Sunday, November 16, 2014

Moving Forward: Our response to a gift

Note: If you are new to our Journey, or have just recently started following our story, I would encourage you to go back and read this blog from the beginning to fully understand the journey God has brought us on.

"Because he has loved Me, therefore I will deliver him; I will set him securely on high, because he has known MY name."  Psalm 91:14

GRACE. That is how I sum up the last few months. By His grace, God has allowed us to continue to heal from our separation from Dani Grace. And He has allowed me to feel His love deep in my heart. I have graciously become aware of how my Lord has drawn me closer to Him, when I could have so easily strayed by own choice. It is a little overwhelming sometimes to look back and remember the dark days immediately following our loss...and to look at how God has protected my heart and become my true HOPE in the midst of pain. I am naturally a pretty private person. But when it comes to our journey, I must admit that my desire to share what God has done ultimately wins out. 

"Nevertheless He saved them for the sake of His name, that He might make HIS power known."  Psalm 106:8

During our recent Missions Conference at church, I was struck by the view from my seat.  BY FAITH...For Generations Yet to Come. How fitting for our current situation.  When I was told in February that I would no longer have the ability to carry children, I would have never thought that the Lord was already working out our next step in our journey of faith.  But as my mom has said so often...the Lord goes before us.

A friend from college came to visit me in the spring and said she had an opportunity to share with me. One of her friends from her church had heard our story and had been praying for us.  AND she wanted to offer to carry our child for us since I no longer could. I sat there in complete and utter disbelief. All I could think was -- why would someone give that much of themselves to a total stranger?
Interestingly enough, the doctors had suggested that to us previously. But that was too "out of the box" for me, and I had told Brandon then that I would not even consider it unless...and I went on and on listing things that could never happen -- at least in my mind. Well, Autumn checked off EVERY box.

In her own words:

     Have you ever had a desire in your heart to fulfill a need for someone? Have you ever known here was a bigger purpose for your life but you weren’t sure how it would fall in to place? I have. I have known for years now that there was a desire in my heart to change someone’s life, to be a key partner in a life altering sequence of events. I have told my husband, my family, my dear friends and relatives for years that I really felt drawn to be a surrogate. After several years of wondering who it would be, how I would know, and being blessed with my own two children, it all fell in to place. I had spoken to a dear friend about being a surrogate for her, but she wasn’t ready, and it just didn’t quite fit. Little did I know that in the next few weeks a prayer request from our women’s group would open the doors for me. MarySusan and Brandon were placed on our prayer list as they dealt with the unfortunate circumstances surrounding their sweet baby girl, Dani Grace. My heart was burdened for this couple and I just felt this overwhelming pull towards their story and understanding their situation. I contacted a mutual friend of ours, and pretty soon I felt in my heart that this couple was my “match”. I waited a while for MarySusan to reach out to me. My offer was known, but her heart was unsure. After a few short emails I let my family know that I was going to offer to be her surrogate. They all thought I was just making conversation and sharing empty promises. I think MarySusan thought that too. My husband didn’t take me seriously either. A few weeks later we planned to meet at a local pizzeria and on the way Donovan reminded me he just wasn’t so sure that this was my best idea. I assured him that I wasn’t in it if he wasn’t in it, but I also knew that God would change his heart if this was his will. Needless to say, just a few minutes after meeting them and hearing about their story and how we seemed to fit so well in to it Donovan stated, “God wants us to help you have your baby”... and there you have it! We are so excited and blessed to be part of this journey. God has made it evident that this was His plan.

     How do I know that this is God’s plan? He’s made it clear with every step we take. You need examples you say? Here are just a few, the best day for us all to meet with the counselor was October 24. The counselor answered the phone telling me how hard it would be to match our schedules and reminded me that it may take months. The first date she offered me was October 24, exactly what we needed. That isn’t enough? The results were to take two weeks, and we received our official results in less than one week. These results opened the door to schedule our medical exam. The medical exam usually takes months to orchestrate. I called on a Thursday, they saw me that next Wednesday. We completed our medical exam and counseling in less time than usually just the counseling takes. And there have been other confirmations as well. God’s timing is always perfect, and He has made it evident through every step that his hand is in this. Jeremiah 29:11 states,” For I know the plans I have for you," declares the LORD, "plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.” And we cannot wait to be a part of MarySusan and Brandon’s future.
-- Autumn and Donovan Anderson

So, after praying for months and literally taking ONE STEP at a time, we are sure of the Lord's leading.  He has confirmed it all along the way.  It has been beyond our wildest dreams, but so amazing the relationship that has unfolded between the Andersons and us.  This will be our genetic child, yet brought into the world with the help of an amazing woman.  What an extroardinarily, beautiful gift.
We are letting you know of this with the purpose of asking for your prayers.  Please pray specifically for the health and protection of Autumn, and the development of our future child.  Please also pray that God would provide the financial resources.  This is a complicated process with many moving parts. But as I was reminded in church during our conference: "When God creates a need, He always provides the resources to meet that need."  We move forward...


                                 "In quietness and trust is your strength."  Isaiah 30:15

Friday, October 17, 2014

Remembering and looking for blessings

One year ago today, I sat down, weak-kneed at the sight of "plus sign."  After 3 years of waiting and healing after our first baby, God had granted us a "yes." I hurried out to get a card for Brandon...a "Daddy" card. An instant feeling of fulfillment and deep joy took over my heart for the next 5 1/2 months. It felt like coming to the end of a very long, hard journey.

But the journey is never really over until we get to heaven, is it? Next week will make 8 months of travelling down another path. A fork in the road of learning to live without our Dani Grace here.  God is granting healing and beginning to answer my prayer to restore my joy.  I still have hard days when the tears won't stop flowing.  (Just sit beside me in church and you'll see the evidence of that!) And I miss my girl every day. My thoughts are constantly with her.  But she has caused me to think more about how wonderful heaven must be. Beyond anything that words could adequately describe. 

I've been blessed to get to know other special people who are learning to walk this same path. Somehow hearts are instantly bonded by knowing others understand the deep level of grief you have had.  God's complete grace has protected me from allowing this part of our journey to drive me away from Him. And it very well could have. So today brings bittersweet memories. And requires a little more of a fight for that joy I long for. But thankfully, one day, all these tears will be wiped away. And I will see the face of my children and our Savior. Revelation 21:4.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Tears and Celebration

The tears start almost the second I open my eyes.  Why am I surprised by this?  After all, shouldn't I be crying since today is the day that represents what should have been? A day filled with joy at the arrival of our little girl.  But instead life tends to be a bit of a fight now. I mean a real battle of my emotions, which this week I felt like I had been conquering for the most part.  I get tired of crying, and knowing that this day was approaching, I had been fighting for some sense of joy and normalcy all week.

However, this morning I didn't want to even get out of bed.  But I got up anyway. Because I knew I had to.  Whether she can really see me or not, I want my little girl to be proud of her Mommy. So I get up. For her.  I choose to keep going,  not because I really have a strong desire to seize the days or face the world, but I have to choose to take steps forward.  And today that meant starting by getting up. More than grief, I want to celebrate and honor Dani's little life. And I want others to as well.

I look at my Bible app and Psalm 23 appears from where I had been reading last night.  "Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for You are with me..."  Even though I may not be the one facing death, I am certainly affected by it now.  And God's Word reminds me that He is with me.  Then my sweet husband texts me reminding me that he loves me and we are in this together.  What would I do without him?  Next, the doorbell rings. Beautiful flowers are waiting.  From a sweet friend who remembers Dani's life often and isn't afraid to talk about her.  This isn't the first time in this journey that God has used others to encourage me to keep going.

So even though the tears flow continuously like rain (and I know that's okay), I try to think of what I can do for my baby. I have found that it helps me to find things to do FOR her.  I pull out her baby book and work on finishing it...something I haven't had the courage to do up to this point.  And later we will get fresh flowers and visit her grave.  (I am thankful in a strange way for this spot to go.  I know that's not where Danielle really is, but with my first baby I didn't have this.)

God has been gracious this week to give me glimpses of perspective. Reminders of how broken and sinful this awful world is. These last four months, I have understood, felt, and been more grateful than ever that Jesus conquered death. Though I selfishly want Danielle with me every day, if it came right down to it, how could I wish her away from the perfect peace she is enjoying in heaven to come live down here? So instead, I will look forward to the day when I can go join her.

I sit here writing with Danielle's little dress and hospital blanket by me, but also surrounded by other things given to us by special people. Things that were given to show us that they remember and love our Dani too. The sweetest thing that lifts this Mommy's heart is when people talk about my daughter by name. So, yes, please continue to pray for us as walk this road. We still desperately need it.  But also thank God with us today for this wonderful blessing named Danielle Grace. God has used her little life so much already, and we pray He will continue to.

Dani Grace, you may have a different (and much better) address now, but you are remembered and loved so much!   Especially by Mommy and Daddy. Can't wait to see you again, our little Monkey. :)

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Dear Mommy...

Hi Mommy,

We just wanted to wish you a very Happy Mother's Day! We wish we could have been there to celebrate with you today, but we are going to have to wait a little bit longer before we get to see you again. We heard that you had a pretty good day and are so glad you were able to be recognized as a "real" mother.....because you are, and always will be, OUR mother.

You have had the heart of a mother for as long as you can remember, always longing for the day when you could hold us. We would have been the luckiest kids on earth to have been able to grow up in your loving arms. We would have loved to be able to wake you up early on a Saturday morning running through the house chasing each other. I would have totally blamed it on my older sibling....because it definitely would have been their fault. We wish we could learn to make pancakes and eggs from you...even if it might not have been pretty. :) We would have loved for you to come to our soccer games and cheerleading would have been so proud of us. We miss that we will not be able to talk to you and ask advice through our teenage years.....and then run into your loving arms after we do the opposite of what you tell us to. We wish we could have shared the experience of our first loves....and first broken hearts with you. We know you would have let us cry on your shoulder and reassured us that our world was not ending. We will miss getting to see the look on your face as we bring home the "special someones" to meet you and daddy.....and then watching as you tell dad to put away his gun. :) We wish we would be able to share that special day as we commit our lives to someone forever. We know you would have been so happy and proud of us......because we would have picked partners just like you and daddy.

There are a lifetime of memories that we will miss out on, but that's's only a lifetime. When you get up here, we will have FOREVER  to make memories.....but right now, God has something else for you to do. He has some other plan for you. Somewhere, someday, there are some kids out there that He needs you to be a mom to. And that's ok....we're willing to share....because we know that those kids are going to be the luckiest kids ever to walk the face of the earth.

You are one AMAZING person and we are so lucky to be able to call you....MOM.

We love you and are counting the days until we see you again....


Dani Grace and Baby # 1

Monday, March 24, 2014

Danielle Grace - The Journey Continues...

Yes, I has been a LONG time since we have posted anything. We got sidetracked by a lot of excitement.....and a lot of disappointment. A LOT has happened since our last post, so this one may be a little lengthy...

Hebrews 11:1 says, "Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."

Things "hoped for" things "not seen".....This is the essence of faith. If we could see and understand everything, there wouldn't be a need for faith. We can't stop blogging about our "Journey of Faith" just because the journey didn't take us where we thought we were going. This is a JOURNEY, not a destination.

One month ago today, MarySusan was rushed to the hospital for abdominal pain. To make a longer story not as long, she had serious internal bleeding and had lost a lot of blood already. They rushed her into surgery and while she was on the table, her uterus ruptured and out came our little Danielle Grace. MarySusan started hemorrhaging even more blood, but thankfully they were prepared and ready to save her life. The doctor told me later that if she had not already been on the surgical table and cut open when that happened, she would have bled to death in seconds and they would not have been able to save her. If we had been 20 minutes later getting her into surgery, she wouldn't be here today. I thank God for His perfect timing that we were where we needed to be when that happened.

As most of you know, we lost Danielle that day. Well, we didn't "lose" her....she was God's to give to us, and God's to take away. She just got to go home a lot sooner than expected. She got to skip all the pain and heartache of this world, and go straight to be with God. She is safe and filled with peace. I think the 3-year old boy of our best friends said it best... When they told him the news, he breathed a huge sigh of relief and said, "I'm happy because Uhfwoppy (what he called her) is with Jesus now and she is happy!" (He later went on to explain that it was because she got too cramped inside MarySusan, so she had more room with Jesus). God is good. In the days to follow we got to hold our little girl over and over again. That was the most AMAZING feeling I have ever experienced and I wouldn't trade it for the world.

So what happened? Didn't I tell the world that Danielle was God's miracle from what happened 3 years ago? Wasn't she supposed to be the testimony of God's grace? Wasn't she supposed to be the evidence of God's working in our lives? I posted all about God being the "I AM" and being a God of miracles. Did He mess up???'s my ready.........just scroll down.........

She is.

She is a little miracle.....a miracle we got to hold and kiss and feel. A miracle who has impacted our lives and hearts forever. She is a testimony of God's grace.....God granted us the most amazing 22 weeks and 2 days with this little wonder. She is still evidence of God working in our lives......every single day God is using her to impact not only us, but so many people all over the world. She has had more impact on more people in her few short weeks, than most of us have in our entire lives. God is still I AM. None of that has changed. God is still God. Even if we can't make sense of it all. Now......before you go all "Wow Brandon, you have such faith..." I don't. This concept is a daily...even HOURLY struggle for me. Because I don't get it....I really don't. I don't have a clue what in the world God is thinking....

But I've been reminded of something that a close friend of ours drilled in our head several years ago. Sometimes when life doesn't make sense and you don't understand what God is doing, you just have to KNOW what you KNOW. I don't FEEL like God is faithful, but I KNOW He is. I don't FEEL like God is loving me right now, but I KNOW He does. I don't FEEL like God has remembered what we're going through, but I KNOW He does. I don't FEEL like God has a plan for us, but I KNOW He does. Faith isn't based on FEELings....sometimes you just have to KNOW what you KNOW....

Why are you in despair, O my soul?
Why are you disturbed within me?
Hope in God, for I shall again praise Him.
Psalm 43:5

So we don't know what's to come and where we might be going, but we hope you will continue to follow us as we move forward on our Journey of Faith...

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Bows or Trains?

      17 weeks now and praising God for His protection over our Little One! I am feeling better now except for some pain that is probably related to ligaments/scar tissue, though the doctors aren't sure.  Please keep praying that scar tissue would not hinder Baby's growth. :) 

     Last Monday we got see Baby moving around and punching at the Ultrasound Tech every time she moved the wand and tried to get a good picture...definitely Daddy's baby!  Hearing the heartbeat is one of the greatest feelings in the world.  It makes my heart soar.  We knew it was a possibility we would find out the gender, but the legs have been crossed the last two ultrasounds so we were prepared to still be kept in the dark.  That was okay with me though, because I kind of liked not knowing. Brandon, on the other hand, was dying with curiosity.  He thought it was a boy...BUT...

    Our little girl already likes to do things her own way. And I love that. Almost everyone (family, friends, etc.) guessed that it was a boy. My mom said thought that it looked to her like I was carrying a girl.  She was right.  So my dad got his wish...another me. :)  We are so excited for Baby Girl. (Her name won't be revealed until birth!)  Praise the Lord for what HE has done!  We appreciate your continued prayer as the Lord brings us to mind.