This is April's story, a precious woman who attended the conference with Bethany and Michelle, and has now become dear both to my heart and the Relentless community. I hope you'll grab a cup of coffee and take a moment to read it. You're certain to be encouraged, inspired and sense the hand of God throughout her life.
I grew up in a Christian home in a small town in northwest Colorado. When I was five years old, I remember praying with my Mom to ask Jesus to forgive me of my sins and invited Him into my heart and life. I attended a Christian school from kindergarten until halfway through my ninth grade year. At this school most emphasis was put on correct outside behavior than on growing a personal relationship with Jesus. I believe that I did have a personal relationship with Jesus while growing up, but because I was a people pleaser for the most part I just did what I was told to do and didn't do what I knew I shouldn't. My sister and I transferred to the local public school halfway through my ninth grade year. Boy was that an eye opener! However, I believe that God used this transition in my life to prepare me to be able to leave my little town after graduating to go on to college and enter the real world. It was in college that my faith walk became more personal to me instead of just doing what my parents and others said to do. This was the beginning of God's long process of wooing me to a day by day, moment by moment, growing relationship with Him. He also showed me that He didn't just want a "good girl" who followed the rules on a check-off list of "to-dos" for a good Christian. Jesus wanted a personal growing relationship with me, and I just needed to be open to how/what the Holy Spirit wanted to do in and through me each day and through each trial I faced.
I spent my freshman and sophomore years of college at Oklahoma Baptist University. Two months after starting my junior year, I struggled with some tough classes after changing my major and was really unsure of what I was to do. I went back home for a couple months where my parents and I did a lot of praying about what to do next. Then God directed me to apply to an eight month Medical Reception/Secretary program in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and I was accepted. So, in January of 1990 I moved to Colorado Springs and started this program. God also provided a great and loving Christian family for me to live with while attending school. God intervened with other details when He led me to start going to Circle Drive Baptist Church where a certain handsome GI, who was stationed at Fort Carson, was already attending the College/Career Sunday School class.
Loren was getting out of the Army in just a few weeks and planned to move to Missouri. After we had two dates, God stepped in again, answered our prayers for God’s direction and He led Loren to stay in Colorado Springs instead of moving. We dated eight months before Loren was recalled back to active duty to serve in Desert Storm. We were separated for about six LONG weeks, then God stationed him right back at Fort Carson where he finished up and was able to go back to inactive duty a few months later. With lots of prayer and wise Christian mentor's advice, God revealed to both of us that He had created us to do life together. Loren was everything I had prayed for in a future spouse throughout high school. God knew exactly what I would need in a husband, and then He blessed me with more than I ever imagined needing.
Loren is truly the picture of faithfulness and commitment in a relationship. We had NO idea all the ups and downs we would face in this journey of almost 26 years together now, but who does in the early star struck years? We were engaged in April of 1991, and married in October of the same year. We lived in Colorado Springs for a year and a half and then moved back to Hayden, Colorado where I had grown up, because Loren was hired at TCI Cable TV. We lived there for almost seven years. While there, we struggled through the weary and somewhat mental, emotional, physical, almost dehumanizing effects of infertility. But, oh how God was faithful through it all. Thank You, Jesus! I have since learned that the majority of our motherhood journeys seldom turn out like the picture perfect design we all envision as little girls, but that's ok. Each of our journeys are as unique as we are and God has a specifically tailored plan for each of us.
In January of 2000, after several months of praying for God's specific direction on where we were to go next, Loren and I moved to Hutchinson, Kansas where Loren had been offered a job with the cable company there. God was so faithful again in providing for us. I had a job interview already set up in Hutchinson as a medical receptionist even before we had moved. I enjoyed my job there, but at the same time, I was mentally, emotionally, physically drained from dealing with all that goes with infertility and the effects it has on a couple. If there is one thing I can pass on to anyone struggling with infertility issues or any other tough unseen internal trial, it is this: Please stay plugged into your God-given passions. Don't unplug from them and isolate yourself. This gives an open door to the enemy to play lots of havoc mentally, emotionally, and physically. Through it all, also stay plugged into your relationship with Jesus, and release control of it all to God, His timing, and His plan. By releasing control, I mean telling God that "I lay down my plan and I want your plan for me more than I want my plan. Not my will but yours be done Father God.
As Loren and I struggled through these issues, one thing we told God was that we would be open, willing and available to encourage other couples going through similar issues as God brought those who are struggling into our lives. Infertility, mental health imbalance or any other type of condition that one battles quietly on the inside, where no one else sees it, is a very LONELY up/down road to travel, and the enemy loves to convince us that we are alone in our struggles. Satan's number one weapon is to isolate us in any internal battle we face. God blessed Loren and I with many mentors and faithful prayer warriors to lift us up during this long trial in our lives. One thing that we have learned is that life is meant to be shared with other Christian believers. The hard times as well as the good times. We weren't meant to struggle and suffer alone in solitude. My prayer is that we are open to the Holy Spirit's leading and plug into those who God brings into our lives that He wants to minister to through us. One of my favorite prayers that I came across along my way, and try to say every morning is, "what are you up to today Holy Spirit, and how can I be involved?" Love it when he allows us to be involved in His work on a daily basis.
In January of 2002 on a snowed in day at home, God brought Loren and I to a crossroads in our journey. With just one phone call, God presented us with a possibility that had not even entered our minds up until this point. We were given the chance to be considered as parents to a baby that was due to be born in May, just four months away. Wow, the conflicting emotions and thoughts that flooded our minds and hearts as to what to do with this God given opportunity! Yes, it was risky and had unknown results of how it would all unfold. Would it all come together as a happy blessing or were we just setting our hearts up for more hurt?? We took a weekend to think, pray, consult Godly mentors, and try to process it all. One thought that kept coming back to our minds was, "What if this was God's way of starting our family?" We did not want to shut the door in His face. We were willing to take it one day at a time, trusting that He had a plan in it all and that He would be faithful in providing open or closed doors as well as whatever we needed for the journey, no matter what the end results.
So, after four months of the roller coaster ride that adoption processes bring, God began our family with His gift of a precious, beautiful, newborn little girl straight from heaven. We had been married for almost eleven years at this point. Our lives have never been the same and we have never looked back. God has blessed us beyond measure. When our daughter was just four months old I became pregnant with our son, who was born the following May in 2003. At this point my Dad suggested maybe I should amend my prayer for children that we had been praying for the past 8 years.
After maternity leave, God allowed me to continue my medical receptionist job on a part time basis, three days a week, that I had been doing since we brought our daughter home. I worked this schedule until my kids were almost two and three years old. At that point and after lots of prayer God miraculously provided financially, I was able to stay home full time with my kids.
This was an answer to prayer in itself, because after eight years of infertility, a stressful job, adoption of a newborn, followed by pregnancy just a few months later, I was mentally, emotionally, physically, and spiritually depleted. God continued His process of wooing me back to Him, and I was weary and worn enough to heed His calling. I just needed to release it all to Him and lay down all my expectations, some unrealistic, at His feet and accept His way, His timing, and His healing. He was bringing me and my family to where He wanted us to be. I'd like to say this restoration process only took a short time to complete but it is actually still on going.
The kids grew, and we entered another season in our lives of God's faithfulness. Loren found out in 2009, just before Christmas, that his job was being eliminated. The cable company that he had worked for the past nine years was down sizing. "Ok God, now what????" After five months of looking for a job, Loren was hired on with another cable TV company...in Oklahoma. That summer was quite the experience. Loren spent the weeks in Oklahoma working and commuted back home to Kansas to spend the weekends with the kids and I. We were in the process of trying to sell our house in Kansas and Loren was staying in a motel until our house sold and we would be able to join him in Oklahoma.
In August just before school was to start, God worked out the issues with our house through a rent to own arrangement. We were able to pack up all our household belongings and store them in part of the shop behind the house. That way our renters were able to move into the house, and we were able to go stay in the motel with Loren while we waited to close on our new house. So with the help of faithful friends, we packed up and headed out on a Sunday night. We arrived at our motel late that night, and the kids started school the next morning in Oklahoma.
We thought our motel home would only be for a couple weeks until we were able to move into the house we were purchasing. It ended up being eight weeks. Boy, did we make some memories in those eight weeks with our family of four, and a dog in a small motel room! They say love grows best in little houses, and I guess that goes for little motel rooms, too.
Just when we thought our journey would settle down a bit God had other plans. We were only a couple days away from closing on our house and being able to move in when we got a phone call from my brother-in-law. There had been some changes and they were now able to offer Loren a position working on the family farms in Texas. "Wow!" From our human standpoint, everything was just falling together nicely in Oklahoma. Loren had a good job with benefits, the kids had just settled into a great school with awesome teachers, and we were about to close on a house on two acres that we all loved. But "that still, small voice" kept nudging in us that we were suppose to go to Texas. So after continuing some more prayer we ended up dropping it all and moving to Texas.
We stayed with my sister and her family who graciously took us in for six weeks until we found a house. We got the kids reregistered in yet another school, and life went on. The next two years were a HARD adjustment for all of us, and I never prayed as much for my kids' school years as I did during that time. After 2 years it became very clear that we needed to make a change in the matter of the school our kids attended. After lots of prayers, God led us to a smaller school system in a town fifteen miles away. This season had been for us like the wilderness experience for the Israelites in the Bible. Even in the midst of this dry experience, God was faithful in providing lots of special little delights and friendships to help carry us through it all. We were and continue to be SO thankful for our current school and are praying for another blessed year at Sudan.
Most of my last eighteen years have been a struggle on/off with mental, emotional, and physical health issues. I have prayed, pleaded with, and even begged God to restore me to complete health. This has definitely been an up and down process, but the one thing I would not trade for anything is the growing sweet relationship I now have with Jesus through it all and the assurance that He will get me and my family through anything.
As I release what I think is best for my healing and turn it over to God to allow Him to do with it however He sees best, I know He will be faithful to complete the Word He spoke to me about ten years ago. One morning while I was in the shower, I was praying for enough strength to make it through another LONG day of my kids preschool season. It was like God spoke directly to me and said "I have brought you FROM infertility, I am here now with you THROUGH postpartum issues and this preschool season and I will be faithful to bring you To Victory". God has proven Himself SO faithful over and over again, and I know He will be faithful to complete what He has begun in our family as individuals and in our family as a whole. He will bring us to His restoration and Victory. I am SO thankful for Loren and all the sweet brothers and sisters in the faith God has blessed us with who continue to support and encourage us to stay in the fight and to keep going.
My kids are now fourteen and fifteen years old, and what an exciting journey we have had! The main thing I hope we have impressed on each of them is that God is faithful through anything we face, and the most important things in life are a growing, intimate relationship with Jesus, and to share life with other brothers and sisters in the faith. To encourage each other in this life we journey together. God still does not cease to amaze me with His faithfulness and constant presence. Keeping the faith.
Love & Prayers,