#1 Man Makes His Plans, But the Lord Determines His Steps
My life verse has always been Proverbs 16:9, "A man's heart plans his course, but Yahweh directs his steps." I knew from the time I was a little girl that I wanted two things more than anything; to be a mommy of a big family and to be a writer.
Life didn't quite go as planned. I spent six years trying to get pregnant, before I was given the great privilege of raising my oldest daughter, whom also happened to be my cousin's daughter, who passed away. (We were blessed in being able to adopt her 8 years ago today, on my 29th birthday!)
I then gave up the idea of naturally conceiving and we decided to adopt. Along the way I met 8 more beautiful children, 2 lifelong friends (two of their moms), and I wouldn't change a moment of it. Yet, God didn't choose adoption again for me. We tried IVF, only to learn my eggs were not suitable for procreation. Then after several more tries, my youngest babe was conceived through IVF (donated eggs). I planned to be a mom... God chose how I would get there.
#2 Recognize Blessing
Oh, Yahweh has given me a big family! No, I do not have a load of children; I have two. Two sweet girls, whom we adore. They love each other, which is amazing! But I have a lot of children whom I get to watch grow. Some are old foster kids whom the moms graciously let me be a part of their lives, some are nieces and nephews, some are dear friends' kids. Not to mention the "sisters" I have gained throughout the process.
#3 Take the Time to Get to Know Others Before You Judge
- Even then Don't Judge; Leave that to God -
That journey taught me two of my favorite lessons. The first is our greatest hurts in life are often platforms for our greatest blessings to find us. Never ever ever assume you understand someone because of their circumstances. Two of my favorite friends, I met because their kids were in foster care. They are genuinely two of the sweetest, most caring, most forgiving, intelligent women I know. I wish I would have learned that lesson earlier. I may have missed out on some amazing people. Trust me when I say, the character of a person has little to do with where they are right now, but where they will be. Don't miss out on their journey when they are down, you'll miss out on who they become when they are great!
#4 Don't Assume Who You Are Today; Is Who You Are
This lesson has taught me to not judge myself either. When I was in junior high, I had very few friends. I was rejected both overtly and subtly. The subtle made me feel like an an outcast, the overt rejection made me feel shame in who I was. My natural shy nature, became even quieter and more insecure. I did not realize my own worth.
In high school I would then go on to be voted shyest, not a title I am proud of. In college, one overheard comment rocked my world, and caused me to miss out on enjoying parts of my freshman year. I defined myself by my circumstances. I carried these insecurities with me.
Then God decided to take an illness I was already plagued with and bring me to my knees.
#5 Choose the Best; Even in the Worst Circumstance
This illness (ulcerative colitis) would nearly take my life, cause me to drop out of college, lose all my scholarships, lose my fertility, and yet give me a new perspective.
I do not believe that everything happens for a reason. Please give me scripture if that is the case, but right now, I don't believe this. I do believe God takes awful circumstances and gives them a new purpose. I do not believe murder, suicide, rape, happen for a reason. What I do believe is that we can take rotten things and allow good to happen through it, or at minimum recognize the good God does through them. That is exactly what God did with my illness.
#6 Know Your Worth
I believe God used my illness to realize my worth. A lot of people stepped up and showed me how much they care for me. I was isolated from all those who could reject me and only surrounded by love. I have never believed that I was better than anyone, but for the first time, I learned they are not better than me either. We are all made in the image of God.
As hard as this may be to say, even Hitler was loved by God. He may have grieved immensely by Hitler's decisions, but he also grieved over Hitler's death, knowing that his death was eternal. I am worthy, not because of the good I do here, but by who I was born to be; God's. Understanding my own worth, helped me understand other's worth as well. It has shaped the way I treat and especially think about others. I may be very upset with someone, but I sincerely do want the best for them, even if I must choose not to have them be a part of my life.
I also learned even the worst person is a child of God. Though I believe in consequences; both natural and man-given. I also believe God loves even them; grieves for even them; loves even you; grieves for even you; loves even me; grieves for even me. He is a good God, who loves His children. He wants the best for us, so shouldn't we want that for each other?
After six years of infertility, she was blessed with the adoption of her oldest daughter who now is a teenager. Six years later, she finally became a mother a second time, this time with a baby through a donated egg and ivf. Throughout that time, she fostered nine babies and toddlers, met wonderful women who helped her grow, and learned to rely on Jesus. She started this blog with the hope that she could share her joy, experience, and willingness to grow with others, whether they battle infertility, toddlers, or teens.