Joy Filled Jen

When I was diagnosed with Stage II Invasive Breast Cancer in March 2012, I didn’t get mad.  I didn’t even get mad when I found out I had to have a double mastectomy, chemo and radiation.  Now, to be honest when I found that information out, I got nervous, but dug down deep inside and found a strength I never knew, and I faced the battle head on with my husband, friends, and family by my side, and leaning on God to get through it all.  I didn’t even get mad when, five weeks after chemo was done, and four days before radiation was to start; on September 20, 2012, I wrecked my motorcycle and broke both legs.  I couldn’t believe that happened to me in the middle of my Breast Cancer battle!  I did get overwhelmed a few times, but again, with God, my friends, family, and a super loving and supportive husband, I got through that trial.  Getting through Cancer treatment, and recovering from two broken legs was quite the battle physically and mentally.  But I faced it, and got through it.  God has used my story over and over again to inspire others.

I have been married to my husband Roy for almost 19 years now.  We knew we wanted a kid/kids someday.  Life events in the first few years of marriage kept us from being ready to have kids.  Then, we would pray about God’s timing for having children.  We kept feeling like we were supposed to wait.  Just after I turned 40, we felt like it was time to start trying to get pregnant.  It had been my lifelong dream to become a mom.  The very week we were going to start trying to get pregnant, is the week I was diagnosed with Breast Cancer.  Still, I didn’t get mad, I trusted God.  One of the first questions I asked my Oncologist was, “Will I be able to get pregnant after going through the treatment I am about to go through?” She let me know that she had seen plenty of “young women” around my age go through this treatment and be able to get pregnant on the other side.

After twelve surgeries in three years (from Breast Cancer and the motorcycle accident), when January of 2015 came around, we were ready to start trying to get pregnant.  I knew that there was a chance that Chemo could have damaged my eggs and ovaries, so that was the first thing we had to do, was check those.  I had an ultrasound, and a blood test (that checked levels that indicate if there are eggs).  After impatiently waiting about a week for the results, I got the call. The call that told me that Chemo had “zapped” my eggs and ovaries, and that I wouldn’t be able to “genetically contribute” if we decided to have a child.

THAT’s WHEN I GOT MAD.

THIS made me angry.

Cancer/Chemo had taken away my ability to have a child.  The anger hit.  Take my breasts. take my hair. Make me go through treatment that will render me weak and weary.  That’s fine. But take away my ability to have my own child?   That brought me to my knees.  My lifelong dream of being a mother was crushed by Cancer. In many ways I had lost my way.

My amazing husband held me while I cried.  He and my close friends gave me so many words of encouragement. I could hear God telling me, “Trust Me”.  But how? I was angry.  There was no way around this.  No hope. No medical solution for me. I didn’t have any eggs. And to use a donor egg/embryo would be too much of a risk of reoccurrence of the Breast Cancer.

I was devastated.

But, something deep down kept telling me to hold on.  Something told me to trust the path and to trust this process.

We felt called to a ministry that loved on newborn babies born to mamas who are in prison.  So, we had the opportunity to love on “Lil T” for the first 18 months of his life and his mama.  I thought that this was what God’s answer to me being a mama was.  But then when he was suddenly moved from our house (not by our choice) at 18 months old, it devastated us.  I had never felt pain like that before.  That night, we laid in our bed, with the crib in the other room empty.  Our house empty.  I didn’t understand how this could be God’s plan.  Is that all God had for me, as far as being a mom, was to love on Lil T for 18 months, and that is it?  Don’t get me wrong, those 18 months gave him an incredible foundation for the rest of his life, and gave me the opportunity to love on a sweet baby boy.  But even in the midst of horrible pain, I trusted God had a plan.  I couldn’t see it at the time, and I had to just lean into God and trust Him like never before. I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that God had promised me that I would be a mommy.  I knew that He would be faithful to His promise, it was just tough to see that in the middle of a deep, dark valley of loss.

Three months and one day after Lil T was pulled from our home, I got a call from a young lady I used to case manage 18 years prior to that.  I had stayed in touch with her over the years.  She called me to tell me that her sister had screwed up again and that her sister’s 5thchild, who was 2 years old had come into State Custody.  She told me that she really couldn’t take her nephew in, and neither could her other sister. She said they wanted someone like family to take him in, so she was calling to ask me if we would take in this precious boy.  She told me that she knew I had just gotten my heart broken with T being pulled from me, but that this would be different.  That her sister would probably not get her life together, and it would end in termination of rights and adoption.

In this very moment, I knew beyond the shadow of a doubt that THIS is what God had planned all along. That He knew that a sweet little boy named Carter would need parents that would take care of him and protect him. He knew that those parents would be me and my husband.  The crazy thing is he and Lil T are only three months apart in age.  I got to pick up where I left off.  I burst into tears and said, “Yes!  We absolutely will take him in!” We were faithful in taking care of Lil T, and God saw it fit to then bless us with our forever child!  Being a social worker, I have always had a heart for fostering an adopting out of foster care.  I had always prayed about if I should give birth to my own child, or give a home to a child who needed a safe, loving environment.  I had always been torn as to which to do.  Well, God knew what He wanted me to do, and led me down a crazy path full of ups and downs to get to where he wanted me to be.

Within six weeks, we were at court stepping up to the plate to take custody of this sweet two-year-old who had been through way too much the first two years of his life.  We got custody of him July 18ththat year. His mom and dad continued to be in and out of jail, showing no signs of improvement.  Then on Nov. 7th, 2018, his adoption was final.  He became our FOREVER SON!  If in the middle of my pain of Lil T being pulled from us, if I would have known what blessing God had to come, it would have made that pain a little more bearable.  The investment I made in a troubled teenage girl all those years ago, was the very person that God would use to bring me the child He had always promised I would have. Only God could have written such an incredible story. God is faithful to His promises!

I have wanted to be a mommy my entire life.  It took a very long time for God to fulfill this dream in my life, but it was worth all of the waiting!  I could have NEVER dreamed of such an amazing journey to God’s plan for me to be a mommy to such an amazing child! On this Mother’s Day, I am very thankful to be a mommy to someone who needed me as much as I needed him!

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