You never know when you are going to stumble upon a new friend and sister in Christ. Julie Thomas is that for me. I had the privilege of sitting across from her at lunch a few weeks ago as we swapped stories of what God is doing in our lives through writing. Julie (and her husband, David) are two people who are desperately seeking to live out what they believe. Julie has recently started her own blog and you can read more from her here. For today, I’m excited to have her join us. Enjoy Julie’s story!
“What do you want to be when you grow up?” my parents asked me when I was about 5 years old. They recorded my answer (on a cassette tape ~ hey, it was 1972!). My little voice answers “A mommy!!” They asked me several more times “What else do you want to be?” Every time I answered, “A mommy!!” For as long as I can remember, the deepest desire of my heart was to be a mommy.
In July 1986, I married my high school sweetheart at the tender, insanely young age of 18. I distinctly remember sitting at our tiny kitchen table in our very first apartment excitedly planning the future. We were going to have 5 children. We’d have a few naturally and adopt a couple. Within the first 6 months of marriage we tossed the birth control pills and decided we were ready to start our big family.
Fast-forward 13 years. We don’t have 5 children. We don’t have 1 child. We’ve prayed, we’ve wept, and we’ve been prayed over by friends and family many, many times. We’ve been poked and prodded and tested by several doctors. We’re confused. “God,” I would cry out “This isn’t what I planned. Please give us the children we deeply desire. Please!” This is not the life I’d envisioned as a little girl or young adult. My heart is crushed. I can hardly bear to hear about friends and family members getting pregnant. The joy I’d always felt in holding babies is now like a knife to the heart. I feel like less of a woman somehow. I feel a certain shame that I can’t explain.
However, in the midst of the pain and confusion, there was a knowing that our God had a plan. For years I was convinced that His plan was for me to get pregnant, just on His time not mine. As the years went by, we briefly discussed in vitro fertilization. The cost was extremely high and not covered by insurance. There was a high probability it may not even work for us. We spoke again of adoption. The more we talked about it, the more excited I became. Once we started down this path, there was no turning back. It was a long, somewhat tedious process. Adoptive parents have to fill out mounds of paperwork, have background checks and home visits. We put together a Profile, which is basically a story of our life for prospective birth parents to look at so they can decide if this is the couple/family that will raise our baby. The entire process took about 2 years. In March 2001, we had one “failed” placing where we actually went to the hospital and held the baby boy. The following day, we were told the birth mother had changed her mind. She wanted to parent her baby. The peace God gave us at the moment was indescribable. Sure, there were tears, but only for a few minutes. I almost felt guilty for not being devastated. God surrounded us with His love to the point that I simply couldn’t do anything but be happy for this young woman and her child. We headed home and prepared a nursery that very week as a statement of faith that God was going to do what He said He’d do.[Tweet “In the midst of the pain and confusion, there was a knowing that our God had a plan.–@joycolumn “]
A few short months later in May 2001 we received the phone call that would change our lives forever. A couple in Pennsylvania wanted us to adopt their baby girl. We spoke to both birth parents on the phone several times. We flew to PA the first week in July to bring our daughter home. As we were at the adoption agency signing papers and finalizing all the legal matters, the birth mom asked to speak privately to a counselor. Our hearts fell. We just knew something wasn’t right. We went outside, sat at a picnic table and my husband and I sobbed. We held each other. We cried and we prayed. We prayed for strength and for His will for everyone involved. We went back inside and received the news that she just couldn’t do it. She needed more time to decide. I wish I could say I had the peace I experienced the first time. I didn’t. I wasn’t angry, only sad. Our hearts were torn in two. Within a week of flying back home, we received a call directly from the birth mom. She was ready if we still wanted to adopt her baby. On July 14, 2001 Elisa Nicole Thomas was placed in our arms. On that day my dream of becoming a mommy came true. The instant love and bond I experienced is out of this world.
I had a plan when I was 18 years old. God had one too. His plan was perfect and complete.
Psalm 147:3 tells us, “He heals the brokenhearted and bandages their wounds.”
I have complete healing in my heart. I was a foolish young girl thinking I wanted 5 kiddos. Again, God knows best. Those that know me well will agree that one child is plenty!
What’s so awesome about God is that His plan is good for all involved. Not only did I become the mother that I so desperately longed to be. My husband became the amazing dad he was meant to be. A child was given a life she wouldn’t have otherwise had. We are still in contact with Elisa’s birth family. She has 2 brothers that I believe she’ll have relationships with one day. She has her birth parents that love her deeply and want only the very best for her.
I’ve lived the truth of this often quoted verse (Jeremiah 29:11), “For I know the plans I have for you, says the Lord. They are plans for good and not for disaster, to give you a future and a hope.” So, next time your life doesn’t go according to your plan take heart. It’s quite possible that God has something far more grand in store for you!
Question: How has God changed your plans in a way that you are truly grateful?