Our family’s story has something in common with you. We are gloriously fashioned by the same Heavenly Father who loves us and will never forsake us. We are seeking to embrace His unique story for our families. We have chosen to stop comparing pain and see its purpose. So with these common threads, I open my heart and invite you into the vulnerable places of the story GOD fashioned for me…

Over the last 19 years of marriage and ministry, my greatest lesson from the LORD in forming our family has been how to let go and hold on. Two years into our marriage, a 14 month old needed parents. It was easy for me to open my heart, say yes to adoption, and hold on to faith as we completed an intricate private adoption.

Three years later when we realized growing our family would not come naturally, I was heartbroken. My husband saw the emotional turmoil I experienced month after disappointing month. He lovingly led me to let go of our plan. Through a prayer of surrender, we held on to each other and believed that GOD could see what we could not.

Though I believed GOD was trustworthy, I feared that what He wanted for me would not be as good as what I wanted for me.

Our first son, Jason, always prayed for a big brother and a little sister. It took me nine months to see it, but the LORD had moved us to a home close to an eight year old boy in foster care. I had so many questions about adopting an older child and concerns about his past. GOD did not give me all the answers but He did give me peace through obedience. Tony’s adoption gave me the opportunity to learn forgiveness and love in untold ways. Tony let go of anger towards his birthparents and embraced the love and forgiveness of JESUS. Year after year, I experienced healing and wholeness happening in him…in me. People would say how much Tony needed us and what a good thing we had done. If they only knew how much we needed him.

Just after Tony became Jason’s big brother, GOD gave us the opportunity to adopt a baby girl, Kaley, Jason’s half-sister. When we told Jason about Kaley, he said, “We’ll adopt Tony then Kaley, then there will be a time, and a time, and a time, and Mommy will have a baby from her belly.” I had never heard a four year old speak in such biblical terms! I tucked that away in my heart and moved forward.

Kaley’s private adoption brought me the hope of nurturing a baby…one of the deepest desires of my heart. Words cannot express what I felt holding her for the first time and taking her home from the hospital.

My dream come true suddenly turned into a nightmare. The hardest moment of my life came just two days later when I had to let her go. Her birth mother changed her mind.  I was angry. I was hurt. I was desperate. It felt like GOD had set me up for a broken heart.

I questioned if I had ever truly heard from GOD. I questioned why I even believed.

The enemy was such an opportunist. I had to learn to discern truth through my shattered dream. I had to keep the communication lines open with the LORD even if all I could mutter was, “Help me.”

The LORD sought me during those dark days.

I learned why I believed.

I became a Christian when I was five years old, riding home from church in the car with my dad. But in my brokenness at 25, I finally understood why I lived for the LORD. Honestly, I thought that since I was good so much of my life, I deserved certain things. I didn’t party, I didn’t have sex before I was married, and my husband and I had given ourselves to full time ministry, so there should be blessing, right?

It was through brokenness that I discovered true blessing. The power of the Holy Spirit raised me to new life. Through what I feared would kill me, I discovered the sustaining power of His presence daily.

I asked the LORD, “Where do I go from here?” He whispered to my heart from Mark 5:36, “Don’t be afraid, just believe.”  I let go and held on to His Word. Until He released us, we would pray for Kaley’s safe return to our family. I filled her empty crib with scriptures each day and placed my hope in the LORD.

In the miraculous way that only GOD can orchestrate, Kaley did come home. It was forty of the longest days of my life. Soon after her return, her birth parents were incarcerated.

GOD fashioned our family when we let go of our plan and trusted His heart. As we held on to Jesus through the hard places, our lives were filled with hope and peace. Confusion and frustration only came when I was “leaning on my own understanding.”

An unwavering belief in the goodness of GOD's heart kept us safe in the years to follow. Just after our ten year anniversary, I held the miracle of a positive pregnancy test in my hand. Approaching the second trimester, severe cramping and bleeding sent me to the ER. After surgery, I left that hospital with a vast emptiness. I was devastated. A darkness tried to take over me. A darkness that appeared safe, justifiable, yet I knew to keep taking steps to the light.  Jesus was my light. I let go of what I did not understand and held on to Jesus.

We now have three children in Heaven. Two more of our pregnancies ended too soon. I could not understand after so many years of infertility and the fulfillment I had through adoption why GOD would allow my pregnancies and losses.

The Word of GOD saved my life. Through the pages of the Bible, He showed me that He was hurting with me through those painful losses. He did not waste my pain. He gave me comfort, help, hope, even beauty. We just live in a fallen world where everyone faces heartache, suffering and death. Through all this, we have the opportunity to experience His faithfulness and learn that His mercies are renewed each and every day. It was through the pain that we learned how to really minister to others.

The words I had tucked away from Jason when he was four years old were prophetic. There was a time, and a time, and a time…three losses here who were heaven’s gain.

The LORD spoke to my husband about us trusting Him with another pregnancy. But after the third loss, I had resolved not to ever be pregnant again. It took a direct word from GOD for me to agree to coming off my birth control. (Yes, the woman who wasn’t able to get pregnant for ten years was taking birth control!)

We were sitting on a beach, watching the sun rise when Joe said, we need to trust GOD with this. He shared with me that he believed GOD wanted us to name him, Joel meaning: “GOD is JEHOVAH or “the LORD is willing.”