This is my friend Stephanie Grounds. I have known her for about…oh…6 years now and developed a friendship with her from our time of fellowship at my previous church. Stephanie and her husband Chad have been long time friends of my husband and have been there for him through thick and thin. They have helped us move, cry, process, pray, and sharpen. Stephanie is strong, brave, beautiful, perceptive, wise, feisty, gentle, humble, a wife, a daughter, and…a mother. It is Stephanie’s story of personal struggle with infertility for years of her life that led me to ask her for coffee. God entered the natural part of their lives and did the supernatural and now Stephanie and Chad are the proud parents of 3 beautiful children (Abigail Elise, Reese McKenna, and Noah Colt) all of which they were told they could never have.
I have many friends that are currently facing this battle and I wanted them to read Stephanie’s story to spark hope in their hearts. Also, I want Stephanie’s story to spark hope in anyone’s heart that desperately needs a miracle. I am the recipient of some crazy amazing miracles this past year and I KNOW first hand that our Heavenly Father is STILL in the business of miracles. Don’t give up….keep pressing into Him. He still moves mountains…opens wombs…heals the sick….casts the demon out…mends the broken hearted….AND holds us in His mighty magnificent hands.
(DISCLAIMER: The video above isn’t that great on sound. I am still learning all of that stuff…so….much much MUCH grace is needed. If you like hearing people cough in the background and any music from The Eagles…then…you will like the sound.)
Me: How did God enter into your life and do the miraculous?
Stephanie: I think the miraculous point of change came through infertility…years and years of infertility…we were told we had a baby waiting for us through a crazy set of circumstances that I had been praying over. We knew that there was this connection…we knew it in our hearts. This baby was from the Houston area. We’ve been told this is it…this is it…after years. At the time, my sister calls me and says, “Hey there’s a baby in Houston.” And we are freaking out together….are you kidding me? You have a baby too? We are going to both be moms!! Then we do the math. This is the same baby. As painful as it was, it was like I realized I knew that I loved her but that was because she was going to be my niece and not my daughter. It was crazy how the Lord worked things out. The Lord allowed me to love her first and pray for her, and now I have a special connection with her and always will. It was at that point in this whole journey with infertility that I gave up. I was just like…I can’t do this anymore. That’s when I fell on my face and the Lord took me to a verse in Isaiah and I told Him that day…”I am empty, barren, dried up…I feel old…I feel lost. I’m this mom….who doesn’t have children. I love children…yet you have not opened up my womb. We have tried adoption and the door has shut.” He took me to the verse in Isaiah. It was talking about a tree and how I will be planted by water and that everything that I do will prosper…then it talks about direction and He’s giving me direction. It was as if everything that I told Him…like I am dry…and He said “No, you’re not.” I’m barren…”No you’re not.” I told Him I am lost, and He said, “I will guide your steps.” That happened in, I think, September or October and Bella (her niece that was adopted) came in January and my heart was just filled. There was so much love, even though I didn’t have a child of my own, I was able to love her. It felt so good to finally have a little person to love…she was the first grandbaby in the family. It was healing. That summer I felt like I was finally okay with the fact that we weren’t supposed to have a baby. Then my friend came, and she knew that I was wounded and hurt from the season of when the door of adoption was shut on us. She brought me a necklace with “Expect a Miracle”, and she wrote a note to me and that she is expecting a miracle in our life. That’s when “Expect a Miracle” became my…
Me: Catch phrase…
Stephanie: Yeah…Expect a Miracle. Then preacher called us down in front of church and had everyone lay hands on us to pray, and as He prayed….he was talking to the Lord and he was also sharing and said that he had driven by a sign that said “Expect a Miracle” and that Chad and Stephanie immediately came to mind and that the Lord is going to give them a miracle. That was the second time…”Expect a Miracle” again. This is crazy…this is my new thing. Then that summer a friend of mine sent a book to me and said, “I hope this doesn’t wound you”. I thought that was odd…why would this wound me…it is a gift. But when I opened it up it was The Power of the Praying Parent. Part of me was like…why would she give this to me? She said, “The Lord told me to send this to you.” I’m so grateful to this day that even though it was uncomfortable for her to do that…to send it to someone who had been struggling with infertility for 8 years at that time…she was obedient. In turn…it was a blessing because I started reading the book. We didn’t have a child but I was praying for my future child. In her letter on the front of the card it had had my verse in Isaiah about being lost and He will guide my steps….if I feel dry, that He is a spring of water. She also wrote in her letter that she was expecting a miracle. That is when Chad and I were both like…okay…this is going to be something miraculous. So…..we go to our fertility doctor. We tried everything, and he said that He really felt that we needed to try in vitro. I didn’t know if I should pursue it. I was like…”Lord, I am asking you to open my womb…but then I would think…people get cancer and they still go to the doctor. It isn’t that you don’t trust God to heal you.” It was weird.
Me: You were praying for the strategy.
Stephanie: Yes. You build our family but how do you you want to build it? There was guilt going the fertility route…because it was like…am I trusting you God? It was weird. My husband was anti…but my doctor was saying this was it. This is the last straw, and Chad put his foot down and said we weren’t doing that. We kept Bella for a short time during the summer while my sister and her husband went on a cruise. She was little…barely 6 months. We kept her and there was so much joy in the house. We giggled and we laughed and had so much fun with her. We didn’t even get out of our pajamas for like two days straight. After she left, Chad came up to me and said “Let’s try in vitro.” I was like…okay. So we went back to the doctor and went through the process and the day we were going to have the embryos…and that was the other thing we didn’t know how many embryos there were. You don’t want to go through this because those are babies…that’s life…so I prayed, “Lord, just give us what we need.” I was so afraid that there was going to be like 10 embryos and we were going to have to implant them all because they are all babies…not at the same time, but anyways…we get there that day. My doctor said “Stephanie, you have two embryos.” He said there were only two viable embryos and I said okay…he suggested we go ahead and implant both. Chad was like, “I don’t know about all that…she is so small, and I was such a big baby.” The fertility specialist says to Chad that there was only a 15% chance one would take. (Steph begins to tear up.) So…we had to do both because there was only a 15% chance that ONE would take. So we went in for implantation and you can literally see on the screen you can see a little light…it’s very tiny. So on this magnified screen I watched as this little light went in and then…whoosh…this little light went in. Two little lights. Then the waiting came. It was the longest two weeks of my life. I was looking for any sign…Do I need to throw up? Please…I want to throw up…so I could be pregnant. So we went in and did the blood work and they were like…You are definitely pregnant. That was at two weeks and they weren’t going to do a sonogram until 6 weeks. I went back to work…I worked for several weeks. 6 weeks in I started feeling bad one morning…I went to the bathroom and was petrified. I thought I was losing the babies. I called my doctor and told them what was happening and they said for me to come in. I called Chad and told him and he said that he was going to meet me over there, and I said no…(begins tearing up again)…I don’t know why but I wanted to be by myself. I think because I felt so disappointed…and Satan had told me for so many years that I was less of a woman…and I believed him. At that point it was like failure and I wanted to be by myself. So I went into the office…I was devastated…sitting around with lots of pregnant women…devastated…and I went back there. My doctor was very quiet and a little chipper. I thought a little too chipper for the circumstances. They did a sonogram and he started laughing and he said, “I knew it! I knew it!” I looked and on that screen you could see two. He said, “This happens a lot with twins. Some breakthrough…about 6 weeks in.” I was like…wait a minute. There’s two!!! Then I felt guilt because I told Chad not to come. (laughs at herself) I said you have to print pictures out and they said that they would print a million. I went straight to Chad’s school and he was expecting devastating news and when he saw my face…I pulled out the sonograms, and we both cried. That was our first miracle.
Me: First miracle.
Stephanie: First of many. It was a totally smooth sailing pregnancy. I mean I was sick, but who cares. I embraced the sickness…it was the medal of honor. In January…I would have been about 24 weeks along. I was at work one day, and I remember the night before feeling tightness in my stomach, but I was thinking that I over did it…I was on my feet too much today. The next morning I woke up still not feeling great. I went to school and I was walking down the hall. I remember stopping right where I was at and grabbing the wall and thinking…something is wrong. I went straight to the nurses office. She felt my stomach and she said that I was having contractions. The school counselor immediately drove me straight to the hospital and Chad met me there. It was a blur. We walked in and they started hooking me up to monitors, exams, and before I knew it they were like listen….you are in full blown labor right now and we have to stop this. I am like wait…what’s happening…what are you putting in me? One of the nurses said, “We are not talking to you right now…we are trying to stop labor. Everything that we are putting in you is to help your babies. Their lungs are not fully developed. If your babies are born today there is a great possibility they will die.” They said I needed to lay back and relax and let them do their job…so I did. Chad and I were thinking…there is no way that we got here…this far…for this to happen. They were able to stop the labor. They said that I would spend the duration of the pregnancy in the hospital. That was on a Thursday and by Friday I was feeling fine again….I just had to be still. By Saturday I started feeling kind of bad again. I couldn’t catch my breath. I told the nurse that I was having a hard time breathing. She said that I was just having anxiety. At the time Ashley and Blakely had come to sit at the hospital with me because it was my niece Bella’s birthday party and the whole family was here. They were painting a sign with Ephesians 3:20, “Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than we could ask or imagine.” They painted it and hung it in my window. I was then like…I can’t breathe….I don’t know what is going on. Finally, my mom got back from the party and she said that there was something wrong and that it wasn’t anxiety. They came in and took my oxygen levels and they said it was super low. They put me on oxygen and then they took me down stairs to do a scan. At first the guys were having light conversations with me but by the end of it they were barely moving me back onto the bed. I said…”What’s going on?” They said, “The doctor will talk to you.” By the time they wheeled me upstairs Chad was at the hospital and my family was at the hospital and they said that they had a doctor that was going to come in and talk to me….a heart surgeon. I was so confused about what was going on. He came in with the doctor that was on call at the time and they said that they had found an aneurysm on my heart and that that is the reason why I was having problems breathing. They said I had to have surgery…”You have to remove this aneurysm or you will die.” I said, “How are you going to do surgery on me? What does this look like?” They said, “We are going to have to lower your body core temperature to the point that your heart is barely beating so that we can do the surgery.” “What does that mean for my babies?” They said, “Well, they won’t survive the surgery.” I said, “Well, then we are NOT doing that surgery.” They said, “You are going to die and they will die. We have to save you.” I said, “What you need to do is do a c-section first because we are going to give these babies a chance.” I was thinking…oh my word….I felt so bad for Chad. I knew that he wanted me but I wanted my babies(begins to cry). I will never forget…it was preacher, my mom, and Chad all sitting there together and all of them…and then I looked up in the window and I saw that verse that had just been painted that morning…Ephesians 3:20. I was like nope…this isn’t it. There has got to be another answer. They said, “There is no other answer.” I said, “No, this is not it…there is something else.” They got everybody out of the room and said they needed to do a scope of my heart so they could see exactly where the aneurysm is and take pictures of it. Then they were going to fly me to Houston because no surgeons in the area wanted to operate on me. My family is outside making arrangements for the trip to Houston. I am still believing that there is still a miracle. They do the scope, but I had to stay awake while they did it. I am swallowing this scope…I can feel everything. The surgeon said, “Stephanie…this is going to be awful. I’m not going to lie…it’s going to be awful. You are going to feel like you are going to die or choke to death. You have got to do this and you have got to be still. I don’t know where your happy place is but you have to go there right now. What is your happy place?” I just closed my eyes and I started swallowing that scope and the first picture was me sitting in the nursery with my girls and I was rocking them. I was completely calm…I was gagging to death, but there was a calm. I felt…later I even told Chad…that when they let him in to hold my hand and he said, “Stephanie…I didn’t. I wasn’t in there.” I said, “Yes, you were…you were holding my hand the whole time.” I know now that it was the Holy Spirit just holding my hand right there with me…keeping me calm. Chad and everyone was in the waiting room and I had no idea that half the church had come up and were all on their faces praying for our babies and for me. Chad said that the doctor came and called him out. Chad told me, too, that when I was going through this he was telling the Lord, “I can’t make this choice. I want her, but I feel like she will never be the same if I tell her the babies are gone. You have to choose Lord…you have to fix this.” Anyways, he had called Chad out around the corner and he said, “Chad…I cannot find that aneurysm. I have scans from every angle. I showed you the scans, but when we put that scope in…I have never seen anything like it, but it is not there.” Chad was like, “You are telling me it’s gone?” And the doctor said, “Yes, it’s gone. Completely gone.” He said that there was just a Hallelujah outbreak in the waiting room. Everybody had a fit. From that day forward there were no complications. At 32 weeks they took me back for emergency c-section because my water had broke and they took my babies. (Begins crying) Abigail Elise Grounds…she weighed 4 pounds 6 ounces…she was a big baby for 8 weeks early. And Reese McKennah was 3 pounds 7 ounces…and they were just full of life and beautiful and perfect…that’s my miracles. I delivered them in the same hospital where the doctor told me at 19 that I would never have babies and that I needed a full hysterectomy. They are my total miracles, and of course my Noah Colt came…my cherry on top of a sundae…18 months later here he comes bounding in two weeks early at 9 pounds.
(This is Abigail and Reese at birth)
Me: Thank the Lord he was two weeks early.
(This is Noah at birth.)
Me: How do you find the Lord now? How do you get in His presence now? How is He holding your hand now?
Stephanie: I think that it is more that He is always there and that I acknowledge that He is there. In my daily. With 3 kids under the age of 6 it is madness in our house…there isn’t a whole lot of sit down quiet time. It happens early in the morning or late at night. He talks to me through scriptures…through music…I have to find ways to make quiet. It doesn’t happen as often as much as I want it to. Now that my life is so loud all the time it is harder to get quiet with Him. I have learned to listen to Him in the loudness.
Me: A trained ear.
Stephanie: Yeah. And even through my kids. It is amazing how much He teaches me through them. I can be in the moment teaching my kids and saying, “Do you realize what you have done to your sister?” and then I hear, “Do you realize what you have done to Me?” In trying to instruct my kids the Lord says…yeah…that’s you…do you get that?
Me: They don’t give you a book on that when you become a parent….you don’t realize how much you learn about the Lord once you become a parent. Even if it is just to be with us. He will remind me that even if your child just got in trouble…would you still want to cuddle? And, yes. He wants to be with us.
Stephanie: Yes. I have learned so much about being a parent through Him and His unconditional love. I thought I knew about it before but not until you have these little human beings walking around with your heart do you say…I get it now. It is overwhelming that He loves us.
Me: So…my last question. Can you tell me about Jesus?
Stephanie: He is my calm in the midst of the storm. He is my Father….(begins to tear up)…who loves me…no matter what. He loves the yuckiness of me. He’s my protector. He’s everything. (Crying) He is the reason I can go on. When I look back at the past of my life and it is like a masterpiece that He has put all the puzzle pieces together. He is just fitting it all together. I look back in time of my life and I wonder why these times were hard growing up…and…you know my past with my mom. Early on it was very tumultuous…He was the calm in all of that, and placed me on the path. I could have so easily gone this way, but He put me…(crying)…right here. I just feel honored that…I don’t know why He chose me but….He has been my Shepherd since I was little bitty. What I think about my life and what it could have looked like…it was bad…a lot of abuse…a lot of turmoil…He’s my calm. He has been from day one. Obviously He’s my Savior. He’s cleaned me up. (tears are flowing)
I want Stephanie to write a book about her story. I do. To document the miraculous work the Lord has done so that she and others can look back on it and remember…REMEMBER…what the Lord has done and can do again. When we come out of miraculous breakthrough it can be a shock at times…we are grateful…but almost like a deer in head lights at what the Lord just did. I am honored that I have had the opportunity to write a small portion of the miracle the Lord did in Stephanie’s life. He showed up…right there with her…an individual no different than any of us. He was there the whole time. He was there in the hospital room when she was 19 and the doctor told her to get a hysterectomy because she couldn’t have children. He whispered in her ear and said..No…that’s NOT your story. He was on the floor weeping with her as she wept for the closed door to adoption. He was giving her the dreams of holding her very own children. He spoke life into her and said…”Expect a Miracle”…so she did. He held her hand…literally…when she was choking back a scope that was to get a glimpse of an aneurysm threatening her miracles. He gave her miracles a miracle when He saved her life and theirs in the hospital facing surgery. He THEN gave her abundantly more than what she could ever think or imagine by allowing her to conceive her son Noah with no medical assistance at all.
He was there. He was there. HE WAS THERE!!!! He is with us. EVERY DETAIL of our lives are accounted for and HE IS THERE!! Where is He in your life? Where is He daily in mine? He doesn’t miss a thing. Wherever we go He finds us and He knows every detail of our lives. He will NEVER leave us or forsake us.
I will stop asking for God to show up….I will now just start acknowledging that He is there….always.