It Takes More Than Luck

We are fearfully and wonderfully made.
— Psalm 139:14

In the wee hours of the morning, when all is quiet, I stare down into the eyes of my newborn child and gently hum a lullaby to get her back to sleep... and I think of that verse. You, my child, are fearfully and wonderfully made... 

Years later as she wakes with a rare bad dream and comes to my bedside, I take her by the hand and guide her back to her bed. I tuck her in and smooth her hair and pull the covers up to her chin and watch as peaceful sleep settles back over her, and I think of that verse. You, my child are fearfully and wonderfully made...

Nothing in the world quite compares to the innocence and amazing creation of a tiny babe. But when it takes months, even years, of heartache and a torturous path on our own souls and bodies to conceive or adopt this perfect little creature, can we look into the mirror and say the same thing? That verse that we long to whisper into the depths of our children's hearts we need to continue to whisper into our own hearts as well. We are fearfully and wonderfully made. Can we look past the hurt and grief and our own engineered plans for our lives that have been tossed out with the trash and see that we, too, are wonderfully made? When I look at myself, can I think of that verse and whisper... I am fearfully and wonderfully made? 

We are, you know. We don't "outgrow" that verse. Our mothers looked at us in our infancy, just as we will look at our own children, and they saw the beauty of God's plans for our lives. They saw a lifetime of potential. As we grow, our potential turns into plans - that we, with our limited view of time and world, craft. When those plans don't quite match up with God's plans, we often chalk it up to a run of bad luck. But dear friends... life, children, family... those aspects of our paths aren't left up to luck.

While many are blessed to have children with few fertility complications, some of us aren't quite as "lucky." Whether our stories are seamless transitions into parenthood, bumpy shifts through a variety of fertility treatments, or are formed by the wonderful blessing of adoption, none of us are any more or less "lucky" than another.

We are simply living out a life, specifically designed, by God's sovereign hand. We are living a life that is designed to bring us, and those around us, closer to Him and grow our faith and make us stronger - as couples, parents, friends, disciples.

More Than Luck is a variety of stories from others who at one time might have viewed themselves as the "unlucky." Like Jenny and myself, they didn't have the seamless transition into parenthood they once hoped for. But hindsight has afforded them the opportunity to see that the luck they once thought they were missing, was really the hand of God intervening in their life so that the timing and method in which their family started would be perfect for them. Instead of luck, we found God's presence in our lives, providing for us, comforting us, changing us, preparing the way for something that would redefine our definition of blessings. 

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God. And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
— Romans 8:26-28

Growing a family takes much more than luck... it takes God's hand, His will and His perfect timing for you. It takes faith and patience and surrender. If you are waiting on your family now, I pray these stories encourage you. As you read them, take a step back and try to glance at your circumstances from an eternal perspective. What if what you see as bad luck, is really God's eternal purpose taking form in your life?

Click here to read More Than Luck.

XO,

 
 

We started this More Than Luck series to share a variety of stories from others who at one time might have viewed themselves as the "unlucky." Like Jenny and myself, they didn't have the seamless transition they once hoped for into parenthood. But hindsight has afforded them the opportunity to see that the luck they once thought they were missing, was really the hand of God intervening in their life so that the timing and method in which their family started would be perfect for them. Instead of luck, we found God's presence in our lives, providing for us, comforting us, changing us, preparing the way for something that would redefine our definition of blessings.

Luck Doesn't Involve Love

I cannot tell you how excited I am to bring you Melinda's story as we wrap up our More Than Luck series! She is an absolutely amazing woman and the way she and her husband have so unselfishly opened up not only their hearts, but also their home to welcome in their birth mother is beyond inspiring. What an amazing and genuine example of unconditional love they are showing, not only their oldest child, their birth mother, but also to all those around them. Melinda, we thank you from the bottom of our hearts for being such an inspiration to so many and for sharing your story with us. Our prayers are with your precious growing family and your sweet birth mother. 

Please join me in welcoming Melinda to ONSEL...

I don't believe in luck. I think things happen - good and bad - due to circumstance and to blessing. The story of how our family came to be is no exception.

Some have said we were "lucky." I usually say to them, "you don't know the entire story." We have had our fair share of failures, struggles, pain and catastrophe. But we have also had so many blessings along the way. Those blessings? They outweigh the pain every time.

If you have known me for a while, you probably know that Logan is the biological cousin of our third failed placement. If you haven't heard the story, here's a brief synopsis of how that happened and how this little nugget came to be in our arms.

We were to adopt a little boy two years before Logan was ever even thought about. We named him "Micah." His mother decided to parent him shortly before he was born. We are friends with the baby's father's grandmother and were visiting her house one day when they came over. I held Micah in my arms two weeks after his birth. It was probably one of the most beautiful and saddest days of my life.

We were still foster parents at the time. After five years of waiting for a placement through the system (and well over 300 inquiries on waiting children), we decided that this probably wasn't the best route for us. So, in 2011, we decided to pull out of foster care and look to some other way of adoption. Two weeks later, we received a phone call about a baby. It was Micah's uncle (and twin brother of his father). He said his girlfriend was pregnant after having a tubal ligation and they were as shocked as anyone. He asked if we would be interested in adopting this baby. Of course the answer was a resounding "YES!" from our side of the conversation.

So, if you are following along in this family tree... Logan's birth father is the twin brother of Micah's father. They are biological cousins of twins. And yes... it was after a tubal ligation. (Gasp!)

Personally, we don't believe Logan's birth mother became pregnant for us. We do believe, however, that the blessing came after the news of her pregnancy. She was looking for answers; she was praying about it. We were looking for a child; we were praying about it.

I've said time and time again that no prayer goes unanswered. It may not be the answer you were trying to hear. It may not be at the time you think you should receive it either. But nonetheless, they are always answered. The day we met Logan's birth mom it was clear that our blessing and our answered prayers were upon us.

When Logan was about six months old, we began putting out our information to reach as many people as possible so everyone would know we were adopting again. People called us crazy. Logan was so young. But because we knew how long this adoption process could take, we were starting quickly.

We had several "possibles" arise throughout the years. None of them were situations that we were eligible or felt comfortable with proceeding. Three and a half years went by before we received the phone call one night from my mother-in-law.

My friend is a preacher at Line Baptist and there is a girl who is a member of the congregation that is pregnant and is looking for a family. His wife thought of you and Melinda right away because she knew you were trying to adopt again.

There was a young woman looking for answers. God sent her our way. No one will ever be able to convince me otherwise. We met LeAnne at a local restaurant and talked for three hours. We only talked about the baby for maybe ten minutes during that meeting. We were getting to know each other. She was still uncertain.

Now this sweet woman is living with us in our home as she is preparing for the birth of her daughter. I'm reminded each and every day of the power and love of our Heavenly Father. In our house, it's something that cannot go unnoticed.

I'm sure that the relationships between my kids and their birth moms will continue to grow and grow as will our relationship with each of them. God is so much bigger than what some consider being "luck." Luck doesn't involve love. And my friends... this? This has love written all over it.

Melinda resides in Demorest, Georgia and is wife to Corey and Mom to precious Logan. They are in the midst of the adoption process for their precious baby Ruby. She is an active member of the adoption community and is a huge advocate for open adoption.


We started this More Than Luck series to share a variety of stories from others who at one time might have viewed themselves as the "unlucky." Like Jenny and myself, they didn't have the seamless transition they once hoped for into parenthood. But hindsight has afforded them the opportunity to see that the luck they once thought they were missing, was really the hand of God intervening in their life so that the timing and method in which their family started would be perfect for them. Instead of luck, we found God's presence in our lives, providing for us, comforting us, changing us, preparing the way for something that would redefine our definition of blessings.

Love, Epilepsy & a Baby

I am so pleased to bring you the story of another friend I met through the online infertility community. Years of being put through more trials than many can imagine has given her a huge tender spot in her heart for those that struggle with the sinkholes that pop up in life. In the midst of her own infertility struggle, she created an online Facebook group, The Infertile Christian, devoted to building community and encouragement. She is a precious lady, devoted wife and now mother to their little miracle. Please join me in welcoming Miki to ONSEL.

Jason and I married twelve years ago. Like everyone else, we would sit around and dream about our future. We named our children (at least one adopted), moved to exotic locations, accepted high-paying positions with Fortune 500 companies…we built amazing lives while sipping coffee in the early morning light. I mean, no one really sits around dreaming of medical complications, job loss, and infertility. Those are just the potholes which pop up in the road of life.

Or sinkholes, in some cases.

About three years into our marriage, I received a call from my husband’s office. They were saying he had had a seizure and was being transported to the hospital. I won’t go into all the sordid details over the next five years, but to say we ended up forgoing all those life plans for testing, medication, and one surgery then another. Our life became pre-epilepsy and post-epilepsy.

At the end of all the surgeries, we were left drained. Our bank accounts, our marriage, our desire for life were all tapped out. We had nothing left to give anyone, especially each other. I won’t dwell on this other than to say it is possible to come back from nothing. We had a wonderful Christian counselor who worked with us to get us back to who we had been before.

So fast forward two more years to 2012. We decided to take a trip to Puerto Rico to celebrate our anniversary. The year before we had spent the day telling each other how we weren’t really in love anymore, so making it one more year and actually loving each other at the end called for a celebration. We finally felt as though we were back to “ourselves.” We were no longer patient and nurse. I was once again a wife, and he was once again a husband. His seizures had also dissipated to about twice a year (down from 30 a day). One morning, while sipping coffee and staring at the waves coming in, I made the decision.

“I think I’m ready to consider starting a family.”

My husband didn’t wipe the smile off his face for two weeks. He was so ready to be a father. He wanted nothing more than to have a squishy, little baby in his arms. My first question was whether or not we wanted to go ahead and start the adoption process, or try on our own first. God had put the desire to adopt in my heart many years before I was even married. Once married, Jason also agreed it was a wonderful way to build a family. We sat down with our finances and quickly realized adoption was not in the cards for the first child. It was cheaper to try the old fashioned way.

Now, having been through all the medical issues we have been through, I knew having a baby at 33 was not as easy as having intercourse. I went to my OBGYN to make sure nothing was wrong in that department. I lied and told her we had been trying for several months with no success, as friends had informed me they wouldn't do anything until after 6 months (at my age) of trying had gone by. Anyway, she agreed to test my ovulation over the next couple of months. After seeing that I may not be ovulating well, she prescribed Clomid. The first month didn't work, but imagine my surprise when the second month did! I knew three days after ovulating that I was pregnant. I was so sick. On the ninth day, the test showed positive. I went to the store to buy onesies to surprise my husband. We were over the moon. We planned out when and how to announce it to our families. About 5 weeks in, I started having bleeding. They kept telling me it was normal and to go to the hospital if it turned red. On April 1st, it did. The doctor confirmed the pregnancy was not viable. No April Fool’s Day here. “Sorry, these things happen,” was the explanation.

I’m going to fast forward at this point, once again. I will spare you the needles, testing, medications, insurance, doctors, more needles, ultrasounds, more needles, porn in the guy’s room, insemination, money talks, and tears. I want to talk more about my state of mind during this time.

It was Christmas, the hardest time of year (other than Mother’s Day) for someone desperately wanting to become a mother. I was crying all the time. Everything I heard and saw screamed, “You aren't a mother,” in my head. I started seeking answers. That’s when I picked up the book, “Hannah’s Hope: Seeking God’s Heart in the Midst of Infertility, Miscarriage and Adoption Loss”.

If you haven't read this book, I highly recommend it. I read that God isn't punishing us. He is weaving a tapestry and it wasn't our thread's time, yet. It wasn't about the perfect baby for me. It was about us being the perfect parents for the baby he NEEDS us to raise. 

Elizabeth and Zachariah had waited for years. They had given up hope for a child. Then God spoke to her and told her it was her time. They would finally be parents. She would give birth to the child who would help pave the way for the Savior of the world. John the Baptist did just that. If Elizabeth had had children earlier, she might not have had John. Or she might have been a different person who instilled different values in her son. As it was, it was God’s perfect timing.

I clung to this. I knew without a doubt it was all God’s perfect timing. We found out on January 4, 2014 that we would not be able to have children without going through IVF. Our previous doctor had failed to disclose that my husband has 100% abnormal sperm. The new Reproductive Endocrinologist was certain she could get 6-10 good sperm in order to fertilize my eggs for IVF. I knew then we were moving for adoption. We aren't opposed to IVF for any reason in particular. We just always knew it wasn't our path.

In March we met with an adoption attorney. We immediately started getting ready for a private adoption situation. We got home-study ready, made reference cards, set up a Google phone number, and told every person we know or came in contact with about our intentions.

Many times we would read about situations or agencies and wonder if we shouldn't just find more money to end the wait. To end the emptiness. Each time it came back to this: We knew we were on the right path and felt God was telling us to wait.I can without a doubt in the world say God told me it wouldn't be long and to be patient. My thread was almost ready.

New Year’s Eve took on new meaning. I was at lunch with a friend when a number came up I didn't recognize. It was a guy saying he had been shown our adoption page. His girlfriend was pregnant, but not with his child. He knew the best thing was for an adoption and had finally convinced her of such. They had met with an agency, but they were closed over Christmas so the signed paperwork was still on his coffee table. She was due in two weeks and needed to make a decision.

I quickly got my attorney on the phone. She called him from the closet of the house where she was attending a New Year’s oyster roast. She set up for us all to meet that weekend, six hours from where we live.

The next two weeks were a blur. I spent some time with the lovely birthmother while we prepared for the baby’s arrival. I was so hopeful, but I had heard all the horror stories. I knew there was some drug history and was concerned about what I might be signing up for.

On January 14, 2015 our son, Charlie, was born. I didn't care what might be wrong with him. I knew for a fact he was my son. I didn't worry about signing or revocation. God had been faithful. We had asked and He had answered. We had waiting and He had carried us through.

In one month, Charlie will become officially a Skelton. Right now, he is sleeping in his crib next to me. It still amazes me that God chose me to be his mom. I have a son. This is more than luck. This is faith, love, and trust. God has a reason He chose us for Charlie. I can’t wait to find out what wonderful things He has in store.

Miki Skelton (35) lives in Savannah, Georgia with her husband, two dogs and two month old son, Charlie, who is their blessing and light of their lives. She is a Community Association Manager and volunteers with the Tybee Island Sea Turtle Project.


We started this More Than Luck series to share a variety of stories from others who at one time might have viewed themselves as the "unlucky." Like Jenny and myself, they didn't have the seamless transition they once hoped for into parenthood. But hindsight has afforded them the opportunity to see that the luck they once thought they were missing, was really the hand of God intervening in their life so that the timing and method in which their family started would be perfect for them. Instead of luck, we found God's presence in our lives, providing for us, comforting us, changing us, preparing the way for something that would redefine our definition of blessings.

Determined for Obedience

When Crishana eagerly agreed to share her story with us, I was so thrilled. She is a beautiful woman, whom Jenny and I have had the pleasure of getting to know and become friends with, through this wonderful gift of social media. She has a heart for God, for children, and for adoption like few I've ever seen before. Bringing her family to life came with some intense periods of pain and a call to put obedience over selfish desires and convenient timelines. But, I know you will be moved as you read how the way in which her family has been formed has stirred in her a hunger to unlock the heart of God. Please join me in welcoming Crishana to ONSEL.

Standing to honor God, I a virgin, and Antonio a born-again virgin for six years; we knew that something special would come from our union.  After three years of marriage, we had our first baby. It came after a year of tugs and pulls on my spirit. I could not deny God's prompting to conceive. And just 18 months later, I was shaken at the voice of the Holy Spirit when he asked me to have another baby. 

My first pregnancy was an awful experience and I've come to praise God in it. It messed me up in every way possible. I was extremely sick and couldn't keep food down for the entire 9 months. Yet I gained 60 pounds, was swollen from head to toe and suffered extreme pain that left me bed ridden and depressed. Part of which came from the tests and reports that indicated that I may miscarry, and even if I didn't, my son may have Down Syndrome. An induction equated to 20 odd hours of labor and three hours of pushing, to deliver an eight plus pound baby from my 5'1" frame. I gnashed my teeth at the thought of a repeat. But, my heart for God superseded my fear.

Baby #2 came, in 2011, after a pregnancy with episodes similar to the first and an intense and painful natural birth. I was in and out of the emergency room for dehydration because I couldn't keep food down. I was seeing a specialist every couple of weeks and they expected me to miscarry between each appointment. Later in the pregnancy, my fluids were all over the place and they told me to prepare for preterm labor.

Both of our boys were born full-term and completely healthy. I won't tell you that I navigated these reports and pains perfectly. I will tell you that I only confessed what I wanted - healthy, happy babies. 

It was only three months after our second was born that I felt the echoing in spirit that adoption would be part of our family's plan. I had it in my heart to adopt since I was five. And I have literally talked about it ever since then. The reality of it seemed distant with two young children in our home. But God's plans were different than mine. After almost two years of hearing adoption in my heart, we felt like it was time to make a move.

When we started the adoption process in 2013, I naively thought it would be easy... a series of steps and checkpoints. I thought it would be much smoother and less intense than my belly babies. I was wrong in the worst way.

God uses the adoption process to grow and stretch us. Adoption is redemption. The redemptive process was trying for Jesus and it is trying for us too. We are tasked with coming face to face with the enemy and his vicious tactics to steal life. Without the waiting season, we would have never been prepared to stand in the battle. As adoption couples, we complain about the wait. We complain about the finances. But we were bought with a price and Jesus waited 33 years to fulfill His ministry and give His life so that we could live righteous. We too have to make sacrifices to have and redeem children.

During those times of testing, I had not choice; I had to see the face of God in order to have his hand move on my behalf. As believers, our wilderness is our playground for promotion. We run, jump and build muscle for battle. And most importantly, we make it our promised land because God honors our determination for obedience.

No, it's not always fun. No, it will not be easy. But obedience is always worth it and it is the only way to live. If I can do it, a girl married to her plans so carefully written in her planner, than you too can surrender your fears and unlock the heart of God in your life. 


We started this More Than Luck series to share a variety of stories from others who at one time might have viewed themselves as the "unlucky." Like Jenny and myself, they didn't have the seamless transition they once hoped for into parenthood. But hindsight has afforded them the opportunity to see that the luck they once thought they were missing, was really the hand of God intervening in their life so that the timing and method in which their family started would be perfect for them. Instead of luck, we found God's presence in our lives, providing for us, comforting us, changing us, preparing the way for something that would redefine our definition of blessings.

Molded by God's Intervention {A Husband's Perspective}

Y'all, this story just makes my heart swell. I am just thrilled to bring you the story of not only a really wonderful friend, but also a story of building a family from a husband's perspective. Jay and I have been friends since early in our college days in engineering school and it has been so touching to see the unique way in which his precious family has been molded. I love that he not only doesn't think of their family as "unlucky," but calls anyone that has to take a bit more creative route to start their family the "fortunate families." You'll have to read to see why... 

In 2009, we were living in Charlotte, NC. We had discussed having children and found out that it probably would not be happening for us. At least that is what a doctor told us.

Shortly thereafter, we were transferred to El Paso, Texas. We were not excited to say the least. At first glance, there doesn't appear to be much opportunity for life in that part of the country. This turned out to be ironic really. Our intent in going was to simply survive until we could leave. God had a different plan. 

Within a month, Katie had to set up her normal OBGYN appointment. As all ladies know, a conversation with this doctor will go from physical well being to desires of the heart in a matter of seconds. Dr. Chris Powers quickly sent us to Southwest Center for Reproductive Health and Dr. Luis Noble, who incidentally happens to be the #9 infertility doctor in the world. While we were there, he was also audited for having such high success numbers. He passed, easily. 

Throughout the next several months, we put our trust first in God and second in Dr. Noble and his excellent staff. We were extremely uneducated in the process of In-Vitro Fertilization. Through prayer as a family and prayer at Dr. Noble’s office, Gracyn was born on October 28, 2010. She is now 4 years old and truly is an absolute miracle each and every day. 

Currently, we are again in the process of growing our family. This particular time, we are taking the avenue of adoption. We truly believe that this time, we were called by God to do this. Adoption runs in our family. My sister and I are both adopted, so it could be said that God has been creating our family in very special ways for over 36 years. 

As it would appear, our family was molded by God in multiple ways. That isn't to say that the ‘normal’ way also wasn't created by God. Those families are also blessed. There are a lot of hardships with in-vitro fertilization and adoption. Hardships that from the surface could appear to deter a relationship with God. Fortunately, I have not found one family that has gone through either of these options and run away from the power of God. They are drawn closer in ways that are unimaginable unless you are one of the fortunate families. So, is it luck creating families? No way. It is inevitably, God’s intervention.

Jay currently resides in his home town of Madison, Mississippi and is currently a Project Manager for a small general contractor close to town. He enjoys hunting and especially fishing, especially when he gets to do both activities with his wife and daughter. Often these activities conflict with his first love, Alabama Football, but that's usually a good problem to have.


We started this More Than Luck series to share a variety of stories from others who at one time might have viewed themselves as the "unlucky." Like Jenny and myself, they didn't have the seamless transition they once hoped for into parenthood. But hindsight has afforded them the opportunity to see that the luck they once thought they were missing, was really the hand of God intervening in their life so that the timing and method in which their family started would be perfect for them. Instead of luck, we found God's presence in our lives, providing for us, comforting us, changing us, preparing the way for something that would redefine our definition of blessings.

God's Time, Not Mine

I am honored and excited to bring you the story of some very dear friends. John and Tiffany are an absolutely wonderful couple and, now, incredible parents to their littles. Tiffany and I struggled with our journeys of infertility at the same time and then later I was blessed to be able to pray and hope with them through their second round of facing infertility. God has most certainly blessed them, not just with their adorable little boys, but with layers upon layers of a genuine faith that developed while they waited on God's perfect timing. It is my privilege to welcome my dear friend Tiffany to ONSEL today. I pray you are blessed and find hope in your wait as you read her story.

Our story began like so many others; we decided we were ready for a baby. We never expected all that would follow.

I went to my gynecologist and told her we had decided it was time to start a family. She said to stop taking my birth control and give things a couple of months to regulate. Well, after six months of trying I went back to the doctor. She assured me I had nothing to be concerned about, but I was concerned. I knew that my mother had a history of endometriosis and struggled to have children. Because of this family history and my concerns, we began some testing. My husband had to go and do all the "man tests," and we found out all was normal. That was great news! However, when I found out that it was my fault that we couldn't get pregnant, I was devastated. I remember crying and telling my husband that he would never know how I felt. I'm a woman. I'm supposed to be able to have children. That's what God created us to do. At least that was my mindset at the time, and I had been praying for God to let me get pregnant.

After finding out that I didn't ovulate I began taking Clomid. That's a whole other demon in itself! I often say now that it is the best and worst drug all at the same time. We did several rounds and still weren't getting pregnant. I was so upset and didn't understand how this could happen. I had always believed that God grants the desires of our hearts. Having a baby was my greatest desire and He wasn't helping me!

This was the moment that God changed my prayer. I stopped praying for God to send us a child.

Instead, I told God how badly I wanted a baby, and asked Him to send us a child when He felt the time was right. That is the hardest prayer I've ever prayed. I'm a control freak with OCD. It's not easy for me to relinquish control, but I kept praying. For over six more months I prayed.

Almost a year and a half after our journey began, I took my last pregnancy test knowing what the result would be. My doctor had said we were going to have to start looking at different medications, but for the first time I wasn't worried. I just kept praying for God to use His perfect timing and send us a child at that point. To my great surprise, it was time!! I was pregnant!!! My husband and I were completely shocked. We called the doctor and made an appointment for that afternoon. I will never forget my doctor and her nurse running out into the lobby screaming, smiling and hugging us as we all celebrated!

The journey had finally ended in God's perfect time. On April 26, 2012 at 10:47am we welcomed a happy, healthy, beautiful baby boy! We have thanked God for him every day since.

Little did I know, that I would travel further down the same path when we began to try for our second child. This time we knew the issue. We met it head on and didn't waste any time. However, on this go around after almost the same amount of time as before, my doctor said we were done with medication. We would have to take a break for several months and then try artificial insemination. Once again I was heart broken, but not as worried.

This time I had prayed all along for God to send us another child only if He felt it was right. As I took the last pregnancy test we had, I wasn't worried. I knew I wouldn't be crushed if it was negative because I knew God's timing and His plan was bigger than mine. I was completely shocked to see a faint positive! I went to the doctor the next day and they confirmed the pregnancy. However, my progesterone levels were so low that she really didn't know how I was pregnant. I had to immediately began medication to help raise my levels. My family and close friends all began praying. We prayed for God to let me keep this baby, and for the pregnancy to be just as smooth as the first. It was a scary time, but once again I knew that if God had chosen the time for me to become pregnant, He would bless this baby just as He did before.

On December 3, 2014 at 11:57 am we welcomed our second son! God's hand was present in the delivery and in the days that followed.

Through all of this I have learned to trust God's timing. When we feel that He is not hearing us or not working in our time frame, that's when He uses our circumstances to remind us of His sovereignty. He is in control, not us. Only He knows the plan He has laid before us and the time in which it will all unfold. We just have to let go and believe that His timing is perfect, and that all will be revealed at just the right moment!

His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
— Matthew 25:33

Tiffany is a 33 year old stay at home Mommy to her two precious boys. She coaches varsity girls basketball with her dad and loves going to Alabama football games. In her free time she is enjoys making things for her home and family. And she loves party planning! 


We started this More Than Luck series to share a variety of stories from others who at one time might have viewed themselves as the "unlucky." Like Jenny and myself, they didn't have the seamless transition they once hoped for into parenthood. But hindsight has afforded them the opportunity to see that the luck they once thought they were missing, was really the hand of God intervening in their life so that the timing and method in which their family started would be perfect for them. Instead of luck, we found God's presence in our lives, providing for us, comforting us, changing us, preparing the way for something that would redefine our definition of blessings.

When Your "Luck" Runs Out

I am so honored to be able to bring you Brittney's story today. Brittney and her husband found themselves in the difficult situation of facing unexpected secondary infertility. I had the privilege of being able to pray with them through their struggle and the blessing of watching God work in their lives - not just to bring them the baby they so longed for, but to bring them closer to Himself in their faith and to each other. They are just precious people and now parents to two absolutely gorgeous girls. Please join me in welcoming Brittney to ONSEL. And Brittney, thank you ever so much for being willing to share your journey with us!

My husband frequently jokes with me about how lucky I am that my parents chose to hold me out of a kindergarten due to my late birthday. If it were not for that decision, my husband and I would have likely have never been high school sweethearts, and I would be quite possibly be without my best friend and partner. So, in many respects he is right!

Prior to officially walking down the aisle, you always possess a mental picture of what your perfect family would resemble. You never imagine the challenges life may bring or what temptations the ole devil has in store. One of the greatest gifts from our father above is free choice. We freely choose to accept him and we have the choice as to how to live our lives. Choosing to pursue a family is a mixture between your heart’s desires, God’s grace, and if we allow it, temptations from that ole Satan.

God supplied our first child, Ava, at the perfect time. My husband and I were contemplating entering the process of consciously attempting to conceive a child, and then we found out we were pregnant. She made us both mature and re-evaluate our dedication to different facets of our life. Life was great and we all were content in the position which we found ourselves in. Feeling that we had more love to share and give, we entered phase two of expanding our family.

The first time was so easy to conceive, we naturally drew upon our first experiences and just expected to get pregnant quickly.

Well, we didn’t.

We tried very intently to conceive a second time naturally. No one ever tells you (or me) that both partners can grow tired of “trying to conceive,” but you do. One of the greatest blessings of a marriage, the physical connection between two, can easily start to become strained. Measuring temperatures, scheduled rendezvous, and monthly pregnancy tests can greatly weigh on a marriage’s intimacy. Instead of the joyous surprise of pregnancy, we found ourselves monthly attending a funeral for our picture of the perfect family. 

After about two years of scheduled attempts, we sought professional advice, testing, and recommendations. We started locally at the OB, and tried some of their recommendations with no success.

We were then referred to professionals with a greater specialization in the fertility field. We did tests on me, and my husband (which he was not too fond of). The conclusion from the fertility specialists were that there was an issue, and gave us some likely culprits, but that our first child was a miracle from God and that our natural reproductive ability odds were low.

I truly believe that contentment within your own personal circumstances is essential to leading a happy fulfilling life. My husband and I found ourselves considering this personal contentment, and whether any other process other than a natural birth calls into question our contentment. We prayed intently for answers. We finally found our answer in that striving for personal, professional, or spiritual growth does not recuse personal contentment. Much like a sick person seeks the advice of medical professions, and undergoes surgery to correct these conditions, we concluded that this was no different. Regardless of how they are obtained, children are a gift from God since the beginning of time. They help us better understand the Father’s love for us, because we get a glimpse of how He feels about us.

The IVF process was a learning experience. It is not all sunshine and rainbows. There are daily shots, then weekly scheduled doctor appointments that you must keep, and admittedly it adds another level of stress onto the relationship. Based on the way the procedures went and the development of our genetic material, we were disqualified for a shared risk program, which allows you additional opportunities in the event the first transplantation, so we had one shot with "Mystique and Hulk."

Those were the names of the fertilized eggs that were transplanted into my uterus during the IVF process. Hulk was the most developed and possessed the greatest possibility for implantation and success, but Mystique was no less loved than Hulk. 

We prayed heartily. Heartily for success, strength, and understanding, but most of all we prayed that God’s will be done. Then we waited. Patiently at first, but then not so patiently, and then we prayed for patience.

The immense happiness that resulted from the positive pregnancy test was unparalleled to any other experience in our lives. As one journey ended, another began. God had now blessed and entrusted us with another child. The pregnancy offered no significant complications, and based on the birth of our first child, we had a scheduled cesarean. Everything was falling into my plans perfectly. God had a different idea. On 12/13/14, I heard a “pop.” Upon arriving at the hospital and being checked, the doctor announced that the baby would be delivered naturally and with no epidural. I was very upset, but God is good all the time. Within the next 30 minutes, we were holding a healthy baby. We decided not to brand her Hulk, so she shares a name with her grandmother.

What I learned most from my experience is that there are many means to an end. God allows us free choice to make our own decisions, and makes provisions for each of us. Many times we might try to frame on God a temptation from the devil, but God always provides a way out of the temptation. Sometimes we may have to look for innovative solutions. Contentment is not stagnancy. Accepting your current situation does not mean that you must remain in the same position. Always look to God, who is the provider of all good blessings, and he will always throw a little “Luck” your way.


We started this More Than Luck series to share a variety of stories from others who at one time might have viewed themselves as the "unlucky." Like Jenny and myself, they didn't have the seamless transition they once hoped for into parenthood. But hindsight has afforded them the opportunity to see that the luck they once thought they were missing, was really the hand of God intervening in their life so that the timing and method in which their family started would be perfect for them. Instead of luck, we found God's presence in our lives, providing for us, comforting us, changing us, preparing the way for something that would redefine our definition of blessings.

I Had This Really Great Plan...

I have the honor and privilege of sharing with you an absolutely heart-warming story from a good friend of mine and Jenny's. Jenn's love for God and her family is clear from the first time you ever meet her, and her journey to completing that family has a lot to do with the depth of her love and faith. Her beautiful family has been knit together in such a unique way - one that includes seasons of waiting and heartache, along with happy surprises and excitement. Get your tissues ready and lose yourself in this beautiful masterpiece of life that God has crafted into a perfectly designed family. Thank you Jenn for sharing your touching story of how your family was built by much more than luck. 

So... I had this plan for my life. It was a great plan. It was a really, really great plan. And it didn't happen.

Some people would say it was a combination of good and bad luck. Some people would attribute the highs and lows to karma. Some would say it's all about chance. Or some cosmic force in the universe. Or somehow being "good enough" and earning enough "favor" for all to go well.

But, I know that's not true.

I had this plan for my life. It was a great plan. It was a really, really great plan. And it didn't happen. And I have learned nothing is by chance... I'm not "lucky" or "unlucky." It's not about my good outweighing my bad. It's about God's providence. It's about Him being completely wise and holy. He powerfully preserves and governs all His creatures and all their actions. That's a mouthful! Bottom line, God made our family and is intimately acquainted with every detail of our lives. He keeps and tends and loves and pursues us.

I'm not good with summaries. I'm long winded. It's hard to write about something like this without going into all details. Especially because I have seen God's care and kindness in the smallest of details. He isn't just about the "big" things. He is about all the things and He is sovereign over all things. Good things. And bad things. Easy things and hard things. Babies. And wombs. Loss and life. And time. Nothing can thwart His sovereign plan. And... did I mention He is good? Even in the brokenness and the hard. He is good.

Sometimes that really stings. Like, really, really deep down stings. Cuts. And scars. Especially when my plan - what I want - is such a "good" thing. How can God NOT give me this!? Children are a blessing. Why would He withhold!? And why does He give life where it is not wanted, and withhold life where it is so badly longed and hoped for!?

God's ways are not our ways. His timing is not our timing. He knows and sees all... the past and the future. It's not cliche, He really is working all things - the good and the bad - together for the good of those who love Him and are called according to His purpose. Your tears and pain and loss, and mine, are neither wasted nor forgotten.

I remember my affliction and my wanderings, the wormwood and the gall! My soul continually remembers it and is bowed down within me. But this I call to mind, and therefore I have hope: The Steadfast love of the Lord never ceases; His mercies are new every morning; great is Your faithfulness. ‘The Lord is my portion,’ says my soul, ‘therefore I will hope in Him.
— Lamentations 3:19-24

As I reflect over the past thirteen years of marriage, the bulk of which have been spent trying to grow our family, I am overwhelmed. Life is messy and we are broken. Two sinners under the same roof with a gaggle of children, all sinful. We hurt one another and we tear down. We live in a fallen world with fallen people and fallen bodies. Things... and life are broken. And He makes the broken beautiful.

It's my hope and prayer that in sharing our journey, God is glorified and you are encouraged that He is good, even in your brokenness and mess and pain. And He loves you.

So I had this plan... It was a great plan. It was a really, really great plan. And it didn't happen. It took us close to a year to become pregnant with our first child, a girl. I had a boring pregnancy. I took that gift for granted.

We tried again... conceived... and miscarried.

We tried again... for many, many months... and conceived. But, something was wrong. Terribly wrong. I had an ectopic (tubal) pregnancy. Post emergency surgery, we learned I'd likely lost function in one tube due to severe scarring.

We tried again. For many, many months. Negative test after negative test. Hope deferred. Anger and bitterness were my constant companions. It seemed every time I turned around there was another announcement. Baby showers. And the questions... "Isn't it about time for another?" There was life. Everywhere, but in my own womb. Oh the painful longing...

I hate to think back to the person I was during that season. I wouldn't have wanted to be friends with me. Let alone be married to me. I snapped so easily. And over things that were so insignificant. My heart was hard and angry. It felt as if all I had and held dear was being stripped from me. Not just empty arms longing for another babe, but my family was crumbling. It was a dark season. And... God is faithful. He completes that which He begins. My anger hadn't caught Him off guard. My hard and bitter heart wasn't more than He could handle. He had begun a good work in my and He'd promised never to leave me. Thank God. Apart from Him, I was hopeless.

And so began a process of stripping and breaking... shattering... and rebuilding. Finally, we learned we were pregnant. My rejoicing was so guarded. Dare I allow my heart to love this babe in my womb? It had been a place of death and destruction... I was guarded and reserved during my entire pregnancy. The night before giving birth, I journaled my prayers of fear... fear that this baby would be born with something terribly wrong... that this babe would die. I was in a place of trusting God. Knowing He was good and sovereign. And knowing that His plans aren't mine. And often are painful. I was at peace and pleaded with Him not to put my fragile heart through another loss.

On April 2, 2007, I gave birth to our second born, a son, my husband and his father's namesake. And I wept. Relief and hope mingled in my tears.

Shortly after, we threw caution to the wind, assuming we'd have a long, hard journey to conception. Way faster than anticipated, we were expecting! I gave birth to a healthy baby girl.

We'd long had the number five on our hearts. God had confirmed this to both of us separately and again, together. We began trying again. Twelve months in, my doctor agreed something was off... Taylor and I had prayed at length about how far we would push things. There was this desire, this seemingly clear call, but nothing was happening biologically. Adoption was something we'd talked about many times. We prayerfully visited that option and neither of us were at peace. We decided to pursue six months of medical help in attempt to grow our family.

As the months passed, nothing happened. I wondered if the two babes we'd lost were supposed to be part of the "five" we longed for.

During month six, our last month of treatments, the nurse called and told me based on previous months' numbers, things didn't look promising. I resolved in my heart to bed all hope and expectations. I had a good, hard cry. The desire for more children was there. Stronger than ever. We revisited adoption. Still, no peace. The days passed. Nothing. Finally, I took a test. And. It. Was. Positive.

We wept. And rejoiced. We gave thanks. Our children had faithfully prayed for a year and a half that God would put a baby in mommy's tummy. It was sweet to see their excitement. God had answered their prayers. And I knew why God hadn't given peace in the pursuit of adoption. He was giving us another baby biologically.

I went to the doctor every week for tests and ultrasounds for the first twelve weeks. Everything looked great and it was predicted I'd have a normal, boring pregnancy. We'd moved to checkups every four weeks. Thanks to Christmas holidays, I didn't go back for almost six weeks. I was the last appointment of the day. I was a cute new maternity top, my bump just starting to show. The nurse couldn't find a heartbeat. And just like that, our dear babe had passed away.

And our children were crushed. It was a new journey... dealing with our own grief while shepherding our children's grieving hearts. He gives and takes away. Blessed be His name.

In May, we moved. I sold all our baby gear except our beautiful crib. Neither of us could fathom how life would be better with three children, rather than four, but we were also at peace. It didn't make sense, but we knew enough to know His plans aren't ours. He was the author of life. The giver. The taker. We grieved, but with hope. He'd shown His faithfulness in the past. We didn't doubt His goodness or kindness, but oh, how we ached.

The call to a larger family was undeniable, only it really didn't look like God planned to grow our family biologically. Taylor was ready to pursue adoption. I wasn't.

And so we spent another year trying. During that year, God changed my heart. There were a million seemingly "coincidental" (ahem, providential) encounters I had with adopted children and families who had or were adopting. God turned my heart toward the fatherless in an entirely new way. In the fall of 2012, I conceded to Taylor that the Lord had indeed altered my heart and desires... we were on the same page. We would pursue adopting... more specifically, we would pursue adopting two children.

At first we agreed not to prevent pregnancy. We went with an agency that, in the event of us becoming pregnant, would pause the process, rather than terminate it. We sent that first check. My heart couldn't handle the tension that comes with the possibility of conception, though biologically speaking, that looked hopeless. And so we took precautions to ensure we wouldn't be surprised.

After a lot of research and prayer, we settled on adopting from China. The day after our first home study, much to our, "HOW IN THE WORLD DID THIS HAPPEN" shock, I got a positive pregnancy test. Talk about jumbled emotions. Phew!

And the strangest, most unexpected thing happened. Taylor called our agency to let them know... and they called us back and said the ball was in our court. If wanted to continue the process, we could. That meant - we wouldn't have to pause!

We decided we'd pursue one child, the opposite gender of the baby I carried. In August of 2013, I have birth to a precious baby girl. We rejoiced over her and God's goodness! And we rejoiced over the then unknown baby boy we knew we'd be adopting.

Two months later, ahead of schedule, we were sent the file of an eight month old baby boy. That meant his mama and I had shared three months of pregnancy. He was born February 14, 2013. In God's kindness, I remember exactly what I was doing on Valentine's Day of 2013.

In May of 2014 we took our two oldest and traveled across the world to bring our dear son home. Our adoption journey has been the most amazing picture of the Gospel I've ever encountered.

And here we are, almost a year post adoption, with the five children. 10, 7, 5, 2 and 1. I'm completely overwhelmed. Like, COMPLETELY. And it is good.

I had this plan. This great plan. It was a really, really great plan... And it didn't happen. We don't look like I thought we'd look. Our children aren't spaced like we planned. We are broken and messed up and selfish. He's still softening and chiseling away at my hard heart. Our story isn't the one I had written. It's so much better. I don't want to repeat the pain. I don't want to re-learn the lessons. I don't want to go back. I'm so thankful time marches on. God is so kind. He is long suffering and patient. I have seen His faithfulness. He doesn't change like shifting shadows. His purposes cannot be thwarted. Even in the pain, He is loving. Those low points... oh they were low... they are some of the base notes of what I pray is our life's song, "To God Be The Glory."

Whatever your story, wherever you find yourself, I pray you lift your eyes to the heavens. Find your hope in Jesus. We are fully known. He sees and knows the depths of our depravity... the sin we can't seem to stop committing, the ugly in our hearts. He sees and knows it all, and yet died for us. While we were sinners. Not once we get ourselves "together." He saves in the midst of the hopeless mess. Trust your heart to Him. Look to Him and be made whole. Your pain and hurt don't escape Him. He brings beauty from ashes. He makes the broken beautiful.

 

Jenn is saved by grace, eternally thankful for Christ's work of sanctification in her life, and is happily married to her high school sweetheart (The Engineer) and is a stay-at-home mom to her five babes: Sister (10), Little Man (7), Little Bit (5), Henry (23 mos) and Wren (17 mos). She has been bought with the blood of our precious Redeemer and Savior. She blogs about their life over at Wanting What I Have.


We started this More Than Luck series to share a variety of stories from others who at one time might have viewed themselves as the "unlucky." Like Jenny and myself, they didn't have the seamless transition they once hoped for into parenthood. But hindsight has afforded them the opportunity to see that the luck they once thought they were missing, was really the hand of God intervening in their life so that the timing and method in which their family started would be perfect for them. Instead of luck, we found God's presence in our lives, providing for us, comforting us, changing us, preparing the way for something that would redefine our definition of blessings.