God’s Stop Signs – My Allergy Elimination Diet and a Journey to Better Health (body, mind, spirit)

How was your summer?  I hope it was a great one! 

Our summer schedule looked inviting … with just the right amount of busy. But as soon as it started, it was a struggle. By the beginning of June I felt like I. couldn’t. move.  I had been sick for a few weeks and couldn’t snap out of it.   I didn’t know what to do, so I contacted a doctor friend of mine to see what she would suggest.  She lives about 45 minutes away but she said she could help me (has gone through it herself and has helped many women like me). 

Beginning of Diagnosis

After lots of paperwork and a lengthy interview (it is a gift to have a doctor who really cares and listens!), she began treating me according to my symptoms and as the result of many tests which gave clues as to what was going on with me:

Insulin resistance (the step before pre-diabetes), leaky gut, adrenal fatigue, vitamin D and B deficiencies, possibly an auto immune disease (maybe Hashimoto’s or Pernicious Anemia), environmental and food sensitivities.

After pigging out on my last box of Cheez-Its, I immediately began an allergy elimination diet: no dairy, no grains, no fruit (except lime and lemon), no nuts, no vinegar (I was taking Braggs apple cider vinegar daily, but she thought it might cause candida issues), no nightshades (tomatoes, eggplant, peas, potatoes, peppers, beans (except green), pimentos, paprika – there is a good post to explain this here.), no sweetener (not even stevia).  Doc said that anything that tastes sweet affects insulin, so that includes most fruit and even stevia.

You might ask, “What’s left?!”  The good news is that I could have: grass fed/antibiotic free meat, fish, most veggies, and healthy fats (coconut oil, avocado, pure coconut milk/cream, olive oil). 

After a month of eating just the list I mentioned, I was able to begin adding in one food at a time.  Dr. Laura wanted me to introduce a food, wait three days (because there can be a delayed reaction) and reintroduce the food and wait another three days.  Assuming everything goes well, that adds up to one new food each week.  Knowing this wouldn’t be a quick fix, I asked Doc, “So will I be feeling much better in a few months?”  To which she replied, “A year and a half.”  God help me!!

Symptoms

Some friends ask, “What were your symptoms?”  It’s easier to say, “You name it!” because there were so many.  But, I will take time to list many of them right here and now:
  • Debilitating fatigue
  • Foggy brain (can’t think straight and feel like there is something blocking my brain)
  • Itchy rash over most of my body
  • Insatiable cravings for sugar and carbs
  • Sudden and uncharacteristic outbursts of anger (especially after I ate sugar and gluten) – most of the time I would leave the room or suppress it, but sometimes I yelled at my kids
  • Anxiety and depression
  • Dimming eye sight
  • My whole body ached most of the time
  • Nausea
  • Throbbing eyes
  • Chronic bronchitis
  • Trouble breathing deeply
  • Irregular cycles
  • Fingernails falling apart
  • Barely able to keep up with basic household duties
  • Insomnia
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Apathy
  • Arthritic pain in my hands
  • Numbness at times in my hands and feet
  • Sharp pains in my chest
  • Headaches
  • Inability to remember things
  • Crying and feelings of hopelessness
  • Stomach pain and trouble digesting food
  • Three miscarriages
  • Inability to be in crowds of people for very long
  • Thinning hair
  • Stuffy nose
  • Dizziness
  • Acne
  • Inability to lose weight
  • Etc.

Over the past few years I had gone to doctors and had only been diagnosed as gluten sensitive.  I knew there was more wrong with me, but nobody could figure it out.  Dr. Laura ordered an extensive blood test, urine test, and stool test (still need to do the saliva test).  The reason she thinks that I may have an auto-immune disease is because my symptoms are common to it and because many of my symptoms fell into opposing categories: for example, I had some strong hypo-thyroid symptoms, as well as definite hyper-thyroid symptoms.

My Menu

The first two months were so hard, as I detoxed from sugar and tried to adjust to eating differently.  To give you an idea of what I eat, here is a list of what a few days of meals looks like for me:

B: bacon, yellow squash

L: Lettuce, leftover chicken, olive oil

S: Coconut chicken: Chicken baked with a can of coconut cream, ginger, cumin, coriander, salt … on top of spaghetti squash

B: Bacon, cauliflower, olive oil

L: Purple cabbage, sausage (I take a lb. of ground pork and add a tsp. of each: nutmeg, sage, rosemary, thyme, salt
)
S: Hamburger wrapped in lettuce with tomato, bacon, sweet potato fries

B: Sausage, canned asparagus, olive oil

L: Kale, bacon

S: Homemade spaghetti sauce (once I could eat tomatoes) over spaghetti squash

B: Spinach/arugula mix, chicken, olive oil

L: Tilapia, salad steamed veggies, o.o.

S: Ham, canned green beans, o.o., basil, oregano

B: X

L: Salmon, yellow summer squash, o.o., coconut oil

S: Chicken, tarragon, brussel sprouts, olive oil

B: Chicken, zucchini, avocado, tarragon

L: Pork chop, lettuce salad, olive oil with lime, tarragon

S: Sausage, acorn squash, coconut oil

I try to cook the same for my family, simply adding a pot of rice, noodles, or biscuits for them to enjoy.

Reintroductions

I’ve been able to add back in: macadamia nuts, blueberries, strawberries, and tomatoes.  Blessings!  I’ve had a bad reaction to eggs, almonds, and of course gluten.  I am VERY SAD about the eggs.  We get free-range organic eggs from an Amish farmer, and my body does not like them.  I’m still trying to accept this fact and be grateful for the foods I can eat.

Doc said it can take three months to get dairy out of your system, so on September 19th I will be able to try grass-fed butter.  PRAYING that it works for me.  If so, I will get to try goat cheese and then yogurt.  It would be lovely to be able to enjoy these foods, if God says it’s okay.

Blessings and Road Blocks

God helped me take the boys to VBS in July.  That was a huge praise!  Forty-five minutes drive twice a day – God helped me do it, plus play the piano three times each day.  But, while Tim and the boys were camping for a few days, I got violently ill and had to be taken to the ER by my neighbor.  We still don’t know what caused that problem.

And since then we’ve figured out that something in our church building might be making me sick.  One Sunday night on our way home, after spending most of the time in the church basement, I felt like I couldn’t move, couldn’t stop crying, and could barely talk.  Tim had to help me into the house to my bed.  If I spend much time in the basement it seems worse.  So, for right now I am staying upstairs in the church building. Sigh. 

God wants me to slow down and change some things.  We weren’t able to go to family camp, and for that matter we can’t go very far from home at all right now.  I don’t know what He’s doing, but I can trust that it is good.

While I have seen relief from many of my symptoms, at times I feel very depressed.  I don’t have as much energy as I hoped I would have at this point.  There are good days and bad days.  I’ve definitely spent more time studying and listening to God’s Word.  I’ve asked God to help me, and He has sent people to encourage, show they care, and pray with me and for me.  It means SO MUCH to have a friend call just to see how I’m doing. 

He has also helped me locate a Christ-centered program to help me deal with my mind: 21 Day Brain Detox. I so appreciate Dr. Leaf.  She has the science combined with God’s word to explain how to Romans 12:1-2 – renew your mind.

What I’ve Been Learning

1.  Food was my idol. I’m still trying to fill in the gap that has been left by withdrawing my time, energy, and excitement (and pleasure of tasting and eating) trying new recipes and cooking fancy delicacies for my family.  I’ve been spoiled, and it is extremely sad when I cannot go out to eat or even to an ice cream stand.  God has taken this out of my priority list so that He is nearer the top!  Food is very much tied to socializing in our culture.  I already knew this, but it stands out even more now. It is challenging to meet with people and always having to bring my own food.  There are only two restaurants that are safe for me to go to (with no risk of cross contamination). 

2.  There is so much about the body we don’t understand.  I also knew this, but since nutrition and health have been my hobby for a few years, I had read tons of books on the subject.  And through this process I’ve been learning so much and know I have only scratched the surface learning about God’s incredible creation.  How could anyone believe all this evolved?!

3.  Don’t fight what God is doing.  A couple nights ago I was in such turmoil during the night (typical, but it had been escalating).  God lovingly showed me that I was angry with Him about my health, about my food limitations, and a few other things.  It is, of course, sin, to accuse Him of doing to me what living in this world cursed by sin has done to my body and mind.  Once I confessed my anger and He forgave me, I felt relief and relaxation drench my soul.  God has allowed this for a reason – a very good reason.  He knows that I need this experience to grow.  I am so thankful I can trust Him to go through this with me.

4.  My body likes eating this way Once a month had passed and my metabolism switched to fat burning instead of carb burning, my weight began to drop.  In about nine weeks I had lost 17 lbs.  It feels so good to be where I’ve wanted to be weight-wise for years!  Doc said this is not uncommon once you figure out a person’s food sensitivities and heal their gut.  I’m hardly ever hungry (don’t have that “gotta eat something”  hanging over me all day long).  I no longer feel like I need to sleep after each meal (not that I did sleep after every meal, but I felt like it).  It is wonderful to be able to let go of the extra weight in my life (not just physical, but mental, emotional, social and spiritual!) and to have a more focused view on God and what is most important in life.

5. There are many worse things in the world, but this is hard.  Sometimes I feel like I am in a prison.  I can’t take a break.  I cannot have a once a day treat, or a once a week treat, or even a once a month treat!!!  The first month I felt like I could kill for a piece of chocolate cake.  Thankfully no one was maimed.  And God has been graciously adjusting my taste buds, so I rarely weep over where I find myself.  Also, I have to remember, this will get better.  But, I must get used to a new normal.  I will never go back to how I was eating before.  At least once a week I think ahead to the marriage feast of the Lamb – and I am going to savor every bite (when I get there, no doubt the importance of food will fade even more in His presence)!

6.  Love.  Tim and the boys know that I love them when I make food for them that I used to enjoy.  They have shown such love and compassion!  Sometimes they hug me when I can’t hold back the tears, like last night when they had buttered popcorn and frozen yogurt.  They hugged me and told me how much they love me.  And when we sat down to watch Facing the Giants I knew I was loved while I munched on my sweet potato and bacon (which, by the way, was very satisfying).

7.  It helps to laugh The other night I was in Barnes and Noble, pouring over the healthy cookbooks.  I felt like crying because there were still so many things in THOSE that I can’t eat.  A man sitting nearby was groaning audibly as he looked in several diabetes cookbooks.  At one point he cried out in despair, “Bean patte?!?”  When I came home and told Tim about it, he understandingly replied, “And you felt like saying to him, ‘I would love to have bean patte!’”  Sometimes when I feel so discouraged, it is as though Jesus puts His arms around me and gently reminds me, “Sara, I never got to eat pizza, ice cream, or chocolate either.”  And we laugh together – awww, He is such a comfort!

What Now?

For those of you who are going through much harder things, I am so sorry for what you are going through.  I do know that God has a plan for your life as well as mine, and we can trust Him!  Wouldn’t it be delightful to be able to get a diagnosis, pop a pill, and be all well?  Or maybe for you … to find a husband, to have a child, to see wayward family members come to Christ, to get relief from your grief, to get money to pay those bills, and be all better?  God is constantly using the struggles of life for one purpose: to draw us to Himself.  And when He has our attention we can either fight back and reject the priceless lessons He is trying to teach us, or accept and draw near to Him.

Today is the first time I’ve felt like writing in months – so, maybe this is a sign I am healing?  I hope that what I am writing makes sense.  I write to answer the many questions my small circle of family and friends have asked me, and in case my scribblings about all this may help someone in similar circumstances.

Please contact me if you would like information about resources.  I’d recommend you begin with the book Grain Brain: The Surprising Truth about Wheat, Carbs, and Sugar–Your Brain’s Silent Killers by David Perlmutter and Kristin Loberg.  This book is informative and well documented.

I would love to hear from YOU.  And until next time … will you please enjoy a bowl of ice cream for me (better yet, pray for me)?

Joyfully His,
Sara

“My flesh and my heart fail; But God is the strength of my heart 
and my portion forever.”
Psalm 73:26

In Her Shoes – Child of My Heart

This month weare privileged to step into the shoes of five sisters in Christ who graciously share their adoption adventure with us.  Each God-weaved story is a beautiful example of God’s love for each of us.  So, sit back, relax, open your heart, and see what God will do through this article in your life.

“But when the fullness of the time had come, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive the adoption as sons.” Galatians 4:4-5 

Our Miracle Boys

by Joy Meinders

I have had a newborn three ways: private adoption, giving birth and foster care. With all three, the bond of motherly love I felt was identical. It is definitely natural to love a newborn.

Our first adoption was through a Christian agency. It took us 7 years to complete the process:  two years for our home study, another three years to save the funds, then “next on the list” for another two years. During this time, my prayers for a child would increase then decrease. It seemed impossible at times. Also, I felt very guilty for thinking that another mom should hand me her child. Our adoption worker would counsel me that she had made choices that placed her in this situation … that had nothing to do with me.

When we finally received news of a birth mother, we were ecstatic! I could hardly believe my dream of becoming a mom was going to come true. I can’t put into words adequately, the joy and grief (for the birth mom) as we watched her put a precious son in our car. It was the regulations of the hospital. Everyone was crying and I kept asking our adoption worker how would she ever be ok. He just kept saying, “By the grace of God.” It was an incredible joy to be a mom to my angel baby. He was such a good baby, and is very loving and gentle still.

Three years later, I gave birth to another miracle baby. (I know, they all are!). It was several years later that a friend, on Right-To-Life Sunday challenged us-if you are pro-life, what are you going to do about it. The answer will be different for everyone. I started praying, not knowing that my husband had also. God directed both of us, separately, to pray about becoming foster parents, with adopting a possibility.

While going through our foster parenting classes, a guest speaker came in and told us, “You are the guardian of the bond.” I have always loved that saying. If we’d allow the children to bond to us, and they moved on, it would aid in their bonding capabilities in the future. We saw this firsthand with the first baby we fostered. She is completely bonded with her family. By doing this, when they leave, it tears your heart, but God repairs your heart and allows you to continue in His strength, doing what He has for you.

When praying for our next placement (while fostering), we earnestly prayed for children and knew if God placed them with us and there became a time for adoption, that was from God. Well, God placed two little, neglected and traumatized boys in our home. Overnight, our house changed dramatically. Screaming ensued and continued for months. It is very difficult to bond and stay committed to boys with endless screaming!

I would call my husband at work and tell him I couldn’t do it. He would pray with me and tell me that we’d talk about it when he got home and if they needed a different family, that was ok. He got home and helped, shared his peace and strength, we’d pray together, etc. and I would think, “Ok, this is from God, we can do this.” Then, he’d go to work the next day…repeat! I just had to come to the place where I realized, just because God didn’t answer how I thought He should, doesn’t mean He didn’t answer. He did, and He will give me the strength to continue and stay committed to nurturing and growing the bonds with the boys.

Our two older kids were so encouraging to me. My oldest would say, “Aren’t you glad we have the boys? I’m so glad they are here.” They were both very helpful also.

On the other side, bonding for the boys to us also continues. I praise God the worker could see that they were so bonded to each other, she didn’t separate them. One boy was ignored by adults from 2 weeks old on. One would go with anyone, without fear or realizing he shouldn’t. The first time our littlest one cried when we left him (a definite different cry from his others), we were thrilled. He was beginning to bond. When my five year old will look at my eyes, I am thankful for that growth of seeing him bond.

One of the hardest things was that I didn’t “feel” the bond like a mom feels with her children. (This led to more tears than I can say.). It also brought feelings in me of not being bonded to my older kids. It was such a stretching time that I felt broken. However, once I decided, with God’s help, to be committed to be their mom, the bonds started to grow. They are still growing, and I pray they won’t stop. Also, my bonds with my older kids and husband are stronger than ever.

One of the most growing times was when God specifically convicted me of a sin area, brought scripture and I repented, the change in my heart resulted in a deeper bond with my boys. Nothing yet in them changed, but God changed me. This definitely is like our relationship with The Lord. When He gives us a trial or an answer we don’t want, we can resist it and become angry or we can decide to trust, follow and grow through it. Our bonds with Him will increase abundantly. That trial will turn into a blessing!!

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” 2 Corinthians 12:9-10

“I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.” Philippians 4:13

 

 

Adoption in the Midst of Heartbreak

by Sarah Heywood

God planted the seed of adoption in my heart as a young girl.  I never forgot that, although there would be many periods in my life where I was convinced that God wasn’t necessarily behind the desire; it was simply one of those wouldn’t-it-be-nice-if thoughts.

But God kept working at my heart into adulthood.  Despite being married and a busy, homeschooling mom of four sons (including one with multiple special needs) I never forgot that call God had placed upon my heart as a girl.

When my youngest son was two, I began to sense a renewed stirring in my heart towards the idea of adding to our family through adoption.  We really thought our family was complete, though.  In fact, I had suffered a small stroke after the birth of the last baby and doctors had told us our family had better be complete!  The recovery from that stroke took a long while and I could not believe it when I realized that God was speaking to me about adoption!  Didn’t He realize all I had going on already?

I gave God a long list of reasons why adoption at this point in my life was a really, really bad idea.  God said nothing, but quietly continued to work on heart.  Finally, in frustration, I told the Lord that if He wanted us to pursue adoption He would need to give me a clear sign.  I would be completely mum on the subject and my husband would have to approach me about the idea.  I knew he was perfectly happy with our four so I didn’t really anticipate that ever happening.  But if it did, well, then I would have my answer!

Nine months later my husband, Paul, and I were enjoying a date night.  Midway through our meal, he paused, looked at me, and asked, “So, what do you think about the idea of adopting?”  I guess God had given me my sign!

Still, I was frightened.  It took several months of prayer before I finally came to a complete place of surrender and willingness to pursue adding to our family.  Once I got there, though, the doors began to fly open.

Paul and I ended up pursuing adoption through our state’s foster care system.  Initially, when thinking about adoption, foster care was the last way I wanted to do it because of the many horror stories I had heard over the years.  But yet, once I was completely surrendered to whatever God was doing in our family, I found I was no longer as worried about which adoption direction we took.  At the same time, though, I knew with an absolute certainty that we were walking into pain.  How I knew that, I can’t say, but I do remember feeling quite peaceful despite that knowledge.  God was leading and we were following Him, no matter where that would take us.

We took the required classes and were licensed in January of 2012.  Then, came the waiting for THE call!  That finally came five months later.  We were ecstatic! Two little sisters, nearing the end of their time in foster care needed a forever family.  The night before I was to pick them up, I couldn’t sleep because I was so excited!  The next morning we picked up two frightened, small, little girls and instantly fell in love.  Well, maybe not instantly.  I wanted to love them right away, but truthfully, that love took awhile to grow.

We definitely had a period of adjustment ahead of us! I had a three year old who was mad at the world and seemed to delight in finding ways to make her new mom explode in anger. She was absolutely determined that nobody would tell her what she could and could not do!  My eleven-month old was solemn and outwardly compliant, but it wasn’t until later that her real personality began to emerge and we realized just how traumatized she had come to us.

Parenting the girls was really hard at first.  I would make slow progress and then we’d have a required visit with Birth Mom which would inevitably undo some of the work I had done. It seemed like overnight my work load doubled around the house.  Many times I was cranky with the kids when I should have been rejoicing at how God had blessed me.  But, thankfully, He was working despite my many failings.

As the months wore on, things really began to fall into place.  My one year old made it clear that I was her mama now.  My now-four year old, began to call me “Mom” and we began to see improvements in her behavior.  Paul loved his little girls and they delighted in having a daddy.  My sons began to treat their new sisters as real siblings, rather than just some short, visiting strangers.  Birth Mom had her rights terminated and I began to hesitantly call the girls by the new names Paul and I had picked.  To my surprise, they seemed to prefer the new names!

I remember wondering, “Where is the pain?”  Despite bumps here and there, everything really seemed to be coming together.  That pain I was so sure awaited was nowhere to be found.

It would come, but when it did it would take a form that I had no way of anticipating.

In June 2013 we were eagerly waiting for an adoption date.  While our girls had been the daughters of our heart for some time, it was exciting to anticipate the day that they would also be legally ours.  On the night of June 5th, Paul went to sleep and a half hour later woke up in the arms of Jesus.  He was dead at the age of forty-two after suffering a seizure in sleep.

It’s only been nine months since that night.  The grief is still pretty raw at times.  I know that someday I’ll probably have a lot I can say about single parenthood.  Right now, I am simply breathing in and out as I walk through each day.  I am so grateful for the loving care of my Heavenly Father who has carried me through this heartbreak.

Despite Paul’s death, the state allowed me to keep the girls.   I was so incredibly thankful that God allowed us to stay together!  Three months later it was a bittersweet day, as my six children and I met in a court room and listened as a judge declared that Elizabeth and Eleanor were now my legal daughters.  I am quite confident that God rolled back the floor of Heaven that morning and Paul was able to witness the fruition of the dream He had planted in both our hearts!

Raising my children alone is a task for which I feel very ill-equipped.  But I have every confidence that God will walk me through, as He has in every other challenging circumstance in my life.

I had to take the stand the morning of the adoption.  One of the lawyers for the state asked me why I felt I should be allowed to adopt these little girls.  I wasn’t expecting that question.  I thought for a moment and then leaned forward and spoke into the microphone:  I said, “These girls may have been born to a different woman, but they were created to be MY children.”

And that is the truth.  Today, I marvel at God’s persistency in directing Paul and I to pursue adoption when we thought our arms were already full.  God knew what awaited and in His goodness He longed to provide me with the comfort that would come in the form of two, small little girls.

“Being confident of this, that He Who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.”  Philippians 1:6

 

How God Opened My Heart and Home

by Diann Pearson

Our story of adoption is a little different. Most seek to adopt a baby or child and want to know if it is God’s plan.  In our situation God wanted us to adopt a certain little boy and wanted to know if we were willing to submit to His plan.

It all started while I was working one day a month at a care center. A lady I worked with asked me if I could babysit her little boy. Without a prayer, I said, “ No, I am way too busy with my husband gone a lot trucking, taking care of the home, homeschooling our four children and being active in my church.”

She came and ask a second time that night. When she walked away I prayed, Lord if you want me to do this have her come one more time which she did. That’s when Jake first entered our lives.

I babysat him and had him often in the beginning.  He enjoyed coming to church with us on Sundays and Wednesdays . We would pick him up even when we weren’t babysitting him. As he got older we didn’t see him as much, due to other things he was involved in. Then we heard that Jake’s mother had died and Jake was in foster care.

We had concerns about his birth family adopting him.  And before, Jake’s mother had said if anything ever happened to her, she wanted us to take Jake. We talked with Deptartment of Human Services to express our interest in adopting Jake. They were glad we showed interest but told us that his uncle and wife were interested (and would be considered first), along with the birth father and his grandmother.

Even though we were fourth in line to be considered, we felt compelled to take steps toward adoption. We took foster care classes which included: providing a profile with a snap shot of each family member, home inspection, pictures of where his room would be, have our water tested, animals vaccinated, etc. The Lord went before, causing us to take the 40 hours of class in Cedar Rapids instead of waiting until spring to do it in Iowa City (which down the road allowed us to have him in our home as foster parents, because we were certified).

He was stable in our home for a year, which looked good to the courts. During that time his father released his rights and the court declared us to be a more suitable home than with the grandmother, which was Jake’s desire also.

We were thankful that Jake was younger than our children, due to older siblings teaching the younger. We felt it was important that our children all agreed with the plan of adoption before proceeding. We didn’t want them later on to say, “We never wanted to do this.” I wanted them to understand that he would receive all the same rights and privileges as they received. Even the inheritance, if there is any. It is wonderful having God go before us.

“Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct your paths.”
Proverbs 3:5-6

 

Whose Need Are You Fulfilling?

by Mary Kamberger

Let me first introduce myself as an adoptive mother to seven of my nine children. Our eldest was domestically adopted in 1986. We then received two biological children in 1992 and 1994. The other six children came to us through China as waiting/special needs children between September 2004 and December 2009.

We enfolded six children into our family in just over five years, and all were in some way, physically challenged as was listed on their paperwork. They, however, also came with various emotional and mental challenges that were not listed on any piece of paper. Although I am an RN by trade, I am a stay at home mom by choice who home schools all the children. Our children from China came home at the ages of 14 months to 14 years, and they are now 10 to 18 years.

The adoption of a child into any human family can be seen as a comparison of our adoption into God’s family in many ways, but the points I would like to stress here are only a few. First of all, consider where the NEED lies. God does not adopt us because He NEEDS us. Likewise, we adoptive parents should not step into adoption because we NEED the child to complete us, our family, or our own personal need to love and nurture.

I would say that most, if not all, adoptive parents have an overabundance of love and ability to nurture, or they wouldn’t be stepping into an adoption. And many see that over time, this adopted child does, in some way, complete them and their family. BUT, to walk into an adoption with this in mind is to miss the true need.

The only NEED that should take center stage is the need of the child. Just like within our relationship to God the only thing we bring to the table is our NEED. God supplies all the rest: grace, mercy, healing, love, forgiveness. That is our position in adoption, too. We, as the parents, are to supply all that is needed within the heart and life of that child…and be prepared to receive nothing in return.

When the child rejects us, pushes us away, screams that we are NOT their “real” mother or father, hits, punches, is totally cold to any emotional overtures we offer, is not on track for their age – academically, emotionally, physically – when they act out in inappropriate ways, hurt our other children or animals, deliberately do their best to hurt us emotionally, physically and mentally, WE…like God…should be ready to absorb it, deal with it, and CHOOSE to LOVE in the midst of it. Let me state that point again:  we must CHOOSE (regardless of wanting to or feeling like it) – to choose to continue to love that child in the midst of their utter defiance and unacceptance of us.

Didn’t God do this, and continue to do this, for us? Adoption is not warm and fuzzy. Adoption is not for the faint hearted. Our spiritual adoption into God’s family came at a VERY high price – Christ’s very blood pouring out His life for us on the cross.

If you are considering the adoption of a child, be fully prepared to pour out your very life for that child. The cost of adoption is high – monetarily high at the very beginning and emotionally, physically, and mentally high for the rest of your days. The very fabric of your family will be changed each time you bring another child in. There is no staying the same, and nothing that promises next year will be any better.

{Now aren’t you simply just ready to JUMP into adoption?!}

Bringing the child home is only the beginning of a very long road to health and learning to live as family. Just like when you are welcomed into God’s family, you are not fully sanctified as His child. We are positionally secure in the love of God but have a long way to grow into our completed sanctification. Each child SHOULD be positionally secure in the assurance of their place within your family, even though they (and you) have a long way to grow as parent and child. Unconditional love is a high price and of absolute necessity within the act of adoption.

Biological children are wonderful, but let’s be honest – not everyone actually chooses to become pregnant and birth a child. “Whoops! children” are born…and too often simply aborted…every day.  Adoption, however, is a conscious, paper-filled, emotionally arduous act of choosing to love another no matter what….no matter their skin color, their health, their future academic potential, their unknown emotional or mental baggage, their inability to love us in return.

Please be ever so wise, with eyes and hands wide open, with no personal agenda in tow IF you so CHOOSE to meet the NEED of a child that is fatherless. Your reward will be great and the Father of all will be there to guide and uphold you every step of the way.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9

“Pure and undefiled religion before God and the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their trouble, and to keep oneself unspotted from the world.”
James 1:27

 

Adoption: A Picture of God’s Love

Anonymous

My hubby and I adopted a little boy. I’m not going to bore you with the details of the actual adoption (though I am enamored with our miracle and the unique way God delivered him to us). I am normally fairly open about certain details. But, I hold back that which is too near to me or hurts too much to think or talk about.  However, I’d like to be able to be honest and candid about a few things – so I’d like to remain anonymous.  And what better way to do that than guest writing for the blog of a friend. So here goes.
A few things to remember about adoption:

1.) It is Biblical.   It is a beautiful picture of our relationship with God through Christ. The more I study the Bible, the more I am convinced that God gave us what He did here on earth, in the color and diversity that He did, so we would have better capacity to understand what He wanted us to know from Scripture. We can’t fully understand our relationship with our Heavenly Father if we look only at biological relationships. Do you know someone who has been involved in an adoption?  There are, no doubt, countless ways God, in His love and sovereignty, wants you to learn from that situation. I am positive that one of them is so you can better imagine how it looks when God adopts us into His family. What a blessed thing. God is so creative and so good to us.
2.) It is Sensitive.   Chances are, if the people you know aren’t volunteering information, they’d probably rather not share. Their silence may be an oversight, but it probably isn’t. Especially if the events are current or very recent (which means it’s on their minds often and they’re not talking about it on purpose). If you want to love them, don’t ask for “the story.” Ask them how you can pray for them – sure – of course they need support and they would likely really appreciate it coming from you.
3.) Remember though, we all come into contact with many people – many good, loving, God-honoring people – but that doesn’t mean every secret is meant for every relationship. Don’t take it personally if someone’s best-guarded secrets aren’t meant for you. Give them some space and love them in the most obvious way you can. Always be kind and pray. Sometimes you may get to do more. But don’t push it.
4.) I, personally, am much more apt to share “the story” with someone who has had ample opportunity to ask for it and never has asked. And then it’s only if the time and my emotions are right. Maybe I’m atypical here, but I’m guessing not. [There are probably points in this one that would work for far more situations than just that of adoption.]
5.) It Hurts.   Oh. So. Much.  I will venture a fairly firm guess that no adoption ever happens without a fair amount of pain somewhere along the way – for at least one, if not both, of the parties (the adopt-er/ the adopt-ee). And normally it’s both. The child who is to be adopted had a situation. Sometimes it’s fairly neutral, sometimes it’s downright ugly. Normally it’s somewhere in between. Lots of times there will be hurts that will have to be dealt with. A little person with more pain than his years should allow. And even if the child doesn’t remember specifics, one day he will very likely wonder. Or he might deal with tendencies and emotions that confuse him. He can’t quite put his finger on why he feels xyz but he does.

And then there are the adoptive parents. Sometimes adoptive parents adopt because it’s their “first choice.” For whatever reason God gave them a desire to adopt and they followed it. No infertility, no miscarriage(s), no opportunity to watch a child suffer in need. That happens sometimes, of course. On a first child, on a last child, anywhere in the middle. I know of families like these. These families still have challenges but much of the hurt comes from the adopted child and his history and family growing pains – not necessarily a primary loss for the parents too.

But, for many families adoption was considered when something didn’t go “right.” I AM NOT saying that adoption is second rate. We who trust in the absolute seignty of God know that what might not be our first plan for ourselves is still God’s best for us. The little boy I’m raising – the one who calls me “mommy,” and needs me more than he does anyone else – is God’s best for me. I see it when I look at him and I remind myself often. I love him like I’d love someone I made (I think. I hope.).

But, don’t for a minute think that my knowing these things erases all traces of anger, frustration, doubt and insecurity in my mind. I lost his beginning. I didn’t get to make him. When I go to stuff with him, don’t think I don’t notice that I’m the only mommy who bears no resemblance to her child. I am not an Angelina Jolie wannabe. I can’t make a baby.

When my girlfriends talk about morning sickness and episiotomies and mastitis, all things any right-minded woman would love to scrape by without, well, I missed those things and I don’t feel lucky. I’m not part of the club and likely never will be. I love my son, but sometimes when I look at him something screams inside me “He’s not even yours!” I chase that out of my head as soon as I can, but I know it. It’s there, and to a degree it’s real.

Add to that the shame of even having those thoughts (when you say you trust God and you say you love your son). It’s complicated. It hurts. It isn’t easy. Maybe it’ll get easier with time. I guess we’ll see. We may be smiling (as we should! And we want to!) but we struggle. Each struggle is unique but it’s there.

4.) It is Amazing.   It’s positively beautiful. Without it I wouldn’t have my son or the possibility of other future children. Without it my family would be missing a member who I truly believe God designed for our family – even if He didn’t let me (us) make him. Without it I wouldn’t be Mama, and that’s the only thing I’ve ever really wanted to be. The benefits well outweigh the costs. This point deserves much more attention, but I’ve already talked a lot…
As you encounter those who are directly affected by adoption …

  • Be sensitive.
  • Love them selflessly.
  • Pray for them – specifically that God will use this most-sanctifying life event to make everyone involved into more of an image of Christ.
  • Look for ways you can speak truth in love, if you see a Biblical issue that needs addressing and prayerfully feel burdened to do so. Think about what you are saying to them about this sensitive issue. Sometimes people say things so flippantly and with no intention to harm and those are the comments that linger the longest and cut the deepest.

We (as “adoption people”) need to develop an measure of “thick skin” because everyone’s soft spots are a little different so we need to be careful not to be over sensitive, but you (who interact with us and may not always understand) need to be careful with your words. May we all look for ways to magnify God and His attributes as we consider this amazing gift that touches us all in some way.

A few verses that encourage me regularly and how specifically they can relate to my adoption journey:

 “My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.”

2 Corinthians 12:9 

My body can’t give me a child, but God in His grace and strength found a way to give me what and who He wanted me to have.

 

“He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.” Philippians 1:6 

 

I know, without a doubt, that all of the events surrounding my need/desire to adopt, the process itself, and the heartache along the way are one of God’s biggest sanctifying measures in my life until now.

 

“Be still, and know that I am God.” Psalm 46:10

When the emotions are overwhelming, slowing down and focusing on God’s character is something that has given me great peace and the courage to press on when I wanted to quit (and I did consider quitting…a lot).

“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or imagine…” Ephesians 3:20

  This is my son. God created this little person so perfectly for our family – it literally blows my mind. He couldn’t have been more perfect for us if we could have given him our DNA. He is more than I ever could have asked or imagined. Thank you, Lord, r the gift of Your Son and the gift of mine.

 

Resources:

Thank you, Sisters!!

 

In Her Shoes – Infertility

“Hannah had no children . . . and she was in bitterness of soul, and prayed to the Lord and wept in anguish.” I Samuel 1:2b, 10

When we were little girls, cherished dreams captivated our imaginations.  What did your “Dream List” look like?  Was there a swirly-lettered, purple gel penned space that read, “Experience trials and become a better person because of them”?  It wasn’t on my list either. “Become a mom,” was close to the top.

I don’t like pain.  I like to be comfy-cozy.  I like to be useful.  Lord, it’s not as if becoming a mother is a completely selfish ambition . . . I want to serve You and my family as a mother!  If you have prayed that prayer and experienced empty arms, then you understand the pain of infertility.

“Infertility is the failure of a couple to conceive a pregnancy after trying to do so for at least one full year. In primary infertility, pregnancy has never occurred. In secondary infertility, one or both members of the couple have previously conceived, but are unable to conceive again after a full year of trying” (Medical Dictionary).  According to Mayo Clinic, infertility effects 10-15% of couples in the USA (Mayo Clinic).

For those of you who suffer the pain of not being able to have children, do you know that God’s plan is good – but right now it just doesn’t seem like it is good, for you?  Over the years I’ve periodically wondered if God really understands what we women go through.  The Bible says Jesus was in all points tempted like us (Hebrews 4:15-16) . . . BUT, He never went through all this woman-stuff! How can He possibly understand the pain of cramps, miscarriage, child-birth, or infertility? 

God designed and created women –  every minute and amazing detail . . . from chocolate cravings (what did women do before chocolate was invented?) to motherly instincts (Psalm 139).  He knows everything we think (with the brains He made for us to use), and He knows everything we feel (with the emotions that were His idea).  There can be no question about caring . . . Jesus died a painful death to rescue all women everywhere who will come to Him.  He knows. He understands.

Is your heart weary with the pain of infertility?  Do your arms ache with the seemingly never ending struggle?  You are not alone!  No mere person can fully understand, love, and help you . . . but God can.  (Single sisters, who would love to have children – we haven’t forgotten you.)  If you have sons or daughters, do you know someone in your church, at work, or in your neighborhood who is unable to bear children?  You will learn specific ways to minister to women from our four contributors below.

Dear Sisters … thank you for allowing us to walk in your precious shoes.

“Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” Matthew 5:4

 

Maryland

Sometimes infertility is expected because of illness or injury received. In most cases, like ours, it is something you think will never happen to you. I had already “had” to wait for marriage longer than I planned. Now I “had” to wait to have children! After a number of doctor visits, we were told it was very unlikely that my husband would be able to father children. Now my heart hurt for my husband as well as for us. He felt so badly not to be able to provide for one of my greatest dreams.

The Lord has used this, as He does with all things, for our good. He has been gracious to help me give my expectations to Him, and exchange them for His way, even though it is unknown and unsettling.  I struggle with how I think people perceive us because we don’t have children. They think there’s something wrong with us. Or that we do not love each other enough. Or even that we do not know how to have sex right. I know for sure that some people view our childlessness as a hindrance to my husband’s pastoral ministry.

I need people to understand that there is nothing “wrong” with us, just because our family looks different than theirs. I hope they understand that just as God puts them through things we will never face, this is something God has designed for us to go through.

Some people think it’s not that big a deal. I assure you that it is a big deal. It is one of the most difficult things I have had to face.  And regardless of how “well” I handle it, it will never go away.  Mother’s Day is especially difficult for me, but not for reasons you might think. I can be okay with not being a mother on Mother’s Day, because I believe Mother’s Day is a day to honor your own mother, not mothers in general. That is how it began.  But well-meaning people make it more difficult for me than it has to be. Those who know me best, know that it does not help me to be given a Mother’s Day gift, even though I’m not a mother, or to be told that “I have a mother’s heart” or “You will make a good mother.” I KNOW I have a mother’s heart.  I know I would be a good mother.  But, I am NOT a mother.  And being reminded of these things does not help me make it through another Mother’s Day. Our church recognizes all ladies if we do a special gift, and my husband doesn’t usually preach a beat-them-up Mother’s Day message. Many people have told him they really appreciate this.

Please get to know infertile couples on a personal basis. Don’t be afraid to open the door for them to talk about the Lord’s working in their infertility. Don’t isolate them from yourself because you have children and they don’t. You still have things in common with each other to build friendships on. And, yes, your childless pastor and his wife can still minister to you, even on parenting issues.

Some things NOT to say: “It will happen for you. One day you’ll have a house full of children.” You don’t know that. And I need to work at being content right now, and right now I don’t have children.

Also, “I understand exactly how you feel.” Even if you are infertile or childless yourself, your situation is not exactly like mine, and you can’t know what I am struggling with in my situation. We each will struggle at different times, with different triggers, and with different aspects of the pain of infertility. I hate it that the first question people usually ask is, “Do you have any children?” When I meet people, I try to ask, “Tell me about yourself” or something like that. If they don’t mention children, then I don’t pursue the topic of children.

People also need to understand that because the pain of infertility will never truly go away, there will be some times when we are “okay with it” and some times we are not. And often we have no idea which it is going to be. There have been times when I have gone to a baby shower and been perfectly fine. There have been other times when I did not go because I knew I would not handle it well.

And then there are times when it’s like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde! One day I was reading in my devotions Psalm 113:9 “He maketh the barren woman to keep house, and to be a joyful mother of children.” I was very encouraged by that verse in thinking about fostering/adopting. Then, later that week, a friend of mine who had been married for only about 8 months posted this same verse with her pregnancy announcement! My first thought was, “You know nothing about being barren, girlie!” (Not very gracious, I know, but I am human!) Every time a friend announces she is pregnant, there is a pang–sometimes sharper and longer than at other times. This is why I say that the pain of infertility/childlessness does not ever truly go away.

Speaking specifically to women who are infertile – you must let it go. Your infertility/childlessness will always be brought up before you–by others and by your own mind. If you hold it for just a moment, and turn it over to God, you will grow stronger. But the longer you hold on to it, the more debilitating it becomes, and the more paralyzed and ineffective you will be for God.

Also, look beyond your infertility. That does not have to define you. You are a child of God, with all the blessings and privileges God gives to each of His children. We are in the process of becoming foster parents, with the intention of adopting. There are many children already alive who need a good home. You may be able to have a ministry that others cannot have BECAUSE of your infertility.

 

Wisconsin

“… My grace is sufficient for thee:  for My strength is made perfect in weakness …”
II Corinthians 12:9a

As I started teaching Sunday school classes and 5-day clubs in my teen and early adult years, I remember loving the story of Hannah (I Samuel 1-2).  The more I studied her, the more I realized the amazing faith she had to trust God . . . and how God honored her heart’s desire above and beyond what she could have hoped.

However, it wasn’t until I was in my late 30’s, just newly married, that I realized also the great agony she felt in not being able to have a child.  How greater still her distress must have been to have a rival oppress and ridicule her over and over with this!

For those who understand the sadness and pain of infertility, you know what heartache feels like.  For me, I thought since God had me wait to be married, He would surely bless my husband and me with a child within our first year.  However, that did not happen.  I didn’t understand, but I didn’t worry too much about it.  Some other people I’d known had had to wait a year or so to have children.

After that first year, we thought we should see if there was something medically wrong with one of us, so we went through the regular tests.  We were hopeful.  When all the tests came back normal, I was put on fertility pills.  We prayed fervently and believed God would use this to help us.  And each time it failed was harder than the last.

I began to lose faith.  Yes, sometimes I questioned God.  I wondered what I had done wrong, and why God was punishing me.  Then I would feel guilty for thinking that way.  Yet, no matter how I tried, I couldn’t shake those ideas away.  I agonized in prayer to God, asking Him to forgive me and help me not lose faith.  I shared this with my husband at times, but I knew he was struggling, too.  So, I would find quiet places to cry and pray.

One time I was so sure that the medicine had worked, for my time of the month was late.  I grew increasingly excited each day it did not come, planning how I would tell my husband and share the news with our family.

I didn’t tell my husband, but I took a pregnancy test.  When it came back negative, I wept uncontrollably.  I felt like a lesser type of woman and again despised by God!  When my husband came home, I couldn’t conceal it.  He was very understanding, gently holding, comforting, and praying for us.

When the infertility pills did not work, we were scheduled to see a specialist about injections.  However, the more we prayed about it, we felt this was not the course we should take.  We prayed God would show us what to do.

At one of my lowest points, I called a close college friend.  She cried and prayed with me.  She even sent a beautiful card that I still have on my nightstand today.  This helped immensely.  To make a long story short, it was through her that we began the adoption process.  We had already prayed about it, but we were not compelled to take a step of faith.

Although there have been ups and downs and steps of learning about faith with adoption, too – now two years later God has blessed us with a baby boy.  We were privileged to bring him home when he was two days old.  In one month the adoption will be finalized, and this long, at times agonizing process, will be completed.  We named him Caleb because it means, “Faithfulness.”  And we have truly seen God’s faithfulness in this entire situation.

I want to encourage those of you who face infertility issues . . .

  • Know that God cares for you.  And although our feelings may try to persuade us otherwise, all God does is good, not evil (Romans 8:28).
  • Don’t be afraid to tell God how you really feel.  He knows anyway!  Sharing with Him helps us release those feelings.
  • Pray for His perspective to be shown to you.  Search the Scriptures.  Let Him be your guide (reading the Psalms is a great place to start).
  • Find a strong, faithful Christian friend with whom you can share your innermost feelings and thoughts.  She (or he – your husband) can be the one to lift up your weary hands and hearts (Romans 12:15; Galatians 6:1).

I know your pain is real and the pain you feel can seem overwhelming.  There are still times when I wish to hold a baby in my tummy, feeling him or her move and kick.  Yet, God has not chosen that for me.  And maybe He has not chosen that for you.  Let God help you through this.  Let God’s strength enfold you in this weakness.  His strength is perfect for all we need.  Trust Him.

 “Draw near to God, and He will draw near to you.” James 4:8a

 

Michigan

Ever since I was ten or eleven years old, I have had abdominal pains. The doctors, at the time, did not see anything wrong and told my mother it would all go away. When I was fourteen my mother took me to see a gynecologist.  They said that I had cysts on my ovaries.

In 1993, I married my husband with plans to have children in a couple of years. In 1998, my husband and I sought our doctor’s help to find out why we had not gotten pregnant. One visit ended with the doctor telling me that I would not get pregnant without medical help.  After running numerous tests, I was the problem. How I struggled with that, as my whole life I have loved children and could not wait to have my own.

The doctor gave us some options. We tried one with no success and decided that was not what we wanted to do. I remember going out walking while visiting my sister’s house and having my period come early after the procedure. It was devastating to have the procedure not work and being away from my husband. I put a lot of faith in that it would work.

The following year I went to see another doctor.  He found out that I had endometriosis and more cysts:  an answer that we could wrap our minds around.  There was something blocking us from having children.  He gave us three options – hysterectomy, birth control pills, or laparoscopy.  We chose laparoscopy to relieve the pain.  At this time we were not thinking this would help us have a child. We were planning on moving half way across the country for my husband to go to school. Our focus had changed so that he could go after something he had wanted for years.

In 2002, after moving to Michigan nine months earlier, I saw a specialist at the University of Michigan. The doctors wanted to get me pregnant and then deal with the endometriosis. We were to start the tests that we had gone through in 1998 again, this time with top of the nation’s knowledge and resources. I was excited to get started, my husband was not so excited as I was in so much pain each month.

The time that we were to start, my younger sister got married and I was not at home when I needed to be. I remember at that time, sitting and crying out to God why we could not have children. Within three weeks I was calling the doctor to get in, as I was experiencing pain I had never experienced. I was told to get a pregnancy test, even though I fought with the nurse to see the doctor. The sweet woman gave in and told me to get the test done first and then she would schedule the appointment with the doctor. I did not need to see the doctor as I was pregnant with my first daughter after four years of knowing that I could not have children.

The pain alone, of not having children, was enough without the “encouragement” of some of my family. I was told “God has a plan,” “God will give you a child some day, it is just not the right time” and others. Family would shy away from my chances to reach out for support. I knew in my head it was true, but try telling my heart that I will have to accept not having a child. I got to where I could not go over to my in-laws, because I was reminded of how I wanted children, but my sister-in-law who was pregnant did not want them. It was such a struggle to allow myself to accept what God had given us without being reminded of it. It was also a struggle that helped my husband to eventually stand up for me.

When my sister got pregnant, she was nervous to tell me.  My mom stepped in and told her to tell me.  I will always rejoice that she told me.  She knew how it hurt for me not to get pregnant, but she loved me enough to tell me.  I was happy for her.

Many months passed with tears and aches that I could not describe.  Mother’s Day was not a day I wanted to be sitting in church.  God gave us a pastor and his wife that also struggle with that same issue.  God put our pastor in our church for a reason.  I had to listen to it for three years before I was able to take it to heart.  That same pastor was able to rejoice with us as we brought three girls into this world. I also had a great friend that God gave me to lean on and be leaned on. She too struggles with infertility and could understand each month the disappointment of the empty womb. I eventually found a book that helped me: When Empty Arms Become a Heavy Burden by Sandra Glahn and William Cutrer. While writing this, I think back on what we went through and how God’s plan was in place the whole time. If I had gotten pregnant in 1997, we would not have been able to have my husband go on for further school or be where we are today. He was in charge back then and in 2002 when I got pregnant for the first time. It is something I can look back on, but when I was going through it, it was not an easy task. I found that my husband and I had many prayers going up to God on our behalf. What a wonderful feeling that our families were quietly supporting us during a hard time and then loudly proclaiming their joy to answered prayer.  I never want to be used as an example for people to use on their infertile relatives – “See!  She got pregnant!  So will you!”  Whenever I am asked, I tell the pain and struggles that I endured so that I could be that someone to encourage others with their struggles. I understand the pain of not being able to have children.

“For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” Jeremiah 29:11

 Iowa 

“And He said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for My strength is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore most gladly I will rather boast in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.  Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in needs, in persecutions, in distresses, for Christ’s sake.  For when I am weak, then I am strong.”  II Corinthians 12:9-10

It was the only thing I had ever wanted. It was the only role I ever really dreamed about starting back when I was a very little girl.  Of course everyone is different – some dream of fame and fortune. Some dream of their wedding day.  I dreamed about being called, “Mama.”  Isn’t it humbling how God, in His sovereignty and infinite knowledge of us … and the way He’s promised to work in our lives to conform us more and more to the image of His Son, will do whatever He has to do to best get our attention …

We had been married a few years. We were “ready” in all the ways from the outside looking in to begin to add little people to our family and heritage. So we began hoping that someday soon we would join the ranks of those complaining about not sleeping, like, ever.  Month after month it didn’t happen. Finally we got to the place where we had to acknowledge that something wasn’t right which was confirmed very soon with a trip to the doctor’s office.

“You will very likely never conceive a child without some form of fertility assistance. I can refer you to a fertility specialist to review your options.” It was an instant heartbreaking blow that I had never even considered and I was in the shortest of moments on the path to what would become years of tears in secret and discouragement and watching what seemed like everyone around me living out my dream.

When ministering to a sister in Christ who struggles with infertility, as with any life-changing and painful event, there is really no one-size-fits-all approach. For me, I had to struggle ALONE through the initial stages. I didn’t tell anyone – not even my best friend or my mom. It was too fresh and too raw. Eventually (after six months or so) I got to where I could talk about it and we started telling those closest to us. Now, nearly a decade later, everyone knows. We talk openly about it basically with ease.  That doesn’t mean I’m past moments of tears and frustration but I am to the point where my pain is more predictable so I can deal with it more publicly and with a little more grace than I used to know how to do.

There will be events in an infertile woman’s life that will force her to start essentially from scratch in her process of grief and often she won’t see it coming. For me, I find no problem being happy for many who can have a baby, even when I’m sad for me with the reminder that it’s still not and likely never will happen for me. But the blow that brought me to my knees all over again was when a very close woman in my life announced her pregnancy and I could not see how God would allow her, with her choices and lifestyle, to become pregnant. My life spun out of control in the time it took to listen to someone tell me the news in a simple sentence on the phone. The news came out of nowhere and was debilitating. I was actually far more affected by the news of her pregnancy than I’d ever been with the news of my own un-pregnancy over and over and over.

Try to remember that infertility is one of the issues that can take decades to actually resolve, which is unique in some ways to other sources of emotional pain. If a woman finds out she is infertile early in her 20’s (as I did) she will likely hope, once a month, that it’s finally her turn until it’s no longer possible. And in my case, we have been medically advised that we CAN become pregnant, we just likely won’t. So I personally have a dangling carrot until I start menopause, which could still be a decade away.

Choosing adoption to grow a family, though amazing and beautifully theological, can still leave a woman on the outside as many of us long to know the feelings of carrying a child and going through the rite of passage of labor and delivery and all that goes with all of that. We know we’re missing out and that can be an additional source of nagging sadness.

Here are some thoughts on how to serve those who struggle in this way:  This might be one of those unique situations where “Just say something” may not be helpful.  For me, it was all I could do to want to join people in their events for fear of an untimely and embarrassing show of waterworks.  But by giving her a note or a card, telling her you’re praying for her and you’re there if she needs to talk (something she can read in private) – with this you can’t go wrong.

Then, if she ever does seek you out, choose your words carefully and try not to give too much advice.  If you have something you think she should see, pose it in the form of a question is a soft way to minister truth.

And most importantly, PRAY!

  • Pray for her to get the desire of her heart.
  • And if that’s not the path God chooses, pray for peace that passes understanding.
  • Pray for grace that she might enjoy children and families and friends who have them.
  • Pray for her marriage – some marriages don’t make it through infertility.
  • Pray for her wisdom as she seeks to do the will of the Father in “pursuing her options” to grow her family.
  • Pray for her endurance and her heart to not become bitter. Pray for strength for her to be able to use it and other life experiences to minister to others.
  • Ultimately, pray for her to be sensitive to the working of The Lord through this particular struggle and to seek to be a steward of her suffering so that it may finally result in His glory and her good.

Each strand of sorrow has it’s place
Within the tapestry of grace
So through the trials I choose to say
Your perfect will in Your perfect way.
-Getty

“Trust in Him at all times, you people; pour out your heart before Him; God is a refuge for us. Selah.”  Psalm 62:8