163 Miles North

The steering wheel was wet. I could barely hold on, but the anger inside seethed and prevented me from stopping, despite my blurred vision from the tears that jumped from my face. I ranted and raved in my head. The injustice! The money lost! The months waiting! The painful nights! The fervent prayers…all for nothing!

I drove north from the fertility doctor’s office in Ann Arbor, Michigan in a silent car that was full of noise. In 45 minutes I would be telling Chris that it didn’t work. It was the end of the line. “You can wait a year and try again,” the nurse consoled.

Does she know how long 12 months is?!!!

We were at the end of the line of treatments. Four years into marriage, and nine years into female issues, I had tried the pills, the surgeries, the shots and now a mixture of them all. “Your best bet is to do this procedure within six months of the surgery,” the doctor had said. We had saved the $10,000 needed for a chance to have our own child; it would be worth it! We had only spent $2,000 (in meds), when they told me my body wasn’t responding like a 26-yr-old’s should. “Take the shots for one more month, and it will do ‘the trick’,” they said. After another yearlong month of being a chemist mixing meds at home and waking Chris so he could administer them before I left for my engineering job, I guess “the trick” wasn’t done. The ultrasound showed only one egg. “There’s not enough of a chance of in-vitro working with just one egg to extract. You can save your $8,000, and we can try again in a year,” the specialist said.

As I drove, it was as if the devil sat on my shoulder and whispered in my ear. My anger turned into a deep sadness. Negative thoughts enveloped me.

“You are unworthy of being a mom.”

“Don’t you remember the things you have done?”

“Other women would raise children better; God is leaving the job to them.”

“Chris could have married anyone who would have given him a child by now. Maybe he should just go do that.”

The tears flowed.

I passed my highway exit, intentionally. I couldn’t bear to tell Chris that we had to wait another year. I really knew deep down that another year didn’t mean better chances. I would be doing the same thing and expecting a different result: the definition of insanity.

In my despair, I lifted my eyes. I wish I could say it was in a proper way, but I lifted my eyes with more emotion than I have ever experienced “at” God. “Lord, what is this?!! I PRAYED to You! I had THE DREAM. Wasn’t that You practically TELLING me that I would be a mom?!”

I had had “the dream” a few weeks prior. I had dreamt I gave birth. In the dream, holding my new little boy while Chris stood beside me, we thanked God for answering our prayers. I cradled him in the crook of my left arm, as tears flowed down my cheeks and hit the baby’s. I told him how we had been waiting for him for so long, and God had answered our prayers. But I awoke on a wet pillow- real tears had been falling from my sleeping body. As I sat up in bed, the weight of disappointment hit, realizing that it had only been a dream. The crook of my elbow was still damp- from sweat due to heat of the imagined baby’s head. It had been so…real. I wept in bed again, this time in sorrow.

“You gave me such hope!” my raging in the car continued. “- all to lead me down this path of pain and emotion and still no baby? This is torture!! I TOLD You I didn’t want to go through all of that for nothing! I TOLD You I wanted to bring You glory by Your healing my infertility…that if You wanted me to adopt, I was fine with it. Why didn’t You tell me that it wasn’t going to work? I would never have gone through all of this. I wanted THY WILL NOT MY WILL!”

…and it hit me like a ton of bricks. He had just told me. Actually, the doctor had just told me. God’s will was that the medical procedures would not work. Period.

But what hit me was that if I was screaming, “THY WILL NOT MY WILL!” at the same time as crying, then I was missing the whole point. MY will is what was causing the tears, the anger, and the sorrow. The deep torture was self-inflicted as I was refusing to truly surrender. It was as though I thought I could secretly harbor the feelings of how badly I wanted and “deserved” to be a mother, and God wouldn’t know. Ha! God wouldn’t know? That’s just funny. He knew all along.

He knew my love for children as I babysat for over 60 families in high school. He knew my desire to be a good mom, as I told the Pittsburgh newspaper reporter who had asked why an engineering student like me would choose to work at a childcare center to help pay for college. He knew my sinful jealousy when unplanned pregnancies surrounded me. He knew my righteous indignation when a bad parenting story showed on the news. He knew I thought I was in control of my life.

And He knew what I needed in order to truly surrender to His will. He was answering my prayers of His will, not mine, and I almost missed it in my emotions.

“Infertility” in life can have many forms: a deferred college application, a business that won’t grow, a house that goes into foreclosure, a miserable marriage, a job loss, a church that slinks backwards or any time things go in a direction opposite of our desires. But in order for anything to be filled, it must first be emptied. I believe the infertility was the key to my being emptied, and therefore the key to being filled.

On my drive that day, a peace came over me, and true silence filled the car. Nature outside came alive, as I recognized white birch trees lining both sides of the highway.

A stand of birch trees.

Image via Wikipedia

“Birch trees? Where am I?” Looking to the first sign, which read, “Mackinaw Island 37 miles,” I realized I was 163 miles past my exit. Wow. What a car ride. I think Jesus had taken the wheel. 🙂

Two weeks later, we found out we were pregnant.

When the doctor recognized me in the parking lot, he excitedly said, “You have been the talk of the board meeting among doctors this week. One egg!! I guess sometimes nature prevails when science fails.”

The womb that had been empty was filled. My heart that had been filled was emptied, …only to be filled again by Him. To God be the glory.

I was a Christian before, but my heart was not contrite. At 163 miles north of my exit, my heart was broken enough, that I could watch God put the pieces back together. It was the shattering that He had allowed, and then at the right time, built it back again, stronger, holding more of Him. (Matt 5:3 “Blessed are the poor in spirit for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.”)

My favorite book, Elizabeth Prentiss’s Stepping Heavenward, which is a journal of a woman says it this way: “Thus I have been emptied from vessel to vessel, till I have learned that he only is truly happy who has no longer a choice of his own and lies passive in God’s hand.”

He only is truly happy who says truly, “Thy will, not my will, be done.”

Ps 51:17 “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and contrite heart, O God, Thou wilt not despise.”

Amen.

-Terri

34 thoughts on “163 Miles North

  1. My goodness Terri, you just hit the nail on the head. This post is so true, so convicting! If we could just give it all up to Him and not try to take back the reigns, life would be much easier! Once again, this comes at such perfect timing. God knows what we need and how to speak uniquely to each one ~ all the way down to the Birch trees, lol…… maybe I will have opportunity to explain one day. Thanks again for allowing Him to use you and for sharing your story 🙂 God bless!

  2. What a beautiful post Terri. I could feel your heart and soul in each sentence I read. That is what I love about Letters to Lindsay…..I feel that way every time I read them. Thank you for all the blessings you give to so many people.

  3. Thanks for sharing this Terri. Your writing is amazing. I think you should start thinking about a title and material for your 1st book! Love you 🙂

      • I agree! Your writing is like your speaking. Your stories are so vivid and the way you tie thoughts and concepts together captures my heart and makes me actually enjoy identifying and accepting responsibility for my sins and repenting. It’s an amazing gift you have, Mrs. Brady. Thank you for sharing it with all of us. It was a pleasure meeting you in Ohio this past weekend.

  4. Thank You so much for writing about your troubles it helps me so much and im sure it will help many more people. I am so blessed to have such a amazing leading lady in my life. Thank you for all that you do. 🙂

  5. Amazing story, Terri! Thank you for sharing. I have had my own times of ’emptying’ and having God ‘refilling’ on HIS time and terms. God is GOOD and He loves us more than I can fathom. I am too Blessed to be stressed. 🙂 God Bless you today as you get to ‘Mother’ your beautiful children! 🙂

  6. WOW! I feel God’s loving presence as I read your post. Thank you for letting us in in your life experiences, for sharing God’s messages through them. You are truly His child and you do Him glory everytime you share. Thank you and God bless!

  7. Terri,
    Thank you so very much for your post. My husband and I are currently in the process of working with a fertility clinic. We have not had the struggles that you have endured, nor have we endured those stuggles as long as you had to endure. Your story brings me such a sense of peace that things will work out the way they are supposed to, the way that He planned them. I agree it that it can be so hard to surrender to God, especially when you want something so precious, so badly. This is where I have to get to, I’m getting closer to peace with the whole “fertility issue”, but I still have a journey ahead, much to learn, and definitely continued prayers. This year has been especially tough. The small school I work at has 6 pregnant teachers, my cousin, sister-in-law, and quite a few friends are all expecting. I’m joyful for them all and I pray that all of this is prepraring me for an amazing future that I’m sure God will provide. Sorry, got a little long-winded: my whole point is thank you for sharing some of your most vulnerable moments of your journey, being the leading lady that you are, and for giving all of us ladies hope for whatever valley may come our way.

    God Bless,
    Kelly McGinley

  8. Terri, We had such a similar experience. I must say that it was hard to keep believing in the DREAM, – that not only I, but a prayer warrior friend of mine had, and the words of prophecy spoken over me – when the Dr.s said “…chances are slim.” But God said ” I can work with that ” 😀 and I have been blessed with 2 great kids. Thanks for sharing. You bless my life with your letters.

  9. Teri-
    What a beautiful raw and authentic story of hope and coming to an end to find the beginning! Jesus did take the wheel that day, leading you off the cliff of your own road to the peaceful road that is HIS. You argued the whole way, but all the while he drove quietly listening and taking you on a journey not all perception of you paid attention to, but he drove anyway. This time you will watch the scenery, aware of your journey as you drive….isn’t it a beautiful trip?!

    Thank you for the HOPE you bring. I am honored to drive along side you pretty lady, most honored indeed.

  10. Terri,

    Your transparency is so very refreshing. Thanks for giving us all more permission, strength and willingness to do the same. May God continue to bless us through you.

    Lovingly,
    Tina A.

  11. Wow……i know God put this on your heart to share and I know it was for me and my husband. As we have had that sadness drive home from the doctor, possibly on that very same stretch of road. I too have had a one sided yelling match with God. Although we didn’t end up that far away from home, we were very far away from each other and God. Since joining team we have realized that in Gods time we will be blessed with children.

  12. Thanks Terri,
    This really hit home for me. It showed me a couple of things: my sarcasm and criticism are not helping anyone. It also showed me the “negative voices” we hear when we are quiet are so universal. I literally have to do double takes sometimes and wonder where that junk was coming from. Something I realized is that “something” has been working hard to keep me from associating with some good people. It sounds like that same “something” was trying to work hard on you that day, but it failed as God’s light came pouring in.

    Thanks for posting this story it has given me some needed perspective.

  13. Thank you for all of your wonderful posts. I have gone down that same road, the chemicals, the shots, surgery, the sad drive home. I did get pregnant once only to go to my 8 week check up and have the nurse tell me “I’m sorry your baby is dead.” Although I prayed all the time I was not living for him. I have never had a child of my own, but I am so very blessed. God has sent so many wonderful children into my life and I have more love in my life than I could ever imagine. It’s funny when I gave in to his will, there has only been about a year when we have not had children living in our home. Your story just reminded me to have the right attitude in the other areas of my life.

  14. Terri- This is very inspiring. I am going to share this with a friend of mine that is going through the same story. And for me it is a reminder to Thank God every day for these three years of having three babies. I am truly blessed. Somtimes, I forget my blessing and complain how much work it is to have all this babies 🙂
    .

  15. Wow, Terri . What an amazing and grace-filled post. Thank you so much for sharing so deeply from your heart.
    We had our own fertility issues. I could get pregnant, but could not stay that way. I also did not have easy pregnancies when I got to keep one. One miscarriage before our daughter (really bad morning sickness to start and severe toxemia the last 3 months with her). Two lost in the next 3 years to miscarriages. Then our son (incredibly severe morning sickness, pneumonia and then mild toxemia the last month), and then another miscarriage after that. With both our live kids, I could not get my hopes up or tell people until after that magic 4 month mark passed, because all the lost ones were at 3 months, when it is supposedly harder to have one.
    My 2 sisters both had their own issues with infertility and miscarriages. We are all very grateful to God for giving us each 2 wonderful, beautiful kids!

  16. Terri,

    Thank you for sharing such a personal moment in your life. You have blessed so many with your willingness to share such a vulnerable moment in your life. I know of many women who are reading your blog and telling others about your amazing wisdom.

    God Bless,

    Lynn

  17. Your writing is like a beautiful piece of artwork! I love learning from your stories! You are truly a multi-dimensional leader that I look up to with the highest amount of respect! God Bless you Terri!

  18. Dear Terri,

    I am a MAN, I read your blog regularly and I am not ashamed. I love the stories and the art, which is your writing style. The way you weave the basket with encouraging words, vulnerable moments and scripture is mind blowing to me and always makes me look inward for things to change. So, thank you from a MAN.

  19. Beautiful story, like poetry, and full of meaning, like good poetry. 😉 I remember hearing at a Team leadership convention, “God’s delays are not his denials.” I wish I was already better at remembering these things.

  20. Diane on February 7, 2012 at 2:20 pm said:

    This is the first time I have been on your blog, and believe me, I will follow it faithfully. Your openness of your life shows how much God is a part of your life. We have not had the same struggles as you, as the Lord blessed us with 6 wonderful children. I, too, have been struggling with which direction the Lord is pointing me, many talks with him, and I am still undecided. Now I will just let him show me on His time and know it is the right direction. Thank you for being the leading lady that you are.

  21. Dear Terri…

    When I read your story this morning, I was overwhelmed with answered prayers. Then I watched the movie, “The Grace Card.” All day… tears. I knew I had to read your story again tonight. In sharing your trials and sorrows from a then broken heart, you brought us all in to examine our own hearts and hurts with your paragraph….

    “Infertility” in life can have many forms: a deferred college application, a business that won’t grow, a house that goes into foreclosure, a miserable marriage, a job loss, a church that slinks backwards or any time things go in a direction opposite of our desires. But in order for anything to be filled, it must first be emptied. I believe the infertility was the key to my being emptied, and therefore the key to being filled.” Thank You, Terri.

    It all makes sense now. After meeting and joining Team… the emptying turned into hemorrhaging and while I did not understand so much pain and such Goliath battles at the time, it all makes sense now. At first I thought it was me that found your blog… I know better now.

    Christian singer, Kelly Willard, sings she wants people to say, “She had her Father’s eyes.” Terri, you have “Our Father’s Eyes.” Thank you for opening your heart and your hurts in order to help others grow forward.

    Love and Blessings to You, Chris and your Brady family always,
    Michelle

  22. Wow, another well written story Terri.
    I have had the opportunity to work at a fertility clinic (before I was married) and to see some of the struggles that wonderful people have to go through. I’ve even been in charge of the calls to say “yes” or “no” to the “am I pregnant? ” question, I could almost feel the heart break in the ladies voices when I had to say “no” my heart truly goes out to anyone, going through those types of struggles.
    I also agree very strongly with your thoughts on things/souls needing to be completely empty, before they can be filled.
    I have have not had any difficulty getting pregnant, but I most certainly know that when you are completely empty of hope, and love, you are set up just right to be filled with it. As I felt this way when my Mom passed suddenly 9 years ago.
    A few of my close friends, know the whole (or at least most of the story) but I think I will save telling everyone for the day that I can tell it from stage 🙂 which by the way, is really hard for my sanguine personality to do. I know that everything in my life has happened for a reason and will some day help me, help someone I Love and care for get through their struggles.

  23. Your writing is so beautiful and inspiring. I love learning from your stories! You are truly a leader that I look up to with the highest amount of respect! God Bless you Terri!

  24. Terri,
    This hit so close to home! What you wrote touched my heart at a perfect time and way that is totally unbelievable. But God is a God of miracles and You have opened yourself to allow Him to use You to be such a blessing to others! I have not been a LIFE member for very long but this is the reason I love it. You have taken the time to address a very painful sensitive topic only you and people that have been in your shoes would understand. As I sit here with tears streaming down my face, I have decided I will start praying for my son and daughter in law every day who are also trying so hard to have a baby. Thank you God and Terri, for helping me be more understanding, sensitive and compassionate to someone I love very much who you understand so much better than I. I hope someday I get to meet you. I can tell you are a very special Woman of God and I honor you for that! God Bless You Always! And Thanks again.

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