I’m sure you’ve heard this phrase: "When life gives you lemons, make lemonade." Well, in September 1986, my lemons had turned sour and were so full of seeds that I wasn’t sure a strainer, sugar, or even both could begin to transform them into anything palatable.
The lemons seemed to come to me in droves the day my boyfriend at the time made it clear to me without even opening his mouth that we were over. He even used a misguided pastor to break the news to me, and I quote the pastor, "just because you’re pregnant, doesn’t mean you need to get married." WHAT??? He had given my boyfriend a way out, but wait, I didn’t think he wanted a way out. Just the night before, we had told our parents that we were getting married. Oh, how quickly things change.
But God was in control, and He knows how to make lemonade out of sour lemons. All for my good and His glory. What I didn’t know at that moment, though, was how he was going to do it. I had always wanted to get married and have babies. This was not happening as planned, though. My future seemed like a black hole full of those sour lemons. One thing I knew, though, was that God was for me, and so were my parents. They told me they would support me in whatever decision I made but to look at my options.
After months of heartbreak due to my breakup, delay in decision-making due to flat-out avoidance, and no doubt lots of prayer from my parents, the time had come to explore my options. I still wasn’t sure this was what I wanted to do, but I scheduled a meeting with a potential adoptive couple. On the drive to the meeting, panic hit me like a freight train, and I asked my mom to please pull off the road. "I CAN’T do this, Mom! I just can't!" I cried. Her reply was so encouraging and exactly what I needed to hear.
"Sweetie, you do not have to make a decision today; you are literally just going to meet with a couple. It's your decision. You will know what to do."
Emotions were running high, and tears were falling from both of us as we thought about the decision that would soon need to be made. We did, however, make it to the meeting, and to my surprise, I had an unexplainable peace. Peace that passes all understanding. I'll never forget our first encounter and how connected I felt with the couple. That was the hand of God. The sugar had begun to be added to those lemons.
A few months later, I gave birth to a beautiful baby girl. On the day the adoptive parents came to pick her up, I knew I wanted to have the adoptive mom come in and see her first. My little angel was lying on my chest, with her face toward the door, when the adoptive mom came into the room. As she entered, she came over to the opposite side of the bed and took hold of my hand.
She was so kind and gracious to me, asking me how the delivery was and how I was feeling. She made me feel seen.
I felt as though she really cared. We spoke and cried a little for the next 15 minutes or so. I gave her a bag with a few gifts to take home with her. She then shared that she had ordered something for me for Mother's Day as well, which was only a week away, and it would be mailed to the adoption agency. One of the gifts I sent her home with was a bible for my daughter, in which I underlined Philippians 1:3, "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you," and drew a heart beside it. I was thankful that I had the opportunity to give life to such a beautiful little angel, and I would never forget her. Not even for a day. I remember that as they left, a social worker from the hospital was holding my daughter. She stood at the door, held up her little hand, and gave it a wave as though to say goodbye. The door shut, and my heart felt as though it had shattered into a million pieces. I never knew what wailing truly was until that moment. The adoptive mom later told me she heard me in the room as I broke down weeping, and when she did, she fell to her knees in tears. She said that at that moment, she wished she could take me with her as well.
For the next few days, I prayed to God. It was more like a beg—a plea, asking him to please let me know that I had done the right thing. I had so many feelings, thoughts, and even doubts in my mind. Did he even hear my prayer? Later in the following week, I got a call stating the gift had arrived at the agency. Sitting in the same van we rode in to first meet the adoptive parents, my mom and I looked at the boxwith the gift inside. I nervously unwrapped it to find a charm in the shape of a HEART engraved with the SAME verse from Philippians: "I thank my God upon every remembrance of you". My mom and I began to cry. We couldn't believe that we both chose the same verse and a heart. God is good! I wanted to thank her for the gift, so I set up a call. During the call, the adoptive mom told me that she cried as well when she saw the Bible with the verse underlined and marked with a heart. How could it be? That was God, we both agreed. I asked what they named her. (I had always wanted to name my daughter Michelle, as my last name at the time was Shell. This way, my daughter would always be Miss Shell.) She told me they named her Diana Lynn; they had a banner that said, "Welcome home, Diana Lynn," and had even videotaped the event. She continued by saying that as she was holding her one afternoon and as she was looking at her, she kept thinking, she doesn't look like a Diana..she looks like a MICHELLE! Lord, could it be possible? You, Lord, have answered my prayer in two ways. I knew in my heart that God was assuring me that I had done the right thing. My simple prayer was answered. God is good. I had my Miss Shell.
God can take the most sour, seedy lemons and make delicious lemonade.