I went to school with Valerie, but I must say that I feel like I know her better now than I did then. I know that virtual connections and face-to-face connections are completely different, but since we have been friends on Facebook I have followed her journey through pregnancies, sadness, joy, homeschooling, and triumph. One thing that I love about these Testimonies is that the topics are SO varied (because we ALL have a story), but all of them can help someone else. I can think of a few people that could gain encouragement from Valerie’s testimony today. Will you share this story of HOPE with someone you know today?
I cannot recall a time in my life when I didn’t know who God was. Being raised in church, between two different denominations, I grew up singing hymns and listening to Bible stories. My parents divorced when I was two years old. Despite my involvement in church as a child, I basically went through the motions expected of me and never fully surrendered my life to God. I loved Him, I knew Him, but I still did things my way. There is a distance between our heart and our head. That distance for me was about 19 years. That’s the distance between the time I accepted Christ into my heart at 7 years old, and the time I completely surrendered my life to Him when I was 26.
I’ve seen God work in my life so many times. He was with me through some very trying times, and in the most joyous times. He never left me, He never gave up on me, and He kept proving to me over and over again that His love would never fail. We’re reminded of this in Deuteronomy 31:6 “So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
I met my husband, Lucas, in 2001. He was graduating from NC State and moving to my area to begin his career. I was finishing up my freshman year at UNCC as an engineering student. After dating for 7 months we were engaged, and married a year later. Being that my parents divorced when I was young, my dream wasn’t to be a successful engineer. My goals were never career driven. I wanted to get married and have a family of my own. In fact, we both wanted a family right away, and tried unsuccessfully to have a baby.
A few months before our third anniversary, we decided to seek fertility treatment. I will never forget the heartache I felt when I went into the doctor’s office and found out that I had cysts on my ovaries. It wouldn’t be impossible for us to conceive, but it wasn’t going to be easy. I was prescribed medicine in hopes of clearing up the cysts, and was to return in four weeks to check my progress and hopefully begin fertility treatment. Those were the longest four weeks of my life, but finally the day came for my follow-up appointment. Lucas didn’t go with me that day because it was a routine follow-up and I was fine to just have my mom with me. I went into the exam room and the doctor began the ultrasound to see if the medicine had helped shrink the cysts. It didn’t work. One particular cyst had grown and the others still remained. Then, he found a heartbeat. Praise God! I think of the scripture in James 1:17 “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows.” Thirty-three months of waiting and wondering, and our blessing was right there in front of my eyes on the black and white screen. The following May, Courtney was born. She turns 8 this week!
In December of 2008, my husband lost his job. For our one income family, this news was devastating. We found ourselves, along with our two and a half year old daughter, with nothing but God and each other. We needed to find a place to live and Lucas began searching for a new job. We had to start over. My mother-In-law offered us a place to live, and we gratefully accepted. In between moving from Galax, Virginia to Roanoke Rapids, we stayed for a few weeks with my husband’s parents. It was during this time we found out we were expecting our second child, Camryn. Completely and obviously unplanned. Thankfully, our path was laid out before us and my husband found a new job. We never went without a paycheck during the six weeks that Lucas was unemployed. It was then, during that time I completely surrendered myself to God and made Him Lord of my life.
“Trust in the Lord with all your heart; do not depend on your own understanding. Seek his will in all you do, and he will show you which path to take.” Proverbs 3:5-6
Since moving to Halifax County, Lucas and I have experienced much growth in our individual relationships with God and in our marriage. He’s brought us through so much together. In July of 2012 we conceived our third child. I was only able to carry that child to 8 weeks. I remember sitting in church for the first night of Revival when I nearly collapsed. I was rushed to the emergency department where it was discovered that my pregnancy was tubal, I had already ruptured and was bleeding internally. I was taken into surgery immediately after having an ultrasound. There is absolutely nothing that can prepare you for entering the operating room, and leaving without your child. My two daughters were born via cesarean. I remember everything about their births. Feeling the doctor pull and tug on my belly to get them out, hearing their first cry, seeing their faces for the first time, counting their fingers and toes, and waiting impatiently in the recovery room to hold them for the first time. This time I wouldn’t get to do any of that. I wouldn’t see my child’s face. I wouldn’t hear a cry. I wouldn’t be able to see if they had my husband’s cute little chin dimple, and when I went into the recovery room…I’d go without the opportunity of holding my baby for the first time. Our angel baby went straight to Heaven into the arms of Jesus. I have great comfort in knowing He was there with me that day. Without God, without the road I’d taken to get to the point that I had fully surrendered my life to Him, I wouldn’t have peace. It doesn’t mean that I don’t hurt sometimes. It doesn’t mean that I don’t wish things had been different. I’m human. My due date was my birthday. That child was a gift. When I picture our baby, I picture Lucas’s mom. She’d wanted to have a little girl, and she always wanted grandchildren. Sadly, she died in 1996 while Lucas was a senior in high school. I find peace in knowing she’s in Heaven, rocking that sweet baby, and loving on her grandchild.
A month later, we conceived our fourth child. Caitlyn joined our family in July of last year. Completely healthy, and such a happy little girl. She brings us so much joy, and has completed our family. She even has her daddy’s chin dimple. Caitlyn is almost 10 months old now, and fits perfectly into our crazy busy homeschooling family! I’m so thankful for His blessings, for the journey that led me to fully surrender to Christ, and for peace that passes all understanding. As I close, I want to leave you with the opening lyrics of my absolute favorite song by the Crabb Family. My life is a testimony to the truth spoken in these words.
“So many times I’ve questioned certain circumstances, or things I could not understand. Many times in trials, weakness blurs my vision, and my frustration gets so out of hand. It’s then I am reminded I’ve never been forsaken, I’ve never had to stand the test alone. As I look at all the victories, the spirit rises up in me, and its through the fire my weakness is made strong.”
Through the Fire
The Crabb Family