Four different women.  Four different lives.  Four different stories.  One common goal:

To help you know that, in Christ, you are not alone in your suffering.

Katie Schuermann:

About: I was baptized into Christ on September 10, 1978, and I have been living under the cross as a true child of God ever since. I am blessed to be the wife of Michael who is a pastor, and we are the proud godparents of thirteen precious souls who live in six different states. My day’s work revolves around completing the next seasonal project on the list, whether it is writing the next book, making tissue paper flowers for VBS, practicing music for a gig, or climbing a mountain with my husband. In my free time, I enjoy gardening, cooking, hiking, being outdoors, singing hymns, and visiting our friends and family.

Fertility History: I have many family members who have never conceived a child, so I was not surprised when year after year went by in our marriage without a pregnancy. We have consulted with many doctors over the years simply because the frequent moves associated with life in the ministry have necessitated the frequent switching of doctors. Several years ago, I was diagnosed with insulin resistance, and, more recently, I was diagnosed with endometriosis. My husband and I do not know exactly why we have never conceived over the years. We are just resting in the knowledge that God’s will is being done in our lives yesterday, today, and tomorrow.

Personal Epiphany: In this world, barrenness is my cross, but, in Christ, barrenness is my blessing.

I believe the Holy Scriptures to be the inerrant Word of God, inspired by the Holy Spirit and fulfilled in Christ Jesus, our risen Lord and Savior. Therefore, I have faith that children are exactly what God tells us they are in His Word: a heritage to receive from Him. Children are not a prize for me to earn, a commodity for me to demand, nor an idol for me to worship. They are a gift which my Heavenly Father only has the privilege to bestow and to withhold. If God makes me a mother, then I can receive His good gift of a child with all joy and confidence in His love for me. If God does not make me a mother, then I can still know with all joy and confidence that God loves me completely in His perfect gift of the Child Jesus whose sacrifice on the cross atoned for my sin and reconciled me to my Heavenly Father. I am God’s own child, purchased and won by the blood of Jesus, and God promises in His Word that He will work all things – even my barrenness – for my eternal good. For this reason, I can in faith confess that my barrenness is a blessing.

Rebecca Mayes:

About: I’m a life-long Lutheran and married to Ben, a pastor and professional editor. We have an eight-year-old son, Caleb, and recently welcomed home baby Jonathan. I work part-time from home for a Lutheran disabilities agency and also homeschool Caleb. I teach Sunday School and am involved with numerous other church responsibilities and activities. I enjoy cooking, reading, watching movies, traveling and going on family bike rides.

Fertility History: Due to Ben’s seminary studies we didn’t begin pursuing answers to our infertility until we’d been married for about five years. I had always struggled with irregular cycles but initial tests showed no obvious problems. After a few months of Clomid and more inconclusive testing we decided to start the adoption process. Six months after submitting our paperwork for a domestic adoption we brought home Caleb. Five years, two surgeries (endometriosis and ovarian cyst removals), and numerous doctors appointments later we submitted adoption paperwork again, this time in a new state with a new agency.  In 2009 we experienced a miscarriage and then in May of 2012 we finally received the placement of a newborn son through our agency.

Personal Epiphany: I had let go of the dream of being pregnant and was at peace with that, but still held onto fears about our future. We have such close relationships with both sides of our families and holidays are such fun. I kept picturing our home without all the children and grandchildren I had assumed would be there when we got older. I wondered who would help care for us when we were ailing. Would it be fair to expect Caleb to handle everything? How often would he even come home to visit? Finally, one Sunday in church I was saying a prayer of thanks to God for the wonderful people in our congregation and for the family-like atmosphere that we have. Suddenly a weight lifted off me as I realized that the Church would always be our family. Even if we had to change congregations, I knew that God would provide us with opportunities to welcome people into our home for celebrations and to be looked after in our old age by those who shared our faith and Christ’s compassion. This epiphany has helped open my own heart to the shut-ins in our congregation and to make a commitment to them and ensure that they are cared for. What a blessing this has been! The Lord used my own selfish worries to help me see the loneliness of the elderly people around me and has given me the time to be able to touch their lives uniquely. And of course, as God always works, in my service to others my own life has been touched in endless ways.

Kristi Leckband:

About: Born to Lutheran parents, I was adopted into God’s family through the gift of Holy Baptism. My faith was nurtured throughout my years of schooling and led me to a degree in Lutheran elementary education with a love for music. I am married to Jerome, who is a Lutheran pastor. Together we have been given three children: Joanna, Maria, and Josiah. I am blessed to be at home every day as we home-school our children. I have developed a love for good books, outdoor activities, tasty treats, a good night’s sleep, and games.

Fertility History
: My physical health revealed some internal scarring, so I had a laparoscopic procedure done. With the help of medication, God blessed our family with the birth of our daughter Joanna in November of 2002. Since then we have been unable to conceive again. Our doctor defined it as secondary infertility. We did not pursue any other medical treatments as those options went against the sanctity of life. Instead, we chose God’s gift of adoption to grow our family. After seven years in the adoption process, God graciously granted our request. We adopted Maria in February, 2013. God, in His infinite wisdom and mercy (and humor) chose to enlarge our family again. In May, 2013, our family was blessed with the arrival of Josiah. Like Maria, he joined our family through God’s gift of adoption.

Personal Epiphany
:  Contentment – a big word. Ever since my husband and I have tried to start a family, I have learned that I control very few things. I couldn’t control how or when my body would be able to conceive a child. Biological children would not be numerous in my household. Instead, God chose to allow our family to grow through His gift of adoption. After various struggles and trials, I have discovered that there is great joy and peace in being content with the many blessings that have been revealed to me. Those blessings were already mine, despite not having any children. I have been given the gift of the forgiveness of sins; I rest in Jesus and His constant care for me. I am content.

Melissa A. DeGroot: 

About: As a pastor’s kid, now a pastor’s wife and deaconess, one might say I really like to hang out with an edgy crowd. “Look out, world, here comes a holy roller!”  If only.  Rest assured, this sinner is awarded much grace daily by God through a loving husband, Adam, and has been given such an indescribable gift of a son in Knox. A B.A. in Psychlogy, an M.A. in Theology and years of working in a psychiatric hospital, college and seminary landed me into the lucrative-lite career move of a stay-at-home wife and mom. And I’m loving it.  My family of first borns resides in Rochester, NY where my husband serves at Pinnacle Lutheran Church.  I enjoy reading, blogging, exercise, and cooking.

Fertility History:  Adam and I were married May 27, 2007.  We were in our late 20s and looking forward to starting a family sooner rather than later. However, with Adam in seminary at the time, and me working to support us, it seemed like it would be best to wait until he received a Call in April of 2010. Nevertheless, we prayed God would provide in all ways. Incidentally, in May 2009, I miscarried. We were on our vicarage year in North Carolina.  I was approximately five weeks along.  The following year, on Mother’s Day of May 2010, I found out I was pregnant again. Knox was born happy and healthy on January 3, 2011.

Personal Epiphany: Upon studying at the seminary, I came to better understand the theology of the cross. Namely, that because we live in a fallen world, we cannot attain a Joel Osteen-like “Best Life Now.” But through our inevitable sufferings, we come to know Christ’s love for us by his bloody sacrifice on the cross. Because of this, we have the hope and assurance of our best lives yet to come. But now as we endure temporal pain, sin, sickness and death, God’s work is displayed in us.

I had the opportunity to serve at a Christian crisis pregnancy center while at the seminary and interacted with many women who suffered in various ways; with crisis pregnancies, abortion decision aftermaths, and barrenness. Along with my own miscarriage, all of these experiences have led me to this conclusion: I am thankful. I am thankful we do not trudge this weary trail alone; that God gives us all that we need to support this body and life, even here on earth–like a friend, spouse, doctor, baptism, His Supper, forgiveness, peace, Jesus.

Lastly, this epiphany, by God’s grace, points directly to the source of all comfort. Our Triune God is tending to our wounds, both temporal and eternal.  When we cry out, He hears us. When we run away, He calls us. He gathers and enlightens us to repent and gives us the Church and pastors so we might hear the Gospel, receive strength and be moved to serve our neighbor. Motherhood is indeed a blessed estate, and I say this with all the compassion in Christ; I truly mourn with my sisters who are sorrowfully barren.  Yet, as a fellow child of God, I am assured that God’s Word beckons us all to the thing most needful: Jesus, who is found in Word and Sacrament for the refreshment of our souls. Thanks be to God!