Updated: Jan 23, 2019
I want to ask you a simple question: Where does your hope lie? I would like to say that for myself, I always have put my hope in God. But if I’m being totally honest, I can get a little sidetracked sometimes. I’m a planner to the core and I find that, for much of my life, I put my hope in my plans.
One of my favorite authors Shauna Niequist puts it perfectly in her book Savor:
“I should have written in pencil. I should have viewed the trajectory of my life as a mystery. I should have planned lightly, hypothetically, and used words like ‘maybe’ and ‘possibly.’ Instead, every chance I got, I wrote in Sharpie. I stood on my future, on what I knew, on the certainty of what life would hold for me, as though it were rock. Instead, it’s more like a magic carpet, a slippy-slidy-wiggly thing, full of equal parts play and terror. The ground beneath my feet is lurching and breaking, and making way for an entirely new thing every time I look down, surprised once again by a future I couldn’t have predicted.”
I absolutely love this quote because it perfectly expresses how I have always put my hope in this future that I could never have predicted. I have always written in Sharpie when I should have been writing in pencil. But let me assure you, life is JOYFUL when we put down our Sharpie and call upon the name of Jesus. We’ll come back to that.
When Life Went According to My Plan
Unfortunately I still like to write in Sharpie. For example, I recently found a 10-year plan that I wrote while in my senior year of high school and was shocked at how accurate my plan was. I was going to go to Azusa Pacific University, a Christian university in Los Angeles, major in Psychology and Biblical Studies, study abroad in South Africa, graduate with honors, immediately get married, work in a church, and, within a year, start my Masters in Psychology. I actually did all of that: I went to Azusa Pacific University, majored in Psychology and Biblical Studies, studied abroad in South Africa, and graduated in three and a half years with honors. I got married two weeks after I graduated and immediately began working full-time at a church in Children’s and Student Ministries and started my Masters in Marriage and Family Therapy at Western Seminary. As you can see, when it came to planning ahead, I never did things halfway. I had wrapped up my entire identity in this plan of what the perfect life should look like. I had written in Sharpie.
When I think about that season, life was easy and things were good. That season of my life went beyond what Jesus says in Matthew 11:28-30:
“Come to me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
In this passage, Jesus promises that He will give rest to the weary and burdened. In this season of my life, I certainly wasn’t feeling particularly weary or burdened but I was definitely feeling the easy yoke and light burden. I found that life is EASY when it goes according to plan.
When Life Didn’t Go According to My Plan
Going back to my 10-year plan. When it came to having kids, I was extremely detailed. For years 5-10, my plan included having kids, raising them, being involved in their activities and possibly homeschooling them. Up until this point in my life, I had it all together. God’s plan happened to fit exactly with my own and I had no plan for Him to do anything otherwise. I couldn’t bear the thought of trying to erase what I had written down in Sharpie.
This brings us to the point in the book where I share one of the most difficult experiences of my life. For the majority of 2013 and the beginning of 2014, I found myself in the midst of a major health struggle, with little to no solid answers. It all began in February 2013 when Chris and I decided that we were ready to begin a little family. I was concerned that I wouldn't get pregnant right away since I had been taking birth control for the first year of our marriage, but to my surprise, we got pregnant during the first month of trying. I was immediately excited. A week after I got my positive pregnancy test, I began shopping for maternity pants. I wasn't sure quite how quickly I would start showing and I wanted to be prepared. I told all my close friends right away and Chris and I were extremely excited. We heard the heartbeat at 6 weeks and immediately were in love with our little baby. I began dreaming of what he or she would be like. I had always had dreams of a little girl with curly blond hair running into my arms. Now that I was pregnant, those dreams came almost nightly. I was set on the name Ellery or Amelie if it was a girl. If it was a boy, we would name him David. That was almost assured, as my husband is named David Christopher and is the third David in his family.
When I was only 8 weeks pregnant, I started having spotting. I went into my doctor's office and we looked at the screen. There was no heartbeat. I was in complete shock. It hadn't even considered this as a possibility. I had a few friends who had struggled with infertility and knew of a few who had experienced miscarriages but I figured it was pretty rare and it isn't something that would ever happen to us. My doctor told us that he could perform a D&C if that would be easier for me emotionally, so that I wouldn't have to go through the miscarriage process at home. I agreed to the procedure.
I was experiencing major pain and cramping. I went in for the procedure the next day. In addition to the D&C, my doctor also removed multiple uterine fibroids, which he said it was uncommon to have as many as I did at my age. The fibroids, as well as my child, were disposed of as "medical waste." For the next few weeks I really struggled but kept on with my routine. I sang in my parents' wedding a few weeks later on May 18th, then rushed back home in Monterey to chaperone a dance with the high school girls that I mentored. I had a blast at both events but, looking back, I was just trying to ignore the physical and emotional pain I was still feeling after the procedure. The following Sunday was Mother's Day. It hit me like a ton of bricks. I just remember breaking down during the service. I was able to keep quiet but I just couldn't stop crying. I didn't realize how much I was hurting and quite how much I had wanted to be a mother. I had never imagined Mother's Day to be a difficult day for anyone, much less for me. The next few weeks were an emotional blur. I felt like I could cry at the drop of a hat. And then the medical bills started coming in. The D&C, a procedure that was supposed to be covered by my insurance, suddenly wasn't. Not only were we experiencing the pain and grief of loss, but we were spending thousands of dollars of our savings on a procedure for a child we would never take home, never hold, never be able to bury.
We waited a month and began to try again. I immediately got pregnant again. I was half relieved and half terrified. I knew that God was going to help me through this pregnancy and that it couldn't happen again. I saw the heartbeat again at 6 weeks, but again at 8 weeks, I began spotting. We went into the doctor's and there was no heartbeat. I hadn't even allowed myself to begin dreaming of this baby and he or she was already gone. I had well-meaning friends and family trying to give explanations for why this had happened. Like, "maybe they would have had a birth defect" or "God just didn't want them to experience pain on earth." While those are potentially logical responses in the eye of the speaker, it was exactly what my heart didn't want to hear. I needed someone to just sit with me in the midst of my sadness and recognize that what was happening to my body wasn't okay. I wasn't just physically sick, my body was betraying me by not allowing me to have the thing my heart wanted most. I was not just miscarrying, or experiencing recurrent pregnancy loss, I was losing a child. I miscarried at home, alone, while my husband was at work. I was distraught but, this time, I was able to process physically and emotionally, and without all the medical bills.
My doctor said that my progesterone levels had dropped too quickly and allowed my body to miscarry. He suggested that we wait a month and try again. We immediately got pregnant again and I began taking progesterone supplements. We went in at 6 weeks and saw no heartbeat. We waited another two weeks, and still no heartbeat. I had convinced myself that maybe something was wrong with the machine. I hadn't had any spotting, so the baby was fine. We were in the midst of a move from Monterey to San Jose, and it was right before Thanksgiving so I busied myself with things and kept preparing for our little bundle of joy. On the way to my parents’ house, I went by the doctor's again, at about 10 weeks. The baby was still there, but there was no growth, no heartbeat. My doctor told me that my baby had probably passed away at around 5-6 weeks, but that the progesterone supplements made my body keep from "expelling the fetus." It all sounded so technical, but what I knew was that this baby too was not mine to hold.
I drove to my parents’ house alone, 3 hours away and cried the whole drive. I screamed at God and was constantly having to pull over because I was crying too hard. The next few days at my parents house, I spoke with my dad and Pat about how frustrated I was at God and how I honestly didn't understand how He could love me and make me go through something like this. Nothing my parents said those few days really stuck. I just needed to be with people. I remember driving home to San Jose and just crying the whole time. I listened to "Just Say Jesus" by 7eventh Time Down and “Oceans” by Hillsong on repeat, hoping that He would come and heal my broken heart. I continued crying and yelling at God. I was thoroughly brokenhearted.
After a few weeks, right before Christmas, my body finally miscarried the baby. Again, I was at home, alone, while Chris was at work. It was a difficult Christmas and I struggled with the idea of celebrating anything. I spent every Sunday at our new church crying in the back row. I left before anyone saw me and I just went home and cried more. This was a difficult few months for me. I almost walked away from my faith in God but just trusted that He would bring me through this. He kept bringing me back to Romans 5:3-5,
"Not only so but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us."
I kept leaning into the hope that God was doing something in me that I couldn't quite understand. I wanted perseverance, character and hope, but without all the suffering.
An Answer to Prayer
In January 2014, I started seeing a fertility specialist in San Jose. I honestly believe that God had us move to San Jose for all the specialists that were suddenly available to us. My new doctor was a brilliant and compassionate woman. She took all my health history and had me do blood work to rule out every fertility-related disease. All the tests came back negative, except for slight anemia. I was hoping for more answers. At our second visit, she did an ultrasound and found lots more fibroid tumors and what she thought was a polyp, which can potentially be cancerous. Right before my 24th birthday in February, I had the surgery. Everything came back non-cancerous, but still no answer as to why I was miscarrying besides the fibroids. All of the tests, blood work, ultrasounds, and surgery were covered by Chris' new work health insurance. Finally things were starting to look up! We had a follow-up and my specialist said that things were looking great and we were free to begin trying again in May. I had been seeing a Christian psychiatrist and was in a good place emotionally and spiritually again. I had been reading my Bible more, was finding encouragement from my seminary classes, and had been reading Hope Quotient by Ray Johnston with a small group at church. We had another difficult Mothers Day, but I had more hope for the future and knew that God would bless us with children, whether they were our biological children or adopted children. I had come to terms with whatever method God was going to use and trusted that He had a plan greater than ours. We had another cycle with negative tests, and went home for the 4th of July. I had a crazy appetite and felt nauseous. On July 3rd, 2014, I got a faint positive pregnancy test. Chris and I told my dad and I had this strange peace about it all. I just had hope that this child would be the one we would take home, our rainbow, our miracle.
I began seeing my specialist for pregnancy follow-ups and things looked great. Baby's heart was beating and, with each week, baby kept growing. I remember the first time I was able to hear baby's heartbeat, Chris and I immediately started crying. Baby made it to 12 weeks and I began seeing a regular OB again. At 16 weeks, we found out that we were having a baby boy. A baby boy! It began to feel real. I bought some baby boys clothes and we did a gender reveal. We had multiple baby showers. I got bigger and bigger. I was truly as big as a house. And at 41 weeks, after an induction and 47 hours of labor, David James Moore was born via C-section. He was perfect. God had given me hope and here he was. We named him David, after all the men in Chris' family, James, after my dad. But to those who know him now, he just goes by DJ. He was the happiest baby, my rainbow, my miracle. Two years later, we had another baby boy, Oliver Matthew, who is a miracle, just like his older brother.
All of this to say, 2013 was a very difficult year for us. I felt out of control for the first time in my life. It was truly a letting go kind of experience. I didn't experience circumstantial peace, hope and joy for a year. It was a year of being farther from God than I had ever been and being more reliant on God than I had ever been. On the days I was walking with God and reading His Word regularly, I truly had peace and hope. Because of my faith that God was in control, I was able to have peace, hope and joy, despite my circumstances. Without faith in God, I don't believe I would have made it through that season after my third miscarriage. Certainly, I was angry at times, confused, broken. But I was able to acknowledge that God was also hurting with me. He was not the cause of my pain, rather it was the brokenness of sin and the mortality of my body. He walked with me through the most difficult season of life and through the most difficult labor I would ever experienced. Through both experiences of suffering, He brought me fulfillment and began a work in me: perseverance, character, and hope. And that hope does not disappoint. Because of my faith, I was given peace. In the midst of suffering, I was taught perseverance, character and hope. Love, greater than any I had ever known, was poured out into me by the Holy Spirit. Love, greater than any I had ever known, was pouring out of me onto my son. This trial strengthened my relationship with God, my husband, and with my family and friends who walked with me through this season. Looking back, I realize that season of life prepared me for recent painful experiences, such as the death of my mother. These are not the only painful experiences I will have in this life and I feel more equipped to endure the pain that I will experience in the future.
We do not walk through our pain alone.
I praise God that our story did not end with our three miscarriages. By God’s glory and grace, we had two sweet baby boys. David James and Oliver Matthew are an answer to so many prayers by so many different people. I love them with all the fierceness that is being called "Mama!" I still have to ask myself from time to time where my hope lies; is it in these sweet boys or is it in the One who gave them life? Where does your hope lie? Does your hope lie in your plans, like mine did? Or does your hope lie in the One who created the universe, formed you in your mother's womb, and has planned for you all the days of your life?
I want to share some words from a song with you that got me through my third miscarriage and brought me through suffering to give me hope. It is called Just Say Jesus by 7eventh Time Down:
“When you don’t know what to say, just say Jesus.
There is power in the name, the name of Jesus.
If the words won’t come cause you’re too afraid to pray, just say Jesus.”
In looking back at that time, this is exactly the reminder that I needed. I was suffering and I was in desperate need of hope. I wish I could give you some easy step by step method that I have invented for finding hope but I find that the solution is much easier than that: Jesus. If you walk away with nothing else from this book, I hope that you come to find that Jesus is the only way to find true hope.
I would also encourage you to also listen to "Oceans" by Hillsong and "Even If" by MercyMe. They are both extremely encouraging songs about how God meets us in the midst of our suffering. They have become anthems of hope for me, reminders that I can praise God, even in the midst of suffering and grief. Take a look at the Finding Hope in the Midst of Miscarriage section on my website for a Spotify playlist of songs that I have found helpful during these seasons of grief and uncertainty. My book--Finding Hope in the Midst of Miscarriage--is in the final editing stages and should be released to the publisher soon. It will be full of steps towards processing grief, finding hope, an in-depth study of Romans 5:3-5, and is filled with Biblical and modern-day stories of God walking women through miscarriage. For more information and book updates, sign up in the Contact section. Feel free to comment below with your experience and I will do my best to respond back and pray His love and hope over you.
Where Does Your Hope Lie?
When we started out, I asked you to ask yourself where your hope lies. I hope that you have a sense of certainty that your hope truly lies in Jesus. When I ask myself, “where does my hope lie?” I feel that I can truly say that my hope does lie in Jesus alone. In looking at Romans 5:3-5, 8, we learned that we can experience transformation and hope when we rely on Christ in the midst of suffering. I want to leave you with this thought: life is HOPEFUL and even JOYFUL when we put down our Sharpie and call upon the name of Jesus.