Wednesday, December 11, 2013

When Hope Won't Die

I made a public declaration that I was moving on. I gave away the custom crib bedding set. I gave back things that were borrowed, returned things that were bought, and boxed up everything else. I vowed that this was over. That we were not called to adopt like I thought we were.

And doing those things wasn't enough.

The hope won't die.

When the bedding ended up not being needed, my first thought was "God is sending it back to me. There must be a reason." And I beat that down like whack-a-mole.

A friend suggested I might receive a Christmas miracle. I beat that down too, with tears.

I was sent an email about an amazing adoption story. God, why are You doing this to me? Do you want me to still hope? Are you testing me? Are you desensitizing me?

Foolish girl, not everything is a sign. 

This hope feels like fraud. It is bitter in my mouth. It is salt in my wounds.

A dear friend struggling with infertility once explained that some women have tubal ligations so that they can end, once and for all, the 28 day cycle of hope and disappointment. They need acceptance and relief. That is what I'm looking for but I just can't figure out how to do it. For the peace of my marriage and for my peace with God, I have to get there.


Teri said...

I am so sorry to hear about all of your personal struggles. I know you are well read in scripture and have amazing friends and family praying on your behalf (and know that this sister in Christ just said a little prayer for you too). God is sovereign above all else. Wish I could give you a hug!

Lisa said...

Amanda, my thought is that hope might need to be patient for a season or so, but that it, like love, is never meant to die. I strongly feel God is redirecting your path, not paving over it. I will be praying for you as if I have known you my whole life.

"And in ALL THINGS God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose." - Rom. 8:28

- Lisa

Kathleen said...

It was so hard to read this, so very hard. Although I don't know you personally, I pray that God will bring peace and hope into this situation.

As hard as it likely was for you to write this, many women will likely benefit from reading it. Thank you for sharing your heart with us all.

Sara said...

My heart aches for you as I read your words. I do like what Lisa said (above) about God redirecting your path…
Not so strangely, I want to watch the movie "Hope Floats" now. Some Sandra and Harry Connick Jr.? May not be a bad thing. ;)
Keeping you in my prayers today…

BeckyJo606 said...

I know you have so many people praying for you, but know that I am joining that band. I suffered with infertility before we were able to welcome a son in March. My biggest struggle was thinking my body was failing me. Keeping you in my prayers!

Unknown said...

I am praying for you. May the Lord continue to hold you near and continue the redemption story in your life.

Sunni said...

I agree with Teri. I know you are surrounded by so many people (and all of your blog friends) who are holding you up in prayer right now. I take comfort in knowing that, because my heart aches for you.

It is so hard to understand life sometimes, but I know that our God is good and He loves us and that is all I can really say.

BIG HUGS from Louisiana.


Anonymous said...

You will, darling sister, but grief is brutal.....
Your sister in St. Louis, Kim

Gran Jan said...

Amanda - Because it was 6 years ago to the day yesterday, our story is on my heart. On Dec 10, 2007 my daughter-in-law found out she was pregnant afer 4 years of infertility, and it was within 24 hours of discovering their pending adoption was a terrible scam. They had been on that painful roller coaster of "hope deferred making the heart sick" for a long time, and we were ALL sick. It affects everyone, and like you - she is a pastor's wife. My oldest son's wife.

Amanda - they were adopting TRIPLETS! They had flown to Oklahoma 3 times - met the birth mother, seen the sonograms, talked with the doctors - and paid lots of money. While visiting a blog for adoptive parents my d-in-law saw another woman post that she was adopting triplets! How fun...then how similar, then the shocking discovery that it was the SAME BABIES - and they were being scammed. Not by the agency - but the young birth parents were "bidding out" their babies and collecting from 3 couples in the USA.

Dec 10, 2007 was a long dark day. We were devastated, angry, mad at the world - mad at God. After all we were on his A-team, weren't we? Ministry families! How dare He?

Then 24 hours later, not feeling well, as she did yet another pregnancy test before going to the doctor to get yet another shot to begin her cycle...she saw that faint line on the EPT. A tree of life was forming.

When the triplets were born, the birth parents left them at the hospital and a couple in NC got to adopt them. It was 2 boys and a girl.

My son and his wife are now the parents of...2 boys and a girl.

I know every story is different, but I wanted to tell you ours. And to thank you for being so genuine and transparent. And to tell you that I will pray for you dear sweet one. And rejoice with you when your story comes full circle.

Love & Prayers, Mrs. Jan (Gran Jan)

Elisabeth said...

I'm standing with you. I am. In the mud and the muck. Getting dirty. Believing God on your behalf. Because sometimes that's how it works:)

Sara said...

I can totally understand this. We have two sons and lost our only daughter this past April at 30 weeks and 1 day in my belly due to a very, very rare heart defect. Even though doctors had very little hope in her final weeks that she would make it much further and be big enough for open heart surgery after birth, we hoped and hoped and hoped. I found that I looked for "signs" from God everywhere. Did this mean she would live? Did it mean she wouldn't?
I find myself there again even now with a current pregnancy. Even though all tests show another boy, I'm hoping against hope that they're wrong and it's another sweet girl. Sometimes I want to beat hope to death with a hammer.
Thank you for being so raw and transparent. You're not alone and your words resonate with a lot of people. <3

AT HOME said...

This is an absolute trial for so many women. It's impossible to get it out of your mind! It's should be so simple but it's not! Even in the bible it's give me children or ...I know from my own experience and my friends that it doesn't matter how many children you have it is impossible to ignore that desire for more! This comment is not the least bit helpful! Sorry! It's just terrible and I wish it wasn't so!

Tara G. said...

My heart just breaks for you! I'm thankful that ultimately, Hope is a Person, and He is faithful. I have full confidence that you'll know Him so much better when you've struggled through - and maybe with Him- over this. Praying for you!

Marissa Burt said...

It is hard to hold on to hope. And scary.

WIshing you courage.

Krissie said...

It is horrendous agony to be at the place where you desire something so strongly, but cannot make it happen, and also cannot let go of the desire. I spent a long time as a single woman deeply desiring a husband, it was intensely painful at times, I found that my feelings and the things God was pushing me towards and learning fell inline with what my best friend was learning through infertility. The same basic things going on, really.

I'm sure you get a lot of happy ending stories and "encouragement" to have faith/patience, etc., but I just want to say, It's ok when you feel like locking yourself in a closet to cry. It's ok when you question God about why he's burned this in you and is keeping it from you, He can take it. It's ok to feel alone in it.

The things that got me through the bitter agony was a determination to not waste the pain... If I was going to have to hurt like that, then I was at least going to let it make me better. I'm not really sure what that looks like in a tangible way, I just know it's a prayer I prayed often, and looking back I think God answered that prayer for me. The other thing was a phrase "live in each season as it passes" trying to be fully present in where I was and make the most of it, instead of living in a dream world of when the desire would be fulfilled. It was a challenge for myself and it helped in not letting the pain consume me, especially in the moments when I thought my dream was so close and could touch it, but then everything crumbled.

Know that as much as you may feel alone, you of course are not, that there is a sisterhood of women who have walked in your "emotional shoes" and are praying for you and lifting you up, carrying you through this season however long it lasts and however God sees fit to end it.

Thank you for sharing your heart so openly.

emily said...

thank you for being so honest amanda.. hope is scary, and raw.. so many "what ifs" - it never really "feels" like the inner strength it seems to imply. however, for me- what i have been learning is that, just because i don't feel strong, or hope gracefully, like i think others do - it doesn't mean God's strength and power are any less. In fact, they are more - and your words today, really give a tangible example of that... As i read over your last post
psalm 126:5 - "Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy." kept swirling through my head..
today, as i read this one, romans 5:5 - "And this hope will not lead to disappointment. For we know how dearly God loves us, because he has given us the Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with his love." came to mind, specifically "hope does not disappoint" - those who hope will not be put to shame..
praying you will feel covered by His protective, warm wings.. Praying He sustains you & provides the faith needed to hope in each step. & praying for His perfect peace, to guard your mind from the "what if's".

also, i wanted to tell you i was at Rise last week, and it struck a chord, especially what Christa said at the end.. you actually prayed with me, i had no idea how to ask for prayer, but you were spot on.. thank you for ministering through your grief. God spoke through you.

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jeannie said...

I am so sorry to hear how you are struggling so I will continue to pray for you and wait with anticipation to see how God redeems your pain. He always does and yet it is still so hard. I am so sorry, sweet sister, but your healing will come. Until then, know you are loved and prayed for!

Amber said...

I wish I had some brilliant words for you. But I do believe that any desire placed in our hearts by God will be brought to fruition by Him. When I am discouraged, I look to the bible and see that very few people got what they hoped for in their timing. So I hold on to the fact that God loves me, He has a plan for me and He longs to meet my deepest desires in a way I can't even begin to picture. He's a creative God...I can't wait to see how God surprises you. He doesn't allow us to hurt for will have beauty from your ashes. Much love.

Anonymous said...

I'm not sure that any words spoken can ease your pain, but want to encourage you.
I can't imagine what the pain of the last year has held for your family. God isn't done with you all yet. It is so hard to see the plan and think that any good can or is coming from it. I'm praying for wisdom and comfort for you. Sending hugs to you and also want to say that I have really missed reading your blog. You are such a talented writer and I always enjoy your insight and also honesty that this mom thing is crazy hard. There is such a community how here that loves your family and I hope that is an encouragement to you all. <3

Anonymous said...

My heart is so truly sad for you.

Because His ways are perfect, I eagerly anticipate hearing about whatever it is that this season is perfect preparation for, when the time comes.

I'm sorry that the now flat sucks.
I'll be praying for your peace, direction, and that God would ease the wrenching of your heart as often as He brings you to my mind.

Unknown said...

Dear Amanda,
The words of Corrie Ten Boom's father came to as I read your words filled with so much hurt and frustration. It is not an easy thing to sit in the palm of God's hand. I pray that in this time of waiting you will trust His heart. I too am in a season of waiting. Tomorrow I meet with the surgeon to schedule a biopsy and removal of a growth that has a high risk of being malignant. I once heard someone say if you worry about the things you can't control your going to drive yourself crazy. But if you do what's in front of you and control what you can the things you can't control won't seem so bad. My prayers are with you dear sister.

Melissa said...

Oh, Amanda! I've just caught up with your blog and I want to give you the biggest hug. Sister, let me tell you the waiting is HARD. And even without a failed adoption, the waiting is hard. We waited almost two years for our son to come home. There were SO MANY questions during that wait for God. So many "WHAT ARE YOU DOING!?" moments and just as many "WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS TO ME!?" moments. I read a post on another blog (Remembering the Darkness on it's how you live - that really encouraged me a lot.

As I waited, I learned a few things. If we knew each other for real, I'd invite you to coffee and let you cry and tell me about your hurt, but since we don't, I'll just tell you here.

The first is that if God has placed a desire to adopt on your heart, it may not happen as quickly or in the way you expect it to happen, but it WILL happen. We are commanded in the Bible to care for orphans. And if God has placed a desire in your heart to follow that command through adoption, it WILL come to fruition. See, I spent so many nights wrestling with God over if it were really His WILL that we adopt. If it were His will, wouldn't it already have happened by now?! One of those nights, he gently whispered to me that my desire to follow Him in HIS LOVE for orphans would never return void. I simply had to wait for His timing to bring our son home.

The second thing I learned is that there is such heartache in adoption. Don't get me wrong -I wouldn't trade our experience or our son for the world, but the idea that adoption is "only" amazing and a blessing is a little bit...misleading. There is heartbreak for the birthmother and the child and the adoptive parents, really, no matter what. God redeems it and us over and over and makes it beautiful and precious, but there is heartbreak. What really helped me a lot was to come to terms with the fact that adoption, in it's best case scenario, isn't about finding a child for a family that wants one, it's about finding a home and family for a child that needs one. Once I came to terms with the fact that adoption is really never about the adoptive parents, but that we are simply vessels, used by God to love and train and protect and minister to a child the way they need it, it became a lot easier for me to deal with the seemingly constant "no"s and "not now"s.

All that to say, your hope is alive for a reason. God is not done with your story. Your heartache is real and I don't discount it at all, but don't give up. Please don't give up. God has so much in store for you!

P.S. Please feel free to email me if you want someone to "listen." I love talking to others about our story and encouraging them through their own.

Unknown said...

I'm praying for you, Amanda.

Amy said...

My husband and I are pursuing international adoption. We have changed agencies, social workers and because we are military and moved to a new state, a complete new home study. We are clinging to hope.

This Is The Day said...

Sending up prayers for you Amanda.

Janet said...

"Be fruitful and multiply" has been the theme song of the church all my life. If you're single....or married to someone that doesn't want kids....or married and not able to conceive, it is important to remember that although "be fruitful and multiply" had a literal meaning, I believe it also has a spiritual meaning. You and Curtis just added another location to your church. Could it be the Lord was getting you ready for a new set of faces and lives to influence and pray and grow in the faith? I don't know, but reading your story for several years now, I can definitely see where He would ready you and Curtis for such a challenge as growing your "church family".

Kate Shapiro said...

I'm praying for you. The loss of a child (whatever the situation) is just pure agony and royally sucks. There really aren't any words to describe that empty void in your heart and there aren't any words that make you feel better. But don't give up on hope...because who knows what God has planned. Your pain is just so raw it's hard to let your mind wander down any path...I know, I've been there recently. Just take one day at a time in the mean time and God WILL lead you somewhere amazing. He did it for me and I thought it would be impossible. <3

Unknown said...

Oh Amanda ~ my heart is with you. In 2005 I had the exact same experience with adoption. I will never forget leaving the hospital and going to my car filled with baby essentials and just hitting the ground crying my eyes out ~ my heart ripped out of my body. How could I leave that precious baby..... My family was sucker punched and it took a long time to heal. We were not actively pursuing adoption, but a situation fell into our laps. We also decided that we would not move forward with any more adoptions ~EVER. Fast forward 3 years and I found myself pregnant at age 42 ~ total shocker!!!! I now have a 30 year old, 20 year old, and a 5 year old. My two grandkids are older than my youngest daughter. Don't give up hope.........maybe God is going to bless you guys with another beautiful baby. Prayers for your continued healing.....

Anonymous said...

Can I tell you one more thing.....
My husband Greg and I struggled for nine years to have a baby.
We had people offering to give us their child. We had women offer to have a baby for us. We had friends of friends who were having people call us to tell us their might be a baby who might need a home. I would scamper right up the stairs to the designated nursery and dream of rosettes or maps. Dreaming of the day, I would be a momma. But most of all, I would shout at the darkness and scream please don't tell me about babies that will never come. The Pain Was TOO MUCH!
After 3 ivf failures, we had two frozen embryos. My darling husband had resigned himself that we should just donate the last little loveys. But I couldn't. I would rather them go in their mommy's belly than any old stranger. So the last appointment we went to see about our sweet little popsicles frozen for 1.5 years. It was a January morning where we decided to end the pain. We were going to face the darkness that surrounded our hope. On the way to the office, I called LPM. Kimberly answered the phone and I told her where i was headed that day and she prayed for me and my husband. She prayed for life. She prayed for me....
While we were there at the brutal doctor's office, they called my name. I prayed "Please Lord, don't let me take my clothes off and put that gown on, to experience more pain." They said, Mrs. Vest, please put this gown on. That evening I laid on my back with two little embryos that were hopefully growing and growing. That very week, I prayed til I couldn't pray anymore.
Seven days later, Greg, called me in Target. I found it a place of solace:) He said the words "Kimmy, you are pregnant" I almost fainted. I knew that it was true and that the Lord was going to see this one out. One of my babies passed, but the stronger one was growing fast.
I realize now that it was in the waiting that the Lord was readying me for His favor, but in the waiting He also cared for my heart by refining me as His Child.
I'm not saying that He always says yes at the end of the day, but I am saying that after all this Amanda, you will love Him more.
If you look at the cross, it seems that the pain of Jesus brings life. That would only seem to me that through pain much beauty will grow. That's how we can consider that many trials should be considered pure joy. I'm so sorry for your pain, but He is after beauty and that His Name be Glorified.
Some sweet lady I love says "I hope He looks at His Son and says, Isn't she beautiful". He says that to you, darling sister. He is faithful in the darkness and beauty will come of this no matter how it looks. Your sister in St. Louis, Kim

LeAnne Olive said...

You don't have to post my comment, but I want to just throw out a few thoughts.

About 2 years ago I got it in my head & heart that we were supposed to adopt. Through the strong influence of a friend (who is in Uganda adopting 2 kids right now), reading "Kisses From Katie," reading blogs of other families who adopted, doing Kelly Minter's Nehemiah study, hearing testimonies at church, reconnecting with a friend who adopted, etc. I decided all of these were signs from God that we too were supposed to adopt. How could they not be? Plus, I had been in limbo about having a 3rd baby (my 2 girls are almost the same ages as your kids) and this MUST be the reason I was in limbo. Problem was my husband was not on board. It caused great tension in our otherwise healthy marriage and I just could not shake why God would be giving me all these signs if I was not supposed to adopt. It consumed me and sent me in a down spiral where I got stuck.

I know your story is different and I could bore you with more details, but basically the adoption piece along with some other "mid-life crisis at the ripe old age of 33" landed me in therapy. Praise God she is a wise godly woman who listened and showed me grace and love and helped me get "unstuck."

I say all that to share some of the things that I learned.

1. I can't limit God to a season. I was wanting to adopt NOW but I truly think God put those people, books, ideas, desires, etc. in my heart to open my eyes to the world of adoption. I don't know why He makes me so crazy passionate about a subject and it doesn't pan out the way I think it's going to. But I do know He is always growing me and He will never let those desires go void. Instead of being mad and disappointed (after therapy), I can honestly say I am just along for this crazy ride He has me on and I can't wait to see what He's going to do. I still get sad (kind of annoyed) but then I remember He is the Father of all those kids and if He wants it to happen, I just need to be ready and available and able. Shutting doors, saying never, losing hope won't allow for Him to show me what's ahead near as clearly as when I stay in His word and focus on His sovereignty.

2. I can still do something! I am a ALL IN girl but realize God can use me ALL IN in other ways too. We love Compassion and are going to a Compassion Walk-Thru at a local church Friday night. My girls are so excited. They pray for our Compassion kids daily! We are making the difference in the lives of kids even if they are not living in our home. For now, I know this is one of the ways God wants me to love the orphans.

3. Perspective is one of the greatest gifts. That is basically one of the themes of my life! Every time I get stuck, I have to remind myself that one day I will be able to look back and see JESUS all over it. He already is all over it, but I just can't see it sometimes between the unknowing, the pain, the whatever that is just too all consuming. But perspective is the game changer in how we see what God has done, is doing and will do!

I do pray you find the peace you need and can rejoice this season.

God coming in flesh - amazes me every time I think about it.

Kelli said...

Praying with empathy my friend. We've never met but I feel like I know you- my dear friend Kendra and her family have spent time with your family and it blessed me how you reached out to them during their time in their states. Anyway, I've traveled the IVF journey (I started writing about it here: I compltely understand looking for signs, needing hope etc. What I would say is if God has placed that hope in your heart or any sort of promise, cling to it and don't let it die. He is faithful to all of His promises. We definitely don't understand His timing but it is perfect. During our 7 year journey with IVF, I worked myself into 2 pretty miserable Chrismases thinking I had figured out the "signs" but now on the other side of all of that- I wouldn't trade it for anything. Prayers and hugs!

Unknown said...

I too have experienced this deep sadness of loss that you are currently in. I know the long Winter, did make way for a beautiful Spring. Things that I used to take for granted, became so beautiful and special to me in my looking back, and moving forward. I'll be praying for you, and your family.

"No matter how deep our darkness, He is deeper still." -Corrie Ten-Boom

Mom to 3 Jewels said...

Three beautiful things remain...Faith, Hope and Love. A song by Misty Edwards called,"Arms Wide Open" says,"Arms wide open, a heart exposed, This is what love is." If the LORD put the desire there... keep your arms wide open. I can speak from my own story. After my husband and I had our first and only biological daughter we felt led to adopt. Then over the next 4 years we loss three adoptions, One from overseas, two weeks shy of traveling and two stateside where the mom's changed their minds. These losses brought a season of grief but also a understanding and deeper relationship to Christ. In His perfect time He gave us a beautiful baby girl from China. My husband and I have since said we'd take what ever the LORD sent. And the LORD brought another jewel this past January in the form of a 6 year old! It's been a year a transition and healing. There are so many children out there... that He would entrust us to lead them is amazing.
Amanda you can trust Him, don't lean on your own understanding. Be still and know He sees you and hears your hearts cry. If I can help in any way please feel free to contact me. I have tasted and seen the LORD HE is good. : )
God bless the Jones family

Dionna said...

If God put something in your heart, it is meant to be there. I've also found, at times, that God just wants to see if I'm willing to give up what I have clenched so tightly within my hands. Sometimes, when I'm finally ready to give that up - He tells me He doesn't really require that of me after all.

nancy said...

I feel your pain, sweet Amanda. We went through secondary infertility for over 10 years. Now I know of several young women going through it and it breaks my heart all over again. Hang in there and cling to Jesus, even when you don't want to.

Mary R Snyder said...

I have story of adoption. I won't share my struggles. I'll share this with you:

" I have told you these things so that in Me you may have peace. You will have suffering in this world. Be courageous! I have conquered the world.” John 13:33

BE COURAGEOUS! He has a great work for you!

Sincerely Anna said...

I went through three devastating adoption losses, I know what you mean. I kept asking my husband if he wanted to stop the process because it was just too much for me to bear, but I knew it was an emotional response instead of something deeper. Praying for you to rest and ponder over the things that have taken place, and for God to lead. It's such a confusing time of grief I know.

Unknown said...

This came at just the right time for me from Ann Voskamp's blog and I pray it can encourage you as well:

"Sure, hope feels risky. Sure, hope feels like you're under a fragile roof that could implode, a roof that could get ripped off and leave you staring at the sky.

But then you'd just stand there and look and trust you were meant to see stars.

You'd just stand and look and trust that you were meant to soar."

Praying for you, sister.

Missy June said...

I remember days when I hated hope ... the crush of disappointment was too painful. I was tired of hoping. I'm so sorry for the loss and for your grief. I know this pain won't be wasted and I pray the redemption is shortly in sight.

Talley Family said...

You will just be patient in the process. Know for fact that is easier said than done! Praying I have been right where you are hang in there He is writing a beautiful story !

Debbie said...

all I can say... is thank-you for sharing this is my heart as well... I pray much peace for well as wisdom...and continued hope...

Patty said...

Amanda,I don't have words of wisdom to share and I haven't been where you are concerning adoption but I just wanted you to know that I am praying for you and praying God will heal your heart, hurts and disappointments. Love, Patty

Mary said...

Hi Amanda,

I'm so sorry about the adoption that fell through.

I don't think it's at all surprising that your hope won't die. Your grieving may easily take a year. Once you learned the approximate due date of the baby your brain calculated how old he would be at every major holiday. A Christmas infant, a darling Easter tiny suit, etc. The pain and sadness will diminish as each calendar page turns, but there's no real way to rush it. {{{{{{hugs for all of you}}}}}}