Saturday, March 17, 2007

Testimony

I gave my testimony at a MOPS luncheon today. I thought I'd post most of it here because, well, I just thought it would be good to get it out there, for those who don't know it.

WARNING: It's a tad long.

Jeremiah 29:11-13 “For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future. Then you will call upon me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.”

I want to tell you how the message behind this verse has impacted me as I have lived out my story thus far. But first, some background.

It’s never been an easy thing for me to trust God’s perfect plan for my life – to have faith in his unfailing love for me. But He has given me some opportunities along the way to grow more and depend on him. I want to share a few of those with you.

When I was in my early 20s I was working at a Christian retreat center in the mountains of PA. It was during a time when all my friends were marrying off, and I was beginning to wonder and worry if I’d ever meet the ONE. This was the topic of most of my prayers. One day I was in the chapel when I noticed a poster with those verses on it. I was drawn to that last part in particular. “You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart.” I remember praying, “God, I AM seeking you.” And I felt him whisper gently to my heart. “You’re not seeking me. You’re not seeking my face. You’re seeking my hand – what I can do for you, but you’re not seeking ME.” Oh.

And thus began a running theme in my life.

I met Paul online 10 years ago – long before the days of eHarmony or Match.com. God showed us clearly even before we met in person that we were meant to be together. It made no logical sense, as my mother and many friends continuously pointed out, but it was so obviously God’ will that it was impossible to deny. Paul moved to Pennsylvania to be with me, and we got engaged.

6 weeks before our wedding Paul’s mother passed away. She lived in Montgomery, AL and had amassed several pieces of run-down rental property and an enormous amount of clutter. We knew we’d have to forget our plans of newlywed life and quit our jobs to move to Alabama and start the cleanup process. I was furious that our “normal” life had been robbed from us. For a Yankee girl like me, the idea of moving not only to the South but to the very Cradle of the Confederacy was frankly appalling – no offense to my Southern friends.

Shortly after we arrived in Montgomery, Paul’s mother’s house was broken into 7 times in 3 weeks. So there I was, a newlywed, a stranger in a foreign culture, a victim of crime. It was not an easy time to see God’s hand (which seemed to have allowed so much pain and tragedy), so we had to seek His face and trust His sovereignty and character. It was a day by day and sometimes minute by minute choice. I didn’t always choose the right thing. Sometimes I was bitter and depressed. Sometimes I lashed out in anger and pain. But sometimes I let the Lord pick me up and keep me going. Sometimes He brought people into my life to encourage and support us and remind us that He is a loving God.

During this time we began trying to have a baby. I knew because my system was anything but “clockwork” that we would probably encounter some trouble. I figured it would take maybe 6 or 8 months, a year at most. In those first few months, I met people who had faced infertility for years and I just couldn’t imagine having to face that struggle myself.

We’d been trying for almost a year when I was diagnosed with PolyCystic Ovarian Syndrome, or PCOS. Basically, my hormones were out of whack so I rarely ovulated. It was a frustrating time, seeing friends become pregnant so easily while I waited. Then, at the end a year of trying, I found out I was pregnant. It was finally my turn. When I got the result of my blood test, I heard the nurse say, “Yes, you’re pregnant, BUT…” My heart sank. My levels were low. It didn’t look good. I went in for another test, which confirmed our fears. A few days later, it was all over.

I wish I could tell you that I didn’t get angry, that I didn’t ask God WHY a hundred times a day, that I didn’t completely ignore God for a while. I felt like He had been teasing me, causing me pain needless pain. That first Sunday in church, the last thing I felt like doing was praising God. But the verse that kept running through my head was from Job: “Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him.” I can’t say that choosing to praise Him made me feel instantly better. But I clung to the idea that His plans for me and for that baby were for my ultimate good. Even when I thought I would collapse from the pain. Even when friends were saying, “Oops, we’re pregnant – AGAIN!” God is sovereign, God is good.

Several months after the miscarriage, Paul and I were offered the opportunity to adopt a yet unborn baby from a crisis pregnancy. The baby’s mother was being told to abort, but didn’t want to, and it was felt that if she knew the baby was going to a good home, she could go through the pregnancy. After some prayer, we felt like this was what God wanted for us. So we agreed and started the wheels in motion. Two weeks later we got a call. The mother was, for some unknown reason, no longer pregnant. It was over.

Again I was angry, frustrated and broken-hearted. It felt like God was playing with me again and I must admit that I didn’t speak to him very much for a while. I can’t say even now that I understand it, but eventually I accepted that it being God’s perfect will was not dependent upon me understanding it.

So it was back to the proverbial drawing board. I read all the books, checked all the websites. For a while I tried temperature charting and several different drugs, but eventually I just let it go. I was tired of feeling like infertility had become my identity, like I was walking around with a big scarlet “I” on my chest. The obsession over my ovaries was overwhelming and I’d had enough. I took a break from the drugs, the books, the charting, all of it.

After 6 years and 14 construction-sized dumpsters full of garbage, we were finally finished the clean up process in Montgomery. Paul started looking for a job to return to his chosen field of journalism. Around this time doctor put me on special medication because I had pre-diabetic symptoms, and among the side effects was listed “increased fertility”. I threatened to take double doses! I took it for several months and kept waiting.

In June of 2004 we moved to Columbus to start over. Paul got a job at the newspaper, and I got involved here at Hope. We bought a house and started getting settled. In December I was offered the position of Director of Children’s Ministry here at Hope. While I still wanted a child, and still felt the pain of infertility, I was beginning to accept that God could do amazing things in my life regardless of my being “reproductively challenged”.

On January 2 of 2005, I told the folks at my church about how God had been showing me through this process of infertility to continually seek His face, regardless of what came through His hand. The next day I got quite a shock. There were 2 lines. I couldn’t believe it. After 4 ½ years, maybe this was finally it. We were so scared because of our previous miscarriage. The first 3 months were a little tense, but not because I had a hard time. Frankly, I sailed through pregnancy. But we still had to choose every day that God could be trusted, no matter HOW this pregnancy turned out.

I was 8 ½ months pregnant when Paul came home and told me that his boss said we had to move to Starkville to take over the office there. Pack up and leave a house we’d just settled in to, or stay and take a pay cut. So there I was, great with child in the middle of a Mississippi summer, packing boxes. Many nights I laid in bed thinking, “What is God trying to do to us?” It felt like having a calm, “normal” existence was just not possible. Again it was a matter of seeking His face, because what came through His hand wasn’t making any sense.

So along came Jadyn. I can say now, on this side of it, that because SHE was the one we were waiting for, the wait, the pain, the frustration, even the loss - it was all worth it.

And because we moved to Starkville, Paul got a different job with a much better working environment and a boss who understands family.

Now, I’m not saying that we always get to know why things happen. We’re not promised that. But we are promised that God is in control, and that He is a loving God who can be trusted with everything in our lives.

So now, here I am. Hoping for another child – hoping that I’ll be satisfied if Jadyn is all we get. Praying for another healthy baby, praying I have the strength to go through another round of infertility if that’s what God wants for me. It’s easy to say that what I want the most is God’s will. It’s much harder to feel it day in, day out. So for now, I’m still going to seek God’s face, regardless of what His hand has for me. Because no matter what, He is sovereign, and He is good.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Wow! Thanks for sharing that!
-Miranda-

TCS said...

Amanda, thanks for sharing that here.

Jackie said...

Thanks for sharing...I'll be praying for you.

Good luck with another child, I really admire your outlook!