, even when all I can see is darkness around me.

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For several months after her loss, God was showing off with his beautiful creation.  I would often see rays of sunshine sneaking through the clouds.

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Her name really became symbolic in my life and my walk with God – challenging me to go deeper and deeper in my walk with Him.  To trust Him in all circumstances and to get out of my comfort zone.  “Spirit lead me where my trust is without borders – let me walk upon the waters, wherever you would call me.  Take me deeper than my feet could ever wander, and my faith will be made stronger, in the presence of my Savior.” (Hillsong United – Oceans)

When I surrendered my desire for a baby to God on April 20 last year, the peace He gave me enabled me to walk out to Him on the water.  It’s not in my own strength and it doesn’t mean that I never have bad days.  I still have my fair share of days when I just want to question God and say, “When is this all going to end?”  But now, my infertility doesn’t have this hold over me.  Before, it had this control over my life, over my heart, my thoughts, and my life decisions.

Where now, I look at it, still don’t enjoy going through it, but can see that there is a purpose in this suffering, and believe that it will be used for good, and not just for someone else, but for me too.  Now, I’m able to even be thankful for the suffering I’ve been through, and to look back and say, “God you were faithful all along.  You never left me.  You were always there, giving me grace and strength to make it through this and come out on the other side redeemed and healed.”

Since I surrendered this desire to God, I’ve had two more miscarriages AND we lost my cat Pebbles.  I’ve had my sad days like any normal person over my losses, but it’s different now.  Now I grieve in a healthy way.  I know that I will miss my babies and my fur babies until I see them again, but I know that I can live without them, because I have all that I need, and that is my relationship with God through Christ Jesus my Savior!

Before, infertility caused me to hate my life, where now, I want to LIVE my life.  Only God could heal my heart in such a way, that even as I’m still going through this storm, suffering more loss, He gives me complete peace and comfort to overcome it.  Even if He doesn’t calm the storm, He has calmed my heart, and He has breathed new life in my wounded soul.

And as I said earlier in the story, I believe that this last year, God has been giving me hints and gentle nudges to let me know that He won’t forget me, and that He is going to give me a rainbow after the storm.

For anyone who is not aware, the meaning of a rainbow baby in the loss community is: “”Rainbow Babies” are the understanding that the beauty of a rainbow does not negate the ravages of the storm. When a rainbow appears, it does not mean that the storm never happened or that the family is not still dealing with its aftermath. What it means is that something beautiful and full of light has appeared in the midst of the darkness and the clouds. Storm clouds may still loom over but the rainbow provides a counterbalance of color, energy, and much needed hope.

The first hint was in that bible study when God restored my faith.  I didn’t pay much attention to it at the time, but a year later, looking back at the study and reading this bible passage, my jaw dropped at what I know God is going to do:

“When the Lord restored the fortunes of Zion, we were like those who dream.  Our mouths were filled with laughter then, and our tongues with shouts of joy.  Then they said among the nations, “The Lord has done great things for them.”  The Lord had done great things for us; we were joyful.  Restore our fortunes, Lord, like watercourses in the Negev.  Those who sow in tears will reap with shouts of joy.  Though one goes along weeping, carrying the bag of seed, he will surely come back with shouts of joy, carrying his sheaves.”

I remember feeling so confused after my first three miscarriages.  God had just healed me the year before from endometriosis, only to have three miscarriages following that glorious miracle.  I couldn’t understand what his reasoning was.  Why not just close my womb and make me infertile? I struggled to believe it, but all along I would say, “It just doesn’t make sense for God to give me this miracle, and NOT give me the miracle of a baby as well.”

I believe, the first part of this verse, in my life, is the miracle of healing from endometriosis.  It took me a long time to believe that it was true.  It was truly, nothing I ever expected to happen.  I had hopes that if I did some crazy strict diet, maybe it would get better, but I didn’t think God would ever heal me completely from that painful disease that caused me to suffer month after month for years.  It was a gift – a miracle!

And now, I’m waiting on that second part of the verse to come true.  And at the time, I didn’t want to read this and put my hopes in a baby, and I’m glad that I didn’t.  I needed this last year to strengthen my faith and see God at work.  I needed to have Him at his rightful place of number 1 in my heart, knowing that He is all I need and will ever need.  Now, I have a healthy desire for a baby.  I don’t NEED a baby anymore.  I would just enjoy the gift!

And this is where my story really starts to get good – and I hope we will see it come fully to fruition very soon.

On January 16, 2014 I was feeling a little down.  I was missing my cat, Pebbles, who had just died a few weeks earlier, and I was feeling sad that  I never was able to give birth to my babies and hold them in my arms. The weight of everything I had been through, just started to pour out of my heart and I needed God in that moment.  I went to the bed and got on my knees to pray and read the bible, but I was crying so very hard that I couldn’t even see to be able to read.

I went to my “special place” which is the doorway below my Jesus cross in my bedroom.  This Jesus cross is very special to me, as it’s a gift from my dad that he got from a mission trip that was very significant in his own life. It is also the spot where I had a dream in 2011 where I met Jesus

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Whenever I just need to talk with God in a more intimate way than just folding my hands together in prayer, I’ll sit in the doorway below my Jesus cross and just talk to him like I would a friend.

On this night however, I was laid out on the floor, pouring my heart and soul out to God.  I couldn’t even utter a word, all I could do was wail and know that God could hear my hearts cry and my soul express what words fail to say.

I’m not sure how long I sat there crying out to God but after I finally calmed down, I went to the bed, and grabbed my bible to open it for words of comfort.  I had in my mind, that I was going to turn to the Psalms, because it’s often a great book of comfort for me.  When I opened my bible, I looked down to see the spot I had opened to, and could not believe what I had turned to:

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Hannah’s story.  Hannah was barren, just like me.  She cried out to the Lord and was so overwhelmed by her sorrow that she couldn’t even speak. Like me.  God gives her peace and the priest, Eli offers her words of hope when he says, “may the God of Israel grant you what you have asked of him.” Afterwards, she does feel a new peace and the bible says that God remembered her and in “the course of time” Hannah conceived and gave birth to a son, who she named Samuel.

I’ve read the story of Samuel’s birth a hundred times. In fact, it’s one of my favorite books in the bible.  When I wrote a letter to my sponsored children, Sabenca and Maria Abigial, sharing our favorite characters and books of the bible, I told them how much I loved reading about Hannah, Samuel’s mother, because even though she was sad that she didn’t have a baby, she cried out to God and had faith in Him, and God remembered her and gave her a baby.

You can call me crazy if you want to, but it is my belief, that on January 16, when I poured out my soul to God and opened my bible to Hannah’s story, God gave me my very own promise for a child.

I cried out to God, looking for comfort, and He answered with a promise for the future.  A rainbow baby after the storm.

And in the months that have followed, God has been showing up big time, with little confirmations here and there, to remind me that He is always faithful to His promises.

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It’s hard to see, but that picture is a rainbow rim around the sun.  I saw that twice within the same month!

The last year has been amazing and I’ve been so proud of myself and the things that I’ve been able to accomplish with God walking by my side.  I never dreamed that I would be able to move beyond my feelings and enjoy life without children.  I spent so much time feeling bitter and it was difficult for me to be around others.  But in the last year, I’ve managed to celebrate life again and even with other’s who are pregnant.  I even co-hosted a baby shower for a friend.  I’ve been able to open up to others and share my story.

On Mother’s Day, I accomplished something I did not think I would be able to do during my infertility journey with empty arms: I worshiped God not because of what He has given me, but because of who He is!  After my miscarriages, Mother’s Day became too painful of a day and I was never able to attend church service because of the reminder of what I had lost.  But for the first year since 2011, I went to Mother’s Day service and I worshiped God with all that I had in me.

For me, it was the proof I needed to see that I really, truly do love God for who He is and not what He can do for me.  It was also a representation to me that God has been working on His greater yes all throughout this journey to mold me and create in me a heart and a faith that endures, perseveres, and hopes in all things.  It was a victory against Satan.  It was a victory against infertility and miscarriage.  It was a victory for my faith! Jesus was right when He prayed for me and said that my faith would not fail – He never let me fall and He knew that I would be strengthened and transformed to be more like Him and less like me.

Above anything that happens in this life, good or bad, I know that my faith is ultimately the most important gift I will ever have.

I don’t know when it will happen, but it is with all of my heart and soul that I believe God will not forget me and the pain I’ve suffered.  He’s now given me peace in the waiting to be content with my “infertility status” but I believe that He’s going to come through to finish the healing he started when He took away my endometriosis.  I believe that with God all things are possible, and He is able to restore all that has been lost and make beauty from the ashes.

He’s not finished with me yet…

With all of my love,

Amber

Jesus said…”I am the gate; whoever enters through me will be saved.  He will come in and go out, and find pasture.  The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.”  John 10:9-10

“I am the good shepherd; I know my sheep and my sheep know me – just as the Father knows me and I know the Father – and I lay down my life for the sheep.”  John 10:14-15

“My sheep listen to my voice; I know them, and they follow me.  I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish; no one can snatch them out of my hand.  My Father, who has given them to me, is greater than all; no one can snatch them out of my Father’s hand. I and the Father are one.”  John 10:27-30

“For nothing is impossible with God.” Luke 1:37

“With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.” Mark 10:27

“Daughter, your faith has healed you.  Go in peace and be freed from your suffering.” Mark 5:34

 

 

 

 

 

A Season of Weddings – A Season of Waiting

So next year two of my best friends are both getting married. My friend Gwen is getting married in April – actually on Jonathan’s birthday, April 11 and my friend Catherine is getting married on June 6. I will be a matron of honor in Catherine’s wedding and a bridesmaid in Gwen’s wedding.

I’m beyond thrilled for both of them. They have been with their significant others for a long time now and it’s about time they got hitched!

But planning for their weddings is interesting when you are trying to conceive.

Mostly I haven’t worried about it because in my mind, I figure it’s not going to happen anytime soon and my womb will probably remain empty for their weddings.

But their is a tiny part of me that thinks, “What happens if I actually get pregnant and actually carry the baby to term?”

This month, if I do get pregnant, my due date will be in June meaning I probably won’t be able to be in my best friend’s wedding and possibly not even be able to attend it since it is out of town. That would kind of break my heart. I mean this is my BEST friend – like we’ve been planning this day since we were 5.

But, maybe I won’t even have to worry about that.

So I guess, whatever happens this month, I’ll be happy. I’ll either have a baby and have to do some creative planning with the wedding business or I won’t get pregnant and I’ll be happy that at least I still get to attend my best friend’s wedding.

Sigh! I feel like TTC is always this thing that gets in the way. I just want to be done with this time in my life and move beyond this season of waiting. At least I have a season of weddings to get ready for and enjoy to occupy my time :-) I can’t wait for their big days! I just love weddings so much.

XOXO,

Amber

Road to Recovery

Hi ladies! Thank you all as always for your loving and supportive comments. Every time I get on WordPress and read a comment from you it brings me great joy to know that so many people care about me and are praying for me and thinking about me.

This week has been full of highs and lows so I thought I’d share a little bit more about some of the happenings in my life. Earlier in the week I shared about a rough night I had on Sunday and how God pulled me through it reminding me to have faith.

Monday was actually the start of my husband’s weekend – he flip flops schedules every month. Police life certainly keeps me on my toes :-) We spent the day together and then went to a dinner party/birthday party at his co-worker’s house. He’s pretty good friends with this group of guys, but they are newer friends. I’m friends with some of the police wives who went through the academy with Jonathan in 2011, but I haven’t really spent much time with the newer police wives.

So I was a little nervous about going to the dinner party, but Jonathan said it was going to be a family event and we would all be together.

Nope! The boys decided to go play football at the park and I was left alone with three women that are practically strangers and also happen to be moms. They all had their kids with them, with one mom having a 6 year old, the other having a toddler, and the other a toddler and a 5 month old.

I tried to have a good attitude at first and made as much small talk as possible. Anything that I do know about babies and children from babysitting and working in Sunday school, I tried to involve myself in the conversation. And on occasion I would try to talk about things not related to children – asking them how they met their husbands/what they do and so on.

But of course that could only last for so long. When they started talking about birth experiences, potty training, and school, I felt like a complete outsider. I have literally nothing to add to the conversation. I can’t relate at all. I was miserable and I almost thought about leaving and telling them to have someone bring Jonathan home when he was done.

When Jonathan got back from playing football he could tell that I was upset as I didn’t talk to him at all. That’s my way of quietly letting him know I’m ready to go. He ate dinner with the rest of the guys and then the conversation with the entire group turned to pregnancy, of course.

One of the wives was talking about her sister-in-law trying for their second baby and said that they wondered who would get pregnant first. To which one of the guys responded, “Is it a race?” It kept going and going and that’s when Jonathan realized it was time to start making our exit. We said our goodbyes and left and got in the car. Jonathan started apologizing right away and I said, “It’s not your fault. It’s not their fault. This is what my life is. I can’t even enjoy a dinner party without feeling miserable over my infertility”. I was feeling pretty low and even told Jonathan that in times like these I struggle with thoughts of wanting to give up on life because I hate that because of me he can’t enjoy time with his friends and has to worry about his depressed wife. I hate that I can’t give him children and I feel like I’m ruining his life – like he would be better off without me. He told me that wasn’t true at all and that he never even thought he would get married. He always planned on being single because he wanted a police career and to be able to work undercover and you can’t have a family with that. He said he didn’t care if we never have children because he was just happy to have me.

I wanted to stop talking after that, but I had tears pouring down my face as we drove home. Two songs came on the radio that spoke directly to my situation. The first was by Mandisa, “Overcomer”.

The next song hasn’t been on the radio much because it’s a few years older. I remember hearing it a lot during the early days of my miscarriages. I’ll post some of the lyrics and then the video.

There Will Be a Day by Jeremy Camp:

I try to hold on to this world with everything I have
But I feel the weight of what it brings, and the hurt that tries to grab
The many trials that seem to never end, His word declares this truth,
that we will enter in this rest with wonders anew

But I hold on to this hope and the promise that He brings
That there will be a place with no more suffering

[Chorus]
There will be a day with no more tears, no more pain, and no more fears
There will be a day when the burdens of this place, will be no more, we’ll see Jesus face to face
But until that day, we’ll hold on to you always

I know the journey seems so long
You feel you’re walking on your own
But there has never been a step
Where you’ve walked out all alone

Troubled soul don’t lose your heart
Cause joy and peace he brings
And the beauty that’s in store
Outweighs the hurt of life’s sting

I can’t wait until that day where the very one I’ve lived for always will wipe away the sorrow that I’ve faced
To touch the scars that rescued me from a life of shame and misery, oh, this is why, this is why I sing

Tears were streaming down my face as the lyrics were saying in the middle of the song, “He will wipe away the tears, He will wipe away the tears!”

Yes God speaks, especially in the worst moments of our lives.

Even still, I felt heavy. I got home and went to bed to put the covers over my head and try to sleep. I couldn’t sleep with the sadness weighing heavy against my heart and I felt God tell me to text my friend Tracey for prayer. I texted her telling her that I was in need or prayer and really struggling. I told her that I didn’t want to talk but that I would really appreciate her prayers. She struggles with depression and anxiety and she knows more about my journey with miscarriage than most people do. She’s a good prayer warrior to have and a good friend to share my burden with.

As soon as I texted her, I just felt peace come over me. She wouldn’t have even been able to read the message yet, but I think it was just the act of reaching out to someone for the first time in my life and asking for help. I usually isolate myself and don’t share my struggle. I feel weak struggling like this and I usually am not comfortable reaching out for help in my time of need. But I knew that if I’m going to continue to survive, I need to open up and ask for help. I can’t keep doing this alone.

After that I got out of bed and did some chores. I wasn’t happy but I knew that I was going to be okay and that I would get through this night, just like all the other painful nights I’ve survived before.

I have no idea now what we did on Tuesday – I’m sure it wasn’t eventful if I can’t remember now. But it was a better day after a rough night. Sometimes getting a good night’s rest can help me to move beyond what I’m feeling.

And on Wednesday I had pet visits. One of my clients just adopted a baby and was home on maternity leave. I assumed the visits would be cancelled but after texting the person that I work for, she said that the visits had not been cancelled. So I showed up and there wasn’t a car in the driveway. I opened the garage door to get in like I always do and saw their car sitting in the garage.

I thought, “Oh crap, they are home. The visits were probably supposed to be cancelled!” I didn’t know what to do at this point in time because I didn’t want them thinking I was an intruder. I thought about knocking on the door, but I was worried I would wake the baby. So I just quietly opened the door and they were right in the living room and I said, “Hi, I’m so sorry. Is the visit cancelled?” She was apologetic as she had meant to send an email to cancel but completely forgot. I was annoyed with my friend for not double checking with the client before I went there! But since I was already there, they had me walk the dogs since they were so busy with the baby. I felt completely awkward but thankfully the client was very kind about the entire ordeal.

I guess I can laugh about it now, but whew, that was totally awful!

Later that day I was getting ready for my bible study group that night, Evangelism Explosion. We have an hour lesson every Wednesday followed by an hour of house visits. We visit with people who have come to our church and sign on a form that they want more information about our church. We use this as an opportunity to help them find a place in our church within a life group or bible study or something where they can connect with others but we also share the gospel with them. Most of the people are already Christians, though there are some who visit that actually don’t know the good news that all who believe in Jesus will be saved.

So anyways, while taking a shower I started slipping and couldn’t catch myself. I hit the tub, the toilet, and finally the floor.

Thankfully I didn’t break anything, I just have a really big bruise on my leg. I mean, it looks like I’ve been beat! It’s all black! It hurt for a few days but I’m starting to feel a little better now.

I was still able to go to evangelism explosion and I even got my husband to tag along with me. We went in separate groups to the house visits because they don’t encourage couples to go together as it could be distracting for them. My group had two house visits and it was pretty easy. The first person wasn’t all that happy about us being there so we just stood outside the door and talked for a few minutes and gave them some information on our church and then left. The next visit, the person actually let us inside their house and we had a nice conversation.

The idea of evangelism explosion is to practice sharing the gospel with people who are already church-goers. It’s easier and more friendly and it’s like practice for the real stuff. So Wednesday nights are basically a practice night to share the gospel, while your everyday relationships with others can be an opportunity to share the gospel with someone that needs to hear that Jesus saves.

Well, Jonathan’s group had an interesting visit. It was a married couple and the wife said that they husband was in bed feeling sick, so she talked outside with our education minister, Jonathan, and Monica. She was actually not sure about her salvation and was confused, so our minister shared the gospel with her and had a nice conversation with her about her beliefs. But then, her husband came storming out and started yelling at the group saying that he would like to be able to spend time with his wife and they needed to leave. Our education minister apologized and said he was under the impression that he was sick. But even then in his boldness, he asked the man about his own salvation and the man said, “I don’t think I’ll go to Heaven because I’ve done too many bad things.” Pastor Tim shared the gospel with him! How awesome!

I’m sure it was just a seed that was planted and God will use it in the perfect time. I felt bad that it was Jonathan and Monica’s group who experienced “persecution” for sharing the gospel. They are both new to the group and poor Monica was pretty scared. Jonathan wasn’t nervous at all because he deals with a lot worse in his line of work. But I’m praying that they will stick with it. We reassured Monica that typically the visits are very friendly because it’s people that want to join our church and this was just a rare experience.

And of course, anytime you suffer persecution as a Christian, you are incredibly blessed because you have suffered for His name! That will not go unnoticed in the kingdom of Heaven. Just imagine how good it will feel to have Jesus grab you in front of all of his angels and say, “This is my servant {insert name here} with whom I am well pleased.” Ah-mazing!

Jonathan and I were both in great moods after the visits. There is just something special about going out sharing the gospel. I can’t even explain it – but it brings you more joy than anything else in this world can.

I’ve been in a good mood ever since!

So my advice to any of my Christian friends on here, get involved in sharing the gospel. It’s not a suggestion and it’s not for people that have special gifts or talents. It’s a call – a command from our Lord Jesus for all believers. Join a group at your church that will disciple you and train you on how to share your faith. I know that might sound silly, but the disciples were trained by Jesus before beginning their work. It’s not about having some canned approach where you use the same presentation every time, but it’s about being prepared and ready with verses and material to share. It helps you to become confident in knowing what to say.

And then when you actually go out, you pray, you have others praying for you, and you let the Holy Spirit guide your conversations.

And finally, since this post is getting too lengthy as usual, I’ll share a revelation I had yesterday.

Today is baby Hope’s birthday. She would be 2 today if she was here with us! And yesterday, I was thinking about the fact that my babies don’t want me to suffer and be sad over their losses all the time. I thought about a conversation that I had with Jonathan before – he was saying that if I ever died before him, he would just play video games all the time and be sad. And I’m always telling him, “No! You have to keep living if that happens – you have to serve our Lord, and get re-married, and stay connected with other people.” Yesterday, I thought about my words to Jonathan and I thought about what my loved ones in Heaven would say to me. They would want the same for me – they would want me to be happy and to find joy in life. Of course I will always miss them, but I can honor them best by living my life to the fullest.

So in honor of baby Hope, I can going to do everything in my power to move passed my depression so that I can fully live again.

On Monday, I’m going to go to my first meeting at one of the local churches here for a Celebrate Recovery group. From the website, it says, “Celebrate Recovery is a biblical and balanced program that helps us overcome our hurts, hang-ups, and habits.”  My friend Tracey goes to this meeting every week and has encouraged me for several weeks now to pray about going as well.

I’ve finally decided that it’s time to make that commitment to fully healing. I’m going to go to move beyond the pain of recurrent miscarriage as well as a problem with food addiction. I think that my food addiction actually is an emotional issue, that started years before my miscarriages as has only become worse with the pain of losing 5 babies.

So I’m going to start with working through this program first and pray that I will be able to move forward with my life in honor of my loved ones in Heaven. I know they want me to be happy and healthy and I’m going to fight this battle head on to gain the victory that Jesus desires for me.

And if it boils down to it, I might invest in therapy as well. With the stress of paying off debt and wanting to pursue treatment for my recurrent miscarriages, I have been putting off going to therapy. But it might be wise for me to instead of going ahead with treatments, first investing in my mental health. That’s definitely something I’ll be in prayer for.

For now, I’m thankful for the opportunity to have a free recovery group available within a local church body where I can connect with other people. I have never been one to reach out and ask for help. I’m very good at isolating myself and pretending that everything is okay. But I think I’m finally realizing how much I need to reach out. And I know that God will honor that and use this ministry and other resources to bring much needed healing to my life.

Thank you all for reading and I pray you have a blessed weekend,

Amber

hope

 

 

Have Faith – God is in Control

Hi lovelies, I hope you are all doing well. One more day until the weekend my friends, hang in there! My husband just went back to work today after his weekend so I thought I’d do some catching up on the blog.

Where to begin?

Sunday I was feeling emotional all day long. I couldn’t figure out why I was just crying randomly over pretty much everything. I tried to keep myself busy with chores and then decided to put up my fall wreath.

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Two of the pieces had come off and I needed the glue gun to fix it so I went searching through my very messy craft box. My craft box is completely not organized at all as I also have keepsake items in there as well. I was searching through the entire box and could not find the glue gun anywhere, but when I got to the bottom of the box, I found Sweetpea’s red collar.

It had been awhile since I looked at any of her items and for some reason, on this particular night, it hit me hard and I missed her more than I have in a long time. I had a good ugly cry wishing she was still here with me and I could put on that collar and take her for a walk.

Later in the night, I was reading a blog post about infertility and clean eating and afterwards I started to have anxious thoughts in my head about trying to get pregnant again.

I was a few days before ovulation, and on this particular month based on the first day of my last period, if I were to get pregnant, I would have a baby due at the same time as my 2nd pregnancy with baby Matthew. Meaning I would be following the exact timeline of his pregnancy from 3 years ago. I looked it up earlier in the month when I realized that and even though my due date would be 1 day different, the beginning of the pregnancy would be exactly the same. With 10 weeks pregnant landing exactly on November 13 – the day that I lost Matthew.

Anyone who’s experienced RPL can understand the fear of trying again while also having the hopefulness that maybe you will get pregnant again and maybe, just maybe this time will be different. It’s a weird place to be in.

So after reading about clean eating, I just thought to myself, “My diet hasn’t been perfect at all this month. I’ve cheated way too many times and I’m not healthy enough to carry a baby to term.” And I started to have this internal dialogue with God, questioning Him and wondering what I should do this month. I said, “I think I should prevent pregnancy this month and maybe for several months until everything is perfect.”

As I’m having this inner dialogue with God, I’m putting away all the items from the craft box that I had left on the floor earlier in the day and when I get to the top of the box, I see an envelope that has pictures of Sweetpea in it. I decided to look at the pictures since I was missing her so much that day and I thought, “God we have been through so much pain and loss.” I started to cry again and pulled out the pictures. As I did that, I felt something else inside the envelope and pulled that out as well thinking that it was a smaller picture.

And this is what I saw:

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Do you see that card in the right corner of the picture? Look what it says:

“Have faith, God is in control!”

It’s a business card from the photograph that we had taken in the picture above with Sweetpea. When we were in college, every year we would go to an event called “Pet Fest”. We had a family photograph taken every year. In this envelope, the business owner had clearly put their business card inside, but for years of looking at this picture, I have never noticed this before.

God’s words were saved for me for just the perfect time. I cried and praised God that He is not only a God who works big and awesome miracles, but He is also a God who cares about the little things. He is a God who knew that on this September night, I would need reassurance and I would need to know that nothing is beyond His control.

It reminds me of this verse:

“So is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

This is not the first time something like this has happened in my time of need.

On the night that Sweetpea died in October 2012, Jonathan was searching for something in the closet. He was starting to cry and get frustrated looking for it. I told him that it was okay and he could look for it later, but he was determined to find what he was looking for.

At the top of the closet he pulled out a shoe box and inside the shoe box was our ultrasound picture of baby Hope.

7 months before that October night, I had lost baby Hope’s ultrasound picture. I was furious with God, after searching through my house looking for her ultrasound picture. I screamed at Him accusing him of not only taking away my baby but also taking away the only picture I have of her.

I went to my bed and cried while my husband held me and comforted me. This was only one month after losing Hope and I was at my breaking point. The phone rang and I let it go to voicemail. I checked the voicemail and it was a message from KLOVE, the Christian radio station that we supported monthly. They were calling to thank me for my donations and wanted to know if I needed any prayer.

To me, it was like God had just said, “I’m here. I know that you don’t understand why you’ve lost this picture right now. I know how much you are hurting, but I promise you, you are going to find this picture and when you do, you will jump for joy over answered prayer.” I didn’t want to call KLOVE and talk to someone on the phone, but I sent them a prayer request online asking them to pray that I would find my ultrasound picture.

And then I wrote this blog post, because I knew that God was going to answer my prayer and it was going to be a good story to share someday.

And sure enough, it was a good story. When Jonathan and I found that ultrasound picture on the night that we had laid Sweetpea to rest earlier in the day, it brought us so much hope and reminded us that she was in Heaven with God and that we would see her again.

I have had people tell me before that my faith is strong to be able to endure so much and they admire me for trusting in God. But the truth is that I’m not strong – I am weak, just like anyone else. But I serve an awesome God who has been faithful through this journey to give me the strength that I need to endure and to give me hope to carry on. When things get really bad, God shows up big time to send me a message of hope, just like when we found the ultrasound picture, and just like when I found the business card the other night with a note on the back that reminded me to, “Have faith, God is in control!”

After reading the note, I took a picture and shared it on Facebook with my friends, telling about God’s faithfulness during a night of sadness and worry. A few minutes later, I looked at Facebook again and received a notification that said, “Today is Sweetpea’s birthday!” Okay, anyone that is confused right now – when we were in college we created a Facebook account for our dog. Yes, we are losers! LOL. Anyways, it was a little after midnight at this point which meant it was now September 15 – Sweetpea’s birthday. I had completely forgot all about her birthday that next day and when I realized, I was even more amazed at how God works.

Even when my mind forgets, my heart always seems to remember these anniversaries. And God seems to remind me as well. Finding the collar that day, the picture, and the note reminding me to have faith and trust in God are all little signs He gave me to encourage me and give me hope that someday, I will see my loved ones again and I don’t need to worry about the future, because God has already planned all the days of my life.

And so with that in mind, we are going to live without fear for the future. We are going to trust God with our family plans and trust that anything that comes our way is all a part of His good and perfect plan to redeem the world and make all things new.

With God, all things are possible!

With love,

Amber

P.S. I was totally going to write about the rest of my week, but this post was getting lengthy. I’ll share more later :-)