By JENN WALDEN – At the age of 33, I met Kirk. He was a single dad of three children; ages 11, 14, and 16. I wasted no time falling in love with the four of them. In a moment only God could orchestrate, we became a family. Never married and never a mother, the moment I said “I do,” my life was forever changed. After years of wandering, I finally found my tribe.
After six months as a family, we celebrated our first Christmas at Disney World. Moving states, building a house, enrolling in new schools, forming friendships, starting a business, step-parenting, and yes, a new marriage had sufficiently strained and tested all of us. We were ready for a break and some family bonding.
Despite the joy of our time at Disney World, by the end of the trip I was not feeling well. I couldn’t pinpoint what was wrong, but upon returning home things were no better. The voice of fear, dormant since my new marriage, surfaced again.
Five years earlier I had been diagnosed with a rare form of ovarian cancer. This led to a partial hysterectomy, heavy doses of chemotherapy and long-term medication. Now, the fear of cancer was back and I thought, Just as I am experiencing so much joy, cancer is returning to steal it all away.
When I shared my symptoms with a friend however, she made a strange suggestion. “You need to take a pregnancy test,” she told me. My medication however, limited any possibility of pregnancy. Still, I tentatively bought a couple of tests, believing that a false positive would only signal the cancer was back.
When the test was positive, I cried, convinced my worst fears were realized. When Kirk said, “Take the second test,” it too was positive. We agreed I needed to see my oncologist immediately.
The nurse did not play into my game of fears. Without hesitation she laughed and said, “You don’t need to see us; you’re pregnant!” Shocker. Despite what I read on the internet or made up in my mind, a positive pregnancy test is not an indicator of cancer; who knew?
I never once remember praying for a baby. After the miracle of meeting Kirk and his children, I was not going to be greedy. They were so much more than I ever believed I deserved. I would have told you emphatically that God does not cruelly punish His children. Yet, buried in my heart the thought brewed; Jennifer, there are natural consequences for the poor choices of your youth.
If I’m digging deep, I didn’t allow my heart to long for a baby because I didn’t think I deserved one. To this day, I still feel guilt surface when I meet precious people battling infertility. Why, I ask, did I so easily receive the longing of their hearts?
Despite the tremendous odds stacked against me, my sense of unworthiness and an absence of prayers in this direction, I gave birth to a baby boy.
Through the Eyes of a Doctor
When I saw my oncologist for a routine appointment she asked about my pregnancy. As we talked, with tears in her eyes she told me, “You realize this baby is a miracle.” My doctor’s words jolted me and brought full realization to the provision and hand of God. Until that moment, I didn’t fully understand that in medical terms there should not be a Joshua Walden. I’m so glad God never got this memo.
Two years later, at the age of 35 I received yet another miracle. Jacob joined his brother in 2009.
Sometimes, for reasons beyond our comprehension, God gives us lost and forgotten dreams. In the process, lies which chain us to past mistakes are uncovered; our hearts suddenly freed to understand the true grace of God.
The first time I held Josh was one of the purest moments of love I’ve ever experienced. Holding that tiny life was more than my first moment with my first-born; it was my opportunity to truly embrace a testament of God’s love and mercy.
My past, for too many years, held on to me. In its grip were my deepest desires, so instead of seeking these desires, I buried them.
As a result, I truly believed God felt obligated to withhold certain blessings. I lived a life thinking that while God was kind, He sought only to correct me and make sureI understood that while I was forgiven, I was never meant to be fully worthy of His overwhelming love.
Giving me the gift of motherhood, God gave me the buried desires of my heart. And, He opened a window to help me see His boundless grace in ways I could not fathom before.
In different ways, God wants to give these gifts to each of us. For me, it was through motherhood. In the middle of my trial with cancer years earlier, I saw no possible avenue to being a mom. But God was there; waiting, preparing and then whispering to those around His throne, “Watch what I’m about to do in this one’s life. It will change her forever.”
Today, I’m mom to five. It’s a story I could have never written, never dreamed.
My prayer is that even if we are in the deepest of trial, we will remember that in spite of our pasts, God is about our present.
I am forever grateful to the God who looked at me and said, “It’s time she saw the love I have for her–her buried desires are never too deep for Me to find.”