We’ve done the cute outdoorsy picture, you know, the one where everyone is wearing sweaters and smiling. We’ve done the under-the-tree portrait with wrapped gifts as the props. Last year we rocked the ugly Christmas sweaters, proudly displaying the gaudy. Regardless of the type of Christmas card we send out, each year I am struck by the same thought as I look at our family picture: I did not see this coming.
You see, being blonde-haired and blue-eyed and having married someone with blonde hair and blue eyes, I was pretty sure we had the lockdown on having–yep–blond-haired, blue-eyed children. What stares back at me instead are three sets of beautiful brown eyes, each with a full head of very curly and very dark hair.
These are my three daughters.
I look at them, thanking God that He did not listen to my plan. As a parent that sounds odd to be be thankful for someone not listening!
There are so many times in life where we think we know what is best for us. We come up with our plan, work out all the details and then come to God asking that He simply bless it. We arrogantly think we are in control and that this is a GOOD thing!
We’ve learned that sometimes your heart has to be prepared for God’s blessings.
The journey of infertility was that season of preparation for us. We painfully had to submit our plans, timetables and EXPECTATIONS in order to see that God had something so much better and bigger for us.
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
How much heartache we could have escaped had we stood firm on these verses.
Instead, we continued to run our play, all the while getting frustrated that God was not listening. Doctor’s appointments, procedures, tests…the only thing these resulted in was deeper hurt.
This was a cycle we stayed in for several years. Bitterness and fear crept in with each new pregnancy announcement we heard and reveal party we were invited to. I think of the tears shed, the angry prayers, and even some of the tantrums thrown, and just shake my head now.
Why did we not rest easy in God’s faithfulness?
We found ourselves at a place where we felt broken and defeated. After we found out that the last infertility treatment had not worked, we went on a trip together. It was then that we began to grieve the family we thought we would have and began to open our hearts to God’s way of creating our family. We realized that our hearts’ desires were to be parents and we would walk that out how God wanted us to.
Three months later the words “you have a baby girl waiting for you” echoed over the phone from our social worker. God had completed the good work he had begun. We made the drive to Memphis, TN, making a stop at Wal-Mart to by formula and diapers. “Wide-eyed and overwhelmed” probably does not adequately describe the scene in those baby aisles.
Our daughter was placed in our arms the following day. She was home and our hearts overflowed with the realization that God had this special gift prepared for us all along.
We found out that her birth mom had walked into the adoption agency for the first time to make an adoption plan on the same day we found out that the last infertility treatment had failed.
On the day that was so difficult for us, God was already using it for his glory.
Our two other daughters are our bonus blessings. We did not think that we would ever get to be parents to one child, let alone three!
Creating our family through adoption has opened so many avenues for us. God, in his infinite wisdom, knew this and allowed us to be a part of something bigger.
We have been able to use our adoption stories to minister to so many people about the way God knows the plans he has for us and how they are always better. We have had opportunities to comfort other couples who know the sting of infertility all too well. We have had the opportunity to fall even more in love with God as our Father.
In Ephesians 1:5 we are told
“God decided in advance to adopt us in to his own family by bringing us to himself through Jesus Christ. This is what he wanted to do and it gave him great pleasure.”
The love we have for these girls is indescribable. To think that God loves us even more than that is amazing!
Whether or not our Christmas cards are sentimental or silly, they are absolute declarations that God’s plans are better. Thank you, God, for not listening to us!
Ben and Jessica Ellefritz have been married for thirteen years. They keep busy by running after their three beautiful daughters in Macomb, IL. Ben is a Campus Pastor at The Crossing Church and Jess is a counselor.