#183 Goodness in the Pain

 Photo by Trevor Rapp

Two realities can be true at the same time. At this point in my life, I am experiencing deep pain and unexplainable joy. My husband and I long for a child but are experiencing infertility and miscarriage. My pain is rooted in this expectation I had for my life, thinking I would already have children. While the unexplainable joy is attributed to my relationship with Jesus. When I get out of the cloud I am living under, I see the abundant blessings I have in Jesus; and for that, my soul rejoices!

I want to share my story because people need to see the goodness of God even when we experience pain. Most of the time we praise God after we have what we want because it is easy. Rarely do you hear or see people praise Him in the pain. So, I am here to share with you Jesus while we wait, even if it is forever.

Early 2019 I found out I had a miscarriage and we had already been struggling with infertility. I really was not able to process our loss until we were supposed to be welcoming our child into this world. It took me months to recognize a child was not going to be in my arms. It also didn’t help that everyone around me was telling me they were pregnant. And I mean everyone. My heart aches for what I long for and reminds me of the emptiness in my arms. I am so thankful that even in my pain, Jesus found in me a way to rejoice with my friends and even my sister, but it did look very different. My rejoicing includes a lot of tears, difficult conversations, and being present when it is the last thing I want to do. I don’t do everything perfectly, but by the grace of God, He is teaching me how to love when it hurts. 

One verse in particular that has really spoken to me through infertility is John 15:1-2: 

“I am the true vine, and my Father is the gardener. He cuts off every branch in me that bears no fruit, while every branch that does bear fruit he prunes so that it will be even more fruitful.”

I have been holding onto this verse in this longing because I can relate to this verse when I tender my plants. I prune my plants not because they are not growing or unsatisfied by the way they look, but to make them grow stronger, dig deeper roots, and have a firm foundation. We can get caught up in believing lies that God is taking something good from us or we have done something to deserve this. But I know God is pruning me to shape me more like Jesus, for His glory. He is showing me who He is—the Giver is more important than the gifts. I have realized and it is even harder to admit, but it is better to have Him without children than it is to have children and not have Him. 

I didn’t really understand how to be in relationship with the Holy Spirit. Infertility has made me more aware of the Holy Spirit inside of me. The same Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead is inside of me! How beautiful is this! God sent His Son so we could be in union with Him. Jesus humbled Himself so that I may have eternal life with Him. The Holy Spirit taught me how to become vulnerable. It took me a while, and as I started to share more of my story, the more I felt the presence of God (see 2 Corinthians 12:9-10). It is emotionally and physically exhausting, but God is using my pain to share His good news. I don’t know if or when this pain will go away, but my response can still be pure and obedient. 

This is why I want to share my story. To provide hope in Jesus! Expectations can bring pain, while reality brings Jesus. I know God is loving, and I want people to see He is just as loving and present in the pain as He is in our happiness. I don’t want people to discount the work God is doing in their life while waiting. I am only able to glorify God because the Holy Spirit is working in me. My husband and friends can comfort me—and I believe the Lord uses them to help me—but ultimately it is the comfort the Lord provides through the Holy Spirit that is sustaining me and teaching me how to be joyful in a time of pain (see 2 Corinthians 1:3).

Jesus came to bear my burden and for me to experience Him, and this pain has allowed me to fall into His arms. I have to trust Him in the unforeseen future as He is the same God before I wanted children as He is now (see Isaiah 40:28). Infertility cannot take Jesus away, and this is why I rejoice! God does not promise children but promises Jesus! The pain is deep and may never go away, but the love of God is greater, and the promise of God stands forever. So, I lay it all down at the feet of Jesus.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#135 Peace in the Storm

 Sketch by Sam Joslin

We had been married for a year and nine months when we found out we were expecting our first baby in September of 2015. I remember looking at the test and bursting into tears of thankfulness, then seeing the look on my husband’s face of sheer and utter excitement. At the time, I was in my first year of teaching first grade and was anxiously anticipating being a mother, pastor, and teacher. I felt physically healthy during the beginning of my pregnancy, but my emotions were a rollercoaster. My husband and I were dreaming daily of baby names, nursery colors, and future family vacations. We were on cloud nine and prayed daily for a healthy baby. On October 8th, we had our first appointment for an ultrasound. We both got teary when we saw the tiny speck of life on the black and white screen, a small flickering heartbeat in the middle. Our doctor expressed some concerns at the time that our baby was measuring very small for its gestational age of nine weeks, but that it was common and shouldn’t cause any issues to arise.

The following week was a whirlwind. I started having some problems and was fearful that something could be wrong. My doctor checked and the baby’s heartbeat was noticeable, strong and flickering as before. One week later, on October 16th, I went back to the doctor for a third checkup in the same week. My husband and I could tell that there was something wrong when the ultrasound technician went quiet, the screen out of view. She left the room to get our doctor, and in my spirit, I knew what was to come. Our sweet doctor came in and told us there was no heartbeat to be found. We’d had a miscarriage. The words our doctor said blended together, a mix of “it’s very common” and “you can always try again.” My husband and I felt defeated, like we were broken somehow, and we leaned into each other heavily in that moment. In the midst of trial and pain, it’s easy to get angry with God and what we perceive His plan to be.

The days to follow were very dark and hard, yet there was an abounding peace that followed my husband and I. At the time, we were meeting in our house for our home church, and my husband, a pastor, considered canceling that Sunday so we could grieve. The message he had planned the week before was about finding peace in the storm; we knew we needed to have church in our home, and to this day are thankful we did.

The weeks and months following were blurry, emotional, and frustrating. I felt the peace of the Lord, but was still so upset that I wasn’t pregnant. It felt like everyone else I knew was in the middle of a healthy pregnancy, glowing and excited on the little squares of social media. I was given the strict order that we could not try to get pregnant for four months. As those months went on and 2016 started, I had several friends experience miscarriages. They reached out to me for comfort, guidance, and advice. My heart ached for them, but I knew that as much as my miscarriage was painful and part of my story, it was my job to share the hope and peace that God had provided me during the process of our miscarriage.

In the fall of 2016, we decided to try and start our family again. We were settled into our new house, I had started a new job that summer, and we were ready. We felt slight disappointment when a test came back negative during those first couple months of trying, but knew that it would happen. I attended a worship night with Bethel Worship in Nashville in the middle of October, the middle of our season of trying to get pregnant. A girl prayed over me as I shared my heart of wanting a baby. She prayed into my life words of encouragement, telling me that I was already a mother, that the Lord was preparing me, and that I was Hannah in His eyes (meant to have children with strong faith). At the end of her long and tearful prayer, she hugged me and shouted, “Congratulations!” She was celebrating what was to come; she was calling out what wasn’t as though it was.

Two weeks later, I was standing in the line at Walgreens, pregnancy test in hand, ready and anxious to take it the following morning. As the cashier handed me my receipt and the bag, she looked me so sincerely in the eyes and told me “congratulations.” Walking to my car, tears filled my eyes, and I felt in my spirit that that wasn’t just a hopeful phrase from a stranger; it was a prophetic promise from the Lord that we were going to have a baby. I went to sleep with peace and woke up early the next morning and took the test. I saw the word “pregnant” display on the screen.

Today, I am 29 weeks pregnant with a very healthy baby boy whom we will soon welcome into our family. My pregnancy has been filled with overwhelming peace, health, and joy. We haven’t been fearful and have trusted the whole time that our baby is healthy and that the Lord is taking care of us. The Lord is so faithful to keep His promises. The things that He begins in you, He will finish and will bring to completion.

I remain confident of this: I will see the goodness of the LORD in the land of the living. Psalm 27:13

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#118 God Came Close

Photo by Nicole Tarpoff

May 17th was my original due date. And to be honest, I thought I’d be pregnant again by now. I thought May 17th would come and go and I would be a new kind of happy, glistening with hope and pregnancy glow, excited for our new healthy baby to enter the world.

But that didn’t happen.

I still remember the day and those moments so clearly. I had been waiting so long to see our sweet baby for the first time; nothing beats the anticipation of that first ultrasound. I have never been so elated. But the tech was quiet and said, “Let me go get the midwife…”

A few moments later, we heard the words “no heartbeat,” “not meant to be,” and “miscarriage.” I have never been so heartbroken. In the days following, it was all I could do to pull myself out of bed and move to the couch. My mom came over and cleaned the whole house, cried with me in between doing dishes and dusting. Friends came. Some shared their own stories of loss. Others brought flowers and food. Over a few weeks of processing and mourning, I began to see our baby in Heaven, wrapped in the arms of Jesus, and bouncing on my grandfather’s knee. I began to see the gift of perfect life that our tiny love had been given. It may be weird to say, but it was almost hard to un-wish what had happened.

I comforted myself with thoughts of quickly getting pregnant again. Of moving on to a healthy pregnancy with a different baby that couldn’t have existed without losing the first. Again, I expected to be pregnant long before that first due date ever came. And well, I was. Four months after losing our first, the test was positive. And so was I. Positive that this one would be fine. That the first one was just a fluke, part of the unlucky 20 percent. God and I had a deal, and I knew this one would be perfect.

But three days after my test turned positive, I started to bleed. One week later, I miscarried our second baby. The first time I was devastated. The second time I was angry. Angry at God. I asked him, “How could You do this to me? The very thing I begged You not to do?”

I was completely broken. And that is when God came so close. In my pain and anger, in my suffering, the God of the Everything felt as close as my skin. And in my deep desperation, as I asked the Lord why He hadn’t delivered what I so desperately wanted, He whispered to me this truth, “You won’t get everything you want in this life, but in the middle of every single ‘no,’ my Son is always your ‘yes.’” In my pain, can I have more of Jesus? Yes, every time. In the middle of my anguish and despair, in my disappointment and brokenness, is He drawing near, giving me more of His comfort and love? Yes.

I am learning over and over again that this life isn’t about getting everything I want. It is about getting more of Jesus. May 17th has come and gone, and while I still hope to be pregnant in the future, I am full of Christ today.

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.

#57 Rejoice And Do Not Fear Broken Things


Photo by Madeline Trent, Frames of Grace Photography

“Knowing you’re in the arms of the One and Only makes my heart ache a little less. We knew from the beginning that you were His, and we placed you in His loving hands. He alone knew the number of days your darling heart would beat, for He created it after all. I’ve never seen Jesus face-to-face, but I know He’s infinitely grander than I could ever imagine. He is so good, trustworthy, loving, and kind—but you already know that! One day He will wipe away the tears your daddy and I shed from having to let you go before we wanted to. I have big faith in the Jesus you see. He healed you right into glory, into His embrace.”

These words of love were penned in my journal on December 13, 2015 after experiencing a miscarriage the day before. Psalm 139:16 says, “You see all things; You saw me growing, changing in my mother’s womb; Every detail of my life was already written in Your book; You established the length of my life before I ever tasted the sweetness of it.”

With this as our starting place, it would be my joy to have your company for a few moments, to share His grace in the brokenness.

There were some concerns with this pregnancy, and my husband and I knew our option was to trust Jesus with the worries, fears, and unknowns (Prov. 3:5–6; Phil. 4:6). Because of the concerns, I got to have multiple ultrasounds that allowed me to hear that precious heartbeat! I didn’t realize in the moment the gift that truly was, until later in the week when the labor pains began and the sight of too much red indicated there was no longer a heartbeat. December 12, 2015 was an unusually different day, a day that began with death, but a day that was hemmed in—beginning to end—with His grace and mercy, since He already knew “every detail” of my life in advance. The Lord had prepared me, through His word and the wisdom of others, to step forward into a day that I didn’t want to embrace. As the reality of our loss took root, the Lord reminded me of the powerful words of Psalm 118:24, “This is the day the Lord has made; we will rejoice and be glad in it.”

Years earlier, a former Bible study teacher of mine had shared how Jesus would have said those words during the Passover meal with the disciples. If Jesus could declare those words, knowing He would be shedding red on a cross soon after saying them, then He would give us the strength to live into this day. We purposed in our hearts that the day was still worth living in and rejoicing in simply because God had created it.

Months before, that same Bible teacher had also admonished us to have the audacity “to hold tight with all your might to Romans 8:18—‘For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.’” Holding that verse closely was a soothing balm to my aching heart. Jesus knows it is scary to be us, and it was so kind of Him to have the Apostle Paul remind us that there is indeed something gorgeous in store! Also, a friend had shared with me, long before my experience with miscarriage, about a friend of hers who had lost a child at 16 weeks. Even though the loss was enormously hard, that dear woman chose gratitude. She chose to see His fingerprints of grace as she thanked the Lord for giving her that much time with her child.

As that detail of her story wedged back into my mind, I was able to see how much grace He had lavished on us as well (and I wish I could share all of it with you)! It was such a gift to be reminded to be thankful for the time God did give me with this little life. I share this story with you one year later. By the unbelievable grace of the Father, I share this story with you as another darling baby grows inside of me! I share this story with you thinking about a girl named Marie, who celebrated her birthday today in Africa (a girl we sponsor through Compassion International as a result of her sharing a birthday with our little one). I share this story with you knowing His arms of love are under me and under you.

And, do you have a moment for me to share a tad more about God’s goodness? The same month our little one would have originally been born is the exact same month that Jesus opened my womb with the gift of another life. My husband and I were stunned by the perfection of God’s timing and His sweetness to the details. As a dear woman shared with me after hearing I was pregnant, “We rejoice in the choices of our Lord! Knowing that the ones that hurt have the Healer beside of them. And the ones that bring joy have the Rejoicer beside of them! Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice!” Ann Voskamp wrote, “Never be afraid of broken things—because Christ is redeeming everything.

And Jesus is doing that right now in my story, in our family’s story. There’s so much more I’d love to share, but by now our lattes are getting cold, and the Lord has more moments for us to separately pursue this day. While it can be scary to share a glimpse of personal pain, knowing that on a human level we have a tendency to rank and compare our pain to each other’s, I pray you leave our brief time together feeling encouraged—loving Him more and trusting Him more. “O Israel, stake your trust completely in the Eternal—from this very moment and into the vast future” (Psalm 131:3).

In the words of Elisabeth Elliot, “I am not a theologian or a scholar, but I am very aware of the fact that pain is necessary to all of us. In my own life, I think I can honestly say that out of the deepest pain has come the strongest conviction of the presence of God and the love of God.”

So, dear friend, let’s clutch our Bibles tightly, live from the truth of His promises, and love Him large through all the moments He gives us this side of eternity. You are loved beyond measure, and I can’t wait to hear your beautiful and miraculous story someday!

“May grace and peace from God our Father [and the Lord Jesus, the Anointed One] envelop you” (Col. 1:2b).

A Million God Stories is a Christ-centered ministry which offers a platform for Christians from all streams of Christian faith to give praise for how God has worked in their lives. Christ heals in infinitely creative ways and we acknowledge that His way of helping may differ from person to person.