Category Archives: Infertility

God at Work Wednesday: Cindy’s Story

Every Wednesday I’m going to be highlighting a story of God moving in the life of someone I know. I think testimonies are the most powerful way to share our faith and change the world. So without further adieu, meet Cindy. Cindy babysat for me when I was a little girl and through Facebook we have recently reconnected.

“I needed someone to rescue me.

It started in my early teenage years … feeling the need to be perfect to fit in…the intense desire to be loved and accepted. I was trying to please everybody else, which made me feel so out of control of my own life. The one thing I could control was my food intake and my exercise.

What started out as a simple attempt to become “healthy” quickly became much more than that and spiraled out of control. I shut out my family and friends. I turned away from everyone that I needed … including God. I felt hopeless. I felt alone. But that did not matter to me at the time because the numbers on the scale were going down…. and down …and down.

I kept aiming for a smaller number each time I reached my “goal”. It was funny … not ha ha funny, but weird funny. I thought when I got to a smaller number, I would be happy and perfect; however, it never happened. The lower the number got, the more unhappy I became.

When I was 16, I was in and out of treatment centers and hospitals for weeks at a time. My eating disorder got worse after each treatment attempt. I was not ready to let go. My family and friends felt helpless. They saw me slowing killing myself, but they could not stop it.

When I was 18, my doctor gave me two weeks to live. I had starved myself down to 79 pounds. My parents had contacted every treatment center they could find, but I was 18 … I was able to refuse treatment. Remuda Ranch, a treatment center in Arizona, had called to do a phone interview with me. They only take patients who are willing to try to get better. I refused their phone call; therefore, they would not accept me. My parents were devastated.

My parents were taking turns staying home with me because I was so sick. I wasn’t even able to get out of bed. It was a day that my dad was home with me. It was a few days after I had refused Remudaʼs phone call. My dad was crying out to God, praying for a miracle. Within minutes after he finished his prayer, the phone rang. It was Remuda Ranch conducting a follow up call. My father walked down the hall to my bedroom with the phone in his hand, knocked on my door, and told me who was on the phone. By the grace of God, I said I would take the call.

Why they called again? I have no idea. I believe that was the divine intervention of a God who longed to rescue me from myself.

Less than a week later, frail–broken-and-on-the-brink-of-death-little-me flew to Arizona. I had so many emotions…fear, sadness, anger, confusion, and in a strange way, relief.

My rescuer was already working behind the scenes, softening my hard and anxious heart. It was there at Remuda Ranch at the broken age of 18 that I (with a lot of hesitation) decided to let go and let God. He intervened and rescued me from the eating disorder (ED) that was draining me of joy, freedom, and life itself. There the Lord met me in my brokenness, took my hand and started walking with me on a journey to healing.

 

This picture was taken when I was at Remuda Ranch (probably 2-3 weeks into that treatment program).  The tube hanging from my nose is a feeding tube.  I had to be hooked up to multiple daily feedings to allow my body to get nutrition.  My body could not handle solid food at that point.  Solids had to be slowly re-introduced.
This picture was taken when I was at Remuda Ranch (probably 2-3 weeks into that treatment program). The tube hanging from my nose is a feeding tube. I had to be hooked up to multiple daily feedings to allow my body to get nutrition. My body could not handle solid food at that point. Solids had to be slowly re-introduced.

I never knew what a long (so very long), hard (so very hard) journey it would be. There were so many ups and downs (and I am not just talking about the scale going up and down). I am talking about mental and physical obstacles I had to overcome. I had to rebuild trust with God, my family and my friends. I had to rebuild trust with my very own body.

Remuda Ranch
This was also taken at Remuda Ranch, about 4 weeks into the treatment program. I was there for 60 days.

Fast forward nine years. God provided an amazing man who asked me to be his wife, and he has been such a gift to me. A couple years after that we decided we wanted to start a family.

When I was in the midst of the eating disorder behaviors, I didn’t know (or maybe I knew but didn’t care) what kind of damage I was doing to my body.  When I went to my doctor (the doctor that took care of me all through my eating disorder) to happily tell her we were ready to start trying to get pregnant, it hit. me. so. hard.

Because of the trauma you put your body through for years and years, you might not be able to conceive or carry children” she said.

I was devastated.

The consequences of my decisions as a young girl had such a massive ripple effect. I was terrified and angry, but again, in my despair God had a plan. I had yet another opportunity to relinquish my plan and control.

*In retrospect I can say with confidence that it’s in the hardest things that we grow the most.*

After a long time of trying, we became pregnant — with the help of fertility treatments and procedures. I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl! I was overjoyed, and our sweet daughter has been such a gift. She is one of many amazing gifts that came as a result of God’s miraculous rescue.

If you have struggled with an ED, you know that they can be so gosh darn persistent. Throughout the years, I have battled off and on with control vs. surrender. When I let God get a hold of my heart, I was able to walk in healing and freedom. When I tried to do it my way, I would get stuck in old patterns. This was the cycle, and it was hard.

When our daughter was 3, we decided we wanted to have another child. Shockingly, we naturally became pregnant. Not only did we get pregnant on our own, but there were FOUR sacs in my womb. What?!?!? Everyone was amazed and perplexed. However, the pregnancy did not progress. At week nine, we had to say goodbye to all four babies in my womb. I was devastated and blamed myself because I had slipped backed into my eating disorder behavior before that pregnancy began. My body could not carry one child, let alone four.

But God wasn’t about to give up on me. He was my patient rescuer, and he fought so hard for my heart. Within the few months following the loss, I gained about 19 pounds and we decided to try again. We were naturally blessed with an identical twin conception. God enabled me to carry those two babies to full term and I gave birth to two healthy baby boys! Another miracle given by my rescuer.

This girl who was once told she had two weeks to live…a woman who was told she may NEVER be able to have children…is now the mommy of three little miracles, ages 6 and 2. And miracles are exactly what they are!!!

Picture by Stacia Spraetz, Fall 2013.
Picture by Stacia Spraetz, Fall 2013.

WOW … what a journey it has been!!!

When I turned 35 this year, I had a massive epiphany as I looked at my life through a new lens.

I could be dead. I could be childless. I could have missed out on ALL OF THIS! But God—OH GOD—in His amazing grace REACHED DOWN INTO MY MESS AND RESCUED ME. He knew me and loved me every single day. He waited patiently, He is my healer, and He has an amazing purpose for my life.

This pic (illustrating exactly how my life is ...awesome!) was taken by Emily Hernandez in August of 2012.
This pic (illustrating exactly how awesome my life is!) was taken by Emily Hernandez in August of 2012.

In those moments of breathtaking gratefulness just a few short months ago, God spoke to me. He wanted to break my chains off COMPLETELY. Not partly. Not for a few months. WHOLLY.

After more than 20 years of trying to fight an eating disorder on my own, I let go of my past. I forgave myself and devoted my life to Him. It’s through this continuous surrender that God’s greater plan and purpose for me can take root, and I cannot wait to fully experience all that He has for me!

For anyone who is struggling, I want you to know that there is hope and there is healing. I know there are times when you feel like there’s no way out. It may seem easier to let the ED take over and not fight back. But your true strength will come from handing it over to God and accepting his freedom. He will speak to you and open your eyes to all that He has for you. It’s a life of great purpose we’re promised in the Bible.

“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 a hope and a future.” -Jeremiah 29:11

Satan still tries to use stress and loneliness to tempt me to fall back into old behaviors, but I KNOW that those behaviors will only leave me feeling more stressed and empty. The way I fight back is by reminding myself that it’s Satan trying to pull me down. Instead of turning to those familiar behaviors, I take a “time out” to notice what is causing me to have those ED thoughts and then I do something healthy and productive to get rid of those thoughts … pray, write, read, call a friend … etc.

photo

Please know that I would love to pray for you, chat with you, encourage you, or help you in any way that I can. I’ve been there. I know how alone, scared, and hopeless you feel. But I promise you … there is hope. Do not give up. You are worth SO MUCH MORE!!!!!!!

God is good … ALL THE TIME!!!!!

If you would like to contact me, please leave me a comment below or message me on Facebook.

Be free!

This picture was taken just a few days ago when I went to ______ with my sister and mom, two wonderful women who have loved me fiercely through this whole battle. My heart is so full, and I feel so free!
This picture was taken just a few days ago when I went to Alto Pass, IL with my sister and mom, two wonderful women who have loved me fiercely through this whole battle. My heart is full, and I am finally free!
Advertisements

Just Do It

No, sicko. (<–remember that word from Jr. High?) Get your mind out of the gutter. 😉 I’m also not talking about the awesome 90s Nike slogan that impressively lives on (I love you Michael Jordan).

I’m talking about doing what you want to do in life.

What are the dreams of your heart?

What when you think of it fully realized makes you feel exhilarated and alive (and slightly terrified)?

What do you want to be known for when you die?

Do you have a burning passion to make something happen, but you’re scared or don’t know where to start?

For me, it’s my book series. My dream is sharing the message of hope with the world. I want to change lives by sharing the gospel and our story of hope through tragedy. I want it so badly MY HEART IS EXPLODING IN MY CHEST!

Sometimes, it’s so overwhelming that I just do nothing. Some days, I don’t know where to start, so I don’t start. I just sit there on Facebook or Pinterest and click “like” and “repin” until my kids wake up and then I’m like…crap. I didn’t “do it.” And I can’t get those minutes back.

Moving to action can be hard. Moving outside of our comfort zone can be terrifying.

I want to share a video with you today that will help you stop doing the FB/Pinterest/Twitter/Instagram-time-waster-thingy and start doing whatever it is you want to do.

This video gets a bit repetitive, even annoying at moments, but it’s stinking awesome. It helps me (and you) change desire into action. Watching this Art Williams 5 minute speech will not be a waste of your time. But before you watch it:

Identify ONE THING that you want. What is it? What is your dream? 🙂 Share it with me in the comments below. Putting your dreams on paper is powerful. Then humor me for five minutes and watch the vid.

My disclaimer today is for peeps walking through infertility. Oh friend, I know you want babies. You want to be a momma or a dadda and you can’t just “will it” to happen. It’s one of the few things in life you can’t “just do it” to earn. You can’t work harder and ensure the outcome. My advice to you today is to dig around in your heart to find something else that gets your mind churning…your legs dancy…the joy in your heart bubbling up…and move to action on that. Tomorrow will come.

But for today

Just do it

releasing anxiety

 

Cast your anxiety
It’s not a suggestion, it’s a commandment.

Sometimes, I feel anxiety creep up around me from out of nowhere. It’s not everyday, but it happens. At least weekly. Tightness in my chest. Restlessness. Uneasiness. To be honest, I don’t know why. I’m not in a desert season like I have been in the past, yet I find myself facing restlessness. Oh, humanity.

Anyone else?

A month ago I was exchanging emails with a friend who recently lost her baby. She had to hold her little one’s lifeless body in her trembling arms and say goodbye. Anxiety taunts her and threatens to suffocate. She is terrified of the future and the pain it might hold. She was asking how I kept on when I felt like I couldn’t face another day.

I remembered back to the days when I felt like God’s plan made no sense. When our children went to heaven…one after another…and I struggled so deeply. I was angry and frustrated. Trusting in the Lord didn’t come easily; I was more like hanging on for dear life.

Looking back, I see that God was holding me secure. I wasn’t overtaken because HE didn’t allow me to be done in by the trials that felt so much bigger than I could handle. I was His daughter and He cared way too much to let me be defeated.

I honestly don’t know how I made it through and I assure you, it wasn’t pretty.  But God brings us through stuff. And we’re changed.

As I was typing a response to my sweet friend, 1 Peter 5:7 flooded my heart with a truth that I, too, needed to hear that day.

Cast your anxiety upon the Lord.

The Bible doesn’t say, “Cast your anxiety on Him if you want to have less stress.” It says “Cast your anxiety on him because he cares for you.” Loving, yet authoritative.

 First, the command: “Cast your anxiety upon the Lord.”

It’s not optional. God says to do it. Cast it. Let go of it. Get down on your knees and ask him to help you release the gripping anxiety. If you don’t know what to say, tell him that.

“God, I don’t know what to say, but I know I need to let go of this. Help me. I don’t want it anymore. I know you care because the Bible says you do.”

Breathe in deeply. When you release your breath, release your anxiety to God. Breath has been given to us as a gift. Deep breathing calms. Short breathing stresses. As you continue this deep breathing, imagine yourself inhaling the peace of the Lord that surpasses understanding. Let His love wash over you.

When you feel that anxiety creeping back up (even if it’s 10 minutes later), get down on your knees and cast it off again.

Second, the why: “because he cares for you.”

I am so thankful God isn’t an old bearded dude in the sky! He is a tenderhearted Father who draws near to His children. He knows you by name and cares for you. He doesn’t want your life to be invaded by anxiety or worry even more than you don’t want that. He hates to see things steal your joy and hope.

steady your gaze

Matthew 6:26, “Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they?

God cares. Fill your heart with the truth of His word today. Blast that worship music. Pray. Surrender. Be still. Cast your stuff on Him because He cares way more than you know.

(I’m preaching to myself too.)

Psalm 55:22 “Cast your burden on the LORD, and he will sustain you. He will never allow the righteous to be moved.”

Do you struggle with anxiety or worry? What is God asking you to lay at his feet today?

**Originally written for Mommies with Hope

When an adoption falls through

I haven’t written about our failed adoption in a long time. Mostly because it wasn’t even two weeks after that heartbreaking phone call that we were asked by Coleton’s birth mommy if we would adopt him. The gears shifted quickly back then as I was drifting in and out of pregnancy twice between that loss and when C bear was born. Honestly it left us feeling so hurt and confused that we just didn’t talk much about it.

But it was a loss. It was a traumatic loss.

We had met with his birth mom twice. She loved the Beatles, so we downloaded all kinds of Beatles lullaby music. He was going to be our firstborn son that we could cradle in our arms, rock to sleep, and call by name. He was going to be named Carson, and for two months we pictured what he would look like…be like…sound like…feel like…smell like. We prayed for him and his birth mom every single night.

We decorated his nursery so perfectly. After all, he was about to be born! The birth mommy was going to be induced ONE week after my phone rang. The call came on a Friday. Just in time to cancel his baby shower for the following day.

Heartbreak.

A failed adoption is heartbreaking, not just because it is a loss…but because it’s hurt upon hurt. Not always, but most likely there has been loss or infertility along the way.

Here’s the redemption piece.

It’s amazing how many families are made whole through adoption, and how God gives us a glimpse of his bigger purpose through that. If no one ever faced heartbreaking infertility or loss, so many children would be without a family. So many families would be missing out on these INSANELY AWESOME kids who were WOVEN TOGETHER so they could be theirs!

If we hadn’t gone through so many miscarriages and even walked through that failed adoption, our little Coleton wouldn’t be our son! We literally can’t imagine life without him. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, we would go through all of the hurt again in an instant to have Coleton and Annabelle here in our arms.

IMG_1178

But, lawdy lawdy…it hasn’t been easy. Especially the day we got the phone call that our first birth mom had changed her mind. Her boyfriend’s parents would be adopting the baby. We were so crushed…upset…confused…PISSED (frankly)….and above all else: heartbroken. All of our personal miscarriages and now this??

Did God not want us to be parents after all? Was there seriously something that wrong with us? WHY?!?!?

We didn’t know. But now we know. It wasn’t any of that. It was that God could see our little Coleton, who was already growing in his mother’s womb. He knew that C was going to fit more perfectly into our family than we ever could have imagined.

If you have had a failed adoption, and I know there are so many of you…I’m so sorry. The pain does subside, but it is harsh and intense initially…and probably will be for awhile. You should grieve. You should mourn (mourning being the outward expression of grief, for example, create a memory book or buy something that will remind you of that child you were growing in your heart.)

As with any grief related to child loss, it is yours. Don’t feel like you “should” or “shouldn’t feel a certain way”. Don’t compare your loss to others and don’t  sweep it under the rug. When an adoption falls through, especially when you’ve held the child in your arms, but also when you haven’t yet (in my experience) is pain upon pain and needs to be processed.

I’m so thankful for the friends who stood by us even when we kept enduring loss and pain. It must have been so exhausting for them! But they didn’t give up on us, and we are so grateful that they kept praying for us and pointing us back to the source of all comfort.

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 3.18.59 PM

 

If you know someone who has had an adoption fall through, don’t be afraid to reach out to them. That child was theirs in their heart, and they just lost that baby (or older child.) Shower them with prayer, words of encouragement, cards, flowers, mementos…whatever kind of love you are best at giving. They need you.

If it was you…hang in there. God’s got this.

 

 

There’s OH so much to sing about.

I haven’t had much time to read in general since Coleton came along, or maybe I just haven’t made the time to read, if you know what I mean. BUT, when I realized that a woman from our very church had published a book, I was really excited so I went to Barnes and Noble to buy the book 🙂

It’s called Wildflowers from Winterby Katie Ganshert (cutest author momma ever) and I just finished it this afternoon! I thought I’d give a little review because this book brought me to tears.

It’s Christian fiction, which I haven’t read much of, but I REALLY liked it!! It had a romance plot line, which is always wonderful and makes you feel happy inside. =) It wasn’t contrived either. It had some really realistic broken relationship issues between a girl and her mother (mmm momma drama) and some heavy baggage that this girl carries because of her past with church and family life. It included a ton of real life issues: heaven and hell, friendship, suicide, miscarriage, job loss, death of a spouse, intense loss and grief, new life (birth) and like I mentioned, unexpected romance.

On a side note for local (QC) readers, it’s SUPER fun to read because it mentions the Mississippi River, Alcoa, and John Deere! um…I know it’s my personality to get excited over little things, but I got excited because I have been to those places! Helps you paint the picture of this town in your mind.

My favorite character in the book is a guy who used to be angry with God, but God has softened his heart and renewed his faith. Besides the fact that he’s a super handsome, hunk of a farm boy, he’s the guy who drops lines that are just TRUE and hit you where you need to hear them. My favorite line, and the one that resonated with me (so much that I went searching for it after I was done reading the book) comes in the context of this section:

“She’s trying,” she said.

“She doesn’t sing in church anymore.”

“Maybe she realizes there’s nothing to sing about.”

Evan cocked his head, his stare reminding her of Storm’s. He didn’t just look at her, he looked through her-inside her-and whatever he found seemed to make him sad.

She stiffened. “What?”

He stepped closer and stared so intently that for a second, she thought he might reach out and touch her cheek. “Someday, Bethany, I hope you find out that you’re wrong. There’s so much to sing about.

I just want to encourage you today, that there is so much to sing about. Even when you don’t feel like it in the midst of your pain, because I’ve so been there, there is still so much to sing about. Let your guard down. Go find a new worship song that expresses how you’re feeling…go read a book (or better yet, read the story of Jesus in one of the gospels)…go on a thankful walk…take 5 minutes to journal or freewrite. Go do something that engages and ignites your heart to

SING and LIVE FULLY and BE FREE today.

Much love,

Liv

Wow.

I am at a loss for words really, for what I am about to say. At a loss for words on one hand, and on the other hand I am exploding with excitement and joy and so many thoughts I hardly know where to start!

SO, here it goes….I…AM…PREGNANT!!! Not just pregnant like the pee stick had 2 lines pregnant, but I have actually made it over the hump and am moving into the second trimester of pregnancy.

It is still extremely surreal! And although tomorrow is never promised, for babies and adults alike, we are choosing to rejoice and give God all the glory for what seems like it will be our first biological baby who will make it to full term! (we are in the 13th week.)

7 pregnancies. 6 miscarriages. Over 40 technical weeks of pregnancy and morning sickness to get to this point where we feel like we can be joyful in sharing this news with the world, rather than just somberly telling a small circle of people for the purpose of asking prayers as we enter into another murky first trimester.

The reason I am so excited to share this post is not to JUST celebrate this new life…it’s so much more than that. It’s to share another point in this trecherous journey we call life, a point that we feel is completely due to God’s incredible mercy and grace.

Throughout our battle with infertility/miscarriages people have said to us, “You deserve to have a baby so much…” and I’m sure I’ve said this before, but we feel like we’ve come to this place of true humility…which has led us to realize that we don’t deserve anything from God. We can’t “earn” good things by living a good life. Scripture is so clear…”the wages of sin is death” and we all sin! “But the gift of God is eternal life…” Our reward is heaven, and nothing here on earth is promised. The word of God says is so much better than I could: Job 37:23 “We cannot imagine the power of the Almighty; but even though he his just and righteous, he does not destroy us.” Justice would mean for us to be destroyed!! Even the “good” people among us. But he DOES NOT DESTROY US. No, better yet…he saves us. He “makes the rain fall on barren land…He sends rain to satisfy the PARCHED ground and make the tender grass spring up.” (Job 38:26)

There have been days in the last couple years where my sight was cloudy and where it was incredibly difficult to accept or believe that God could provide all the comfort I needed and that heaven would be enough someday. I wanted babies “now.” But glimpse by glimpse, I started to see more clearly that my purpose in life is to glorify God. My selfishness has to die for that to happen. OH how we long to be “happy!” We think we know what will make us happy too…but isn’t it so true that when you get what you want you soon become unsatisfied again?? It’s not about me. This truth is FREEING.

In my PARCHED desert of a life (or so it felt)…the rain was starting to come down.

When we adopted sweet Coleton, God really opened our eyes to the utter truth that His plan is best. We were incredibly humbled through the adoption journey…as we clearly felt like God had ordained from the foundations of the world for Coleton to be a part of our family and that he could knit us together beautifully, in a different way than knitting him together in my womb.

The day we adopted Coleton, I miscarried for the fifth time. Although the loss is always painful, it was a healing day. God showed us that He doesn’t just take away. He also GIVES…and gives generously. We knew the moment we held Coleton in our arms that we could adopt a whole houseful of kids and be so fulfilled. Back in February when we brought Coleton home, a verse that I had prayed for myself resonated in my heart:

“He settles the barren woman in her home as a happy mother of children. Praise the LORD.” Psalm 113:9

That was a scripture God graciously gave me in the months following our first and probably most devastating miscarriage, in a time that I DESPERATELY needed it.

“My heart pounds as I think of this. It trembles within me.” Job 37:1. I read Isaiah 51 and literally shake as it recalls the story of Sarah who was SO barren in her old age and God brings forth MANY nations through her son…and it goes on to say, “Sorrow and morning will disappear, and they will be filled with joy and gladness. ‘I, yes I, am the one who comforts you.'” (v11b-12a.)

I just want to encourage you all as you rejoice with us and read this post and these scriptures that God is the one who has comforted me in my deepest valleys and who will comfort you in yours.

“Yet he is actually not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27)

I feel like I have so much more to say…and if you’re still reading…I’ll say some of it now and some in more posts later. =)

1) I have been pretty sick…and taking care of Coleton has been my #1 focus…so basically that is why my blog has been MIA in the last couple months. I am hoping now that you know what is going on that I can just share what’s on my heart!! (oh yeah…I’ve been doing modified bedrest..that’ll be fun to tell you about. Also 2x acupuncture a week and drinking some really um…yummy…(insert GAG) herbs from a fertility specialist)

2) Don’t worry, I am not going to be posting belly pictures…or probably even ultrasound pictures. I have been in the “infertility” camp and have SO many close friends going through different aspects of that right now. And oh how I know that these can be such painful reminders of where you maybe aren’t. So PLEASE don’t run away if you’re going through that! I will do my best to be sensitive.

3) I know this might sound silly…but I seriously do not want to hear that “oh, you know what…it’s totally because you adopted a baby that you’re having one now” or anything along those lines. We don’t believe that adopting Coleton has ANYTHING to do with God’s timing for giving us another baby…and our ultimate goal was definitely not just to have biological babies. We definitely still feel called to adopt again and see that as just as much of a joy and gift as this baby is.

4) We know that the babes are going to be 14 months apart!! (insert Gasp!) Some people think this is crazy. Some people like babies a LOT and are okay with chaos 🙂 We would be a part of the second group, and are nothing but thrilled. I know it will be lots of diapers, etc… So please don’t ask about if we’re like…up for the challenge. We totally are, k?

Love you all and THANK YOU SO much for your prayers and support on this CRAZY journey.
Xoxo,
Liv