The single pink line on the pregnancy test mocks me from the bathroom counter: You’ll never be a mother. I drop it into the trash — along with my hope.
“God,” I whisper, “why does this have to be so hard?”
That scenario repeated itself for almost a decade of my life. I know what it’s like to wait for something that feels like it’s never coming, to ugly cry, yell into your pillow, fight the urge to give up. Maybe you’ve been there too? Maybe you’re there right now.
What I came to understand through that season is this: God can handle whatever we feel. The hard questions. The tough emotions. Our doubt and despair. Through it all, He’s still there.
With the help of His relentless love, my heart began to slowly, unexpectedly heal. One night at our church small group, just after I’d had a miscarriage, I couldn’t hold it together any longer. “I’m not okay,” I told them. Instead of being dismissed for being too emotional or rebuked for not having enough faith, I experienced comfort and acceptance — and it felt like coming in from the cold.
God also began changing my perspective on motherhood. One morning I read the third chapter of Genesis, where Eve is called “the mother of all living.” In that moment God seemed to whisper this truth to my heart: All women are mothers. Because all women bring life to the world in some way.
I realized I brought life into the world through my words. I birthed books. I was a mother.
Embracing that truth gave me new hope and helped fill the hollow space in my heart.
Years later I sat in my living room watching a documentary about kids who age out of the foster system. The narrator explained that when these children turn eighteen, they’re often simply told, “You’re on your own.” The story touched me deeply, and when people asked if we’d considered adoption, I started answering, “If I adopt, I’ll choose a twenty-year-old.”
One time when I gave that response, a friend of mine asked, “Have you heard of Saving Grace?” It turned out that a transitional living home for foster girls aging out of the system was being started right there in my town. I connected with the founder, and when I told her my dream, she didn’t look at me like I was crazy.
Life got busy and more years passed before I was invited to attend a banquet celebrating the accomplishments of the girls living at Saving Grace. God had impressed on my heart that my word for the next year of my life was love. And the night of the banquet I met my daughter: Lovelle.
How old was she? Twenty, of course. Lovelle and I had lunch together a few weeks later, and she asked me if I had kids. I gave her the short version, and before I left she said, “Well, you can just be my mom.” She met my husband, Mark, and slowly, over many months of building trust, we became a family.
Fast-forward to a few days ago. My granddaughter Eula races around her backyard. The world is full of color this afternoon — yellow dandelions, the pink polka dots on her shirt, the blue sky above. She points out her favorite things to me. “Bird! Wagon! Dommi [the dog]!” When she finally pauses to catch her breath, I find myself in a state of wonder. How did I end up in this moment?
I think back to a decade of infertility for Mark and me, a lifetime of difficulty for our daughter, and how God brought us all together. I think of Lovelle’s wedding day when she wore a white dress and danced with her dad. I think of being in the room when she gave birth, holding her hand and telling her again and again, “You are strong. You are brave. You can do this.”
I think of the first time I held Eula, how she looked at me with her wide, curious eyes — the same ones staring at me now. Almost seven years have gone by since we met Lovelle, and it feels as if we’ve always been a family.
During my infertility, I struggled with thinking that God’s timing must be off or that maybe circumstances in my life had somehow slipped out of His control. Maybe I wasn’t good enough for Him to answer my prayers. I cried in the bathroom, shouted in frustration, found it hard to pray sometimes. Where was God? Why wasn’t He doing what I wanted — and doing it now?
August 28 is the day we legally changed Lovelle’s last name to ours. We call it “Gerth Day” and celebrate it every year like a birthday. And what day was Eula born? August 28 — Gerth Day. When I held her for the first time, I knew deep in my soul that God’s timing had never been off. He had always been in control, and He had better plans than all my demands.
I don’t believe God caused my infertility. But I do believe that He is always working out His good plans for our lives, that there is so much more going on than what we can see with our eyes, that hope is a powerful thing, and that the desires of our heart will not go unmet — even if the answers to them look totally different than what we expect. We all go through seasons of waiting. We can’t determine what will happen next. But we can have hope because our story is not over. There’s still so much I don’t understand, but I know this: the Author is good, we are loved, and He alone holds the pen that gets to write “The End.”
This story was written by Holley Gerth, as published in the Create in Me a Heart of Hope Bible study.
What a powerful story of real, deep, raw hope. This piece appears in the new (in)courage Bible Study by DaySpring, Create in Me a Heart of Hope, available now for preorder. With stories like Holley’s woven together with scripture study by Mary Carver, our prayer is that our new Bible study will help you see the hope God offers each one of us.
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Beautiful story about what we want and what God knows is best for us. That can be a hard pill to swallow especially for those that want to ge in control. I once told my Step Mom, “let go and let God drive.” Those words may be hard to follow but the truth is in those words. We have to pray for faith, always.
Thank you for sharing your story.
Thank you for sharing this beautiful story! And congratulations on being a mom and grandmother!!
How often I forget God has it all under control. The waiting is hard when I want what I want!
The wisdom of we are all mothers is so true. Many years ago during a Mother’s Day service at church, a very wise (female) pastor said that as women, we tend to be caretakers no matter what our lives look like and in that sense we are all mothers. And those men raising children on their own were in a sense mothers too. That made an impression on me and something I kept in mind as I worked as an adoption social worker. Motherhood takes on many forms.
This is the most incredible story I have read in a while, and I relate to it so well, being an almost 42 year old single woman (Lord, where is my husband, and where are my babies?!)
This is so so so encouraging to read as I know that God is ultimately in control and that none of what goes on in my life is a suprise to Him.
Leone Byron says
This touched me. Thank you.
Kathy Cheek says
I’ve been reading the stories on this site since it began over a decade ago, and I watched all this unfold as you shared it over the years. I know the waiting and wondering was hard and then the blessings came from all the hoping, waiting, praying, enduring, and what a beautiful way God has worked through your life! His thoughts and ways are definitely higher than ours! Isaiah 55:8-9
Christine Jackson says
What a wonderful story!
After waking up to a morning of focusing on what is wrong in my life, your story turned my heart toward a God who has his plan for me. I’m reminded to step back and let him take his time to determine which direction he wants me to take.
Emily Harr says
Holley, thank you for sharing your journey! I have a wonderful husband, and we will celebrate 10 years of marriage in June. But as an almost 30 year old, I have also struggled with the infertility identity. I had nightmares growing up that I would never get to have kids… and that is the unfortunate truth.
A few years ago, I was in a very bad emotional place regarding my infertility, so much so, that I couldn’t bear to talk to my best friends or even my own sister who was at the time expecting. One day, I knew enough was enough, and asked God that if I was not able to have children, that He needed to take the identity burden away…. AND HE DID!!! I still would love to have kids, but I have been a Pastor’s Wife now for 7 years, and have “adopted” everyone at our growing church. We also have 2 wonderful blessings of dogs.. and oh could they have been our children (their personalities definitely come through )
All that to say, it has been a while since I felt like I could identify with someone. Thank you for sharing! You have inspired me to be open again about past pain that leads to God Glory.
This is so good, Holley! I’m happy for you and your family. What a happy ending! Or middle. Or beginning!
Beth Williams says
Holley I been following you since the beginning. Remember reading stories of when Lovelle became your daughter & how you were given grandchildren. Such a sweet sweet story of God’s love for His people. He knew Lovelle would need parents to help her through life & be there when she had children. God works in mysterious ways His wonders to behold. This just proves Jeremiah 29:11 “For I know the plans I have for you.” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you & not for harm. To give you a hope & a future.”
We need to let go & give Jesus the steering wheel. We are the passengers who need to trust that God has bigger & better plans than we could ever imagine. I was recently given a full time job at hospital where I was part time for 2 years. The job was written specifically for me. Not only that I got to chose my days & hours. WOW! God is awesome & so are His plans for our lives!
This story gave me the chills, even though I already knew some of what you had gone through before you met your daughter. It’s a good reminder for me as I’m going through my own very long seasons of waiting.
God is in control and His timing is always better, we just can’t always see that while we’re in the waiting.
Dawn Ferguson-Little says
Holly you remember you are a beautiful Daughter of the King of Kings. God was so good he blessed you with a beautiful Daughter you could Adopt. You and your Husband Mark did. As that Daughter God blessed you with needed someone to give her a loving Home. Somewhere to belong. Lovelle became the best Daughter you could have asked for. You and your Husband Mark. You both became Lovelle lovely Parents. How blessed you were. Now your family was complete. You have your child. Yes you might not have given Birth to her. But I not brave to have kids. Don’t get me wrong I love them. As was Registered Childminder for 19 years. But I look at things I think would be from God prospective. God blessed me with looking after so many lovely Children when Childminding for 19 years. God knew your Sadness. So he bless you with Lovelle. Who you and your Husband Mark made your beautiful Daughter. God wanted you to bring up as your own. As Lovelle learned to love you and your Husband Mark as her beautiful parents. She got to trust you to take care of her and love her. Lovelle got she loved you both and was proud for you be her new parents. God knew she was perfect for you both to be her lovely parents. Then the lovely thing is you saw her get Married and give you a beautiful Granddaughter called Eula. How blessed you and your Husband are. In things like this. I would say. Yes I can’t have kids God. But you God have been so good. God blessed us with a beautiful Daughter to love called Lovelle who I became her Mother and my Husband became her Father. Then she went on to get Married and give us a beautiful Granddaughter. We are are so blessed. I say would say thank you God. I bet you said that many times. God is good all the time. All the time God is Good. I glad for you Holly and your to Husband Mark. Your story turned out so lovely. I am so pleased for you. Love Dawn Ferguson-Little xx In my prayers you all incourage.
Nancy Ruegg says
What a wonderful story of God’s redemption–not for one situation, but two. I know Lovelle has her own story–how you, Holley, and your husband were the answer to her prayer. No doubt she thought God had said, “no,” when He was really saying, “Just you wait! Have I got a wonderful surprise for YOU!” Love it–so encouraging!
Pearl Allard says
Love this. Thank you, Holley. What a beautiful story God is writing in your life! “…the desires of our heart will not go unmet — even if the answers to them look totally different than what we expect.” Thank you for this beautifully written reminder.
God foresaw you becoming a grandmother in addition to being a mother to Lovelle! He weaves our individual stories as beautifully as you wordsmith your stories, when you “give birth” to them. It’s all too wonderful, and worth the season(s) of wait.
I am familiar with your story and I have shared it with others over the years.
Your story always makes my heart so happy. I can’t stop smiling 🙂
Thank you for sharing words of hope and encouragement!
Love & Best Wishes to you and your entire family!
Such a powerful message of hope. Thank you