How do you emotionally get through a day, a month, and a year? What gives you hope to press on through life when life looks differently than you thought it would? When life is harder than you think it should be?
My early childhood and young adulthood years were fairly uneventful. Life rocked along with minor bumps in the road and nothing more. I attended Bible College and then Nursing School. Once again, no major drama to speak of.
Then “happily ever after” happened. The first two years were spent getting to know the man that I had dated for 14 months. The learning curve was steep.
In our first year of marriage, we lost a baby and had a baby, Ashley. Devastation one minute and joy beyond words the next.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart…” (Proverbs 3:5a/NLT)
Hope is found in trusting God in every circumstance in life.
Baby number two didn’t happen easily or quickly. Infertility became part of our journey in trying to build our family. Who would have thought that I would have trouble getting pregnant?? I mean, we already had one child. I knew women who just needed to sit next to their husbands to get pregnant. Talk about unfair (I didn’t have the best attitude).
Then infertility drugs came into play. It took two years, but I finally got pregnant! I went into labor early despite being on bed rest and taking medication to prevent premature labor and delivery. Baby number two arrived and the delivery was traumatic for him. The umbilical cord was wrapped around his neck twice. John B. spent the first week of his life in the ICU. This experience ushered in my first real spiritual growth spurt. I learned the importance of releasing our children into God’s care.
“Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you.” (1 Peter 5:7/NLT)
It was scary learning to trust God to take care of our children.
Hope is found in resting in God’s care for you.
More infertility drugs led to pregnancy number three. I was sick, sick, sick with this pregnancy. Semi-bed rest and no weight gain for me; baby number three, Christopher, was born early but healthy. I experienced postpartum anxiety for the first time after he was born. Prayer, a nighttime nanny, and an occasional dose of Xanax got me through it.
Infertility drugs again for the third time resulted in zero success. Unfortunately, we lost four babies over four years. It was emotionally draining. My husband finally said, “I can’t do this anymore. The emotional roller coaster is too much for us both.” No more fertility drugs. No more “trying.” Lots of grieving. The disappointment over the loss of the dream of having a large family was so heavy.
I was beginning to understand and embrace the sovereignty of God in my life. God is in control, and I don’t always have to understand the rhyme or reason for the things He does. It was and is a HARD lesson for me to learn.
“The Lord directs our steps, so why try to understand everything along the way.” (Proverbs 20:24/NLT)
A trip to the beach and a romantic encounter and baby number four, Emily, was on the way. We weren’t even “trying.” Funny how that happens sometimes. We were nervous, but excited at the same time. The second doctor’s visit revealed that the baby was too small and not growing. Fear. Fear. And more fear.
“When I am afraid, I will put my trust in you.” (Psalm 56:1/NLT)
The doctor told us to begin preparing ourselves for a baby with multiple chromosomal issues. We were devastated, again. “God, where are you in all of this??”
“And be sure of this: I am with you always…” (Matthew 28:20/NLT)
Hope is found in God’s promises.
It was during this pregnancy that I learned the importance of God’s Word in my life. I read through the book of Psalms six times in five months. The book of Psalms is written by real people with issues that are common to us all. The authors poured out their hearts to God. They were honest and open with Him. I began crying out to God during this time. He already knew my thoughts, feelings, and heart attitude anyway. My relationship with God grew deeper. I learned to saturate my heart, mind, and soul in the promises of God. Doing so brought hope to my spirit.
Hope is found in God’s Word and in getting to know God and his character.
After many visits to the specialist we were told the baby was small but proportional. Three amniocenteses’ confirmed a small but healthy baby. We experienced some feelings of relief, but also felt caution at the same time.
Emily was born early. She weighed 4.8 lbs. and was quite sick. She spent the first week of her life in ICU. She needed two full body blood transfusions. I wondered, “Will we lose her?” I continued to learn the importance of trusting God with our sweet babe. Our “beanie baby” recovered well; and my doctor said “no more babies!” Crushed. Emotional. Grieving. But accepting. Heavy sigh.
“The Lord is close to the brokenhearted; he rescues those whose spirits are crushed.”(Psalm 34:18/NLT)
When Emily was six weeks old, we decided we needed a short vacation, so we traveled to the beach for a few days. I was having too much postpartum bleeding, so the doctor decided to put me on bed rest. Major disappointment. I picked up a copy of Redbook Magazine off of the coffee table and read an article about the number of Chinese baby girls that are available for adoption. Over one million babies need a home. A spark of encouragement entered my spirit!
John was in the other room watching TV while holding our six week old. “Hey, John. What do you think about adopting a little girl from China?” Dead silence followed my question. “Woman, you’re practically hemorrhaging, and you’re on bed rest. No!” I slipped the magazine under the bed and began praying… “Lord, do you want us to bring another child into our family through adoption? Please make it clear to us!”
God began teaching me about the power and perseverance of prayer.
“The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results.” (James 5:16b/NLT)
“Never stop praying. (I Thessalonians 5:17/NLT)
Hope is found in a “never giving up” kind of prayer.
God did answer many prayers for us over the years of building our family. I am so thankful that we have five wonderfully healthy children. Abby joined our family when she was 13 months old. She was born in China. God is good and faithful.
Hope is found in God’s grace and mercy.
Finally, hope is found in God’s love.
“For God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son (Jesus), so that everyone who believes in him will not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16/NLT)
All hope is ultimately found in Jesus. Do you know him?
Visit Allyson at allysonholland.com.