4.23.2015

Hope When Mother’s Day is Hard

Last year, I received many heartbreaking comments from women who were really struggling with Mother’s Day. Just the mention of the holiday stirred up deep hurt over infertility, adoption, and singleness. That’s why I asked my friend Holley Gerth to guest post today. She understands that deep hurt from her own journey with infertility, and I just love how she can shine a light into what can be a really dark place. Here’s Holley…

The single pink line on the pregnancy test mocked me from the bathroom counter. “You’ll never be a mother,” it seemed to whisper.

I sighed and dropped it into the trash—along with the hope it represented. Then I sat down on the edge of my bed and placed my head in my hands. “God,” I whispered, “Why does this have to be so hard?”

That scenario repeated itself for years in my life.

And then my heart began to slowly, unexpectedly heal as God changed my perspective on motherhood. A turning point came as I read the third chapter of Genesis one morning. In it Eve is called “the mother of all living.” In that moment God seemed to whisper this truth to my heart: All women are mothers. Because all women bring life to the world in some way.

We encourage. We feed bellies and hearts. We nurture dreams. We create beauty. We birth books. And, yes, some of us also have physical children. But that’s not the only way to bring life into this world—it’s one of many.

I am not barren,” I began to tell myself, “I am blessed.

I realized I brought life into the world through my words. I was a mother. Embracing that truth gave me new hope and helped fill the hollow space in my heart.

Years later I sat in my living room watching a documentary on kids who age out of the foster system. The narrator explained when these children turn eighteen they’re often simply told, “You’re on your own.” The story touched me deeply and when people asked if we’d considered adoption I started answering, “If I adopt, I’ll choose a twenty-year old.”

One time when I gave the response above a friend of mine asked, “Have you heard of Saving Grace?” It turned out a transitional living home for foster girls aging out of the system was being started right there in my town. I connected with the founder, Becky Shaffer, and when I told her my dream she didn’t look at me like I was crazy.

Although our lives were busy, Becky and I stayed in touch. The week of my thirty-sixth birthday she invited me to attend a banquet celebrating the accomplishments of the girls living at Saving Grace. God had impressed on my heart that my word for the next year of my life was to be love. And the night of the banquet I met my daughter: Lovelle.

How old was she? Twenty, of course.

Over the last year and a half we’ve become a family. She calls me “Mom” and my husband “Dad.” It turns out she’s a writer, speaker and dreamer too—which neither of us knew when we first connected. Those gifts were buried under years of abuse, surviving and even being homeless. But now they’re blooming like a sunflower. She married a wonderful guy in January so we now have a “son” too.

Do I know why I went through years of infertility or why Lovelle spent so much time without a family? No … and I won’t in this life. But I do know this: God is a relentless Redeemer. He took all the hurt we experienced and transformed it into joy we never expected.

God was not ignoring us. He was not overlooking our hearts. He was not holding out on us while giving everyone else what was good. Instead He was working the entire time to bring us to His very best.

Mother’s Day can be painful. Perhaps like me you’re in the middle of infertility. Or you might be pursuing an adoption that’s more difficult than you foresaw. Maybe you’re single and wondering if having the family you dream of is even possible. Wherever you are today, I want to whisper this to you … God is with you and He is for you. He will not leave the true desires of your heart unfulfilled; the answers just may look different than you planned.

All those single pink lines on pregnancy tests turned out to be lines in a love story. And I wouldn’t alter God’s ending for anything.

Lovelle & Holley

(Holley Gerth is a Wall Street Journal best-selling author, encourager and life coach. She’d love to have coffee with you. Until then, you can find her here or subscribe to her free devotionals. You can read Lovelle’s blog here.)

 

If you can relate to Holley’s post today, you’ll love her books! Today we’re giving away 5 bundles of What Your Heart Needs for the Hard Days, and a necklace from the Proverbs 31 Ministries Faith collection.

Read the book for encouragement. Wear the necklace as a reminder that we can trust and believe in our faithful God.

HGbookandnecklace

To be entered to win, leave a comment below with how this post encouraged you.

4.18.2015

When Your Husband Has Given Up

I know the heart-ripping hopelessness of a relationship unraveling.

The silence. The rejection. The harsh words. The absence of intimacy. The questions. The lack of answers. The hurt feelings.

The first five years of my marriage were really hard. Two sinners coming together with loads of baggage, unrealistic expectations and extremely strong wills.

My heart aches for anyone in a marriage that’s struggling. Many of us have been there.

But I think the deepest hurt comes when one spouse resigns while the other is still trying. There is a panic that arises to somehow make the other person wake up, stop their resignation and help you fix this relationship.

A situation like this is much more complicated than simple answers I could offer here. But might I give you one stepping stone upon which to stand, to stop the panic and balance yourself?

Decide today that you are worthy.

Because you are. Worthy. You may not feel like it. But a quick glimpse at Psalm 139 assures me, you are.

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made. Wonderful are your works; my soul knows it very well.” Psalm 139:13-14 (ESV)

You are fearfully and wonderfully made by a loving God who cares for you. Who loves you. And I’d rather depend on the solid truth of God than the rollercoaster of fickle feelings.

You are beautiful and captivating and attractive and smart and capable. But if you are in a relationship full of unmet expectations, unresolved issues and frustrating communication, I suspect you feel a little less than all I’ve described.

Broken-down relationships can really break down a woman.

And if you’re anything like me, when you feel broken down, those around you get your worst. Then upon all the hurt and anxiety you layer regret, shame and the feeling that you’ve lost yourself. You’ve lost that girl inside who used to be so positive and happy and ready to take on the world.

Can I whisper a tender truth to you? The only way to recapture her is to come up for air and remember: You are worthy because the Creator of the Universe says you are.

Then you can act worthy.

And step aside from the emotional yuck to make some levelheaded decisions. Get a plan. Talk to wise people who love you, provide godly counsel and will walk this tough journey with you.

Draw some boundaries with your husband, if some are needed.

Pray like crazy for clear discernment. Because Jesus is the best source of help.

Honest cries for help, lifted up to Jesus, will not go unheard. He sees. He knows. He loves. And Jesus will direct you as long as you stick with Him.

Remember, you can’t control how your husband acts and reacts, but you can control how you act and react.

Reclaim who you are.

I pray your relationship survives. I pray it with every fiber of my being. But if it doesn’t, I pray most of all that the beautiful woman you are rises above all the yuck, still clinging tightly to the only opinion that matters — the One who forever calls you worthy.

If you’re in a hard place in your marriage, leave a prayer request or comment that says “please pray.” And then let’s rally around one another with prayer. My team and I will personally be praying for you. You aren’t alone.

I’d also love to help encourage you with a 5-day challenge I put together. Click here to sign up for “Praying Boldly For Your Marriage.”

4.3.2015

What Ignoring God Could Have Cost Me

Well, we’ve been working hard to spruce this place up a tad. I hope you like it. After all, I want you to feel as at home on my blog as I do. (And if you’re reading this through email, you may want to click here to see what I’m talking about.)

I’m so glad you’ve popped over for a visit. Feel free to poke around, but before you do, read this…

It was a hot day inside and outside at the orphan village in Liberia. The 12 boys inside, practicing their choir music, found their eyes wandering over to the soccer field, where the promise of fun and the cheers of their friends tugged at them.

They were feeling the pull of wanting to go outside and play soccer. But these boys determined the choir was worth the sacrifice.

Years earlier, Liberia had been ravaged by a civil war that left more than 25,000 orphans to be cared for. So to raise money and support, an a cappella boys’ choir was formed to travel throughout the country of Liberia and perform in churches.

Two of the teenage boys in that choir, Jackson and Mark, had been orphaned as babies when their parents and most of their siblings were killed by rebel forces.

Night after night these boys knelt beside their makeshift beds and poured out prayers of thanksgiving and hope that one day they’d hear six simple yet life-changing words, “You are my child—welcome home.”

God had a perfect design for their prayers to be answered and worked miracle after miracle to bring the boys choir to America. But little did I know that my husband Art and I would be part of the answer to Mark and Jackson’s prayers.

Our life was busy and full, and we were enjoying being the parents of three little girls. So you can imagine my surprise the night I went to see The Liberian Boys’ Choir concert at our church that I was stirred to consider adoption.

As I sat in the concert, God whispered to my heart that two of those boys singing were mine. No, I thought. Not me.

I felt like sticking my fingers in my ears and singing, La, la, la, la, la . . . I’m not listening to You, God! But the stirring in my heart wouldn’t stop.

I decided to try a new tactic with Him. Lord, I just came here tonight to bring my girls to a simple little cultural event. I’m not looking for a major life change. My life is already very full with speaking and writing and homeschooling three girls. Besides, all my friends would think I was crazy, and my husband would never think this is a good idea.

But God wasn’t discouraged by my response. His directive in my heart became more intense as the evening went on. After the concert, I asked the coordinator of the event which of the boys still needed homes so I could pray for them. He told me that eight of the boys still needed to find families and encouraged me to walk into the reception area where they were. If God intended for some of these boys to be ours, he was sure I’d know it.

Reluctantly, I walked into the reception area. In a matter of seconds, Jackson and Mark walked up to me, wrapped their arms around me, and called me Mom.

I was moved and terrified at the same time.

What began as a small heart prompting had turned into a very big decision for our family to make.

After talking with Art, we cried out to God, desperate for His guidance and wisdom. We pondered every aspect and wrestled with this decision deep in our spirits.

Still, doubts and questions flooded our minds: How could we financially increase the size of our family? How would we find the time in our already crammed schedule? How would we raise boys? How would we find room in our home? The list went on and on.

One day, I called my friend and poured out my heart. I told her I could list off many other parents who I felt were much more qualified than us. She patiently listened without much response as I asked, “Why me?”

Then quietly and prayerfully she answered. “Because God knew you’d say yes, Lysa.”

I was stunned. It was the highest compliment I’d ever received. My heart was filled with joy as memories filled my mind of the years of small steps God had me take to get me to the place where I could be prepared to take this much bigger step.

Now, over ten years later, I think back to me sitting in that church pew, just going about my ordinary life when God’s extraordinary invitation burst forth. I could have so easily walked out of that church and ignored God’s stirring. I’ve done that more times than I’d like to admit. But look at everything we would have missed out on had I done that.

TerKeurst Family

Hear my heart: I’m not saying that everyone is called to adopt. But each day we can look for His invitation to leave our plans behind to join Him in His wondrous work through our own unique small steps of obedience.

What if the next big step God wants you to take is actually small?

Remember, my big step of faith came after years of taking small steps of faith. But no matter where you are or what God has called you to, you can take the first step. Find out more in our next FREE online Bible study of my book, What Happens When Women Walk in Faith. Sign up today.

I’m giving away 10 copies of What Happens When Women Walk in Faith today on the blog to help you get ready for the study. To be entered to win, leave a comment below telling me what small step you’re going to take this week.